Product Review – No Cow Protein Bars!

Sometimes, no matter how well I try to plan ahead, I wind up in situations where I’m between meals, hungry, and there is nothing healthy or kosher within sight. Other times, I just need a break from protein smoothies and need something quick and easy to add to a meal that provides a big punch of protein. Those situations are where protein bars come in and I relied heavily on them while I was running through airports on my trip to Florida a couple of weeks ago. This is my review of No Cow Protein Bars and no, they aren’t paying me anything, but if they’d like to, I’m totally up for it.

I chose No Cow bars for a few reasons.

  • They’re kosher, pareve, and vegan. They are OU certified and have some vegan certifications as well. I liked knowing I didn’t have to worry about all that off the top.
  • The macros and calories fit what I was looking for. They’re just 190 calories, which is lower than many protein bars out there, but they have 21 grams of protein per bar and just 4.5 grams of fat. The carbs are a little high at 25 grams, but again, compared to other protein bars, that’s still pretty good and to be expected with a bar like this.
  • They have a TON of flavors! I wound up just getting peanut butter chocolate chip because that was the highest reviewed one, but they have s’mores, birthday cake, peanut butter cup…you name it.

So…the review…

First off, this is a protein bar not a candy bar. The texture is pretty sticky, so be ready to wash your hands if you pick at it. There is a little grainy-ness. Overall, though, the flavor and texture were not bad, particularly compared to other protein bars. The only bars I’ve had that were better tasting or had a better texture also had higher carbs and/or less protein. Trade offs have to be made sometimes. Like most protein bars, you’ll want something to wash these down with, like some water, but I did find that these helped keep me full without having to break my plan.

They were super convenient and I often paired them with veggies while I was on the go which worked great. You can get these in larger quantities on Amazon or directly from the maker and they have sample packs if you want to try the various flavors. I found they did well stashed in a backpack all day even in the Florida heat.

So…overall…these are a great option for convenience without sacrificing nutrition, but they are not going to be a tempting snack that you’ll want to binge on, which is ok with me. I’d rather not have a box of candy bars lurking in my pantry luring me anyway.

The Answer For When You Want a Smoothie, but Can’t Make One – Chia Seed Protein Pudding!

I start almost each day with a protein smoothie. It’s a quick, efficient way to get a bunch of protein down the hatch and I can mix in creatine or anything else I want. I toss kale in there and don’t even taste it. I love it and it’s quick and easy and fits into my busy morning schedule.

The problem is…there are some days I can’t make one and I need something prepared ahead of time, like on the Sabbath.

I tried just preparing a smoothie ahead of time and stashing it in my freezer. Let me say this…I tried this so that you don’t have to. Not only did it take me an hour to chip away at that thing, it also was not the tastiest. The texture just…changed. I also wound up with melting chips of protein smoothie everywhere as I stabbed it with my spoon. It was not worth it. I tried just using a shaker bottle. Again, yeah no. I had clumps of protein powder floating in the liquid-y mess that was my “smoothie.”

And then…I looked at a recipe for a chocolate chia protein smoothie on the blog Running On Real Food and eureka!

I used to make chia seed pudding, but those versions were all pretty high in carbs and sweeteners and low on protein. This version uses the protein powder I already had (I’m using Birdman Falcon right now…pareve and kosher) and I’ve found I can sneak in anything I normally would put into a smoothie into it, like creatine or other supplements or even kale or fruit. Best of all, the macros are closer to what my smoothie was and I can blend one up and put it in the fridge for the next morning without texture issues. The texture when blended turns out like a mousse and it’s nice.

I will say that you may want to adjust the amounts of sweetener or cocoa powder depending on what your protein powder tastes like. Just give it a test and add or reduce next time. Also, if you’re not into stevia, you can substitute any other sweetener here and be fine, just make sure you account for it if you’re counting calories or macros. You could also certainly vary the flavor by leaving out the cocoa powder and using different flavors of protein powder or adding in fruit.

Enjoy!

I Don’t Do Yoga Because I’m Good At It…and You Shouldn’t Avoid It Because You Aren’t Good At It.

A few years ago, back up in Alaska, I was in a yoga class when the instructor admitted, “I teach yoga because I need it, not because I’m the best at it.” This resonated for me SO deeply and it came back into my mind again when I discovered an opportunity to get my yoga teacher’s certification.

You see, while I have come a LONG way in my yoga journey and I might look pretty flexible to some people, yoga isn’t something I was naturally skilled at when I first began. I have some hyper-flexiblity in some joints, but I never was a dancer and I never worked on what flexibility I had. I also have a tendency to have muscles that get REALLY tight, even to the point it’s caused me some injuries. Add to that the fact that I don’t have your stereotypical “yoga body” that’s advertised in yoga pants ads. I have curves and shorter, stockier limbs and I can’t get into some poses fully because my body just doesn’t do that. I can’t do a handstand (yet) because I don’t yet have the upper body strength. I’m far from the Instagram ideal of a yoga teacher.

But…I think that’s a great thing for my students and I’ll tell you why.

I want to teach the people who, like me, NEED yoga. We’re the people with soreness, tightness, and jobs that put us at risk for all kinds of problems related to sitting or poor posture. We’re the people who start yoga because we’re HURTING or stiff and sore when we wake up or we have trouble getting comfortable to sleep. We’re the stressed out, overscheduled, super tense people who need help even just getting an hour to relax and breathe.

I was stretching in Florida on my vacation a few weeks ago and a friend remarked, “Wow, you’re flexible.” What they didn’t know is the reason WHY I was doing yoga poses on the floor. I was doing them because weight lifting had tightened my glutes (butt muscles…hee, hee!) and my illeo-psoas (weird muscles in your lower back/pelvis) and that tightness was causing shooting pains down my sciatic nerve. I was not doing yoga poses to show off…I was doing them to relieve tightness and pain. I was doing them because I needed them.

I come at yoga from a place of not really being concerned about how deep I or my students get into a pose, but by how deep they get into their own body. For some people, any forward fold is challenging and just getting a hair closer to their toes provides some relief. I’m more interested in how yoga FEELS than what it looks like and specifically, how we can do yoga in ways that make our bodies feel better. I also want my students to see that you can do yoga no matter what your body looks like. You don’t have to look like a Lulemon ad. You don’t have to be young…or skinny…or tall. You can have old injuries or disabilities that mean you have to adjust things. You just have to have a body that might benefit from yoga.

If yoga doesn’t come naturally to you, whether it’s the flexibility, strength, or focus/relaxation parts…those are exactly the reasons why you need it, to work on those parts of it that aren’t easy for you, that don’t just come naturally.

It doesn’t all come naturally to me, either…and I like to show my students that it’s ok to fall out of balance poses and just laugh or it’s ok to modify poses as you need to. It’s ok to love and accept your body and it’s uniqueness rather than getting upset at it for not fitting a mold it was never made to fit.

I don’t do yoga because I’m good at it, although maybe I am nowadays. I do it because I need it. I don’t teach yoga because I’m perfect at it. I teach it because I want to share it with people like me who also need it and who might just find it a little easier to approach with an instructor like me.

When It’s Not About Size Anymore

I just completed my first month on a bodybuilding program. There were times I was tempted to give up, like when I was on vacation in Florida surrounded by delicious food or after my poor old dog passed away and I was craving the comfort of carbs like crazy. I’ve learned a ton and even been able to eat some treats that fit into my plan while staying on track. I’ve walked a gazillion steps and lifted heavy weights.

The biggest changes, though…haven’t been physical.

Sure, I’ve lost weight and busted through that plateau that I was stuck on. I’m only 20lbs from my goal weight now. The funny thing is…that number or even the size clothes I’m wearing has started to matter less and less to me. I’m still motivated to stay on my plan and keep counting calories and macros and lifting, but it has become much more about how I feel on the days I’m not as careful and how great I feel when I am. It’s become more about chasing after goals that have nothing to do with how much I weigh or how I look but about discovering what I can do with this 40-something year old body.

Exercise and eating right have just become one of the things that I do rather than something I’m always conscious about and striving towards. I get up and I either walk or do my workout then walk. I food prep, but it’s pretty simple now. I eat for fuel rather than entertainment. I exercise when I’m stressed or upset rather than grab pasta or chocolate. I move because it feels good to move and it feels icky to stay put. I am content at the size I am even as I work towards my goal weight.

I treat my body like I love myself rather than punishing it either with overeating, eating food that doesn’t make me feel good, or refusing to take it out and move it around.

Even when I was a runner, running was kind of something I inflicted on my body to force it to be the way I wanted it to be. It seems odd that bodybuilding would actually feel gentler, but it does. It feels like me caring for myself rather than beating myself up to fit a certain mold.

It’s no longer about what size I am or how clothes hang on my body or even about numbers that indicate a better chance of good health. It’s more about being kind to this body that has gotten me this far and giving it what it needs to be strong and healthy because I deserve to feel good.

And that change in itself feels good.

Lessons Learned Through Sam

Last night, I had to say goodbye to my furry shadow, my 100lb wingman, Sam the dog. He went downhill fast, his kidneys failing and he just couldn’t hold on any longer and he passed peacefully in my arms, being held and petted and told how good he was. We should all pass so peacefully and surrounded by love.

I returned home to a bed that felt far too empty. Not long after Sam was potty trained, he took up residence by my side at night and it feels weird having space to stretch out when usually we’d both sleep curled up together in a companionable tangle. When I woke, I decided to start today with a long, long walk…the kind he used to enjoy and as I walked, I reflected on his life and so many good memories as well as the struggles and all the richness he brought to our lives.

Sam was one of the best dogs, if not the best dog, I’ve ever had. It was an honor to share his life with him. Still, I would not say he was an “easy” dog. He challenged me to grow so much and learn so much and that was part of the strength of our bond to each other.

Sam had it rough from the start, the biggest male of a litter of 13 pups born to a St. Bernard in a one room cabin in Seward Alaska in winter. His mother had an anxious temperament and developed a mastitis infection so bad that she began to turn on her own puppies when they tried to nurse, so they had to be weaned at just 5 1/2 weeks, not the recommended 8 weeks. This meant that he missed out on all the socialization his mother would normally have given him, teaching him not to nip and to get along with other dogs. We rescued him and brought him home, choosing him in part because he was already eating food well and had a good chance of survival and the way our hearts melted when he tried to crawl into my husband’s beard.

Sam grew quickly, as giant breed puppies do and soon he was a LOT to handle. He ate an insulin pump and a cell phone, crunching them up with his powerful jaws. He nipped and scratched, not really knowing how to handle his high drive. I tried different training methods and finally, I turned to Schutzhund, which is a dog sport similar to police dog training and I found a wonderful training club to train with who really helped me so much with him.

Working with Sam, I learned patience and courage. It takes a certain amount of courage to train a 100lb dog to bite a target, particularly when you’re holding that target. Sam loved the training and quickly learned to channel his instincts and drive bred into him into something constructive and he became so gentle with us. I was amazed at his ability to track scents and his joy at doing what he’d been bred to do. He knew what days we were going to go to training or tracking and would whine with anticipation the entire ride there. He had the same enthusiasm for hiking or camping and would also whine a whine that was near ear-splitting and fidget whenever he knew we were going on a trip.

Sam taught me about acceptance. There were some parts of his temperament that I couldn’t fix. That might be due to my lack as a handler, but I learned to accept those parts of him even when they limited houseguests. I loved him and I’d committed to taking care of him for life, even if it meant our lifestyle had to adjust to fit him. Our vacations were mostly planned around things and places we could take a big horse dog and I loved seeing his happiness at being included with his family. All he ever wanted was to be right with his people. Even our vehicle choices were driven by what could accommodate him and my husband even got a trailer for his motorcycle so he could bring Sam along. When we looked at houses to live in, Sam’s needs factored right in with our own. I learned to embrace being covered in dog hair on a regular basis, loving him more than I did looking neat or the house being spotless.

Sam taught me about courage and loyalty. He always protected his family to the best of his ability, even if he often thought things were threats that really weren’t. The UPS and FedEx men never killed any of us thanks to his brave displays of strength and bravery. What people didn’t know is that Sam actually failed as an attack dog in training. He would bark and growl at the “bad man” and then get scared and jump behind me. His barking and growling was his fear, but he still did his best to keep danger at bay and I’m sure anyone thinking to break into our house would probably have chosen another once they met him. He also was our “fun police,” quick to break up any roughhousing he deemed too dangerous and he made sure we all stayed together when we went hiking. I can still remember how anxious he would get when the kids climbed on rocks on mountainsides in Alaska, pacing and whining like an anxious nursemaid. He bravely stood guard as we picked berries in grizzly country and accompanied each of us on walks in the dark too many times to count.

Sam taught me about compassion. He had such soft fur around his neck and checks and I think each of us has cried tears into that fur from time to time. He was always willing to cuddle or comfort anyone who needed it, becoming a gentle giant and a steady presence. I remember burying my face in that fur so many times over the trials of the past few years and finding comfort in the slow steady beat of his big heart. Sam kept everyone’s secrets and always seemed to understand what couldn’t be spoken, keeping confidences of two kids navigating from childhood into their teen years. He also had an uncanny knack for knowing when I was coming down with something and herding me off to bed, even before I knew I was getting sick. He tried to take care of everyone.

From Sam I learned about the lighter side of life, too. While he was a pretty serious dog, he also sometimes had a goofy side. It was more subtle than our corgi’s clowning. Sometimes he’d groan from under the table at just the right moment in a conversation and send us all into fits of laughter. He loved to romp and play in snow and would have preferred to stay outside in the cold. When he’d get playful he could clear a flight of stairs in 2 bounds or an entire room and turn on a dime. He wasn’t a big drooler, but when he did, it was usually pretty funny, as were his “floogies” that would happen in winter, long strings of drool that generally seemed to land on the exact person who was most trying to avoid them.

Last night, Sam brought me his last lesson as he laid in my arms, calm and trusting, and slipped away. He was teaching me how to let go with love, which is a hard lesson, but one that is so timely in my life right now as I slowly let my kids out into the world and also grow older myself. It’s a lesson I’m bound to repeat again and again as the years go on. Sam was a noble creature right to the very end, laying in my lap and trusting me as he breathed his last and passing without fear or doubt or regret, listening to words telling him he’d done the job of being a dog well. I couldn’t help but think that I could only hope that one day, when I’m very old and gray, that I will meet my end as gracefully and peacefully and with the assurance that I was good as well.

Rest well, Sam. You kept your herd safe and deserve a well-earned rest.

Every Spring an Awakening

What do you do when things start going well?

My family is growing more and more healthy all the time and the house is full of laughter again most days. Work is chugging along and the hours are a little less awful. I have a vacation coming up. I’m down over 30lbs from this time last year. I’m teaching yoga weekly and building my confidence.

Things are going well! So…

I decided it was time to try another level in my fitness and nutrition. I’d been toying with the idea of working with a personal trainer to provide more structure and I’d been feeling my seasonal shift toward eating more plant-based, so I signed up to work with a vegan personal trainer for an intense 6 month program. By doing this, I think I’ll not only get in better shape, but also learn what I might have been missing when I’ve gone vegan in the past, nutritionally, as well as what mistakes I might have been making in my weightlifting. I’m also hoping to bust through this plateau I’ve been in since winter.

The program is already pretty rigorous. Everything is measured and tracked, macros, calories, pounds, grams, steps…charts and all. For someone geeky like me, it’s pretty satisfying to see those charts and work to make them look the way I want. For 6 months, I’ll be living a very structured lifestyle, even down to daily journaling and books to read to get my mindset right when it comes to food and fitness. I’m excited to see the results!

In other areas of my life I’ve learned that when things become “easier,” it’s important to try to look at what I could improve. Otherwise, it’s easy to become complacent and slide backwards. I always try to keep moving onward and upward in each area of my life.

Are things going well for you? Is it time to shift down a gear to handle a rough period in life or time to shift up to move forward?

5 Reasons Why Your Plate Should Change with the Season

We had an unusual snow shower today, which means that yesterday my son helped me move my planter with our asparagus in it inside. I did my morning workout hopping around it and it got me to thinking about how my husband’s love of asparagus led to one of the first standoffs in our relationship…the great asparagus embargo.

My husband LOVES asparagus and, when we first met, he saw some in November or December in the grocery store and wanted to buy it. I think I must have looked at him like he had grown a third arm. It wasn’t that I don’t like asparagus. I like it very much. It’s just that there was no way I was drawn to buy the overpriced, shallow imitation of asparagus that you can get out of season rather than wait until spring to enjoy it fresh. He was confused, having no idea what season asparagus is harvested in or why he should wait.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone…most Americans aren’t in touch with where their food comes from or when it’s harvested. We’re just familiar with what is on the grocery store shelves at any given time. The problem is that there are SO many reasons to eat with what the season is where you live.

  1. Taste. For me, this is one of the biggest ones. Fruits and vegetables taste their very best when they are very fresh and haven’t had to travel far. Anyone who’s had a freshly picked tomato or peach knows that there is a WORLD of difference between that experience and what they’ll find in their grocery store. The natural sugars in fruits and vegetables begin breaking down the moment they’re picked, so the sooner you eat them, the better they will taste. When you’re eating something outside of its normal season near you, the odds are even higher than it isn’t fresh because it’s had to travel far.
  2. Cost. This is another big consideration for most families. When produce is in season, it’s often on sale because there is too much of it. This is why there are huge displays of strawberries in the spring and not at other times and the cost is lower for those berries that are sweeter than any other time. Eating what’s in season not only tastes better, it’s less expensive as well!
  3. Health. Just like the natural sugars that break down once something is picked, so too do all the wonderful healthy chemical compounds in produce. The fresher it is and the less it’s had to travel, the healthier it will be for you. Amazingly, things in season also tend to match what we want and need at any given time. Winter is the time of hearty, warming root vegetables and winter squashes and summer brings us tons of bright, light salad fixings. Eating with the seasons can help you eat healthier all year long.
  4. Supporting Local Farmers. This one is near and dear to my heart. Buying produce in season and checking to see that it was grown not too far away means that more of your grocery dollars stay closer to home. No offense, California or Mexico, but I’d rather my money go back into the economy where I am. Buying local means that local farmers receive the benefit of your purchase and then they spend that money in the community. Even better is shopping farmer’s markets or buying a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that skips the middle man and gives your purchase dollars directly to local farmers.
  5. Reducing your food carbon footprint. If you’re buying asparagus from Mexico, then that means that a big truckload of refrigerated produce had to drive all the way from where it was picked to you. Our fruits and veggies take far more road trips than we do and it quickly adds up. By eating local and in season, you’re cutting that back.

There really is NO downside at all to eating fresh, local produce in season, except that maybe you might have to wait for your favorites until they’re ready. In the meantime, why not try things that are in season that you may have overlooked while you were eating things that aren’t in season?

Overthinking? Or, how I lost 5lbs over Passover…

If you’ve been following my fitness journey thus far, you know I’m a geek and I tend to love diving feet first into different plans and systems. Since July, I’ve been doing Ultimate Portion Fix and for the past several months, I’ve been doing timed nutrition. Basically, this means I’ve been carefully measuring my portions and timing my meals around workouts, eating every 2-3 hours.

When Passover came, I came up with a strategy, but I also felt drawn to really simplify things. We were going to be spending a week up at a cabin in the woods and with all the Passover food restrictions, I was already going to be eating very differently than I had been. I decided that it would be a good time to hit a pause button and just see how my body felt. I stopped all my heavy weightlifting workouts and intense cardio sessions as well as letting go of needing to portion out and measure or time when I ate.

Instead, I listened to my body. I ate when I was hungry and ate mostly simple fruits and vegetables and lean protein, but as much as I felt like eating as often as I was hungry. For exercise, I went on hikes with family, did yoga daily, and kayaked for the first time, which was SUPER FUN! I pushed myself as hard as felt good and relaxed. Naps were a regular thing.

When I returned, I expected that I would have gained some weight to lose, but I was pleasantly surprised to see my weight actually went down over the week…by 5lbs! Here I had STOPPED working so hard and I actually saw more results!

This got me to wondering if perhaps I had been overtraining a bit, between yoga teaching and weightlifting and maybe my body needed more than I had been giving it? I have since gone back to eating a more regimented plan, but I base the amounts and timing more on what my body is telling me. I am eating a lot of produce and lean protein, but I’m letting my hunger dictate more when and how much. I know if I start to see the scale creep back up, I can always go back to what I was doing before, but for now…this feels good.

It also feels good to go back to more plant based meals and I’m playing with ayurvedic cooking and noticing a big decrease in my acid reflux symptoms. This time of year, as the grocery stores become packed with fresh, in-season produce, I just feel drawn to eat more of it and less animal products…and I’m honoring that cycle for me.

Where have you been overthinking and could simplify this spring?

Why I Do NOT Call Myself a Yogi or Yogini…and Why I Won’t Call You One, Either

Words often have their meaning watered down in translation. I can remember when I lived in France realizing that somethings I really could only fully express in French and others only in English. Every time I lived abroad and came home, I always came home speaking a mix of English and whatever language I’d been exposed to because some things only can be understood in the language in which they were born. Nowadays, my speech is a mixture of English, Hebrew, and Yiddish for similar reasons. I choose the word that most closely fits what I’m trying to express and sometimes my ideas aren’t all in English.

Which brings us to a few words that often get tossed around in yoga circles, specifically, “yogi, yogini (the feminine form of yogi), and guru.

These often get used rather casually. Anyone in a yoga class becomes a yogi or yogini. Anyone you admire or follow on instagram or take advice from becomes your “guru.” Even inanimate objects or illnesses become your “gurus.” Your chronic pain becomes a guru because you learn something from it. I think we tend to use these words because it feels like it lends some greater weight or significance using an exotic, foreign word. Unfortunately, there’s a problem here.

These words already have meanings in the language they were born in and those meanings very often do not fit how we’re using them.

In the spiritual path of yoga, a yogi or yogini is a pretty serious adherent. The closest translations I can think of might be a priest or nun or monk or other renunciate in another religion, like a nazarite. This is someone who has done extensive study and taken some vows to abstain from many things in life, like material possessions or dietary considerations. This is someone who doesn’t just do the physical practice of yoga poses…in fact for many of them, yoga poses aren’t even included in their practices or if they are, they are a small part of it. It is not traditionally used for someone who joins a drop in goat yoga class. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…it’s just not the same level of study and dedication or religious focus.)

Similarly, a guru in the traditional sense is a spiritual leader, someone who has studied a long time and provides spiritual guidance to others. It’s a revered position similar to a Rabbi or Priest in other faiths. It’s not someone who just gives good advice or the wisdom of a stubbed toe telling you to walk more carefully.

Throwing these terms around casually is actually rather disrespectful. It’s similar to if I heard someone called a Rabbi because they ate a bagel or a nun because they wore a black and white shirt. I also don’t use them because it makes a lot of assumptions about the person being called these things. I for one am an Orthodox Jew, so I’m certainly not a yogini and I don’t automatically assume that because someone is in a yoga class with me that they are on a yogic spiritual path as well. They might be or they might be an atheist. I also don’t go looking for gurus. I have Rabbis and Rebbetzins that I turn to for spiritual and religious guidance and I assume that most people next to me in yoga class have their own mentors and guides as well.

I don’t see myself as qualified to be a spiritual guide. I took a training to help you move in and out of yoga poses safely and help you feel less stressed and more at home in your body…that doesn’t mean that I am in any way qualified to tell you how you should live your life any more than your car mechanic or massage therapist is.

I leave these terms in the language and culture they originated in out of respect in the same way I appreciate it when people don’t appropriate terms that have deep meaning for me from my culture in “cute” or “funny” ways. I also do it out of respect for the culture I do live in. For me, it’s about respecting the path of others while walking my own with my head high.

Don’t be Fooled By “Instagram Yoga”

If you look for examples of yoga poses online, you’ll often find tall, lanky people contorting themselves into all kinds of artistic positions. It can be discouraging if you’re just starting out in yoga or consider starting it due to some physical issues. It can look like yoga is only for the very flexible, very strong, or very lean and not for someone who has tightness, pain, and soreness that prevents them from getting a full range of motion in poses.

The truth is that most of these people are presenting an image of yoga that isn’t really realistic for a number of reasons and that’s important to keep in mind if you feel tempted to measure yourself by them.

For one, most of these people are athletes coming from disciplines other than yoga, like gymnastics and dance. A great deal of their strength and flexibility comes with them from those disciplines. Another factor which likely led them to those disciplines and yoga is that they are gifted with an anatomy that is NOT average. Some of the positions they show require not just years of practice, but also specific anatomical measurements that they were gifted at birth with. Other people may never be able to reach certain poses because their very bones won’t allow that much mobility in joints. There is a lot of variation in anatomy and these folks often wound up with a specific combination that allows them to do what others may not no matter how much they practice.

In addition, some of what they show, while it may be beautiful art, aren’t yoga poses at all, but rather poses used in gymnastics or dance. Where they do show yoga poses, they are often the most extreme variations that might not even be safe for others to practice or can only be held for brief periods of time safely. I still like these pictures as art, but I don’t look at them as a goal or anything I want to do.

As I learn and grow in my own yoga practice, I realize more and more that the measure of a pose is not really what it looks like or how “far” I get into a pose, but the effect the pose has on my body and mind. Sometimes, easing back in a pose actually brings me closer to my goals, even if it looks like I’m not going as far as I could another time. It’s not about what my pose looks like compared to anyone else’s, but about how my pose feels in my own body and how my practice feels in my own mind.

It’s ironic that a practice that is all about going inward and tuning in to our own unique bodies is marketed so much about outward appearances, about the right yoga pants or the perfect pose. Really, it doesn’t matter what you look like when you do yoga as long as it is benefitting you and helping you feel more free in your body and mind.