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NAMASWEAT

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NAMASWEAT

It's no secret that I have been focused on the hustle lately. Between teaching a full schedule at SoulCycle, I have continued to develop as a private yoga instructor and personal trainer while brainstorming my next project. Coming up with a new idea can be such an intimidating process. Finding the courage to get started and stay committed is not something I have accomplished alone. In fact, I would not be here without the incredible network of talented, successful, and inspirational people I am so blessed to have in my life. I have been challenged, inspired, and motivated to become more than just an instructor.

This is how a big idea became action... how a vision became a plan... how my coaching style has become my personal brand, and how I hope to impact the fitness industry.

It started with creating a logo. As someone who was never able to color within the lines according to elementary school standards, I knew I needed help. So I reached out to my talented friend Ryan. The only thing I knew I needed to incorporate was antlers.

One of my forever inspirations has always been and will always be my grandfather. Before he passed, he would always tell us to "buck up" when we were sad or upset. He was a man of few words but when he spoke you listened. To "buck up" means to stop playing into negative emotions and get real about the fact that no matter what happens--no matter how hard our challenges may be-- we alway have a choice. We can choose to let the circumstances of our lives knock us down and keep us there, or we can BUCK UP and realize that the Universe saves the hardest challenges for the strongest people. We can choose to use our challenges to become stronger. We can choose to tell ourselves a different version of the story happening in between our ears and choose a more positive dialogue. This isn't easy for everyone, but it's something I will always try to help others accomplish... to buck up is to consciously and actively CHOOSE a positive outlook... to stop complaining and do something about it... to find gratitude within the hardest moments of our lives. I didn't want to hear it when he last said it to me, but it will guide my life forever. 

The next step was turning an idea into something tangible. I have always known that I want to help others FEEL better through physical fitness, motivational coaching, and community outreach... but how? I started to think about what makes most people feel intimidated about doing the things I can help them with, like yoga and personal training. I asked friends and colleagues what they feel like they need to add to their routines and what was keeping them from making that happen...

Then, after a private session with my friend Rebecca, she served the truth right to me. "What are you waiting for? You always tell your classes that it's not about perfection... to embrace the mess... so why are you waiting for your idea to be perfect?" She was right. I had been holding back because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid that my idea wasn't good enough... that other's might not like it... or that I might be criticized for even trying in the first place. That night I created a plan and now NAMASWEAT is my newest endeavor.

NAMASWEAT is a combination of yoga and cross-training offered in a group setting so that we can work together to take down our fears and insecurities and add balance to our lives without feeling intimidated. The premier event is tonight at the marina green in San Francisco and I haven't felt this excited about anything since the day of my SoulCycle audition. 

There is a lot of power in not knowing what is coming next. I could spend all day worrying about letting people down, but instead I am going to buck up and remind myself that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now. It is going to be messy, experimental, and imperfect.. just like life! Without trying to predict and control every aspect of this new venture, I am arriving in this chapter of my life with an open mind and an open heart. I want to continue learning more about the needs of others so that I can better serve the fitness community. Creating NAMASWEAT is a big step out of my comfort zone, but I have faith that the people who need it and the people who will benefit most from it will find it. 

What do you need? What are you looking for? In what areas of your life do you need the most support?

Perhaps I can help.

#NAMASWEAT

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Surf Yoga Beer: Playa Maderas, Nicaragua 2016

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Surf Yoga Beer: Playa Maderas, Nicaragua 2016

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When I signed up for a fitness retreat through Surf Yoga Beer over Thanksgiving week, I thought that I was just trying to get away and explore a new part of the world with my boyfriend. I was excited about the beach bootcamps, surf lessons, and yoga sessions that I already knew would be part of the experience, but I truly had no idea how life changing this trip would be. Among the 22 participants, the only two people I knew going into it were my boyfriend and my friend Mantas, who I went through SoulCycle instructor training with about four years ago. Everyone else was new to my world, and each person gave me a gift that I will hold in my heart forever. Throughout our lives we learn to wear certain costumes—versions of ourselves that we believe are socially acceptable and desirable. When we arrived in Playa Maderas, Nicaragua, you could tell immediately that everyone felt safe enough to take off their costumes, and present themselves to one another in a real & vulnerable way. After all, when you're being woken up at 6am every morning by a disco ball speaker blasting music in your bedroom and Mantas getting you to dance yourself awake in preparation for that morning's beach bootcamp workout, you don't have much time to think about impressing anyone.

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As we began that first workout together—full of relay races, team building exercises, and partner workouts—we began to develop our relationships with one another right away. We cheered each other on while pushing ourselves as hard as we could, not because anyone asked us to, but because we knew that we were participating in something much greater than simply working out and burning calories. We were inviting one another into our world, seeing ourselves as one team working together & celebrating every single moment for exactly what it was... messy, sweaty, challenging... and there were zero complaints.

After our morning workout, we enjoyed a healthy breakfast at the main house before heading back down to the water for surfing lessons. Some people, like myself, were beginners, so those with surfing experience became our teachers, our coaches, and our motivators. When I was finally able to stand up and ride my first wave, I could hear myself screaming from the inside out, "YES!!! YES. YES. YES." 

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Everything about this trip was a huge YES.

There were so many incredible moments throughout the trip, like the night we had a bonfire on the beach. One of our SYB teammates, Phil, brought his guitar and performed while we all sang along to songs we knew and loved, then he taught us the Surf Yoga Beer theme song that he wrote while on another retreat in the Amalfi Coast. A real life praying mantas came to visit, landing perfectly and precisely on Mantas' head. We all smiled and stared in disbelief. It was one of many signs from the Universe that we were exactly where we were supposed to be. We looked into each other's eyes, listened intently, and shared openly. I learned things about my new friends that I suspected few people in their worlds at home knew. I stood up at the bonfire and decided to vocalize my gratitude for sharing our lives with one another, telling the group that it's because of people like them that keep us all learning and growing as human beings. "I cannot become greater without learning from you, and I hope that learning from me somehow helps you become greater as well... all we really need in this life is community and water." 

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On Thanksgiving morning, we didn't let a little hurricane warning stop us from going on more adventures. Half of our group went zip lining through the jungle, and the other half went on an ATV tour. Zip lining was a huge highlight of the trip for me, especially when a Canadian woman inspired our whole group to try zip lining upside down! "Could you imagine if we hadn't met her? We could have done the whole thing right-side-up and never realized that there was a whole other way to experience it." After the zip lining tour was over, we grabbed some road beers and headed to town for lunch. As soon as we sat down, however, the hurricane alarms sounded and the entire town was evacuated.

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Once we made it back to the house, Eddie, our personal chef and SYB leader, was clearly concerned. It was Thanksgiving day and we were unable to go to the store or any restaurants for food, so we waited as the SYB team began to brainstorm some ideas for getting everyone fed and keep the positive vibes flowing. Liza, our cocktail expert from New York, began teaching everyone the basic components for creating a well-balanced cocktail, while Eddie used everything available to him in the kitchen to create a unique, yet totally satisfying, Thanksgiving meal. The rain began to pour as we sipped on blended cocktails, ate full plates of pasta and grilled veggies, and listened to one another—sharing stories of fear, heartbreak, and life experiences that helped shape us into who we are. It was a beautiful thing to recognize that many of the challenges we think we have have faced alone, are the similar challenges that others have faced as well. This experience taught me so much about the importance of leaning in, asking seemingly hard-to-answer questions, and deepening the conversation so that it becomes more real & authentic than just surface level information sharing.

The next morning, the storm had cleared and we were once again woken up by our SYB leaders, Mantas and Carl, breaking into our rooms at the crack of dawn for beach bootcamp. This time, however, we knew much more about one another than on that first day.We were a family now—a tribe of SYB warriors, and we wanted to celebrate this togetherness as much as we could on our last full day in Playa Maderas. When Mantas asked my boyfriend, Nick, to lead the group in our final workout, it reconfirmed the importance of collaboration throughout this adventure. Nick played football for UC Davis, something everyone learned about during one conversation or another, so Mantas invited him to teach us some of the football drills he used to do with his teammates. Nick taught us how to call out the drills, then invited others to lead the drills from then on. We all took turns leading a drill that some of us had never done before, but we did it with the excitement and enthusiasm that radiated throughout our journey together. We high-fived, smeared mud all over each other, and assembled a human pyramid to finish the morning strong.

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Our unbelievably powerful bond was solidified that night at our final dinner in town. Before we ate our food, Mantas took us down to the beach and handed out an award to everyone, praising their best moments on the trip and gifting them with some sweet SYB swag. As we celebrated each person, it was clear that these people had all affected our lives in incredibly inspiring ways. From powering through workouts with the best attitudes, to making sure everyone felt heard and included, there wasn't a single person that didn't play an integral role in making this trip truly life-changing for everyone. We were all a bit nervous to say our goodbyes the next day, but instead of succumbing to our anxiety, we DANCED. Phil went on stage and performed, but unlike his bonfire singalong, this time he had the entire restaurant band backing him up. The smiles were relentless and true. No one was faking it. We were all so genuinely happy to have experienced everything together and we just wanted to make every moment last a little longer that night... which eventually turned into a late night game in the pool called "tequila carwash," but you'll have to learn how to play once you sign up for a retreat yourself!

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Surf Yoga Beer Nicaragua changed my life in a way that I never could have predicted. It renewed my faith in humanity and reminded me about the importance of listening to others and learning from our shared experiences. We can look at someone and think we know their story, but human beings are so much deeper than the costumes we wear. We are all complicated, imperfect, inspirational people who have lived a lot of life and have so many stories to share. "The only way to recognize the greatness within ourselves is by recognizing the greatness in others." Striking a balance between hard work and having fun is what Surf Yoga Beer is all about, but turning that idea into a reality is where the participants come in and make it happen.

I am so inspired by this trip and will continue to use the lessons I have learned to develop into the woman, friend, leader, and lover that I was put on this Earth to become. But as I have learned, I will never accomplish this goal alone. It will take more people, more stories, and continuing the relationships that began in Playa Maderas to keep the momentum going.

To the 22 people who became one huge friend family for life, thank you for filling me up. Thank you for listening to me, thank you for sharing yourselves with me, and thank you for reminding me what life is really about. We are forever connected and now we have a responsibility to continue our roles as leaders in our hometown communities. It is never goodbye, just see you later... I love you all with my big, full heart.

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If you are looking to go on a trip that pushes your physical limits and heals your heart through physical activity and team work, Surf Yoga Beer is for you. Mantas and his team have retreats running throughout the year, so check out their website if you are interested and sign up! I promise you will not regret it. In fact, I promise you will LOVE it.

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3 Years of Teaching, 3 Lessons Learned

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3 Years of Teaching, 3 Lessons Learned

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I have been going through what can only be described as a creative slump lately. It's been a beautiful handful of weeks celebrating a wedding, a bachelorette party, and now my 3-year SOULiversary (teaching anniversary at SoulCycle), and it has definitely taken a lot out of me.... Last week, for example, was a whirlwind of emotions; I had my annual class review and instructor development trainings all week before flying to Los Angeles for a weekend of bachelorette party shenanigans... Now that I feel like I have finally caught up with myself and have taken some time to reflect on this career milestone and overall life high, there are three lessons I would like to share with you that I have learned throughout my three years as a full-time instructor! 1. Be Yourself.

BEFORE YOU ROLL YOUR EYES, hear me out. As cliché as it might seem, this is the first challenge every instructor faces and its one of the hardest to overcome. We all have, hopefully, had an instructor who changed our perception of whatever workout we have fallen in love with. They said something so profound it made us cry, they reminded us that we have something to fight for, or they simply kicked our ass in a way we never knew we needed. Whatever it was, it changed us for the better and maybe even inspired us to pursue a teaching career. The thing is, you can't chase down anyone else's dream but your own, so finding your own voice in the midst of being inspired by someone else's can be extremely challenging. We can get caught up trying to rally followers in ways that we have seen work for other people, but the same teaching strategy for one instructor won't necessarily resonate with people if it isn't authentic to you. During those first few classes I taught, I could hear the mantras I learned from other instructors creeping into my dialogue, so I had to learn how to make them my own instead of just regurgitating something someone else had taught me. I can't remember the exact moment that I first heard Melanie G. say "choose faith over fear," but it has been one of the realest sources of inspiration for me ever since. When delivering this message in my own classes, I have to think about why that particular truth bomb resonates with me in the moment instead of just throwing it out there without any real purpose or relevance. Everyone interprets information differently, so it's a generous choice to give yourself permission to reflect on what is true in that moment before reciting the same information the same way you have already heard it before. People don't want a second-hand version of someone else, they want you, so use what inspires you to create something as unique as you are.

2. Find Your Balance.

This starts and ends with the little moments throughout the week where you can find some inner peace and quiet... For me, it's when I'm driving to Marin; there's something about turning off the radio and just enjoying the view in the comfort of my car that really allows me to clear my mind. It is highly unlikely for me to meditate at home without just taking a nap, so recognizing those moments within in my weekly routine where I can be still and listen to what is happening in between my ears gives me some time to prioritize and focus. Having someone tell me what to do through yoga and personal training sessions can also feel so self-indulgent that I often forget that its technically more "work." The feeling of being quiet and having someone guide me for a change makes me feel grounded and whole. As full-time instructors, we give so much of ourselves to our riders and our studios that sometimes the most simple act of being still or quiet can really help us find the balance we need to recharge. Beyond the physical benefits, the mental and emotional components of yoga, meditation and simply getting away from work for a while is extremely important for preventing burn out. It doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming; take a walk outside, sit still with your eyes closed, take a power nap... the benefits of creating pockets of self-care throughout your week will always be beneficial.

3. Keep It Simple.

This is something that I have been working on more recently, and will probably have to remind myself on a near daily basis, as I continue to grow as an instructor and overall human being. Having a lot of teaching experience gives us a lot of material to work with as we develop our class structures and coaching techniques. One of the hardest things for me has been to take some pressure off myself to include everything I have ever learned about why SoulCycle is so great and why everyone should be just as passionate about it as I am into every class that I teach. The truth is, this mindset is exhausting, and I have been guilty of putting way too much pressure on myself to provide this cumulative experience when, in reality, some of the most powerful experiences we can provide aren't done so by force, or even using our words. When we take the pressure off of ourselves to meet an expectation that no one has set on us but ourselves, the connection we are able to make with one another becomes much more organic and real.

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One of my riders sent me a message after class a few days ago, quoting something I had said, "You don't have to have all of the answers to be a leader." I truly believe that we all just want to do right by the world in our own individual ways. Sometimes admitting that we have a lot to learn and that we simply don't have every answer to every issue in the world can keep us connected to one another throughout our individual pursuits. When we stop trying to put on a show and break ourselves down to a human level of understanding and consciousness, we prolong the longevity of our passion for what we do because it really doesn't have to be complicated. Today I reminded my class, "When you think of it, we are mostly made up of water, so be a flowing river or ocean, not a pond or a puddle." Sometimes all we need to do is remind ourselves and others that we all have a lot more in common than we probably know, and that in itself is worth exploring and celebrating.

By giving ourselves the freedom to give the world a real version of who we are, by finding balance between the chaos and stillness, by taking down our guard and allowing the simplicity of our ambitions to guide our actions, we are able to give more authentically to others and ourselves.

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