Lemme Take a Selfie... by Tiffany Coombs

So I've been participating in Instagram yoga challenges for the past month and a half or so. Part of the idea was to experiment and to find out what the deal with these controversial challenges actually was, and part was to inspire me to get back on my mat after giving birth. I woke up this morning feeling hypocritical, addicted to my phone, and curious of what viewers actually get out of these selfies. 

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Buddha Cat Reincarnated by Tiffany Coombs

Dear Buddha Cat fans:

My online store is on its way, but in the mean time, take a look at my current offerings! All orders are hand painted on Alternative Apparel with love and care. Want one? email me at i.am.buddhacat@gmail.com!

Ommeow!

 

Rad Buddha | Purple and hot green | $50

Rad Buddha | Purple and hot green | $50

Hipster Namaste | Camel | $55

Hipster Namaste | Camel | $55

Fresh Lotus | Burnout Almost Black | $52

Fresh Lotus | Burnout Almost Black | $52

Rad Buddha | Pink and Hot Blue | $50

Rad Buddha | Pink and Hot Blue | $50

So Hum Buddha | Burnout White | $54

So Hum Buddha | Burnout White | $54

Hamsa Wrap |  Almost Black | $80

Hamsa Wrap |  Almost Black | $80

So Hum | Burnout Black | $54

So Hum | Burnout Black | $54



Support Yoga Foster in Winchester by Tiffany Coombs

Hello my friends! Fellow Winchester yoga teacher, Jessi Edwards, and I are working to bring more yoga to children in our town and county! This school year we will be teaching children at Shine Yoga, The Handley Library, The Bowman Library, and the Youth Development Center.  Please read what Jessi has to say about the amazing program that is helping us- Yoga Foster! 

Yoga Foster is a nonprofit initiative that brings free kids yoga programs to schools and community centers. This program is based out of NYC and is currently working with 15 schools and over 450 students with 100+ volunteers. This fall we will be bringing this amazing program to Winchester! Our classes blend kids yoga poses and breathing with story telling and problem solving to help kids get fit, inspired and more creative.

Some reasons to bring this great program to Winchester:

It's Accessible-We offer free online kids training to any volunteer willing to commit to two consecutive semesters of volunteering.

It's Affordable-Our program is provided free of charge to school and community centers and has a small minimal cost to covers mats & supplies (that small cost is/will hopefully covered by donations and sponsors!)

It's Inspiring-We help students with key issues they face in daily life to help them become more creative and inspired, on and off the mat.

Why yoga? The safety and security of a yoga mat, paired with a mindful, non-judgement environment, makes yoga the perfect place for students at any age to explore who they are and who they want to be, while encouraging them to think without boundaries or hesitations. The lessons instilled during a class will resonate far beyond it's end, and throughout a few months we can fundamentally change how students perceive themselves and the people around them, encouraging them to act with passion and spark.

Unlike adult yoga classes, Yoga Foster programs do not include physical alignment in students. The curriculum does not include any poses that have children upside down, and placing too much weight on the head, neck or upper body. Also, the Yoga Foster curriculum does not carry any spiritual or religious messages.

We can't do this alone and this is where you come in! We are asking for donations: either financial, new/gently used yoga mats, crayons, paper and craft supplies, etc. You do NOT have to be a yoga teacher to volunteer! Teachers, parents, grandparents - anyone can help! We will need enough mats to leave at all the schools/community centers! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you have any questions you can contact me or check out yogafoster.org. I look forward to speaking with you on how you'd like to help!

Blessings, Jessi Edwards

The Zen Den. 540-539-3632, winchesterzenden@gmail.com

 

Buddha Cat Designs are BACK!! by Tiffany Coombs

Have you been thinking that you'd like to refresh your Buddha Cat wardrobe? 

Now you can! Buddha Cat's designs have been reincarnated and are better than ever! I use Alternative Apparel's cruelty free shirts, pants, bags, and more to create beautiful, functional, and comfortable apparel for your yoga and lifestyle needs! 

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What is Buddha Cat Yoga? by Tiffany Coombs

Buddha Cat Yoga, my friends, is a hot new style of yoga. We will provide one (or more!) cat per mat, providing the bonus challenge of concentration that was lacking in all other form of yoga until now! The cats will weave around your legs, give you kisses on your nose, and even try to climb you. This is IT, my friends. Look no further. This is REAL yoga.

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Buddha Cat's Latest Project: Buddha Kitten by Tiffany Coombs

Buddha Kitten is here! Happy Harper is beautifully modeling the two current designs. "Ommeow" and "Buddha Kitten" are available individually at $15 and at $28 if purchased together! Custom colors and various sizes are available. As always, Buddha Cat products are hand-painted with care. Email or message me on Facebook to order!

Am I Good Enough At Yoga...? by Tiffany Coombs

We all have challenges we face when we get on the mat. Tight hamstrings, tight shoulders, loose shoulders that are too weak to practice arm balances, fears, egos, the list can go on and on. These challenges serve as jumping off points for you as a teacher. The challenges you work with daily on the mat can become your specialty. They can help you to become more relatable to your students. 

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Buddha Kittens by Tiffany Coombs

What is a Buddha Kitten? A precious glimpse at our younger, wide eyed selves. We usually call them babies, toddlers, and children, but they are so much more than that. We can remember our own natural needs and wants by observing and learning from these special Buddha Kittens. We all wish to feel safe and secure, comfortable and content. We all wish to be heard, respected, and loved. 

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Modern Yoga by Tiffany Coombs

I want to make it clear that what a yogi looks like, what the diet looks like, even whether the yogi is happy or sad, is not the point. The point is that we practice. We breathe. We pay attention and learn. We get to know ourselves. We BECOME ourselves. 

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April Doodles Bring May... Poodles?! Doodle Challenge on Instagram! by Tiffany Coombs

Let's bring some art to Instagram challenges! Don't think you are an artist? Think again! Join me all month for a doodle/day and tap into your creative side! No right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, simply doodles on a page. Every day, there will be a starter shape or symbol. Use that as a jumping off point. Set a timer for ten minutes and doodle away! Enjoy the meditative experience of placing your mind stuff on paper. Follow up by a few minutes of meditation if you like (I use this as a way to get into meditation mode if I need some help starting!) post and tag me, and use#aprildoodleproject

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I Used to Like Tofu. by Tiffany Coombs

One of the greatest lessons I have learned over the years of practicing yoga is that it is not what you change about yourself on the outside- the clothes you wear, the malas you sport, the food you eat- that matters, it is what you EMBRACE about yourself and are able to express without fear to the outside world that matters the most.

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You Can't Be Better Than Who You Are. by Tiffany Coombs

It's National Eating Disorder Week. Here are some interesting facts about this misunderstood disease:

1. 30 Million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

2. Anorexia is the most fatal mental health issue.

3. Disordered eating is on the rise in YOUNG Americans.

This is not a unique story. It is just an untold one. Or a misunderstood one. Or something. This topic is difficult for me to write about as I feel that it is something I more deeply struggle with than anything else

I am anorexic because... I am. I cannot blame magazines filled with beautiful, airbrushed models, because I never really read them and don't read them now. I don't feel societal pressures to be someone else (as you all very well know!) I can't blame my parents, my siblings, my peers. I can't even blame the pressures of being a young and impressionable dancer. Who do I blame? No one. Not even myself. Blame feeds anger. Anger makes it worse. Love and acceptance make it better. Blame is futile.

The first time I can remember despising my body was in the third grade. For some reason I just started to hate my arms. Then I started to hate my legs. Then it gradually crept over my whole body. I used to write in journals late at night because of some serious insomnia and every day there would be another entry written about how disgusting my body was or how stupid I was, or both. Writing helped me fall asleep, but it also fed these hateful fires towards myself. 

Stereotypically, I was a dancer. I spent 6 nights a week for at least two hours per day examining myself in mirrors. Not good enough. Not good enough. Not good enough. It should be noted that I rarely compared myself to the other dancers at the studio. I compared myself to a version of myself I thought I should have been. Taller, thinner, no freckles, longer neck, more flexible (I was most flexible in my class), stronger, more dedicated... the list could go on and on.  Ironically, the art made me feel both disgusted with myself AND more beautiful than I felt if I were at school or at home. The mind reels. 

While I was dancing, I ate. Enough. I never was a big eater and often left quite a bit of food left on my plate. I felt (and often still do feel) like finishing my plate was some kind of failure. Like I would magically become a fat cow if I ONCE finished a plate of food, no matter how much or little was in front of me. 

Then I  stopped dancing. Too many serious injuries, a bout of mono that left me homebound for over three months, and a dance studio I didn't much care for anymore led me to quit. Panic rushed over me. How will I stay thin and beautiful and graceful if I stop doing the one thing that makes me feel these things? 

I gradually stopped eating full meals. A bite here, a bite there. Anxiety left me feeling nauseous most of the time and so my excuse of feeling sick was truthful, and it got me out of eating my dinners. In times of desperate hunger I would angrily binge on crackers, feel disappointed that I gave into the crackers, and stop eating for some more days. I chewed gum CONSTANTLY to make my body think it was being fueled. By the time I graduated high school, I think I was barely 100 pounds. I'd look in the mirror at night and continue to hate my body. Again, never in comparison to the other girls I knew, but in comparison to someone I thought I should be. Not thin enough. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not in control. 

I had taken up yoga as a means to maintain flexibility and grace. I did it in my basement before school. In an angry and competitive fashion. Because I wanted it to replace ballet in all ways possible. I wanted to practice hard, be better, be thinner, be more beautiful, not to mention the promise of happiness yoga seemed to offer. The woman on the DVDs drove me absolutely crazy- smiles seemed fake, tone of voice seemed fake, but if that was what happiness was, perhaps I could do the same thing. So I walked around with a smile on my face and "happiness" in my voice. No one suspected a thing. In fact everyone constantly labeled me as "happy." Which then became something I felt I needed to live up to. And because I knew that I wasn't happy, but instead a suicidal, hateful little girl, it made me feel all the worse. 

I saw a psychologist from time to time in order to get my cocktail of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. Every time I saw him, his favorite comment would be something like "I don't understand why you think you are fat." To this day that comment is amazing to me. This doctor of the mind does not understand that this is a mental disease. It is an inability to see things as they are. A desperate need for control that cannot be met. I'm sure other psychologists have more tact. This one just seemed to lack ability to understand his patients. 

James caught on quickly. When we were in school together, I would go to his house and he and his roommates would kindly force me to eat a full meal with them. His roommates never said anything, but I think they all knew. The rest of the time I lived on Venti coffees, pastries, and Chick-Fil-A binges. 

Fast forward about six years. I do not own a full length mirror. I avoid rooms with surround mirrors and abhor trying on clothes at the store- especially when there are mirrors that kindly reveal the dreaded backside. I feel anxious at meal time. I feel anxious when I have to eat with others, but if I am eating alone I am less likely to nourish myself properly. Sometimes I can conquer my mind and make myself something good and nourishing, at which point I realize how good it feels to care for myself. But on many other days I cannot win and struggle to get something, anything at all down. 

Pregnancy has been the number one, greatest therapy as someone with Anorexia. Learning to let go of control has never been so necessary. The extreme nausea that comes from not eating enough forces you to actually eat three full meals a day. If I'm being honest, before I was pregnant I was averaging around 1.5 full meals a day still. Nibbles for the rest of the meals. Now, if I skip breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I get a quick and painful reminder and I EAT. I am not able to do as much rigorous yoga as I could before, and so my arms, back, and legs are less toned. My belly gets bigger and bigger. I have no control over how my body responds to this baby. And I have to let it be. I don't look at the scale at the doctors office, I don't want to know how big my belly is all the way around, but I can find peace with myself knowing that there is a beautiful little girl growing in there. I work daily to keep the peace because I have to bring a healthy, nurtured baby into the world. And I have to be of sound mind and body in order to give her the best life she can have. And that makes me feel happier and more willing to nourish myself.

Before the pregnancy, TEACHING yoga has been a great therapy as someone with Anorexia. If you know me, you think that I am laid back. This is true toward other people. I don't care what other people do.  I am a closet control freak, with the need to control and compete with myself. To be a good teacher, however, guards must be removed, fear of embarrassment or making mistakes must be abandoned, neurosis must be set aside. If you are caught up in your own junk, you cannot provide a safe, mindful environment for your students to let go of their own junk. We all just have to let it all go together. We have to be willing to be completely ourselves. What is "good" and "bad" about ourselves simply become what is. Who we are. Full, rich, vibrant human beings with complexities that make us beautiful and unique.

As you can see, this is something I still struggle with, and will continue to struggle with forever. I know that I will continue to get better, but the inner nagging never stops. If this is YOU, find something that will help you learn to speak more kindly and gently with yourself. Find activities that make you feel nourished and healthy instead of activities done with the sole intention to lose weight or be "better" in some way. Practice yoga with the intention to give and to heal, practice meditation in order to get to know yourself and to recognize that your thoughts are not who you are, and practice caring for others. 

Have your husband take pregnancy photos in bare minimum clothing and post them on Facebook. Have no fear.

Be empowered by your beautiful body as it is. 

http://www.monogramartsphoto.com/blog/2014/2/14/this-is-our-house-her-pregnancy-my-camera

http://www.monogramartsphoto.com/blog/2014/2/14/this-is-our-house-her-pregnancy-my-camera

Check out the rest of these outrageously fun photos here: http://www.monogramartsphoto.com/blog/2014/2/14/this-is-our-house-her-pregnancy-my-camera

Not sure I ever would have done this if I wasn't pregnant, but what a RUSH to feel confident in my own skin... in the snow!!!!!!!!!!! 

Who Benefits from Private Yoga Sessions? by Tiffany Coombs

Sometimes it's nice to treat ourselves to a special gift. A shopping trip, a visit to the coffee shop for a yummy latte, a relaxing day at the spa. Have you ever considered treating yourself to a private yoga session? Here's why you should!

  • There's nothing better than receiving one on one instruction. The teacher can give you all of his/her attention and every hands-on assist is just for YOU!
  • Do you have a million questions about yoga poses, how to breathe properly, or are you curious about meditation? A private session is the perfect setting to get answers! 
  • It is rare to get a chance to refine every single asana- a private session is your chance. Learn special tidbits that might not be mentioned in a full group class!
  • Practice a customized sequence made to suit YOUR needs. This is useful if you have special health concerns or need to address specific muscle groups. 

How do you choose your private teacher? Request to work with teachers you feel a connection to. Ask about teachers' specialties to find out if they can help you with your personal needs. When requesting a private session be sure to indicate what you are hoping to get out of the session, whether you have any injuries or physical limitations, and provide your availability. 

Treat yourself with a private yoga session this year! Email me at info.buddhacat@gmail.com if you'd like to work with Buddha Cat!