Posts

Can you diet on your body love journey?

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TW: Diet talk

Can you diet on your body love journey? The truth is I don’t really know. I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves. Your body, your rules. But if you are wondering about this, here is my story of going on a special diet, every thing that I did and everything that happened.

I have been suffering with digestive issues for quite a while but at the end of 2016 they got much worse. And I won’t go too deep into the specifics, but it seemed like the best course of action was for me to go on a special diet recommended by my medical team.

This was SUPER triggering for me. I knew it would provoke my disordered eating, my body dysmorphia, and depression. I knew it was going to be hard, like so fucking hard.

I’ve been on a body love journey for years and for years I have worked to dismantle diet and weight-loss culture from my psyche. Since the winter of 2014 I have been practicing intuitive eating to help to rebuild and heal my relationship with food.

Because of all of this I knew I would have to tread carefully into this health choice.

So instead of calling this special diet a diet, I came up with some alternative less triggering terms. I called it a healing journey through food or food selection healing and even a healing journey opportunity so that it didn’t even mentioning food.

I used the intuitive eating approach as much as possible within the confines of the diet. I have this great magnet on my fridge courtesy of the awesome people at Be Nourished.

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And I would use it to assess my hunger, and what kind of food I desired from the selection of food available to me. So even though I was restricted I could still listen to my intuition and listen to my body.

I also said affirmations to myself while I did the food prep: This is an opportunity for healing. This is an opportunity to put myself first. I make this food with love. This is what loving myself looks like.

I even went for an aromatherapy session to create a special essential oil blend that would be my power scent to help me get through the rough times that were coming.

All of the work I did to prepare and supports I gave myself really helped…

 

The only thing was, this diet was actually making me sicker.

 

Like really sick.

 

Even though it was making me sicker, on some level I felt this sense of accomplishment for having conquered my fear of food restriction to point that I didn’t want to let the diet go, and I also didn’t want to let it go because I really believed it would be the thing to help heal me.

But the choice was being made for me. This diet that I was trying to use to heal me was just making me sicker. So under the supervision of medical professionals I stopped.

And this was when a new journey began. I began to think about my digestive issues from a different perspective, from a more energetic perspective.

I don’t doubt that my digestive issues have come from years of trauma and abuse being stored in my belly. Through many very hard years when I was young I would feel sick to my stomach all of the time. It would feel like I just couldn’t digest food. If I put food into my belly it felt like it would just sit in my stomach undigested. And any time something horrible happened, I felt it in my stomach.

Through the guidance of my amazing friend and body positive Naturopathic Doctor, Kyla Wright, I now I know more about digestion. And I know that what my body was telling me was true. We cannot digest our food properly while in our stress response or the “fright, flight, freeze” response. If we need to be in immediate survival mode (stress response), our body just doesn’t have time or energy for longer term survival processes like digestion.

This was very helpful and adaptive for humans at one time. But now, today, in our world we can tend to feel threats all around us throughout our day in the form of emails, social media, traffic, and constant messages that we aren’t good enough and that we need to fix ourselves. And all of these “threats” put us in a stress state for most of our day, which can seriously affect our digestion.

This has been a HUGE aha for me.

I just had never really thought about it before. So I began to implement a softer approach to my digestive issues. I started getting better rest. I did more restorative yoga as my personal yoga practice. I wrote myself a yoga nidra for digestive health. I used mudras (hand positions) to help my digestive processes. I talked to my belly telling it loving thoughts before I put food in it. I filled my belly up with healing light to continue the process of mending from my traumatic past.

And today, I am happy to say I am back on my intuitive eating journey and also on a new intuitive healing journey. And my digestive issues have been steadily improving.

This is what I would like to offer to you. If you are struggling with digestive issues or would like to work on your relationship with food and digestion, my Yoga Therapy for Digestion Workshop is for you! In this workshop we will explore how yoga therapy can help improve our digestion through poses, mudra (hand gestures), and yoga nidra (guided relaxation).

The early bird price for this workshop is ending this Thursday January 12 so register today for only $31.50 with GST by sending an e-transfer to krystal@thelusciouslife.ca with a note about which workshop you are registering for and your email address so I can send you a welcome email.

If you aren’t able to make the workshop, I also made you this Yoga Nidra for Digestive Health that you can download and use any time to help you on your own healing journey.

I hope to see you this Sunday!

Happy digesting,

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

Body Love True Stories: Part 1

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All this week I am going to be sharing Body Love True Stories with you. 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.

Our first story comes from a woman who had been practicing yoga for a while, but found group classes intimidating because she worried about being judged for ger lack of abilities and coordination. And because when she started practicing yoga with me she had recently given birth so her body was heavier than she was used to.

Sound familiar?

 

Now after practicing body positive yoga and building her body love journey this is how she feels.

Where to even begin?? I really enjoy the sense of calm I feel when I arrive at class and the culture of supportive women that attend. It’s instantly soothing. I also love the way it physically feels to move my body, it makes me feel energized and cleansed of nervous energy buildup all at the same time. I also feel a sense of accomplishment each time I practice and notice an increase in my flexibility and strength. I’m in awe at the things my body can do now that just a few weeks ago it couldn’t. I could go on, but these are the main reason I love yoga!

I am still my toughest critic, but I definitely feel more confident and comfortable in my body since starting a yoga practice. I have always loved to challenge myself to grow, but doing that physically was intimidating to me for a long time. Now physical challenges are fun and exciting to me and I can’t ever see myself going back.

Body Positive Yoga makes me feel 100% better about myself physically, mentally and emotionally. To illustrate this point, I want to emphasize that I used to avoid and cringe at any type of formalized, scheduled group exercise class. It was so intimidating to me and I could never commit to it. Now I CRAVE yoga classes and I can’t wait to go. I’m even inspired and not afraid anymore to try other types of classes that I would have shied away from previously.

Every person deserves to feel good about their body. Yoga, especially Krystal’s body positive yoga, is a super approachable and fun way to become more present and aware of the amazing things your body can do, which results in a sense of pride and confidence that for me has been truly life changing.”

Amazing! I love all the freedom her body love journey has opened up in her life! All the new experiences that feel possible for her!

And I want this for you too! The Luscious Life Program starts next Monday October 24 and I would LOVE for you to join us. 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?!

How could you say no? 😉

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

 

 

All The Hot Pants – Yoga Pants Review

PicMonkey CollageI get so many compliments on my pants and so many questions asking where to get them. So I thought I would do a round-up of my favourite yoga pants so that you too can enjoy moving around in party pants all day long. I used to be so jealous of all of the fun new yoga pants out there until I found these companies. It seemed the only pants offered in plus-size were plain, old, boring black. And I wanted my ample ass to be outta this world in a galaxy pants.

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*This list is compiled from my personal experience. I didn’t receive any incentive from these companies to post about them. I just wanted to share the love of having super fun pants for your yoga practice.*

Fractal.9

When I found Fractal.9 I was overjoyed to see that they would make pants to your specifications from their Etsy site. Today Fractal.9 has their own website with sizes ranging from XS to 5XL and also have kids leggings in the same prints so if you want go matchy matchy with your child you could. They offer leggings, capris, shorts, shirts and headbands. The fabric feels nice and soft and I love the high waist. Their sweet cheeks shorts are super comfy for summer!

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From their website: “Fractal 9 is a brand created for every BODY. We welcome you to find the perfect way to express your inner beauty and strength with our unique patterns. Whether you’re a curvy girl, muscular build, or anything in between; we’ve got you covered! It is our belief that cute fitness wear should be offered to all, regardless of size or shape. Our goal is to create a judgement free shopping experience, spreading love and acceptance.”

Why they are Extra Awesome

Christine, Fractal 9’s owner is so AWESOME she encourages you to send your measurements for a custom fit at no extra charge!

My Current Wishlist

Starry Night Capris

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Lineage Wear

Lineage Wear has quickly become my go to for all the best pants. I started with their classic Peacock Pants and so many of my students have since bought them too, that we have joked about the Peacock Pants being our team uniform.

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Lineage Wear has more than just pants. They have hoodies, jewelry, mugs and more. Their pants sizes range from XS to 4XL and are even more high waisted than Fractal 9, which I love! I also like their long mid-foot length of pant to help keep your feet warm during calmer practices.

From their website: “Lineagewear doesn’t believe in “one size fits all”. People are all shapes and sizes, clothing companies skew their size charts differently, and the BMI chart doesn’t take into account things like height, fitness level, or muscle tone. A hundred years ago, almost every piece of clothing you owned would have been tailor made to your specific measurements. That’s the type of fit we strive for with our leggings. We want our garments to fit true to size every time.

Please, don’t ever feel that there is something weird or wrong with YOUR body just because a garment doesn’t fit. YOU are perfect, YOU are beautiful!”  

Why they are Extra Awesome

Lineage Wear will ship for free anywhere in world on orders over $125. As a Canadian, that’s great news! Lineage Wear has a policy around environmental impact, fair employment, and is doing more and more to improve their business operations. They also raise money for different organizations including the National Eating Disorders Association.

On My Current Wish List

Semicolon Capris

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I love these. As someone who has lost friends to suicide and struggled with mental health, I am very supportive of the semicolon as a symbol of hope and support.

Just Curves

Just Curves is all about the ONEder Suit. The ONEder suit gives you the freedom of never wondering if your pants have started to head so far south during your practice that you end up showing a halfmoon rather than practicing halfmoon. As someone who is moving my body in different positions in front of large groups of people almost every day this is very important to me. This is exactly why Yolanda, the creator of the ONEder suit, designed this one piece bodysuit-leggings combo.

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From their website: “Just Curves is body-positive activewear for women sizes 10-28. Every piece in the Just Curves collection is designed with your curves in mind. Constructed of high quality fabric and made in the U.S.A, Just Curves is chic, comfortable, and fashion-forward. Clothing is emotional. Whenever you put something on, you feel something about yourself and others feel something about you too. Why not feel sexy and confident while you’re working on your fitness? When you look good, you feel good, which boosts confidence, and helps you reach your goals, which is my mission for the woman wearing Just Curves. Designed with curves in mind, the ONEder Suit is a one-piece, open bust unitard that keeps your PANTS UP and your CONFIDENCE HIGH!  Just Curves is passionate about empowering plus size women through action to live their healthiest and happiest lives now…not 30 pounds from now.”

Why they are Extra Awesome

I love the lace prints. They make me feel extra fancy.

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On My Current Wishlist

The new ONEder Suit

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Let me know if you give any of these pants a try and what you think.

Happy fun pants shopping!

XOX

Krystal

A UNIQUE SELF-CARE PRACTICE

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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