Fall: Retreat, Release, Recharge


Hello Wobblers.

This whole summer has felt like a steaming cauldron of transformation, culminating with the Solar Eclipse last week.  I don’t know about all of you, but THIS summer in particular felt different.  Faster.  Imperative. Incendiary. Not the relaxed I-don’t-care-about-anything-for-the-whole-month-of-July feeling I usually enjoy having.  Though our class attendance took its typical warm-weather-in-the-Northland dip, everything outside the yoga studio in our country and culture feels accelerated and preparatory.  What is all the prep for? How about expansion?  Claiming our voices.  Standing in our truth.  Healing wounds.  Creating space for what is next for us. It is big work, indeed.

To balance the transformative hot-bed in the skies above and the earth below, I propose this:  Let’s get away for awhile and sit with our summer season of change.  Let’s come back to yoga that honors ALL of our bodies at the studio.  Let’s sit in on the upcoming Wellness Wobble series.  Let’s learn how to YIN up our Wobble—the opposite of all the summer Yang going on—a dive into softness, stillness, into the art of being.

On the “being” radar for October are two retreat opportunities.  October 6-8, I will be leading Women On Fire:  A Retreat For Professional Evolution.  This is a getaway designed to sit with yourself and the professional you WANT to become, even if you are currently in a job you love.  For those that may be searching for something new–a shift into the work that really feeds you, this retreat provides the time, space, guidance, and community for you to do some serious figuring out—simply being with the person you want to become.  The place is the ARC retreat center, (www.arcretreat.org) a beautiful intentional community just north of the Minneapolis metro.  Sit with nature.  Eat yummy food that fuels you.  Walk. Stretch.  Meditate.  Dance. Be gently coached with me and gain support from the community we create that weekend.  This is work I love doing and I’m so excited to see where you want to go.  Since I love the work so much, I am extending 1 private follow-up session after the retreat, included with the all-inclusive retreat fee of $439.00. If you are willing to share a room, take $20.00 off the fee as well.  7 spaces available.   I do my best work in smaller groups.  Register here for this retreat.

Then, at October’s end, my lovely friend and colleague Christy Diane Farr (aka The Unruly Woman, (www.theunrulywoman.com) will be leading a weekend (at the same location!  Go figure!) focusing on Release.  Release of barriers.  Of wounds.  Of old stuff.  Of behavior.  Of limitations.  Of others whom you have not yet forgiven.  She will cover all of it.  And, she is offering two private follow-up sessions after you go back home to make sure the stuff you release stays gone.  Do yourself a favor and start getting to know this woman. She has 11 spaces available, and a discount for room-sharing.  Register here for her event.

I am really excited to see what we do with ourselves this year—how we will use our voices, our power, our gifts, our service.  No matter what your spiritual beliefs, it is a fact that we are all part of something larger than ourselves—-that something might be your group of neighbors, your school, your yoga class, your God/Goddess.  Be intentional about your belonging and know that you are so important in our collective path.  If you are looking for a place to belong but not sure how to break the ice, message us at http://www.embracethewobble.com, on facebook, or twitter.  If you reach out, we will reach back!

See you on the mat, Wobblers!



Are you good at anger?

Are you good at anger?

Hi there Wobblers:

On my mind tonight is a question:  How good are you at doing anger?

Reason I ask is, I haven’t always been good at anger, and even now I continue to evolve with my ownership of this emotion.

Growing up in Minnesota (a “good”, predominantly Lutheran state for many years, heh, heh), I never learned to do anger.  Instead, what I learned to do was simmer.  We simmered on all kinds of hurts and wounds that were annoying growing up.  I watched my parents and much older sister simmer on relationship stuff and work wounds.  I grew up and did the same simmer with partners and professions, as well as loss and trauma and grief.

With all this simmering going on around issues that made our family truly angry, the anger got transmuted into some really bad stuff—resentment, health issues, chronic pain, and of course the classic Midwestern sideways anger, Passive-Aggression.  There is now a T-shirt that proudly bears our state motto:  “Keep Minnesota Passive-Aggressive! (or not, whatever you think is best.)”  If you are from around here, you totally get that t-shirt and are rolling your eyes at its dead-on accuracy. I’m ordering mine tomorrow, just saying.

When we talk ourselves out of anger or pass it off as something else or “just get over it”, anger erodes us, because the wounds that caused the anger never heal.  Anger smashed down in our bodies has the power to turn us into addicts, victims, rage-aholics, and physical and mental health disaster areas.

Unless it doesn’t.  

There are ways  to have anger and not be a total d*ckhead.  There are ways to have anger and not feel like it will swallow us whole. We can learn to use this emotion to harness our energy and motivation in ways to help us take real care of ourselves, heal the wounds that caused the anger in the first place, and step into authentic power without harming anyone else along the way–least of all, ourselves.

This week I will be leading an anger workshop.  During this evening, I will be taking a group of women through some creative and expressive movement,  artwork, and sharing exercises to help us observe and befriend our anger, and to practice a number of ways to express it openly, honestly–ways that help us champion our own self-care without needing to hurt others in the process.  Anger is NOT a thing to be feared.  We are absolutely allowed to have anger.  Come and befriend your anger this week.  See how this emotion can drive us to new levels of healing and self-connection.  Register here.  Space is limited, and you might need this workshop a lot.  

Namaste, Wobblers.

Live in a Larger Body? Do Some Yoga with us. No shrinking Required.

Live in a Larger Body? Do Some Yoga with us. No shrinking Required.

So, you live in a larger body.  We all live in a culture that tends to shame people if they have larger bodies.  That sucks.  We have made it a priority in our culture to tell those people with larger bodies that they must work very hard to shrink their bodies if they are to enjoy all the same cultural benefits (acceptance, respect, visibility, cute clothing, the ability to feel handsome/beautiful to name just a few) that straight-size bodies enjoy each and every day.  That also sucks.  

Thankfully, there is yoga.  Yes, you heard that right.  The wellness practice that has for years been portrayed as a destination for slender, bendy, white woman, is in fact a practice that everyone—yes, really everyone, can not only execute but enjoy.  You wouldn’t know this based on the look and feel and instruction at many studios and fitness centers, yet it is a fact.  

Enter Embrace the Wobble Yoga. I opened ETWY for completely selfish reasons:  I wanted to do yoga close to my house and get paid to teach others this amazing practice. I have made my career out of teaching individuals and groups how to move their bodies and make them stronger and better (notice I did not say “smaller”) in order to enjoy life more.  I have always thought I was pretty good at inviting people into very large gyms filled with gleaming fitness machines and shiny posters of lean people on the wall.  I now think instead that I was good at making people feel comfortable DESPITE the equipment and the posters, so much so that they could focus on their bodies without fear of being shamed for their size or for what their bodies could or couldn’t do. So, when I went out on my own, I wanted to create something completely different than the traditional exclusionary gym vibe.

Shortly after I opened ETWY, it took on a life of its own as an inclusive yoga community—a place where all the students in all the bodies began to tell me how welcomed they felt in class, how amazing all the instructors were, and how all the yoga and related movement was helping them through things like grief, life transition, loneliness, sleep problems, and stress.  Not to mention the real life milestones that got easier on the way: walking up stairs, carrying groceries, walking the dog, running races, the occasional triumphant headstand, even yoga teacher training!

Our students don’t seem to care so much about how yoga and other movement will make them look (though their skin often glows and their smiles light up the practice rooms), rather they comment often about how they feel (“best way to start my Saturday”–Kristen, 9:30 a.m. student) after classes and private sessions.  I am now just along for the ride as I watch and enjoy the parade of different bodies, personalities–the walking, talking GIFTS that stride confidently through our doors each week.  

If you live in a larger body and you want to figure out how to move it in ways that make it feel amazing, strong, capable, and  WELL, I implore you to take a breath, take a gulp, and call us, email us, or even walk in and connect.  We are ready for you.  We have classes that are fit for you (Slow Wobble, Wobble Plus, Candlelight Wobble if you are a beginner, and Wobble Mix, Core, and Progressing Wobble if you are experienced).  We have training for you (Intuitive Personal Training provided by me, Leah, the studio owner, and an expanded team of gifted coaches as our demand continues to rise.) We honor YOUR body and vow to show it and you all the ways that movement can be joyful, fulfilling, and WORTH IT.  Just like you.  You. Are. Worth it.

And, to further decrease any barriers that may still exist, all our Wobble Plus classes will be donation-based until April 15th.  That’s right.  Try class.  Pay what you can.  Fall in love with your body. Register here:  www.embracethewobble.com.

Thanks.  See you on the mat.–Leah

How to survive your first week in a large gym (and, maybe make the choice to move to a small one.)

How to survive your first week in a large gym (and, maybe make the choice to move to a small one.)

Good morning, dear Wobblers.  

Here we are at the beginning of February, and here I am to ask those of you who live near our yoga studio to come try us out.  I never like to make an ask without first offering something in return, so here we go–and this is for EVERYONE, no matter how far or near you are to Robbinsdale, MN.

Last Friday, an instructor friend of mine gave me a guest pass to her large gym to come to one of her strength training classes.  I was so excited!  It had been a really long time since I worked out in one of those places, and truly, sometimes I miss it–the rows upon rows of treadmills and bikes, the power-lifting corner, the big locker room with amenities, and parquet flooring on the group fitness studio as far as the eye can see.  I grew up in these places, and when I was old enough, I worked in them joyfully, exuberantly, for 21 years.  

With the barbell on my back squatting and lunging away to my friend’s capable cues, though, I also remembered why I left.  Our class was large and there were many students who were not doing the exercises with proper form, which always makes me a bit nervous.  Most of the people in class were VERY fit and well-muscled.  Absolutely no one, save my friend the instructor, said hello to me or asked my name.  And, another thing became apparent at this large gym—the pervasive message that my purpose for going to class should be to change the way I look.  This was a message I bought into all those 21 years on the large-gym staff and in leadership, and it was only after having been away from that culture for a couple of years that I really could see the forest for the trees.  

These larger facilities and their “change your appearance” vibe, no matter how unintentionally communicated, can be REALLY overwhelming for a new person to navigate.  Here are a couple of tips to help you get the most out of your large-gym investment if you want to exercise and this is the most convenient and economical option for you.

  1. The day you purchase your membership, schedule an orientation on the exercise floor with a fitness staff person. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. This appointment should always be free, otherwise, choose another gym.  This is your tutorial on how to use the equipment safely.  Ask the staff person to show you about 3 pieces of equipment, and then practice using them for a week or so.  Go back to the staff person after that, and ask them to show you three more pieces of equipment until you have the hang of it.  Not every machine will be a good fit for you, and that is okay.
  2. Be okay with being a beginner, and only say positive things to yourself.  For example:  “Yay me!  I did a whole 5 minutes on that treadmill!  I got to know some of the buttons, and I survived!  Maybe next time I will do 7 minutes!”  Little moments of triumph like this tend to build on each other.  No matter what the fitness floor staff tell you about what you SHOULD be doing, always congratulate yourself for what you ACTUALLY do, no matter how small a win it may seem.
  3. Put on blinders to the posters on the walls:  “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”  “It’s not worth it unless you sweat!” written over the image of a ripped, muscular body lifting mighty weights are counterproductive when you are the person feeling like you are dying after 10 minutes on a bike.  Pain should never be ignored or viewed as a badge of fitness honor, and sweat is optional in improving our strength, flexibility, balance, and overall health.  Be YOU.  Hold yourself to no other standard than your own comfort and joy of movement.
  4. If you are going to a class, choose the one that best fits your schedule, and then expect to be successful at performing 25-50% of the exercises in your first month of classes. Go early and let the teacher know you are a beginner.  Trust your own body, and have an experimental attitude.  “Does my body like this movement?  Let me try one or two squats and see how they feel on my joints.  Maybe I can move my feet or shift my body so this movement feels really comfortable and strong for my legs.”  If an instructor calls you out for not doing a full set or not trying hard enough, leave the class and alert the management about the behavior.  They are getting paid to help you feel successful and keep coming back, after all.
  5. Finally, going to the gym even once per week can really help to improve healthy habits and get you learning and practicing new ways to move.  Consistency trumps intensity every time.  View your gym membership and the move toward better movement and health as a slow cooker, not a microwave.  After all, there’s a good chance your gym wants you to sign up, but then burn out and not come back.  Their membership pricing is low so that you will keep the auto-draft, but not make them deliver on all those promises for change they make by actually coming in regularly.  Get the last laugh by putting yourself first at these large gyms.  

And, here’s the ask part:  COME SEE US at Wobble (or another boutique studio in your area.)  We are local, we care about our communities, and we actually WANT you to come to class and have a wonderful experience while you get to know your classmates and work steadily toward more confidence, strength, stamina, and health.  Your body may change in appearance.  It may not.  There are no gritty posters on our walls.   Just a big “Well Done!” from all our instructors and the gift of #movingforjoy.  No one needs a gimmick for that.

See you on the mat, Wobblers.

What is an inclusive gym/studio, and why should you care?

What is an inclusive gym/studio, and why should you care?

Are you in the Body Positive clique?  If not, you should be.  AND, it’s not really a clique—it’s actually the anti-clique.  You know in high-school when everyone self-organized into groups like jocks, nerds, band geeks, slackers, burn-outs, preppies, overachievers, weirdos, etc? And how some groups counted and other groups didn’t?  Today, our groups might include the Perfect People (the one that counts) and the Imperfect People (the one that doesn’t count).  The Perfect People are rich, sleek, sexual, wonderfully aromatic,svelte, young, fit, lean, white, strong-of-jaw, clear-of-skin, defined, muscular, not TOO muscular, and smiling.  All. The. Time.  The people in this group must also be really, really exhausted.  Sounds like a ton of work to be in this group.  

The imperfect people are skinny, fat, lumpy, pimpled, injured, gimpy, awkward, slow, uncoordinated, slouchy, funny, angry, joyful, sad, late, triumphant, defeated, fringy, sick, diseased, dysfunctional, stinky, sensual,  and just fine, thank you very much.  

I hope it’s clear where I’m going—-the Perfect People Group is really just an illusion–a powerful one that we have all bought into for too long.  People who appear perfect have a lot of rights that Imperfect People do not have.  The thing is, even the Perfect People can only visit that group for limited amounts of time.  I mean, everyone goes to the bathroom, for crying out loud, and the result smells universally, profoundly bad.This new idea of body positivity is brilliant.  Guess what?  You can look any way you want and you should be able to have all the same societal privileges of those appearing to hang out a lot in the Perfect People group.

The Body Positive Movement makes categories for NO ONE.  Because, adulthood, people!  Why, why, why, do we still find it necessary divide ourselves?  Two of the very unfortunate places where this division is painfully obvious are fitness clubs and yoga studios.  Most gym ads, yoga pictures, classes, equipment, building layouts, and guiding business principles favor the very fit and the very lean.  Everyone else is so intimidated by these centers, it’s no wonder 50% of January new members are gone by the end of March.

Truth time:  I am a recovering Perfect Person at the gym.  I still look critically at my body and believe I need to have a certain amount of muscular “shred” to have any sort of credibility in my personal training practice. In other words, my experience, creativity, extensive education, and passion count a whole lot LESS as a personal trainer than the way I look.  However, I am slowly and consciously trying to change these attitudes since opening Embrace The Wobble Yoga.  It’s working, and our customers like it.  People can come in and be who they are, move how they move, and work toward making their existing bodies happier, healthier places to be. I am easier on myself as a trainer, and as a result, I have no idea how much I weigh.  I have a great idea of what kind of movement I enjoy on any given day, though, and that is the example I prefer to provide for my clients and students today and forever more.  

We at Wobble are learning more each week about being Body Positive.  We offer a wide variety of class formats for yogis of all abilities.  Our class sizes are small so we can nimbly accommodate whoever may walk into class.  Our teachers (though all white as of publish date of this blog post—we would love to attract more yoga instructors of color), come in a variety of sizes and genders and backgrounds and are unique in their personal teaching styles.

We will be launching a new website in January that shows off many of our differently-sized yogis, as well as our commitment to community.  We are working toward a verification by BPFA, the Body Positive Fitness Alliance www.bodypositivefitness.org.   This org champions seven pillars of inclusivity, and we discovered we were already doing that at Wobble without knowing it was a thing. Our social media posts feature all kinds of yogis as well as a bunch of random Imperfect People moving joyfully, regardless of their ability, age, color, outfit, strength, flexibility, size, or any other (illusory) category-defining feature.

These are the things that true Body Positive fitness and yoga centers do. And you should care because YOU are Imperfect.  Even if you are trying really hard to spend a lot of time in the Perfect People group.  How ‘bout instead of trying so hard, we all just be who we are and move the bodies we have?  Guaranteed, our bodies change for the better when we move them consistently, without judgement, without hate, and without agenda.  

Our Body Positive initiatives are a work in progress.  Remember, we are ALL part of the Imperfect People group at the end of the day.  Share with us your experiences of body positivity in the fitness/yoga world.  We would love to hear about what other amazing business are doing with their powerful platform for change.  
See you on the mat, Wobblers.

Yoga Teacher Training: Not just for yoga teachers

Yoga Teacher Training:  Not just for yoga teachers

I am sitting here in anticipation of January.  As a gym owner, we are on the cusp of the busiest time of year—classes will likely fill and overflow, revenue could swell, our instructors will shine, and new faces will try their hand at yoga, wellness, training, and behavior change.  My hopes are high for all these folks every January and the energy in the studio is, well, energizing.

This year, though, I am most excited about Yoga Teacher Training.  After writing a 200-hr curriculum last year and taking one group through it, I have found out again just how much I dig assisting others in their professional development through yogic knowledge and practice.  

Wobble (™) Yoga training will do several things for the participant, only one of which is learning how to teach a safe, fun, and, most of all, inclusive yoga class.  (Inclusive meaning not just for the very lean and very fit).  Last year, I had the honor of watching my RYT students metamorphose before my very eyes in a scant 7 months.

A couple folks that started out all nerves and all thumbs in front of the class found their poise and calm leadership with their student peers.  One such person who struggled with a lot of social awkwardness at the beginning of the training completely dropped his hesitation at the front of the group and put together a top-notch practice, presented as if he were a several-years veteran of teaching.  Another woman managed to break away from her total reliance on the world of pre-choreographed, packaged fitness to find her own voice and creativity on the yoga mat.  Yet another student came to the program as a seeker, wanting to find ways to pursue a more holistic lifestyle and perhaps a profession in the healing/wellness arts.  All of the trainees found connection within themselves and each other which enabled them to add new dimensions to their lives.

I watched this group support each other through the death of a friend, job transition, career questions, financial insecurity, and the bodily work that is the practice.  Some weeks were tough and others were triumphant—and yet all the students persevered and graduated with so many tools for teaching, for personal practice, for life.

Yoga training can be for every body and is certainly an on-going process.  Anyone who has a deep curiosity and a little bit of yoga experience can be on this adventure.  Wobble(™) Yoga training develops strength, stamina, confidence, inner and outer relationship, and courage through vulnerability.  We are ready for YOU to add your uniqueness to the process. The bonds you build and the skills you learn will be yours forever, in every facet of life.  It is an experience you will NEVER forget.  

Space is still available—course schedule and registration at www.embracethewobble.com/education.  Payment-in-full discount and payment plans available.  Call or email me with any questions.  leah@embracethewobble.com, or 615-887-1257.

ALL exercise counts! Or, enough with all the HIIT! (High Intensity Interval Training!)

ALL exercise counts! Or, enough with all the HIIT! (High Intensity Interval Training!)

I like watching American Ninja Warrior just as much as the next person.  My 5-year-old son and I actually cheer out loud for the champions (especially the women!) and groan right along with all the poor competitors who wind up getting wet.  These athletes are undeniably amazing and inspirational.  They train hard much of the time and reap some superhero-like strength and endurance gains, not to mention a growing cult fan base.  

However.  I want to put it out there that just as hard-core as these athletes are, soft-core training is just as, if not more, important–especially if you are like most of us in the non-super-hero athlete category.  

There is a ton of buzz around HIIT exercise that has come out in the last few years.  HIIT is short for High Intermittent Intensity Training.  The principle of this workout is to do a lot of work in a short amount of time in cycles of heavy loads, explosive body-weight lifts, and  powerful cardio drills, combined with bouts of rest or active recovery exercises.  There is plenty of science to back up the effectiveness of such workouts for weight loss, strength/power development, and agility improvement.   

HIIT training can be a great fit for the following populations:  Younger folks (jeez could I sound any more like I am 80?), already-fit individuals, or people who enjoy and tolerate intense exercise.  What about the rest of us?  I know personally that after sports in highschool,  a tricky lower spine, some stress, 23 years of hair-on-fire group ex classes, HIIT workouts and I are not always the best of friends.  I’m finding that at age 40, I can do about 1-2 intense workouts per week, and then I just need to (moderately) walk, bike, or do yoga for the next several days.  Does that mean I should just throw in the towel?  What about the many,many people out there who have fitness, wellness, or weight loss goals but find that HIIT workouts just don’t, well, work?

Great news!  Just Google “consistency and exercise” and you will come up with thousands of articles and research to support the fact that no matter what type of exercise you are doing, the key to the results you want is to do it consistently.  When you combine your exercise with small changes in nutrition, you are totally on the path to better health, increased energy, and falling at least “in like” with your body and all it can do!  Here are three ways to build more exercise consistency, rather than intensity into your week.

    1. Pick a movement you enjoy.  And, if the movement pattern involves your arms and legs, it counts.  That could mean gardening, the Monty Python walk, or making snow angles as much as it means getting to the gym, the yoga studio, or the trails. Get the picture?  #moveforjoy
    2. Pick a time where other stuff does not get in the way for 20 minutes or so.  For lots of people, that means early in the morning.  (Research shows the MOST consistent exercisers do it BEFORE anything else in the a.m.) Others do better by working out after the kids are in bed, or sneaking in a quickie over lunch–a walk and a few push-ups and squats.
    3. Embrace a “slow-cooker” mentality over a “microwave” approach.  Often as adults, we don’t give ourselves credit for being in learning mode, and we expect too much too soon–especially with fitness and weight loss.  Start with 20 minutes once per week.  I promise that you will start to feel better about yourself.  You may even also notice you sleep better on the day that you exercise.  If that once-per-week appointment with yourself goes well for a month or so, try adding in one more exercise appointment per week.  Think less about pushing the envelope, and more about making choices that continue to bring you joy.  (I mean, really, does eating tons of sugar and fat bring most of us real lasting joy?) You might find in 3 to 6 months that the walk that began as a 20 minute stroll becomes a 45 minute hike because it makes you feel good.  However, if you tried that on your first day off the couch, chances are you would probably be sore, potentially injured, and about as ready to do it again as getting a root canal.  Please, for Pete’s sake, take baby steps if you want to stick with it.

So, HIIT workouts are great for lots of folks.  They would never be my first recommendation for people just coming up off the couch, AND, if you don’t enjoy exercising that way, HIIT workouts won’t work for you.  

The bottom line is, get out there Wobblers, and #moveforjoy.  If you do that, you will #moveforever.

*Want help crafting the body you love while loving the one you have?  We do that.  In-studio and online training sessions available.  Let us help you open the door to YOUR amazing body and all it can do in a safe, fun, energized and intuitive zone.  We look forward to finding out more about you!  Email me today at leah@embracethewobble.com to start the conversation.