MUSIC

Although this blog is mainly about my yoga practice and journey… it would be impossible to not talk about what is going on and how I feel about it all. Yesterday and today have been extremely heart breaking for lots of us. Between the incident in Vegas and the death of my 2nd favorite musician/band of all time passing away suddenly at 66…. Tom Petty…. my heart is missing a piece…. there are so many words I can and cannot think of to write today…. it is amazing how for the first time ever I have truly sobbed over a celebrity death and can’t seem to stop…. and trust me there is a box of tissues next to me as I continue this post. For those of you who do not understand this I ask you to please read this with an open mind and remember those moments in your life where you relied on something other than yourself to get you through your most difficult times.. an author, a musician, a comedian, a movie, whatever it was…. we all use something or someone that we don’t actually know to lean on…. for me it has and always will be music.

There are multiple definitions of music:

  • vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.
  • an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.
  • Music is the space between the notes. It is something to be felt. Although it does not have a concrete and precise definition….All of us know that music is every sound that reaches our ears and our heart says that it is something fabulous…..that is music
  • the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity

No matter what way you look at it…. it is a form of expression…. an art…. when someone comes up with a song or a chord progression…. it is a masterpiece even in it’s simplest form or when produced in a way we don’t like… it is art and it is the writer’s deepest emotions that he/she is expressing to you….that is the deepest way to let someone in. How many of us have had an idea or wrote something down we were too scared to show anyone or even say out loud, or maybe even rejected it ourselves? How many of us have had a feeling we tried to neglect and not show anyone else from fear of embarrassment or judgement? Every musician out there is putting their biggest fears into a form that we can all relate to and it is scary as all hell. For those of you who don’t know me let me get into my background of music for a moment here and why it is so important to me.

I am truly a daddy’s girl… no denying that… my father was always in bands as a teenager/young adult playing guitar, keyboards, and base. When I was younger he would always read music lyrics to me, sing me songs, make up his own, play them, write them down, and eventually when I was 10 he showed me how to play guitar. My mom is a big music girl too… there are very few times and I can barely even remember when there wasn’t some form of music on in the house…. it got us through…. it gave us memories, dances we won’t ever forget, lyrics that gave us strength, and soul that gave us purpose. But for me…. learning to play with my dad, although I never really got that good (still not lol) it was a bonding time. My dad was never going to be that guy that said I love you all the time or give deep long talks about his feelings…. but he didn’t need to… when we sat there with our guitars… and his keyboard… you knew just by the tone or the chord he played exactly what we was feeling and thinking. When he played a certain song or cover… or wanted to teach me a specific song you knew it came from the heart… there was a reason behind it… even if at the time I didn’t fully understand. I remember hearing 5 different musicians and bands that to this day are my top 5 that made me say “dad…. how did they do that, how did they get that sound? Can you show me how to play this?”

In this order to this day:

1- Pink Floyd

2- Tom Petty

3- Van Halen

4- Phil Collins/Genesis

5- The Eagles

Those are a wide variety of musicians and styles in the classic rock era but they all made me feel different things… made me want to be able to do it all… and trust me I still can’t play like David Gilmour or Eddie… but lord knows I’ll never stop trying.

Tom Petty was one of those guys that you felt like you knew…. I remember hearing “Running Down a Dream” and thinking HOWWWWWWWWWWWW the hell did he just do that…. my foot couldn’t help but tap and shake to the rhythm…. it was just sooooooooooooo good! It was like a drug (which btw, I’ve never even tried a single one, no not even pot)…. it was the healthy high that proved to me.. I didn’t need any actual chemicals b/c as science has literally proven… music and rhythm can produce levels of serotonin in the brain making you feel “good” and help increase self awareness.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170412181341.htm

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/15/health/brain-music-research/index.html

http://news.mit.edu/2015/neural-population-music-brain-1216

 

I could list hundreds of more articles but you get the point, getting back on track here….

In highschool I started to get much deeper into music, being in jazz band and guitar ensemble classes and really making it a point to practice every day… it was really cool because my dad could listen to a song and then just play it… he had that musical ear… I couldn’t, but I could read sheet music, which he couldn’t do… so together we made quite the combo for trying to learn a song. I’d be able to hear when something was wrong but without the sheet music I didn’t quite know why… my dad would always say… “it’s something close to this” or “it’s some version of this chord” and I’d say “Yeah but I have to know which version, I’m going to the sheet music” … this conversation happened every night, lol and it took the science side of my brain a long time to realize…. it didn’t matter if it was a little “off” or “different” than the original one b/c together we were still creating music… we were still sharing our feelings… and they were probably slightly different than the artists at the moments they created them…. this is in part a lot of times why my yoga play list has covers that are very obscure and different…. I love to see and hear how someone else felt about another artist’s work…..

When I really delve into the music world I felt like I was more in touch with myself than ever…. an old college boyfriend used to say “You sing/play these songs like you were there when they wrote them”…. and although I wasn’t… I just felt what they did… I could read the way they were thinking and why it was so important for them to share their work with the world… hell I think if they didn’t a lot more of them would have committed suicide or used drugs to numb the pain…. I think even if you don’t play or sing, a lot of us rely on music to get us through…. and if it’s not music it’s something else… we all have that one thing that just makes us “feel” and it doesn’t matter what the emotion is or what the one thing is…. it keeps us sane… it keeps us knowing that there is hope….

In college, I dated a guy named Will….. we bonded over our love for music, making it an extremely roller-coaster passionate relationship (and we were 19-21… lol)… the very first time I met him he was playing “Free Falling” under one of the trees at Brooklyn College, and I had seen him at friends parties always playing his guitar, generally Petty, The Stones, or Billy Joel at the time…. (although his favorite band was Rush, I wouldn’t have recognized those songs at that time yet lol). I remember that Will introduced me to the deeper tracks of Petty… his Mudcrutch days… his long after dark days, etc. And I remember coming over one time and him saying…. I just got the Tom Petty documentary DVD… you gotta watch it, it’s so good…. and without hesitation I did…. and he was right…. it was 4 hours of the most amazing stories…. you really got to know Tom and band…. and Mike…. mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn your fingers… if you’re reading this… GOD BLESS THOSE HANDS!!!! I can’t even explain how good this DVD is… it’s on Netflix and if you haven’t watched it yet, please do! You got to see the softer side of Tom, the rebel side, and learn just how humble he was and how much he really loved doing what he was doing…. it was never about the $ for him or the fame… it was about reaching out and songs and riffs just coming to him almost like out of the sky…. at times he admits he didn’t even know where they came from… they just happened…. this is true artistry at it’s best…. and we all know people out there who were just born to do something very specific, and my dear Tom… you were so born to rock and to shine….. At the end of college, Will and I parted ways…. and that was probably the worst heart break to this day, I’ve ever felt…. but I bet you know just who’s songs got me through don’t ya? Yup Tom… thank you so very much for that… and for all the struggles you got me through. I think the song that helped me best at that time was “Listen to her Heart”…

….at the time I was on the cross country team and for practice pink Floyd’s music was just a little too slow and Van Halen’s just a little too fast, but the Heartbreakers… their beat was just right…. and before technology was so advanced I had some really cool professors that let us listen to our iPods while taking exams…. I think about 7 of his songs and 5 of Floyd’s stayed on replay the entire time to just calm my nerves.

While I didn’t know Tom directly and obviously never met the guy…. his heart was in his music… I joked to my current boyfriend that after hearing what happened in Vegas, his heart gave out and said nope, can’t do this anymore… although he had been hospitalized before this, I know he would be appalled at these events and be doing some sort of tribute show or donation… that was just the kind of guy he was.

Bringing this a little bit back to my yoga journey… very often I read my students the line from my all time favorite song of theirs “Crawling Back to You”….. the line reads:

“Most things I worry about, never happen anyway.” I remember hearing those lyrics for the first time and going woahhhhhhhhhhhh wait a minute… did he just say what I think he did… and I rewound the song…. pulled up the lyrics at the same time and sang along…. saying … wow he just said everything I’ve ever felt in one sentence…………… when was that moment for you? That you heard something that stuck so deep that 20 years later you still reference it?!  His death for me is like that of Elvis for past generations (although Elvis died even younger and it was different) that is the closest feeling or event I can relate it to.

To touch upon those in Vegas…. my heart truly goes out to you… I think there are a lot of posts on facebook debating which hurts more… Tom or Vegas and people lashing out for having different opinions…. the reality is they both suck… and they will hit people different ways… some of us feel that they didn’t know anything about the people in Vegas so as tragic as it is, there is no connection there…. others think it’s more tragic than an older rock star passing….. the point of this post is not to place judgement on what any of you believe….. the point is to talk about how music greatly changes us…. and this Vegas incident occurring at a concert is scary… because when we go to a show… we go to bond, to feel, to let go, and to share our commonalities with thousands of strangers and an artist that we “don’t know” …. we go for the love of the music…. and if Tom were here today he’d be disgusted that people were starting to question going to shows and just like he battled the record producing industry and stood up for music as a whole… he would want us to keep going to shows…. to not let fear keep us from playing the game…. to keep the music alive… to keep bonding in a world where there is soo much hatred and hurt. At heart he was quite the hippie and loved his country…. so to those of you lashing out at anyone on Facebook over anything in this world…. please stop, please remember that we all feel things differently… we all react differently… and what we need now more than ever is to lend a helping hand, share a song, share a hug to all those suffering and hurt. There is enough hatred and cruelty in the world, don’t add to it. The fact that people are using music, an art to scare and hurt others makes me sick to my stomach. Music needs to unite us! 

May all of you in pain recover quickly, to those lost may you RIP…

and to my dear Heartbreakers, his family, and friends…. Tom Petty will always live in us all, don’t ever stop playing his music, and may his soul rest peacefully knowing that he has touched the heart and lives of millions of people.

Tom, I love you and always will.. you’ve got your wings now…

“You ad I will meet again, when we’re least expecting it. I don’t how, I don’t know when, but you and I will meet again.”

 

 

Custom hoodie I designed in college ….

 

 

 

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How do you do it?

This weekend I got my Barre Teacher Training certification from Tula (the same place I did my yoga training). It was absolutely incredible! Megan, the teacher has the best energy I’ve felt in so long and she was so extremely knowledgeable  on the subject between anatomy, injuries, pregnancies, you name it, she know how to adjust for it!

When going in to class on Saturday I ran into a friend of mine and fellow teacher, Erica (we got our yoga certificates together, and she is fantastic!), she asked me “How do you do it all? Where do you get your energy from? How do you have time for everything you do?” This is a big question, and it’s funny because I generally just say I don’t know, or I just try my hardest to make a difference for others…. but it was something I put a lot of thought into this weekend.

To backtrack a little… what exactly is it that I do everyday that she’s so curious about? Or what is Erica talking about?…. I work a 9-5 job in NYC as a fragrance chemist, but commuting from NJ does mean I’m up at 5:30 am and home at 6:30 pm (that in itself can be exhausting)…. 2 nights a week I teach my powerflow yoga class from 6:45-8 pm, I often wind up subbing at least 1 more time almost every single week around that same time, on Sundays I also teach a vinyasa class at 9 am, I am taking online courses for my nutrition degree that come out with a new lecture every Monday, I was getting my Barre Certification, I am teaching in Costa Rica next month, planning a yoga retreat, writing a yoga program, health coaching on the weekends, and somehow in between all of that I find time for hockey and football season, spending time with loved ones, and oh yeah even taking some fitness classes as well (TRX, yoga, barre, etc)…. Well….how? I almost don’t always know the answer myself… it seems like I am crazy, and that there’s not enough hours in a day for all of that to get done, and the truth is sometimes there isn’t!

I think part of my personality has always done better with having something to do. I am not someone who can binge watch a show or read a whole book in one weekend, no matter how good either are… I don’t often like to sit still…. it is rare that I ever just stay home for an entire weekend; it is not for me… but with that being said, it is probably exactly what I need sometimes…. Developing a balance between the two is a huge challenge of mine that I am trying to overcome. I often forget to take a little time for myself, whether it’s a massage, a weekend getaway, or just an afternoon of doing simply nothing… it is well needed, and I will get better at it with time… The first step is a little self reflection which I am making a point to take, especially each time I notice an important question like this come up…

I don’t think of any of the things I mentioned above as work…. I love my science, always have, hence me continuing school for further science degrees… the commute, I could do without, but for now that’s ok. Teaching yoga, really comes from the heart with me, it is never something I find stressful, I love my students, and knowing that I have made such an impact on so many people with their injuries, relationships, and self care really always reminds me that this is why I do it. Don’t get me wrong it is not as easy day, nor does it mean I stay calm 24/7 or never break down, I am human… but the times where I am losing my cool, I look inside and remember why it is I started on this path.

The energy I have can be overwhelming to others at times, maybe even intimidating… I am the type of person who gets excited about everything, and not everyone understands this… I’ve been called “annoyingly happy” many times and even told in the workforce “I cannot be taken seriously” because of it…. well…. maybe they’re right, maybe I am a little annoying, maybe I am too excited about the smaller things…. but ya know what? I don’t care! That is what makes me who I am…. my passion is always all in… if it’s not, then what’s the point?

It is safe to say that sometimes I am completely exhausted and drained, but I never really let that show. I put on a smile and let everyone think I am perfectly fine all the time, but it is pretty obvious when I am not… The struggle is most deff. real with trying to be there for everyone all the time, making sure everyone I care about is happy, making sure my students and clients are safe, healthy, and thriving…. but I wouldn’t change it for anything in this world. I could sit here and tell you all my problems about my bills and family drama, or relationship struggles… but all of that comes and goes…. we all have ups and downs, highs and lows, this is inevitable, but finding passion….. now that is something we have to look within for and no one should ever take that away from you… whatever it is that you are passionate about, please go and do it! Do not let anyone’s negative opinions stop you, especially your own…. do not ever feel silly for being passionate about something, a mistake I made for so long b/c “I wasn’t serious enough” , have your breakdowns, but know that you are enough, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. If your heart is in the right place, you will always be right where you need to be and nothing will stop you.

The light in me shines, because of the light that shines in you; together we light up the sky. From my heart to yours, Namaste! Xoxo

 

 

FALL IS ALMOST HERE!!

Ok folks, it’s been a hectic summer with a bunch of travel and my fall schedule is extremely packed with amazing things.

For starters, I am hosting my very first yoga retreat in Stowe, Vt. From October 26th to October 29th. It is for all levels, and will be a fun quick re-charge of the batteries. Vermont is the perfect place to be around this time of year, the colors are gorgeous and the weather is wonderful.

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The price is $500/person and will include the following:

Thursday Night: Arrive around 6:30 pm ( for those who can get off work early, great, if not, feel free to arrive a little later)

7:30 – 8:30 pm Yin Yoga class

8:45pm & on, get to know one another, snacks and wine provided (feel free to bring your own If you’d like).

Friday:

7:15 -8:15 am Sunrise Yoga Class

9:00 am – Breakfast

10:00 am – Hiking the pinnacle (feel free to bring snacks)

Lunch will be at your own leisure/own expense, the afternoon is yours to explore/relax

5:30 pm Yoga Flow Class

7:00 pm – Dinner and Recipe Sharing/Nutrition info

Saturday:

7:15 – 8:15 am Sunrise Yoga Class

9:00 am – Breakfast

12:00 pm Stowe Village and Von Trapp Family Lodge (outdoor reforming arts center and brewery)

5:30 pm Partner Yoga Class

7:00 pm – Dinner

Sunday:

7:15 – 8 :15 am Group Meditation and Goodbyes

 

THERE ARE ONLY 10 SPOTS AVAILABLE, FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!!! For those interested please email me at stephaniegarafola@gmail.com and let me know if you have any special dietary needs/allergies.

 

And then if you’re interested in all my crazy acro yoga activities on Sunday September 24th I will be teaching with my partner Melissa at http://www.pearlyogafitness.com in keyport, nj. Feel free to bring a friend or come solo as we learn the movements of acro, learn to trust one another, and a wonderful thai massage at the end! See you on the mat!

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And it is exactly 1 month that I will be in Costa Rica teaching at a resort for one whole week! I cannot wait, I have so many plans to see the volcanoes, mountains, jungle, beaches, and horseback riding. This experience is going to be life-changing!

More exciting news to come, stay tuned for more fall events and workshops.

And as for todays snack recipe I made Chewy Fudgy Brownie Energy Bites. The recipe is sooo simple and they are deff better warm then room temperature, so put them in the microwave or toaster oven!

Chewy Fudgy Brownie Energy Bites:

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  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup pure
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweeted or 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • chocolate chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, roll into little balls, refrigerate and store. Can freeze for up to 1 month, and can heat slightly to make them extra chewy and fudgy! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer

So where have I been this last month!?!? Well this summer has just been absolutely incredible!

 

A few weeks ago I went to Boston for several reasons, 1- to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreaks (my 2nd fav band), 2- to see some friends I met along my yoga retreat in Italy, and 3- for some good ol’ quality time with the bf and relax!!!

Well let’s talk about that trip! The weather was so perfect!!! Friday night we arrived to our hotel, and sadly this was the only “bad” part of our trip. The company we used to book our hotel did not actually have the 1 we requested available and gave us a 2 star dirty hotel (that was going out of business this September) instead without even letting us know….. as much as this sucked…. we made the most of it b/c honestly all we did was spend the nights to sleep, we were too busy throughout the day to really let it drag us down……

That Friday was the Tom Petty show at the TD garden…. now I have been in love with Tom’s music since high-school, I always make all my friends watch his documentary (so if you haven’t you know what to do now), I’ve probably read over 6 books about him and the band…. I cannot get enough of these guys!!! (Pink Floyd will always be my number 1 but these guys are an extremely close 2nd)….. THE SHOW WAS INCREDIBLE!!! They were doing their 40th anniversary tour and you could just tell how much fun they were having. They started off with their very first song ever “Rocking Around (with you)”. A song that is quite cheesy and adorable and so typical Tom… it is not nearly their best…. but to see how much progress they’ve made with their writing is just mind blowing to me. I have seen these guys once before in college at MSG and although the show was fun… the energy was soo different this time…. not to mention he did my absolute FAVORITE SONG of theirs called “Crawling Back to You”….. this song has my favorite line of all his lyrics…. “most things I worry about never happen anyway” I often use this in my yoga classes as a reminder that we constantly fear what if what if what if…. or we go to the worst possible scenario no matter how unrealistic it actually is…. and let’s face it, these things don’t even come close to happening!

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I think the reason I absolutely love this band is b/c at every moment in my life, both good and bad… I can relate his lyrics to what I’m going through… from songs about heart break to the best love ever to war, fights, and just the journey of life their music has always reminded me of who I am and how far I’ve come. I can’t quite explain why this sorta thing happens with one musician vs. the next but it just does. It’s just a feeling you get when you hear a certain song or style of music that takes you to that moment in time where you felt that exact same emotion being portrayed and everything just makes sense again. They also did 2 other songs from the album Wildflowers… “It’s good to be king” and “wildflowers”…. It is probably my favorite tom petty album and it doesn’t get enough recognition, so if you don’t know it, go check it out! And I’m not entirely sure why b/c it came really unexpected but when they did “Learning to Fly” I cried happy tears…. something about the energy of being their that night just made me remember why I listen to music, play guitar, and just feed off of their lyrics to keep me going…..BEST/FUNNEST SHOW I’ve been to in quite some time!!!

So Saturday came and we got to meet up with the girls from our Italy retreat…. Meg and KB… KB introduced us to a studio called Xtendbarre and we took a TRX suspension class together…. now there were several options but I of course chose the hardest level (without knowing lol) and man let me tell you…. I got my butt kicked hard core! KB made it look so easy, she was an extreme bad-ass about it and looked like a pro! I give her so much credit. (Meg, Gary, and I still love you KB we just now can kick your butt harder with all those squats lol). All joking aside it was a great class and we loved it so much that we found a studio here in Montclair, NJ that teaches TRX suspension classes. We’ve already taken 2 and plan on getting monthly memberships come September wen we come back from all our next set of weekend get-a-ways! After this TRX class we went to a place called Mother Juice….. holy cow it was sooooooooooooooooo delicious! Everything of course super healthy, vegan and vegetarian options of all sorts. KB has been posting photos of this place since we met in April and I have been craving it since then… it did NOT disappoint by any means. If you’re in the Boston area check them out!

Later that evening we went to the farmers market and this little arts and crafts festival where I found a yoga shirt that combines my chemistry degree with yoga (see photo on the slideshow). We had dinner at Post 395 a farm to table restaurant that was incredible! The vegetable pin-wheel I had was sooooo good and Gary was finally able to get his seafood platter! The following morning I treated us to Stephanie’s on Newbury (not just b/c it has my name, but b/c it’s rated one of the number 1 brunch spots in all of Massachusetts). The coolest thing about them, was you got to build your own bloody Mary’s… now I do not drink them, but they are his absolute favorite things about brunch…. this drink was bigger than his head, he got bacon, hot peppers, celery, olives stuffed with blue cheese, celery and I don’t even know what else (see that photo in the slideshow). HANDS DOWN ONE OF THE BEST BRUNCHES WE’VE EVER HAD! I got the blueberry pancakes with cinnamon butter, and he had some sort of skillet with everything you could possibly need for a vacation brunch. The white sangria was amazing as well! Was such a great weekend, and I’m so thankful for KB’s and Meg’s brunch date with a workout included. (as you can tell even when I travel I try to get some fitness classes in and experiment)

I also dragged Gary to goat yoga this weekend and he fell in love with it…. I went without him in June, and I don’t think he understood the hype when I told him about it, but now he knows and he really had a great time. They are amazing creatures and to be able to practice in THEIR space is just a really humbling and playful experience. Check out http://www.madlavenderfarm.com for more info on goat yoga!

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Aside from all that everything else is going great, my health coaching flier will be launched very soon and in another 2 weeks I will begin to see clients! (feel free to message me if you are interested in my program offers, there’s rates for all different needs and they can be done via skype, phone call, or in person)

I am getting my Barre  Teaching certification in September!! (and I get to stay down the shore that weekend for a mini-vacay)

And I will be away in Cape May for labor day weekend enjoying a well deserved relaxation on the beach weekend.

ANDDDDDDDDDDDDD in October I will be teaching yoga in Costa Rica….. dreams are starting to come together and I am so happy to be sharing it all with you. Keep your dreams alive no matter how big or small!!!

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope wherever you are you are having a great day. I have had the luxury of having a 4 day weekend and it’s been well needed! As most of you know I work a good 65+ hours a week doing all of the things I love but sometimes we need that extra relaxation time. So what have I done all weekend!?!?

On Friday I had the amazing opportunity to teach glow in the dark yoga for a fun 2 hour workshop. We did some basic flow on our mats, got off the mats and worked with a partner and even did some strength building exercises to get us into some inversions!

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Saturday and Sunday I taught regular vinyasa flow classes (as I do every weekend) in the mornings and then spent the day relaxing. On Sunday we went up to bear mountain for a hike (was a little too hot for this so we did not get very far) and we saw Despicable Me 3…. was realllllllllllllllly cute! and we went to one of our favorite little spots to eat a meal out side called Catch on the Hudson in Haverstraw, NY (check it out, it’s well worth it!). For the 4th they do fireworks as well so it was a nice extra bonus, but the food is amazing and speaks for itself. See some photos below!

Yesterday and today have been more relaxing and cleaning up around the house while getting some good BBQ foods in. Today I made  the absolute greatest breakfast ever!!! I have already posted on Instagram some amazing photos and now I’m going to post the recipe as promised!

Matcha Waffles!!!! Not only are they so easy to make they were even more delicious than I expected. As someone who loves to bake and cook, the texture and consistency of a waffle is really everything… too thick and it’s gross, too thin and they burn… we’ve all had those mess ups! These however were perfect! And to be honest, when I searched for recipes it took a while to find one that didn’t have all these strange ingredients or extra steps or tons of sugar… but once I found it… I thought, I have to give this a try I love matcha iced lattes and ice cream… how can this be bad? I feared that the flour, milk, and eggs might over-power the matcha and not be enough but I was so wrong, the taste was really there and nothing over-powered the other flavors. They were fluffy and delicious.

So let’s get to the recipe:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour (I used regular, but I’m sure you can use whole wheat)
  • 1 tbsp. matcha powder (make sure it is culinary grade, will say on the package)
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. vanilla extra (I used a whole teaspoon)

Turn on the waffle iron and use butter or oil to grease the pan. In the meantime add the flour and matcha to a bowl, mix thoroughly, allow the flour to take on a green color. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into waffle maker and then enjoy! Super easy and delicious! I topped mine with some mangoes, kiwis, and white nectarines, and maple syrup… you can use any fruits you’d like or none at all… I contemplated adding my dark chocolate peanut butter to them, but this time I just wanted to see how they tasted on their own (I shall try that tomorrow). Freeze or refrigerate the left over waffles and enjoy them again tomorrow… if you don’t eat them all right away. This batter makes about 10-12 waffles depending on the size of your waffle maker.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their day and weekend and if you make these waffles be sure to mention me on Instagram #namastedoingyoga or @namastedoingyoga can’t wait to see what you do with them!

 

 

 

IIN program

Hey everyone for those of you interested this is the program I am getting my health coach certificate from. I am half way through the program and at this point I have started doing health histories and will start coaching in the fall! So exciting and how fast time flies!
When you click on the link below it will give you a free sample class to explain what the program is truly about to determine if this is something you’re interested in. Specifically for this program if you either call IIN or use this link you can save some money on the program. How’s that for awesomeness?! Check this out and don’t forget to mention that Stephanie Garafola referred you for extra savings.

Why else I do yoga….

Ok everyone, months ago I promised to give you a little bit more of my history about why I do yoga. I revealed plenty of information about my health history and stomach issues, etc. but I also mentioned there was something else…. well here goes…

I am writing this today because it is father’s day and this path has everything to do with my dad. Let’s start out by saying I am deff. a daddy’s girl. I was born on his birthday and I look just like him too. My father was originally a hair dresser who owned his own salon for many years in Marine Park, Brooklyn. My sister is 10 years older than me and after I was born the shop itself was just not enough financially to make things work with 2 kids so he became a school bus driver for handicap children while continuing to own his salon for another 10 years. Since I was a little girl he had always worked 2 jobs but always made sure to have dinner with us as much as he could…. even when we was late it was just by an hour and I’d still sit at the table with him telling him all about my days at school. My father has the patience of a saint, he rarely gets mad (but if he does, you’d better run), and never was one to scream or lose his cool. He loved what he did and he loved being a dad to 2 girls. While he is not ever one to get all mushy/gushy you know that he cares about his family and is a very loyal humble man. He taught me to play guitar and about all the best classic rock music out there. He taught me how to draw and take beautiful photographs and how to ride horses (he used to raise horses during his younger farm days and can draw them incredibly!) and do cartwheels and pull ups and anything artistic. He never went to college but something inside him always loved science, he would always watch all these weird shows that mom never enjoyed, even I sometimes thought ughh not again but my love for science is from him and all these moments of us doing different science projects together. (don’t get me wrong mom taught me a lot too.. but different stuff). So now that you have an idea about who this man is let’s get down to the real serious stuff that happened just about 2 years ago…

While this is very difficult for me to talk about it is just as hard to write. My father has a hereditary disease known as Huntington’s. Now most people have no idea what that even is…. it is something that is rarely diagnosed because people don’t always realize they have it or what to do with it. It can be mistaken for a lot of other things like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s , and even maybe Tourette’s. The disease is neurological and has a lot to do with being able to control your physical movements. It can cause server depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, lack of balance and ability to walk, uncontrollable motions, anger, rapid weight loss, memory loss, and complete apathy. There currently is absolutely no cure. It is detected based on a DNA test (without getting too scientific) there are certain strands of our DNA that are meant to repeat several times…. when Huntington’s is present this particular DNA strand repeats over 40 times… the higher the repetition the worse the condition of the person diagnosed. While my father’s number is not very high it just means that the disease’s symptoms will not occur as rapidly… however my father is almost 70 now and for years he would not get tested. Like his mother, who also tested positive for this disease, he refused to believe anything was wrong with him. Part of that is just the Italian stubbornness in him, but the other part of the disease is denial…. most people who have this don’t realize they are twitching constantly or acting different…. emotionally they don’t notice. After being diagnosed the drs told us about the studies that have been done to help the disease…. we all constantly hear about a body in motion stays in motion…. specifically for this disease it is so important to try and keep to a calendar, a very strict schedule for yourself even if the tasks are very small ones like mop the floors every Tuesday at 11am…. it is also soooo important to keep moving…. what a lot of studies show that if the brain was focused on doing a specific motion or task or something else that required physical movement the brain and nerves had less time to twitch and have these ticks of the arms flailing or legs shaking. Some studies have also showed that doing yoga, even if it were just yin yoga…. balance was better in patients and the mind was more focused on the stretching or the pose and again less time was being put into twitching or even anxiety, etc.

When we learned about this disease not only did the drs at Columbia do basic explaining of what to expect they did about 4 or 5 sessions of family therapy and tried to help us better understand what to look for. Now luckily, my father has not become depressed or suicidal, his spirits are always pretty high… but his motions are very uncontrollable, he is terribly skinny b/c of all the movements and it is harder for him to process information. Simple tasks like doing the laundry and mopping the floors are becoming more difficult by the day. While he is not in any pain what-so-ever it is painful for us as a family to watch him go through. What used to be this strong independent man, working constantly, and raising a family is now someone who is weak and can’t always tell any sense of time or even walk without losing his balance often. Everyone who sees him in public doesn’t understand, maybe even thinks he’s mentally handicapped or just that crazy old guy… it’s most deff. rough. When you watch someone you love and admire fall apart you want to do anything you can to help them. The worst part is that my father feels guilty and has apologized to my mom, sister, and I that he has a hereditary disease that there is no cure for… I however, believe that even if he knew this 37 years ago he would have still had my sister and I maybe he just would have done a little more physically, but I can’t imagine the pain of having to tell your own family that this is how life is going to be when you reach my age… upon seeing all this and going through these many emotions of anger, sadness, and fear I knew that now was the time to become a yoga teacher….. my father is very proud that I have accomplished this, and he makes sure to tell me every time he sees me and ask about my crazy yoga poses…. he won’t ever do the yoga with me or my mom, we try to get him to… but he won’t have it…. sometimes we can get him to do a few poses, but it’s very seldom… it’s hard to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves… but I do know that for me and my future this will help. In our family it seems that the disease doesn’t truly start until the late 50s early 60s…. and from what I hear my great grandmother who also had this disease (of course they didn’t know what it was back then) had a lot milder a case because until she was 90 she was staying active, using her brain, working in drs offices, and playing bingo with the ladies at night….. I know that I am always such a go-go-go person… and yes that is just a little bit of who I am but I have most deff. become a lot more schedule based and stricter on myself to keep going so that I am not as affected as greatly. It is scary to know that there is a history of disease running in your family that barely any studies are done on, or that people don’t know about…. it’s a scary thought to think about your own future, having children, and trying to almost force yourself to live at a faster pace now because you know one day you might not be able to…. it’s not to say any of us are guaranteed anything in this world, but it puts a different feeling inside you when you know what the odds are and you see it first hand….

With all of that being said, I know that if I stay on this path, I am going in the right direction…. it may be hard to explain but internally I can feel it…. and the look in my dad’s eyes knowing that I have started now to better my future has been more than enough to keep me motivated to do any yoga pose ever…. no matter how many times I have to fall or practice… I will get there.

This is not easy to talk about and I hope some of you will do some of your own research about this disease; information is key! I hope you all had a great father’s day as I have had fun going to dad’s favorite roast beef place in Brooklyn called Brennan & Karr…. been there since 1932…. one of the best places ever! Check them out if you haven’t already and enjoy! Namaste. Xo.

 

Core Strength!!!

Hey everybody, happy memorial day! Hope you had a wonderful long weekend. I have been studying and catching up on my nutrition classes, seeing as my test is next Monday! Also I have made some truly delicious meals/desserts this past weekend. I especially love to cook extra on the long weekends, meal prepping and getting even my morning smoothies ready so that all I have to do is take my bullet cup out of the fridge, attach for 1 minute blend and bam I’m good to go to work! It’s the simplest thing, but it really helps when you wake up at 5:30 every morning to catch a 6:30am bus to NYC for work. Trust me, every extra minute you can sleep is precious! 😉

On that note there are3 new videos up on my youtube channel. OF COURSE MY FAVORITE is the core one! It is not an actual work-out full on yoga video. It is simply meant to show you about 4-5 diff. forms of strengthening your yoga practice and your core. It is up to you to do them as your own pace and levels…. maybe 3 rounds of 8… maybe just one round, or maybe each for 1 minute…. if you take 2 minutes a day to do each of these exercises you will gain so much core strength to help you get ready for inversions or even just to simply help with low back issues…. strong core=strong back!!

As far as my dinner and dessert tonight here ya go:

20170529_193952So there is nothing difficult here some broccoli and cauliflower steamed…. and I made an avocado dill dip to give these veggies just a little bit more flavor. The dip is soooo simple!

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 squeeze of lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bunch of dill chopped
  • salt to taste

Of course if you like spice you could always add some red chili flakes, peppers and onions or even tomatoes, if that’s up your alley! Once you have all the ingredients your choice to blend them or just mash them up and mix really well.

And for dessert I’ve made banana oat muffins… for a little extra flavor and fun, I’ve added some toppings, to almost be cupcakes, this is a great way o get kids eating healthy without even knowing it! They are delicious!20170529_200055

1 cup of greek yogurt

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of oats
  • dash of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cacao
  • fresh apples or pears chopped up (this helps get them a little sweeter)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts if you’d like

 

And for toppings: on 1 I’ve added dark chocolate peanut butter, and the other has raw honey with bee pollen on top instead of sprinkles! Wo said baking healthy couldn’t be fun?!?!?! Feel free to even use some left over fruit as a topping.

 

Namaste..Doing Yoga… xoxo

3! 3! 3!

So as promised I will go further in detail about Italy. I will be sharing my 3 favorite meals, my 3 favorite events, and the 3 most important things I learned as a yogi and for my own practice and teaching.  Every morning started with a yoga class and breakfast at the hotel. The afternoon was spent doing site seeing, relaxing, and getting to know the group on a personal level. At 6 pm there was another yoga class followed by a 5 course dinner with the group every night….. Picking favorite foods is probably the biggest challenge I face for this post. Lol…Here we go!

3 Favorite Meals:

– eggplant with tomato mirror and fresh mozzarella and paprika with a cream sauce. This was an easy first choice for me bc as some of you know eggplant is one of my favorite things in the world!

– next would be these amazing spinach raviolis at a place called Aida. They were so thick and fluffy. And rather than being in tomato sauce they were in garlic and oil with fresh tomatoes on top. Talk about so good!!! 

– and the last choice (although trust me everything was amazing!!!!!) Would have to be this zucchini pizza!!!! And I am not ashamed to say I ate that entire pie by myself! It was from a brick oven place that was one of he first original in bolzano (I am currently blanking on the name). But I’ve never even thought to put zucchini on pizza like this before…and as fancy as some of the other things we ate were….sometimes, especially being from Brooklyn and being italian you just want a good piece of the pie….Or in my case…the whole pie 😉

 (And guys don’t even ask me to choose my 3 favorite desserts bc I have such a sweet tooth that it’d be impossible….they were all incredible…and all 4 gelato places we went to were great too lol).

As for my 3 favorite events:

– the hike we “accidentally” took. Along our travels we went to town to walk along the water and eventually have lunch…. We saw some signs that said 70 minute hike this way….now this seemed like an easy idea at the time….but little did we know somewhere along the way we took the much longer 2 and a half hour hike going many more miles than expected….so why was this such a wonderful experience? Well we got to know an amazing girl Liz and her mom Jeanette really well and they were so positive and making jokes along the way that it felt like “we got this”. To top it off the mountain views were breath taking and at any time you wanted to give up if you looked up…you were in disbelief that you were truly in such a beautiful area of the world. I also love hiking so it was great exercise and with amazing company. This was the view guys!

– 2nd favorite was the day my bf and I went to the castle (Castle Runkelstein). I promised him for coming on a yoga retreat with me that I’d do some history stuff for him. The castle was not large at all….in fact it was probably no bigger than the mansions you see in diker heights Brooklyn…but it had a nice history to it and several love stories of art work amoung the walls…. I guess the best part was that we got to go together and he was really enjoying all the old architecture. To top it off we decided to walk back from the castle to the hotel….most of this was extreme uphill hiking but we got to pass these amazing lilac trees and got to see the city of bolzano from all different heights…although we had no water bc we had no idea how difficult the hike was….we really enjoyed each other’s companies and the amazingness of the journey itself. 

– and lastly I truly loved our wine tasting/tour. The wine itself was not my favorite but we just had so many laughs that day as a group. The basement itself was really cool to see the old barrels and just how large these wooden barrels can be. I think they were about 3x my height (not that that is hard to do). But that day in itself was a really fun day. I guess also the nerd in me got to come out as well with my 10 years experience in flavors and fragrances…everyone waited for me to smell it and taste it first so I could give them a great description… I do deff. Love what I do in every “sense” and that is something I am truly grateful for. It was a nice get together and it was only 10am…. Hee hee 😉 

Now the 3 things I learned:

– ROUND THROUGH YOUR UPPER BACK!!!! So important on so many levels. It forces you to engage your core so much more than you realize and for inversions it keeps weight off your head or wrists that could potentially be harmful or injure you. This was always something I knew to do for certain poses…but not in plank or headstand…it made everything much easier.

– SPREAD THE TOES!!!! I think Candace said this every pose…every 5 minutes…and you know what?! It worked! Using those tiny little muscles we don’t realize we have keeps everything engaged…keeps the legs tight, foot flexed, core engaged and man does it really help for balance!!!!!

– and lastly something Candace reminded me of is “yes I can!” As a teacher I always tell my students and encourage them to try challenging poses and reinforcing that they can do anything they set their mind to…but often we are hard on ourselves and we forget that we can too! What you think you create….keep your thoughts positive bc they do become actions…habits…ideas…and our destiny! It was amazing to hear someone you idolize tell you that you have the strength to do these poses…you have the power to get past your fear….that was probably the greatest gift of all that I got in going on this retreat. 

I will be looking into doing another one of her retreats in the following years. It was an amazing experience. We all had a wonderful time and it really taught me so much about myself. I am so thankful I got to share their journey with such an amazing group. Big thanks to the bear for coming with me and loving every second of it….and a biggest thanks of all to Candace for making this happen. Until next time bolzano! Ciao Bella! Namaste. Xo.

Italy was amazing!!!

Woooooow! I cannot believe how great this trip was. The scenery was incredible the yoga was beyond inspiring and informative and the group with us was a so awesome. Everyone was so nice there was no drama all amazing sight seeing, hiking, shopping, etc. I cannot wait to share all the tips and tricks I’ve learned for yoga and just to even build my own practice. Candace said something that I’ve always agreed with is that there is always room to grow in every part of your life. So for you yogis who have your strong practice and think ok this is it… Its not! There’s so much more you can challenge yourself with. 

My private lesson with Candace was probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done for myself. I am so thankful and grateful and I will deff go on another one of her retreats in the future.

The food guys. …I can’t even! Breakfast buffett every morning….and I’m not talking just bread and eggs with bacon….no… 5 different fruits, 20 toppings including honeys, chia seeds, dates, granola, preserves…yogurts home made fresh, eggs, 7 types of meat….5 to 6 types of cut up cheeses….croissants, cappuccinos…and that was just breakfast. 5 course dinner every night….. And lunches were all over the town of bolzano Italy while we toured, shopped, hiked, etc. 

I will go into greater details next week. I’m still jet lagged and exhausted but I had to post something! Xo. Namaste