Sustainable, responsible & functional yoga clothing

NOTE: I worked with Fit Approach on their #pranaSpringStyle campaign on Instagram and received a free prAna top (as shown below) in compensation. I received the top after the challenge was over, and I wrote my original post about the prAna mat more than a year before this. All opinions regarding prAna are my own. Jump directly to my discount code.

As you begin to expand your yoga journey outside the physical poses (asana) of yoga and start to take your mindfulness off of the mat and into your daily life, you might find yourself more aware of what kinds of companies and business practices you are supporting with your purchases. I know that has been a part of my own journey. Not only do I try to invest my clothing dollars in products that are made sustainably, are toxin-free, and whose companies practice environmental responsibility, but the bonus has been that the quality is often higher than cheaper pieces.

I’m currently teaching four yoga classes per week, one Lagree fitness class, and I try to take at least one class from another instructor, so I spend a lot of time in my yoga clothing. I not only practice in it, but I often end up transitioning directly from a class to preschool or elementary school pickup, or to the grocery store. (If you do this a lot too, I do have a DIY tutorial for a coverup skirt you might check out!) But the point is: I am now choosing quality over quantity. I can save up longer and slowly replace my cheaper pieces with longer lasting versions.

One company that has never let me down is prAna. Not only do I recommend their non-toxic rubber yoga mat, but I have loved every single piece of clothing of theirs that I have owned. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a daily yoga challenge celebrating their Spring Style line of clothing and loved the sense of community it built. You can look back on the posts by searching Instagram for the #prAnaSpringStyle hashtag. Here are some of my favorite shots from the challenge:

Well, that final picture was actually taken after the challenge, when I had received my new grey Quinn Jacquard Top from prAna. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it from the picture on the site but it fits wonderfully. It moves with me, doesn’t rub in irritating places, and has full frontal coverage without having to add a sports bra. LOVE. And, it is certified bluesign®, which indicates the highest standard in the textile industry for environmental health and safety and chemical management – it’s a third party certification that prAna pays for, to ensure it’s not just greenwashing.

If you happen to be looking for some high quality, high performance, sustainably & ethically produced activewear you can get 15% off any prAna purchase right now using my code: PSSS16LC

And be sure to keep following myself and prAna on Instagram for challenges, inspiration, and the day-to-day active journey!

Recent thoughts on blogging

BeachWalkingBlogging

Perhaps you have noticed that the spaces between my posts get larger and larger? I’ve enjoyed sharing my tricks, tips, and even my life over the years with my blogging readers. I’ve spoken at Blogger 2013 and this past month at ShiftCon 2015. I have blogging friends, Twitter friends, and most recently, Instagram friends. People that I’ve never met in real life but I have shared important times with, and who encourage and inspire me every day.

Sometimes, truthfully, I hang onto the space just so that I won’t lose those friends. I want to say that I’m a blogger because I want to be with them.

But, truthfully.

As you probably know, I recently completed my yoga teacher training. I am in the midst of a study right now about making space in our lives for the divine, for the holy. In order to properly lead meditation, one must meditate.

With three new yoga classes per week and existing 1-2 Lagree classes to teach, where will this space to meditate and dwell come from?

It will not come from more activity. It will not come when the feeling of “I must do this next…” follows me every time I sit down for a moment.

My kids are growing up so fast. Little Sir just entered kindergarten, and Little Lady just cannot wait to join him. This is my last year at home with her. I cannot believe that he is not with us during the day anymore, and he never will be again. As much as I waited for the day when they would both be in school all day, I am already grieving for the time that is ending.

How will I spend this last year? Will I spend it dashing upstairs to get a blog post finished as they finish dinner? Will I spend it trying to drum up business for sponsored posts? Will I attend Twitter parties instead of putting them to bed at night?

No, my friends, I will not. Not because any of those things are wrong – many women with children enjoy them. I don’t. At least, not anymore.

And while the blogging conferences provided plenty of swag at Christmas time, the money for the travel could just as well have gone toward a family weekend.  And if I don’t spend the money at all, I don’t have to earn it through blogging, either.

I read the piece that Dooce published recently about stepping back from her own blogging. It felt a little bit like the end of an era. So many of the bloggers from those early years are stepping back. Gina of The Feminist Breeder, for example. Others have stepped back for a while and returned full force with new passion, like my friend Charmed Valerie.

Maybe I will be one of those who comes back in a few years with renewed vigor, who knows.

In yoga, we use the term “holding the space “. That phrase has been following me around for a few weeks. It describes the idea of sitting in silence (or even within activity around you) and waiting while something grows or becomes clear. It’s a nonjudgmental place, where there is no right or wrong answer. Just waiting to see what will happen, to understand what should happen.

Readers and friends, will you hold the space for me? I may visit now and then with some thoughts. But I am no longer going to promise to blog regularly.

For now, I am still loving Instagram, where you can find me @consciouslyjenny, and my new love is Periscope, where I am, incongruously, still @_conscientious. Please visit me there!
Love & hugs,

 

Jenny

My Favorite Yoga Jewelry

NOTE: I mention products in this post but I bought all this jewelry myself and the companies have no idea who I am. I’m not even using affiliate links, so take that, FCC.

It’s more than halfway through the year and I haven’t done an update on my 2015 to do list. A few of the items are going to fall off completely, due to last weeks post. Also due to last weeks post, I’m going to go back to blogging more along the format of my thinking.

One of my favorite to dos so far has been the jewelry. I actually thought this was going to be the worst, and in January I was really grumpy quite about it. But then I discovered a couple of things that have made it a little bit easier and more fun.

I admit that I am taking my jewelry inspiration from Instagram yogis, because that’s the look I’m most comfortable with. I think it’s a pretty good idea to find a style that resonates, follow people who wear the style well, and find similar pieces for yourself.

Tattoo Jewelry | Living Consciously Blog

I started out with tattoo jewelry. I love it because you don’t have to put it on in the morning, or take it off when you wash your hands or take a shower. There are tons of different brands nowadays, and I can’t really recommend one over another because I haven’t had that much experience. I found mine in the clearance aisle at Target for $2! A few popular brands include, Flash Tattoos and Hot Jewels. It’s a little pricey to buy online off those sites — I would actually recommend you go to a department store and look in the jewelry aisle or even the tween girls aisle for the best deals. If you are brave enough to go into Claire’s in a mall (I’m not), they have quite the selection as well. Warning: not all the brands lasted through a sweaty yoga practice. I got some nice, sparkly gold glitter on my rubber yoga mat at one point!

Another favorite yogi jewelry investment: malas. Malas are beaded necklaces and sometimes bracelets made of stones or seeds with specific healing or spiritual properties. A mala necklace always has 108 beans, while shorter necklaces or bracelets can have beads in other increments of 9 or 12, as those are sacred numbers in many traditions. A mala is used for meditation. You run each bead through your finger each time you say a mantra during meditation. That is why the number of beads is important, the mantras are supposed to be said a certain number of times. Malas have been used in many religious traditions, including Christian. They are related in a way to the Catholic rosary. There is actually nothing magical about a mala, but I like the way it is a piece of jewelry that is also useful. A mala is also said to carry the energy of your yoga practice and when it breaks that is the sign of an intentional being fulfilled and seen as a good thing. This is convenient since I’m super hard on jewelry and very likely to break mine. The cord is knotted between each bead so that when it breaks, the beads won’t scatter.

Malas, however, are not exactly cheap. They have to be handmade (knotting between the beads) and the intention set by the person who knots the mala is also important. The stones or seeds that they are made of are significant to different intentions in meditation. Because that was all too overwhelming for me, I signed up for a subscription to Yogi Surprise Jewelry box (referral link). They did not pay me to say this, and I don’t even have an account anymore because I couldn’t finanically sustain my subscription for more than 4 months. But let me say that their quality is very good and I enjoyed every piece I received from them! They send one mala-style necklace and one bracelet along with a  vegan, sustainable, fair-trade and whole-food chocolate treat each month. I seriously have to say that I loved nearly everything they sent. There was one chocolate that was too bitter for me, but that wasn’t their fault. If you are as overwhelmed by yoga jewelry options as I am, I highly recommend this box. Disclaimer: The link above is my referral link, if 3 of you sign up from it I will get a free box.

Malas And Yoga Jewelry |Living Consciously Blog

I found through my encounter with the surprise jewelry box that I really enjoy bracelets. I like the pretty music they make when I use my hands! It is like having beautiful hands. I actually am starting to see the gentle clicking as a reminder to be gentle and beautiful in my actions. Yes, that is kind of a woo-woo yogi thing to say, but why not? I am hoping at some point to invest in some MantraBands and Pura Vida bracelets to deepen those intentions.

I’d love to see your yoga (or otherwise) jewelry! Tag me in your photos on Instagram!

Holy Yoga in the Park and email signup

This week I taught my first Holy Yoga class in our local park, Mimosa Park in Richardson! You are all welcome to join me – it will be a 4 week series, there are currently 3 weeks left. You can join at any time! It is a Gentle Flow class geared for ALL levels, including beginners. The full information can be found on my Holy Yoga Instructor site, as well as information on any of my future classes.

Holy Yoga in Mimosa Park, Richardson TX | 6:00 am Monday mornings July 13, 2015 - Aug 3, 2015 | Living Consciously Blog

If you’d like to receive emails when I start a new class series, change to a new date/time/location, and/or find a permanent and regular venue, please sign up for my Yoga Classes email list. I will only send emails when I have relevant info to share, very rarely more than once a month (sometimes even less).

Hope to see you on the mat soon!

Cheap and Free Yoga in Dallas Summer 2015

I’m heading out to my yoga teacher training in just a few days! Meanwhile, I am getting bombarded by emails, Facebook messages, texts and verbal inquiries from friends looking for somewhere to do yoga this summer. I can recommend several studios or gyms, but it sounds like no one is really willing to pay for a studio membership. If you can’t commit to a studio for whatever reason, there are actually quite a few local places you can go for cheap and free yoga in Dallas this summer. This list will change again in the fall, as some of these are temporary.
NOTE: All classes listed are non-meditative or religion-neutral or Holy Yoga when specified.

Cheap and free yoga in Dallas Summer 2015 | Living Consciously Blog

The Yoga Factory (Dallas location) – has $5 Featured Teacher classes throughout the week. You can find their schedule on the MindBody app for your smartphone or on their web site.

Lululemon on Legacy in Plano – not technically Dallas, but the only location that currently offers free yoga classes on Sundays at 10am. They feature a studio each month – June was the studio I attend, The Yoga Factory. In July, it will be another studio.

Whole Foods Park Lane – will host free yoga in their upstairs meeting room from 6:30pm – 8pm on Wednesdays. My friend Erin from Namah Shivaya will be teaching, tell her “hi” from me!

Holy Yoga at Park Cities Baptist Church – donation-based class by Master Level instructor Danette on Tuesdays 9:20am – 10:20am and Thursdays 12:00 noon – 1:00pm, West Bldg., Room #104

Holy Yoga at Dallas Ballet CenterMondays and Wednesdays 9:30am – 10:30am for $10 per class or buy a pack of 10 classes for $80. You must register online here (or from the main DBC page, click the blue “register here” button at the bottom of the far left column). The class is lead by Master Level instructor Teresa.

The Mat studio Karma Happy Hour – July 17 only, at 6:30pm there will be an Open Flow class followed by a free wine Happy Hour at 7:30pm. The event is free but you must register ahead of time online.

Holy Yoga in Downtown Frisco – beginning July 16, my friend Maureen will be teaching a flow class (all levels) for $10 per class if you purchase at 10 class card at The Sacred Space in downtown Frisco Thursdays at 5:30pm and Fridays at 9:30am. This studio also offers restorative classes with Christian meditation for various costs.

Holy Yoga in the Park, Richardson – taught by me! I will be teaching a 45 minute Flow class at 6:00am every Monday, July 13 – August 3. Free – donations accepted but not required. All levels welcome!

The list is short for now, but I’ll add to it as we go along this summer. If you are an instructor offering free or low-cost yoga classes in the Richardson or North Dallas area, please let me know and I will add your class to the list!

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic - deciphering marketing speak to find a safe yoga mat | Living Consciously Blog

Over the past month, I have been on the search for a new yoga mat to take with me on retreat to complete my 225 yoga teacher training. For the past year, I’ve been using the prAna Indigena natural rubber mat (affiliate link), which I love! Barely any slipping. But, because it is all rubber, it is 7 lbs. Not ideal for squeezing into a carryon in a plane. And we’ll be sitting on the mat during our classroom times, instead of a chair. The prAna is 3-4mm thick, which is fine for my regular practice (I don’t need cushioning), but I wanted to move up to a 5mm thickness for the retreat.

Unfortunately, I’ve found the process of buying a toxin-free yoga mat fraught with difficulties, primarily in the form of deceptive marketing language. Sure, if you search Amazon or Google for “eco-friendly yoga mat”, you’ll come up with plenty of options. Or what companies present as viable options. But how do you really know if your yoga mat is toxic or not?

The phrase “eco-friendly” in the description of a yoga mat does NOT mean it is free of toxins

Here is a list of things that I have found companies to claim as eco-friendly in yoga mats:

  • uses PVC, but was manufactured within EPA standards for emissions at the plant
  • part or all of the mat will biodegrade (eventually)
  • eco-friendly manufacturing processes
  • doesn’t use 6 of the highest-toxin phthalates banned by the EU (which are NOT banned in the US)
  • marketing copy attaches the word “natural” to materials such as “polyurethane”
  • uses the phrase “eco-friendly” but does not disclose the materials of which the mat is composed AT ALL

Can you see what is wrong with each of these?? It’s possible that none of these mats are actually toxin-free!  It’s all marketing speak that means nothing. I will outline the problems with each of these bullet points.

Eco-friendly manufacturing processes. A phrase that could mean anything. It could mean that they recycle the trash in their break room. It could mean that they use low-flow toilets at the manufacturing plant. Or that they have an LEED-certified building. It could ideally mean that the plant producing the mats disposes of waste properly. That would be nice. However, “proper” disposal of chemicals does not equal ethical or environmentally friendly — remember that it is often perfectly legal to dump your toxic sludge into ponds and lakes as long as you have the proper permits. There is a huge amount of leeway in the claim of eco-friendly manufacturing, so much that it literally means nothing to me when making the decision to purchase the mat or not.

Biodegradable mat. There’s also a lot of wiggle room here because the most common phrase is “biodegradable components”. Meaning that only a percentage of the components used in the mat might be biodegradable. It might be 10%, 20% or even 50%. And perhaps it’s 100% — great! But I still want to know what chemicals the surface contains, regardless of whether they biodegrade.

Of course I want to buy a mat that is environmentally responsible in both manufacturing process and when it comes to the end-of-life of the mat (i.e., I want it to be fully biodegradable without leeching toxins in the breakdown process). But equally or more important is avoiding toxic chemicals coming off the mat when I’m using it.

PVC free. Definitely something I look for, but unless the company discloses what the mat IS made of, it’s not enough. The most common alternatives to PVC in a yoga mat are polyurethane (a highly off-gassing plastic, see the paragraph about phthalates, below), or Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs). TPE is a blanket term for any number of materials.  Here is a breakdown of all the materials that fall under the name TPE, including some forms of PVC! So just because the mat claims to be PVC-free doesn’t actually mean that it is. Even if the TPE’s used are PVC-free, they are wide open to contain plastics with phthalates.

Free of the Big 6 phthalates. Phthalates are a big deal to me because they are hormone disrupting chemicals. They are most often inhaled through the off-gassing of plastics, because most plastic contains chemical phthalates for softness and flexibility. Throughout the lifetime of a plastic, the surface constantly releases these chemicals as the material slowly breaks down. Plastics are not stable chemical products — you may have noticed that plastic becomes more brittle as it ages, due to the phthalates leaching out as the chemicals return to their original states. The phthalates released from plastics are not only inhaled, but also absorbed by the skin. The feet have the most pores in the body, and our feet are in constant contact with a yoga mat. So avoiding phthalates in your yoga mat is VERY IMPORTANT!

There are hundreds of chemicals in the phthalate family. The EU has identified 6 phthalates that pose such a severe risk that they have been banned in EU countries. They have not been banned in the US. While it’s definitely a positive step for a company to make a mat without the top 6 most toxic phthalates, it doesn’t mean they didn’t use the hundreds of other phthalates available. So the marketing tactic of avoiding the Big 6 is really not enough to protect our health on the mat.

In the end, I have come back to the conclusion that I came to when I bought my current mat several years ago: the only truly non-toxic mat is one that is made of pure natural rubber. The prAna Indigena mat is one option, but the other mats prAna makes, including the E.C.O. mat, are not rubber. The not-so-E.C.O. is made of TPE’s and the prAna site contains no information regarding what components the company chose to use, whether PVC or phthalates or synthetic rubber.

I have finally settled on a Manduka eKo Lite mat, which I have experienced at the studio where I practice. It is all rubber but a tad lighter (~ 1-2 lbs lighter) than my current mat. It is, unfortunately, about the same thickness. I will definitely be bringing my grippy yoga towel (affiliate link) to sit on, and looking for another one at local stores.

What yoga mat to do you use and why? Do you know what your mat is made of?
 

DIY Sports Skirt & Leggings coverup from an old t-shirt

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings Coverup, #reuse an old t-shirt | Living Consciously Blog

Let’s get straight to the point here: I teach or take fitness classes almost all week long. I usually pack my classes in while my kids are in preschool or at home with my husband, and since those are the only kid-free time periods that I have, I often run quick errands either right before or right after class. While I agree that leggings are not pants from a style perspective, I do happen to still be dressed for Lagree fitness or yoga at those times. As an instructor, I have strong opinions about the type of workout pants that I chose, but that is a subject for another post. Suffice to say, baggy pants are not a good idea, either from a participant or an instructor’s standpoint. I wear workout leggings that provide compression, support, moisture wicking, and do not get in the way of twisting, flexing, and moving. So leggings as pants it is, at least when I go grocery shopping at Whole Foods after class on my way home.

During the winter months, I am more than happy to slip some warmup pants over my leggings for extra warmth, but when I have tried that in the Texas summers (110 degrees most of the time), I felt like I was suffocating within the first few minutes, and that was in the air conditioning! Attempting to be in a car that had been sitting in the sun for 2 hours was just right out of the question wearing 2 pairs of pants. I’m already carrying snacks, water bottle, yoga mat, grocery bags, even a cooler on some days. So carrying a whole extra change of clothes is equally out of the question. And why would I put on clean clothes when I’m all sweaty from class or when I’ll just have to change when I get to the studio? For the past several years there has just been no solution to the leggings-as-pants dilemma for me.

As I was cleaning out some old workout clothes last week, I came across several old fitted t-shirts. They were in good shape and fairly neutral colors. I had been drooling over this yoga skirt on Etsy but hadn’t pulled the trigger yet because I wasn’t sure of the logistics. The skirt doesn’t have a waistband and relies on tucking the top of it into your leggings or yoga pants. How would that even work?

I was willing to try cutting up the old t-shirts to try and make a DIY sports skirt and leggings coverup. Here is what I did.

Supplies:

Old t-shirt (see optional step below if it is wider than your hips)

Sewing machine, thread

Scissors

Something to use for a drawstring

 

Step 1: Cut right below the armpits to make a tube with the bottom already hemmed.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 1, cutting | Living Consciously Blog

Note: I chose a shirt with very little design. If your shirt does have a design and you don’t want it, you might try turning the shirt inside-out and re-hemming the sides from the other direction. That could be handy anyway if your skirt needs to be narrowed to fit your hips.

Optional next step: The ideal width for this t-shirt tube is the width of the widest part of your hips. So again, you might want to re-hem to make it more narrow. I didn’t have to do it with this t-shirt because it was so narrow already.

Step 2: Turn the waistband under. Try it on at this point and look in a mirror, holding it up with your hands. You want the bottom of the skirt to hit just below your rear end. If you go to far down the upper leg, it just looks weird. You might have to cut more off the top to make it the right length. If you are a fancy sewing person, you can use pins to pin stuff here. But t-shirts are very good at holding shape and you probably don’t even need pins!

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 2, folding waist for hemming | Living Consciously Blog

I turned mine under a little asymmetrically to allow for my rear end. If you have a rear end, you might want to do this too. My angle is not as severe as this picture looks, though, because I am actually just a terrible fashion and sewing photographer.

Step 3: Hem the waistband, leaving a gap for the drawstring. I took several pictures of this because again, not a sewing photographer.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, waistband and drawstring | Living Consciously Blog

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, closer shot of waistband and drawstring opening | Living Consciously BlogStep 4: String the drawstring through the tube you made, using the gap you left.

DONE!

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings CoverUp Final product | Living Consciously Blog
Completed sports skirt leggings coverup. I am staring off into the distance not only because I am so impressed by the skirt but also because when I smiled for this picture it looked really weird and creepy.

Super easy and fast! It definitely took me longer to try to take pictures of this process and the finished product than it took for me to make the skirt.

Other optional steps might include tapering the waist (this would be done before Step 3. I didn’t do it in my first skirt, but I’ll do it on subsequent skirts).

I’ll try to update this post with pictures of future skirts, if you make one from this tutorial, I’d love to see it – post it on Instagram and tag me!

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

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!