Aesthetic vs. Functional Yoga: Finding Your Path on the Mat
Hello, Yoga Friends!
In our colorful world of yoga, there are many paths to explore. Today, let's chat about two distinct approaches: aesthetic yoga and functional yoga. As a middle-aged, queer, alignment-focused yoga teacher, I see beauty in both but also recognize their unique differences. So, grab your mat, and let's dive into what sets these two apart.
Aesthetic Yoga: The Art of the Pose
Aesthetic yoga is like the yoga you often see in magazines or on social media. It's visually stunning, with perfect poses and picturesque backgrounds.
Focus on Form:
Aesthetic yoga emphasizes the external appearance of yoga poses. It’s about achieving that picture-perfect pose that looks like a work of art.
Challenges and Considerations:
While it's beautiful to look at, this approach can sometimes lead us to push our bodies beyond their comfortable limits. It might also lead to comparing ourselves with others, which isn’t what yoga is truly about.
Who Might Enjoy It:
If you’re someone who loves the challenge of mastering complex poses and enjoys the visual aspect of yoga, aesthetic yoga might resonate with you.
Functional Yoga: The Body’s Wisdom
Functional yoga, on the other hand, is all about how your body feels in a pose rather than how it looks.
Alignment and Sensation:
This approach focuses on alignment and the internal experience of yoga. It’s about understanding and respecting your body’s unique structure and needs.
Benefits and Safety:
Functional yoga reduces the risk of injury and is incredibly inclusive. Whether you’re young, old, athletic, or new to exercise, functional yoga adapts to you.
Who Might Enjoy It:
If you're more interested in the health benefits of yoga, how it feels in your body, and personal growth, functional yoga might be your path.
The Middle Ground
The beauty of yoga is that it's not a one-size-fits-all practice. You might find yourself drawn to the artistic expression of aesthetic yoga one day and the body-awareness focus of functional yoga the next.
Listening to Your Body:
The key is to listen to your body. It’s okay to admire the beauty of a perfect pose, but it’s also important to honor your body’s limits and needs.
A Personal Journey:
Yoga is a personal journey, and your practice can be as unique as you are. Whether you lean towards aesthetic, functional, or a mix of both, what matters most is that your practice brings you joy, health, and peace.
In the end, whether you choose aesthetic yoga, functional yoga, or a little bit of both, remember that the heart of yoga is self-discovery and self-care. It’s a practice that invites us to explore and embrace our unique selves, on and off the mat.
So, dear yogis, I encourage you to explore, experiment, and find the style (or styles) that resonate with you. And most importantly, have fun with your practice!
Your Yoga Guide on this Journey
Yoga's Not Just for Show: Why Feeling Beats Looking Good
Let's chat about something near and dear to my heart (and my yoga mat): the difference between making yoga look good and making it feel good. You've probably seen those picture-perfect yoga poses on Instagram, right? That's aesthetic yoga for you. But here in our cozy yoga corner, we're all about functional yoga. It's less about impressing others and more about connecting with yourself.
Aesthetic Yoga: Looks Good on Camera, But...
Aesthetic yoga is like those glossy magazine photos – stunning, but not always real. It's about hitting poses that look great, sure, but they might not feel great. And that's a problem.
Ever felt like you're not 'doing yoga right' because you can't twist yourself into a pretzel? Yeah, that's the downside of chasing those picture-perfect poses.
When Your Body Says 'Nope':
Pushing your body into a pose it's screaming 'no' to? Ouch. That's when yoga stops being yoga and starts being a competition – and not the fun kind.
Functional Yoga: Where Feeling Good is the New Looking Good
Alignment Over Appearance:
Here’s the deal with functional yoga – it’s all about how you feel in a pose, not how you look. It's about listening to your body, finding your alignment, and saying, “Hey, body, you’re the boss.”
And guess what? It's for every body. Tall, short, big, small – if you've got a body, you're good to go.
No Injuries, Just Bliss:
By focusing on how poses feel, we're taking care of our bodies, reducing injury risks, and actually enjoying our practice. It's like giving your body a high-five.
Real Talk from Your Yoga Buddy:
Been There, Felt That:
Ever been in a class, trying a pose, and it just feels plain wrong? But everyone else is doing it, so you grit your teeth and bear it? Been there, done that. Not fun.
In our world, if a pose feels off, we change it. We adapt. Because yoga is about feeling good, not just looking good.
Feeling It, Not Forcing It:
In our classes, it’s all about tuning in to what your body’s saying. We make poses work for us, not the other way around. It’s pretty liberating, actually.
Wrapping Up: So, there you have it. Yoga doesn’t have to be a fashion show. It's about feeling grounded, connected, and, honestly, just not giving a hoot about what others think. It's your practice, your rules.
Come Feel Good with Us: If you’re into feeling great and taking care of your body (while having a bit of fun), drop by for a class. Let’s focus on what feels right, together.
Stay Bendy (Or Not), Your Yoga Pal
Rolling Out the Welcome Mat: Yoga for Every Body
Hey There, Yoga Family,
Let's chat about something that's been on my mind a lot lately. You know, yoga is supposed to be about balance, acceptance, and peace. But, let's be real – sometimes, it feels like you've got to be a thin, flexible, young, and typically white gal to fit in. I'm here to shake that up a bit.
Why Yoga Needs a Reality Check
You've seen it, right? Those picture-perfect yoga studios with their Instagram-worthy poses. It's like yoga turned into a competition for who can be the most zen while rocking Lululemon. Here's the thing – I'm a queer, bigger-bodied person, and I've been in those rooms where I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. Not cool.
Talking the Talk, But Not Walking the Walk
Ever been to a class where the instructor's words felt more like a script for a fitness model shoot than a real-life yoga session? Yeah, me too. Sometimes it feels like they're teaching from a place of ego rather than empathy. I've heard instructions and comments that made me think, "Who are you actually talking to?" Because it sure wasn't me or half of the folks in the room.
Flipping the Script on Yoga Spaces
So, here's my approach – let's make yoga chill again. In my classes and retreats, everyone's welcome. I mean it. Queer, straight, big, small, young, old, injured, Olympian – you get the picture. Yoga is about connecting with yourself, and how can you do that if you don't feel welcome in the first place?
Keeping It Real
In my world, yoga is less about hitting that perfect pose and more about feeling good in your skin. I use language that's for everyone, offer modifications for every body type, and keep things light. A little humor goes a long way, especially when you're trying to twist your body like a pretzel (which, by the way, is totally optional).
The Proof Is in the Pudding
I've seen what happens when you open the doors wide. People come in, they relax, they smile, and they connect – not just with yoga but with each other. That's the magic. That's the yoga I fell in love with, and that's what I'm here to share.
Join the Fam
If you're tired of feeling like you don't belong in the yoga world, I've got you. Come to my class, hit up one of my retreats, or just drop me a message. Let's make yoga what it was always meant to be – a place for every one of us.
Stay Bendy (Or Not),
It feels so easy to coach everyone else.
In speaking with people, it is so obvious to me where someone's blocks are, where they are going "wrong" in their lives, decisions & businesses, & what they need to do to get the results they are looking for. What makes me a good coach is not telling people these things, but rather supporting my clients in recognizing these things themselves. That being said, seeing one's own shit is not as easy. It is a consistent complaint I hear from others, that life coaches or business coaches don't have perfect lives themselves. Well ya'll, the reality is - that's true. We don't. When choosing a coach, i believe the important reality is that the coach has integrity, is authentic & practices what they preach (insert definitions here what those words mean to you).
For me, practicing what I preach encompasses both integrity & authenticity and this means that I regularly check in with my personal & business lives to ensure that I am doing my work in full support of my own personal growth & also that of my clients. The last couple of weeks for myself & my clients have been focused on clearing up energy leaks. Energy leaks are areas in our lives where we are unconsciously & consistently draining our energy on people, places & things that do not serve us but rather take away from us. And it's time to shine a light on that SHIT.
It's time to seal the energy leaks. Take a look around your life & get clear about what your outer world looks like, because your outer world is very indicative of your inner world. For example unpaid bills, incomplete projects, messy inboxes, old clothes & clutter are just the same inside as these things are detrimental to moving forward, as it is plainly obvious the person is holding on to old memories, not dealing with things, etc. etc.
Today while mulling over a friend's ex-girlfriend/friend choices in their current life, I camp up with the perfect life fixes forthem, the ways they could incorporate this month's theme into their life to clean up what has been going on for them & it hit me how great it would be for me to take my own advice... and of course, share in case you guys could also learn from this. This was really related to who it is that you have in your life and how much energy you are expending on those people.
I have heard that you and the results in your life are an average of the 5 people you spend the majority of your time with (not who you want to spend time with, but actually do). Take a look around. For me, the reality is that I am coming home soon & what I am looking at is where I am going & who I will be spending time with. My mind wanders to who I was spending time with before I left, who I have kept in touch with while away and (judge this statement if you will) how it is benefitting me now.
One concept that I regularly speak to is focused on looking forward to create your future. Many people look at their pasts, repeat their stories, make the same choice and this translate to creating a future based on one's past. Yet, when one makes that choice, what they are doing (usually unconsciously & unaware) is repeating a pattern. "If you keep doing what you've always done, you are going to get what you have always gotten, if you want something different, you need to do something different." So, why do you spend time with the people you spend your time with? Answer that question honestly & whole heartedly.
Personally, I found myself thinking I owe these people something :O. I quickly realized maybe not a reason to call them when I get back. A dear friend introduced me to this concept that you should leave them better than . when you found them, and I love that. AND the piece that I heard differently today was LEAVE them. What exactly is the point of continuing when it is over? If it was toxic and needed to end, what is the benefit of continuing it in anyway friends or more? Why?
So while this question plays in my head and I begin to review where my energy is going interpersonally, today, I offer you some free, unsolicited advice - where your focus goes, your energy grows - take a hard look
Best Date Ever
Today fate put me in a car from the farm to Jaco to meet my babies with yet another interesting and beautiful creature so full of lessons. My drive to Jaco with Pat was yet another, super clear sign from the universe.
The farm was so amazing and healing. On my last day I was taken on a beautiful jungle date to a river confluence and was shown enlightenment with a different medicine. Love & nature. The conversation that took place on the big rock on the bank of the river was the most powerful and insightful conversation I may have ever partaken in. What I heard was that I am so perfectly imperfect just the way I am and that my expectations around self love will continue to leave me disappointed. That the more I keep searching, the more I will discover I don't have and therefore will continue to search and not find and nothing, no one, especially me, will ever be good enough. That the intention to search outward is enough to say that I don't know, I don't have the answers and therefore will forever quest for the right answer. I cried and I truly saw nature and myself for what we truly are. I also saw another person as they truly are. Divine & beautiful & authentic and real <3
Back to my drive... I was attached to what my next direction would be and the conversation on our drive really showed me that I am going in a different direction. What I recognized was that I am unattaching from material things and really starting to attach to the feelings & experiences and then want to make or stay in the moment. But the truth I need to see is that the experience happens and I try to hold on and make that the thing. And unattachment is the practice, as well as trusting and allowing. So... how can I take the lessons & experiences & let them go, holding the experience & memories & continuing to take what comes to me as it comes to me?
Today I Ate an Ant
Mar.6 - Journal Entry
Summer Vosburgh is travelling today. My thoughts go to her. Sitting here with no internet, I just trust. Funny how it happened, seems perfect. AND scary. Denise is gone and my neighbours leave tonight. Some nerves happening for me about being alone. Again, more of what I need. :O
Mar.10 - Journal Entry
Forest dance. Hmmmm. What can I say about ceremonial fire dancing in the forest from midnight until sun rise? Can I not get into it because I invited someone in? Hmmmm.
I think back to when I said yes to this, to forest dance. I had no idea what it was or what would happen. When I got here, my initial thought was, what the fuck did I sign up for? I tried to blame Kylie Judge & Leah Barsher, but they wouldn't let me get away with that. I was like, what did you get me into & Kylie was like, dude - I remember suggesting it and you said yes before I even finished my sentence... so what did you get yourself into. LOL.
What this brings up for me is this interesting relationship we hold with fear and with trying to make everything perfect. If Iknew what Forest Dance was, I would not have gone AND even in going, I was uncomfortable and can't quite tell you if I loved it, but the experience was one of the best experiences of my life. I am so glad I said yes. Big lessons.
The people and community are amazing and the lessons rich in every person I experienced. Some insight: What would it be like to be in a body that doesn't really reflect who you are, but yet still does so fully? Like on a big level? When I think of stretch marks or the things I have hated on my body, it feels like it has become something I have just grasped onto to hate myself. The insights so beautiful, this place incredibly healing, conversations so deep.
What comes up so fully for me is expectation, appreciation, gratefulness, faith, and love. My interactions with others are showing me more about people and the the types of people I am currently attracting, which is so great in addition to those already in my life <3 I hold the intention to continue to attract more in this mindset, more that hold deep lessons and connection, more that can help me to guide myself even further.
PS - Today I ate an ant.
Aya Camp Entry #7?
Ceremony #7 A perfect end. After the usual terrifying piece, all calmed. I built a world under blankets and felt all the sensations - Visual, auditory & physical. Overwhelming sensations. Why does it have to be so terrible? I talk myself through it. What comes to me now is this trouble I have with control. My need to know who, what, why, where & when & most of all - HOW?
She takes away my control & takes me to the 5th dimension. A place where you can feel the inside of your body, where you are not separate from anything. Being so significance driven & so control & outcome focused, this world would be terrifying.
Last night was the first time I asked for help. Assistance to the bathroom, where I was able to find this world. The present. Then back to my mat for love. My reflections on my sapo experience & this feeling of overwhelming gratitude. Gratitude, firstly for my family - the Frik-Shuhn family. The people that give a shit, that read my posts and support and loveme, just as I am. Then I moved to the people in the room. The group. Such immense love for everyone in their processes. So beautiful, so much love. Then to Sean & Ben & Doug. So in love with these men. Words I needed to hear post Sapo. That they give a shit. That they love me. Broken, collecting all the pieces off the floor, ready to put them all back together one day soon.
Before enlightenment - chop the wood, carry the wood, stack the wood. After enlightenment - chop the wood, carry the wood, stack the wood.
It feels weird to say, but today I hit enlightenment. Years of being so hard on myself, I cried for. Years. Like all of my years. All the pressure I have put on myself. Dissolved. Trust. I haveto trust. The flow of everything. I had a taste of it.
We walk in, get santoed and then get comfy. Angel my guide. He says trust. I do. And he sends me to a place where nothing matters anymore, last of all my judgements of myself or anyone else. Years of baggage released. Years of harshness and making meaning and playing games. Am I here forever? Did I pass through and leave my body? I wish LOL.
I have never cried so hard. Not only this week, but in this ceremony. I felt it. Complete andunconditional love for myself, for the perfection I am. Completely broke through. Deserving. Worthy. Open. Loved. Loving. Nothing matters, least of all the constraints I have put on myself. So much hatred released.
One more aya ceremony.....
*** it felt amazing to hit enlightenment. It is a state I have only dreamed about. Itwas beautiful and I thought I hi t samadhi and was never to return. And that was not the truth here's the thing: after hitting that reality, one must come back to this reality. So quickly the veil is returned. Slowly added back. Skinny. Beauty. Finances. That place is beautiful and perfect but the real work takes place here.
The Sweat aka Temazcal
The SWEAT The TEMAZCAL
MY intention : to find the strength to carry on and finish the 2 hour ceremony and carry that strength into my life.
Analogy : I was shown me walking through an abyss of dark just r eaching out to grab whatever I can hold onto. BUT in the SWEAT it represents the same and I didn't grab out for anything. I stayed close to the fire. I didn't drink water. I made it. It did feel like a rebirth. I can only do what I can do. And go as far as I can go. I am so strong. Not sure why I forget that. From childhood all the way to now. And I just keep trying to do better, not seeing all that I have already done.