Yoga Teacher Training in 2015? GoFundMe!

Jenny's YTT GoFundMe | Living Consciously Blog

I have a big announcement today: I have finally decided on my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT)!

It’s not at all what I would have thought.

When I first approached the idea of doing YTT, it was as an extension of my part time job teaching Pilates the past several years. I have enjoyed teaching so much, and have grown so much in my yoga practice since I’ve been doing Lagree fitness (the workout that I teach). However, my heart has always been with yoga. You can read more about my fitness journey in this post and this one.

Beginning in September of 2014, I dedicated Mondays while my children were in school to visiting yoga studios, meditating, reading, and listening. I was listening to see where I would be guided when it came to YTT. Was it something I should do at all? If so, when — now? Or when both children are in kindergarten (2016)? In what program should I enroll: fitness-centric, full out Sanskrit, a hybrid of the two?

In my exploration of the different types of yoga training, I stumbled across Holy Yoga. As I mentioned in my intro to Amanda’s guest post about Holy Yoga, the first time I heard of it, I literally laughed. And I know that a lot of my yoga friends and current clients might be laughing now (please see the FAQs, below). But I found that it was not much different than the yoga I’ve always done, except that before savasana, there is Scripture read instead of reading from the Bhagavad Gita or the teacher sharing personal thoughts. In Holy Yoga, the teacher may pray over the students in lieu of OMing, a practice which is beautifully explained by Holy Yoga founder Brooke Boon in this video. For me, this is just a natural extension of the faith that I already have. I already do these things in my mind during yoga.

200 Hours is a lot of hours to do anything. As I meditated on the potential directions my YTT could take, I was more and more lead to believe that what is right for me is to be trained in a manner that is an extension of how I already live and think, because I have to be fully fulfilled in my own spirit to be able to pass that peace and joy on to my students, regardless of their personal faith (or lack thereof). In other words, even if I do not end up teaching in the Holy Yoga format all the time, I want to attend a training in which I feel that I can be fully invested. I simply would not feel the same connection to a Hindu-based program, as I am not Hindu.

It has been difficult for me to accept something so “Christianized” sometimes. I am not so far removed from my years railing against the church that I can’t remember some of the fear, some of the exclusivity that I experienced. The last thing I want to do is exclude people, to become what I hated so much all of those years. So please know that I am choosing this training for me, to develop my own love and compassion for all in a manner consistent with my beliefs, the ones that you hopefully know me to have already. If I can grow more in love and knowledge through this training, I can bring that experience to each of my yoga participants. This journey should be the opposite of judgement or exclusivity.

There has been a shift in what I thought that I was looking for: in looking for a part time job, I actually found a ministry. What had started out as a way to earn extra money in a one-income family has become what some might label “a calling”.

I made this decision in the way that we are so often encouraged to dream: “What would you do if money was no object?”

It’s a great exercise, but once the decision has been made, we have to return to reality. Money IS an object. And YTT is not free.

I thought long and hard about the ways to go about this, and I’ve decided to share this opportunity with you. With everyone. Despite how scared I am of what you will think.

I worry that you will think “this is not really yoga” or that you might think “you are not really a ‘Christian’ if you’re going to teach yoga”. For a wonderful answer to both of those concerns, see the FAQs below and please take a moment to read this piece from Stephanie Moor on Mind Full Collective about caring what people think.

If this is truly a ministry, I will have to rely on others. I will have to trust. It will not be about my timing. So difficult for someone who has control issues! But nothing is impossible. To this end, I have set up a GoFundMe web site where I can collect the necessary funds for my Holy Yoga training.

On the GoFundMe site (the URL to Share is http://www.gofundme.com/JennyYTT), there is a breakout of all the costs associated with Holy Yoga YTT, including textbooks, flight to the immersion week, and childcare. There is also a shorter version of the background that I just shared with you.

I encourage you to do your version of praying, meditating, and asking questions to see if donating to my ministry is something you might feel led to do. I know that you might have questions, and you can email me any time at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com. But first, please check my FAQs below.

Namasté

Frequently Asked Questions

When do you plan to do this training?

I will not even enroll in the program fully until I have at least half of the entire amount needed. I would prefer to be fully funded before enrolling. Here is the schedule of trainings in 2015. I would do a 9-week session online followed by one of the week-long immersions. There is no timeline, since I am not yet enrolled. If I do not have the funds in 2015, it will be 2016…or even later.

I have wanted to take yoga from you, but I do not share your religious beliefs! If you get certified through Holy Yoga, does this mean you will only teach classes with a religious angle, effectively excluding me?

Absolutely not! I have practiced religion-neutral yoga for 11 years and taught Pilates (which is also philosophy-free) for 2.5 years. I can teach yoga with or without the Holy Yoga format. Yoga is a wonderful way to challenge the body and still the mind, regardless of your personal beliefs. It is beneficial for healing and promoting flexibility. I hope to eventually teach in mainstream studios as well as in the Holy Yoga format, you should have the ability to select which classes you would like. If you hire me to teach at a specific location, you can specify what format of class you would like me to teach.

If you’re spending all your time in Holy Yoga on bible study, is it a less intense anatomy and asana training?

Not at all. The Holy Yoga training program fully meets & exceeds the requirements of the Yoga Alliance as a Registered Yoga School (RYS), although they are NOT actually a certified RYS (more about why here). Holy Yoga training provides all of the comprehensive anatomy, safety, and asana training that is received by any other Registered Yoga Teacher 200 Hour course. The Holy Yoga certification is actually a 225 hour program, the bible study is added on in addition to the 200 hours of yoga instruction (not taking away from the 200 hours). Watch a testimonial from an instructor who has also experienced traditional trainings.

I DO believe in God and I’ve heard that yoga is from the devil!!

Personally, I began doing yoga when I was not following God or involved in a church. It was in the silence of yoga that I found God’s presence, despite my own running away. That does not seem like the devil to me. But people more eloquent than me have addressed this issue. Here is an excerpt from the Holy Yoga Training introduction manual:

Most Christians do not dislike yoga because they are educated about it, but because they are un-educated. We seek to educate in the light of the three modalities of yoga; the breath, meditation, and physical expression. While the word “yoga” does not appear in the Bible, if you look at those three modalities of yoga through the filter of the Word, you can see what the Lord says about the importance of them. The “yoking” comes together in Mark 12:30 where it says to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’. It is the bringing together of all He has created us to be for a full immersion into worship. We tend to approach God as we do the rest of our lives, compartmentalized and fragmented. Holy Yoga is about being fully immersed in the worship of our Lord and Savior. Our training does, indeed, teach the history of yoga and its principles. However, the intent of doing so is to educate you so that if you are challenged, you have the knowledge to answer potentially difficult questions.

I also have another, much longer PDF document that goes into some theology and reasoning that I can email to you if you would like to contact me personally (email below).

What other questions do you have about my training? Please feel free to email me at jenny{at}living-consciously{dot}com or leave in the comments below.

Guest Post: A Holy Yoga Instructor’s Journey

A Holy Yoga Instructor's Journey | Living Consciously Blog As you may know, I have been meditating upon the next step in my yoga journey for the past 6 months or so. Within the last 2 months, I think I have found the right path for me, but it is something I really never expected. Honestly, I laughed when I first heard the words “Holy Yoga”. I thought, “Is this like Testamints or Christian waffle mix?” (Christian waffle mix is really a thing, as insane as it sounds — I deeply regret not taking a picture of it when I saw it in the Lifeway holiday catalogue last fall. OMG. Literally.).

But it is not as weird as it sounds, not at all. I’ve been attending classes sporadically, as my schedule allows, connecting with current Holy Yoga instructors in my area, and following Holy Yoga on Instagram. I stumbled across the blog of Amanda Dean, a Holy Yoga instructor right here in Richardson. She is such a gifted writer that I reached out to her, even though we had never met, to ask her if she would use her gift of words to describe how she felt when she first discovered Holy Yoga. I thought perhaps she could describe to you how I have been feeling about this endeavor more eloquently than I could. AND SHE DID. I teared up when I read this post in my Inbox, because it so accurately describes what I have felt over the years but not been able to put into words. I will let her speak now, please post any questions that you have for me or for Amanda in the comments. I will be following this post with a post next week about my own journey and some FAQ’s.

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About ten years ago, I stepped through studio doors, feeling anxious yet excited.  My first yoga class was about to begin and I had little knowledge of what to expect.  As a former gymnast and dancer, I was familiar with all things pointed toes.  Yoga was a foreign language.

I unrolled my borrowed yoga mat and listened as our instructor walked us through the deep breath.  The “yoga breath” was new and strange.  I noticed right away it was hard to sit still.  (Stillness has a way of inviting all kinds of mental noise doesn’t it?)  As I focused more and more on my breath, the inner clamor began to quiet.  She spoke words I had never before heard.  Sanskrit” she called it.   I watched and did my best to move my body into each asana (posture).  Some felt natural…some not so much. 

I walked out of class feeling lighter and just better.  I can’t tell you I fell in love right away, but I found myself back on my borrowed mat the following week.   I explored different styles and instructors, some filling the space with sounds of chanting and Tibetan singing bowls.  Some with the sounds of Sheryl Crow.  Over time, my body began to crave this breath and movement and I settled in with my favorite teachers.

I have loved Jesus for as long as I can remember; I practically grew up on a church pew.  That’s where I met my Savior and have known him ever since.  Truthfully, I wasn’t familiar with the controversy surrounding yoga and Christianity.   I wasn’t afraid to walk into a class because I knew He walked with me.  In fact, it made sense to me, this yoking together of the breath and movement and rest. 

Yoga classes begin with setting an intention.  Some teachers talk about the energy around or within us.  Some speak of the “third eye.”  From the very beginning, Truth rose and resonated from within.  I started dedicating my practice to my Abba early on, trying to breathe Him in with each inhale.  There was never an emptying of the mind as far as I was concerned.  It was actually the opposite.

I remember the first time my practice felt like worship.  I closed my eyes in Warrior 1 and lifted my hands high.  Prayer and praise come from the heart right?  Since my heart was already there, my body simply followed.

When I set out to become a yoga instructor, I tried to find a Christ-centered program.  With little luck, I settled for a secular teacher training called YogaFit and completed my Level One Certification.  I started teaching right away and tried to incorporate scripture and praise music.  It wasn’t until I discovered Holy Yoga almost two years later, and I knew this was what I had been searching for all along.

Holy Yoga is “100% Yoga and 100% Jesus.”  Training culminates in an intensive immersion retreat and that was where I attended my first Holy Yoga class.  It felt like coming home.  Tears poured down my cheeks as I truly experienced the presence of Jesus on my yoga mat.   It was yoga, but it was so much more.  It was grace and freedom in bare feet and yoga pants. 

In Holy Yoga, we invite God into our practice-whatever that looks like.  Whether the practice is gentle or sweaty, we ask Him to meet us where we are.   And my friend, He is always faithful to show up.  I honestly feel that Holy Yoga is a vehicle for more of Him…more of His healing.  More joy.  More peace.  More presence.  And the physical benefits of yoga are just an added bonus. 

Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga says, “It’s not about the yoga.”  She’s right.  It may start out that way, but finding Jesus on your mat leaves your practice forever changed. 

For more about Holy Yoga, please visit www.holyyoga.net

Amanda Dean is a lover of Jesus, yoga, dessert and words.  She is a Registered Holy Yoga Instructor in Richardson, TX.  Amanda has also completed training in Holy Yoga Touch Therapy and is currently enrolled in her Master’s training.  She is a contributing writer to Mindfull Collective and Cedar and Soul  Find her at www.mandajoy.com and www.mandajoyblog.wordpress.com

2015 To Do List

As explained in previous years, I don’t make resolutions. I make “to do” lists, to help inspire me to complete tasks that I would otherwise skip. Sometimes it’s something around the house, sometimes it’s learning something new, and sometimes it’s actually self-care (last year: go to the dentist after 3 years). I have the entire year to get these things done…or not. At the end of the year, I give an update on how I’ve done (see the 2014 How Did I Do? post).

I’ve noticed that as I’ve looked toward 2015 with the changes in my approach to life that I gained in 2014, my “To Do” items got a little more long-term oriented. Perhaps a little less measurable than before. I’ll try to create some kind of measurement for each one, if I can.

2015 To Do List | Living Consciously Blog

1. Keep track of the money I make (or lose) in essential oils. If you know me in real life, or even just casually read the blog, you know that I don’t actively SELL oils. I mean, I am a distributor for essential oils and I buy them myself. I always have a link at the top of my blog if you want to buy from me online at retail prices (“Product List” in the navigation), or sign up under me to buy wholesale (“Sign Up Here” in the navigation). But I don’t push them. I don’t mention that I sell them very often. I do allow my local friends to order oils through me when I put in my monthly order and I only charge them what I pay. I pay the ($10-$11) shipping myself and don’t charge them for that. Unfortunately, I just realized last month that some of the oils I order for others are also taxed — and with some of the more expensive blends this can be as much as $6 — but I’ve never charged anyone tax. I often have someone tell me on Facebook that they want me to order an oil for them, I order it, and when I attempt to contact them to drop it off and collect payment, they never respond. Likewise, it is not unusual for me to deliver an order and not be repaid for as many as 4 weeks.

Basically, I am a terrible business person. I am horrible at math, bad at conducting business, and I don’t like to ask people to pay me.

I think the first step in the process of figuring out if I am even breaking even (probably not) is to open a separate checking account for the EO purchases. That way I can track the cash going in and out. I have avoided doing this since my husband and I have all joint accounts and having a separate account feels dishonest to me, somehow. But unless I want to keep losing our joint money, I have to separate these expenses.

Measurement: I should be able to at least give a rough guess as to whether I am losing money or gaining money, even if it’s not an exact number.

2. #handstandby40  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that in January 2014 I took a yoga arm balance workshop and almost immediately became obsessed with arm balances and yoga challenges. I vowed in 2014 that I would learn to handstand (a straight yoga handstand, which is done in complete stillness, no “walking” on the hands to maintain stability) by the time I turn 40. And by that, I mean be able to arrive in handstand reliably without falling and stay for as long as I want to, without falling due to instability. I literally practiced handstanding every single day from January to August, 8 straight months. If I was tired, if I was sick, if I hadn’t done a full yoga practice that day: handstand. 

In August, through practicing the yogic yama satya — truthfulness, including truthfulness to self — I realized that my body needed a rest to reach the next level. So I backed off of the handstand part of my practice. I actually saw an improvement for a few months! Less intensity was beneficial.

And then I got lazy about handstanding. At this point, I’ve lost the ability to arrive in handstand reliably, and cannot seem to maintain stability for as long anymore. I need to pick it up again with the handstand practice. I only have 3 years!

Measurement: Obviously, I’ll still have a little more than 2 years left until 40 at the end of 2015, so not having nailed handstands is OK. Let’s say that I hope to be able to arrive in handstand reliably. I shouldn’t have to fall over 5 times before I catch some air.

3. A less intense cleanse. I learned this year from my macrobiotic cleanse and my shorter liver detox, that cleanses are do-able. I was on the fence about cleanses until 2014. Now that I know I can do it, and that a short term cleanse (like the 2 week liver detox) does make me feel better, I’d like to investigate doing something more simple and short term a few times a year. Maybe something I even make up myself. Nothing expensive, and no more of these 30-day things. Just 3-5 days of very clean eating and lots of veggies in the Vitamix, perhaps?

Measurement: One cleanse, of any type. Bonus: 2 cleanses.

4. Learn to wear jewelry. Let’s not get crazy here. I am not a flashy person. I have worn the same silver hoops in all 6 of my ear holes 24/7 for the past 5 years at least. I am going to say that Hot Jewels count as jewelry here. And diffuser necklaces count too. But I really need to work on at least changing my earrings once a month. I think I might start documenting my success on Instagram. Maybe with the hashtag #learntowearjewelry?

Measurement: A few pictures on my Instagram this year showing that I wore jewelry of some kind without being forced (i.e., by a special occasion that requires jewelry).

5. Morning Time. Another practice I developed in the latter half of 2014 was getting up before my family is up and reading scripture and meditating. When it was warmer and I got up early enough, I also did some yoga. Since the weather turned cold, like a lizard I cannot maintain enough body heat to leave the blanket in the chair where I’m reading to do yoga in the morning, but I digress. The morning time has been good for my patience as a mom and my overall view of the ebb and flow of life throughout the day. I even feel like catching up on social media that early in the day is profitable because it keeps me from having to check my phone constantly while getting the kids ready in the morning.

Measurement: I’d like to be able to say at the end of 2015 that I maintained my morning time as a regular habit. That I committed to morning time more often than not.

2014 To Do List – How Did I Do?

Every year I make a To Do List instead of resolutions. This is the time of the year where I check in on my 2014 list to see how I did!

2014 To Do List - how did I do? | Living Consciously Blog

2014 To Do list

1. Go to the dentist.

Did it with a Groupon! Yay! They said they found 1 cavity for sure and maybe another one but I didn’t have the funds to fix it and it doesn’t hurt. I have been oil pulling in hopes that it will help delay any issues. The list didn’t say I had to fix anything!

2. Fix the paint in the half bath downstairs.

I did not do this. I did locate the paint but it is in this huge container that I cannot figure out how to open.

I think the only way to open it is to put it in the car (VERY HEAVY) and drive to the paint store where we bought it more than 3 years ago and ask them to open it with some kind of special tool. That is a lot of effort. Every time I thought about it, I had to go take a nap.

3. Eliminate the part time jobs that do not generate income.

I feel like I have done a really good job of this, even when it hurt. I am not teaching Kids Yoga anymore. Which made me sad and made some of my little yogis sad, but it was the best for my life balance and for my own children. At one point I was devoting around 8 hours a week to Kids Yoga and making less than $2 an hour when it came down to doing the math. There was also the stress of shuffling my own children to childcare and rushing to pick them up on time, etc. Letting go of that has been very beneficial overall.

I involuntarily lost many of my weekly Pilates classes when my studio cancelled morning classes. Which was painful, but necessary. I have been using the extra time in the mornings to have mindful reading and prayer. It’s actually be really great.

4. Try to blog at least 3 times a week.

Hahaha…. NO. I am down to about once a week, or every 10 days. However, I participated in a conversation with a few other bloggers last month about how our frequency has decreased but we all feel that we produce higher quality and our traffic has not suffered. So: thank you! Thank you for reading even when I post sporadically!

5. Address my health issues.

I really feel like I gave this my best shot. Things I did:

30 day macrobiotic cleanse (other posts here, here, here, and here)
natural skin care
naturopathic treatment
liver detox

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much change. I had several months of severe flare-ups in digestion and skin issues after each attempt. Not the kind where the body is flushing out toxins, because I “waited it out” for 2 months each time and it did not get better. I am not sure what the next steps are, but I will keep you posted.

6. Keep up or even expand my personal yoga practice.

My favorite part of 2014 was getting back into a regular studio practice! I have seen huge growth by putting myself under the instruction of teachers whom I admire and by allowing my mind into the stillness that a dedicated practice demands. I have really loved the instructors at The Yoga Factory. I also visited Nama Shivaya in Dallas and enjoyed it as well. Something new that I tried in 2014 was Holy Yoga. I know, I totally laughed when I first heard about that, too. I will have a guest post coming in the next month explaining more about what it is and why I stopped laughing.

The summary of this year is really one of slowing down, listening for direction rather than blazing ahead, and growing inwardly. Waiting, accepting, and listening. In this listening, I have clearly heard that my path lies in completing my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I have spent the last few months exploring the various local options that would fit with my SAHM schedule and not take time away from my children. I will have more posts about my path in this direction and I hope that you will join me in my journey and give me feedback as I go!

Looking back in gratefulness to 2014 and forward in anticipation of 2015!

How We Cultivate Thankfulness in our family

If the month of November snuck up on you, you’re not alone! It sneaks up on me every year, with my son’s birthday toward the end and then Halloween. Then I wake up and, BAM!, it’s November! So we aren’t terribly timely with our thankfulness crafts around here. But, it is important to me to cultivate thankfulness in our family. Obviously, November is not the only time we want to be thankful, but it’s a good time to really focus.

There are 100 Pins on Pinterest of great Thanksgiving gratefulness projects. However, I am not a super crafty person. I do not own all the pipe cleaners, tempera paint, and precut turkey foam stickers that most of you people seem to have in your homes at all times. We sort of fell into this tradition of creating a thankfulness list out of things already around our house. Well, I feel like it is a tradition now, even though this is our second year. I do hope to keep it up (no pressure!).

Here is last year’s thankfulness chart and family list. My children were 2 years old and 5 years old, so it was too much to expect that they would each be able to come up with 30 individual things to be thankful for. So we had only one item per day on our list, and some items might have been suggested by Mom and Dad.

Thankfulness List 2013 | Living Consciously Blog

Thankfulness List 2013 | Living Consciously Blog

Supplies used:

packing paper from Amazon packages, flattened out
leaves we found on the sidewalk, pressed for a few days inside books to flatten
construction paper
pieces of coloring book that my kids cut up (their idea!)
sharpie marker
glue

This year, I was actually so far behind that there was no time to press leaves. We didn’t even get these set up until November 10. But this year, my children are 3 years old and 5 years old, and are able to think of their own lists (and also, to disagree and fight if they were forced to agree on just one thing each day!). So we each have our own turkey this year!

Thankfulness List 2014 | Living Consciously Blog

Supplies used:

large white paper, one for each family member
sharpie marker
yellow, red, orange, and brown construction paper
googly eyes (optional – I had these left over from kids yoga crafts)
glue stick

With this sticking-on-feathers-every-day model, we have to keep a baggie of precut feathers, a sharpie, and a glue stick at the table so that we can write our thankful items each day. If you want to get all crunchy, you can put these items in an aluminum box, GOOD FOR YOU!

The next step is, of course, to cultivate this kind of thankfulness throughout the rest of the year. Hopefully that would help with attitudes, right?

How has your family been cultivating thankfulness this season?

ConscientiousConfusion.com changing to Living-Consciously.com!

Living-Consciously.com Facebook cover previewI’ve been blogging here at ConscientiousConfusion.com since at least 2007. I loved the name of this blog initially because I have been described many times in my life as “conscientious”, even as young as my report card in the 1st grade! It’s just a word that describes my frame of mind at any given moment. And, of course, the process of being conscientious is nothing if not confusing.

But, let’s face it, it’s hard to spell.

Seriously, no one can spell it.

And it’s difficult for people to find me when they can’t spell the name of the blog.

For years, I have stalked alternative names but none have been available. Just a few weeks ago, I was clicking around on Network Solutions again (what, you don’t do that in YOUR spare time?!) and behold!! Living-Consciously.com was finally available! I was so excited that I bought it right away from my amazing hosting provider, Twenty70Hosting. I love Kelly so much. She is helping me through this URL migration process. Not easy for someone as technically challenged as I can be. If you are a blogger looking for a new host, please take my recommendation and go to Twenty70*!

I love the new name for many reasons, not the least of which is the yoga reference. Yoga is a practice of living inside the space we create to be conscious of our surroundings at all times. Religion is a spiritual process of being conscious of how we live in vertical relationship to God. Nutrition and fitness are functions living consciously inside our bodies, prompting us to treating our bodies with respect. There are so many reasons that this new domain is a great fit.

So, I am moving forward with the domain name migration with so much excitement! You may have noticed that my Facebook page is already looking different. I am so in love with the new cover photo that I have put it at the top of this post. You’ll be seeing the new name in the logo at the top of this page very soon as well.

The best news is: there will be a HUGE giveaway to celebrate the name launch starting next week! Please keep posted on the giveaway so you can win some amazing conscious living products from some wonderful brands by signing up for my blog posts via email. That way you’ll never miss a post!

Get ready to start Living Consciously!

 

 

* I did not get paid anything to recommend my hosting provider. I just love her so much!!

IG post: Showing skin

I’m experimenting with something for the next week or so. I notice that I haven’t been posting to my blog as often as I should, but  I post what amounts to mini blog posts on Instagram regularly. I can’t seem to find a way to automate the transfer of those posts into WordPress, but for now I’d like to try simultaneously posting the more thoughtful posts here.

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Original IG post text:

Side Plank #independencearmy – sorry for the amount of skin in this pic, didn’t have clients for my 6am so I did some flow of my own at home & these were the clothes I had on, couldn’t grab more without waking the rest of the family. Great way to start the day!

Adding:

First, let me say that I got nothing but positive encouragement from my followers on Instagram. Which is why I love IG, it’s such a positive place. Some of these friends I only know from Instagram! It’s like Twitter used to be.*sadface* My followers on IG are a) largely fitness buffs like myself, primarily interested in the poses and photography rather than oogling, and b) female. I have very few male followers and only allow those whom I trust to be professional.

But let me back up and provide context, in case you have been living in a hole each Spring when the blog posts about modesty re-circulate. The most popular post this year was this post from a woman asking other women to help her protect her marriage by not posting pictures of themselves baring skin.

I saw a lot of criticism of that post regarding the writer’s marriage, and I am going to completely disregard that as none of our business. I understand her intent, and as a highly conscientious person I seriously consider her legitimate feelings.

Once we know that someone is offended or bothered by something, we are responsible for what we do with that knowledge. To act upon our knowledge or ignore it is a choice.

Here is an example of what I mean.

At the beginning of this swimming season, I owned one swimsuit. A two-piece with full coverage of top and bottom that I wore before kids and through 2 pregnancies. I was planning on wearing it for another year when I participated in a discussion with very close friends about their comfort levels wearing bikinis at our neighborhood pool, some in regards to appropriate modesty front of the husbands. Because this is our first year to join the neighborhood pool and be around my friends’ husbands at a pool, I was not sure what to do. I had just purchased a second swimsuit so that I would be able to cycle between the two if one was in the wash. They were both two pieces! Both full coverage of chest and rear end, but definitely two pieces. Were they modest enough?

I choose to care about my friends’ comfort levels, so once they have shared their concerns, I am responsible for my choices in light of this knowledge.

What I am not responsible for is interpreting the reactions of those who have not shared their concerns with me.

Another example: My favorite tongue-in-cheek response to the modesty post this year was  this one: When Suits Become a Stumbling Block. The intent of that parody was to point out that it is nearly impossible for the person wearing the clothing to pinpoint whether certain clothing or behaviors would make someone else “think inappropriate thoughts”. And how ridiculous it would be to ask everyone else to stop doing anything that makes them attractive in any way.

While I am happy to honor the concerns of my friends who tell me what makes them uncomfortable, I am not responsible for determining all the nuances of every individual’s comfort level, as the satirical post illustrates.

So this is what I did: I went out and bought swim shorts for one suit and a tankini top for the other. It was the cheapest thing to do, and I hope it increased the modesty of them both. I did this because I love and respect my friends who were not OK with their husbands seeing women in a standard bikini. I still wear the non-tankini and non-shorts pieces in my backyard with the kids and my husband.

In light of such responsibility, which has it’s limitations within the knowledge we possess, one more thing I want to address about that modesty post (and comments that I occasionally get from other women/clients): it’s not ok to say that you would dress more scantily if only you looked a certain way.

I want to paste some excerpts of the comments I got on my IG post:

Don’t apologize! If I had your body I would walk around in my swimsuit. Everywhere.

Gorgeous bod!! If I looked like that, I would wear that little all of the time!!

I’d grocery shop in that if I looked like you!

If you re-read the modesty post, you will also find this line in her post:

If I was skinny with rock-hard abs and legs from here to Mexico, I’d want to take lots of pictures of myself. Mostly naked. I would want to post them with a nice filter on Instagram, and share them with whoever might see.

Here’s the catch, lady: you just told everyone else they shouldn’t. Which means you don’t get to, either

You couldn’t because of people like you, posting blog posts telling people who look a certain way that they aren’t allowed to wear certain things. Putting conscientious people like me, who genuinely respect your feelings and want to do the right thing, in a very odd place when it comes to clothing.

Which begs the question: are you asking other women to cover up out of genuine concern for modesty, or out of your own body image insecurity? I’m completely respectful of other women’s legitimate requests for modesty. I can and will dress according to specific requests, if needed. But I am not responsible for protecting you from your view of yourself, which is an impossible target for me to hit. I can’t see inside your brain.

My sweet Instagram followers are not judgemental or even critical. What makes me sad is that, at the core, the phrase, “If I looked like that…” expresses dissatisfaction with the speakers’ body. I get this from my clients a lot and I want you all to know that your bodies are strong and capable. We also know that the images we see in the media are not real. I want you to stop comparing yourselves and enjoy your physical bodies!

The reality is, there are some people like the modesty post blogger who are judging someone who is fit even more harshly than they would judge someone who is less fit. The same woman who applauded this awesome lady for wearing a two piece swimsuit might write that blog post asking that we not post pictures of ourselves at the pool because we’re not overweight.

As a conscientious fit person, I’m always open to constructive feedback. And I’m sure that I have body issues of my own. But please do not confuse insecurity with impropriety. Most of all, let’s examine our motives and stop the comparisons.

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.

Yoga and Patience

If you follow me on Instagram, you might notice that I’m participating in several daily yoga challenges.

Daily yoga challenges on Instagram by @conscientious

I am having so much fun with this! I just love learning new poses and the fact that it forces me to practice yoga every day!

In fact, it’s kind of difficult for me not to get carried away with it. I have these grand plans to get my RYT200 certification once my children are in school. That’s a loooong road, because 200 hours is a lot of hours. I know it will be such an amazing growing experience, intellectually and physically. I can’t wait! But wait, I will — until my youngest child is in kindergarden and I can go through the training without impacting our time together during the day. Because I already have issues being a SAHM saying “yes” to more things than I should.

I am also trying my best to wait patiently to learn how to handstand.

Every single day, handstanding against walls and trees and doorways. Falling, falling, falling.

All those 20-something yogis on Instagram, hopping right up into handstand like it’s no big deal!

And me, falling into a tree and skinning my knee in my *cough* upper 30’s *cough*.

My goal is to be able to handstand by the time I am 40.

If I wait to start my RYT200, I hope to be certified by then as well.

So I am waiting.

In both my yoga practice and in life.

Listening to my body. Trying to live in the moment without rushing anything.

In yoga, one of the Niyamas called Tapas applies. Tapas is:

…the practice of both mental and physical discipline. To practice Tapas is to exhibit determination in pursing daily practices and your life’s mission, while remaining joyful in the knowledge that outer discipline will lead to inner discipline.

…Stay in the present moment regardless of how uncomfortable it becomes.

– Beth Shaw’s YogaFit, Second Edition (affiliate link)

In Christian terms, disciplines are also very important. See this series on spiritual disciplines.

What are YOU waiting for? Let’s wait together.

Patience, Flexibility, and Living

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When I started my #30daycleanse, I’d been told that cleanses can be spiritual, or that there were things I’d learn about myself. I think the idea is that in the midst of intentional longing and desire, you rely on something outside yourself. For me, that is God. But there are other things I’ve learned as well.

Things have happened outside of the cleanse in the past few weeks that have perhaps sped up the thinking part.

Patience

It was so difficult for me to wait for the fog of the detox to end (3-5 days). It is sooo difficult to wait to be able to eat bread and fruit. I’ve had to wait to see the results of this eating plan, if any. I am still waiting to feel AMAZING. Where is the amazing?!

With the beginning of my kids yoga classes, I’ve had to wait to solidify my schedule as I see which locations meet minimum enrollment and which don’t. So difficult for someone with control issues.
Patience.

Flexibility

Without access to sugar or fruit, I’ve had to think differently about breakfast. Instead of daily oatmeal, I’ve had to substitute rice congee or barley. I’ve finally come up with a pretty yummy concoction of congee, barley, soaked & pureed dates cooked in apple juice and soy milk. Yum!

I was also able to attend a long-anticipated arm balance workshop this weekend at one of the studios where I practice. It was amazing! Going into the workshop with an open mind, I was able to do poses that were unimaginable before. So fun!

I might actually be slightly obsessed with balances, and frustrated often when I don’t have an opportunity to practice. I need to do them when I can, find the time.
Flexibility.

Living

The author of my particular regime emailed a reminder last week: are we eating to live or living to eat? I have actually never been someone who ate for fun. Sure, I enjoy the taste of many foods. But eating takes time and, for me, is often followed by feeling sick. So I ate to survive, not for enjoyment.

Spending the last 12 days restricted to only a few foods has made me examine why I eat. I realized that I miss flavor and variety. I miss eating a colorful array of fruits, vegetables and even breads. I don’t miss “junk food”, I miss fruit the most.

Another thing happened that reminded me to enjoy life: someone close to our family took their own life. The person was our age, so young. So many things to process, and so sad.

For this reason, we find ourselves on an unplanned quick-turnaround trip to a funeral. When you read this, we may already be back. Unfortunately, things have been a little chaotic since we found out. I stuck with macrobiotic eating until the last minute, sauteéing butternut squash in coconut oil as we left the house. I have brought all my macrobiotic foods that are portable. But when we reach our destination, we’ll be staying with family. It won’t be my kitchen, and I’ll need to eat what is served. Which is ok because I’m flexible. And so blessed to be
Living.

The words of the day are: patience, flexibility, and living. Go out & do it!