Bunny and Kitten Yoga!

Tonight my sister and I went to a yoga class sponsored by a local SPCA that had adoptable bunnies and kittens join us for the practice. It was beyond adorable.

The yoga was fairly upstaged by the cutest little yogis, but it was still a solid flow when you weren’t too busy petting a guest of honor.

All class fees went to support the SPCA, since the kind teacher donated her time. I definitely see myself offering this once I am a registered teacher!


Yin Yoga – Slowing Down the Practice


My practice has always included a lot of active, strong Vinyasa flows or the challenge of a Bikram class in the hot room. As of late, I’ve realized I need to broaden my practice and slow down a bit. This winter has been so cold (until just this week) and it makes me want to curl up in a ball on the couch or in a blanket fort. This has encouraged me to take my yoga practice to the blanket fort and incorporate some slower classes more, such as restorative and Yin yoga.

I wanted to try a Yin class first and I decided to try a 60-minute Yin class on YogaGlo called “Yinspiration” taught by Carole Westerman. The class was designed to ‘get you out of your rut’ and get you to try some new transitions from pose to pose. I have come to really appreciate Yin yoga as a counter balance to my very active and busy life. The opportunity to pause in a pose and develop a deeper understanding of the pose and its relationship to my body has been refreshing to me and has positively affected my personal practice.

In terms of this class…I didn’t love it. I thought the ‘creative’ transitions were a little too creative and disrupted from the overall flow of the practice. Maybe that was the point, and maybe I wasn’t in the right mind for it, but it didn’t work for me. This class challenged me- some of the holds felt reallllllllly long and I wanted to move out of them, but forced myself to hold on, which was good for me and something I need to do more of in all areas of my life. It’s hard to stay with the discomfort when you can easily get out of it, particularly when you are taking an online class and no one else is there to provide the peer pressure to stick it out.

Aside from the funky transitions, I thought Westerman’s cuing was solid and I didn’t find myself having to look up at the screen much to get into the actual pose. Her pacing was good and I didn’t feel rushed. She included some interesting poses that I haven’t done in a Yin class before, and I felt really stretched and relaxed afterward. I plan to include more Yin classes in my regular practice. It is so easy to keep doing a regular vinyasa class like I always do, but sometimes, especially during these winter months, to slow down and try a slower practice.


Jensen and Bentley encouraging me to slow down a bit.

So if you’re in the mood to slow down a bit and try something new, I would recommend a Yin yoga class, either online or if you can find an in-person class near you.


Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone: Barre Class

I joked to The Hubs that I was “going to the bar tomorrow at 630am.” He looked at me with concern for a second, only then to ask, “What bar is open at 630am HERE?” He had a point. There are no bars open at 630am in the area of rural NH where we live. I wasn’t go to drown my sorrows in booze, I was going to a barre workout class.

I am a regular attendee at inferno hot pilates at my Bikram yoga studio, so barre shouldn’t have felt too far out of my comfort zone. It was at a studio I had never been to, but a friend had a free pass for me if I went with her, so I figured, “why the hell not?”

Well, it was really freaking hard. Like REALLY HARD. Who would have thought that tiny little movements would burn so damn much? Now I have an even greater respect for the athletes and artists who call themselves a ballerinas. I mean, holy shit, my legs were jello by the end of class. When I had to do the stairs at work later in the day, it was torturous.

We did ab moves, leg moves, arm moves, booty moves. Some at the barre, some not. Some with a squishy ball behind our backs or between our knees, some not. None of the movements were big, they were all tiny, torturous pulses that burned every muscle in my body. I hated it while I was doing it, but I loved it when we were done.

What I really liked about it was the realization I had when I was walking out of the studio after with my friend: I didn’t even hesitate to say yes to going when she invited me. Five years ago I probably wouldn’t have done it. I would have been too anxious, too consumed with What Ifs to get myself to the studio. I was still out of my comfort zone- I know NOTHING about barre workouts- so I didn’t really know what I had agreed to.

Will I go back? Probably. I have a regular pass at two studios already, so I don’t see myself plunking down the cash to get a regular pass at another studio, but I would go back again to take barre. It was a great low-impact workout and I felt the burn!


The Pose You Hate is Probably the One You Need


Tools for class

The pose you hate is probably the one you need. This is also true for entire classes. I had to make up a third chakra-focused class because I had to miss that day in my yoga teacher training program last month. I was…well, let’s just say I wasn’t looking forward to it, because third chakra means abs. Lots and lots of ab work. The third chakra, located roughly around the belly button/solar plexus is where the energy of will and decision comes from, so in order to help balance that area it’s best to do ab exercises that target that area of the body. This means a lot of plank, a lot of side plank, and many many bridges.

So yeah…I wasn’t looking forward to it, but it had to be done, so I fired up YogaGlo on my phone, mirrored it to my tv, spread out my mat and got down to business. I’ll start by saying the things I didn’t like and get them out of the way. The class was taught by Jo Tastula, who did not make me a fan by the end of class. Tastula’s cuing left something to be desired- she often did not cleanly move people from pose to pose, rarely offered modifications, and the pace was highly irregular in such a way that it was disorienting. I know that I’m probably pickier because I’m in the midst of my teacher training program, but it was a tough class to follow and I plan to use it as an example of what *not* to do.

Now to be fair, this was a Level 2 class, so I understand that the cuing might be a little brief because you only get to Level 2 if you’ve been doing yoga for quite some time and already know the poses. I still think you should still provide modifications, but that’s just me. Tastula was very strong in her conveying the focus of the class, connecting the poses to the third chakra, and providing ample time at the start and end of class in savasana for centering and some breath work. I found it interesting that she included kapalabhati breathing during some poses, as well as lion’s breath, and it was a novel tactic for me.

I find side plank extremely difficult. Plank is also not my friend, as my shoulders, elbows, and wrists are weak (though improving!). This class was hard for me, and I know that at least part of my ire above is because of being baldly faced with my own weaknesses and faults. This is ultimately when the yoga really starts. This class forced me to look at my weaknesses and see them as they are- parts of me that I need to accept and recognize that they are parts of me TODAY. I can get stronger and I am working toward that, but today it is all about working to the edge and being comfortable with that. As much as I would love to avoid plank and side plank, I’ll never get better if I just continue to avoid it, no matter how much I hate plank.

And ultimately, I really don’t hate the poses, I hate how the poses makes me feel weak and incapable. By the time I was done with the class today and lying in savasana, I had finally gotten around to all of this. It’s ok to not be perfect, but it’s not ok to avoid what’s hard because it’s hard. The hard place is where the best work happens. The hard place is where you need to be. It’s where the best parts of you are formed.

Doing a Whole30, Channeling Saucha

The Hubs and I had to go grocery shopping today- something you do a lot of when you are doing a Whole30. We had both decided around the holidays that we really needed to change our eating habits. We had both put on a ton of weight, were super unhappy with how our bodies felt and looked, but also recognized that our skin and our sleep habits would probably improve if we got our shit together and started eating better.

Since we’re all-or-nothing kind of people, we decided to start a Whole30 eating program (with the rest of the world) on January 1st. New year, new us. It was a tough sell at first to The Hubs. He’d have to give up beer for the month and bread, and those are two staples of his diet. I would desperately miss my glass of wine at night and cheese…and sugar…and everything else (legumes, dairy, added sugar of any sort, grains, and alcohol are all off limits for the month), but if not now, when?

One of the Niyamas in yoga is Saucha, which roughly translates to purity. Purity can mean a lot of things, but I definitely think it applies to your body and how you treat it. All of those glasses of wine and nachos are not exactly what I would call “purifying” for the body, so it was about time I took this Niyama more seriously and worked on purifying this ol’ vessel of mine!

The first week was freaking HARD. You feel terrible, all you can think about is food, and planning food, and all of the food you can’t have, and on and on into infinity. You’re cranky because you’re depriving yourself of your easy, normal foods, and your body is going through detox/withdrawal from all of things you’ve unknowingly (or knowingly) become addicted to over the years: sugar, alcohol, carbs, etc. Your body is fighting you tooth and nail and using cravings, headaches, irritability, and upset stomach to try to get you to come back to the dark side and eat those candy bars taunting you at the checkout line.

Once you get through that first week, things do start to slowly get better. The headaches go away for the most part, the cravings start to dull, and the GI issues abate. You’re feeling less like hell and much more human and sociable. If The Hubs and I hadn’t done it together, I couldn’t have done it on my own. At least we could be miserable together through the first week.

We did have to make some adjustments for The Hubs’ eating. He’s a truck driver for his day job, so he needs to be able to eat on the road. We lifted the ban on bread, legumes and sugar just for his lunch meal so he could have a PB&J for lunch, and not make a mess of his truck in the process of eating it (unlike the tuna salad wraps I made him the first day…sorry, honey). He also had four beers over the course of our Whole30 (thus far, but we only have two days left, so I think it’s fair to say that). He only had it on the weekends and it was his treat for being good during the week. You’ve gotta start somewhere, so I was not going to be a brat about it.


Grocery shopping on the Whole30: you spend a lot of time in the produce section!

We are finally on Day 28. It feels good! We both feel good and we both can’t believe how much our lives have improved since starting this. Overall sleep is better, skin is better, hair is better, mood is more stable. We are much more aware of what we eat, and we don’t snack as often. We also both cheated and weighed ourselves and lost significant amounts (me, 7lbs; The Hubs, 15…damn male metabolism and muscle mass!). We feel so good and are so happy with the results that we plan to maintain this way of eating going forward, with small additions of pasta once a week and not making every single thing free of added sugar (which is amazingly hard to do!).

If you need to change your relationship with food, I highly recommend this eating plan. It’s only a month, so it’s something you can get your head around and commit to. It really helps you break from the foods you’ve been using as a crutch. I am an emotional and boredom eater. After going on this plan, I no longer feed my feelings or my periods of boredom with food. My meals are more filling so I am not hungry all the time and that also cuts down on all those extra calories from your between meal snacks.

I’m not saying it wasn’t hard, but is anything really worth it easily had? If purity was so easy, then everyone would have perfectly pure eating habits. The Niyamas are things to aspire to, and I think the Whole30 can help your aspirations toward a little more Saucha in your life.


Today: Bikram Class


Bentley trying out my hot yoga towel

I remember the first time I went to a Bikram class. I hated everything about it. It was so damn HOT. There were too many people in the room. I was sweating in places I didn’t know I could sweat. It was a free class over Thanksgiving, so the room was maxed out and we were literally mat-to-mat, three rows spanning the entire room. The teacher never stopped talking and he never left the podium. The entire experience felt oppressive. I swore I would never go back again.

Two years later in June, I was doing a dietbet and needed I change from the exercise programs I had been doing. Our local Bikram studio has a new student deal (30 days unlimited classes for $30) and I figured it was time to give it a chance, especially since the one and only time I had gone before it was a free class that was sure to have more students in it than normal.

So I tried it again. It was so HOT and it was so HARD, but the feeling I had afterward got me hooked. Now’s it January and I’m still going. My job sometimes keeps me from making it to the studio as often as I would like, but I try to go at least once a week at the absolute minimum.

Today’s class had me in the front right corner of the room- the very hottest spot with the way the air flows through the room. I hadn’t been to Bikram in two weeks, so I knew it would be a little tough. Bikram is one of those activities that proves the rule that the more you go, the easier it feels- particularly with the heat. You don’t serve yourself well in Bikram if you have overly aggressive modesty when it comes to showing skin. The tinier the shorts and tank top (or just sports bra for the ladies), the easier it is to combat the heat in the room. No one cares if you haven’t shaved your legs in two weeks, or if your belly is not as flat as you would like after having children, or if you’re covered in moles. No one is paying attention to you. Bikram only has mirrors in the front of the room so you can focus on yourself and your form. This practice gives you 90 minutes of complete and total “Me Time.”

The oppressive heat combined with the same set of postures every class almost forces you to go inward. You are so focused on your breath and getting into the pose that it becomes solely about your own body- you can’t focus on anyone else or judge yourself against another because you are in survival mode! Today’s class was a bit like that for me. I had a laser focus on my own body, breath, and heart rate. The sweat is so cleansing to the soul, at least it is to my soul. After class is done and I’m lying in final savasana, I feel sweetly wrung out and connected with my inner self, awed at what I am capable of. They say you never feel more alive than when you are close to dying, and I think that’s a bit extreme a comparison to Bikram, but there is a nugget of truth for this situation. You’re not dying, but you are definitely pushing yourself in a way outside of your norm and that’s GOOD sometimes. We so often sit in our desk chairs at work and let our bodies and minds simply ease along. Bikram takes you out of that and says, “Wake the fuck up! It’s fucking hot in here!”

Sure, there are some things I find problematic about Bikram yoga: the leader/founder of the style has an extremely skewed moral compass that I don’t agree with and is currently running from the law (I’m not joking); I’m not sure how I feel about locking your knee in certain poses (as a student of Vinyasa we are typically told NOT to lock the knee in poses); and there are often few adjustments provided by the teacher.

BUT, the benefits far outweigh the problematic aspects for me. I feel amazing after class. I’ve lost weight, gotten more toned, my anxiety has eased with consistent practice, and most importantly, my lower back doesn’t hurt anymore- something Vinyasa alone has never been able to do for me. I also love the studio I go to. The teachers are fantastic and friendly- they’ve worked to build an incredible community of practitioners.

I still practice Vinyasa and I am training to teach Vinyasa, as Bikram came into my life later and I’m not sure I can commit to the 500-hour at-a-shot training compared to my 200-hour weekend-module training. I highly recommend you give Bikram a try if you haven’t before. It has been amazing addition to my yoga practice and could be good for you too. As always, trust your intuition to keep you safe in ANY yoga class.



Hi! I’m Katie. I live with my husband and three cats (Lyle, Bentley, and Jensen) in the great state of New Hampshire. I’m a proud catmom/crazy cat lady who is also a practicing yogini. I’m in the midst of a 200-hour yoga teacher training program in Vinyasa yoga.

I came to a consistent yoga practice, after only dabbling in yoga during college, on the recommendation of my Cognitive-Behavioral therapist and ended up not only learning how to better manage my anxiety (something I’ll probably write about often on this blog), but also how to begin on the path to finding myself and eventually becoming the best possible version of ME.

My hope for this blog is to capture what life is like on this journey of self-discovery through yoga, struggles with anxiety and depression, the fun adventures life holds, and also- most importantly- cats.


Me and my dearly beloved, recently passed, Oscar.