How I began brewing my own Kombucha (and how you can too!)

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I can do that!  ...and it started.  


Kombucha is so good!  It’s addicting. It’s gut health in a bottle.  It’s the fuzzy goodness with a fruity and tangy bite.  Kombucha is a cult classic. It is a party favorite at a few FABULOUS homes.  Kombucha brings communities together and Winona has a good start!

My passion for this liquid gold started after a very good friend of mine proved me wrong.  I was adamant how horrible it was and I didn’t understand how anyone could drink it. The scent alone was one that could peel paint off of metal cabinets.  (A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. It was strong)

Picture this, you’re sitting on a front porch swing on a beautiful sunny day in Minnesota.  A friend with a tray of day drinks comes and sits next to you. Do you ignore her OR do you welcome her with open arms?  I solved my conundrum pretty darn fast. It went like this...It’s sunny, it’s during the day, I’m with a beautiful friend, AND it’s during the day, of course I’m not going to deny the hospitality.  So I partook in a bit of day drinking on a beautiful sunny day in Minnesota. She sits, she smiles, and then she hands me this beautiful glass filled with ice and lovely pink liquid.

It was delicious.  Would I like another one?  Of course I would.

And as simple as it sounds, I was hooked.  Of course the love started when I was able to mix it with whiskey or vodka (which is ONLY for adults who can LEGALLY drink...Disclaimer).  But as my creativity grew with the adult version of Kombucha so did my curiosity for what it actually was.

What’s the big deal?  

Why are all these health conscious individuals seeking it out?

Why is Instagram exploding with Kombucha ads?

Why am I all of a sudden a regular visitor to the ladies room?  

How can Kombucha be different colors?

What do they do to it?

Where exactly did it come from?

How exactly did the drink show up on someone’s front porch swing?

I began to do a bit of light reading.  I drank more Kombucha (plain, I might add).  I asked around about this interesting concoction.  I drank more Kombucha. My family started drinking Kombucha.  I drank more Kombucha. My family started drinking more Kombucha.  Once I was purchasing four bottles at almost $5.00 a bottle I decided there has to be a better way.  I asked more questions. I read more books. I dug through the internet (the internet is always right) and finally came up with four very empowering words.  

I CAN DO THAT!  

So I did.  

I started to grow my very own SCOBY (S.symbiotic C.culture O.of B.bacteria Y.yeast).  It seemed like it took the nine months and a few weeks it took to grow my human babies!  I watched the jar, and watched and watched and watched until I actually forgot about it. (AWESOME MAMA to my FIRST SCOBY!!!)  But that is exactly what it needed. The symbiosis and the connecting and growing and creating needed it own quiet time. When I finally remembered about my baby SCOBY (truly liquid that I mixed together hoping for the magic of fermentation to happen) it had turned into the prettiest MAMA SCOBY I have seen.  I never saw one or touched one before so of course it was perfect.

I put that MAMA SCOBY right to work and brewed up my first batch of kombucha.  Because remember I said…

I can do that!

I kept brewing.  My MAMA became bigger and she made babies and then her babies became MAMAs  and the beautiful cycle of fermentation began. Pretty soon I had SCOBY HOTELS and mini motels and thought I NEED to share the love.  I NEED to get these SCOBYs out into Winona so they can keep growing and keep creating and keep allowing the flow of pretty pink kombucha-tails!  


So I did!  I started Pied Brew Kombucha and that is where I’ll leave you until I see you at the Pied Brew Kombucha workshop.  I will be touching more about what Kombucha is and why EVERYONE should drink it and brew it. I will also be sharing my liquid gold with each and everybody who comes to learn.  All you need to begin would be the four precious little words that drove me into curiosity:

I CAN DO THAT!  

Big love,

Karin Wollan

Karin Wollan

overcome /ōvərˈkəm/

overcome
/ōvərˈkəm/

(v.) succeed in dealing with 

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I Was Nervous, Too

I can remember walking through the doors of my first yoga class feeling nervous and excited, thinking, “I am definitely not flexible.”

Fast forward 10 years, and walking into that yoga class was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. I found strength in my mind and body from practicing yoga that I didn't know was possible. Was I afraid? Yes. Do I still feel like I’m not ‘good’ or ‘flexible’ enough? Yes. Am I thankful and proud that I pushed past my fear? Yes!!!

The things in life that I was most fearful to try have been areas where I’ve grown the most.

Taking my first yoga class, signing up for yoga teaching training, teaching my first yoga class - I was scared of all three, but have grown because of overcoming these fear.

5 common Q&A’s to first time yogi’s:

  1. What if I’m not flexible? Then you’re in the right place! One of the goals of yoga is to create more space in the mind and body. Yoga meets you where you are.

  2. What should I wear? Something you’re comfortable in! No need to go out and buy something new. Dress comfortable so you can step out of your comfort zone.

  3. What if I feel intimidated? It’s easy to feel intimidated by people in a yoga class, but remember the yoga pose is not the goal. Everyone in a yoga class is working on something.

  4. Do I need to use the props, like a block or a strap? Props are always optional. Some teachers offer props as a way to deepen or modify a yoga pose. Try the props, why not?

  5. What if I can’t keep up with the class? Yoga teaches us to listen to our mind and body and to focus on our breathe. You can take a break at any time during class. Focus on your breath and meet back up when you’re ready.

Yoga has helped me in many areas of my life. If you’re considering trying your first yoga class or maybe trying out a different class at Muddy Waters Yoga I highly recommend you do. Muddy Waters Yoga Studio is more than a yoga studio, it’s a community where you will be welcomed just as you are.   

Namaste,

Marie Perry

fear /ˈfir/

fear
/ˈfir/

(v.) avoid or put off doing something because one is afraid.

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I remember taking a yoga class a couple years ago, and the theme was all about being fearless. After the class I remember thinking, can anyone ever be free of fear?

I think back to the times I’ve been most afraid, and each time seems to fit into two different categories:

  1. Crippling fear

  2. Fear that lets me know I’m alive

This month in the studio we are focusing on fear. What role does it play in our life?

I recently announced that I am expecting my second child. I’ve spent the last year trying to decide if I wanted to have another sweet babe in my life. Probably longer than a year if I’m being honest with myself. I think I always knew what my heart wanted, but fear kept me back. Fear that I wouldn’t have “enough of me” to go around, fear that I was too busy, fear that I wouldn’t be able to continue to do what I am currently doing in my life.
Then, this summer, I looked at my daughter and thought, it will all work out.

Here’s how I see it:

When we are faced with that crippling fear, we have to meet it with a sense of surrender.

Like the fact that I’m a grown adult that is still totally afraid of the dark (anyone else? I can’t be the only one…!). I was getting in my car last week to go to a 5:45am class, pitch black outside, and I just kept repeating, “nothing is going to hurt me, nothing is going to hurt me,” and I had to believe it! I had to surrender that some things are out of my control and that the unknown will always be scary.

Surrender is the final Niyama that we will talk about. It asks that we give up the need to be in control all the time, that we let fear settle and make a home because it’s not going to go away, and that we believe that there is something bigger.

Now, let’s talk about the second kind of fear. The fear that lets you know that you’re alive.

One time I went skydiving, and I had so many “oh shit!” moments before I jumped out of that plane, but the moment I went for it, I can truly say I knew I was alive. Was I scared? YES. And I knew that it was totally worth it.

I’m grateful to say that I’ve had so many of those out of my comfort zone crazy butterflies in my stomach moments these last couple years. I have learned to trust those butterfly moments because they let me know I’m doing something big. And they’re not going away.

Fear can cripple us or it can propel us.

What are you afraid to do because you might fail (whatever that means?
What are afraid to do because you’re unsure of the outcome?


Think about it for a moment.

Maybe you’ve been reading these newsletters, but have been too afraid to make it to class because you might not know what you’re doing.
Maybe you’ve got an awesome idea, but you’re afraid people will think it’s stupid.

This month, your job is to do something that scares you and brings you to a place where you know without question, you are alive.

con·nec·tion

connection
con·nec·tion
(n.) the action of linking one thing with another

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This last month I was able to get away with a few dear friends for some sweet downtime and connection. As we were sitting around the table at the end of the day, we were talking about how much time is being lost in our phones. It’s no doubt that many of you are shaking your heads. Our phones, which are meant to connect us to people have created a sense of disconnect.

I started to think about some of the ways that I have put my phone before connection, and it honestly made me want to throw up. I’ve been one of those people out on a date checking my phone to see if I got one new email. I’ve taken my phone to bed with me on a number of occasions. I even have had my daughter tell me, “Mama, can you put your phone away?” (That one makes my heart hurt, but it’s the truth). And I could probably name quite a few more instances… but those will do.

As we were talking, one of my friends says, “There’s an app for that! (of course there is…). I proceeded to download the app that told me how many hours a day I am on my phone. It made me want to throw up even more! What a time suck.

Yoga teaches us presence. This moment is all we have, and we’re missing it by coming out of the moment every time the phone “dings.”

Just because it rings, doesn't mean we need to answer it in that moment. 

My mantra this month: I am disconnecting and feeling more connected than ever.

Want to do this with me?

Here are some things I’m trying… taking social media off my home screen, turning off notifications for everything, checking my email only 2 times a day, and putting the phone away once I get home for the evening.

Any other tips?!? Send them our way! 

If you’re up for it, here’s my challenge to you:

1. Download the Moment app.
2. Start to become aware of how much time you spend on your phone. 
3. Find ways to disconnect so that you can connect to what truly matters; this present moment. 
 

Let’s invite connection and presence back in by disconnecting from the things that take us out of the moment. Go for a walk and hold hands, watch a movie without the phone, read a book in bed instead of scrolling.

Let's keep the conversation going. Share how you're going to disconnect over in the comments.

Big Love,  

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HOME

home
/hōm/

(n.) any place of residence or refuge

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As a kid, I moved around a lot never staying at a school for more than a couple years until I got to high school. I remember always longing for that home feeling. When I moved to Winona 10 years ago, I instantly felt that feeling of home. This last month we hosted yoga on the bluff, an event that brings people together to practice yoga in one of Winona’s most scenic places. As we started, in the background you could hear the Winona Municipal Band practicing (along with the sound of a few goats!). It was just perfect, and it just gave me this overwhelming gratitude to live here. Whether it’s the bluffs, the lakes, the river, hiking trails, there is no lack of beauty here.

I invite you to find what home means to you.

How do you define home? For me, it’s a place where I feel like I belong, where I feel a sense of peace, and where I feel so much love.

How do you feel at home in your body? Is it a restorative yin class, a walk in the woods, a boat ride on the Mississippi, a good book on your couch?

Make your home your refuge by inviting all the things you love into it and leaving all the things that make it feel cluttered or busy remembering that our home is our body too.

To celebrate Winona, a place so many of us call home, we are excited to announce a new event that we will host in September, Yoga on the Levee. Think Yoga on the Bluff, just down the hill… more details to come, but save the date - September 15.

Love Winona as much as me? Share what you love about this sweet town in the comments.

STRENGTH

strength
/streNG(k)TH/

(n.) the quality or state of being strong

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I was recently at the studio when one of our members stopped me. She shared that since she had been coming to the studio this past year, she has never heard anyone talk about losing weight or wanting to look differently, not once. I realized that she was right.

When I was in high school and into my college years, I desperately struggled with my body. I always wanted it to look differently. I became obsessive about what I put in it, and it never felt enough. Then, I found yoga. I remember being in a yoga class and for the first time looking at my legs and thinking, “Wow, they’re strong.”

That’s when things started to shift for me, and my perspective started to shift from what my body wasn’t to what it was.

As I write this now, I truly love my body.

This body that created a life, and those stretch marks that prove it.
These legs that can hold me up in those killer barre classes.


My mantra this month is to come to class because I get to and I want to, not because I should or I feel like I have to.

People will try to sell you quick fixes. They will jump on your insecurities and make you think you need to look or be different.

But here’s the thing… it’s a vicious cycle. A number on a scale doesn’t make us happy, nor does the size of our pants.

What makes us happy is that we feel good. And, dang, moving, breathing and sweating feels good.

Next time you sign up for class, do it because you want to feel good, do it for the feeling at the end, do it for the moment when you push past what you thought was possible, do it for you.

Tell us what you love about your strong body over in the comments. 

Big love, 

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4 Ways to Say No to Plastic

Happy Earth Day! 

The earth is such a healing place, it's important we are conscious about how we treat the environment. When we throw something away, it's removed from your sight, but that doesn't mean it's gone. 

Genevieve Folkedahl shares a list of plastic-free items that make an impact and keep plastics out of the oceans and landfills: 

1. Bring a stainless steel straw, or ask for no straw. 

We use 500 million straws per day in America, many of which end up in the ocean. 

2. Bring a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.

America uses approximately one million disposable water bottles per minute. For this reason, we will no longer have plastic cups available at the studio. We ask that you bring a reusable bottle.

3. Keep a set of utensils

Invest in a pair of bamboo or stainless steel utensils, so you can say no to plastic-ware. 

4. Buy in Bulk or bring your own bag

Shop at places where you can bring your own containers such as the co-op or the farmer's markets. Everything from your spinach container, to spices, to grocery bags. 

Everything matters. 

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Muddy Waters Yoga Studio is OPEN!

Well, it’s finally here!

We have opened our doors and are ready for business. I wanted to take some time to reflect this month on this experience and create some intentions for the space and our community. 

Yoga has helped me in many areas of my life. I actually can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I first started doing yoga in high school and started practicing regularly in college. I loved it, but mostly for the physical aspects. Then, I came into one of the darkest times of my life. I lost sight of who I was, lost some close friends, and became dependent on someone else for my happiness. I vividly remember driving home one morning crying, called my mom, and we booked a yoga retreat. This retreat was what my body, my heart, and my soul needed. I started to learn the healing powers of yoga, and slowly started to feel like myself again and step out of the dark and into happier times. 

Fast forward a few years, I knew I was ready to learn more about yoga and decided to enroll in a 200 hour yoga teacher training. This training completely changed my life. It taught me how to live in a yogic way. It taught me the power of yoga on a deeper level. I started living out my yoga. This is all a practice. Some days we are on and feel great and sometimes we can hardly put one foot in front of the other. 

That brings us to Muddy Waters Yoga Studio.This is a dream, and I’m grateful to everyone along the way that has helped me get to this point. Here is a look back on where we have come and where we are going.

I remember the moment Shawn, my husband, talked to me about the possibility of opening a yoga studio in the building. At first I said, “No, I can’t do that.” And that was that. Then, I started to sit with it, "Well, what if I could do it?" There were still so many logical things keeping me from saying yes, but eventually I made the decision my heart wanted and said yes and never looked back. 

We are looking forward to creating community and space for Winona and surrounding areas. Our schedule starts TODAY! You can download yours here! We ask that you register for class to ensure your space. This is also a great way to plan the classes you would like to take during the week. 

All the gratitude and the biggest love, 

Practice yoga. Feel good.

I want to highlight the benefits of a regular yoga practice. You may have heard about the benefits of yoga, but do you know that practicing consistently can have a profound and lasting effect on your health. As a culture we are in a constant state of go-go-go, and generally speaking, we glorify busy and create full schedules whether it is for ourselves or for our children to make ourselves feel fulfilled in some way. Yet, more times than not, we end of feeling so tired because there isn’t any space.

My mantra this month is: I am working to create space in my life and feeling at ease.

Everyone can benefit from doing yoga in some way. You. Me. Your bestie. Your kid. Your spouse. All of us. Yes, I know some people think yoga is about putting your foot behind your head and balancing on your head, but that isn’t yoga. Yoga is so so so  much more than that. Yoga is about creating the space: space for your body to move, space for your mind to quiet, and space for your heart to feel.

BENEFITS OF A YOGA PRACTICE

Stress + Anxiety

Yoga relaxes your nervous system, which creates a calming and restorative effect on the body and lowers cortisol.

INCREASES STRENGTH + FLEXIBILITY

A regular yoga practice helps open tight areas in the body and strengthens muscles in a balanced way.

IMPROVES POSTURE

Yoga improves posture that can cause back, neck, and other muscle and joint pain.  

PROMOTES MOBILITY

Yoga  increases oxygenation of tissues and improves joint health by creating varied movements and nourishing the fascia system in the body.

IMPROVES BALANCE

Practicing balance postures helps prevent falls and helps you use your body in a more balanced way.

ENHANCES PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH

There are many mental health benefits related to yoga including increased mood, self-esteem, and sense of equanimity.


Why do you practice yoga? Share in the comments! 

Muddy Waters Yoga Studio is opening May 1st! Take advantage of our introductory special: Get 30 days for $30
 

Balance, whatever that means

This past month I did the Whole30 as a way to push the reset button and get back on track with my nutrition. If you're not sure what this is, it is an intense elimination nutrition program where you get rid of things like sugar, gluten, and dairy. After the holidays, I was in a major slump because let's be honest, I ate all the cookies. I learned a lot from the program, but perhaps my biggest takeaway was that I need balance.

BALANCE.

What does that even mean? I recently had a friend post a picture of her morning yoga class followed with a delicious Bloedow’s donut. Her question was… Does one defeat the other? Nope! This, to me, is the perfect example of balance.

We spend so much time “shoulding” all over ourselves. I do it all the time. I should eat more salads. I should read more books. I should enjoy winter more. I should… I should… We put all this pressure on ourselves on what we should or shouldn’t do. It’s draining!

My mantra for the month: I am listening to what I need in the moment and feeling balanced.

What does this look like for you?

a night out with friends followed by a quiet night alone
working out hard and then taking a few days off
eating a salad for lunch and then dessert (and maybe a glass of wine) for dinner
binge watching my favorite tv show and then digging into a good book the next night
going to a yoga class and then eating (and loving!) that Bloedow’s donut

The key is letting go of guilt.

Balance is finding that middle ground, and sometimes, to be honest, it doesn’t exist. I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out how to walk the line of balance, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. There are seasons in our lives that are busier than others, and that might mean balance looks a little different. When I am teaching a balancing pose, I tell people over and over not to take themselves too seriously because balance shifts every single day. Some days we can stay in tree pose for what seems like forever and other days we're lucky if we get our toes off the ground. Wherever you are… figure out one or two things that you can do to create a little bit of balance, let go of the shoulding and the guilt, and as I’ve said before, just do you. Forgive yourself a thousand times a day and keep going. Oh, and find some time to enjoy it too because life is too short to take yourself so seriously all the time.

Let us know how it goes using
#findingbalance  and #eatthedonut

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BIG LOVE,

Muddy Waters Yoga STUDIO

I'm opening a yoga studio.

I've waited so long to officially and publicly announce that I get to follow a big dream of mine and continue to bring yoga to the Winona area in a different way and live out my vision and passion. This endeavor goes beyond me. Please read on to hear the inspiration and why behind the studio:

I started dating my now husband in 2011, and with that came a whole group of friends that I had to meet. One evening I was home alone with my three step-sons. Kati, one of my husband’s friends who I had only briefly met the week before, texted me asking what I was doing that night and if she could bring up ice cream for me and the boys. My first instinct was to make up an excuse. Why? Because I had just met this woman, and thought how awkward it would be, etc. etc… Can anyone relate? Thankfully, I said yes, and she came up with not one, but three different kinds of ice cream. The awkwardness lasted maybe a minute, and then we started talking, and it just felt right. That’s the only way I can describe it.

This parallels yoga in many ways. Think of the first time you stepped on the mat or tried anything new, really? I don’t know about you, but I made up excuses why I shouldn’t go or why I couldn’t go. We do it all the time. The excuses I’ve told myself… “I won’t know what to do.” “I’m not flexible enough.” “What if I look stupid?” “I’m too tired.” The list goes on… and on… Yet, I said “yes” and really that made all the difference. The moment I stepped on the mat, I knew there was something more about this relationship, something deeper that I needed to explore.

Back to Kati, she was one of the first people I ever taught yoga to. She came to my house one Saturday morning and we did yoga. It was beautiful. I remember this morning so vividly because we had just received news that Kati had cancer. Cancer that would take her away from us at only 27 years old. I don’t know if I will ever fully understand why she was taken so young, but I do know that she has never left me, or anyone that she met. She had this truly vibrant energy that was contagious. She taught me so many things in the very short time that I knew her, and she is still teaching me. Today.

My husband and I often say, “Let’s take the long way home” because that’s what Kati would say. She teaches me to slow down and enjoy life. When I get into a fight with the kids, she teaches me to look at the situation and realize it’s okay to forgive and really, it’s not that big of a deal. She teaches me to come back to what really matters and be grateful for every. single. moment. She taught me that life is short, and when inspiration hits, go for it, and don't let fear hold you back from that special gift you have to share with the world.

Let me close by saying that I want the studio to be a place where every person who walks in can come back to their center and find gratitude. I want this to be a place that teaches you to slow down and take a step back and. My hope is that every time you leave you are able to live a more wholehearted life. 

Muddy Waters Yoga Studio's name was inspired by a quote from Buddha, "May I live like the lotus, at ease in muddy water." Let's face it, life is messy, for all of us. Yoga helps us find ease and live a more blissful life. Our time on the mat helps to quiet the mind and teaches us to thrive and grow amidst the messiness of being human. The lotus flower grows in the muddiest of waters and is a beautiful symbol that through mindfulness we can reach clarity. Kati was the lotus, she remained vibrant, the whole way through.

We will dedicate this space to Kati. Above the door before you walk out of the studio, there will be a sign that reads: "Take the long way home"  as a reminder to all of us how precious life is. Thank you for reading, and please know that the studio serves as a place for EVERYONE. I envision you walking in the door, taking off your shoes, rolling out your mat, and letting out a big...

aaaahhhhh...

The studio will open its doors spring 2017. We will offer heated (80-90 degrees heated!) and non-heated yoga classes as well as barre classes. Our heat will come from state of the art infrared heating panels that penetrate the skin and help you move deeper into your practice. We will have a small boutique where we will sell anything from yoga mats, essential oils, awesome Muddy Waters tees, and more! Stay tuned to see the progress as we build our space, meet our amazing instructors, and share in this journey. We would love to hear what you would like to see in your yoga studio. Fill out this survey so that we can better serve you!

Big Love,

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Tell Me Your (Yoga) Story: Samantha

Samantha Anacabe

Meet Samantha Anacabe. She is the wife to her high school sweetheart and has been married for 3 wonderful years. She is the mother of 3 amazing children, Cole is 7, Elise is 3, and Walker is 1. She lives in Winona, MN and absolutely loves it here. She enjoys the outdoors, hunting and fishing especially. Her kids are crazy about hockey and animals. They live on a funny farm complete with 1 pony, 4 chickens, 6 pheasants, 2 dogs, and 1 barn cat. Things are a little busy, but a good busy! She owns a small business out of her home called Hilltop Malas. She hand crafts 108 bead Malas used in mantra meditation and yoga practices. This tiny business is very close to her heart and her voyage with yoga.

In one sentence, what is yoga to you?

Yoga to me is a journey, a way of life, a reason and a purpose to be the best you possible, it's never giving up and learning to love the person god chose you to be, even if you'll never be able to do the perfect handstand.

How did you start practicing yoga?

I began doing yoga about 2 years ago. I took a class at a local yoga studio and fell in love the second I left the mat. I never knew yoga could bring out so many emotions in a person. You see, that particular day was hard. It seemed everything was piling up around me and doing anything it could to knock me down. My kids weren't listening, the house was a mess, I had so many things to do and nothing was getting done. I was getting pushed to my limit and was in desperate need of a break! That's when I made a trip to a Saturday morning yoga class. I was nervous and had no clue what any of the poses were called or how to do them. The class was a gentle vinyasa flow perfect for beginners! I went there looking for a sweat and an hour away from motherhood, but what I walked away with was so much more than that. During those first few minutes of wondering if I was doing any of the poses correct and if people were looking at and judging the new girl, I had to actually breath and just let go of all the insecurities holding me back from enjoying the class. And just like that, I was me in the perfect moment, I didn't have to be mom for anyone, a cook for anyone, tie anyone's shoes or change any diapers. I was enjoying it so much! The class went by well and then came savasana, with that came tears! Yes, I was crying on my mat full of emotions I didn't even know I was holding back or that needed to be let out! That yoga teacher changed my life and I don't even think she knows it. The words she spoke and how she so peacefully spoke them was like everything she was saying was meant for me. That hour changed me, it changed me for the better and I will forever be thankful for this beautiful flow! Thankful for yoga!

What does your practice look like now on the mat and off the mat?

On the mat my yoga practice honestly looks about the same as it did 2 years ago. Sure I have progressed a little with the poses. But what has really changed is my life off the mat. My mind set, my thoughts and my moods. I'm living a more wild and free life. A present life full of gratitude and purpose. I'm learning to be still and enjoy the beauty and crazy that is this world around me.

Favorite pose & why?

My favorite pose would have to be tree pose. I love the meaning behind it and the push it gives me physically. "Stand strong in your faith like the roots of a tree, and never let a little wind blow you down" Trees clap their hands for you and it's nice to feel the applause!

How has yoga made your life better?

Yoga has made my life better in so many ways! My daughter and I love doing it together. It has made me slow down. It has made me see the bigger picture. Giving me the strength I need mentally and physically!

instagram: @_hilltop_malas_

Tell Me Your (Yoga) Story: Amy Machacek

Amy Machacek

Meet Amy! She is a yoga and fitness studio owner in Northfield, MN. She has a thriving 200 hour yoga teacher training school and created a 6-week transformational program called LifeREVAMP that has changed hundreds of people's lives. Helping people find their passionate life is what makes her come alive (and decorating)! 

In one sentence, what is yoga to you?

I agree with Jon Kabat Zinn when he says, "Yoga is open-hearted wakefulness with compassion and wisdom." 

How did you start practicing yoga?

 How did you start practicing yoga? I was turning 30 and my friend gave me a video. 

What does your practice look like now on the mat and off the mat? 

I practice asana most days either in class or on my own. And I try to live the Yamas and Niyamas in my daily life, as well as the other limbs.

Favorite pose & why?

 It changes from time to time. Right now I would say Adho Mukha Vrksasana (handstand). I have been working on not needing the wall and I have this desire to be upside down often! It is giving me a change in perspective!

How has yoga made your life better?

My life really is yoga and it is an amazing life. I cannot imagine what my life would look like without it in it. 

instagram: liferevampamy
website: www.heartworkyoga.com

Disconnect to Connect: Digital Detox

I love love love this time of year. There is something magical about the first snowfall, curling up next to a fire, reading a great book, and spending time with family. It is a time to connect with others and with self as we start to quiet and spend more time indoors. That brings me to my intention this December: disconnect to connect. I will be taking a digital detox away from social media for 10 days in December.

I have known for a while that this is something that I need to do for myself. Just like anything in life, it is important to create healthy relationships and boundaries with the things and people around us. I will say that I have become addicted to my phone, and I don’t like it, at all. No matter what habits you are trying to change, it comes to a point where we need to be ready to make a change. I am there. There are times I find myself picking up my phone and aimlessly scrolling without even noticing I’m doing it. In yoga, one of the Yamas, or tenets of yoga, is Bramacharya: Nonexcess. Deborah Adele writes, “We are here on this world, in part, to feel enjoyment and pleasure. If we are in the pleasure and not the addiction, we are practicing Bramacharya.” I am in excess and ready to make some shifts and start checking my social media rather than letting it check me.

For a while, I was making myself feel guilty about this or like there was something wrong with me, but remember: social media is made to make us keep coming back for more. It’s like eating Doritos. We can’t just eat one. Am I right? So, in short, we can’t make ourselves feel bad about this because we are human with human tendencies.

There are studies out there that look at the addiction behind social media and the results are pretty astounding. Many of these studies bring up the notion of FOMO. What is FOMO you ask? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out. People are constantly posting, and we are constantly being bombarded with new information. When we look at what this does to our brain chemistry, it is easy to see why we can become so addicted. In an article written on Social Times, it shares that, “It seems we’re addicted and it may truly be a brain chemistry problem. A study from Harvard University showed that self-disclosure online fires up a part of the brain that also lights up when taking an addictive substance, like cocaine. Eighty percent of our online conversations are self-disclosure, compared to 30 to 40 percent of offline conversations. And with such huge audiences online, it’s very easy to get hooked.” Just like any addiction, if it gets out of control, it starts to control you.


Personally, I need to get a handle on this, and if you can relate, join me. Forget about missing out. If it’s that important, you’ll hear about it. Don’t worry about all the pictures you won’t get to share because guess what? You can share them all on January 1st, or hey, maybe go get them printed. Take time this month to slow way down and be with yourself and with the ones you love.

December Digital Detox
Disconnect to Connect
December 1 - December 10

If you're still not convinced that Social media can be bad for your health, check out this info graphic. 

Big love,

Bliss List: November

See what I've been loving this month. My hope is that they bring bliss & inspiration

1. Marie Forleo + Tony Robbins

Totally obsessed with everything in this video. 

2. IB Designs 

If you know me, you know I love IB, like really love them. It is this super amazing jewelry shop in St. Croix, USVI. All my jewelry come from IB, including my wedding ring. Check them out!

3. LOVE WARRIOR 

Glennon Doyle Melton is one of my biggest inspirations. Her first book, Carry on Warrior, is on my top 5. I can't put this book down, so real and so honest 

4. Calm: meditations techniques for stress reduction

I have used different meditation apps, but this one is definitely my favorite. It has a ton of different guided meditations as well as different meditations programs. 

5. Unleashed Fitness by Emily Schromm

I started taking Emily's superhero challenges over a year ago, and they completely changed the way I think about food. She is offering a FREE 7-day challenge starting tomorrow. Do it! I promise you will learn so much.

Now, it's your turn! What is bringing you bliss? Share your bliss on facebook and instagram with the #muddywatersbliss.

Big love, 

Tell Me Your (Yoga) Story: Mandi

Mandi Stewart

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Meet Mandi. She is a coffee drinking, snail mail sending, marathon runner. She loves long runs on early Saturday mornings and feels most alive when she is out on a trail taking deep breaths of fresh air.

In one sentence, what is yoga to you?

Yoga is self-love.

How did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga as a way to stretch it out after long runs. I have begun incorporating more and more yoga into my training schedule and have found the benefits to be more than just a good stretch.

What does your practice look like now on the mat and off the mat?

I try to work as much yoga as possible into my weekly routine. I still run a lot but adding yoga helps me remember to slow down. Even 10 minutes of yoga in the morning helps clear my head for the day. Yoga has become a part of loving my body and my time to take a deep breath. I love yoga challenges on Instagram and connecting with other yogi’s.

Favorite pose & why?

Warrior, because it makes me feel strong.

How has yoga made your life better?

Yoga is a practice and it reminds me every day that life isn’t perfect. That I’m not perfect. My time spent on the mat helps me to be patient with myself in other areas of my life too.

instagram: @mandijstewart
website: http://mandijstewart.com/

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Prenatal Yoga Sequence for Health and Vitality

Yoga for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is hard work and yet equally amazing. You are creating a human inside of you. I adored being pregnant, yet I know that isn't the same for every woman. Pregnancy comes with a lot of changes. You are tired. Your body starts to become unfamiliar. Your feet start to swell. You have to wake up to pee every night. With all the not so lovely parts of pregnancy, there are the parts that leave you without words. The moment you hear the heartbeat, and know, even thought it's not visible yet, that you created life. The first time you feel that flutter, and you're not quite sure if it was a kick, but then you feel it again and again. It's how you start to know your baby before you even really know them. It's the connection. 

That is one of the beautiful things that yoga can do for you through your pregnancy. It is a time where you get to move your body and connect with your baby. I swear that yoga had a huge influence on my pregnancy. I felt good the whole way through. It kept me fit and prepared me for childbirth. Use this sequence to help build strength and connect with your unborn baby. 

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1. Supported Hero Pose 

Using a block for support (or a stack of books if you don't have a block), sit upright allowing the shoulders to drop away from the ears. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Start by just noticing the breath. Repeat one of the following affirmations: My baby and I are one. I choose to be healthy and vibrant. I am connected. I trust my body.

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2. Cat and Cow Tilts

Start by coming to all fours. Stack your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and knees underneath the hips. On your inhale, drop your belly towards the ground looking up to the sky. On your exhale, begin to round your back pushing up through your upper thoracic spine. 

3. Child's Pose 

Bring your toes together and your knees to the outside edges of your mat. This creates space for your growing belly. Sink your hips back and breathe. Use this pose during any yoga class as a way to come back to your breath and rest if needed. 

4. Downward-Facing Dog 

From all fours spread your hands pressing evenly into the palms. Start to curl your toes and lift your hips up and back. If you feel tight in the hamstrings, bring a gentle bend to your legs. This pose is beneficial in pregnancy, especially if baby is breached, as it gives baby some room. 

5. Goddess Squat

Start with feet a little wider than hip-width apart and feet at a 45 degree angle. Sink the hips down and use the elbows to increase the stretch. Modify this pose by sitting on a block. This pose is wonderful for pregnancy as it relieves lower back pain, opens up the hips, and starts to prepare the body for childbirth. 

6. Forward Fold 

Roll up from goddess squat keeping the feet a little wider than than the hips and fold forward. Keep a generous bend in the legs and let your head be heavy. 

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6. Warrior II 

From standing, step your right foot back 4 - 4 1/2 feet apart. Start to bend the front leg working towards 90 degrees. Settle into the pose and release any tension in the shoulders. Reach through each hand and gaze past your front hand. Come back to your affirmation and remember, you are a warrior. Repeat on the other side 

7. Tree Pose

From mountain pose start to shift your weight into your right foot. Bring your left foot onto your ankle, calf, or thigh staying away from your knee. Find a focus point or drishti. Engage your core as you reach your arms up. This pose can be challenging as your belly grows, but you can do it!

8. Bridge Pose

Place the soles of your feet on the ground and walk your heels towards your sit bones. Keeping your legs parallel, lift your hips towards the sky. An option is to use a block underneath your sacrum (like in the picture) and come into supported bridge. This pose helps to ease back pain, which can be common in pregnancy.

9. Supported Bound-Angle Pose

Place a bolster along your back (if you don't have a bolster, use a few pillows) to support you. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees come out the side. If this is too much for your hips, place a block under each knee. Close your eyes and place your hands on your belly. Repeat the affirmation you did at the beginning.

10. Savasana

This is perhaps the most important pose of all. Our bodies are doing SO much work during pregnancy, and it is so important to give ourselves time to sloooooooow down. Roll over onto your left side and place a bolster between your legs. With your eyes closed, bring your focus onto your breath and work to let go of all the chatter that finds its way into our minds. Give yourself this time to rest.

Labor Relaxation Tip: 

**Disclosure - labor is not relaxing. Our bodies are running a full marathon as we prepare to bring this sweet life into the world, but if we can use some of these practices, we can get through it a little bit easier, and remember, we can do hard things. 

Use a relaxing essential oil blend throughout your pregnancy. Put a drop or two on your feet before your practice. Take that oil with you when you go into labor to help you relax and remind yourself to breathe. My favorites: Lavender, Stress Away, Peace & Calming.

BREATHE

Use a relaxing playlist during your practice and take that music with you when you go into labor.  Sign up below for a FREE playlist. 

Namaste,

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Tell Me Your (Yoga) Story: Mary Beth

Mary Beth LaRue

Meet Mary Beth LaRue. She's a yoga teacher, writer and mentor and the co-founder of Rock Your Bliss. She's most inspired by people who live authentically and are "in the work." She loves her home practice in her sunroom, reading anything and everything, and exploring places/poses/ideas/concepts.

In one sentence, what is yoga to you? 

Creativity, embodiment and connection all wrapped into one deliciously challenging on and off the mat practice.

How did you start practicing yoga? 

I was at my first job out of a college and stuck at a desk all day long. I felt out of whack physically for sure, but most of all I felt really, really depressed. I'd taken a few yoga classes before but when I stepped onto my mat one day mid-fall that was it. The teacher taught a spacious, compassionate class and I came home to myself (briefly!) and that was that.

What does your practice look like now on the mat and off the mat? 

Very slow, very meditative and always creative!

Favorite pose & why? 

Sphinx - simultaneously grounding and heart opening!

How has yoga made your life better? 

It has made my perspective so much more spacious and compassionate.

instagram: marybethlarue
twitter: marybethlarue
facebook: mblarueyoga

Tell Me Your (Yoga) Story: Alex

Alex McDowell

Meet Alex. She's a 26 year old with a passion for health, wellness, life, and people. She lives in Stillwater, MN and loves spending time with her fiance, Jordan, friends, and family. Alex spends her time attending church, going to yoga, working out at Alchemy, running, camping, reading, traveling meeting new people, and laying in hammocks (just to name a few!).

What makes you come alive?

Laughter. When I am laughing and enjoying the people I am with, I am completely in the moment. I feel so alive and fulfilled in that moment. Laughter is so good for our souls.
"A day without laughter is a day wasted." - Charles Chaplin

In one sentence, what is yoga to you?

Yoga is a practice where you get real, grounded, refreshed, energized, grow, and have connection within and with those around you.

How did you start practicing yoga?

I began practicing yoga in high school with my mom. She would take me to evening classes with her. She told me it was good for me to take a break from my sports and to come to my mat. During that time, I didn’t fully realize all the benefits I was reaping from the yoga I was taking. I knew I felt amazing after, but didn’t fully immerse myself into a weekly practice until a few years later. It was not until I left for college that I truly began my own yoga practice and realized all the benefits yoga had to offer me. During college, I attended classes and loved the energy and time away from everything else going on and allowing myself 60 minutes for me to recharge. I would say I really started my yoga practice 3 years ago when I started to take classes weekly, and then took the plunge into teaching.

What does your practice look like on the mat and off the mat?

On the mat my practice is me taking time to be as present as a I can, to let go of things that do not serve me, and to be in the moment, meeting myself where I am and using my practice as a time for me and whatever I need that day. Sometimes, I do not know what I need, and just by letting go of any negative energy or thoughts, I feel refreshed and energized. I take my yoga off of my mat by utilizing the power of presence. This is a challenge for me. When we come onto our mats it is us, a mat, sometimes a teacher guiding us, and our thoughts. When we leave that space, we have thousands of distractions coming our way, so I try to use my practice of being present on and off of my mat.

Favorite pose & why?

Currently, I would say my favorite pose is hurdlers pose. It challenges me in a variety of ways- physically and mentally. Right now I am stronger with the pose on one side than the other, but that is okay. That’s why I love the practice of yoga. We are reminded it is not about perfection. When we come into a pose each time it may look and feel different. Each side may be different in how they look and feel. Letting go of the idea that they need to be the same is a challenge sometimes, but it is okay and that is part of the yoga practice. Hurdlers pose is motivating me in my practice daily to continue on this yoga path and the ever-changing practice.

How has yoga made your life better?

Yoga has helped me to discover who I am and who I want to be. It has allowed me to see the joy in this world just by looking around and seeing who surrounds you. It is not what we have, but whom we have in life. Yoga has taught me self-love, although I am still challenged by this daily. It has shown me a way to love myself and who I am. It has helped me to relieve stress, to become stronger, to be challenged mentally and physically, to be present and calm, to slow down. Yoga has had such a positive and strong influence on not only my life, but also those around me. It has brought so much joy to me and that is why I chose to become a yoga teacher, to share the goodness of yoga that I have found with my students.

Instagram: alexandraluciam  
Website: roadtodiscoverymn

A Lesson in Authenticity

This past week, I spent  five days in Colorado with my husband and daughter. I had this fantasy of going on long hikes in the Rockies with Elmarie strapped on my back looking up at the trees and loving every moment of it.

Well, here was the reality: We started the hike and she got way too cold because I didn’t dress her properly (parent fail), she only stayed in the carrier for about one mile and then she started screaming, and screaming, and screaming. So, I took her out and carried her on my hip for the rest of the hike. This hike was supposed to be a 5-mile loop leading to a lake where we would eat the sandwiches I made and Ellie could maybe run around. Well, we kept walking and walking and walking and there was no lake. My husband started to panic because as we kept walking, Ellie kept getting colder. We finally accepted that we made a wrong turn or did something wrong, and called a rescue team to come get us when we finally got some service. We made it to the trail head and were greeted by a sheriff who proceeded to drive us 20 minutes back to our car. We never even ate the sandwiches!

This was not in my fantasy, but it was my reality.

I have been thinking a lot about the fantasy vs. the reality of things lately. After telling this story to someone, she said, “Wow! That makes me feel so much better because it makes me realize you’re just like me.” This stopped me in my tracks. What she was saying is that what we portray our lives to be especially on social media is hardly the full truth. The things that people don’t see is what makes us human.

The truth is…

I sometimes cry because I have no idea if I’m doing this whole parenting thing right.
I struggle with body image.
I swear too much.
I had to grow up way too fast.
I care too much what people think of me.
I suck at doing laundry and cooking.
I started a garden and only got one deformed tomato.
I drove on top of a car once.
I miss my family.

The list goes on and on…

These messy parts of our life make us feel less alone.

Everyone has a story and everyone has a struggle.
 

We get to choose how we show-up in the world and how we treat others.
Let go of judgment.
Choose compassion. Choose kindness. 

Be authentic.

Show up as you are, not how you think you should be.
Stop comparing yourself to others.

Just do you.

Muddy Waters Yoga is founded on the idea that life is muddy. There are so many examples of this in today's world. Our work is trying to find some ease in the muddiness.

Share your muddy story on facebook or instagram.
#lifeismuddy #beatease #beauthentic
 

All the love