Who could have guessed disc golf would be the path that leads a young business economics graduate to her yogic journey?
In training to compete in the US Women’s Disc Golf Championship, Alexandria initially looked into yoga upon a recommendation that it would help her focus. Naïve of what was before her, she found her way to a Bikram yoga studio one morning for her first class. As the story goes- she wanders through the doors when a woman promptly asks if she’s ever done yoga. To avoid conversation, Alex brushed the woman off with a quick “Yeah” and made her way toward the room. The burst of heat almost caused her to pass out on the spot and the ensuing practice proved to be far more challenging than she was prepared for. About a decade later, Alexandria laughs at her resistance to connect in that moment and is grateful for how yoga has taught her to approach everything in life with a more vulnerable beginners mind. And the disc golf tournament? Though she achieved her goal, it became clear to her that she no longer wanted to participate in a competitive environment, and turned instead to her newfound yoga practice.
In her words, “It often gets sold short by mainstream media. It’s not a cookie cutter practice…” Thinking back, she says she was surprised by what she didn’t know. “Yoga is an endless source of inspiration for a healthy and transformative life. Authentic yoga practice holds such a depth of process. It’s a practice to continuously evolve your awareness of and study, not something completely experienced in one class.” Alexandria credits the dynamic unfolding of her life to yoga. The deep relationships she has with those that impact her, love and appreciation for her body, and visualization for her business all stem from the same deep-rooted source. These days, as the mother of an 18 month old, she finds her practice full of cycles. Her focus, time, and energy are put toward conscious behavior as she strives to be wholly present and seek happiness in every moment.
Alexandria’s journey with yoga and experiences inspire her to reach out to anyone unsure about whether or not the life they want is possible or accessible to them. She says she feels a responsibility to be a resource for others and desires those around her to be connected and aligned with their path and long-term spiritual evolution.
"Emotion is your mind working out the difference between what you expected and what you're experiencing."
Thank you, Matt Krepps. I can't think of another set of 16 words that resonates with me more regarding my experience as a yoga teacher trainee and along the path I've taken to get here. Fear, joy, disappointment, elation, confidence, insecurity, struggle, and flow - I've felt it all while on my mat and not to mention while upside down, balancing on one arm, and bending my body along planes I didn't even know existed.
And I wouldn't change a thing. Yoga Deza entered my life five plus years into my yoga journey, but as the name suggests, it found me in the right place at the right time. Although my ego would like to claim credit for having this whole thing planned out, I'm learning that there's so much more at play than that. I thought I wasn't ready for teacher training previously because I hadn't yet measured up to the physical standard and image I had in my mind. I needed the right community and, honestly, the right context in my personal life to realize that I wasn't ready, not because of physical ability level, but because that's all I was thinking about. I realize now that yoga is so much more than the physical asanas (though I AM stronger and have found my spine!). I have found the ability to meet myself where I'm at, be grateful it's at Yoga Deza, and I am ready to free myself from the expectation of what comes next. Whatever it is, I'm grateful. Thank you, Deza Family.
Yoga Deza has been working hard over the last several months to raise money for the Africa Yoga Project, an organization with a very inspiring mission. Alexandria, owner of Yoga Deza, has spent time studying and assisting Baron Baptiste in Kenya, and has spent the last couple years mentoring a Kenyan teacher, Nicole, through AYP. Needless to say, this is a very important partnership to us, and we are committed to supporting their mission of empowering Kenyans through yoga.
Africa Yoga Project empowers over 250,000 Kenyans a year through the power of yoga. Our 98 AYP teachers see no boundaries of sharing this practice. They teach in prisons, schools, special need centers, HIV/AIDS support groups, deaf schools and rural villages.
The AYP uses Baptiste Yoga to educate and change lives. It delivers an innovative program to improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It creates a great opportunity for yoga students to learn new things and to contribute back to the community of East Africa. Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga is a practice that stays true to its creation, while remaining accessible to everyone. Baptiste Yoga practice and programs focus on the training and insight to achieve consistent results in important areas of life. Baron Baptiste has been a teacher for the past 20 years. He has influenced millions of lives across the world.
Since 2007, AYP has expanded it's reach to over 6,000 participants in 80 locations with more than 350 community yoga classes happening weekly. "More than 98 young people, trained as teachers, are earning a living wage by teaching yoga to people who otherwise would not have the opportunity."
We were very fortunate to experience a class with some of the teachers we’re trying to support a few weeks ago. Baptiste teachers Catherine and Anita made a stop at Yoga Deza a few weeks ago during their Handstands, Hugs, and Highways tour through the US. Having these beautiful Kenyan women lead us in practice was super inspiring.
Lululemon was also in attendance with a trunk show for our community to peruse, and they graciously donated a percentage of the sales toward our fundraising efforts. Shopping, yoga, and sweet treats made for a completely fun night, and we were able to raise over $150!
Yoga Deza’s Yoga for a Cause group has held several additional events to raise money for the AYP. Last weekend’s Yard Sale for a Cause was one of the most successful events thanks to you, our amazing community. You donated awesome treasures and showed up to shop! Your generosity helped to raise over $250!
At Yoga Deza, we are super passionate about connecting with our community and helping a global cause--something we were able to really cultivate with both of these events. We plan to continue supporting the Africa Yoga Project’s mission, and are happy to report that we are sending over $400 to this organization thanks to you!
I have always been drawn to yoga. I lived in Little Rock (what seems a lifetime ago)
and as a late teen going into my 20’s; I picked up a Rodney Yee Ashtanga DVD and
a generic Yoga mat. Something drew me to start a practice. I subscribed to a very
popular Yoga Magazine and started practicing. I read books on yoga (one of which I
still have and now I am getting all new things from it!), practiced my DVD, and read
During this time, I never went to a class. Not once. It would be 7 years later that I
found the courage to practice with others. I had all kinds of preconceived notions on
what a class would be, what I had to be to go to class, and that somehow I would fail.
I was never an athletic kid growing up. In fact, I was overweight and generally ate
typical food for a teenager in the 90’s (read junk....). Practicing in front of others
would show my weakness. I could say to others, “I have a home practice.” Which was
true, and there was so much more for me to learn.
After going to my very first Yoga Class at a Fayetteville studio on New Year’s Day, I
Yes, having a personal home practice is important, and nothing can change the
feeling of practicing with others! Yoga is very much a personal practice and an
energetic one. Without a community to share your practice with, there is a whole
different level that is missed out on.
I push myself to my edge in class, I learn new postures, I refine the ones I think I
know, and I give and receive energy that we build together in class.
Power Yoga in particular has always drawn me. I love the faster paced class, the
sweat, the heat, and the practice that forces me out of my head. I need that on a
regular basis. I can sweat it all out on my mat and come out with a new perspective.
For those of you that are nervous, shy, self-conscious, or generally apprehensive of
coming to your first yoga class, I assure you that when you leave Yoga Deza, you will
have a new love for the practice. We come together to support each other, give each
other feedback, and grow together.
I've recently been learning more about meditation and how to bring it into my daily routine. As humans, we get consumed by the stressors of life. Whether it be our jobs, relationships or social media, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to those around us. Our insecurities run rampant as we try to figure out if we're enough. Have we reached the place in life we think we should be at this point? Are we trying too hard to live up to the standards of society? Regardless of where you are in life or how successful you are, everyone has these concerns. Meditating allows me to work through my thoughts and fears.
"Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind, but actually it's much different than that. It's more about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly - witnessing it coming and going - without judgment, but with a relaxed, focused mind."
This quote speaks to me on so many levels. If you were to set aside even 10 minutes a day to reflect and meditate it would amaze you how much better your day would be. If you allow time for stillness and quiet to work through your own thoughts and feelings, then you're able to see yourself in a more positive light. You can address those insecurities for what they are and move past them. Once the insecurities and comparisons fade away and the positive energy comes forward you're able to better help those around you. By shedding these layers of ourselves we can see people more equally. Status doesn't matter. Everyone has different things they're going through. To me, meditating allows me the chance to truly work through my flaws so I can then be a light to those around me. If you're not working on bettering yourself, then others will feed off of that. Bettering yourself helps to better others, and as a friend once said, "there's no life to live being selfish." Help yourself so you can help others.
Meditate. Search your thoughts. Clear out the negative. Better yourself.
I have been so honored to be a part of the Summer Power Teacher Training with Crystal & Alexandria.
I have learned much more than I expected. I thought that this would be a “learn by the book” experience. It is so much more than that. It is a practice in inquiry and self-exploration. It is a practice of compassion for others and yourself. It is a practice of meditation in everything we do.
The first part of Training has pushed me beyond my comfort zone. It has made me think about Teaching in a completely different way.
Teaching is a special kind of practice. Teaching is a practice of engagement and connection. Teaching is a practice of honoring each person while helping them to learn new things about themselves through asana. Teaching is a practice of communication through feeling and movement.
I really didn’t know how much connection with the other practitioners was a part of learning how to teach yoga. I understood it on a fundamental level. I knew the teachers I had connected with, and I now understand why I connected with them. I also understand why some classes didn’t make me feel the same way others did as a student.
Of course, there is a certain amount of memorization that is involved. Learning the Baptiste Power sequence has been very empowering. Understanding the sequence through practice is something you cannot learn from a book. Anyone can repeat a set of postures, but until you have felt that hip opener, heart opener, backbend, or fold, you really cannot connect to the person practicing it in your class.
What I am working on is “being essential” by dropping unnecessary words to communicate effectively. What does this accomplish? A fast, effective flow for the student. Being essential also means finding the right words for the right times. Rather than forcing through practice , staying engaged with what the students need is being essential! It is all about helping you, the student, to create your energy in class.
I thought that teaching a great yoga class meant putting together all the right poses. Postures are for sure a major part of the practice (well, 99% of the practice….) and what is the purpose of Asana? To unlock our stressors and release expectation. If you allow your mind to focus on your flow, getting that perfect posture doesn’t even factor into the practice anymore. What matters is getting on your mat and getting your thoughts out of the way of your flow state of mind!
I cannot wait to help facilitate that for you! As one never becomes a “yoga master”, I never expect to be a “perfect teacher”. I do endeavor to provide fun, fulfilling, and authentic yoga practice for you!
See you on the mat!
Welcome to Thursday!
I am starting training with Alexandria and Crystal this weekend and I cannot tell you how happy I am to continue my yoga journey via Power Yoga training with these awesome ladies! What I am looking forward to most is sharing my journey with you and other students along the way.
As I work full time and I will be in Power Yoga Training for 8 weekends (as well as working Thursday nights here at the studio), I will not have a whole lot of extra time for cooking. I plan on dedicating one night a week to major meal planning for the week ahead.
I have been doing this on Sunday morning and I will change to Sunday evening to accommodate morning training.
This will include breakfast, lunch, and dinner for most nights. I am going to be eating lighter for the summer, for my concentration, and for my growth.
I will share my journey (and recipes!) with you in the coming weeks!
~ Rachel M
My favorite summer condiment is Pico de Gallo! Chopped fresh tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and red onion make the perfect dip or topping for your favorite dish.
Best of all, almost all of the ingredients are at the Farmer’s Market right now!
Here is my Basic Pico de Gallo recipe:
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
3 TB Cilantro, chopped
1 lime, Juiced
2 TB red onion, diced
Add sliced radish if you so desire
After all your veggies are ready to go (called Mise en Place), place them in a small bowl and stir to combine. Allow flavors to meld for about 20 minutes. Then use as you wish!
Baked eggs, tortilla chips, omelets, enchiladas, tacos, salads are all dishes that a basic Pico can enhance instantly! This morning, I had baked eggs with Pico on top for a great handheld breakfast.
~ Rachel M
I eat a gluten free diet and the one thing that I truly miss is cake! I also have eliminated added sugars from my diet. This includes honey and maple syrup.
In my search for a Flourless No Added Sugar cake, I came across a recipe for a Flourless Chocolate Cake made with Bananas for sugar! Here is my version using baking cocoa to eliminate the need for a double boiler to melt chocolate.It is both dense and intensely chocolatey! (Both of which I was craving.....)
Flourless Dark Chocolate Banana Cake
Makes one 8”-9” cake (8” will be thicker)
Prepare cake pan by coating with coconut oil and tapping about 1-2TB of baking cocoa in the pan. This will help the cake to come out smoothly from the pan.
1.5 cups unsweetened baking cocoa
.5 cup coconut oil
3 ripe (very ripe) bananas
1 TB cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.
Blend bananas with the coconut oil either in a blender or food processor until smooth.
Blend Eggs in with the oil and bananas, one at a time.
Once eggs are blended, blend in the Baking Cocoa and the cinnamon.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake cake 25-35 minutes until the cake is fully set! (To test, use a knife or a toothpick to stick into the center of the cake. The cake will be fully baked when the knife or toothpick comes out clean!)
I hope you enjoy this awesome naturally sweet cake! It was just what I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth! (It's Gluten-Free, Added Sugar Free, and Paleo!!)
~ Rachel M.
Looking for an awesome smoothie recipe to take you into summer? Local strawberries are just now available at the market! To get those local berries, you will have to hit the market early!
A wonderful smoothie that you can build on has Avocado & Coconut Milk. (Avocado in a smoothie?? Trust me, it is so good!)
You will need:
1 whole Avocado (ripe!)
1 Can Coconut Milk (I prefer full fat)
2-3 tablespoons honey
1 cup of Ice
1 tablespoon of vanilla or almond extract
1 cup of local strawberries (or berry of your choice!)
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!
Enjoy this smoothie anytime you want a dose of healthy fats and a berry blast!