Tag Archives: fitness instructor

Stripped

wildthingFor the month of July I have been participating in an Instagram backbend yoga challenge. In the 3 years that I have been teaching yoga, never once have I participated in one of these yoga challenges. Actually, I think there was a time maybe wayyyyyyy back that I attempted one and after 2 days I lost the steam. Maybe it wasn’t the right challenge for me. But really I chalk it up to a few things as to why up until very recently I rarely posted pictures of me in yoga poses or committed to an online yoga challenge. Yoga and fitness is a very ‘look at me’ kind of industry. I try not to play into the yoga instructor stereotypes of being scantily clad in inaccessible yoga poses for the masses to gawk at. Frankly, I think it sends a bad message to the masses. I think what the yoga and fitness industry has done to sell its self is disgusting. These industries prostitute themselves in an effort to sell a product whether it be protein powder, a studio, a clothing line—whatever, by using sex to lure in buyers by making yoga now a sexy thing. Basically, they are SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE.

11755233_10100762894859621_5240393937280972723_nYoga is about love and equity. Yoga is about hitting your mat and delving closer and closer to your essential-self. Yoga is about non-attachment and never competing with anyone, and that also includes yourself. And finally, yoga loves and welcomes everyone regardless of size, sex, race, sexual orientation, or class. Yoga is blind; it embraces us and loves us, even when we can’t love ourselves. So why are these yoga challenges and half-naked yogis so dangerous?

They don’t tell us or even guide us to look inward. They are 1-dimensional, showing us how yoga should look: white, skinny, and if you don’t have a handstand, well then you aren’t a yogi. At least, that’s what I take away from all of this. As a yoga instructor, I know a few things about the human body and one of them is that there are some people genetically blessed with hyper-mobility. Yogi’s in splits, backbending, arms back behind their heads, clasping their foot. Yeah, that will NEVER be me. Aside from a host of injuries, my body doesn’t move that way. Hell, I am a yoga instructor and my body doesn’t move a lot of ways. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that because this body can move in a lot of other ways as it runs, jumps, squats, punches, and is SO strong that I wouldn’t trade it in for a backbend. In that same accord, the science and statistics note that hyper-mobile yogis ARE wired differently muscularly AND they are prone to injury more than their less-mobile counterparts. YES, the super bendy get hurt more often as a result of pushing too hard and too far, and often may skip warming up because their bodies make challenging asana (poses) easier, or more accessible.

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That said, I don’t hate these people per say. The genetically blessed, the actors and models turned fitness instructors, the dancers, and me: The short, muscular, ethnically ambiguous unyoga yogi with purple hair and a fiery spirit. Together we all comprise this industry and there is room for everyone to shine in their own right. So I caved and I decided that it was time to participate in a yoga challenge but do so on my own terms. I was going to use this challenge as a way to unveil how yoga looks when real people do it and what happens when real people can’t do crazy shit on their hands or twist into a pretzel. I wanted to start carving out a niche for all the people with real bodies to be welcomed, embraced, and thrive. I wanted to show the world that yoga IS blind. I combated my demons and I choose to shoot my yoga challenge without a shirt on, in my sports bra. If the tall and lean can do it—why can’t I? Why shouldn’t I? Should I care that my belly is a little soft? Should I worry what others will think if I can’t do a pose because I’m a yoga instructor? I decided to say screw it all and strip myself down to tear down borders and barriers to pave the way for others:

Be yourself, love yourself, and stop giving a shit what others think about you.

11659456_10100755511974981_6370464093040561674_nTaking off my shirt has taught me so much more than I anticipated. First, it certainly has helped me hate myself less because I have started to embrace my body. Who would have thought that taking off my clothes for thousands of people to see would do that?!—but it did. Taking off my shirt is liberating and a way for me to make a statement that real bodies are not going to fade into the backdrop of celebrity fitness personalities because someone else says so. Yoga is about reclaiming your emotions and life while serving others. This yoga challenge, with my belly exposed is my first stab at The Body Movement: real bodies, real fitness, real people, real stories.

I refuse to hide my body from the world. I have worked too damn hard, had too many injuries, too many knee surgeries, and sweat through countless classes and trainings to let someone else tell me how to define my yoga practice and dictate whether my body is undesirable. This yoga challenging is where I take back the power. This yoga challenge is where I show the world that strong IS sexy and yoga is for everybody. Join me. Start baring it all—take your shirt off and join me #TheBodyMovement #DaretoBareitAll #TakeoffYOURshirt. Are you in, or are you in?

Find me on Instragram at arielle_miller, it’s time to start #TheBodyMovement self-love revolution and celebrate all bodies!

hand to foot

Go and Be Impressive

Settling back into real life and a routine since the wedding has been challenging. My eating and nutrition have been unrestrained and getting in regular workouts with errands and such just hasn’t happened. I’ve been feeling sluggish and out of shape. It’s amazing at how fast that happens, right? While working out today I felt tired but kept pushing. Despite the fact that today’s effort wasn’t my best display of athleticism, it certainly was the best I had in me in those very moments and that’s what really matters—being the best version of ourselves in the present moment.

My runs felt heavy but I kept pushing. I kept thinking to myself that I did this to myself and I can undo this to myself because I am strong and have the power to do it. Running, rowing, running, rowing. My arms no longer felt attached to my body. I battled to pump my arms while on the treadmill and sometimes I even had to straighten them out and whip them around myself because they were so fatigued from the rower. But I kept going. I was tired; no, I was exhausted but I kept going. And then I looked to my right. The guy next to me was losing steam. Normally, when I am working out for me, I turn off the Fitness Instructor so I can be present for me. But I don’t know, today it felt right and something in his face made me to turn to him and offer him simple words, “C’mon, you’ve got this.” I know all too well that a little encouragement can go a long way when you are down and out, so I figured; why not?

The man didn’t seem to hear me because he didn’t respond. I contemplated saying it again or something else but I didn’t. I redirected my energies to my legs that were seemingly still attached to my body and propelling themselves forward on the treadmill. Finally, the workout ended. The same man I ran next to came up to me after class and said “Thank you, I really needed that.” We chatted briefly and he told me he thought I was ‘so impressive’ and that he couldn’t keep up with my speed. He shared that he was inspired by my hard work and that my kind words in class helped him finish the workout.

Impressive, eh? Someone thought I was impressive?! And here it turns out that in order to be considered impressive all I had to do was be me and show a little compassion.

Go be you today. Go be friggen impressive and look over to a stranger tonight in class [yes, even in yoga] or anywhere, and tell them something nice and encouraging.

When Love Just Happens, Part II

As promised, here are my vows to my beloved Gregory. Before posting this, like yesterday, Greg and I re-read our vows to one another. Both times we were emotional and found ourselves in tears. By sharing our love with the world we hope to celebrate all love and spread love. As Greg is my light, I truly hope that we could be the light for others…

Arielle to Greg 6/20/15:

Who would have thought that I would have had to come all the way to Los Angeles to meet and marry a Long Island Jewish boy?!

Greg, just one week into our fledgling romance I knew that you were the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

The instant I left that fateful cycling class, I was smitten—from the way you bob your head when you ride, to your [mostly] impeccable taste in music, your ridiculously infectious personality made you irresistible. Your ability to inspire each and every person with whom you come into contact continually leaves me awestruck.

What is more, I never thought I would find someone who shared the same love of remixes, mash-ups, and indoor cycling the way I did.

Greg, your gift to wake up everyday with a giant smile on your face warms my heart. It still doesn’t make getting up in the morning any easier, but it sure sweetens the whole experience.

You make me a better person.

You make me want to be the best at everything I tackle to honor you…to honor us. Our partnership and union is a reflection of our love. How we conduct ourselves together and while teaching our classes or working, to me is still an extension of our devotion. I promise to always honor us and the passionate, fiery, dedication that you bring to our marriage in all that I do.

I promise to start hanging my clothes up instead of piling them next to my side of the bed. I promise to fold our laundry and put it away in under a week’s time. And lastly, I cannot promise I will do the dishes, but what I can promise is that with each passing day, I do and will continue to fall deeper and deeper in love with you.

Greg, you are my heart and the essence of my spirit. You build me up and ground me while I try to fumble through this world. You are my light. A beacon shining bright, worthy of admiration and respect. I promise to honor you and in the process, I will try to be less cranky when I am waking up in the mornings or when I am hangry.

Now we no longer fumble through this world alone, but we blaze a path, standing side-by-side, leaving an indelible mark upon this world, igniting embers of hope, passion, and inspiration for others.

Thank you for picking me, Greg. For when I am with you, I am part of you and I am privileged to be the woman who stands beside you and gets to wash your sweaty fitness clothes. I love you eternally and will forever cherish you and above all, us.

Teacher Feature; Let the Sharing Continue

With so many exciting and awesome things happening this month and this week with my birthday AND wedding; I want to make absolutely certain nothing gets overlooked!

This month at yoga studio where I teach, I am the featured instructor in what we call the #ODDlight. In conjunction with the awesome team at One Down Dog we crafted something where you can learn little known facts about me, what attracted me to yoga, and even check out a baby pic [get your awwwww’s ready]!

Here is a little teaser from the One Down Dog blog:

Why do you teach? What brought you to become an instructor?
I teach yoga to heal and empower others. I teach yoga to share its gifts, joys, and empower others to look inward without fear. I teach yoga because I believe this sacred kind of magic needs to be treated with care and deserves to be upheld in the most noble of ways. I teach because without yoga, I do not know where I would be today.

Yoga found me and saved me from myself. I was depressed, very, very, very depressed and I was angry. I blamed the world for slighting me and being out to get me. I was urged to take yoga classes by my doctor and I fought it. I refused to go under the misguided perception that I’d be sitting on a dirty floor, chanting shit that meant nothing to me, and that just didn’t resonate with me. I am very Type A, always moving and I thought yoga was going to be hell on earth so NO THANK YOU.

And then one day, I just went to yoga. As simple as that, I went to yoga.

I woke up and said, “Today, I am going to try yoga.” From the minute I walked into the studio, I relished the ritual of taking off my shoes, carefully unrolling my mat, and how the yoga made me feel. There was this instantaneous deep connection with my feminism and beauty. This outward expression of moving my body made me feel strong, celebrated, and above all beautiful. Yoga made me feel like I was the only person in the room and that I was of boundless strength. As my practice started to evolve, the initial attraction of yoga’s athleticism progressed into something so much larger than myself filled with trainings, Sanskrit, and even chanting. My body yearned [and still does] for this ancient traditional practice and I was hooked. In darkness, yoga showed me the light but more importantly yoga built me up to find the light—Yoga showed me that I was the light.

To continue reading the post, click here.

Inner-cising is the New Exercising

We are officially 7 glorious days into the New Year and it’s a perfect time to take personal inventory of the goals and intentions we set forth just a mere week ago. So, how are you doing thus far? I know that some goals will take time to unfold but what about the nitty gritty of it all in disconnecting so you can reconnect to yourself? Have you been kind to yourself? Patient and welcoming of the process? Excited about the potential of the New Year as it unfolds? How have you started chipping away at carving out your life and the path you want to walk? At 7 days into the year, I will let you know how I am doing with my intentions:

I have been taking better care of myself. I suppose it’s easy to do when I am not in the classroom, but I have been taking really good wholesome care of my body. In the last 4 days alone I have taken 2 yoga classes, well kind of 3 but whatever.

The irony and curse of yoga instructors is that we hustle all across town to serve our students and in the madness of it all from creating playlists to cleverly beating LA traffic, our own practice sometimes gets put on hold. I have enjoyed this delightful time with my body. My surgery and knee injury have taught me so much.

Yoga Tune Up
Therapeutic Yoga Flow at Equinox Encino with Yoga Tune Up balls.

First, there is this almost hyper-awareness of everything going on in my body right now. At least when I practice yoga—not right now, I am just sitting on the couch writing this with a grumbling tummy and all I can focus on is eating…Hmmmm, maybe that awareness really has shifted into all arenas after all. Nonetheless, I digress. In my recent dances on the mat everything seems so much more precise. My inhales and exhales deliberate and my movement sacred. It’s a funny thing what limited mobility does to a person, it forces you to slow down and savor whatever movement you do have. What’s more is I had a conversation with one of my Group Fitness Manager’s at Equinox and she said something that really resonated with me. While sharing about coming back from an injury where she broke her foot, she recalled thinking to herself “Ohhhh, that’s how people feel in my class.” And then it struck me—I realized my injuries and coming back from them are what make me human and better what I do because I get it—I see you. I really see you.

One of the greatest gifts that this journey of healing and self-discovery has given me is a new lease on my perspective of compassion and empathy. Not that I didn’t employ such things before while teaching but like you, I break and need to repair myself. Like you, sometimes I am afraid to move my body because of how it will feel. And like you, right now I am not where I want to be.

This is our time to employ a true sense of community as we take 2015 by storm and we heal one another. In class we look to our right, then look to our left and we say “Hi” to whomever next to us. We support one another when we are down and elevate each other by just being present. Showing up and hitting our mat consistently is what continues to connect us to our essential self while allowing us to acquire the tools to help serve those around us. Each an every time I show up to class, I show up to heal myself twofold: physically and to take the tools I learn on the mat and share them with you. Let’s dig in, tap in, and work in as we inner-cise while exercising and employ self-love and kindness.

I Don’t Like Showering

There, I said what many of you already think about showering! It’s time consuming, my skin gets really dry, and frankly I would rather spend that time sleeping. All the same, I suppose it is a necessity.

Below is an excerpt of a conversation I shared this on my Facebook. Based on the likes and comments, I decided it was just too honest and awesome not to share here. Enjoy!

Over-share:
This conversation happened between my bf and I last night after we both made our playlists for our cycling classes:

Me: “I’m not going to shower. I didn’t sweat that much today and I’m teaching early in the morning so why bother?”
My bf Greg: “You taught two class AND took a Pilates class. You ARE showering.”
Me: “Oh, yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. I forgot I took class–You’re right, I should shower.”

‪#‎sweatontopofsweat‬ ‪#‎confessionsofafitnessinstructor‬ ‪#‎whyshower‬‪#‎tootiredtoshower‬

Clarity amidst the Chaos

Day 5: Friday, June 13, 2014:

Friday the 13th.

Full Moon.

Mercury in Retrograde.

I am on a cleanse. 

Basically, we are screwed and it’s the end of the universe. Yeah, yeah. You feel off and you are afraid to admit it, but now you can fully surrender to it knowing it isn’t just you. It is OK to feel a little off right now. BUT what is SO exciting about all this is the new moon signifies a fresh start and opportunity to set intentions free so that they may gestate and manifest. FREE YOURSELF and find yourself!

I am feeling so alive and full of clarity that I am rejuvenated. This cleanse is certainly starting to really kick in. Oddly enough, the morning after the cleanse was a little rocky. I was awake at 5:15am to teach a 6:15am cycle class and struggled to sleep the night before. It was really unusual to lay in bed at 11pm and feel energy surging through my body! I haven’t felt this alive in years. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt strong and powerful during my wee morning hour class and came home to read up on the effects of the cleanse days.

My research turned up some information affirming that others also cited feeling so invigorated that they too couldn’t sleep. Phew! It’s always good to have validation to your crazy (totally kidding here). Additionally, despite the cleanse day I wasn’t starving when I awoke. I expected to run for my shake in the morning foaming at the mouth, but nope. I felt calm, rested, and ready to ride! As a matter of fact, preparing to do damage control, I brought a bunch of snacks to the gym and didn’t eat one of them–even after my class. I was satisfied, sweaty, and happy.

I opted to skip Crossfit after my ride to let my body recover as I still had two more classes to teach, one of which would be pretty taxing as it’s a cardio vinyasa yoga class.

Dinner was a fabulous mish-mosh of mess as I like to create for myself: brown rice, eggs, tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and chicken with some olive oil. Greg ate the same thing minus the rice with 2 corn tortillas instead. Eating whole foods again with the shakes is filling my belly and it kind of feels like it’s sharpening my mind. Does that make sense? All of these super foods are awakening my physical and mental self in ways unimaginable. I can’t wait to see how I feel in 30 days!