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Tell ‘Overwhelm’ to Get Bent

“Ban OVERWHELMED from your vocabulary. Refuse it entry to your psyche.”

This was what I heard in a podcast a couple of years ago by Danielle LaPorte.  Then she said,

“I think when people use the word OVERWHELM, they are hanging out in EGO.”

Wait…WHAT?? My jaw hung open a bit. Here’s the deal…I pretty much used to hang out in Overwhelm. There was a Barcolounger with my name on it at the corner of Stress and Busy-ness.

You too?

Ahimsa invites to explore balance. It invites us to see if we can find that beautiful sweet spot where shit happens and you’re like, “Yup…shit happens” versus running around like your hair is on fire yelling,

“OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLEVERYTHINGISCOMINGAPARTATTHESEAMS!”

Ahimsa asks us to invite steadiness and ease not just into our asana practice, but into our life.

Imbalance and Overwhelm set us up for violence – towards ourselves or others. And EVERY DAY life offers up situations to push us off of our center.

The first thing to really get ahold of is that inviting balance isn’t a head thing. You can’t think, plan, organize, file, highlight or collate your way to balance (believe me I’ve tried <cough, cough Virgo>.)

Balance is a gut thing.

It’s the small voice within that if you push a microphone up to it and really listen says things like,

  • “No thank you! I have too much on my plate.”
  • “I’m tired.”
  • “I need some time to myself.”
  • “Get me out of here.”

And that sweet voice needs to be heard and honored. Because when it’s ignored, it will create the groundwork for disharmony, discord, disconnection, dis-ease…for all of the dis’s.

When you invite balance, you start listening and honoring the needs of your SELF.  Then, the elusive Balance will light on your shoulder like a butterfly. And when it comes, your inner voice will sing.

“Balance creates harmony within us, and harmony within naturally expresses itself in external actions that are harmonious,” writes Yamas & Niyamas author Deborah Adele.

Yes. May we all find our center, our breath, our steady, our ease and allow for Ahimsa.

…Come sweet Balance. Light on my shoulder. I’ll create the space and I will honor you. Through balance, let Ahimsa flourish within me and through me…

Namaste, Sarah

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Being Fearless…or being fearful but saying f(*&k it and doing it anyway…

What scares you?

I used to be AFRAID OF EVERYTHING. The unfamiliar made me want to just hide away.

As I look back, I realize I’ve spent the 2nd half of my life dancing with fear. Trying to get familiar with it and then tell it to “Piss off.”

Once when I decided to audition for a musical (o.m.g. terrifying) I called a friend virtually hyperventilating and she asked me, “WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS IF IT TERRIFIES YOU?”

Because it makes me feel powerful and alive. It makes me feel like I am the boss of me.

Things that have truly REDLIGHTTURNBACKDON’TDOTHIS terrified me:

  • *Leaving the safety and comfort of my first marriage.
  • *Moving to the Twin Cities on my own.
  • *Saying YES to new love.
  • *Marrying my husband after 5 months of dating (welp.)
  • *Taking on new jobs.
  • *Skydiving (every time scared the s(*&t out of me and I made 600+ jumps.)
  • *Going through IVF and not knowing if it would work.
  • *HAVING CHILDREN.
  • *Sometimes pressing PUBLISH when I post a blog.
  • *Taking tests (really…I am phobic.)

What are yours when you look back? What are those pivotal, terrifying things that made you want to wet your pants and run the other way?

Now…when you look back. Can you see in the rear view that those experiences made you and your life:

STRONGER

BIGGER

MORE INTERESTING

RICHER

MORE COLORFUL

This is living. This is living the shit out of your ONE AMAZING LIFE.

And that, my friends, is Ahimsa. That is having the courage to do the hard stuff having faith in yourself and the Universe that your life will be better for it. It’s not letting your FEAR make your life SMALL. It’s telling fear to “Piss Off.”

So last week I wrote a damn book report on this aspect of Ahimsa…and f&*k all if I didn’t have to write it all over again today…because I didn’t write it with heart. I wrote from a clinical and cold and fear-based place. It’s hard to put your shit out there. It’s scary to inject yourself into your work. It’s hard to remember that we’re ALL JUST TRYING TO FIGURE SHIT OUT. We’re all scared and trying to figure out how to deal with it.

Practice courage. Know that you are created to live. Know that the fear that keeps you from living your best life is a LIAR. And have faith in the stuff you are made of…it’s tough, resilient, and powerful.

Peace, Sarah

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Courage – Ahimsa

Background: The Yamas are the first step in the eight-fold path of enlightenment. The Yamas in Sanskrit mean “restraints.” And the first step of the Yamas is Ahimsa.

Ahimsa means Non-Violence.

Ahimsa is the jewel in the crown of yoga. The seat of yoga. The foundation of yoga. It is what all the rest of yogic philosophy stands upon.

I remember when I was first learning about Ahimsa in Yoga North Teacher Training and I was all like, “Check! ONE STEP CLOSER TO ENLIGHTENMENT! I’m not violent. I don’t hit anyone and hurt anyone.” Ummm, not quite. When you unpack the gift that is Ahimsa, you start to really see the subtle ways that we create violence within ourselves and within the world.

And our world, more than ever, needs Ahimsa.

If you haven’t read, “The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele, get yourself a copy. Deborah breaks down Ahimsa in the loveliest way. Her first exploration is around COURAGE. She explains that there are two kinds of Fear:

  • The good kind of Fear. The Fear that keeps you safe. “Danger! RUN!”
  • The not-so-good kind of Fear. The Fear that keeps you from living.

The world can feel like a scary place. And Fear can make your world become very small if you allow it.

And here’s the deal…Fear = Violence. Adele writes, “If we look closely, we can trace all of these acts of greed, control and insecurity back to their root: fear. Fear creates violence.”

Back in 2000 I moved to the Twin Cities, I didn’t know anyone, where to go, how to get anywhere, what to do. I felt trapped inside my fear. Day after day, I’d go to work and go back to my apartment. Then, I read a book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The book challenges you to do ONE NEW THING every day and those experiences will help fill your creative well. I accepted the challenge and made a list I’d always wanted to do and started checking them off of the list. My world expanded.

As Yoga North’s Molly McManus says, “You always want to be pressing your edges outward. That’s growth.”

A few things happened when I pressed outward on my edges:

  • I felt powerful and confident. I had nurtured COURAGE. I was COURAGEOUS.
  • My world got more colorful with experiences and people.
  • Indeed, my creative juices flowed more freely.
  • Fear no longer was the boss of me. I was the boss of me.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” There’s a Minnesota woman named Molly who based an entire blog called “Hey Eleanor” based this quote. She has done some WILD things all in the name of leaning into her fears and expanding her edges and she writes about each experience (watching a surgery, having a baby, skydiving) with humor and delight. Molly discovered what happens when you lean into your fears; she discovered that leaning into your fears is incredibly fertile ground.

And that’s the whole of it isn’t it? Living a life in color. Living a courageous life. Not letting our fears dictate and shrink our world.

Leaning in. It’s fertile ground for self-discovery, self-love, and self-confidence. Every day, lean in in the smallest of ways (it doesn’t have to be skydiving) and press your edges outward. Seek out opportunities that cause you to be a little nervous (saying hello to a stranger, going to a new restaurant, going to a social gathering where you don’t know anyone, taking a road trip, trying a new food etc.) and watch what happens. Fertile ground.

And that’s how Adele ends her chapter, with a week-long exploration in Courage:

“This week practice courage by doing one thing daily that you wouldn’t normally do…See if you can discern between fear and the unfamiliar. Watch what happens to your sense of self and how your relationships with others might be different because you are courageously stepping into unknown territory.”

See what happens. Lean into your fears. Expand your edges. Be courageous. Post below to let me know how it feels and what happens.

Namaste.

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Universal Roadblocks

Have you ever been working toward something that feels important to you, only to have the Universe put stuff in your way that slows you down or even stops you??

Those times piss me off. And they make me wonder what the lesson is and what I’m supposed to be learning from the onslaught of frustration that occurs when I’m getting roadblocks from the Universe.

This go around, after a year of playing it pretty conservatively at Crossfit, I decided to start adding more weight and exploring my own personal edges of strength. So, I started adding weight and making some progress annnnnd…

ROADBLOCK #1 – My back started bothering me again after a couple of years being pain-free.

Crap.

Back on the hamster wheel of trying to figure it out. Then, I start to get it figured out and start feeling better annnnnd….

ROADBLOCK #2 – I sprain my ankle doing burpees to box jumps.

Seriously what the f&*k people?

Now after about 4 weeks off of being able to exercise in a way that makes me feel good, I’M GOING CRAZY. I have begun konmari’ing my house (is that a verb?); I want to clean all of the things; and I don’t feel good because I’m not moving my body in a way that pleases me.

I feel like poop.

I’m standing in the middle of my discomfort. I’m standing in the eye of it.

Ever felt like this? What do you do?

For me, this is where some of the philosophy of yoga really serves – unhooking from discomfort and inviting peace in whatever situation I’m in (even if it doesn’t feel good.)

Back to my mat. Back to my breath. Back to moving mindfully and in a way that doesn’t invite injury. And when it’s time, I’ll go back to burpees to box jumps. But until then…abide.

When the Universe is putting up roadblocks, take a breath. Breathe in the idea that everything is unfolding in its own timing for your highest good. If you’re standing in the middle of a Universal Roadblock, slow down and breathe, release and allow…

Namaste, Sarah

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Rant. Belly hatred.

Let the rant begin:

Do you hate your tummy? It’s time to turn this train around and make some sweet peace with our Buddha Bellies.

1) Hey many of us grew BABIES IN THERE! Rockstars. So, love your belly – treat it kindly. Pat it, rub it, love it.

2) You can’t change skin. You can tone muscle and lose fat, but you can’t change skin. Mine is deliciously cellulitey because I’m mostly Irish, white skinned, and eat pizza. But I love it. I love me….

3) Loving yourself is a rebellious act in this culture!!!!!!!

4) ONE MORE THING – do you want to diet yourself into submission? I don’t. I want to be fit and healthy and love myself and eat good food and drink wine and laugh. Some trainers will say diet, diet, diet…I say live life, move, laugh and learn to love your belly.

Rant over. Namaste.

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Hey Fear…Piss.Off.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. And yesterday, I decided to tell FEAR to “Piss.off.”

About a month ago, I was asked to sub for some Power Yoga classes at a wonderful yoga studio called The Den Yoga. A couple of things tripped my trigger – the teachers there are trained differently than I am trained. And, I have a problem with remembering sequences. A BIG problem. But the sub dates were about two months off, so I was like, “Cool. I can figure this out in two months.”

Commence the stress dreams and non-stop mental masturbation. Ugh.

Did I mention I forget where the hell I am in the sequences (did I do the right side? Where the hell ARE we? What was I going to do next? Blah, blah, blah…) The same thing happens when I have to take a test…I know the information. But if you ask me, my brain just LOCKS THE HELL UP. Hugely stressful for me.

So now..it’s Mother’s Day. And I’m just hanging with my family and having such a beautiful day. And my friend Ginny who manages the studio puts a call out for someone to help her the next day (today) for two of her Power Yoga classes because she’s got laryngitis.

Me: Oh please someone answer her.

Me: Come on. Someone! Anyone? Bueller?

Nothing.

I realized that I was avoiding offering to sub for my sweet, sick friend because I.Was.Afraid.

Of failure, of making an ass of myself, of not doing it well, of doing something outside of my comfort zone, of of of of….the list goes on and on.

I picked up my damn phone and texted, “I’LL DO IT.”

Then, I invited all of my people to please come to the class. If I was going to go down in flames, let me do it with people I love and who will be kind to me.

Fear is a sticky, tarry mess. And you can get caught in it. And if you allow it, it will keep your world small.

If you’re faced with a situation that terrifies you, consider telling Fear to “Piss Off.” Expand your edges. Lean into your discomfort.

Because what’s the worst thing that can happen??? You fail? I fail?? Maybe… But maybe not. And whatever else happens – you didn’t let fear dictate your actions.

Because that feeling?? That crazy, terrified, ‘OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLAMIDOING???!!!’

That’s living.

ps – I had fun. It was fun. The class members seemed happy. We laughed. We moved our bodies.

Namaste, Sarah

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Body Love

I had a colleague ask this week for some suggestions about the weight around her middle. You have to understand, when I look at her she is strong – beautiful – amazing. So that she was asking me reminded me…

We all question our bodies.

And it’s NO WONDER. We’re being fed these crazy images of emaciated women being the norm. It makes every normal-sized woman question themselves.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but my actual giving a crap about what people expect me to look like is taking a nosedive. Most of the time I’m pretty much digging the skin I’m in.

Is that what it takes? Age? Did it just take me turning 47 to stop giving an actual F&*K? Worrying and fretting about how toned my arms are and that my butt is genetically the size of Nebraska? Does it take turning 47 to start enjoying life instead of obsessing about every.little.thing. I put in my mouth?

Do my poor daughters have to doubt their amazingness and their incredible beauty for 40 years? Do they have to question how incredible and strong their amazing bodies are for 40 years? Do they have to wonder what incredible gifts they are to this planet for 40 years?

My God I hope not.

Your body is a gift – to be cherished and adored and celebrated. It is a wonderful machine that does most of the things that you ask of it.  It should be washed in gratitude and loved fully.

When you wonder? Look at what you can do. When you doubt? Hug yourself tightly and remember that the whole of you is a gift. Your machine is a gift.

Replace the awful, punishing words we use on ourselves with love, kindness, tenderness, care. Wash yourself in self-compassion, self-delight, self-love, self-celebration.

Don’t wait for 40 years. I beg you.

Namaste, Sarah