Monday, September 19, 2016

An Interview with Holly Conti, CSOY Alum and Co-founder of Good Morning Guru

What is Good Morning Guru? 
Good Morning Guru is a daily blog that focuses on meditation, movement & healthy meals to encourage exploration of self awareness and strengthen a connection with your holistic Self. We post weekdays starting with a Monday Mantra and ending with recipes and mindful insights. The blog is written by Shauna Keeler, a registered dietician and Holistic Chef and I. I focus on the meditation, movement and mindful insights while Shauna shares her knowledge of food and cooking.

Where did the idea for Good Morning Guru come from? 
Good Morning Guru is all about highlighting the pathways to inner knowing. Although there are many online spaces that share health and wellness tidbits, we wanted to create a space that didn’t just give a formula for healthy living but encouraged honest and varied exploration. By sharing our own personal journeys toward self-connection it is our hope that others feel the freedom and support to do the same. 

Since you started Good Morning Guru, what have you learned about blogging and online communities?  
The more you do it the easier it gets. I dreamt about blogging for years before we began GMG but I was always too intimidated by the big bad wide world of web. Once I finally began sharing my writing I realized it wasn’t so scary as it had seemed and that friends and strangers alike were super supportive. 

How does blogging fit into your life as a yoga teacher?
I’ve found that in the yoga room my energy is very external. I am giving and sharing, projecting my voice and offering support to others. As a blogger I am still sharing but from a very internal place. When I write I am by myself I am in a quiet space nurturing my inner thoughts. I love being outgoing when I teach but I wouldn’t be able to sustain that energy without also turning inward to explore my voice on my own. 

What is one of your favorite morning meals and why do you like it so much?
Currently I am all about the berries! I start with a handful of berries moments after I get out of bed. About a 1/2 hour later I have a soft boiled egg with g-free bread and avocado. I find that carbs suit me best in the morning and the avocado toast reminds me of my 200-hour Teacher Training with Gina, Kathryn and Caitlin!  

Would you share one of your recipes with us here?
For sure! I let Shauna choose one because they are her recipes, after all. One is a main and one is a yummy desert - enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How I Fell In Love WIth The Moon

by Courtney Brown, CSOY Alum, Aspen 2015

I'm the hyper, spazzy, have-way-more-energy than one person will ever need type of gal. Let’s just say I'm not known for being a calm, grounded person. Yoga obviously helps. My breathing practice keeps me more centered and less reactive. But I always have to try really hard to get chill out.

It will come as no surprise then that I usually gravitate towards high energy, high impact, super sweaty activities. Biking, hiking, running, rollerblading, weightlifting, excessive back flipping on trampolines, DANCING! And do hardly any of it slowly, or with much mindfulness.

I’ve spent my whole life feeding my solar, activity-loving personality to the point that my greatest challenges lie in winding down, not winding up. Yoga has helped me see and understand that while it’s OK for me to be the sun-worshiper that I am, I also need to bring more lunar qualities into my life to restore balance and promote my health and well-being. Recently, I've been seeking ways to bring more yin to my yang and discover what compliments my type A-ish overactive lifestyle and how that balance ultimately serves my relationships.

Balancing my solar personality is about more than just changing my yoga practice. I have to pump the breaks in nearly all areas of my life. I have made little shifts like breathing with more intention when I notice my breath, turning my dog walks into moving meditations, and hiking with the purpose of feeling the journey rather than focusing on the destination. Just sloooooowing down, like when I walk from my car to the grocery store. I’ve been consciously choosing different ways to interact and starting saying yes to mellow activities, even when my patterning was screaming to go hard.

Since I am a yoga teacher and fitness instructor, I’ve also considered how the type of classes I teaches impacts my own personal balance. Instead of the powerful classes full of cardio bursts I got used to teaching, I've been focusing on minimal flows, a bit of core awareness, breathing, stretching and practicing stillness. I ask my students to stay connected to their breath and practice “just letting be”.

In addition to shifting the way I teach my regular classes, I started offering a summer deep stretch class. Being in Aspen, Colorado, I know a lot of my community is out hiking and biking during the summer months. This offering is a place for my students to unwind from their activity-filled days and ease into a more parasympathetic (rest, digest and relax) state. I watch them breathe into their bellies, move gently and by the end of the practice they feel calm and focused. Observing this change in them reinspires and reminds me to practice lunar yoga as part of my own self-care.

If you are like me, and have always been attracted to extreme sports, constant activity and reaching new peaks but you know the benefit of bringing awareness to your softer, calmer and grounded side, instead of trying to make huge shifts, take the first step of making small changes. Once a week, go to that gentle, restorative or yin yoga classes as an experiment. Notice if discomfort or agitation arises at first and recognize that is habituation speaking, nothing more. It’s not you, just habits speaking up. Notice how you feel afterwards. Once in awhile, practice moving more slowly when you are walking through the world, doing your usual things. Drive a little slower or more mindfully. Say yes to being in nature in a relaxed state - like floating down a lazy river or doing a walking meditation. Lay down and look up at the tops of the trees and the sky. I can testify that breathing slowly and deeply is magical and that calm is possible even for the most energetic humans.

Courtney Brown is full of energy and has no problem finding new ways to channel it in her current home, Aspen, CO. She has a B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Colorado and a Master's in Childhood Education from Bank Street College. Her degrees have helped her as a classroom teacher as well as a yoga teacher. She is certified in Karma Kids Yoga, Vinyasa Flow from the Colorado School of Yoga, Yoga Mom Buddha Baby, and Cardio Pilates.