What is a Yogic Diet?

pay-the-farmer-now-not-the-doctor-later

People always ask me, what is a “yogic diet”? Some people must think we yogis sit around a bonfire, barefoot and cross-legged, eating leaves and nuts that we foraged for following our 4 hour yoga practice that we woke up at the butt crack of dawn for. Hmm… ok… some of that might be true… some days.

So, what is a yogic diet? Well, I believe that having a yogic diet is having a mindful approach to how we eat, leaving all emotion, guilt, and temptation out of it. We all have different bodies and that means we all require different types of diets that depend on a lot of factors. There ain’t no “one size fits all”, which is also the same deal for our yoga practices. When it comes to a yoga practice, a dozen different bodies require a dozen different poses and different kinds of practices for us to stay balanced. Balance means not too much of any one thing.. .and that even applies to too much healthy food. I believe there is such a thing as eating too healthy! If you love chocolate and sweets don’t deprive yourself for too long of cookies, ice cream and candy. I believe in the 90/10 diet. 90% healthy stuff and 10% not so healthy stuff. I love chocolate too much to take it out of my diet. I’ll definitely help myself to a delicious dark chocolate treat a couple times a week and that keeps me balanced.

Many people ask me if I’m a vegetarian. I am not a vegetarian. I tried it for a bit and then I tried being a pescatarian. I can keep a pescatarian diet for a while, but sometimes I really do crave chicken in my salad, and that’s ok. Listen to your cravings. It’s telling you something. I don’t enjoy putting rules and restrictions on myself because it makes life challenging. However, if we are more aware of where our food comes from and how its treated, then I believe it is more of a yogic diet than not knowing or caring. Also, if you always eat out at restaurants, you should try to support the establishments that are also conscious of the food they serve their patrons.

Adopting a yogic diet is a practice. Try things out for a week and see how it makes you feel. For example, take dairy out of your diet for a week and notice how it makes you feel. Do you feel anything new? Is it a positive change? Negative experience? Maybe try eating more vegetables and notice how it makes you feel. If you go through a week where you seem to eat a lot of processed & heavy food and by the end of the week you feel awful…. it’s ok. You can start over and do it better the next week. This is what I mean by a practice. Some days we walk into our yoga practice and you feel like the poses are easy and you feel light as a feather. Some days you walk into class and every pose feels heavy and difficult. Our bodies and minds change every single day and require different types of food, exercise, practice, and care depending on so many factors.

macrobiotic bowl cafe gratitude

Macrobiotic bowl at Cafe Gratitude, one of my favorite vegan restaurants.

I’ll lay down a few ground rules for this “yogic diet” thing we muse over:

1) Turn inward and listen to your body today. What does your body need? Think of food as fuel. Unless you really crave frozen yogurt…. always get fro-yo:)

2) Eat whole, real foods…. lots of green vegetables, 90% of the time…. the other 10% is reserved for your sweet tooth cravings.

3) Don’t keep eating until you feel full. We need much smaller portions of food than you think. As a yogi, we cannot practice and move around with agility on a full stomach. We need to feel light and spry, so eat smaller portions of light and nutritious food.

4) Cook your own food at home as often as possible.

- When you cook your own food you know what’s in it and you can add as much love as you need… Seasoned to perfection. You also tend to not overeat as much when you cook at home. You can measure out exactly what you need and that’s it. When we go to restaurants we tend to finish the plate even if we weren’t that hungry. Also, its way less expensive to cook at home and you can spend all your extra saved money on cool new yoga pants!!

5) There really are no rules! Eat what you love! Eat what makes you feel good… really think about that. What makes you feel good. What foods make you feel sexy and confident about yourself? What foods make you feel strong and ready to conquer the world, or at least conquer your yoga practice? Eat those veggies and whole foods and keep yourself feeling balanced.

Here’s some grocery shopping inspiration….

My yogi shopping list:

Mixed Greens

Kale

Peppers

Cucumber

Tomato

Green Beans

Avocadoes

Organic Blueberries

Bananas

Oranges

Lemons

Ginger

Quinoa

Jalapeno Yogurt Cheese (from Trader Joe’s…. its lactose free!)

Organic Sprouted Seed Bread

Organic Hummus

Organic Almond Milk

Organic Raw Almond Butter

Rice Crackers

Nacho (flavored) Kale Chips

Organic Free Range Eggs

Organic Chicken Breast

Nutritional Yeast

Organic Ground Coffee

Dark Chocolate!

Red Wine!

“Who am I to be a yoga teacher?”

taylor berman one down dog

When I first signed up for yoga teacher training, I was constantly second-guessing myself. I worried about not being “good enough” at yoga. I mean, I couldn’t even do a headstand yet! Who was I to be a yoga teacher? Why would anyone want to take my yoga class if I couldn’t even do a headstand?

Looking back, I realize I was talking to myself in a way that I would never talk to a friend – or anyone, for that matter!

I think a lot of this self-doubt was coming from my desire to find external validation. There’s a lot of stereotypes swirling around in the yoga world these days and I don’t exactly fit the bill for all of them. Arielle recently wrote a great post along these lines. When people found out I was doing yoga teacher training, they’d almost always say “wow you must be really good” or “wow so you can do headstands and stuff?”

This feedback coming in was fueling a fire of doubt.

I was recently reading a blog post I wrote about one of our early training sessions where we all shared our reasons for being there and also any fears/doubts we had. It was very reassuring to hear that everyone else had similar feelings.

I realized that in order to overcome these feelings of self-doubt, I had to stop searching around me for permission to go after what I want and allow myself to follow my heart. I stopped asking myself if I was “good enough” at yoga to become a teacher and looking outside of myself for the definition of “good.” I started asking myself what it was that really drew me to teacher training in the first place.

I didn’t sign up for teacher training to be “good enough.” I didn’t sign up for teacher training to do a headstand. I didn’t sign up for teacher training to fit into size small yoga pants. And I most certainly didn’t sign up for teacher training to impress others.

Yoga is not about any of that to me. Yoga is a constant process of learning about oneself, looking inward and then using that stability of inner peace to be completely present in the world around us. Yoga is about finding comfort in the uncomfortable places, finding balance between effort and ease, finding joy in the everyday.

Signing up for teacher training was my way of inviting all of this into my life. I wanted to learn and explore ideas. I wanted to grow and challenge myself physically and mentally. I wanted to be a part of a community with others who were on a similar journey.

These days, I’m teaching at One Down Dog 4 times a week and I’m still constantly learning and growing. Every class is different and there is something to learn from every experience. I’m so glad that I signed up for the teacher training because I proved to myself that I can face my fears and that those fears aren’t even real. I get to be a part of a super fun community of yogis. And it just so happens, I did learn to do a headstand – and it’s super fun!

See you on the mat!


When Taylor isn’t teaching yoga, she’s blogging about her adventures as a vegan yogi entrepreneur on her blog and designing/coding websites.

You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter. Check out Taylor’s class schedule here.

  
 


Have you ever considered becoming a yoga teacher?

Do you want to deepen your yoga practice?

Curious about yoga philosophy, ayurveda, pranayama, etc?

One Down Dog Yoga Teacher Training

 

Click here to learn more about the One Down Dog Yoga Teacher Training program.

Come check out one of our Teacher Training Info Sessions every Saturday at 12:30pm at the Silverlake Studio! We’re here to answer all of your questions and chat about what you can expect from the experience.

#ODDLight Teacher Feature: Brittany Kovler

oddlight teacher feature brittany kovler

Each month we will be bringing a teacher into the #ODDlight and illuminating their interests, practices, and who they are. There is a real person behind those teachers and it’s their knowledge filtered through their own experiences that make them that person that pulls you into class. This month, we are featuring Brittany Kovler, our very own hooping goddess!

Name:
Brittany Nicole Kolver

Nick Name:
My parents call me Itty Bitty Britty.

Hometown:
Boca Raton, FL, A.K.A. God’s Waiting Room ;) Ya know, where Jerry Seinfield’s parents live?

Favorite Place:
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), I can’t leave that place without spending a butt load of money. Also, favorite place… somewhere out in nature preferably with waterfalls and mountains and wildlife and good friends there to experience it all with me. Also… Trader Joe’s… I love grocery shopping :)

brittany kovler one down dog

Favorite color:
Purple or Neon Pink

What’s your sign?
Aries. Fire, baby!

Most embarrassing moment?
Can’t remember… I’ve probably done lots of embarrassing things.. but I block them out! Or I don’t care that it’s embarrassing!

Most empowering moment?
When I enter an advanced pose that I’ve been working toward for a long time and finally that one day everything clicks. All my hard work has paid off and I feel empowered when I finally land the full expression of that pose I worked for. However, I know that a pose is never conquered. There’s always more to work on!

brittany kovler one down dog

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I’m a trained classical singer.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I danced competitively for many years.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?
I was a punk rocker chick in high school ;) I still am in my heart<3

Share a story or anecdote with us – something magical, changing, funny, or adventurous.
The first time I went to Burning Man I went alone on a whim. I was going through a lot of weird stuff in my life and I needed an adventure to wake and shake me up. I needed to go find myself because I had totally lost myself in LA. I had no clue who I was anymore. Confused, sad, lonely, and just beaten down; I hopped in a car with a stranger headed towards the dusty desert with not much food or supplies. Scary shit. But someone had to do it. Burning Man changed my life. That first year was tough. I cried a lot and reconnected with myself. I met a lot of great people that opened my eyes to new things and ways of life. I decided to change my career path because of this wild temporary city in the dust in the middle of BFE. I decided that there were so many things that I wanted to change about myself and I knew it would be a long journey, but I was happy that I realized I needed to change. Four years later, I’m still changing, growing and learning and going back to Burning Man for my senior year… my fourth year! Each Burn since has been better and more fun and filled with beautiful friends. Each year so far has had a different personal “theme” and I don’t know what that “theme” is until the Burn is over. I just set my intentions at the beginning of the week and then stay open and receptive and figure it all out when I get home. The man burns in 39 days!

brittany kovler one down dog

Something that you love to tell.
There is no coincidences. Synchronicity happens for a reason and there’s absolutely a meaning behind it. It may be subtle, but it’s there.

When you aren’t at the studio, where can you be found?
Probably romping around in nature somewhere…. usually camping somewhere nature­-y and magical.

How do you define yoga?
If I were to go by the book, yoga means; to yoke or the union of mind and body, the union of the sun and the moon. If I were to pull a meaning out of my own heart, yoga means; conscious awareness of mind and body, while we connect them together with moving and breathing in an intentional way ­­this is where the magic happens, when your eyes, ears, and heart are open.

Why do you teach?
There’s so many reasons why I teach yoga! I teach yoga because it makes my day better when I make someone else’s day better. I love to connect with people and experience human sensations together and be silly and make shapes with our bodies! I love to guide people through journeys on their mat and help them learn new things about themselves. I love to share the art of yoga with all different kinds of people and the best part about teaching yoga is that I get paid to do one of my favorite things….yoga! Also, I cannot work a 9-­5 desk job. I tried it once, but I just can’t sit still!

brittany-kovler-one-down-dog-3

What brought you to become an instructor?
It’s a pretty cliche LA story. I came out here to go to college for acting and music at USC…. Fight On! I was an actress in LA for a few years and decided it was not for me. I had been practicing yoga off and on since high school. I started practicing more when I moved to LA permanently because what else does an unemployed actress do in LA when they are aren’t in da clubs? (see above question “Share a story or anecdote with us…” and insert it here…) I was going through some life shit and had to decide on a career change. So, I did teacher training at the yoga studio I was attending just to pass the time while I figured out what it was I wanted to do as a career. I really had no intention on teaching, I just wanted to deepen my practice and enrich my yoga experience. However, when I was practicing teaching with my fellow trainees I had so much fun and I was really good at it! I had found my new career path!

brittany kovler one down dog

What is your favorite song to play in class?
This is such a loaded question because music is such an important part of my life. I go to so many music and art festivals and discover new music all the freaking time. I think I have a new favorite artist every week. I would say, this week, one of my favorite songs to play in class would be Dusted Compass by The Human Experience & Phutureprimitive. (and always any song by ODESZA!).

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What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?
This question is also tough because it really depends on my mood and what I need that day. However, I always love Vashistasana B because it’s such a strong, beautiful, and regal pose. When I’m up for it, I love Pincha Mayurasana (sometimes scorpion variation).

Memorable yoga moment?
When I taught yoga at Burning Man on Tutu Tuesday! I made everyone do headstand and all their tutus were flipping upside down! So cute!

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?
I love wearing my leopard yoga pants! I always feel so spicy & sexy when I wear em!

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?
My favorite class to teach is this volunteer class at a PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) shelter in Santa Monica. This particular shelter houses homeless male veterans with drug addictions and disabilities. I love connecting with these guys! They always look forward to our classes and I do too! I believe teaching yoga to veterans and active duty military men and women is so important and extremely relevant.

What can we share in promoting you, your business, or your projects?
Follow me at @happylittlegoddess on Instagram. Check out #FlowWithinYourSacredSpace which is the hashtag for my Yoga.Hoop.Dance workshop that is happening on Sunday Aug 9th, 12:30­2:30pm at the Silverlake One Down Dog. My good friend Wild Flower and I will incorporate hoop dancing and yoga! Come out and play with us! We got the hula hoops (bring your own if ya got one) …Just bring your mat and an open, playful mind!

yoga hoop dance brittany kovler one down dog

Anything else?
Peace in. Peace out!

How Yoga Can Help Prepare Your Pelvis for Labor

catcow pose prenatal yoga

When you are pregnant, it seems like there is a never ending to-do list of things to get ready for baby; suddenly you find yourself spending many evenings lost in an internet hole researching something you never thought about before such as the most life-like nipple for a bottle, or some kind of weird mobile made in Sweden (where all the babies are happiest, right?). And then there’s the nursery, all the childbirth and infant care classes, and of course, picking out a name for your tiny human. It can be overwhelming!

Preparing the pelvis, a part of the body which plays a pretty integral role in childbirth, isn’t always found on those to-do lists. Yet, preparing your pelvis is pretty important in getting your baby in an optimal position for birth (more than just head down) as well as crucial for aiding in alleviating pelvic pain during pregnancy and labor.

If you are anything like me before I started learning about all this stuff, you may not have the most intimate relationship with the structure of your pelvis. Let’s take a look at a picture:

pelvisThe pelvis is made up of three bones, the two on the sides and the triangular like bone wedged in the middle called the sacrum, a bone you probably hear your yoga teachers mentioning a lot in class. There are also three joints, the two sacroiliac joints (often referred to as SI, you may hear someone complain of SI pain, that means there is most likely an imbalance or misalignment with their sacroiliac joints) and the pubis symphisis, the joint at the front of the pelvis where the two halves meet. The harmony and alignment of these bones and joints is essential for pelvic health.

There are also many ligaments in the pelvis which work to help support the structure by connecting it to muscles. The ligaments with the most important job during pregnancy of course are those that attach the uterus to the pelvis. The Broad ligament holds the uterus from the back, attaching it to the sacrum and the two Round ligaments hold the uterus from the front, attaching to the pubis.

During labor, the bones in the pelvis will shift naturally to make room for baby, and throughout your pregnancy the ligaments are relaxed due to hormones, mainly relaxin. Great, so what do you need to prepare for if the body naturally opens up?

Well, if the bones and ligaments are misaligned before labor begins, the ligaments can pull on the uterus, leaving it imbalanced. Even though the uterus is connected to the pelvis, it still can move. An imbalance in the uterus can affect baby’s ability to move into an optimal position for birth, as well as even cause the birth canal to narrow, and guess what that most likely means: more pain.

In general, in the body, imbalance = discomfort and sometimes misalignments can lead to injury. Much of the time when a woman is experiencing pelvic pain during pregnancy or labor, it is because of a misalignment in the pelvic joints, ligaments, or bones. Luckily, there are ways to combat this, and prepare the pelvis.

Yoga is one helpful tool. Yoga is not the magic cure all for imbalances in the body, but it can certainly help!

Yoga poses to help align and prepare the pelvis

Cat and Cow

Pelvic tilts help soften and stretch the overworked pelvic joints as well as help to release strain from low back muscles. We do these a lot in prenatal yoga classes, they feel good! Practicing cat and cow or just pelvic tilts in general is also a great way to encourage your baby into a good birthing position by encouraging the little one’s heaviest parts, the back and back of the head, towards mama’s belly. You may hear these poses being recommended to help turn babies who are in a posterior position (face up) or breech (feet or butt first).

Hip openers

You certainly want to encourage hip mobility during pregnancy, and that will help to keep that natural openness, as well as stretch the psoas and help release pelvic ligaments that may be overly tight or even slightly torqued. However, do be aware that you are already naturally more open due to relaxin (hormones as mentioned earlier) and that being too open or over stretching can certainly cause imbalance in the pelvis as well, i.e. pain, so be sure to engage your muscles during hip openers, especially the abductors (outer hips). To do this, think about drawing the outer hips inwards, like someone put their hands on the fleshy part of your hips and are gently hugging in. It is also important to engage the core (especially lower abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles). A helpful visualization to find that engagement is to imagine you are zipping up a tight pair of jeans, and the low belly goes up and in.

Hip openers that may feel good to you during pregnancy include standing poses such as warrior II, side angle pose (no need to go to your deepest side bend here) and goddess or temple pose (a wide leg squat). Malasana (yogi squat) is also great, using support under the pelvis may feel most balancing and supportive (you can use blocks or a bolster, or books or pillows work too) and easier to access muscle engagement.

Pigeon can also be nice, but do use support under your hips if necessary, and if you are suffering from SI pain, this pose is contraindicated since it can only deepen the imbalance if not practiced correctly. If in doubt, just ask a yoga teacher if you are doing the pose correctly!

Agnistambhasana, or double pigeon is also a good hip opener to practice. If you are going to fold forward, try sitting up on a blanket or two to encourage your pelvis to tilt forward which will keep the lower back muscles from straining and causing pain.

Pelvic floor training (aka Kegels)

It is likely that if you are pregnant, at least one person has told you that you should be doing kegels (contracting and releasing the pelvic floor), and this is certainly true. Pregnancy and labor can weaken and stretch pelvic floor muscles, and you certainly need then to push, as well as to stabilize the core. The pelvic floor makes up the bottom (the floor) of your core. I once read somewhere that pregnant women should be doing around 200 kegels a day. This might seem a little crazy, but it illustrates the importance of strengthening the pelvic floor. In yoga, this is called mula bandha, and is an action that is helpful to find core engagement in arm balances and many other poses. To do this, imagine your pelvic floor is an elevator, and as you inhale, try to relax. As you exhale, feel the elevator lifting, (or, think of the action of trying not to pee), inhale again and relax, but this time not quite fully. And then continue up to 200. Just kidding, you do not have to do 200, just as many as you can is good enough.

Besides yoga, bodywork can be helpful for finding pelvic balance and preparing for labor, as well as just being very aware of your posture as you stand, sit, and walk around, avoiding slumping. Practicing breathing into your diaphragm is great to.

To sum it up, in case this got too technical for you: a happy, balanced pelvis = less pain and discomfort and aids baby in doing their job which is getting into the best position for getting them out here. Balance is both support and open. Gotta have both. That’s why it’s called balance!


kim neer prenatal yoga teacher at One Down Dog Yoga in SilverlakeKim Neer is the newest addition to the One Down Dog team, teaching prenatal yoga classes on Mondays at 10:45a and Saturdays at 9am.

Check out our interview with Kim to learn a little more about her and check out her Prenatal 101 post for answers to frequently asked questions.

 

 

prenatal yoga one down dog

8 Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

benefits of prenatal yoga

1. Keep your stress level in check
Decompressing and reducing stress is something that brings a lot of people to yoga, and of course this becomes even more important to do during pregnancy; your baby feels everything that you feel! Yoga is calming for the mind, and the postures help to release tension that seems to accumulate extra during pregnancy. The work we do with breath awareness also helps greatly with de-stressing. Slowing down the breath, especially the exhale, slows down the heart rate so that you and baby can feel calmer and more relaxed.

2. Connect with your baby
The practice of prenatal yoga is all about creating space for baby; physically, as well as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Your yoga practice is time you set aside to take care of yourself, and in turn you are connecting to your baby. They practice with you. Every breath you take is a breath you share. And there is plenty of quiet time to communicate with your baby in any way that makes sense to you.

3. Increase circulation

Through the combination of breath and movement used in yoga, circulation is enhanced within the body as synovial fluid is activated and dispersed and the muscles are elongated. Increased circulation helps to reduce swelling, a common and sort of inevitable side effect of pregnancy.

4. Prepare for the intensity of labor
Yoga teaches us to breathe consciously and mindfully, even during times of intensity. Practicing breathing calmly through the different poses is wonderful practice for being able to breathe through the intensity that you will experience during labor. It is the practice of being comfortable with discomfort. There are also many yoga poses that we practice during class that can be helpful to use during labor such as child’s pose to rest or malasana (squat) to push efficiently with gravity.

benefits of prenatal yoga

5. Gain a community
It can be very comforting to be with a group of women going through the same process you are. Prenatal classes are safe spaces to communicate with one another, rant, complain, share stories, support, and congratulate one another. A sisterhood is created.

6. Relieve tension, ease aches and discomfort in the body
As baby grows, more stress is put upon the low back, hips, upper back, chest and shoulders. Many yoga poses help to relieve some of the discomfort caused by the changes in the body. In my prenatal classes I always start by asking each student what is going on in her body so I know where to focus some of the poses in order to address specific needs of each body that day.

7. Stay active and in shape
Being pregnant does not mean that you are broken or with an illness! You can absolutely stay active, in fact, most women enjoy more ease during pregnancy when they stay active, as you can imagine the body is not meant to be stagnant. Movement helps to stay balanced and to release tension and toxins. Also, labor is one of the most physically demanding feats you will accomplish in your life. So it makes sense to prepare the body and strengthen the muscles! It’s also a good idea to start working on upper body strength as you look forward to the days of carrying around a baby everywhere you go, plus all their stuff.

8. Tune into your body’s needs
During pregnancy, your body is changing every day. It is so valuable to set aside time in your day to quiet your thoughts, and really pay attention to what is going on. Your body will tell you what you need, whether it is to rest, or to work, or to play. The practice of yoga is nurturing. It is so crucial to take of yourself during this time, you are growing a baby! You deserve to be nurtured and cared for. Also, the time that you are pregnant flies by. Savor this short and sweet time while you can by slowing down and being present!


kim neer prenatal yoga teacher at One Down Dog Yoga in SilverlakeKim Neer is the newest addition to the One Down Dog team, teaching prenatal yoga classes on Mondays at 10:45a and Saturdays at 9am.

Check out our interview with Kim to learn a little more about her and check out her Prenatal 101 post for answers to frequently asked questions.

 

 

 

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