Why is levator scapula linked to self-care?

Today I am anatomy nerding out and connecting our muscular tension to our mental health!

Check it out!

Levator Scapula is the primary shoulder shrugging muscle.

We can consciously use this muscle to shrug our shoulders up, but our bodies also subconsciously respond to stress by lifting our shoulders up towards our ears. The engagement of levator scapula is a common sub-conscious reaction as a self-protective reflex to help protect our cervical spine (your neck). It is a stress posture, sending the message to your body that you are in a state of danger.

In addition to the stress posture, there is often asymmetry in the tension of levator scapula. Any one-sided activity, including using a mouse or carrying purses and bags on one shoulder, can create asymmetry in the levator scapulae. This asymmetry also carries the tension upstream to the other muscles in your neck, like the scalenes. Making your body much more prone to tension headaches and neck pain.

Many/most of us work sitting at a desk and in front of a computer which lends itself to a body position where levator scapula is always turned on. Chronically, and unconsciously, holding this position means that one is chronically and unconsciously putting tension in those muscles.

I know that for most of us, having the option of not working at a desk and computer to maintain our livelihood is not really an option. So I want to be careful here and say that this tension is not something you have complete control over. But while our society continues to work to find better ways to live, I’d like to help you feel better.

And if you suffer from upper back/shoulder/neck tension, addressing the tension and asymmetry in levator scapula, that can manifest from daily stressors, will not only help to relieve this tension, but will also bring a general sense of well-being to your body. Your body will be free to move from more of a self-protective/stress position to a more relaxed position signalling that you are safe, you can relax, and that you can literally breathe more easily.

This is why releasing tension in levator scapula is great self-care, not just for your body, but also for your mind!

If you would like, more resources on releasing the tension in levator scapula I have a Yoga Therapy for your Neck and Shoulder digital download, which will do just that! >>>> Click here to download.

And stay tuned for some more videos on how to release levatorscapula!

Happy self-caring!

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

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

 

 

Win a Free Retreat & Lots of Awesome Prizes!

Flower Remedies

 

Wouldn’t you just love to spend a beautiful summer day outside harnessing the inherent energy of the midnight sun to bring transformation to your life? Dr. Kyla Wright and I are hosting a Therapeutic Summer Retreat as part of our Living with the Seasons series and we are giving away one spot!!!

If you see our poster around town and take a selfie with it and then post to your Facebook page tagging The Luscious Life and Canoe Naturopathic, you will be entered to win a free retreat! You can enter from now until June 18, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and announced on June 19, 2016 so that you will still have time to take advantage of the early bird pricing.

Join us on June 26th for a full day retreat to find passion, warmth, joy, movement and enthusiasm for life.
The day will include: creating your own flower remedy, yoga, lunch, lifestyle & nutrition workshops, relaxation and a fire ceremony!

Doesn’t that sound incredible?! We’d love for you to join us! You can register until June 19 at the early bird price of $145.95 ($139+GST) by sending an e-transfer to krystal@thelusciouslife.ca using the password “SummerYK”. You will receive a Welcome Email confirming your reservation and providing more details for your retreat.

Visit bitly.com/summerrretreatyk for more information.

Announcing our Summer Body Positive Yoga Challenge! #SummerOfLoveYoga

On Instagram from June 20-30, 2016 @__positiveyoga__ and I, @krystalslusciouslife, will be posting a variety of yoga poses, including backbends, inversions, and balancing poses, with lots of modifications for bigger bodies and beginners. We are going to make the poses you thought you couldn’t do super accessible so that you get all of the benefits. Every post will be body positive, encouraging you to meet your body where it is and send some yoga love towards your body. We want ALL levels to join us and share their practice. We hope you will join us!🌟
And we have some awesome sponsors lined up for those that participate.
How to to enter:
1. Follow your hosts @__positiveyoga__ and @krystalslusciouslife on Instagram
2. Follow all of our lovely sponsors
@niyoljewery
@liforme
@zinganything
@yogatops
@mymanifesta

And check out Dusky Leaf‘s awesome yoga props.

3. Repost this photo on Instagram to spread the word!

4. Share your practice of the challenge pose that day and tag your challenge hosts @__positiveyoga__ and @krystalslusciouslife.
4. Include the hashtag #SummerOfLoveYoga *accounts must be public to qualify.
5. Be encouraging and leave “likes” and comments on other challenge participants posts!

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME!

I have applied for a Field Law Community Fund grant for my Shine Bright! Program, offering body positive empowerment workshops to teen girls across the NWT. With your help I would like to further develop this program for young women to be bold & authentic leaders, ultimately creating a movement of redefining what is beautiful, valuable and possible. Voting opened May 17, 2016 and closes June 17, 2016. You can vote for as many projects as you would like, and there are lots of awesome proposals, and it is easy as a click. No need to register. So please visit today and click to help me spread the message of body love across the NWT.

Lots of love to you today.

xox

Krystal

A UNIQUE SELF-CARE PRACTICE

BLOG - SELF-CARE PRACTICE

 

What is Self Care?

Self care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. It’s about self-compassion!

Worth

Which is why self-care is also linked to our own sense of worthiness. If we do not believe we are worthy of the acts of self-care or of taking that time to look after ourselves, then practicing self-care is like an uphill battle.

I definitely struggle with feelings of being unworthy. And since, in recent years, I let go of most of my unworthy feelings around my weight it allows me to see how much my level of productivity is also linked to my level of worthiness.

I hustle all the time for my worthiness by trying to show myself and the world just how productive I can be. The big one is how much I hustle to prove it to myself.

This shows up in my life by driving me to keep working into the evenings, forgoing rest, meals, movement, meditation, all in the name of productivity. I truly know now that shaming myself into practicing more self-care is also not going to work. “I should go for a walk.” “I should take a break.” “I should have meditated today.” All of these thoughts will then just get piled on to the thoughts of: “I should have finished that proposal”; “I should have gotten that facebook post out”; and “I should be creating more content for my business”.  The result will be a big crash. I won’t feel good about myself. So I won’t feel like connecting with others and I will feel isolated and ultimately I will feel depressed. It’s a vicious circle.

This is why I love Brene Brown SO much. If you haven’t heard of her, google her TedTalk. Brene says, ‘There are no prerequisites for worthiness. Worthiness is an as-is, here and now proposition.’

So all of this to say I think some of THE BEST self-care and the most accessible (but maybe not the easiest) to practice is noticing when we are hustling for our worthiness and asking ourselves “Is there another option in this situation?” “If I am trying to prove myself to others or myself, what am I hoping to gain?” “Do I maybe already have those things because I am the only one with the power to give that to myself?”

And then to switch our thinking to:

“I am the only one who decided that I am worthy. I am the only one who decides that I am worthy of love. I am the only one who decides that I am enough. And that is what I decide, I am enough. I am worthy. I am worthy of love.”

I say this is accessible because you don’t need any new equipment and you don’t even need to carve out more hours in your day to practice this so it is always available to you. However, changing our thoughts and beliefs can be WAY more challenging than trying to stretch your calves everyday. I have definitely heard the feedback from yoga students that it is less scary to try coming into a challenging pose for two minutes than to try sitting with yourself in silent meditation for two minutes.

Self-Care Exercise

This practice will be an exploration from a place of self-love and worthiness of what self-care looks like for you. I believe self-care is very personal and can look very different in different situations. There are the usual acts of self-care

  • Talk openly with a trusted friend.
  • Sit outside and listen to the birds.
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Take a warm bath/shower

But maybe there are some ways that we can practice self-care that are little outside the box and personal to you. For example, I love playing with creative expression of how I dress, my hair and my makeup and lately I have been doing what I call, “galaxy eyebrows” where I colour my eyebrows with blue and purple and pink shadows. It helps me to feel like me. It helps me to feel like my authentic self and this lowers anxiety and improves my connection with others.

Some general ideas of things that might be self-care are:

  • Things that makes us feel good and like our authentic selves
  • Things that comfort and ground us
  • Things that make us feel calm
  • Things that lower stress
  • Things that help us feel connected
  • Things that make us happy
  • Things we are enthusiastic about

Here is the practice:

Begin by sitting comfortably. Close your eyes and settle in. Let the world outside melt away. Let go of anything that happened earlier today. Let go of anything you think you need to do later. And bring your awareness into this room. See where your body is in the room. Then see the room around you begin to fade away as you gather up your awareness and bring it fully into your body. Fully into the present moment. This time is just for you. There is nowhere else for you to be. Nothing else for you to be doing. Just being in your body. Being in this moment. That is enough.

Practice breath observation for one minute. If you notice other thoughts, label them as a thought and let them go. Then come back to the breath.

For the next minute begin to breathe in and out through your heart. Breathing in and out of the spiritual heart. The area behind the breastbone and to the right of your physical heart. Like your lungs are in your heart. Let your breath caress your heart.

In this meditative state, ask yourself the following questions to get more clear on what self-care really means for you:

  • What makes me happy?
  • What helps me feel calm?
  • Where do I find comfort?
  • Where do I find connection?
  • What tools do I have to release stress?
  • What helps me to feel good about myself?
  • When do I feel connected to my authentic self?
  • What do I feel passionate about?

Breathe here listening to your heart and getting clearer on the actions you can take to practice self-care.

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of self-care. I would love to hear about any discoveries you made in your meditation. Please share them in the comments below.

xox

Krystal

 

5 Body Love Lessons I Learned on Vacation

Way back in the fall of 2015 my bestie and I were chatting and we made a plan. We knew the cold dark winter of the Subarctic would be a challenge to get through without an extra dose of sun and warmth. So we did the thing and got some points tickets to a visit a tropical island over the 2015-16 holidays. It was good self-care. I was thrilled and I was also a little worried that a beach vacation could trigger my feelings of body shame. Instead, I can happily say I feel like I learned some new and valuable Body Love Lessons.

 

  1. You can upsize your body love journey.

I had some trepidation about traveling to a hot place knowing that I would be in a bikini and that I would be exposing more skin than I usually do in winter. Still, I couldn’t NOT wear a bikini. It had become my new favourite thing. Back in the summer of 2014 I was inspired by Sonya Renee Taylor and gave myself the challenge to wear a bikini for a month. I called it The Bikini Body Project. I can proudly say that by day six of the challenge I was rocking my bikini everywhere and doing whatever I wanted sporting my bikini body.

My day of awesome body love.

Although I had gotten pretty comfortable with wearing a bikini over the past two years, I have *upsized this past winter, so this body was a different and bigger body than the one I had shared before. This did not deter me. I just upsized my love, upsized my self-acceptance and upsized my body love journey. I just remembered that I am a badass bitch and applied all of those feelings of not giving a fuck about what people thought about my body to my bigger body.

*Note on the word upsizing. Isn’t it great? It’s my friend Jen Knowlan’s word, and ever since she said it to me I no longer use the words “gained weight”. Upsizing makes it feel like you are doing something positive. Like you are upgrading. And it helps to take away some of the negativity that we can feel about how our body is changing, even if we are on a body love journey.

 

  1. You might find freedom from negative thoughts that you weren’t even aware of

The first body love benefit I noticed upon arriving at our destination was the acceptance of all the sweating I was doing as we waited on the tarmac to enter the airport. The sweating, and the fact that I have curly, chemically treated hair so it really likes to go wild with frizz in the humidity of a tropical environment. In the past I might have suffered. I can recall feeling great mental anguish when the soupy humidity of the summer heat meant my hair was full on out of control. Adding to that summer mental anguish was my discomfort with any makeup I had on slowly melting off my face. And (some of you might identify with this) since my body didn’t meet society’s standards, even though I was doing all of the dieting and exercising I could to change it, I was left with focusing on being pretty and having good hair, which, most of the time, I had much more control over than my weight. Is this ringing true for anyone else out there?

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  1. You will have wonderful new experiences

On day one I bicycled through the downtown. I let my body show up and be observed… moving… in public! This is one of the great ironies of being fat: we’re supposed to exercise to lose weight, but also not to let anyone see our bodies as we do it! On this day I went on to jump in the ocean right along the main road in full view of all of the packed streets to cool off in the incredible midday heat. NEVER would I have done this two years ago. And it felt wonderful. It was wonderful to finally get in the ocean. It was wonderful to feel free. And I wouldn’t have been able to have this experience back when I hurt, and still cared too much about what other people thought of my body.

  1. No one will care to judge your body (and if they do, you won’t care)

I lounged by the pool in my bikini. No one cared.

I lay out on the beach. No one cared.

I went to a packed beach club and snorkeled in my bikini and no one cared.

I went back to that same beach club the next day and… it felt like people cared. A little. There was no direct comments or actions per se, but there were looks and stares as I made my way from my beach chair to the water. You know how you can sort of tell when people are assessing and judging you? Like for real?

The thing about it was, I could feel it, but I’ll be damned if I was going to let it stop me from enjoying my break from winter. We have 7-8 months of winter where I live so just seeing the sun and getting some vitamin D is part of my strategy for good mental health. I may have even pranced a little extra in front of those judging eyes, all the while knowing that if they were judging me and my body, that they were the ones suffering and that I don’t have to suffer along with them. It’s very interesting to think that just showing up at the beach in my bikini is an act of defiance. Just because I love the sun and swimming and feel best doing it in minimal clothes, I am a rebel.

  1. You will connect with your tribe

On that same day, there was this wonderful moment when I was climbing down the stairs to enter the water and a group of women was preparing to exit the water and our eyes met. They were in bigger bodies and were wearing similar swimsuits that I used to wear to cover up my body. The kind of thing that didn’t allow me to feel free. The kind of thing that restricted my movements in the water and what I used to call my “modest skirt”. And now I can’t know exactly what they were thinking, but when our eyes met, the look I saw said,  “Look at that! I want that! I want my body to feel the sun. I want to feel like I don’t have to hide my body. I want my body to feel free. I want that! Maybe I could do that too?” I really have no idea. But the looks we exchanged and the silent connection said, “Hey! We’re in the same club. We get it. And we support each other in whatever choices we make, be it the full swimsuit with skirt, or the skimpy bikini.”

Do you have any vacations coming up? How are you feeling about them? Any body love lessons you learned on vacation that you would like to share?

xoxo

Krystal

 

 

My 5 Top Tricks to Turn a Body-Loathing Day into a Body-Loving Day

We are always learning, always growing, always changing. Or at least life is always providing the opportunities for these things. In the beginning of my body love journey I thought, maybe one day I won’t have to think about this so much. Maybe one day I could fix this problem. Maybe one day all the mental, emotional and physical energy I put into loathing and punishing my body will be mine again. I used to wonder what people who didn’t have to work on their body (i.e. thin people) did with all the extra mental, emotional and physical energy that I was dedicating to the process of trying to comply with beauty and health standards. I know better now and I know that this struggle is definitely not one that “thin” people are immune to.  

I also know that loving your body is a lifelong journey.

That magical moment of never having body loathing or shame ever again will possibly, and probably, never come. Because if the world around me is forever changing, and my body continues to age and change, and my LIFE JOURNEY continues to follow its winding, bumpy and beautiful path, how could my relationship with my body remain unchanged? So that means there will be times when I might feel body-shame and body-loathing. Even as I work as a body positive advocate, there will still be these days. Yes, I put WAY less energy into hating, fixing and changing my body, and when I get the bad-body-feels they don’t last too long, but my relationship with my body will always be an ever-changing journey.

So I thought I would offer you my 5 top tricks to turn a body-loathing day into a body-loving day.

1 – Be a REBEL

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When I have thoughts of hating my body or that I am not good enough as I am to show up in the world, I like to use my rebellious nature to my advantage. I really don’t like being told what to do and I don’t do well with feeling like my choices are limited. Sometimes this part of my personality can be a challenge, but when it’s me and my self-limiting beliefs restricting me from living the life I want, I can take my inner-rebel and unleash her wrath on all that shame. ‘Take that negative self-talk! You can’t tell me what to do! I’m the boss of me!’

2 – Body Love Outfits

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I LOVE clothes and costume and make-up. I love using my body and face as a canvas for expressing my creativity. It is an important part of feeling free and authentic in my day to day life. However, big events that I get really excited about and create grandiose outfit visions for are often a trigger for my body-loathing. And the more excited I am, the more triggering they can be. Lately though, I have started doing this thing that’s changing it all. I’ll put on my ensemble of choice for the event, usually an ensemble that pushes me out of my comfort zone, and then I will stand in front of the mirror assessing the situation like I normally would. And the usual boring negative thoughts about my body may come up. If they do though, I say to myself and my body, “I am going to love you. I do love you. And I am going to keep loving you so hard that you will rock this outfit. I will love it so hard that everyone else will just have to get on board. This is a body love outfit.” And then I rock that outfit HARD!

3 – Move it and Lose it (the Loathing that is)

When I move my body in ways that feel nurturing, empowering, and delicious, I forget about all that body loathing and start enjoying my body here, exactly as it is, in the present moment. I forget about what I look like. I don’t care about how my body appears. I care only about how good it feels to exist in my body. Yoga asana is absolutely a practice that brings me back to loving and appreciating my body. But I also could truly dance forever. Dancing fills my soul and I feel most free when my body and mind are lost in moving to the music. When I move my body I feel free, I feel strong and I feel powerful.

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4 – Through My Eyes

When I am hating on my body, sometimes it is good for me to remember how I see the world. Where do I see beauty in the world? It shows up in a smile. In the warmth of a breeze on my skin. In feeling seen and heard and supported by my loved ones. It has nothing to do with conventional and commercial concepts of beauty. I fall in love with people for their humour, their incredible mind, and their heart. These things have nothing to do with the way they look. So maybe the way I look isn’t really that important in being able to show up in the world and be loved.

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5 – Flawed and Imperfect and That’s Okay

On that note, there are days where the positivity can’t drown out the negative thoughts. Days where I feel like I am not enough. Where I feel like I am not good enough to show up in the world. On those days, I let go. I accept that maybe, just maybe, I can still show up in the world as my flawed and imperfect self and maybe I can let people love me anyway. Maybe I can even let people love me because of those flaws and imperfections. And I turn to this quote from the wise Brene Brown, “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known.”

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So that is my wish for you – to allow people (even yourself) to love you “flaws”, “imperfections” and all!

Krystal

Thoughts on Practicing Yoga in a Bigger Body

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Twice now I have had the honour of being a part of the Chat, Chew and YOU sharing body positive yoga. While preparing for the last show, I took some time to think about what it’s been like practicing yoga in a bigger body and what I maybe wish I had known back when I started, what I wish I had access to when I started, and what my yoga practice has done for my relationship with my bigger body. I want to share those thoughts with you today.

First of all, everyone has access to the benefits of yoga, any body any size and any ability. If you can consciously observe your breath you can do yoga. See Yoga is Not Just Asana.

However, I totally get the intimidation around starting yoga or any movement practice in a bigger body. When I started going to yoga classes, I was always the biggest body in the room. And even today as a teacher, I am often the biggest body in the room. Most yoga classes out there focus on asana and moving your body can make you more aware of it. Which can be a big trigger when you loathe your body and can bring on increased feelings of body shame.

This is why finding the right teacher is so important. You want a teacher who doesn’t 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.

It’s also important that your teacher be well versed in the many variations and modifications of poses. If they are a bigger bodied person they are more likely to have found modifications that will work for bigger bodies, but it is really on the yoga instructor (of any size) to learn modifications and offer them to their students. It is on the teacher to meet their students where they are. On the other hand, I also highly encourage you to modify during class for what works for you, even if the teacher doesn’t offer it. You know your body best and you know what works best for your body.

 

When you find the right teacher and the right space to begin a yoga practice, how can yoga help you make peace with your body?

  • Find pleasure in moving your body in the moment and not some future benefit
  • Find peace through connection to breath
  • Learn to be in the present moment because the present is where our power lies
  • Learn to observe your thoughts, question them or accept them, and not to attach too much value to those thoughts, especially if they are self-harming thoughts
  • Stimulate your body’s relaxation response for increased energy and a sense of peace

And eventually this will hopefully lead to:

  • Creating a space to appreciate your body for everything it can do and everything it does for you
  • Noticing where your body is strong and capable and focusing on that
  • Seeing your body as an ally, not an enemy you have to be at war with
  • Seeing your worth as more than a number on a scale
  • Redefining health – My definition of health includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. You can be healthy at any size. There’s even an organization dedicated to this topic called “Health at Every Size”. Check it out. 🙂

If you would like to continue, or even start, your yoga journey, I have an online meditation program called Daily Luscious ReTreats that would be a great place to start or to deepen your yoga practice. The 21-day program talks you through the meditation process from learning how to meditate to themes of gratitude and unconditional love. Sometimes as we rush around trying to be everything, we forget to JUST BE! Breathe and just be.
 
Daily Luscious ReTreats is here to give you that time to just be!

For more info on the program click here and scroll to the bottom of the page. I will be revamping my online programs soon so this meditation program will only be available until August 31, 2015.

I’d love to hear about your yoga journey and any questions you might have. Write me any time.
Krystal

 

EARTH WEEK 2015 CELEBRATION – FREE MEDITATION AND YOGA CLASS!

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As a celebration of this lovely planet that supports our needs every day, The Luscious Life is offering you a free online meditation to Connect with the Earth. This meditation will deepen your connection to the earth, allow you to feel the energy of the earth and send some love back. Check it out here!

Also, there will be a FREE Yoga Class with the lovely Anneka Westergreen as part of Ecology North’s Earth Week celebrations. The class is at the Collective Soul Space, Tuesday April 21, 12-1pm. Hope to see everyone there!

Last but not least, there are still a few spots left in the new round of Next Level Yoga: Invert Yo’self. Inversions can improve circulation, increase immunity, reenergize and relax you. And they can be TONS O’ FUN! It starts on Wednesday, and you can register online here!

And let us know what you are doing for Earth Week in the comments below! Happy Earth Week 2015 everyone!

Tips for Your First Yoga Class

Curious about yoga but afraid to try it out?

I will be offering a new round of my Empowerment Yoga for Beginners class, starting April 19th, and I know that yoga can be intimating if you’ve never tried it before. However, yoga is a beautiful practice that can be beneficial to your overall health. Here are a few tips for your first yoga class to ensure that your experience as a beginner is as smooth, beautiful and healing as can be!

Short version - yoga tipsTip 1: Be an earlybird

We all have our zone of comfort and arriving early to       meet with the teacher, set yourself up, and pick your favourite spot, will help you begin your first class from a more relaxed place.

Tip 2: Dress for comfort

Speaking of comfort, you want to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in and that will also allow you to move your body. Dressing in layers is a great idea because, depending on the style and flow of the class, you may be warmer or cooler. Most classes end with a pose called Savasana, where you will be laying on the floor in a relaxed state for a few minutes, and you don’t want to miss out on the bliss that is Savasana by being chilly.

Tip 3: It’s about Practice, not Perfection

Please do not worry about what the other students’ poses look like or even how the teacher appears in the pose. Every body is different and every body has different needs. Always practice in a way that is minimizing your risk for injury while maximizing the benefits of yoga. One of my favourite things to remind students about is that we always adapt the poses for our body’s needs rather than trying to adapt our body to the pose. Yoga is a practice not a state of perfection.

Tip 4: Choose wisely

How do you know how to adapt a pose? Look for a teacher who will offer modifications for any needs you might have like an injury, illness or life stage. This goes back to 1 – Be an earlybird so that you can discuss any needs or concerns with your teacher. It’s also a great idea to check out the different styles of yoga offered where you live online beforehand so that you can make an informed choice. Not all styles of yoga are the same so you want to choose the best one for your needs.

Tip 5: The 8 limbs of Yoga

Most classes focus on the physical aspect of yoga, asana, or poses. In truth, asana is just one of the eight limbs of yoga, which also include guidance for everyday life, breathwork and meditation. Asana was primarily developed to allow the yogis to sit in meditation for longer periods of time. So I invite you again to let go of worrying about how “perfect” your poses are, and maybe notice more what is happening in your mind during your asana practice. How we show up for yoga is how we show up for life.

Tip 6: “I really regret going to yoga” said no one EVER!

Yoga is an incredible practice offering so many benefits to our bodies, minds and spirits when it is practiced safely and with awareness.

I hope this guide helps you to feel ready to start your own yoga journey and I hope to see you on a yoga mat soon! You can register for my upcoming beginner class here.

Love,

Krystal