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

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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 a onesie for myself and had to get it because I will actually wear it around the house in place of a robe… it is 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!

 

Other Halloween DIY Costume Posts:

Halloween Family Costume 2018: Finding Nemo (again), Jellyfish, and Daddy Shark Do Doo Do Do Doo

Halloween Family Costume 2014: Turtles

Halloween Pregnancy Costume 2014: Turtle

Halloween Family Costume 2013: Finding Nemo

“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???

Instagram Challenge: #4WeeksOfCoreTreats

Instagram Challenge: #4WeeksOfCoreTreats

Alright, so I am officially convinced that Yoga Challenges work now.  A yoga challenge is a commitment to a daily, consistent practice on a specific skill or pose.  In June, I did my own Handstand Challenge and improved my handstand time from 1 minute 44 seconds to 2 minutes 50 seconds.  In July, I joined three different Instagram Yoga Challenges (#BacktoBackbends, #BendyByZuvi, and #BackbendNoEnd), and the picture above shows how my Wheel Pose changed within those 31 days!  Yoga challenges work!

I am blessed and thankful to have finally built a perfect teaching schedule that helps me balance my life as a mom of two.  I teach 15 classes each week, and to be honest, if I didn’t have kids I probably would double the classes if I could because I LOVE it.  However, my struggle with teaching so many classes is finding time for myself to be a student.   

I am a strong believer that everyone must always have a beginner’s mind and continue having the desire to learn and grow.  If we have no desire to learn as students, then we should no longer be teachers because that means there is a large piece missing – passion. For a few months now, I have been missing my own yoga practice, maybe taking one class a week, if I was lucky.  Without a strong personal practice, I was lacking inspiration and connection as a teacher to my own students.  That is not okay.

Since joining Instagram over 2 months ago, I have found some truly AMAZING yogis who I now follow and learn from.  These yogis are not only extremely talented and advanced, but also they are creative and inspiring.  I have been learning new poses everyday and I am a better teacher for it.

Therefore, with August as a new month, I am joining another Instagram Yoga Challenge called #4WeeksOfCoreTreats hosted by @cyogalab, in hopes of building up my lost core strength since having a baby 6 months ago, and in hopes of getting back my Press Handstand that I worked so hard on before baby!!!  If anyone wants to join me this month, find me on Instagram @gracelingyu!!!

Power Yoga Playlist – “Earth”

Earth-Day-CraftOn April 22nd each year, we celebrate Earth Day.  It is a great reminder to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!  A perfect example is observing the habits of my 3 year old daughter and realizing I have plenty of teachable moments to show her how we can be much kinder to the environment!

Example #1) After school while I cook dinner, she plays on her own and sometimes draws.  This week, I noticed that she had taken literally 5 sheets of white paper and scribbled a tiny bit on each page.  What a great lesson to teach her to REDUCE the number of pages and just use 1 paper until it is all filled up!

Example #2) My daughter’s school had a special Earth Day Celebration that included a petting zoo, music performance, face painting, art projects, and of course snacks.  They provided mini paper cups of lemonade for the kids to take.  My daughter finished her first cup and then threw it away, only to return to the snack table and grab a new cup.  No no, let’s REUSE our cup and ask the teacher to refill it with some more lemonade, right?

Example #3) Everyday after school, it is part of our daily routine when we arrive home to check the mail before entering the house.  Normally, my daughter takes everything out of the mailbox and gives it to me.  I decided to let her help me sort through “junk” mail and “important” mail this week, and she helped me RECYCLE the “junk” mail into our recycling bin.  Good job!

Earth Day is everyday!  But if anything, having a special day designated for Earth Day each year forces people like myself to take extra notice on how wasteful or hurtful we may be to the environment!  Every little bit matters…

For my Power Class this week, I made an Earth playlist.  To be honest, it was pretty hard finding upbeat songs about taking care of the Earth, but I came up with a decent list.  For my sequence this week, I am adding in as many standing balancing poses as I can.  We will be using our feet, our roots, to symbolize our connection with the ground and Earth below us just like the roots of a tree.  Enjoy!

*****

Power Yoga Playlist – “Earth” (75 minutes)

Introduction / Pose Breakdown / Breathwork:

1) “Earth Song,” by Michael Jackson, 6:46

Sun Salutations A & B:

2) “We Are Here,” by Alicia Keys, 4:44

3) “One Tribe,” by The Black Eyed Peas, 4:41

Standing Work Series:

4) “Give Love,” by MC Yogi, 3:40

5) “Paradise (On Earth),” by Cris Cab, 3:46

6) “On Top Of The World,” by Imagine Dragons, 3:10

7) “Earth From Outer Space,” by Michael Franti, 3:51

8) “Hall of Fame,” by The Script, 3:23

9) “Wavin’ Flag,” by K-Naan, 3:33

10) “We Will Shine,” by MC Yogi, 4:06

11) “One Day,” by Matisyahu, 3:28

Backbending / Core Work:

12) “Where Is The Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas, 4:33

13) “Everything Is Everything,” by Lauryn Hill, 4:53

14) “If You’re Out There,” by John Legend, 4:20

Hips / Deep Stretching:

15) “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, 5:08

16) “Gone,” by Jack Johnson, 2:08

17) “Imagine,” by John Lennon, 3:04

18) “What a Wonderful World,” by Celine Dion, 3:47

Savasana:

19) “So Much Magnificence,” by Deva Premal

*****

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares drop off like autumn leaves.”

~ John Muir

My Birthday Wish

I love birthdays because it always reminds me to stop and reflect on all the good in my life.  Two daughters that I can get endless hugs and kisses from.  A husband that supports our family by saving lives everyday.  A loyal dog that follows me everywhere I go.  New homeowners and surviving months of remodeling.  Flowers delivered from my best friend.  Friends and family sending hellos and birthday wishes.  A celebratory lemon drop martini.  Surviving our first family dinner out at a restaurant since my youngest was born 2 months ago.  Continuing a week-long dessert feast for my sweet tooth…

It’s easy to remember to cherish all the big and small blessings around me on my birthday, but the tricky part is slowing down the other 364 days of the year and not get too affected by the unimportant drama that can drag me down.  Being late to school.  Waiting in a long line at the grocery store.  Fighting exhausting.  Losing my patience.  Paying bills.  Organizing files.  Keeping the house clean.  Worrying about my weight.  Dealing with people that I disagree with.  The endless to-do list…

And then I read an email about my childhood family friend who I went to high school with.  Newly married, has a baby, normal life, and just diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.

What. Is. Going. On.

The answer?  Life.  This is life.  Temporary, unpredictable, cruel, and always too short.  As much as I try to control and plan ahead, life will take its own course.  I must accept that.  My friend has to accept that.

Everyday may not be my birthday, but beginning today, I will treat each day as if it were.  Because everyday deserves a little celebration, a little reflection, a little indulgence, and lots and lots of big hugs and kisses, regardless how out of control life seems.  Life is too short to look at the glass half empty.  It is always half full.

My birthday wish?  Stop and reflect on all the good in your life, right now.  Reach out to a long-lost friend and say hello.  Eat slower and savor each bite you chew.  Show your family you love them.  Filter out what is truly a big deal, and what is just drama that needs to be let go.  Tell stories and share with each other.  Let’s treat everyday like it is our birthday.