Reap your Bounty

It seems like I’ve been hunting for health and gathering gems of wellness my entire adult life. From successful weight loss late in high school, to battling an autoimmune-thyroid disease, to changing my career focus, yoga has been a reliable ally for me. That’s why I perused teaching yoga; and even though I didn’t realize it when I became certified, that is what peaked my interest in career coaching. I believe everyone deserves to experience their best life – to experience the full bounty this life has to offer.

So what is Bountiful Life?
It’s basically just me doing my thing — sharing what I’ve learned through teaching yoga (see class schedule below) and helping people discover their passions.Soon, I hope to have this website up and running complete with a weekly to bi-weekly blog. Writing is definitely my first passion and I am thrilled to be able to write about yoga, health and wellness! My goal with the blog is to do a weekly recap slash expand-upon what I’ve been teaching in my yoga classes. I also plan to throw in a post about careers, life passions, bettering your situation, etc. So look for that soon.Right now I have my hands full with teaching my first yoga classes. By the New Year I hope to have a handle on juggling my new baby, blog and teaching, at that time I’ll be open to scheduling career coaching sessions.

So who am I exactly?

I’m Shawnee Randolph. I live in Salem with my husband, brand-new daughter and fury-mutt child. I completed my Bachelor’s degree at Corban University and majored in English: Journalism. Out of college I worked in administrative-office type positions and eventually made my way back to Corban where I worked as an admissions counselor for 2.5 years and became a certified CareerMatch ™ coach.

After taking the CareerMatch ™ test myself and talking with my supervisor it was clear that my calling (and by the way, as cheesy as it may sound, my true heart’s desire) was to become a freelance writer/yoga teacher/lifestyle coach. In 2011 I decided to follow my passion for yoga and completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training at Heartsong Yoga in Beaverton, Or. Now, after leaving Corban and having my baby in April 2012, I am ready to reap my bounty. Come join me!

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Yoga for Mommies and Mommies to Be

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching two new classes designed for mommies and mommies to be starting in October.

Mommy and Me Yoga is designed for new mommies (or daddies) with babies 0-9 months. New parents will get a chance to do yoga, bond with their baby and spend time with other parents. As a new mom, I know how hard it can be to get out of the house to exercise and socialize.  That’s why I am very excited to teach and be a part of this unique class.

This fun style of yoga allows parents to get in some much needed exercise and stretching while interacting with their precious little one at the same time.  Many may wonder what kind of a workout they can get in a class that involves their baby, but this class will not be that different from a traditional yoga class.  Sometimes baby will hang out on the mat while we do some Warrior stances, or sometimes we will incorporate baby into the poses.

Prenatal Yoga is a gentile workout in a safe environment for expecting moms to practice yoga, meet other expecting mommies and bond with their growing baby. This class will offer modifications to classic yoga poses to help moms stretch, build strength and create space for their growing baby belly. I did yoga all throughout my pregnancy and recovery from delivery and I fully believe yoga and staying active helped me recover from delivery.

Mommy and Me Yoga will begin October 2 and will be held on Tuesdays and Fridays at 1:30 p.m. Prenatal will begin Thursday, October 25 at 7 p.m.  Both classes will be held at Yoga Revolution in Salem, Oregon.  For more information about the studio, prices and packages please contact them at (503) 580-1705 or info@yogarevo.com

Thoughts on Hot Yoga: Did you know your legs could sweat?

I didn’t.  Not until I tried hot yoga.

Temperature of 100+ degrees.  Flowing from Down Dog, to Chataranga, to Up Dog…  Yeah, my legs sweated.  Everything sweated.

Everything sweated and I loved it.  It is kind of sick and twisted, if you think about it.  Doing a Vinyasa class is one thing, but one who does it in a 100 degree room could be considered a glutton for punishment.

But really, it wasn’t that bad.  I went into it thinking I’d surely pass out.  In fact, I never ever wanted to try a hot yoga class.  Never.  I don’t like hot.  And I heard it probably really wasn’t that good for you anyway.  But after having a baby and carrying around extra weight for so long, my body ached.  My knees hurt and my lower back hurt (aka my SI Joint).  After I began teaching at Yoga Revolution, I started to get curious about it.  I watched as participants came out happy and smiling  and talking about how good they felt; how it was good for joint pain and detoxing.

That’s essentially why I gave it a go: joint pain and detoxing.  I’m currently in the middle of a 60 day detox (or Reboot if you’ve heard of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead) and I figured I’d give my body a little boost for clearing out toxins.  I am literally drenched in sweat by the end of my workout.  I smell all sorts of funky. Yeah, I’d say I’m detoxing.

As a 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher I must give some warning/advice on taking a hot yoga class.  If you haven’t heard, (as I have numerous times by a family member who happens to be a chiropractor) hot yoga can overstretch the muscles, and this is not good.  The other day I was approached by a beginning student who asked if hot yoga was good for beginners.

My honest opinion: no.  For the very reason that there is the danger of overstretching the muscles.  If you are a beginner and have never taken a yoga class or have been practicing for less than a year, I would say to avoid hot yoga for a while.  At least until you know what your body is capable of doing.  For example if you know you normally use a block in Wide-leg Standing Forward Bend, don’t touch your head to your mat just because you feel like you can.

Hot yoga is not for everyone, especially not pregnant women.  I overheard a teacher (not at YR) telling a pregnant woman it was ok to do hot yoga. Um? No.  Pregnant women do not want to get over heated.  It’s bad for them and their baby.

Otherwise, if you have been practicing yoga for awhile and want to give it a try, go for it!  Just hydrate well, don’t push yourself, stand up slowly from poses and take it easy.

And yes, your legs will sweat.

Restorative Yoga + Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea “Latte”

Does it get any better?

Restorative yoga and pumpkins and chai.  Not to mention cool crisp air, a changing sunset in the leaves, scarves, rainy days in, candles… All of these things represent one word for me: Fall.  My absolute favorite season.  For whatever reason it has become more of a “New Years” to me than the day itself.

It’s a chance for me to start over.  Or in yoga terms, to set my intentions.  It’s the kick off of the holidays — of time with family. Generally my only resolution is to soak it all in.  To experience the Harvest Festivals, pumpkin carving, decorating for Halloween, and to be truly thankful.

Restorative Yoga is a wonderful way to soak it all in.  I’ve been teaching my Slow Flow/Restorative class at Yoga Revolution since July.  For the past two weeks, it finally feels “right.”  Now when I teach, it’s dark outside, rather than the sun blaring through the windows.  It’s cool outside when I arrive.  Walking into a warm, post-hot yoga studio is so inviting.

It’s not just the atmosphere of the studio either.  It is as if my students are giving off this vibe that they are finally ready to relax.  There is less fidgeting and more calm in each of their poses.

If you’ve never been to a full restorative class, you should probably make it a goal.  They are wonderful classes to help you rest, relax, and renew.

In the mean time here are 3 steps to help you kick off a more relaxing Fall season:

1. Light candle. Preferably pumpkin spice, vanilla or apple cinnamon.

2. Do Slow Flow/Restorative Practice below.

3.  Make Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte below.

 

Tadasana (Mountain Pose)- Recap for Fundamentals Class

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When climbing life’s mountains it is necessary to provide for yourself a firm and solid foundation so you can get through the peaks and valleys with as few bruises as possible.  Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is one of the most foundational poses in yoga from which all the standing poses stem.  Just like in life, in yoga, it is important for you to have a steady foundation for a safe and magnanimous practice.

Here is some important alignment from the summit to the peak (aka from the feet to the head)…

Feet:

Stand on your mat with your feet hip distance apart, toes facing forward.  Ground all four corners of your feet into the mat (base of the big toe, inside of the heel, base of the pinky toe, outside of the heel).  Spread your toes.  Feel the energetic lift of your arches reaching all the way to your groin and continuing through the crown of your head.

Knees, Thighs, Hips and Lower Back

Firm your thighs by lifting your knee caps (not locking them).  Draw your thighs back feeling your sit bones spread (place a block between your thighs and draw it back). Feel your tailbone reaching towards the ground without flattening your lower lumbar region (as you draw your tailbone down, you’ll feel the block move slightly forward).

Shoulders and Chest

Drop the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Draw the shoulder blades down your back and then kiss the tips of the shoulder blades together.  As your shoulder blades spread across your back you should feel a nice opening of your chest and collar bones.  Be careful not to push your ribs out.  Think about your sternum (the bone that connects the ribcage) as a sword in its sheath.  A sword does not bow, but comes straight out of the sheath. This will help you lift and expand your chest, without pushing those ribs forward.

Neck and Head

Move the base of your skull back so that your ears come in line with your shoulders.  Keep your chin parallel to the ground.

Allow your arms to dangle at your side.  Welcome to Tadasana.

Come back next week as we tackle Vrksasana (Tree Pose).

Check out Yoga Journal for additional information about Mountain Pose.Image

Tree Pose (Vrksasana) Recap from Fundamentals

vrksasanaSo, I’ve been slacking off on getting my Fundamental Yoga class recaps posted, and since we’re gearing up for our final 5 weeks, I thought I better get a move on!  I am going to try to post on every other day until I’m caught up.  After that, I want to start writing on some other topics including a reoccurring series called “Eat like a Yogi.”  I am excited about that one as I used to have a food blog and miss it, kind of.

Alignment/Tips for Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Stand on your mat with your feet hip distance a part, toes facing forward.  Ground all four corners of your feet into the mat (base of the big toe, inside of the heel, base of the pinky toe, outside of the heel).  Spread your toes.  Feel the energetic lift of your arches reaching all the way to your groin and continuing through the crown of your head.

Begin to switch your weight into your left leg. Lift your right foot off the ground, as you start to bend your knee.  Place your foot on your ankle, calf or thigh (never the knee) as you open your knee out to the right.

For added support, press your foot into your standing leg and your leg into your foot (this is easier if done with the foot on the calf or thigh as the ankle may not feel stable enough).  This will help to create a new focus for balance.  From that place lengthen all the way through the crown of your head.  Bring your hands together in prayer position.  Relax through your shoulders, drawing the shoulder blades together to create openness in the chest.  Make sure your ribs aren’t pushing out.  Gently draw your belly button in towards your spine.  Breathe.  Once you feel stable grow your branches by raising your arms out over head.

If you can, practice in front of a mirror, notice if as you place your right foot on your calf, did your right hip hike up?  If so, work to lower that hip so it is even with the left side.  I worked with one lady who experienced the opposite.  Her right hip actually lowered and she had to work to raise that hip.

In class I was asked about the lifted leg being completely parallel with the rest of the body. (Think about standing up against a wall and your whole lifted leg being flesh against the wall.)  This is something that could happen over time as psoas muscles and hips begin to release the more you practice yoga.  Or, it may never happen as everyone’s bodies are different.  For now, work on your balance and even hips.

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Eat Like a Yogi: The One Bowl Method

Thanks for visiting! This post was written before I adopted an intuitive eating/anti-diet approach to eating. However, he idea of eating from one bowl still intrigues me, and it must also intrigue others as it continues to be my most visited blog post! I no longer write here at YogawithsShawnee.com. However, I recently started a new blog called Sunday Morning Yoga at www.sundaymorningyoga.com. I’m considering a regular One-Bowl featured post in the future. Please hop on over to my new blog and give me a like and a follow so you don’t miss out when it happens. For now, enjoy The One-Bowl method.

You know when you have one of those profound ideas – one of those ideas in which you are absolutely certain nobody else but you, in the history of humanity, could have possibly dreamed  up.  I had one of those thoughts recently.

This idea that I should just eat like a monk kept circulating in my mind.  I had no idea what it meant.  I just had this picture of a monk sitting in silence, getting his one bowl filled with food, expecting nothing else and being totally content.

one bowlI thought, that’s a perfect a book or cook book.  I’m gonna do it.  I’m gonna eat like a monk.  So I googled it.  Turns out there are countless articles about how eating like a monk is very beneficial to your health and can reduce weight, heart disease and cancer.  There was also a book written in the 70s called “One Bowl” and there are a few cookbooks based off of a monk-inspired three bowl eating.

Shucks.

After letting the disappointment that I did not in fact have a totally unique idea soak in, I decided to investigate further.  Turns out there is a Catholic Monastery where the monks use two bowls, and it is traditional of Buddhist monks to use three nesting bowls at each meal.

After checking out “One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit” by Don Gerald from the library and reading through the first chapter, I discovered the idea of eating from just one bowl actually stems from Buddha himself.  When he started his pilgrimage as Siddhartha, he took just one bowl with him and relied on others to fill up his bowl at each meal.  I am guessing there were some meals where he went without.

The goal of one bowl, two bowl or three bowl eating is to eat in a mindful, appreciative and quiet manner, helping you to become better attune to your body, to your food, to those who prepared your food and to the earth.  It’s kind of a sweet practice.

For the past three days I’ve been eating from just one bowl.  I have a smaller two cup bowl and a larger bowl that I am designating for salads and less calorically dense food.

Today I actually used two bowls for lunch.  I had a small leafy salad in my small bowl and in my large bowl I had chicken bone broth with two small gluten free toast boats carrying two roughly poached eggs.

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It was beautiful , nutritious, and incredibly comforting on this rainy March day.  And I did find myself more mindful of my food.  I thought about the organic spring mix growing in rows; the chicken roaming on the farm; my mom gathering the eggs; and the bone broth I let simmer all day long.

During the past few days I’ve been trying this idea, I’ve found myself drawn to nutritious foods.  Since nutrition is very important to me, I want to fill my bowls with food that will be the most nourishing to my body and soul.

As I continue this journey, you can follow my one bowl eating on Instagram.  Additionally, I hope to share a few one bowl recipe ideas and a book review on my blog as well.

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Props: An Extension of Self

My name is Shawnee.  I am a Yoga Teacher.  And I use props.

Gasp!  Oh, don’t worry your pretty little head m’dear…

I don’t just use props in my classes.  I use props in my own practice too.  Props are wonderful!  I love blocks, straps, chairs, walls, bolsters, sandbags… if it has the potential to be a prop, I’ll use it!

However, many students don’t feel as passionately about props as I do.  In many yoga classes props have become a tell-tale sign for the physically weak, for the less stretchy, or for the faint of heart…

Pfft. *rolls eyes*Puh-lease!

Obviously, I disagree.

Before reading on, make a mental note of the reasons to use props.  Go on…

Here are the most likely reasons for using props:

1.) Because a student is less flexible.

2.) I dunno, because the teacher said so?

3.) To avoid injury.

Yes, yes, yes. All very valid reasons (btw, because “the teacher said so” is a VERY valid reason).  But I would also like to offer up reason # 4 and #5…

4.) Because props are fun.

5.) To experience the pose.

Take Tkonasana (Triangle) as an example.  Time and time again, I tell students to use a block behind the outside of their front ankle, dropping their hand onto the block.  Why?  Because I said so? Well, yes, but also because I know when my student doesn’t use the block, the head of their humerous (the top of the upper arm bone) will drift towards the ground, making their heart center collapse, and their ribs round up towards the ceiling.  Not very often do I see a student who is totally open in this pose.  That’s why I tell students to use the block.

Not just to avoid injury, or because the student has tight shoulders, but so the student can experience the pose — so the student can experience an open heart and a lengthening spine.

props, yoga blocks, yoga props, yoga straps, king dancer's pose, mermaid pose, bountiful life, yoga with shawnee, yoga revolution, yoga salem oregon, salem oregon, Salem Kroc Center, Indigo Wellness Center

Recently in my own practice I used a block in Mermaid Pose and a strap in King Dancer Pose.  The block took pressure off my achy knees so I could more gracefully come into a backbend and reach my foot towards my head.  In King Dancer Pose, the strap helped me bring my arms over head.

The props became an extension of myself.  The block became my sitting bones and the strap became my arms.  I could not experience these poses otherwise.

So I challenge you, rather than feel weak and feeble when you use props, feel strong, proud and accomplished.  Let yourself feel a sense of “I did it!”

And as your teacher places a block behind your front ankle in Triangle, open your heart with grace and extend your loving energy through your block, allowing it become an extension of self. signiture copy

Eat like a Yogi: My One Bowl Conclusion

About a month ago, I set out on a solitary, one bowl eating journey. I planned to eat from my one bowl, like a monk.

A fitting photo from Yoga Journal’s short article “Make Peace with your Plate.” February 2013.

Content. Peaceful. Honoring life. Honoring my body.
Well, one path lead to another and I quickly changed routs. I got through about the first four chapters of the book, “One Bowl: A Guide to Eating for Body and Spirit” by Don Gerald.  Turns out it’s more of a workbook, trying to get you to journal your thoughts and feelings about your relationship with food.
By all means, it did make me think. And my thoughts were very profound. But no man and no book, could ever get me to journal. I dream about beings journaling fool…but apparently not in this life. This is where I lost interest with the book and found that other path, just off to the left, hidden behind some bushes…
I’ve toyed with the idea of going Paleo for a while now.  Ever since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and told to cut gluten.  But I could never quite get past that emotional connection to eating grains.
In the four short chapters I did read of “One Bowl,” I partook in quite a bit of soul searching about my connection to food and my emotional dependency.  So my discovering One Bowl eating wasn’t for naught.  One Bowl eating was my final turning point to embracing the grain free, paleo lifestyle.
So how can one be a yogi and follow a hunter- gatherer, caveman eating lifestyle?  It would make an interesting blog topic wouldn’t it?  Stay tuned my friends, and I’ll gladly share my thoughts.
P.S.  You can follow me eats on Instagram, if you’re curious: Instagram.com/yogishawnee!
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An Open Heart by Design

This month in my hatha classes (see schedule) we’re working our way towards Ardha Chapasana (Sugarcane pose).  Yes, that’s right, working our way towards, as there is much going on in this pose.
To access the fullness of Sugarcane a student needs to have core strength for balance and back-bending, long hamstrings and quads, open shoulders, hips, and a very open heart.
My hatha classes are level 1-2, but open to all levels.  So when I demonstrate our “fun pose of the month,” which is generally a level 2-3 pose like Sugarcane, I get a little glimpse of anxiety shining wildly from a few of my student’s eyes.
I assure them that we will most definitely be using props throughout the month to help them arrive at the fullness of the pose.  For example, this past week, we practiced Sugarcane on our knees and this week used a chair.  But even with the assurance of the props and assistance, I can still feel their tension.
Aha! So There was a reason behind designing my first lesson on opening the heart.
By the time we reached our modification of Sugarcane on the floor, my student’s open hearts had melted their fear.  By the time they got to Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) with the option to try the full Sugarcane, the mood had shifted even further from anticipation to excitement.
Yoga is funny that way.
 It’s a physical practice that oftentimes has an emotional response.  In life, as in yoga, it isn’t uncommon for one to harden the heart towards the new or unknown.  It’s scary to try something new!
At then end of my classes I challenged my students to pay attention to their hearts as they go about their week.  Perhaps, they will find themselves open to new people or situations.
I challenge you to do the same!  Try opening your heart physically to see how it effects you emotionally.  Here are my favorite poses to open the heart and prepare for Sugar Cane…
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
  • Uttanasana (Forward bend with hands over head variation) -Use a strap instead of clasping hands if the shoulders are too tight.
  • Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana (Bound Side Angle Pose) -Bring one hand on knee and other hand to hip or small of back, if the full pose is too difficult.
  • Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2)signiture copy