Spotlight Series Guest #1 - Leana Marshall, yoga instructor extraordinaire

1) If you can recall it, what is your memory of your first yoga practice?

My memory of my first yoga class was in Jackson, MS. It was a little locally owned yoga studio called Joyflow Yoga. I was terrified when I walked in. I remember when I walked in I got so many looks and stares. It made me so uncomfortable, but I went in with my yoga mat and was ready for class.

2) What brought you to the mat?

I was introduced to yoga by my doctor. I was in a car accident and I injured my neck and back. After lots of therapy, pain medications, many doctor visits, I went and searched for a holistic doctor. When I went to see him I was really sad and depressed because I was in so much pain. After seeing him a few times, he suggested I try yoga. I was very apprehensive about it. I honestly thought yoga was for white people and that it wasn't something POC (People of Color) did.

3) How did you feel before and after class?

When I walked in I was immediately intimidated. I didn't feel welcomed. I was nervous. Of course I was the only POC, but I ended up staying anyway. I could see people looking at me and watching my every move in class. It's almost like their stares were burning my skin. It was crazy. However, I didn't allow that to stop me. I enjoyed how warm the class was and I enjoyed the sweat and challenge of the class. It was hard but I refused to give up. After class I was exhausted but my mind and body felt great.

4) How often do you practice yoga? And what currently brings you to the yoga mat?

Pre COVID-19 I was practicing at least 3-4 times a week with other exercise in between. I do my best to get on my mat at least 1-2 times a week at this moment in my life. Currently, when I need a mental break from everything going on in the world, I get on my mat. Life is so heavy right now especially for POC. Yoga helps.

5) As a black female, how has yoga fit into your life?

In the past, prior to me diving into yoga principles on my own, I didn't really understand the spiritual practice of yoga. I was treated poorly in many yoga studios but I would always just sweep it under the rug and pretend my feelings weren't hurt.

Whew....now that my mind is stronger (thank God for growth) I always try to treat people as I want to be treated even if they are being an asshole to me. I will continue to be nice and kind and that's where the yoga practice comes in handy!

Mentally, yoga is so great for mental health. When I am feeling down and anxious, I do my best to try and get on my mat.

I truly enjoy the physical practice of yoga and how it makes my body feel after a great class.

6) As a proud advocate for LGBTQ+ community, in what ways has your yoga practice intersected with this mission?

The LGBTQIA community means so much to me. Often times, it's so hard for members of this community to feel welcomed in yoga spaces. As a member of the community myself, I always try to create spaces where everyone feels welcomed and included. This (and other reasons) is why I am such an advocate for inclusivity. 

7) What role has yoga played for you in stress management?

Normally when I am feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, I know it's time to get on my mat. Yoga plays a huge role in helping me manage my stress, PTSD, and anxiety. 

8) Besides being a mover and a shaker on the yoga mat and in the world, what hobbies do you have?

I love to do other workouts outside of yoga. I enjoy taking my mini poodle Bailey on long walks. I love being with my family and friends. I am enrolling myself into a Doula program this summer. (This should be exciting!) 

9) How does yoga play a role in the way you show up off the mat?

Yoga plays an imperative role in ways I show up on and off my mat. There have been many instances in which I could have gotten so upset and angry about many situations that I have been in. But I always remember my yoga practice. (Not so much the physical but the spiritual practice). Always remembering the yamas and niyamas and how I can apply those principles to my everyday life.

Leana's Contact Information
website: 
https://www.elleemconsulting.com/
Instagram:
@me_leanamarie
@ellemeconsulting
@blackyogateachers365 (Non profit organization)

Let’s face it, over this pandemic we have all succumbed to online shopping to purchase as much of our necessities as possible. In the spirit of shopping, I wanted to share with you some of my top Amazon picks for non-essential items, that are both very affordable and totally awesome (albeit, random).

As you might know, I try to live a minimalist life. Which means I don’t often go on spending sprees on Amazon, but these affordable products are all so worthy of sharing as they are truly some of my favorite purchases ever. All at a steal price. It also means, in an effort to avoid overconsumption, I practice, ‘in with one product out with another.'

It is also important to mention that I tend to buy less items on Amazon and opt instead to buy high quality brands (particularly for clothes). And as for body products, my general rule of thumb is that I stay as “natural” as possible. If I consume one of the top ingredients listed on a body product, even better!

With all of that said, these products still pass every test and are all LM-approved. Here we go!

1) These headbands.

2) This shirt.

3) This green tea eye gel patch.

4) This backpack.

5) These sunnies.

6) These resistance loop bands.

7) This shampoo and conditioner set.

8) This lipstick.

9) These scrunchies.

10) This nut milk bag.

Enjoy!!
LM

2 Comments

Healthy Spinach Smoothie

I make smoothies almost every day. Typically, if I share a shot of my smoothie to social media, I get a bunch of DMs asking for the recipe. I want to start to share them with you.

Tonight’s smoothie surprised me with just how delicious it was, so I dashed over to my computer to write down the "recipe" - in quotes because as you will see I use very rough estimates of quantities!

I threw together some yummy foods I had on hand. And I was so inspired by the delish taste that I just had to share with you all! Also, husband approved, shhh he doesn’t know what’s in it. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

-spinach

-2 small lemons

-1 pear

-1 banana

-a bunch of frozen mango (sorry I don’t measure it out)

-frozen blueberries

-cinnamon

-hemp seeds

-flax seed meal

-splash of almond milk

-filtered water

Directions: I use a vitamx, but use whatever high speed blender you have and that should work!

Step 1. Fill the Vitamix to the top with raw spinach. Then  add the banana.

Step 2. Cut the skin off of the two small lemons and then pop them in the vitamix too (yes, seeds and all!).

Step 3. Cut the pear down to the core and pop it in the vitamix.

Step 4. Push the ingredients in the vitamix down, in order to fit more. Next throw in the frozen mango. Again, push the ingredients down. Then add your blueberries (as much as will fit).

Step 5. Add the cinnamon, a little pour of hemp seeds, flax seed meal, almond milk.

Step 6. Pour a large mason jar full of filtered water into the vitamix.

Step 7. Blend it all up, start on low speed and slowly increase, run on high for at the most 45 seconds.

Step 8. Pour and enjoy! Option to add ice, but with the frozen foods it should be yummy as is!

Love and Mangoes,

LM

Happy Aloha Friday,

I recently shared with you that 95% of my time was spent catering to my academic career. Writing, researching, reading papers, reviewing papers, meeting with students (masters students I mentor, undergraduate students, and fellow PhD students). Aside from all of this and the massive amounts of time spent conducting research in the lab, there are other details that aren’t permitted to be shared on social media and typically require 30% of my time, overall. I’ve decided that rather than strictly keep my Instagram account professional yoga business details, I am going to make it real. Much more real. By extension that means all things social (Facebook, Blog, and Newsletter) will all be more real. In other words, my Instagram account represents all of the social media avenues through which I share myself with the world.

Figuratively speaking, I am taking back ownership of this account. I will share with you the real process of all things beyond the yoga mat, which is simply life really, and frankly much more juicy and interesting. I will still share yoga announcements, but I am finding these perfect little IG squares to be increasingly incongruent with my own life.

With every passing year of my PhD program, I’ve moved further away from this perfect little yogi, who lives her carefree life, as she frolics this beautiful island. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the process (as best as a PhD student can), and I do love this island. However, in an effort to live my values, I feel the need to make a shift. I want to share a more authentic view of my life as I know it. A life in the present that looks very different than the life of three years ago. It is much more mature. It is much more scholarly. It is much more awesome.

Now, as I look at my feed, or where I’ve left it (I rarely post actual photos anymore), it has morphed into a stream of solely superficial shares. Partially, this was due to lack of time, but more likely it was reticence on my part to share the real struggle of life.

Recently, I realized that I felt totally detached from IG. I didn’t even enjoy popping in to see others photos. I was critiquing in my own mind what felt like inauthentic shares by others, yet, I look at my own shares and see that there is little representation of struggle or hardship. Additionally, what is present (mostly yoga) only comprises 5% of my life! I realized that the only way I would continue to use Instagram would be if I were willing to share an accurate representation of my own life.

When we are quick to judge others, it’s usually because we are also quick to judge ourselves.

So if you are reading this, and thinking, oh darn I just shared a non-deep post about an apple, you do you! My point is not that we should all strive for this vulnerability and be open to sharing, my point is that I was unknowingly uncomfortable by how my IG mirrored my own inability to effectively collide these two worlds (academics and yoga).

I am giving myself permission to share the details; because life is messy, hard, frustrating, but also beautiful, brilliant, and even spectacular in its mundaneness. I want to help my worlds collide and in doing so, share my process.

I want to add value. Be of service. Be a light. Be a teacher. Be a role model. And that starts with owning my own truth. It’s nothing radical or life changing, simply more real.

I no longer feel the same exhaustion of teaching thousands of yoga classes, I feel the brain the fatigue of staring at this computer. When I first became a yogi and IG was in its infancy, I was so raw and authentic in my sharing. Yoga opened my heart to a way of living that I had never experienced before and I was singing it from the rooftops, it was my own real life happiness and growth being depicted via these squares. I stopped this when the popularity of IG blew up, because it felt too vulnerable. And then I went back to school and I had a permanent excuse not to post! I told myself ‘I am a professional’ I can’t!

As you can see, with my stack of journal articles 5” thick, on most days I feel like my brain might spontaneously combust. Because I am pulled in so many directions, and this dichotomy of subjects/business was overwhelming me in its differences. I want to give 100% to each of the various hats I wear, as I know we all do. The reality is I am an academic and a yogi and a dog mom, navigating through real life struggles, and honestly ready to share this perspective. Spoiler alert, it is very difficult. But I hope to share some of my yogis tricks of the trade.

Writing the truth in my newsletter the other day - 95% of my time is spent on things other than simply yoga – I realized, it was no one’s fault for not realizing this but my own. It highlighted that I’ve only shared pieces of my life on this account with you, in a way that is wholly inaccurate.

Real talk – my academic life doesn’t care about my yoga business, and my yoga business doesn’t care that I teach and research at a University. I think my own inner frustrations at both sides not realizing this is ultimately what made me acknowledge that I have these two careers – side by side – but no one (other than my husband) knows about it!

I realized that I hold the key to making my own shift, to ameliorating problems, to living more authentically, to truly unlocking more happiness and growth.

In my teaching of yoga classes (see? I always have to specify if it’s academic or yoga teaching), I often share the struggles of academic life. But by no means do I share the nitty gritty, the daily grind, the sheer frustration (Why isn’t this analysis running? Ah there is a data entry error! Where is it? Not sure, let’s go through 1,000 files and find it.)! Likewise, in my academic life, I never fully share the role yoga plays in my life. Cue me sitting in a meeting thinking but not verbalizing, ‘well meditation would help calm the nervous system down.’ My IG account – as an extension of my life - will be that new living truth.

Writing the truth the other day also felt damn good. It was like a big exhale. Because, here is the thing, I do think these little squares can be of service. I do love the platform it offers: to share a window into our own world with a simple photo and the power of words. These little squares are extremely helpful resources and sources of community.

Anyways, thank you for reading this far. I definitely plan to continue to update you with all things yoga offerings (and there are plenty!), but I want to invite you to join me on this new journey that is much more a balance of teaching yoga and navigating my way through the world of biomechanical research. I want to invite you into my world as an female academic, who practices yoga off the mat and in her life. I already feel excited about this new chapter. Maybe I should run a biomechanical analysis of the alignment of handstands? That would be fun! Any volunteers? See? I am stoked!

Lastly, HUGE mahalo to my Goal Chasers Summer 2020 cohort for helping me realize my own potential. I am hearing my own voice more clearly, trying to practice being above the line, living my legacy, and focusing on my values. I am so grateful to these women for being a part of this program that I offer. I said on the first night of lecture, that I’ve opened this work again because I myself need to DIG IN to the heart of the matter and figure my sh*t out. As we progress through the series, I keep finding more clarity, more ah-ha moments, and more hell yesses.

With so much love and gratitude to you,

LM



Happy Friday Everyone!
 
First I want to say thank you to each of you for being a part of my journey. As a doctoral student, I haven’t had the luxury of time in my schedule for the last few years. The unique opportunity to hit pause on my research at the end of  my third year, was extremely unexpected, and initially, incredibly nerve wracking. Overwhelmingly, the pause has proved to be a blessing.
 
Beyond the regularly scheduled programming - my research in the human performance lab - I have been able to dive back into my work with you all. I have been able to apply a lot of what I’ve learned in my studies to all things movement and yoga with students of mine (you!). What has made this time even more special is that many of you on my mailing list don’t live here in Hawaii with me. I have been able to reconnect with so many of you,  new and old students, friends from home, college, and friends of my friends!
 
And for this reason, I wanted to take a moment and say, thank you!! It has been lovely to “see” you on the yoga mat, to read your email replies, and really humbling to grow through this experience alongside you. Thank you for supporting me.
 
Lukewarm is no good. When I am interested in something, I truly go all in, and here I am. I’ve learned that the moments in my life where I feel my most vulnerable, are the same moments that become those pivotal moments of growth. My husband encouraged me for years to take my teaching online, but I never wanted to. I felt icky about Instagram influencers and I thought, no my students are here in Hawaii and I like to see them in person and I like to physically adjust bodies. I didn’t think online teaching, in any form, was for me.
 
In hindsight, I see right through this fixed mindset. Really, what was governing me was the fear of effing up! Embarrassing myself online. How irrational is that? To all of my yoga teachers reading, no one is going to care if you cue the wrong thing! Likely, they won’t even notice. Heck, go cue the right leg twice in Sun B for all I care (this is a yoga teaching joke). Additionally, I’ve taught thousands and thousands of yoga classes, teaching yoga is like brushing my teeth at this point.
 
My Dad has reminded me my whole life: “perfection is for the next life.” I used to wonder what this really meant, one of his many Dad-isms. The meaning of this Dad-ism lands very clearly these days.

Be vulnerable.
Be real.
Be a learner.
Be humble.
 
So here is me letting go of perfect. I am working with the little free time that I do have, to try to hustle and offer you all that I can! I am juggling my academics and my yoga – because I want to! It has meant many late nights and early mornings, but I am so enthusiastic about this next step, it doesn’t even matter. I am so excited to take my yoga platform online.
 
Join me online, if you haven’t already! I have a YouTube channel, that I am now filling up with yoga classes. No more bikini handstand videos for this girl. I am making my channel official.
 
In the spirit of gratitude, I am so happy to share with you these two free yoga classes. I have uploaded these high quality classes to YouTube.

The first class is a 45-Minute Morning Flow:
https://youtu.be/NvwVAqjYO3Y
The second class is a 65-Minute Foundations Yoga Flow:
https://youtu.be/1XkGOy-2o4s
 
In addition to my Sunday and Thursday 8-9:15am classes, I will be uploading free classes to YouTube! Please subscribe to my channel, that way you will get notified if I upload a new class or video!
 
I would love to see you live on the yoga mat for a class via Zoom. In those classes, I get to see you and cue directly based on what I see you doing. I also love interacting with you and feeling the sense of community. Again, thank you all for showing up and being the most awesome community network. The links for Sunday and Thursday classes can be found below.
 
Lots of love to you all,
LM

When a wise farmer is considering buying a horse, they always know to examine the horse's mouth. Because the condition of the horse’s mouth reflects the health of its entire body. No farmer will fork over top dollar for a horse with missing choppers or sore gums. In horses, like humans, dental problems signal other health problems.

Poor oral health has been linked to diabetes and ulcers, but the most striking correlation is with cardiovascular diseases (heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis). Several studies have reported that heart disease patients have higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease.

Roberts J. Genco of the University of Buffalo studied 1,372 people over 10 years and reported that heart disease was three times more prevalent for those with gum disease. Another study, published in the Brittish Medical Journal, reported that people with inflammation of the gums had a 25% increased risk of heart disease.

Researchers believe that the oral bacteria that cause dental disease, enter the bloodstream through small tears in the gums. These bacteria cause inflammation in the circulatory system. It seems that if you have good dental health you are likely to have good cardiovascular health too!

How Does Oil Pulling Work?

Oil pulling is 3,000 year old Ayurvedic Medicine practice that is used as an oral therapy. Turns out research supports this practice, oil pulling is believed to help in the excretion of toxic heavy metals, and works to “pull” bacteria, viruses and protozoa from the oral cavity. Oil pulling has been found to be effective in fighting gingivitis, plaque, tooth decay and microorganisms that cause bad breath (bacteria).

How does this work? Well most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth are single-celled. Cells are covered with a lipid (fatty membrane) that serves as the cell’s skin. When these cells come into contact with oil (fat), they adhere to each other.

According to Ayurveda the tongue is connected to various organs (kidneys, heart, lungs, small intestine, and spine). Oil pulling is believed to activate salivary enzymes which absorb toxins (chemical, bacterial, environmental) from the blood and are removed from the body through the tongue. Which is why this practice is said to detoxify and purify the entire human body. One counter argument is that since the oral mucosa is not a semipermeable membrane, toxins of the body from the blood cannot pass through it.

Here are the steps:

First thing in the morning, put one tablespoon of organic cold pressed coconut oil (this is what I use - thank you Costco and Amazon) in your mouth and swish it around. You can start with 5 minutes. And work your way up to 10, then 15, and ultimately reach the goal of 20 minutes of swishing. All you need is a gentle swish, move the oil all around and between your teeth. Do not swallow any of the liquid. Remember this process is “pulling” bacteria and toxins from your mouth. When you are done, this is very important, spit it out in the trash can. If you spit it in the sink, the oil can clog the pipes! Next, thoroughly wash your mouth with clean warm saline water or tap water and clean your teeth with your finger or use routine tooth brushing (use a different toothbrush than your normal one).

I personally jumped right to the 20 minutes per day of oil pulling. I did not have any jaw soreness or tightness, and I thought why not try to extract (pun intended) the full benefit? Admittedly on some days I swish for 15 minutes or 18 minutes. I use coconut oil, because I like the taste and also it has the added benefit of lauric acid which has anti-microbial agents and anti-inflammatory properties.

Benefits:

Your gums should become pinker and healthier. The practice is said to resolve dry mouth/throat and chapped lips. Really there are endless purported benefits, your teeth should become whiter, breath fresher, oral cavity muscles and jaws stronger. I am just going to keep going, but trust me this list isn’t exhaustive.

  • Prevention of dental caries, gingivitis, oral candidias and periodontitis
  • Tooth pain reduction
  • Fixes mobile teeth
  • Improves  oral hygiene.

When practiced regularly it will freshen and stimulate the mind and strengthen your senses. It is beneficial for sore throats, dry face, impaired vision, taste loss and anorexia.

Need I say more?

Get swishing,

LM

P.S. please comment below or reach out to me if you have tried this method. I would love to know how it has worked for you. Also, if you try the method after reading this post, please let me know how it goes! Email info@lauramarylinsley.com, mahalo!

Aloha Everyone,

I wanted to share with you this Summer offering of mine. I announced the release of this Goal Chaser Series two weeks ago, before the world changed. The BLM Movement has rocked the world for the better, including my own (world). Nonetheless, I went silent on sharing this since the day I mentioned it. As last week I was immersed in reading about race and all matters related to BLM.

As a PhD student, I generally crawl out of my academic hibernation each Summer and say hello to all of my yoga students and jump back into my life mission work. Given my own shift in focus over the last week, I went back and forth on whether or not I should postpone all of my Summer offerings, or whether I shall proceed as scheduled.

With everything I’ve learned in the last week, silence is deadly. I am choosing to share this offering with you all, and I feel now is as important a time as ever before to take a new look at our goals. It’s as good a time as ever to question how we show up in the world. And no time like the present, we start a week from tomorrow (June 15th)!

Please consider joining me for this 4-week adventure online via Zoom. The weekly lectures are 60-minutes long. There is a bit of homework each week. There is some yoga practice included in the series as well. All lectures will be recorded, in case you live in Germany and don't wish to wake up at 5AM to join the lecture live.

Please email me at info@lauramarylinsley.com if you are interested.

So much love to you all,

LML

Art and Poem by Morgan Harper Nichols.

Aloha Everyone,

As much as I would like to write a heartfelt reflection for you, I am struggling. I’ve had endless thoughts over the last week on George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. And though I have felt compelled to share my two cents, I am going to try to keep it very brief.

In my first draft of this email to you, I wrote, "Now is not the time to amplify my own voice. I truly believe that message. Now is the time to shine the lights on black voices." I am noticing my own speech patterns and have been hyperaware of my words, and as such, I sent this email to a black yoga student and friend of mine, Leana.

Her only feedback to me was this:

"Your message is lovely and very clear.

The only thing I would say is that you shouldn’t be silent. (Not saying that you are), but Your voice needs to be amplified. And you are amplifying you’re voice, especially since you are talking about systemic racism and giving your readers suggestions on material they can read to learn to do better. That’s amplification right there!

Black voices are being heard right now but we also need allies, like you, who have a voice in the community 💜. I keep telling people that silence is so loud and people notice."

As for the reading material I advise, keep reading. I asked my friend if I should delete the originally stated line, and she responded, "No, no, no. Not at all."

She recommended the correction to write, “Now is the time to amplify my voice.” 

And she finished with, "Because now is the time 💁🏾‍♀️." - Thank you, Leana!


 So, here I go. I want to acknowledge this important moment in our lives. First came the pandemic and months of fear and chaos. And now the entire world has galvanized around creating lifelong change. We are living in a pivotal moment in history, to say the least. The year 2020 will be in the history books, with a loud message. 

Behind the scenes, I have been reading, learning, and talking to family about race. On the one hand, I have never really had these conversations with my family. But on the other, the discussions on ideologies, equality, complicit behaviors and silence, is quite familiar to me. As a liberal arts educated psychology (cognition) major, I took courses in history, sociology, and psychology. Including those on colonization, race, gender, and sexuality. These courses expanded my mind to explore and see life through a broader scope, thank you Skidmore College.

At times, I questioned my own involvement in systemic racism, but never to this current degree. This is the power of the current movement. It is so important, so overdue, it has been silenced, but now it is here. These discussions are difficult and uncomfortable, but ultimately, these conversations will help evolve the world to be a better place for all beings. Before we get there, to that future scenario, Black Lives Matter. Right here, right now, and urgently.

It is not my intention to delve into all of my thoughts here, believe me, this is my attempt at brevity. The systemic racism and injustice strongholds in America are deeply connected to education. I know that is not by any means an all-encompassing explanation, but it is a factor.

How can one begin to question their own involvement in racism if they deny its very existence? Education will help decompose the false conceptualization of a racist as that of a violent outlier. For starters, I can recommend the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. It is an uncomfortable but powerful read.

Aside from reading, I have used the resource of social media, but at times it has felt overwhelming.

I’ve stepped back, logged off, and checked in mentally and physically. I’ve gone for long runs, and practiced yoga. I considered canceling both last week’s yoga class and this week’s class, because I am questioning everything. Second guessing whether or not now is the time for yoga.

I concluded that yes, it is. In fact, I can’t think of a better time to practice than right now. We need to stay fit, mentally and physically. We need to show up, and do better, for ourselves, our family, and the world. If you have a million thoughts circulating right now, as I do, let’s clear space and make sense of them on the mat tomorrow.

In lieu of donating to Aloha United Way tomorrow, 50% of the proceeds from tomorrow’s class will go towards Black Lives Matter to help fund the movement. 

Respond to this email if you would like to take class tomorrow from 8-9:15am. I will respond to you with the link and password.

Love always,

LML

Photography by Lululemon, Chelsea Abril.

HAPPY ALOHA FRIDAY,

You guys, I did a thing. Actually two. My mind has been percolating on goal setting over the last few weeks. While it is most definitely one thing to set the goals, it is quite another to go after them. We’ve heard this phrase again and again, but today, I asked myself the question: why am I playing small?

This question alone is a provocative one. Am I afraid of my own success? Do I feel undeserving of success? Why should I withhold my skills and knowledge? Don’t others deserve to live this beautiful practice? These questions were a transparent wake up call for me. Like a splash of cold water to your face in the morning, I feel READY. Because the answer to all of these questions was ‘oh my goodness, LM get started! And do not wait another moment.’

I realized, I have all of this knowledge to share! So much to share, and I want to share it! I am not quite sure what sparked this re-ignition to my goal setting and my lifestyle company as a whole, but it has already happened. All things in due time, right? This week, I have been churning out content for you.

The first announcement is that I will be hosting an online offering of my Goal Chaser Series. If you have completed the Goal Chaser Series once, twice, or three times before, I am still here for you! I would love for you to join again.

If you have never been through my Goal Chaser Series, it would be an honor to have you join. I think now, more than ever, as we navigate through this precarious time our goals become that much more important. As we strive to stay on our path of living our most authentic life, it is important to lean on each other while also holding each other accountable.

As I enter the fourth year of my PhD program, the uncertainty of my future come May 2021 has me all kinds of stressed out. For the first time in my three decades of life, the path forward is an unknown. It is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. I think I have been carrying around subconscious stress related to this CHOICE. Goal setting and living authentically is all about choice.

Only recently, with a toothache of all things, has this question mark in my life become conscious. Do I have a toothache because of this stress? Is that a thing? Turns out, the stress didn’t cause my toothache, but it certainly did not help the situation. Nonetheless, this among other recent events have catapulted me back into this important life work, and I want to share it with you.

The choices we make now, dictate what follows. I am putting in the work now, to assuage my worries about my upcoming graduation. And there is some serious work to do. I want you onboard with me!

Two weeks ago at my Sunday morning yoga class, I shared the smallest piece of this goals work. It ignited my own fire. Since then, I have been on a personal mission to achieve and live in total alignment with my goals. From getting the right amount of R&R, to proper amounts of daily exercise, to work goals (I am getting published!), and beyond.

Goal setting and vision work is about structuring your life, and truly implementing the work moment to moment. Not by May 2021, but right now.

Every single time I share the goal chasers program, I learn something new. I learn about the world, the people around me, life, and most importantly myself. I realize how much it fills me up to see others reach their goals and live their purpose. And ironically, helping you is a part of my ever evolving purpose.

Because here is the thing about our goals, they change! Life is organic. We can’t predict every change in the tides, we need to live moment to moment. Which is why the majority of the goals work is about the present moment. It is about how you show up and live, right now. Hint hint, it might not be the same way you showed up two years ago.

I recently read a phrase in a book that deeply resonated with me, I will paraphrase: “if you’ve got it, share it.” What a wonderful life philosophy. I thought, how cool, my Sunday yoga class is doing this right now. We’ve got a sweet crew of students who show up to their mat and donate, and we’ve raised over $500 to benefit Aloha United Way’s COVID-19 community response and recovery fund.

Then I asked myself, what else do I have to share? I thought, I need to share my goal chaser series again. And as I mentioned, I got the sharing started at my Sunday yoga class two weeks ago. My next thought was, well I am scientist becoming an expert in anatomy and biomechanics, maybe I ought to share this knowledge with the world? And I will be.

I am thrilled to announce the upcoming Anatomy of Movement Training Series. This week, I have been recording lectures and content. The Anatomy of Movement Training Series is a hefty one, I will be covering A LOT in this training. It has been in the works for years, to be honest. Finally, the Summer 2020 timing is perfect to release this to the world.

I will be sending out a separate announcement for each of these offerings. This email is simply to announce these two happenings: I am hosting both an online Goal Chasers Series and an online Anatomy of Movement Training Series. ALL HAPPENING THIS SUMMER (double trouble)!

Yes, it might feel like an LM Summer Camp, but there will be plenty of other people to connect with and grow and learn alongside.

Here are the dates you need to know:
 
Goal Chasers Series (online):
 
Monday, June 15th, 5PM (HST)
Monday, June 22nd, 5PM (HST)
Monday, June 29th, 5PM (HST)
Monday, July 6th, 5PM (HST)

Anatomy of Movement Series (online):
 
Monday, July 13th, 5PM (HST)
Monday, July 20th, 5PM (HST)
Monday, July 27th, 5PM (HST)
Monday, August 3rd, 5PM (HST)

If you are interested in either of these offerings, please email me at info@lauramarylinsley.com!

I seriously cannot wait!
 
Goals, goals, goals,
LML

I know many of my yoga students are athletes, runners, avid walkers, soccer players, swimmers, tennis players, surfers, you name it! And others are non-athletes, but active people. All come to the yoga mat to find balance in their body and mind. This blog post is specifically about the former, balance in the body, which in my opinion, indirectly effects the balance of our mind.
 
Let’s entertain the example of a runner. You can run and run, but if you don’t cross-train, and work on your dynamic mobility, you will ‘run’ into some problems – pun intended. This piece to training is crucial. If you don’t work to maintain proper mobility, you won’t perform as well, you won’t feel as good, and ultimately you are at risk of an injury, if not already injured.
 
Adding in yoga to your weekly run workout regimen, is one way to restore balance to these muscles that have become imbalanced. The type of yoga that is particularly helpful for runners and athletes is vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa yoga is inherently dynamic, we are moving, breath-to-movement, aka breath to posture. The practice will help strengthen and lengthen muscles appropriately, in order to maintain or restore healthy range of motion (ROM).

If you’ve practiced vinyasa yoga before, you know that it can be challenging. One way we are often challenged on the mat is by holding postures (not for terribly long), but it does the job of effectively improving endurance of these muscles. Often times, the muscles that fatigue as we attempt to hold a pose, are those muscles that we need to target and improve strength and in some cases also length. Yes, a muscle can be both tight and weak.
 
The pose that comes to mind immediately for me, is half moon (ardha chandrasana) pictured at the very top. In this pose, we have to hold one leg and arm up in the air (against the force of gravity). The strength it takes to keep our leg lifted, falls to a gluteal muscle known as gluteus medius. When we contract the whole of this muscle, it will abduct the thigh (move it away from the ground, where it is being forced down by gravity).

How does this muscle impact a runner? Or even a walker for that matter?

Well when we have weakness in the gluteus medius, we can develop pelvic drop in the frontal plane, either ipsilaterally (on one side) or bilaterally (on both sides). Visualize the way a model walks down the runway. The model sasses her hips from side to side, this is what pelvic drop (pelvic tilt) in the frontal plane looks like!

One might say that models have weakness in their gluteus medius muscle. Although, I realize they do this walk intentionally, it is no good for functional movement. Particularly, if you are running, and thus adding more force to the movement. Depending on your running foot strike pattern, the vertical ground reaction forces experienced when running are roughly two to three times your body weight.

To a lesser degree, gluteus minimus (a muscle deep to gluteus medius) helps with keeping the pelvis level during movements. Often times as running duration or speed increase, any imbalances we have become more apparent. When gluteus medius and minimus are faced with the need to function under the demands of running, the runner might begin to have continual hip drop. This occurrence might be fine a few times. However, in all likelihood, they won’t be fine if this is felt for every step, over 30 minutes, five times a week, for a year - you get the point. Ultimately, this will stress the sacroiliac joint and the low back. A weak gluteus medius is oftentimes partly to blame for knee and ankle injuries too.

What I am saying is that, though these imbalances are often very subtle, they can become more pronounced and apparent with our athletic activity, and especially so with fatigue.

Yoga is a beautiful practice to maintain proper length and strength of various muscles, including gluteus medius. I have seen many a jock in class, who finds lifting their leg in half moon to be a significant challenge. What's neat about yoga, is that the practice quietly, and humbly, alerts and informs us of such imbalances. Yoga is a way of checking in with our body, like getting your oil changed. We need to check in a tune up car regularly, think of yoga as a weekly, or even daily, system tune up. 

There is one more thing. Yoga is not therapy. It is a practice of repetition. In physical therapy, for example, you might do three sets of 30 seconds of a particular stretch. You will then do this ‘exercise’ three times a day. Conversely, yoga is a neuromuscular training practice for life. So long as you show up to your mat, with dedication, these shifts are possible. It is not therapeutic. Though, mentally it feels this way, in the clinical meaning of the word, it is not. As yoga teachers, we should not be using the word therapy in a literal sense. 

As a yoga teacher, I am not prescribing, holding a stretch for 30 seconds, for three sets, three times a day. Leave that to the professionals who are targeting an imbalance for therapeutic intervention. In yoga, you are holistically, strengthening and lengthening, and neuromuscularly training the whole of your body. You need not worry about overdoing it on pose or stretch, because you are in and out rather quickly.

Here is the catch, one chaturanga with poor form won’t hurt you, but 1,000 may. You know your body best, so long as you are aligned well in your postures, and you can breathe fully, and there is no pain, you can trust in your practice.

The next time you show up to your mat, be an observer. What feels tight or restricted? What feels weak? Notice if one side of the body is significantly stronger and or tighter. If you have a mirror to practice in front of, pay attention to the subtleties of your postural alignment.

Here are some of my fave exercises to strengthen gluteus medius and minimus. You can work these into your yoga practice. 

1) Lie on one side, and abduct the top thigh, bringing your ankle up to about hip height, slowly lower it back down (Repeats x5-10)
2) Side Plank (vashistasana) with the option to abduct the top leg (3-5 breaths)
3) Half Moon (3-5 breaths)
4) Bridge Pose (3-5 breaths)
5) Personal fave add-in to yoga practice – lateral band walks. Place the stretch band just above your ankles or just above your knees. Come into a squat with feet hips width distance apart, maintain the distance between your feet, and laterally side step in your squat (down the length of your mat), then return to back to the top of the mat (Repeats x5-10).

Love and Gratitude,