Who am I?

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Jefferson, Georgia, United States
Hello everybody, I am Heather. I love yoga, food and loud rock shows. I am here to lead you on a lifestyle that will have your soul shining! P.S. Cancer Sucks!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baby, Let's Do the Twist...

If you have ever taken a yoga class with me, you know I loooooove twists. Twisting your spine is like taking a dirty wash cloth and ringing all the dirty water out of it. You are literally slowing circulation to certain parts of your body then WOOOSH filling them back up with fresh blood and all the good juices your organs need.
Twisting postures create rotation between the vertebra in the spine which build strength and flexibility in the spine and abdominal muscles. Twists also maintain the elasticity of the spinal disks and ligaments - which are harder to stretch, and you do NOT want to over do it when it comes to your ligaments. Twisting also compresses and stretches the chest which stimulates respiratory function, kidneys, adrenal, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, spleen and stomach. Twisting also aids in stimulating digestion and elimination.

For our structure, our primary intention of a twist is to rotate the spine and the secondary intention is to adjust the relationship between the pelvis and/or shoulders and the spine. Twists are especially good if there is an imbalance in the relationship between the shoulders and the pelvis, twists can bring back balance.
The key technique when twisting is to control the spinal rotation from the muscles of the abdomen rather than through force of leverage by using our arms to force the twist. In order to appropriately use our abdominal muscles in a twist, we must be mindful of our exhale and remember to contract our abdominal muscles on exhale while twisting. That is, the KEY to spinal rotation and twists is exhale. For my students, it may be a good idea to do some breathing exercises that focus on contraction of the abdominal muscles on exhale before performing twists so that they can feel the difference of passively exhaling and by exhaling with a contraction.

Kinds of twists:
Twisting the lower lumbar: rotate the pelvis and stabilizing the spine or rotating the pelvis and the spine in opposite direction.
Twisting the thoracic spine: Stabilizing the low back area and then rotating the shoulder-thoracic area, or by stabilizing the shoulder-thoracic area and rotating the pelvic lumbar area or by rotating both in opposite directions.
Twisting the cervical spine: Has the greatest range of motion for most people. Twisting the neck is generated either by stabilizing the shoulder sand rotating the head, or by rotating both in the opposite direction.
Things to be mindful of while you are twisting , please do not do the following:

  • Twisting by forcing with levers(your arms or legs), or initiating the action of the twist without engaging the abdominal - again - exhale is most important.

  • Displacing the stable part of the body in the direction of the twist in order to avoid the twisting of the spine. However, allowing some displacement may be helpful for someone who is very tight or overweight.

  • Collapsing the chest over the belly also inhibits the twist, so the key to avoid this is the inhale and to make sure I tell my students to lift their chests before exhaling and don’t let it collapse. I see this one a lot in class, people drooping their shoulders etc...in order to avoid actually twisting.

Happy twisting!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet Stuff

You may have seen some new sweeteners out on the market lately containing something strange called stevia. What is stevia? Huh?
Its an herb, and its natural and its very, very sweet and it has no calories.

Natural AND No Calories! I have died and gone to food heaven!
I have been using stevia for a few years now and it was not FDA approved as a food, so it was sold as a supplement, so you did not see it in a lot of products, until now. It seems that the FDA has approved stevia as a food (thanks to big companies like Coke and Pepsi) and its now popping up under the new name of Truvia, PureVida, Sun Crystals, and Sweet Leaf.

The OG (I'm so gangsta, ha!) is Sweet Leaf. That is the one I have been using for a long time. Its also the purest one as far as I can tell. It is very sweet, and has a kick of fiber as well. It works very well in drinks, smoothies and such. I have never tried to cook with it and I really don't plan on it. If I do bake, I will use raw sugar or agave nectar. But for your coffee, tea or smoothie - Sweet Leaf is perfect. They also have it in liquid form in lots of different flavors such as vanilla, lemon and chocolate. I loooooove the vanilla one! This one is produced by Wisdom Natural Brands and they only make 3 products, Sweet Leaf, a Mate Tea and Sweet & Slender. I tend to trust smaller companies more than the big guys, so this is my #1 choice.

Now lets get to the others...

PureVia is distributed by Pepsi. It will be put in all kinds of beverages and the first will be SoBe Life. I have not tried this one yet, but from the description it looks like its been more refined than Sweet Leaf and I automatically get suspicious when a huge company like PepsiCo is involved. But, hey, I may be wrong and it may be better than Sweet Leaf. I am open minded enough to give it a shot.

Sun Crystals...I have tried this one and I loooove it too. It does have some sugar in it, so the texture is almost the same as real sugar. This one is distributed by Johnson & Johnson. So, yeah, I get suspicious here too. However, the ingredients are sugar cane and stevia. That is it, and apparently you can bake with it - goodie!

Truvia...this one is made with stevia AND sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are very hard to digest and are not good for your tummy. So I have totally avoided this one. Its marketed as "Truvia - Natural Sweetener" not ALL natural sweetener. This one is manufactured by Cargill (a huge food company) and is being used by Coke. I am wondering if some fancy marketing shuffle is going on here with all of the sugar alcohol and such.

I do think that this is a move in the right direction. I just hope that the big guys don't mess up a good thing.
ALSO - the best option yet, and one I plan on doing ASAP is grow your own stevia! Its as easy as growing any other herb and then you know the source better than anything you could possibly buy in the store.

Monday, October 19, 2009


So, my cleanse has taken a turn from internal to external. Since moving into the tiny "grandma" house I have to make the most of my space. In that spirit, this weekend I pulled out all of my tank tops and shorts and boxed them up as we wait for the warmer days of spring. I started to gather all of my cozy sweaters and cords to add to my tiny closet. And guess what, I am still purging clothes! I can not believe that after I have purged my closet 2 times, I am still at it. I am really letting go of things I do not need. Why do I need to hang on to that purple sweater my mom gave me 5 years ago? I keep it because my mom gave it to me and for some reason I actually feel guilty for donating it to someone who might like it! There is something fundamentally wrong with that, do you agree??? So - be gone guilt! be gone purple sweater! You are going to a home where someone will love you and you will keep somebodies arms warm and cozy.

Physically speaking the cleanse was much harder over the weekend. I ate OK, but I did indulge in some organic wine and I forgot to take my vitamins. I did dance around my living room doing NIA and some free style belly dancing and that was so much FUN. I sweated a lot, so I felt cleansed and happy. I will give myself a 5 out of 10 for the weekend. I am making up for it today! I had a wonderful juice of carrot, cucumber, spinach and a small apple for breakfast. Tonight I am making brown rice with peas and a spinach salad. The brown rice will give us the cozy warmth we are craving plus lots of fiber, the peas will give us more fiber and some protein and the spinach salad will give us iron, vitamins, minerals and energy! Mike and I are practicing yoga in my cool yoga room and then we plan on watching Dexter :) Part of the cleanse is to take fun time for you!

On a more serious note regarding Hailey - she is going to see her Oncologist this morning. She will get the low down on her prognosis. I hope we can get her to MD Anderson soon. I have great hope with that hospital. So please pray for peace, healing and wisdom for us during this time if you want. Thank you so much.
Love and Light,


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cleanse Challenge Day 2

Well, day one went well and now I am on day two of trading my beer for a glass of green juice. I already have more energy and I have not even had any caffeine today! That is HUGE for me!

This morning's juice consisted of 3 big hand fulls of spinach, a small red apple and a carrot. It was gooooood. Carrots tend to overpower any juice, so if you do not like carrots, skip it. Just make sure you have tons of greens in there! That is where the goodness is! I also had a handful of almonds for some protein and fiber to start my day. For lunch I had organic butternut squash soup, a spinach salad with cranberries and oil & vinegar, and some more almonds.

Dinner tonight may be more vegan chili - Mike made it the other night and its so good. Yea, Mike made vegan chili. You did read that right. He made it darn good too.

Tonight's exercise (after I teach yoga) will be NIA - a free dance style of exercise. I lovingly call it hippie aerobics. Its SO much fun. Lots of drums and free movement is encouraged. I need to work out some negative energy that is creeping in with the stress of Hailey's pending move to Texas. Its all so up in the air, we have no idea when, or how long she will be gone, or who is going with her for that matter. Please pray for us! We need all the strength from the Good Lord we can get.

Its getting chilly out there and its time to bust out the socks and sweats. Keep warm out there my fuzzy-wuzzy darlings!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anyone up for a challenge?

Anyone up for a challenge? I am.

As a yoga teacher I get asked all kinds of questions about health, well being, diet, and as a vegetarian people get annoyed with me at the dinner table. But believe me, I am not sitting up on my shiny, eco-friendly, green, vegetarian, yoga throne looking down on everyone who eats meat, drinks milk or does not know what down dog is. Seriously, we live in the real world here!

I also have a confession to make, I am not all that healthy. I really do make an effort to eat healthy, practice yoga daily; but beer, fried shrimp, sugar and chocolate all have a foothold in my life. So in an effort to practice what I preach - I wonder what it would really feel like to be as healthy as I can be for the next 21 days? It takes 21 days to integrate a new habit in your life, so this will be the 21 day healthy as I can be challenge!

I am always on Hailey's case regarding her diet, but who am I to talk the talk if I do not walk the walk? And I mean, really walk it - get down and dirty with it. Granted, I do not have cancer, but we all have the potential to get it and I DON'T want it. I started this journey yesterday by taking a "mental health" day off. I did not go to work, I read a Twilight book and sat on the couch for most of the day. Sounds very couch potato-e, but it was much needed! I also ate very healthy and took all my vitamins. I did a great yoga practice even though it was hard to peel myself off the couch and I went to bed at 10:00.

I am going to do my best to do this even with Hailey in the hospital, and me possibly going to Texas in the near future. What is the point of being healthy and good to your God Pod if you do not do it when you need it most - when you are under tremendous amounts of stress?

Here is my plan for the next 21 days and feel free to jump on board if you want.

1. Juice a very very very green juice every day

2. Add lots of fiber

3. Cut sugar out completely

4. Gradually go dairy free - ugh, we are the only species on the planet that eats another species milk, that should be enough to get you thinking about that one. I will even try vegan cheese and let you know if I die from gagging or if its as tasty as the reviews make it out to be.

5. MOVE every day! Yoga at least 4 times a week and incorporate dance, walking and hooping etc... Yoga is the best all around exercise - but I love to boooogie so I want to nurture that side of my spirit as well. What do you like to do? Bike, hike, dance? DO IT!

6. Prayer and meditation daily - reading the Bible and finding what God wants me to know right now in my life. If the Bible is not your thing, then please find something that inspires you and brings you closer to God. This will make the biggest difference in your life!

7. Less time on the computer and in front of the boob tube (I really feel my brain turning to cottage cheese some nights)

8. Eat TONS more veggies - eat the rainbow every day! Fiber, vitamins, delicious food...enjoy God's bounty!

9. Take more QUALITY time for ME

10. Use the support from friends, family, church family, my hubby and online community

11. NO more beer, its just not good for you on any level. If I do have an adult beverage, it will only be organic wine.

12. Drink 64+ oz of pure water a day

13. Phase out processed foods as much as possible, if processed food makes it into my body its going to have a very short list of ingredients

14. Take all of my vitamins and supplements

15. Alkalize my diet as much as possible (cancer loves an acidic body!)

16. Don't give up but do pamper myself when things get tough

17. Daily affirmations

I hope that this will cleanse my body of toxins that are hiding out in my system, give me more energy and balance my mood during this stressful time.

I will blog as much as I can and give you encouragement, feedback on food, recipes, yoga info, new ways to shake your groove thang and much more.

Any ideas, recipes etc...are welcome!

Love & light

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Life Now

As most of you know, Hailey's cancer is back. She has had MAJOR surgery to remove all of the tumors from her abdomen and is recovering at Athens Regional now. Her spirits are up and down, but the best thing she said to me all week is that "I know Jesus loves me!" That made my week. She knows that God does not want this life for her, the cancer is a product of the world. 

Last year I was a freak, totally trying to control the situation and make Hailey eat what I read she should be eating, drink what she should be drinking etc...and I was really trying to control a situation that I had no business trying to control. Now I have a "Peace that goes beyond all understanding" and its wonderful. This does not mean that I am not sad, or that I am not emotional about it, but at my core - I feel peace. This is a gift that I can only explain as something spiritual, beyond human comprehension and I am at a place where I can accept this gift. Its free, and nothing is expected in return. Go get you some.