Teaching Yoga for the First Time (to Strangers)

The day came and went. I survived it.

Yoga baby

I had been nervous for about two days before the class in which I’d teach yoga for the first time. I would lay in bed at night imagining the worst possible scenarios, I would think about my mouth going dry, my voice shaking, my whole body sweating worse than if I was actually practicing. I would always try to push away the thought the moment would pop up, until the day of. When I had the brilliant idea of recording myself. This last sentence is imbibed in sarcasm. I tried to do my spiel, but I wasn’t able to find my words, on the rehearsal file I sound like a CD that’s been through a couple of rounds in the washing machine.

I said to myself: “It is what it is. It’s really a little too late to do anything about it.” All this talk in my head was happening a couple of hours before teaching yoga for the first time to strangers.

I managed to calm myself down. Even on the mat, waiting for my turn, I managed to keep my cool. (Unlike during the practice run a couple of weeks earlier.) The mantra on a loop in my head was “Either way, I am going to go up there and teach these people those poses. I may be terrible, I may be good, I may not even be judged. So what’s the point of allowing my heart rate to push through the roof?” I turned on my recording device and with confident steps I walked to the front of the class and started teaching.

While doing it, I knew it was bad. Five seconds into teaching and my mouth felt like I had just tried to swallow a spoonful of flour. I could swear I heard my voice breaking and my words mispronounced. There was no doubt I just messed up the right and left sides. Wow! I’m too slow on this sequence! Damn! I rushed them through this sequence, they had to skip an inhale to keep up. Ayayay!

Back on my mat, the little voice in my head said “I did it. And I did it good!” Can one be any more conflicted? If while doing it I was my worst judge, once it was all over, for reasons unknown, I was much more generous with the grades given to myself.

The 40 minutes left of the class after I concluded my part were the longest ever! I was so anxious to receive feedback and so curious to listen to myself.

Feedback time eventually came and it was all positive. Many encouragements to dial back on being uncomfortable talking to the class. Easy to say.

On my drive back home I listened to myself teach my students Tadasana and three sets of Classical Sun Salutations with a breakdown of Cobra pose. Let me tell you, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was. It’s really as if I was hearing a completely different person in my head while taking the class through the key points of alignment and breathing cues.

For your entertainment, below is the audio file. Grab a yoga mat and see if you can follow my instructions. Let me know how I did. :D



Simplifying Your Baby Registry

Having a baby (as in growing inside of you) and having a baby (as in finally having it join you in your life) is overwhelming as it is. Try not to let the petty details of a perfect baby shower or a “concise” baby registry drain the little energy you still have left. There will always be things that could have been done differently, you will most certainly end up with things you will never use, and no doubt you will need to buy a bunch of stuff that you never realized were needed (in my case, there were things I had not been aware existed before the need arose to have such an item, I will let you in on all of those below).

I will structure this post by categories of items you should have covered. Within each category, I will make a note on what I wrongly thought was necessary (bottle warmers?? stuff like this makes me hate marketing even more), and a note on the items that got the most usage and/or were better quality. Continue reading


Seven Reasons to Embrace Fall

They say it’s fall. Hard to believe, but indeed the calendar does not lie, we’re well into October now. I’ve only started liking fall over the past few years. Before that, having lived in countries with a four-season climate and a mini-country with one loooooong rainy season interrupted by three sunny summer days (yes, I am talking about the Netherlands), I hated fall. I’m pretty much black or white when it comes to weather: you’re either all clear-skied and hot sun-rayed, or you’re overcast but you make sure there’s snow coming down from those clouds.

Here I am now, California Dreamin’ in a little beach town surrounded by the evergreen palm trees. I find myself missing fall. If you’re struggling with tolerating this confused season, here are a bunch of reasons why you should embrace it and enjoy it.


What I miss the most are the colors. Summer is dandy and all, but, compared to autumn, it seems like a black and white production (granted the dual-color scheme is green and blue). Fall on the other hand, is like a ’70s disco color explosion. The beauty of nature, you know… even on its dying bed it takes the time to put on a show for us. The rusty greens, the maroons, the reds, the yellows and all the fiery hues and tones in between. The sweet rustle of leaves as the wind makes its way underneath them. The mesmerizing ripples across a lake that mirrors fleeting moments of a colorful paradise. If you are blessed to live in the middle of nature, or are close enough to pay a visit to a meadow, forest, mountain, enjoy the amazing display of changing colors.

Fall Colors

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Pietz

#2. RAIN

I feel a bit nostalgic reminiscing about those wet evenings when I’d drive down a busy street, hypnotized by the playful reflection of traffic and store lights on the blackened asphalt. Oh, and that peculiar smell of dust after rain (which is actually called petrichor1 – did you know that? Your tid-bit of trivia for today.). Mind you, all this nostalgic depiction is borderline fictional. I remember clearly, as it was yesterday, the dread I would feel on rainy days when I’d have to hop on my rusty bike, ride across a Frankenweenie-colored Amsterdam to get to school or work or to Cantinero for my zouk nights; the curses I’d offer the skies when my freshly blow-dried hair would frizz up the moment I touched the door knob of the front door. Those were the days. I miss ‘em. Nah! Just kiddin’!

Rain at night

Photo Credit: Canadian Bald Guy


This may sound like false pretense, but I miss that kind of weather that has me open the sweaters closet, and reach for my knee-high boots up on the top shoe rack. (They’re high up there as fine exhibition pieces, in remembrance of my past life.) I am not asking for a full-on three-month long fall, just a day or two when I could get my warm clothing fix. It would also help me to accept the UGGs madness out there, temps in high 60s F, rain or snow are the weather conditions that warrant one to wear wool boots. 80s F, clear sky and sunny, and you’re wearing a bikini top, shorts and wool boots? Dude…


What are you to do on a rainy day once you’re done watching the rain wash your driveway, or flood your neighborhood if that’s what was in the cards for you? It’s time to get cranking on those long-forgotten projects, organize your house, declutter, catch up on your favorite show, read the stack of books on your nightstand. Have some of the friends that you’ve been ignoring over for coffee or a hot mug of red wine.


It’s impossible to miss all the pumpkins, squashes and melons at the market. Pick some up. Puree that butternut squash, sprinkle some nutmeg over it and serve the yummy soup to your family. It’s time to get the baking pans out – pumpkin pies, apple pies, whatever-your-craving pies. Dust the cans and jars and pickle some veggies and concoct some jams and marmalades. Care for some hot cocoa with cinnamon? I thought so…


While you’re busy decluttering, try to look for that list you made on January 1. It’s covered in doodles, balloons and fireworks, stars and hearts, and it has “My Resolutions for 2014″ at the top of the page, very likely in all caps and highlighted. If I were to guess, it’s well kept at the bottom of the deepest drawer in your house. Were you intending to be kinder and more loving towards your loved ones? Were you planning to cook regularly for your hard-working partner? Were you excited to start a new course, a new hobby, a new side job? Guess what? You’ve still got a few months to pull that off (and so do I…). Only fall could offer you this second chance to let your productive self shine.


Christmas and a dog

Catzeloo by Gran’ma and Gran’pa’s Christmas tree

I’m skipping Halloween altogether, although it is a fun holiday especially if you’ve got little monsters hiding in your house. Christmas is by far my favorite holiday and I cannot wait for December 1st to come. If it were up to me I’d put the Christmas tree up yesterday. And I’d take it down in March. Luckily, I have Hubbyloo to keep me in check. Two months ’till Christmas. How are we doing on the holiday cards? Have the family pictures been taken? Vacation plans made for December? If it’s a staycation, what will the kids do all those days? Plans to host a dinner or family get-together? What about gifts for family and friends?

Fall… We may have a love-hate relationship with you – can you blame us? – it wouldn’t hurt if we’d start seeing opportunities in all your shortcomings. Think cold, windy, rainy days, as favorable time to focus our energy on completing tasks that summer past got in the way of, also the perfect time to lean back, relax and look forward to the holiday season. Scrapbooking, anyone?



  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrichor []

Therapist Evaluation Form

You’ve finally made up your mind and are looking for a therapist? Good for you. For many, it takes years and years of pros and cons lists, of going back and forth between “I am a disaster, I need some help” and “I am awesome, look at me rocking my life!”

I wish therapists were like guardian angels, always there by your side, but visible, tangible and responsive. I wish I was born with one in tow. My life may have been much more boring – I mean, all the fun episodes courtesy of my craziness would be erased, but I would probably have made it to farther places had kookiness been kept under control.

Chocolate, Martini, Therapy

Unfortunately I had to come to the land of dreams, the United States of America, to finally bring mental help to the rescue. At least in California, everybody has a dog and a therapist, so it wasn’t long before I became fully socially integrated in this regard. There is and should be no shame in needing and seeking psychological counseling. You may need someone neutral to have a talk to about your marriage, your personal relationships and their effect on you, your personal struggles, your professional struggles. Go and find that person professionally trained to help you out of the rut you’re in.

So, there you are with a dozen sheets of paper in your hands. Names after names of therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists your health insurer mailed you. What are you to do? Ini-mini-miny-mo? Pretty much. Unless you have a referral from a family or friend, you will have to go through the displeasing process of trial and error. Even with referrals, if your friend’s counselor was a perfect match for her, it doesn’t mean it will be for you.

Encouraged by my years of experience with testing and evaluating therapists, I put together a mini-list of assessment points for you to consider when grading the service you receive.

1. Is there a nice, smooth flow to the communication between you and your therapist? You do not want a therapist who likes to hear themselves talk. You do not want a therapist you does not talk at all. You are indeed there to do the talking, but make sure they are engaged throughout your ramblings (more often than not, you will be rambling) even if they show you that through mere nodding or “ahum”s. You do not want a therapist who does not talk, and who is okay with you not talking. You are not there to look out the window and count the pigeons landing on the window sill, you are not there to clean the scum under your nails, you are not there to nap. Been there, done that; the therapist told me he was giving me time to become comfortable enough to open up to him. I actually trusted him but five or six sessions later I realized that was crazy and fired him. He was not doing his job. Therapists should be asking questions, probing and digging until you do have things to say; after all, you are there for a reason.

2. Do you feel the communication is guided by the therapist and revolves around issues you deem less relevant, and have a hard time shifting focus? The therapist is there to guide you through the process of processing what you are going through, however you should be the one holding the reins as to which direction you’re headed. My first therapist’s first question each session was, more often than not, “How has your husband been?” Uhhmm… he’s been fine… I’m here to discuss… me…? This girl was having a front-row seat to my reality soap-opera; she was completely engrossed in the intricate plot my marriage had become at that point. I had troubles bringing the attention back to me, and discuss -my- non-relationship related issues. It is easy to lose your focus especially when pulled into a certain direction; don’t forget what you are there for, what your struggles are, and stay in control of the conversation. (Use your judgement: there will be situations when the therapist will need further information in order for them to get the whole picture, you should however be able to see the relevancy of their digression.)

3. Does your therapist take sides? Your therapist’s job is not to play referee, nor judge. Their job is to ask tough questions and guide you towards your own answers. If your therapist ever sounds like this: “Oh, my God!! Did he DO that? Men are a**holes!”, RUN! Yep, I did see this therapist, too. I was working hard on forgiving and forgetting an act of my Hubbyloo’s and she almost made it worse for me.

Make your pick off the list, figure out what your goals and expectations are, and go in there and have fun. Assisted self-discovery is awesome. Make sure your therapist is a fit though. I read this somewhere, they say that when it comes to the effectiveness of the therapy the credentials and techniques of a therapist do not matter as much as the quality of the relationship you have with them. Do not stop looking until you find the therapist that is right for you, the one with whom you feel most comfortable and safe, with whom conversation just flows. Give yourself two or three sessions with a new therapist, and if at the end of your session you feel better than when you went in you may have a winner!


Challenges Accepted!

Begrudgingly, it’s true, but accepted nonetheless. And… nailed them!

The yoga training could not have come at a better time in my life. Less than a month in and I am already pleasantly surprised to see its positive impact on me and my outlook on life.

What I’ve been struggling with most in my adult life is the fear of failure, of embarrassing myself by being short of perfect, and the disappointment of doing stuff that go unnoticed, don’t matter and/or do not make a difference, although quite often that was not true, it was my skewed perception of things that didn’t allow me to see the true value of my contribution.

Here I am now, in a yoga studio surrounded by a bunch of other girls (it so happens this time around it’s just us girlies, yay for slumber parties!) learning that we are each unique, perfect beings, each with a remarkable footprint of goodness, kindness and love. Each one of us, the girls inside the studio and the men and women outside its walls, have so much to offer to the world and should never downplay our power to love our neighbor and heal the world (big words I know, but… are they?). Understanding this triggered a shift in my outlook on life and how I should live.


Challenge #1. One thing that I have NEVER, I mean NEVER EVER, thought I would do is to use a Neti Pot. Wow. I am still in shock that I have actually grabbed the pot, tilted my head, stuck that spout into my nostril, and (after multiple failed attempts, finally) let the saline water rinse my nose and sinuses. Wow. I suffer from chronic sinusitis; the car AC, not drying my hair can trigger a bout of sinus infection. So many doctors (and Hubbyloo of course) have pleaded with me to try doing a nasal rinse every now and then. It took more than a decade, a couple of yoga teachers and a dozen cheering yogis to have me finally do it. (If you’ve not done the yoga teacher training, or some serious retreat in a secluded ashram in India, you are probably weirded out by the nose cleaning in a yoga setting. I was, too. And I fought against it. Hard. Luckily I lost. You clean your nasal passage in order to ease your breathing which will improve the quality of your breathing meditations. I’m supposed to do this every day throughout the training. No comment.)

Challenge #2. Now this is weird. I am going to go ahead and say that I hate talking to large crowds. If you don’t know me, you will say ok and let your eyes flow over the next line. If you do know me however, you will tilt your head like a confused puppy would, and “huh?”, because you have probably seen me give speeches, make presentations (man, I just remembered that I presented a project to the friggin’ European Parliament in Bruxelles). What am I talking about, right? Well, things have apparently changed and I get serious stage freight. Last weekend I had my first 10-15 minutes of yoga fame leading my training class through a sequence. In retrospect, it was an incredible experience which I want more of. (Thank God! Imagine having to tell Hubbyloo that… I think I don’t like yoga anymore.*gasp*) However, while IN the moment, standing up there, in front of the girls I have grown to know over the past few weeks, I almost froze (physically, as in I found it hard to move around), my palms started sweating while, at the same time, my mouth went completely dry (are these two reactions related? Has my saliva made it all the way to my hands??), I actually felt like I was skydiving again. But there was no parachute to rely on. All the knowledge, the poses and their keys of alignment, little anecdotes I had thought about sprinkling here and there during my time on “stage” became inaccessible. I completely went on autopilot (happy to report that all cues to poses are well ingrained into my brain), sped my way through the poses, and kinda chickened out towards the end letting my class do the last round of sun salutations on their own. Supposedly I was teaching beginners. Yep.

All in all, it was an eye-opening experience; I can do this, more importantly I enjoy it. Not being perfect is something I have to come to terms with. There is definitely room for improvement, and the thing is, even after I improve, there will be room for more improvement. That perfection I am so hung up on is a fantasy and I should treat it as such. What do you do with a fantasy? You think about it, go ‘Awww, ahhhh…”, you wish that was you or your life, but have the common sense to place that figment of imagination in the box labeled “Fiction Stories”. Go on, dream about it, allow it to fuel you with enthusiasm and drive, but do not make a goal out of it and do not let it define you.

I am thrilled to have opportunities like these to challenge myself, and the support of friends, new and old, to encourage me and be active participants to my bettering experience. Isn’t that what life is all about? Go accept a challenge. None readily available? Find one. Make one up. Challenge yourself and Carpe Diem.


My First Blogging Award Nomination

Got you intrigued, didn’t I? Lacking a smiley face, the post title gives the impression that I am really up for a super-duper trophy. Nothing of sorts, but still very excited to be nominated for the Liebster Award, a blogging networking tool that connects new bloggers with a limited following. I have actually been nominated by three awesome bloggers, whose pages I recommend you visit. While I was answering the questions posed by Erica writing over at Shots and Socks, Aubrey at The Mamahood was nominating me as well. And while I was getting ready to publish this post, I found out that Carolann at Sassy Townhouse Living got me down on her list as well. That’s how I ended up answering 32 questions, some revealing interesting details about myself. Continue reading


My Yoga Journey – Boarding the Train

It’s been a few years since I started feeling uneasy about my life, conflicted about what I was doing, unsure about where I was headed. More recently, I came to the realization that whatever it is I would be doing, it has to serve a greater purpose; my effort will have to contribute to creating a more beautiful world, a safer environment, a healthier life(style), happier souls. Any of the good stuff you can think of, I would be ready to be part of. Continue reading


Let’s Fake It

A friend of mine got herself into a situation which led to the need to present herself with her husband at a cocktail party. She is single. Not even dating. This whole story deserves its own post, but I am not sure how happy she’d be with me collecting all the laurels for an adventure that she had to endure. Anywho, this is Hubbyloo and I while getting ready (she had us as guests to the event). Continue reading