Girls, Healthy Doesn’t Mean Skinny

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The truth is: my husband was disappointed when he found out we were having girls.  It sounds harsh, but the reason is because he knows all the problems and drama that girls are more-likely faced with these days, including especially body image issues that lead to anorexia or worse.  And as a father who dearly loves his daughters, it is an added worry and heartache in his life.  As a mom who completely understands these roller coaster emotions, binge eating habits, and struggles with self-esteem, I completely agree with my husband.  I am scared of all the peer pressure, media, and negative influences that are out there telling girls they are not pretty or skinny enough.  This is not OK.

I don’t usually forward articles, in fact, this is the first time I am sharing an article on my website.  However, my friend Jackie Ashton, who also teaches at Marin Power Yoga, published her powerful article, “Why This Mother Is Stopping It With the Cleanses, Diets,” on The Washington Post today and I feel drawn to share it.  Reading this article has brought more awareness into how my own actions may be creating positive or negative examples for my girls.  Teaching my girls healthy eating habits is one thing, but teaching them to love their body is another, much more important lesson.

“I am not my body. My body is an instrument that allows me to do great things in this life: to take care of my children, to be a loving friend, sister, daughter, and wife. In time, my body will decay and ultimately, it will die and dissolve into the ground. But what is inside—the true essence of who I am—will never change.” Jackie Ashton

I hope Jackie’s article speaks to you and all the women and daughters in your life.  Feel free to share your responses below!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/03/31/why-this-mother-is-stopping-it-with-the-cleanses-diets/

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Happy Valentine’s Day Playlist

 

 This week I was splurging on one of my favorite bars, the Chocolate Peppermint Luna Bar, when I realized that they have quotes written on the wrapper!  Most of you know I LOVE quotes, but this quote was just perfect.  Perfect because Valentine’s Day was approaching over the weekend and I was having trouble deciding whether or not to do a Valentine’s theme for my Rock and Flow Power Yoga Class at Marin Power Yoga.   This was my answer.

YES!!!

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be romantic as it is often thought to be.  Self-love.  Make yourself happy.  Isn’t that more important?

So I shared this quote with my class, then continued with an awesome playlist that had the word “love” in the title (that wasn’t hard… Probably could make 5 different playlists!!!).  Enjoy!

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Valentine’s 75 minute Playlist:

How Deep is Your Love – Beegees

That’s the Way Love Goes – Janet Jackson

Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis

Rhythm of Love – Plain White T’s

Love Rollercoaster – Ohio Players

The Power Of Love – Huey Lewis

Baby Love – The Supremes

Best of My Love – The Emotions

Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen

I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family

I Love You Always Forever – Donna Lewis

I Just Called to Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

All You Need is Love – The Beatles

It Must Have Been Love – Roxette

Love Takes Time – Mariah Carey

Endless Love – Diana Ross

Because I Love You – Stevie B

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

The Greatest Love Of All – Whitney Houston

Learning to love yourself.  It is the greatest love of all.  ~Whitney Houston

Marin Power Yoga Teacher Training

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It is crazy how life unfolds itself, all in its own timing.  You cannot always plan out the future and you definitely cannot predict the future.  All you can do is live your life and let the dots connect.

As a little girl, I remember setting up my stuffed animals on the bed and I would be the teacher.  I read stories to them, taught lessons, and I even made homework assignments for them to complete.

Somehow along the way I had a belief that being a businesswoman would be way flashier and make more money, so I pursued that route in college.  And for some reason I thought I would prove something by finishing college in 3 years, so I took all the classes I needed to graduate.  But then I started dating my husband that 3rd year in college and then realized, why rush to graduate?  I will be working the rest of my life… why not enjoy this college life for one more year?  So I stayed a 4th year and that was the best decision.

I ended up traveling abroad to Hong Kong for a semester, taking a bunch of random classes like Mandarin Chinese and Advanced Piano, and I also enrolled in Teacher Education classes where I was required to volunteer every week in a classroom.  I was reminded then of my true passion to become a teacher, so after college, I said goodbye to my Management Science degree and continued to graduate school to get my Elementary Education Credential and Masters in Education with an emphasis in Technology.

I taught Kindergarten and first grade for 9 years and to balance out the stresses of teaching a bunch of 5 year olds who often don’t listen, I also taught yoga and fitness classes to adults in the evenings.  I became a certified E-RYT Yoga Teacher, ACE Group Fitness Instructor, TRX Instructor, PiYo and TurboKick Instructor.  It was a great balance, and after I had my first child, I decided to take a leave from teaching public schools and be a part-time mom, part-time fitness and yoga teacher.

Fast forward 5 years later, and I am blessed to teach at the Bay Club Marin and am the Director of Operations and TRX at Marin Power Yoga.  In addition to the 15 classes I teach each week, I am so excited that this coming Monday, I will be leading my first 200 Hour Teacher Training program!!!  I definitely never imagined I would be where I am now, but somehow this is the perfect blend of my Education and Yoga/Fitness background.  Instead of stuffed animals and 5-year-olds, I get to teach adults who are passionate about yoga like me!  I am far from being an expert, but I am happy to be a guide in someone else’s journey.

Humbled… grateful… excited.  Happy 2016 everyone.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Best TRX Core Exercises Choreographed to Me and My Girls by Selena Gomez

trx core exercises plank to pike

TRX was absolutely foreign to me in the beginning of this year.  I had no idea what it was, not to mention what you do with it.  Well, well, well.  My studio, Marin Power Yoga, made the BEST decision about 9 months ago to invest in TRX and add this amazing workout into our class schedule.  It is a perfect complement to yoga because all the TRX exercises work on strengthening your core for poses like side planks or planks, plus strengthening your upper body and arms for chaturangas, inversions and arm balances, and of course your lower body and feet get stronger for warriors and balances.  Total body workout!!!  I completely credit my press handstand improvements to my dedicated TRX practice!

If you want to know more about TRX, here’s an old post I wrote when we first tried out Suspension Based Training using some test-run straps.

Of course with my dance and choreography background, I had to create a TRX routine set to music.  Of course.  This routine is NO JOKE.  My arms and abs were burning and I really could not go any lower on those push ups… I had this grand idea of getting all my “girls” at the studio to learn the routine and do it with me.  It worked out ok for the first half, but as you’ll see in the videos below… it is NOT EASY.  We were dropping like flies.  Haha!!!  But nothing wrong with that – it’s all about the progress, the determination, the effort!

Ready to learn it?   If you do memorize it and attempt the routine, please tag me @gracelingyu on Instagram or give credit to my website in your description.  Thank you!  Here are my choreography notes using the You Tube video times:

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Me and My Girls by Selena Gomez – TRX Core Routine

32cts, 4×8, 0:00-0:14: Intro – Feet into the straps.  GET PUMPED UP!!!

RIGHT SIDE LEADS

16cts, 2×8, 0:14-0:22: Down Down Up Up lowering to forearms and back up to hands, 4x.  On the last one, keep the L forearm down, and R hand down (funky plank).

16cts, 2×8, 0:22-0:29: Funky Knee Tucks Both knees tuck to the R elbow, 4x.

8cts, 1×8, 0:29-0:33: Set up Forearm Side Plank by moving R foot behind L foot and lift up R hand behind head.

16cts, 2×8, 0:33-0:42: Forearm Side Plank Oblique Crunch R elbow crunches down to meet bent L knee, 4x.

8cts, 1×8, 0:42-0:46: Transition to Knees to Floor, 5x Quick Claps and hit the floor for the Chorus.

32cts, 4×8, 0:46-1:01: 8x Mountain Climbers, 4x Alternating Pendulum Tucks, 2 sets

32cts, 4×8, 1:01-1:17: 4x Atomic Push Ups, 3x Atomic Pike, Hold Plank to Reset

REPEAT ALL ON LEFT SIDE 1:17-2:20

32cts, 4×8, 2:20-2:36: 4x Frog Tucks In and Out, 4x Frog Tucks Out and In

32cts, 4×8, 2:36-2:51: Locust Pose 4 Pulses Each: Arms Back, Arms Side, Arms Front, Push back to Plank

32cts, 4×8, 2:51-3:07: Spiderman Push Ups 8x Alternating

32cts, 4×8, 3:07-3:24: 4x Plank Jumping Jacks, 2x Wide Knee Tucks to Triceps, 2 sets

End in Crow Pose, releasing the straps from your feet!!!

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Below are 2 videos for you to learn the routine.  The first one is my initial attempt at testing out the routine and to see if it was difficult (YES.), and the second one is when I got together with some of my girls, Wendy, Araceli, and Laine!  #thestruggleisreal!!! Alright, leave a comment below if you try it out!!!

Halloween Family Costume 2015: Pandamania

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume

To keep with my family tradition of a Halloween themed costume, here is a short post about this year’s theme: Pandas!  It always starts by asking my older daughter (4 years old) what she wants to be.  I was expecting “Princess” or “Anna and Elsa,” but to my surprise, she picked my favorite animal ever – a panda!  Really???  Yes!  So I searched for a cute toddler panda costume with a black tutu, and an infant fluffy panda suit and found the best price on eBay.  Normally I make the adult costume, but then I found this highly rated adult panda onesie on Amazon – 671 reviews to be exact, 4.5 stars.  I HAD to get it for myself, because I will actually wear it around the house in place of a robe… it is that SOFT and AWESOME.

OK, so for my husband, I knew he would have to carry my younger daughter (9 months old), so I thought it would be adorable for him to wear the Ergo and be bamboo!  Here is how I made his costume:

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume1) I bought a couple green pool noodles online.  It’s definitely more expensive than using long balloons like I did in my sea anemone costume 2 years ago, but it’s sturdy and light, and I figured I would just have a few stalks versus 20-30!

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume

2) At first I was going to use rubber bands and tie them around the pool noodle, but masking tape was the best solution.  It’s perfectly thick enough, and of course it sticks well onto the foam.

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume

3) Using my post kindergarten teacher skills, I cut out some green leaf shapes and just used clear scotch tape to secure them onto the top of the noodle.  It isn’t the most secure method, but it is fast (I always make these costumes literally the night before), and fine as long as you are not purposely tugging on the leaves.

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume

4) Ta-Da!  Repeat the process for as many pool noodles as you want!  I just used 3.

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume

5) Optional – make a leaf hat.  Haha, this isn’t really necessary to the costume, but I like to secretly bully my husband and add on these ridiculous accessories since this is the one time of the year he will actually be willing to dress up.  Haha.

Panda and Bamboo Halloween Costume

All done!  Simply tuck the bamboo stalks into the hip and shoulder straps of the Ergo!  Pandamania!!!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!

“You Must Do The Thing Which You Think You Cannot Do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Marin Power Yoga

This past weekend I taught my Power Yoga class and began with 2 questions for my students to reflect on:

  1. What is something in your yoga practice that you have wanted to try or achieve, but you have been held back because of fear?  (For example, fear of falling, fear of not being strong enough, fear of getting out of your comfort zone, fear of embarrassment…)
  2. What is something in your personal life that you have wanted to change but fear has held you back?  (For example, changing jobs, saying no or yes more, apologizing to someone, fixing a bad habit…)

For myself, I also answered those same questions.  In my yoga classes, one area that I struggle with the most as an instructor is sharing about myself and letting students get to know my “story.” I hold back and usually stick to “textbook teaching” of cueing poses and alignment.  It is what I am comfortable doing.  Although teaching makes me seem like an extrovert because I stand in the front of a room full of people, I am truly an introvert and in all other areas of my life, I prefer to be hidden in the back corner of a room, keeping all my thoughts swirling around in my own head, silent to others.

Well, this weekend I decided to face my fear…

At the end of class, I shared about my hair.  My hair has been incredibly long since my teens, so around 25 years.  My hair is my security blanket.  I associate myself with Violet, from Pixar’s, “The Incredibles.”  Violet is the daughter of a superhero family and she uses her hair to hide behind so she won’t stand out. In fact, her superpower is becoming invisible, which is exactly how I relate to my hair – a symbol of something to hide behind!

The Incredibles "Violet"

As some of you know from my previous posts about migraines and attempts to heal my migraines, I have been suffering from migraines all my life and I am desperate for any chance of relief.  My latest theory is… maybe my 25 years of having long, THICK, hair, plus wearing them in high, heavy ponytails for most of that time during gymnastics, cheerleading, and now yoga/fitness classes, causes too much weight on my neck (my migraine pain seems to originate from my C1, where the base of my skull meets the top of the spine).

So in front of my students, (and facing my first challenge of sharing openly about myself…) I pulled out a pair of scissors (oh I wish I could have videotaped the giant gasps and “NOOO” cries in the room… haha!).  My husband and daughter came into the room and helped me to cut off my braid.  I went from shaking uncontrollably from nervousness and fear, to immediately feeling so refreshed and light!  It is just hair… but cutting my braid symbolized so much more.  I am facing my fears.  I am embracing change.  I am free!

Pantene Beautiful Lengths Haircut

I will be mailing my hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths because someone out there with cancer needs my hair more than I do… sending all my love to everyone out there who has been or is fighting the biggest battle of their lives.  Stay strong and know you are loved!

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Lolasana (Pendant) Yoga Pose Drills Choreographed to The Chordettes “Lollipop”

Lolasana Pendant Yoga Pose

The full Lolasana (Pendant) yoga pose should have knees lifted about armpit height… HA!!!

What is my current least favorite yoga pose?  HANDS DOWN: Lolasana, or Pendant pose.  It’s just one of those poses that “looks” like something I should be able to do, but then when I go to try it, I press down on my hands and oh, it is SO heavy… why do my legs NOT lift off the floor???  FAIL.  I only recently discovered this pose on Instagram 7 weeks ago, and after several attempts, I was able to lift up probably a milimeter off the floor for just about a second.  It was tough!!!  So after that Instagram post, I went back to pretending Lolasana pose did not exist.

Well, if you have been working on Press Handstands like me, then at one point or another, you will need to face Lolasana pose because it is completely related to learning how to control floating up and down in presses.  ARGH.  So here I am now… ready to commit to working on Lolasana everyday.  What better way to practice then to create a silly choreographed routine that works on Lolasana drills???  Lolasana, Lollipop…yeah, sounds similar enough.

Some tips before you get started:

  1. Invest in some good sturdy blocks (NOT the cheap, flimsy, thin, terrible 2.5 inch width foamy ones I’m using – as you’ll soon see why!!!).  I literally just purchased these Clever Yoga Blocks on Amazon after I made the video because they were the highest rated!  I’ll let you know how they are!
  2. If you’re just starting out, place the blocks on the highest height, and then work to the middle height, lowest height, and eventually hands on the floor the whole time!
  3. Don’t forget to stretch out your wrists before and after.
  4. Yes, the toes are supposed to be pointed back and you are on the tops of your feet.  This automatically forces you to focus on putting LESS weight on the feet (ouch ankles!) and MORE weight into your arms and deep CORE!  Oh yeah!
  5. Enjoy!  This routine BURNS.  Do you feel it???