What makes a medical professional body positive?

This week we are talking all things medical bopo. I know health issues and seeing a doctor about them can be a huge source of anxiety so let’s figure out some strategies to make it better! Watch this video to learn more about what to look for in a bopo medical professional and/or health practitioner and find strategies for dealing with medical professionals in a more body positive way.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please share in the comments.

Xoxo Krystal

Desire Mapping the New Year

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The New Year is almost here and as you may know from previous years, I no longer set New Year’s Resolutions. They have never really worked for me. Instead I had started to set New Year Intentions. If you want to know what the difference is, you can read all about it here.

However, last year I tried something else entirely. While I was away in Mexico with my bestie for the holidays, together we listened to Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map audiobook. Desire Mapping is all about goal setting based on your core desired feelings. In order to set your goals, you first must go inwards and explore what your soul desires to feel in the year ahead. What emotions? What sensations? How do you wish to experience life? What are your core desired feelings for the next year?


From my own inner exploration I found my core desired feelings for 2016 were:

  • BOLD
  • PLAYFUL
  • PASSIONATE
  • AMOROUS
  • AUTHENTIC
  • GROUNDED

Once you have identified your core desired feelings, you develop the intentions and goals that will help you experience these feelings.

To experience feeling BOLD, PLAYFUL and PASSIONATE, I knew I wanted to get back into dance. So when the opportunity to be the Artistic Supervisor for Queerlesque as part of this year’s NWT Pride Festival presented itself, it was a clear YES! And when I was asked to audition for the Yellowknife Dance Collective, I was so scared it made me nauseated, but I knew I had set an intention for the year and this was the perfect way to feel bold, playful and passionate. Auditioning was the best decision ever! Auditioning gave me the inspiration I needed to start renting a studio once a week to free dance. My friend and I would go together and we are so comfortable with each other that we could wear whatever we wanted (ME: booty shorts) and just GET WEIRD. It was probably the most powerful BODY LOVE activity I have done in a while. Anytime I would look in the mirror and hear negative thoughts like, “Oh my god, you have so much cellulite,”, that thought would almost immediately be replaced with, “Look at how beautifully my body moves!”. And my wonder at the beauty of my dancing body truly drowned out any other thoughts.

Creative dance projects goal achieved!

To experience feeling BOLD, PLAYFUL, PASSIONATE, AMOROUS and AUTHENTIC I wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted a BODY LOVE TOUR with my LOVE. It all came together with my Summer Body Love Yoga Tour. When I look back on that time that we shared, the experiences we had, the connections I made with people across Canada and the confidence and freedom I felt, it makes my heart burst with joy. They were experiences of a lifetime. If you’d like to read more about them you can here.

Body Love Yoga Tour with my babe goal achieved!

To experience feeling GROUNDED and AUTHENTIC I wanted to get my financial house in order. Since becoming a small business owner I have been very focused on making sure that my business was running well, but I wanted to take my money management to the next level and I wanted to work to get past any blockages I had to a mindset of abundance. For this I turned to the amazing Denise Duffield-Thomas’ book, Lucky Bitch, and the effect this had on my life is big enough for a whole separate blog post. But suffice it to say that I knocked this goal out of the park and will be debt free as of July 2017!

Money mindset for abundance goal achieved!

To experience feeling BOLD, AUTHENTIC and GROUNDED I wanted to finally launch the project I had been dreaming about for three years, The Luscious Life Program, my online Body Love Yoga Program. I have been dreaming about this since the summer of 2013. Every year it was on my business plan. And every year other projects took priority. But this was my year! It was with a deep sense of pride and self-love that in November of 2016 I launched The Luscious Life Program! And with that I had achieved a goal three years in the making, but also by November 7, 2016 I had achieved all of my goals for the year! Which meant I could actually start turning my mind to 2017 before it got here.

Launch The Luscious Life Program goal achieved!


So basically 2016 kicked ass and I kicked its ass!

2017 is looking like it will also be an amazing year! I’m turning 40! I’m opening my own studio! I’m going to Maui with my babe to celebrate our birthdays! I’m going on a European Body Love Tour in the spring! And I have even more surprises and excitement planned for you that I can’t wait to share!

How did your 2016 goals go? What are your core desired feelings for 2017? I wanna hear all about them!

xox

Krystal

Hot Tips for Holiday Body Love

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The holidays are getting into full swing!

For many of us the parties have already started. And, as I mentioned before, this time of year can be really wonderful, but it can also be really stressful. And in terms of feeling good about your body there are many triggering situations that can come up.

So I wanted to offer some more strategies to get us through this holiday season loving your body as best you can.

Book Self-Care into your Schedule

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I think one of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves at this time of year is actually making some time in our schedule for self-care. With the change in routine, the demands of the season, the darkness, if you are in the northern hemisphere, and the cold, if you are in chillier climates, we really need to take time to recharge. I highly recommend booking your self-care into your schedule. If you know there is a form of self-care that really works for you like, restorative yoga, meditation, running, dance, naps, etc actually book those into your schedule. Or if you know you would like to be more spontaneous, you could create a list of self-care ideas and then when the time comes up in your schedule pick the one that is calling to you.

Use Affirmations

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To help me stay in a body positive headspace, I will write out or say my body positive affirmations every morning to get ahead of the game. Affirmations like, “I love my body. I love every cell in my body.”, “I give myself full permission to eat whatever my body desires.”, and “I listen to my body’s needs and lovingly respond.”.

Plan Ahead

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For many of us the coming together of family can be very triggering. Family members may like to comment on our bodies or any changes in our weight since the last time they saw us. Or they may pass judgement on what we are eating. And if not that, then they are making food-shaming and size-shaming comments about themselves. It can be so tricky to stay grounded in loving yourself as you are. And it can be challenging to still listen to your own body through all that noise. What I like to do for this one is to plan ahead.

I will prepare little responses to different situations that might present themselves, like when my friend says she needs to lose 5 lbs so that she can look fabulous in her new dress on New Year’s Eve, I may redirect the conversation with “I am feeling pretty fabulous about rocking these boots with this skirt today!”

If I am feeling bold and so over shaming comments about my body, instead of the redirect I might go for the direct, “Actually, I’m not inviting comments on my body today. Thanks.” I am even thinking of creating some t-shirts that say “My Body – The Comments Section is Closed.”

Plant the Seeds of Body Positivity

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Another thing I like to do is arm myself with anti-body-shaming thoughts to help plant the seeds body positivity for my family. Like, “Food is just food. It is not good or bad. You are not a good or bad person because of what you eat. You are not a more or less valuable person based on how much you weigh.”

These concepts might be new or unfamiliar to our friends and family. Our friends and family are a part of our body-shaming society too. So the holidays can be an opportunity to educate your family by speaking openly about body-shaming. And if you are feeling keen you could have at the ready data from the Healthy at Every Size website.

What are your tips you use to stay in a body loving frame of mind over the holidays? Tell me all about them or share them in the comments.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season so far!

Krystal

P.S. If you are looking for some great self-care for the holidays, try my Daily Luscious ReTreats – 21 Days of Meditations to take you from beginner to relaxed meditator. Only $42CAD!

What is Body Positive Yoga? Why it should matter to you!

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As a Body Positive Activist and a Body Positive Yogi, I get asked the questions, “What is body positivity?” and “What is body positive yoga?” a lot.

The Body Positive movement is so near and dear to my heart and I don’t think I could offer yoga any other way. If yoga today is only for a select few who to fit into the narrow mould of a Yoga Journal cover model (white, thin, cis, able-bodied, affluent), then I am not interested in it.

I want our yoga practice to heal us. I want our yoga practice to be a place where we feel safe. I want our yoga practice to be a place of radical self-love. I want our yoga practice to be inclusive. I believe in the power of yoga to heal and transform and I believe that everyone should have access to the benefits of yoga. This is why Body Positive Yoga is so important to me!

 

First, let’s talk about Body Positivity. When I started practicing yoga, I didn’t think it was for me. I didn’t look like the other people there and I was always the biggest body in the room. So once I started teaching yoga, I wanted to make it a safe space for other people who might feel like yoga was not for them. Back then the Body Positivity movement wasn’t as popular as it is now. I didn’t even know about the term. Over the years the movement has grown and changed to become more inclusive and intersectional. A move in the right direction in my opinion.

As an evolving movement, everyone’s interpretation of body positivity might be different, but at its core the term represents the idea that all bodies are worthy of self-love, self-care, and acceptance. It includes the idea that all bodies are allowed to feel beautiful, regardless of their colour or jean size or health status or how attractive you personally find them to be. Although the mainstream media has been focusing the Body Positivity movement on feeling beautiful in our bodies, I am more interested in finding ways to love and respect our bodies, even if we desire for our bodies to change. This allows for space in the body positivity movement for someone who might still want to lose weight, or for someone who might be ill, or for someone who wants/needs to modify their body.

 

How does body positivity apply to yoga?

Yoga is for Every Body! Everyone should have access to the benefits of yoga! Yoga is not just asana (the postures), which yoga in the West tends to focus on. If one can consciously observe their breath one is practicing yoga. I have worked with people who are in palliative care. People who are unable to get out of bed and are in so much pain from cancer and the healing power of Yoga Nidra (a guided relaxation) has been the only thing they found to relieve that pain.

For me Body Positive Yoga is so much more that just body size. Yes, there is a lot of focus on body size in the Body Positivity movement as a push back against Western yoga’s focus on thin bodies and because of North America’s fatphobia erasing bigger bodies from movement based activities. If we never see larger bodies being physical, then we start to believe that it isn’t possible for larger bodies to be physical, to be healthy, to be an athlete, or to be a yogi. Here are some great resources proving otherwise:

Fat Girl Running – A blog about being an active larger girl in a thinner world via the individual yet universal sport of running.

Louise Green – Louise Green is a globally recognized plus size athlete, trainer and advocate with a leading voice at the forefront of the Body Advocacy movement.

FabUplus – FabUplus is a health, fitness and lifestyle magazine dedicated to women with curves. Their goal is to empower, encourage and inspire women to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what your size.

Body Positive Athletes – This is a closed Facebook Group forming a community of people who believe that the term ‘athletic’ defines a lifestyle and not a body shape or size.

Jessamyn Stanley – Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga teacher, body positive advocate, and writer based in Durham, North Carolina.

 

As a Body Positive Yoga Therapist I do my best to make sure I know as many variations and modifications of poses as I can. And I make sure offer those modifications to the poses in a way that doesn’t sound like the are a lesser pose. I also like to affirm at the beginning of the class that each student has full permission to move their body in the way that feels right for them. I believe you know your body best and you know what works best for your body. Throughout the class I will also encourage you to listen to your body and modify your poses so that you are maximizing the benefits for your body while minimizing the risk of injury.

I also use Yoga Sutra (The Book of Yoga) cards in class to help me know whether people are comfortable with hands on adjustments. The cards offer an opportunity for learning something new about yoga philosophy and then the students are invited to place the card face up near their mat if they would like hands on adjustments. Or face down near their mat if they would like to be left alone today. This way the student doesn’t have to communicate verbally and I will still check in with the student before putting my hands on them even if their card is face up. Knowing the people and the bodies in my yoga space helps me to make my classes safe. This is one of the reasons I have moved away from offering drop-in classes and now only offer pre-registered classes and workshops where people can let me know about any issues or concerns beforehand and then we can work together to make it the safest most beneficial practice for them.

I am also very aware of the language I am using during class. I never want to use body shaming language in the class, like “to burn more calories do this” or “if you are trying to lose weight try this”, or even calling a certain expression of a pose “the full expression of the pose”. The benefits of an asana practice can be experienced and felt in any variation and any body. And I want to make sure that I am using non-gendered, non-agist language, anti-racist, anti-colonial, and LGBTQ+, body positive and body ability positive language.

I strive for the space that I create for yoga to be a space to:

  • Appreciate your body for everything it can do and everything it does for you
  • Notice where your body is strong and capable and focusing on that
  • Feel your body as an ally, not an enemy you have to be at war with
  • See your worth as more than a number on a scale
  • Redefine health – My definition of health includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I know you can be healthy at any size. If you are not familiar with this topic look into “Health at Every Size” by Dr. Linda Bacon.

For my business I have guiding principles that help to frame how I operate a body positive business:

1 – Honouring the Tradition of Yoga

I always strive to offer a practice that holds reverence for the lineage, history and culture from which yoga arose. I do this by studying the philosophy of yoga, knowing the history of yoga and the culture in which it arose as well as how culture has shaped what we know as yoga today, including the history of colonialism in India. I also do this by stating at the beginning of my workshops and retreats that I honour the path of yoga, I honour that it is an Indian tradition and I thank my teachers for guiding me on this path. Yoga is not mine. It is something I honour and offer to others.

2 – Unceded Chief Drygeese Traditional Territory of the Yellowknives Dene

I always strive to recognize who’s land my services are being offered on. So when I am home in Yellowknife I will state at the beginning of workshops and retreats that I thank the Yellowknives Dene for allowing me to offer my services on the unceded Chief Drygeese Traditional Territory of the Yellowknives Dene. When I am traveling, I take time to learn whose land I am visiting and will thank and honour them at the beginning of my workshops and retreats.

3 – Anti-Oppressive Space

I always strive to make the spaces I create as anti-oppressive as possible and this is challenging since we do live in oppressive spaces. I focus on making my spaces:

  • Anti-racist;
  • Anti-colonial;
  • Patriarchy resistant;
  • LGBTQ+ positive; and
  • Body and ability positive.

And I acknowledge my privilege. I can’t possibly have all the answers on how to make my spaces anti-oppressive so I always welcome conversations on how to achieve this.

4 – Accessibility

I explore ways to make my services as accessible as possible, including, but not limited to:

  • Offering free classes;
  • Offering classes-by-donation;
  • Offering classes from which proceeds will be donated to a cause; and
  • Offering to work with individual for whom cost is a barrier to make my offerings accessible.

 

I do all of this because I believe feeling safe, and this includes feeling free from oppression as much as is possible, is so important to helping us to heal. And as a Yoga Therapist, I want your yoga practice to be healing. I believe that through yoga we can heal ourselves and ultimately our world.

 

Thank you so much for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts. What does body positive yoga mean to you? Did I miss something? Why is body positive yoga important to you? Share in the comments below.

xox

Krystal

 

P.S. If you want to watch a little video of my talking about Body Positive Yoga you can do it here.

P.P.S. If you want to practice Body Positive Yoga with me, you can get started with Body Love Yoga CardsBody Love Yoga Cards is designed to get you started on your yoga journey as well as your body love journey. And you if you are already on your way, it will help you continue on that path! With Body Love Yoga Cards you are committing to a 10 day practice. It’s made for people just like you who feel like they don’t have enough time for their yoga practice.

Big shifts can come from small changes! Get started today!

 

 

 

Body Love True Stories: Part 2

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Yay! It’s time for the second instalment of Body Love True Stories – Inspirational stories of people’s body love journeys and where that journey has taken them. These stories are from people I have worked with and they are my inspiration. Their stories are so powerful and I want the world to know what is possible when we begin on our body love journey.

 

Today’s story is super powerful and reminds us that loving our bodies is truly a journey. Here’s what she has to say:

 

On her experience of yoga with me…

 

I’ve never been in a class except Krystal’s where I can move (or not move) however I feel in that moment, while still following her guidance. It has been a good gateway to give myself permission to listen to my body and be in the present, with whatever arises. I’ve also found a new appreciation for the way my body feels and moves, when I started listening to it more.

 

I remember starting yoga when I was on Weight Watchers and things have changed so drastically since…

 

I still struggle with body image regularly, but nothing compared to before, where it was almost debilitating. Now I can show up and be me more. Krystal’s classes have opened my eyes to the fact that I can give myself permission to love myself exactly as I am today. This has all been helpful on my body-love journey.

 

On her body love journey…

 

Hating myself and being on diets used to take ALL the energy and all my mental energy on a daily basis for so many years. Body positivity has given me permission (or even just a glimpse at the possibility) to love myself just as I am. It has helped me on my journey to self love and on my recovery from eating disorders. It has also helped me see the other people around me less harshly. I feel less judgmental about others because I judge myself less. I’m also more careful about the things I say, even the things I say to myself, because I don’t want to fuel negative self image. I remember spending a year not being able to look at myself in the mirror. I would avoid mirrors at all cost, just so I didn’t have to “endure” the sight of me.

 

I do not wish that on anyone… It was a difficult difficult time and I think that body positivity, paired with self discovery and nurturing self worth (for instance by doing yoga for myself now, instead of doing it for burning calories) helped me be where I am today. Two weeks ago, it dawned on me how far I have come, as I found myself dancing naked in front of the mirror.

 

Yes! She is living a Luscious Life in the body she is in right now! And even dancing naked in front of the mirror. I LOVE IT!!!!

 

Come and experience the power of body love yoga with me! The Luscious Life Program starts next Monday (Oct 24). The program is 6 weeks of diving deep into your body love journey with weekly yoga practices, meditations and lifestyle tips, plus a private Facebook group where we will all cheer each other on! I am so pumped!

 

Find out more by clicking this link to The Luscious Life Program and let me know if you have any questions. I am always here to help! Oh yeah, did I mention that as a subscriber I am offering you the program at 50% off?! And if you register today I’ll send you a bonus chakra balancing meditation for FREE!

 

Lots of love,
Krystal

I Auditioned & I Got In!

Pssst did you know you can highlight any sentence to automatically tweet it? Give it a try!

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I did something really big and scary recently. I auditioned!

Follow along and learn about some of the key tools I use on my body love journey.

I have danced since I was five years old. I LOVE to dance. All forms of dance.

Due to life events and body image issues I have taken different breaks from the dance world. The most recent three year break was because I have been prioritizing my business and while I have been doing that I have also been doing some upsizing.

So when I saw that the Yellowknife Dance Collective was holding auditions I didn’t even entertain the thought of auditioning. Even though “Develop creative dance projects” is one of four goals I had for 2016 based on Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map. (If you don’t know Danielle Laporte, definitely check her out and I will be writing more on how her Desire Map has really worked for me to achieve all four goals in 2016!)

So I put the audition out of my mind…

until a fellow dancer reached out to me. She invited me to the audition and in the most beautiful way shared a heartfelt desire to dance with me again. It wasn’t about how I looked or that I might be out of “dance shape”, but that she really enjoyed dancing with me. And the truth is, I really enjoyed dancing with her.

So why was I denying myself this experience?

I was so afraid to confront my bigger body in dance. I was afraid to confront the fact that it might not move in the same way any more. That I might not be able to do the things I used to. That some of my dance skills will have been lost and that it wouldn’t feel as good as it used to.

But I remembered her kind words and I remembered the goals I had set for this year and decided I would take the pre-audition community class to just see how it feels. I gave myself permission. Permission to have negative thoughts. Permission to leave. Permission to be bad. Permission to just see what this bigger body could do.

And yes, I was the biggest body in the room and the biggest I have ever been in my life dancing, but as soon as I walked in that didn’t matter.

I was welcomed back into my community with open arms and big hugs. And the joy I felt dancing left no room in my body, my heart or my mind to be concerned with beauty standards or dance body standards.

Because of that experience the audition became at least another opportunity to dance and at most I would be invited to join the Yellowknife Dance Collective and be surrounded by passion that would build my inspiration to create new routines and choreography.

I was so elated when I found out I made it in!

Already this is having positive changes in my life. I now am practicing Belly Dance and connecting with my Macedonian roots and set up a time once a week where I get to free dance, in addition to the regular Yellowknife Dance Collective classes. So I have gone from not dancing to dancing three times a week. 2016 dance goals are being achieved!!!

All because of the kind and thoughtful words of Erin Suliak! HUGE thank you to Erin Suliak who is the reason I am dancing again and for that there is no equivalent way to express my gratitude.

I want to do this for all of you! I want to help you move your body in ways that are so delicious your mouth will water. I want to provide you with ways to reconnect with your authentic self and and take action to shine that authentic self out into the world.

I would love to be a part of your body love community. I would love for you to join our body love community. It’s easier when we aren’t alone. And somethings we can’t do alone. I don’t think I could have gone to that dance class without Erin’s encouragement, but her words built on my own body love work to tip the scale over and allow the positivity to spill out!

Tools for our Body Love Journey

  • Move your Body for Pleasure!
  • Reconnect and Shine your Authentic Self!
  • Create Communities of LOVE!

Join me for The Luscious Life Program as we explore all of these tools and more together. Our next session starts October 24 and as a subscriber you will get 50% off the regular price.

6 weeks of body lovin’ yoga, self-love meditations, body love lifestyle practices and a community of LOVE. All for $199. Payment plans are available too. Send me a quick email (krystal@thelusciouslife.ca) and we can figure out something that works for you!

I hope to be a part of your body love journey.

xox

Krystal

All of the Inspirational Moments from my Body Love Yoga Tour

All of the Inspirational Moments

 

As many of you know, I was very fortunate to get to travel this summer on a Body Love Yoga Tour with my partner as they toured with their awesome band Quantum Tangle. (You should definitely check them out.) There were so many amazing Body Love moments on the tour and I have come home filled up with so much inspiration that my hope is to pour some of that inspiration your way.

 

Our first stop, TORONTO – delicious food & family dynamics on our body love journey

Now usually I dread going to Toronto in the summer, with it’s thick soup-like heat and humidity, but I gotta say when you are embracing your body in tank tops and skirts it’s a lot easier to deal with. The chub rub struggle is real though. My picks for dealing with chub rub are to use Lush’s Silky Underwear on days without a tonne of walking, but if it is more of a serious movement day, I turn to a pair of spanx-like shorts in a size or two bigger than usual so that they prevent the rub without being restrictive. These are the ones I picked up from Pennington’s in Toronto.

In Toronto I also got to eat all of the delicious food; like fresh juices, gluten-free vegan cinnamon buns and gluten-free vegan ice cream sandwiches.

A rainbow of fresh juices!

A rainbow of fresh juices!

 

Tiffany Ayalik enjoying the gluten-free vegan cinnamon buns.

Tiffany Ayalik enjoying the gluten-free vegan cinnamon buns.

 

My delicious ice cream sandwich melting all too quickly in the Toronto heat.

My delicious ice cream sandwich melting all too quickly in the Toronto heat.

 

On Saturday July 9 there was a break in the rain just long enough for my outdoor Body Love Yoga Workshop in High Park. We had a beautiful intimate practice and the theme for our workshop revolved around our family members’ own internalized fatphobia and how this can make going home to see your family so triggering and challenging for your body love journey. I wrote about this in my blog post “How to Love your Body through the Holidays”. I know some of you will identify with the challenge of balancing enjoying spending time with aging family members versus speaking out against their body-shaming comments. It’s a tough one and one that I don’t think there is any one right answer for. Everyone’s family dynamics are different. In our discussion we talked about often using the “redirect” (which I discuss in my blog post) and then directly addressing specific shaming situations when you know that it is safe and it feels right for you.

 

Next we headed to SUDBURY – nakedness & our relationships with our bodies

I think one of the best tools I have found on my own body love journey is spending time with my naked body. Before I started this journey I don’t think I even knew what my thighs looked like. I just knew there was a lot of cellulite, which meant they weren’t fit for public consumption and that meant I didn’t want to see them either. Back in 2014, I started wearing booty shorts around the house whenever possible. Slowly my relationship with my thighs changed. They might be jiggly, but my thighs are strong! I can hold a warrior pose or squat like nobody’s business.

I'm a warrior in the water.

I’m a warrior in the water.

Well on this trip we all got to embrace our naked or nearly naked bodies. Part of this was due to the freedom we felt be in a place where we experienced a degree of anonymity. We are from a fairly small city where sometimes it can feel constraining to fit into the identity you feel like people expect from you. So with this anonymity I think we all felt free to try out new sides of ourselves.

We had nude photoshoots in canola fields.

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Swamp goddess photoshoots.

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And when there was a spontaneous opportunity to go swimming in Lake Nipissing under an almost full moon, I wasn’t going to say no just because I didn’t have a swimsuit. I just whipped off my clothes and walked in like it was no big deal.

 

 

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Found on a wall in Nipissing.

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At my Sudbury Body Love Yoga Workshop, our conversations were about how we define our relationship with our body. For example, today I would say that my body and I are falling in love. Since I have been on this body love journey, my body and I have been discovering all kinds of new ways that we can have fun together, like wearing short puffy dresses to weddings

 

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and unapologetically spending ALL my time in my bikini.

 

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I mean, I even walked around a music festival for a day in my bikini! I never would have thought I could get to that level. And as my partner and I walked around the festival holding hands, them without their shirt on and me in my bikini, all I could feel from the crowd was that

 Not that it’s ours to give of course, but something happens when I make eye contact with the larger woman who is wearing the “approved swimwear” for plus-sized women, a maximum coverage bathing suit with built in skirt, like I used to wear. (Not that there is anything wrong with these swimsuits, if you are freely and shamelessly rocking them.) I see a twinkle of possibility in her eye. The twinkle of “if she can rock that bikini, maybe I can too?” and I know this because I have been there!

At my workshop other women reported that their relationships with their bodies are like that of an older sister who sometimes torments them, but ultimately loves them, or that they are best friends and supporting each other in health with compassion and love. And one woman shared that it feels like her and her body have been divorced for a very long time, but she is ready for the relationship to change.

If you were to define your relationship with your body, how would you describe it? I would love to hear! Just hit reply on this email or comment below. 🙂

 

And finally, HALIFAX – handstands and even more permission

During this tour I also got to travel to Halifax to attend the Yoga in the Schools Conference. It was incredible the number of women who brought up struggling with body shame in their personal introductions. I was so impressed with the general awareness at the conference of body positivity including: fatphobia, intuitive eating and skinny-shaming. There are still some things I would tweak, but I was pleasantly surprised. And I got to practice some beautifully deep asanas, going so deep that I removed my shirt to practice in my bralette at one point. (This was inspired by Jessamyn Stanley who seems to always be practicing in her bra. So thank you to Jessamyn for giving me permission!) My favourite moment of the conference was when we were practicing handstands and the woman I was partnered up with was convinced she wouldn’t be able to do one. So I showed her how I go up into a handstand and then right away she was up there too! It brought me to tears to see how lit up she was afterwards!

This idea of giving permission just seems to be showing up a lot lately. I feel that I am being given permission to be myself by watching all these inspirational people around me and I see others taking permission as they watch me growing and sharing more and more of my true self. And this is what I heard at the Halifax Body Love Yoga Workshop: You gave me permission to love my body as it is.”, “You gave me permission to buy a two-piece for the first time in my life.”, and “You gave me permission to rock a bikini post-babies!

But the comment that got me the most was from a woman who just seemed so ready for body love during the workshop. I could see the tears in her eyes when I was talking about how we can move towards loving our bodies right here and now without doing a single thing to change our bodies. And then next day she shared, Today is the first day that I have woken up and not thought bad thoughts in I can’t remember how long.

This is why I do what I do. This is why I love what I do.

Helping you on your body love journey means the world to me and I am ever so grateful that you let me be a part of it.

If you are outside of Yellowknife, I am hoping to offer online yoga workshops this month and you can answer a survey here to help me design the best workshop for YOU!

Plus, my Body Love Yoga Cards program is up and running and it is a great way for you to begin your body love yoga journey with just a few minutes of commitment each day.

And, soon, soon, soon, I will be launching my online body love yoga program, The Luscious Life Program. If you are interested in being the first to know when that happens to can reply to this email and I will add you to my special list. *hint, hint, there might be a bonus freebie in it for you!!!

Sending you so much love,

Krystal

 

 

RADICAL INTENTIONS FOR SELF-LOVE

Happy New Year everybody!

with RADICAL INTENTIONS FOR SELF-LOVE

In my blog this week I am revisiting a post from 2 years ago, “Radical Intentions for Self-Love”. It was one of the first blog posts I ever wrote and I still believe in the message.

With the New Year comes reflection and projection. We look back on our year and assess how we did, how we felt and what did we achieve and we use this information to dream and scheme about what we want for our lives in the coming year.

I love this process. I am a big fan of learning as much as I possibly can from my experiences. And I am kinda addicted to planning. Seriously. It’s one of my favourite procrastination and stalling techniques for when I am about to launch into something scary and that my heart is attached to. From all of this reviewing and planning we start to develop goals for the next year. And goals can be very healthy and helpful guideposts for how we want to live our lives.

In the loving your body to wellness world, the New Year and the New Year’s resolutions that come with it are dangerous territory. It can seem like everyone around us is setting food restriction and exercise regimen resolutions. It’s tempting to jump on board.

But most of these New Year’s resolutions have been “broken” by January 15. Setting you up to feel like a failure and that’s definitely not my wish for the start of my 2016.

Instead of New Year resolutions, I would like to offer the concept of New Year intentions.

Resolutions are hard. Immutable. Breakable. There isn’t much room to listen to your body’s wisdom. There isn’t much room to respond to the inevitable unplanned and unforeseen events in our lives. There isn’t room to change our minds. There isn’t much room to learn and grow into a different way of being.

Intentions are open. Responsive. Present. They create space for possibility. Intentions are grounded in listening and being present with what is. They grow as we grow. This is not to say that we cannot bring discipline to our intentions. My favourite definition of discipline is practicing what is possible with consistency. And what a beautiful way that is to think of our intentions, practicing what is possible with consistency!

The Power of Self-Love

Taking this one step further, I’d love to suggest that the intentions be grounded in self-love. We may have a desired change that will come from this intention, but does it pass the self-love and self-compassion test?

  • Will you be able to listen and respond to your body’s needs?
  • Will you experience pleasure as you practice your intention?
  • Will you be living in the present moment?
  • Will your intention help you find greater contentment and gratitude?

Here’s an example of a Resolution versus an Intention:

Resolution – Stop eating sugar to be healthier

The morning of January 4th it’s a big rush to get the kids to school and yourself back to work after all that time off over the holidays and you begin to feel your holiday bliss slipping away. When you get to the office, your co-worker has brought in some delicious looking treats and after the morning you had you just can’t resist. You feel horrible. You feel like a failure. You ate the “bad” sugary food and now you feel bad.

Result = Resolution broken

Intention – Be more present in the moment so that you are eating intuitively and listening to your body’s needs.

The morning of January 4th it’s a big rush to get the kids to school and yourself back to work after all that time off over the holidays and you begin to feel your holiday bliss slipping away. But on the drive to school and work you remember your New Year’s Intention to be more present in the moment and so you take a deep, slow breath and begin to notice the beauty around you. Your kids. The scenery. The anticipation of getting back to work. And once at the office, still living in the present moment, you are offered a delicious looking treat. Rather than feeling like it is the distraction you have to have after that stressful morning, you get to choose whether you want to eat it. You are not good or bad if you eat it. You just eat it or you don’t.

Result = You immediately feel the benefit of this intention and feel empowered to keep up the PRACTICE.

So take the pressure off with a smaller number of New Year’s Intentions that can be reasonably achieved and still make profound changes in your life. Here are a few suggestions of Radical Intentions for Self-Love!

Radical Intentions for Self-Love

  • Let go of worrying about what others think.

Not everyone will like you or always like the choices you make. Stay true to your values and know that you are doing the right thing.

  • Don’t “Should” all over yourself.

As in, “I should go to the gym today”. “Should” represents some externally imposed expectation and comparing ourselves to a perceived cultural ideal and can make us resentful of our own imposed requirements to be a “better” person. Instead of “should” statements ask yourself, “What would be most loving to myself right now?”.

  • Accept what is.

When we accept what is we allow ourselves to be in the flow with life rather than resisting what is. There are things that we can change about our lives, but often it takes time to make those changes and we have to be patient with ourselves. And then there are the things we can’t change. For both the things we can and the things we can’t change, accepting what is releases us from wasting all that time and energy getting frustrated and annoyed.

  • Be in the present moment.

Probably one of the most powerful intentions you could practice. Being in the present moment lowers stress levels, opens you up to more joy, allows you to make better choices, and let’s you see the beauty around you.

What are your Radical New Year Intentions? How will you be practicing great self-love in 2016?

xox

Krystal

How to Love Your Body Through the Holidays

The Reverse Bucket List (1)

The holidays are a peak time for finding yourself in situations that trigger feelings of body shame:

  • all of the chaos and busyness;
  • seeing family you haven’t seen in awhile who think they can freely offer up their opinions on your body;
  • large group meals;
  • food focused events; and
  • New Year, New You pressures.  

I know some of you might even be feeling anxiety about the holidays and your body before we even get there. And I too am starting to get anxious. So for me and for you, here are some posts we can put in our Body Love Toolbox to get through the holidays loving our bodies as best we can and hopefully nip any body loathing feelings in the bud.

  1. From Adios Barbie: How to Stay Body Positive Through the Holidays

I particularly liked the idea of the redirect – when someone inevitably brings up weight loss or their great new diet, try to redirect the conversation back to less body-shaming territory. Like when your friend says she needs to lose 5 lbs so that she can look fabulous in her new dress on New Year’s Eve, try “I am feeling pretty fabulous about rocking these boots with this skirt today!

If you are feeling bold, or just over any shame-y comments friends or loved ones might send your way, instead of the redirect, go for the the directActually, I’m not inviting comments on my body today. Thanks.

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  1. From A Healthy Paradigm: A Body Positive Guide to the Holidays

Being mindful is a great strategy for staying sane and shame-free for the holidays: Mindful of your body’s needs; mindful of how you are feeling; mindful of what you are eating; mindful of your thoughts; mindful of how you are moving your body; and mindful of your environment and any changes you might need to make. Check out the article for more great tips.

  1. From Huffington Post: 4 Tips to Stop Holiday Body Shaming

Food is just food. It is not good or bad. You are not a good or bad person because of what you eat. You are not a more or less valuable person based on how much you weigh. These concepts might be new or unfamiliar to our friends and family. For our friends and family are a part of our body-shaming society too. So I love the tip of openly talking about body-shaming if you are feeling up to pushing against societal norms. And if you are feeling keen you could arm yourself with some data from the Healthy at Every Size website.

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  1. From Persephone Magazine: 5 Body Positive Gift Ideas

This fun list of body positive gift ideas includes some great books and I would add to that list, Dietland, by Sarai Walker, which is an interesting take on flipping the script of our patriarchal society. But I gotta say the Yay! Scale is my fav. After smashing my actual scale a while ago, I’m ready for a more accurate scale that let’s you know how you’re doing this morning from “Lookin’ fine!” to “Hey sexy!”

  1. From Psych Central: Create Your Own Body Positive Traditions

This article offers up some great ideas for creating our own body positive traditions around the holidays to help keep the body-shame at bay. I think I will try the idea of writing a love letter to my body extending gratitude to my body for everything it did for me in 2015 and dreaming about everything I hope we can experience in 2016. Anyone want to join me on this one?

What is in your Body Love Holiday Toolbox? What ideas will you try?

Wishing you all lots of body love this holiday season,
Krystal

The Reverse Bucket List (Inspired by Rebecca Tracey)

The Reverse Bucket List

Recently, the stellar Rebecca Tracey, one of my business mentors over at The Uncaged Life, posted an inspired blog piece for what to do when you are feeling like crap. We can all get wrapped up into comparing our lives to others and feeling like we are not doing enough or that we are not enough in general. In fact, I have written about my own struggles with that before here. I love learning new ways to give myself a little boost when I’m down and her Reverse Bucket List idea is a pretty quick and easy way to get your brain thinking more positively and focusing on all you have to be grateful for. Instead of a list of all the things you hope to achieve, The Reverse Bucket List, is a list of all of the things you have achieved.

 

To help you get your mind in a space of gratitude, consider the all experiences you’ve had- all of the wonderful experiences, like travel, falling in love, or learning something new. All of the wonderful experiences and even all of the challenging experiences. The ones you may have overcome. Even other challenges and experiences that you have learned from and that you have grown from.

 

Gratitude is an incredibly powerful skill for creating healing in the body and relieving stress. It can help improve relationships and increase our sense of joy! When we cultivate a sense of gratitude we tend to live more in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or striving for some future achievement. Instead we become content with the present. Honouring and acknowledging the gift of the present.

 

Don’t just take my word for it, neuroscience says practicing gratitude helps to boost dopamine and serotonin, “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.

 

So with all of that in mind, I offer you my Reverse Bucket List of all of the experiences I am ever so grateful to have had.

 

  1. Take my yoga teacher training
  2. Start to love my body 
  3. See the ruins of where Caesar was killed
  4. Swim in the Mediterranean
  5. Swim naked in the ocean
  6. Swim with sea turtles
  7. Wear a bikini and rock it!
  8. Heal from past trauma (at least partially)
  9. Fall in love
  10. Feel proud of how I communicate in relationships
  11. Become a treeplanter in Northern Ontario
  12. WWOOF for a summer in B.C.
  13. Visit every Canadian province and territory (ok, I haven’t gotten to PEI yet, but I’m comin’ for you PEI)
  14. Improve my second language. “Parlez vous francais?”
  15. Experience the loss of someone who was like a sister
  16. Go train-hopping from White River to Thunder Bay, Ontario
  17. Attend rocket science camp
  18. Have a career as an Environmental Scientist
  19. Work in a Natural History Museum as an artist
  20. Work in an Evolutionary Biology laboratory on a project that was published in Nature
  21. Dance all night under the northern lights
  22. Perform in a castle made of snow on a frozen lake
  23. Finish my B.Sc. at McGill University
  24. Land a lead role in my high school musical
  25. Ride a bike in Paris with a baguette sticking out of my basket
  26. Help underserved youth
  27. See bioluminescence. So cool! Check it out!
  28. Facilitate people feeling great in their bodies and about their bodies every day!
  29. Pay off one of my student loans (and that last one is not far off)
  30. Heal from an eating disorder
  31. Start my own business
  32. Help make the world a better place every day doing what I love
  33. Film videos of me moving my body and put them online
  34. Bake a pie
  35. Produce my own zine
  36. Snowmobile on the tundra
  37. Be the best damn daughter and sister I know how
  38. Learn that I’m “Internet Famous”
  39. See the desert
  40. Create a Yoga-Based Self-Regulation Program to be taught in schools
  41. Produce my own Yoga Nidra CDs and Yoga Therapy DVDs
  42. Go off to a cabin to write music for a month
  43. Sing Italian arias in front of judges
  44. Devote 7 months of my life to taking ALL THE DANCE CLASSES
  45. Survive depression
  46. Cultivate a regular yoga and meditation practice
  47. Run my first Body Love Retreat – The Feelin’ Good Retreat
  48. Become a certified Yoga Therapist
  49. Teach yoga classes where I am the biggest body in the room
  50. Be in love with myself

Whew! So often I feel unworthy about my lack of productivity. Looking at this list reminds me, it’s ok to take a break. Next I hope to add to this list that I have developed such a strong practice of self-care that my self-care is preventative, rather than necessary because I have extended myself too far. #goals

 

What about you? Does this list inspire you to create your own Reverse Bucket List? Post it here in the comments and tell me how looking at your Reverse Bucket List makes you feel?

 

Thanks for reading!
Krystal