Changes at PULSE FAQ

Starting April 1st, we will expand our strength and movement offerings, and remove yoga classes and childcare from our official schedule with (instead) the opportunity for select yoga instructors to rent space and work with you directly. I know that in this space is a deeply connected community for many of you, and I wish to honor that the best way that I can. Please reach out with questions or concerns by email or phone (608) 833-6450 and I will respond as quickly as possible. Lots of love -- Annie

Why is the schedule and studio model changing?

We have two major reasons for making these changes. First, the yoga market in Madison has changed significantly in the past 18 months and, in order to honor our commitment to providing small class sizes and incredibly caring teachers, we are adjusting our approach. Secondly, Anne is - at heart - a coach and an educator. It is most in line with her dharma and calling to work 1-1 with clients who are in pain or seeking a deeper sense of freedom in their bodies, and this new model and schedule will help her help more people.

What will happen to the strength classes and coaching at PULSE?

We're GROWING! Expect more classes, workshops and opportunities to learn from coaches here in Madison and from around the country. Anne's coaching practice is also evolving and new options for deeper change are coming soon. We are so excited for the opportunity to focus on providing intelligent, compassionate strength coaching you can't find anywhere else in Madison.

What will happen to the yoga classes at PULSE?

After April 1st, We will still have yoga classes onsite, although they will no longer appear on our schedule. Select instructors will have the opportunity to rent space and create a unique environment for their students. Students will purchase class passes from and communicate directly with instructors, rather than the studio. Navigate to our new YOGA page to connect with your favorite teachers and find out about their schedules!

  • Charlotte is offering private and semi-private trauma-sensitive yoga instruction at PULSE and offsite.
  • Valerie is offering classes in multiple locations, and is honoring unexpired PULSE class passes at Z Bella Boutique in Middleton.
  • Nina will be teaching at PULSE 9:15 am on Monday and Thursday mornings! Childcare connections can be made using our PULSE Parents Facebook group. She is honoring unexpired PULSE classes for those classes.
  • Sarah Higgins, Katy O'Leary and several other amazing instructors will be onsite and ready to help you as well!

What about my class passes or membership?

You have several choices to stay on and play at strength or let us help you transition to another amazing studio!

  • Stay on and try out our strength classes!
  • Request membership termination as of the last day of your billing cycle in March. (6 month pre-paid members will not auto-renew.)
  • Use unexpired PULSE class passes with Valerie (offsite) and Nina (onsite.)
  • Use your credit on private coaching sessions through pass expiration date.
  • Request reimbursement on unexpired passes. (Taken on a case-by-case basis between April 1st and April 30th.)

Please call (608) 833-6450 or email with questions, concerns or anything else we can help you with as make this transition.

Why Exercise Benefits Your Heart

No fewer than three friends have told me that kettlebells saved their lives.

PULSE member, Melissa. Mother of two (soon to be three!) and warrior woman. 

PULSE member, Melissa. Mother of two (soon to be three!) and warrior woman. 

Their hearts had become so heavy that only learning to lift something heavier could ease the burden.

I've heard stories of yoga pulling beautiful humans back from the brink of despair. Of dance saving relationships. Of running creating a safe space for emotions that otherwise felt unmanageable...


Three EASY Steps Toward Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a funny thing. It's this play between "I'm accepting the moment as it is" and "I want something to change." Most of us choose to change our eating habits because we want to change out bodies but, at its roots, mindfulness is a process of developing complete acceptance of what is, right now. Oh the irony...

My first foray into Mindful Eating was terrible, because I thought it meant sitting down to every meal with a candle lit, noticing every bite that went into my mouth and feeling every feeling that drove by. For an eating disordered headcase, that was TERRIBLE. So I broke it down into easier pieces.

Here are three quick ways to play with Mindful Eating without making yourself crazy:

1. Just notice that you're eating. A few times during the meal or snack notice, "I'm eating ______." THAT has been enough to pull me out of an emotional or mindless eating jag more than once and is a great practice when you are required to eat on the go.

2. Leave 2-3 bites on your plate. Just take the small step of not quite finishing your food. It's OK. You have permission to throw it away. You might be surprised how powerful this is.

3. Take 3 breaths. Before you eat. After you eat. Take three breaths just to mark the beginning and ending of the meal or snack...or binge. Seriously. Making a binge a conscious choice is one of the most powerful steps you can take.

I'm leading a three hour workshop in November to help you find ways to make the holidays a mindful, positive experience of food and others. Come hang out! No one will be turned away for lack of funds, and I so appreciate the help in keeping these types of programs running.

Stability, Spaciousness...and Rest: Is Pre and PostNatal Yoga for You? - A guest post from Nina Santos Laubach

Pregnancy (including both prenatal and postnatal!) and yoga can be a wonderful combination. Yoga can provide a gentle way of reducing pregnancy related discomfort, as well as helping to maintain or re-awaken pre-pregnancy strength and mobility. Yoga also offers a practice of restoration and rest from the tensions and anxieties that may arise physically and emotionally during these special nine months and beyond. If you're wondering if a prenatal class is for you, consider the following:

  • You don't have to be pregnant! In fact, I have had some students taking gentler forms of yoga prior to being pregnant in order to allow their body to become accustomed to modifications and props, with anticipation that they would like to continue their practice even during pregnancy.  Also, many of the aches and pains of the body persist well past birth so yoga after birth is great to help the post-natal body transition after the nine months of pregnancy. 
  • Stability First. The amount of hormones in a pregnant body increases as the body prepares for birth.  These hormones remain in the body well past the birth itself, and some of these hormones known as relaxin contribute to greater joint laxity (looseness), and often result in an increased perception of flexibility. With this increase comes a greater risk for overstretching or moving past your body's healthy range of motion -- this is one of the reasons why back and hip pain, repetitive wrist and arm injuries during nursing (I had this!), and neck pain are common surrounding pregnancy. For any yoga practice during pregnancy, cultivating stability, especially in the pelvis and shoulder girdle, will be beneficial. 
  • Spaciousness. Pregnant bellies take up room. Yoga is a wonderful practice to find spaciousness in the various postures, whether in standing or on the floor. Many of the poses can be modified to accommodate the need for space, whether using props or adjusting how far you move into poses. With spaciousness comes ease and relief from everyday habits of tension and anxiety -- regardless of whether they are related to pregnancy or simply from your everyday life.  
  • Before, during, and after pregnancy -- all great opportunities to move your body in gentle but varied ways through asana (postures). Yoga helps to reset the whole body, including the nervous system -- the resulting relaxed and spacious body corresponds and feeds forward to a calm and peaceful mind.

Finally: it's often also wonderful to share the experience of pregnancy in community with others! So come join us:


Prenatal Yoga with Nina Santos Laubach

  • Saturday, November 14, 2015
  • 12:00 - 2:00pm
  • $35/person

Hardstyle Swing & Clean Up Your Snatch!

I’ve studied a lot of human movement in the past 10 years, but the hardstyle kettlebell discipline has been my go-to protocol for building bulletproof strength in most bodies. It demands precision and attention from both the practitioner and coach and - when done correctly - is injury proof.

Countless times I’ve heard from current or potential clients “I (or someone I know) got hurt doing kettlebells with my (their) trainer,” something which raises my hackles and - frankly - pisses me off. There is absolutely no reason ANYONE should get hurt using a kettlebell (or a barbell…or a dumbell…) because the basics of kettlebell movements are primal and intrinsic to all humans! The Strong First progressions simply refine and build on those movements to help generate and focus energy through the ground, the body and the kettlebell.

Photo of Anne standing on a city street, doing a kettlebell snatch. 

Here’s the thing about this type of training: it requires patience. Many students and trainers want to skip to the swing or the snatch because they’re fun, powerful movements! Swings become dangerous quickly, however, and cleans and snatches become just a stupid decision if the foundational elements are not in place. 

Here’s the secret to a safe, powerful swing:

Get a solid hinge, solid deadlift, solid hardstyle plank in place. Get those movements coached and coached well. Be brutally honest with yourself about whether the next progression is appropriate before moving on.

And here’s the secret to a safe, powerful clean or snatch:

Get a rock solid swing, mad grip and uninhibited shoulder range of motion.

I’m teaching a workshop on September 26th to dial in the basics of the hardstyle swing for clients, coaches and anyone who wants to play safely with the awesomeness that is a kettlebell. We’ll go through progressions from the ground up to get you started or make you 100% more powerful in your current iteration.

On October 17th, I’m teaching a workshop on cleans and snatches. We’ll review the important pieces of the hardstyle swing and take that to the next level with ways to create power and tame that power. No more bruising, no more shoulder injuries and LOTS of new ways to develop your grip and your cardiovascular capacity!

If you’re a CrossFit athlete, a TriAthlete, a Marathon Desk Jockey or a Toddler Relay Champion, the swing workshop is for YOU. If you’ve taken the swing workshop (or have a rock solid swing) the clean and snatch workout is for YOU. This is for trainers to learn to better help their clients, moms to better keep their bodies healthy and strong, athletes to maximize their athletic potential. 

CLICK HERE to sign up, to reach out to Anne with questions or just to learn more!!

Yoga hocus pocus - a guest post from Charlotte Easterling

This post appeared on earlier this month.

A couple of months ago, I did some one-on-one sessions with a student who wanted to take yoga classes but was finding the pace challenging. He’s in a larger body, and he’s on the autism spectrum, so public classes were a bit overwhelming for him early on. During our first session together, he told me he has “a bad body,” which was heartbreaking to hear.

After a few sessions, he was ready to start taking public yin classes at PULSE with my friend Valerie. He’s been practicing with her since June. Earlier this week, Valerie read me an email that she got from his caseworker describing our student’s progress. He’s been feeling calmer and less stressed, and he now says that he loves his body. That’s what Valerie has described as yoga magic, and it’s my absolute favorite thing about teaching. (And it also left Valerie, Anne, and me teary-eyed to read it.)

The cool thing about yoga magic is that it doesn’t take long to kick in. A little breathwork here, some movement there, throw in some quiet time and suddenly you’re feeling the love. There’s a whole bunch of fancy neuroscience to explain that, and I totally geek out on all that stuff. But in the end, it still seems like magic most of the time.

Mostly, I like to use (and teach) yoga magic that helps get body and brain in sync with each other. That alleviates a lot of anxiety and stress, and it’s also a powerful healing tool for working through deeper issues such as trauma and depression. Some of the most basic things we can do to take care of ourselves—and feel better in both the long and the short run—are my favorite magic tricks:

  • Get some rhythm. Flowing, rhythmic motion feels good for our bodies and our brains. Done one way, it’s soothing and quieting. Done another way, it’s invigorating without being harsh and crackly. Add a little music and you’re on the way to a yoga dance party.
  • Take some breath. Breathwork is a powerful tool for anyone, which is why we talk about it so much in yoga. There’s breath to calm, breath to energize, breath to balance. Something as simple as focusing on your exhale can do a lot to quiet an overactive nervous system.
  • Connect with other people. Just being in a room with others can be healing. When you start moving and breathing together, your mirror neurons kick in, and that deepens the feeling of connection.

Yoga magic is for everyone. Whether it’s your first class or you’ve been practicing for years, it’s there for you. Think of your yoga mat as a magic carpet and hop on for a ride!

Want to learn more about specific ways to use yoga magic? Join me August 22nd and 23rd at PULSE for three workshops: Yoga for Anxiety Relief, Yoga to Ease Depression, Bedtime Yoga for Better Sleep. I'm looking forward to offering you my best tips and tricks!

Baby Got Back (Health) - a guest post from Nina Santos Laubach

During my time as a structural engineer, I analyzed dozens of "failures" -- basically, stuff falling apart -- buildings, bridges, towers, etc. And whether a failure was caused by old age, a construction error, or a design flaw, I repeatedly observed that failures were most often at a joint or intersection. Rarely did we determine that a beam itself wasn't strong enough, but rather, it was a connection at the ends of the beam or column that failed. I think this is true in our bodies -- our knees, low backs, necks, wrists, etc -- these are all intersections in our bodies. For example, chronic pain in our backs typically isn't because the bone themselves are weak or stressed, but it's in the spaces between our vertebrae where we run into problems like pinching, instability, and tightness. 

The spine, in particular, has a mix of types of connections. For example, our low back and sacrum are made up of thicker, wider vertebrae and in this region, the spine has limited mobility in order to provide the sturdiness we need to support our torso, maintain being upright on our feet, and connect the movements of the upper and lower body. To complement that, our neck, which is made up of tinier, more delicate bones, may not be as sturdy, but its finer structure allows us to have more mobility to move the head to see around us. In optimal movement patterns, we have a healthy balance between mobility and strength. And because the body is literally connected from head to toe, freeing up the places we are tight and building strength in the places we are weak can help uncover that harmonious balance along the entire spine. 

In yoga, what can we do to cultivate health at these connections, the joints, and the intersections? In my upcoming Back Health workshop, "Baby Got Back (Health) with Nina", we will spend a fun and informative afternoon:

Flyer for Nina's workshop. It has a male-appearing torso in silhouette, with the spine glowing red. The Pulse logo is in red in the upper left corner.  Text on the flyer in red stencil reads: Baby Got Back (Health), Saturday, August 8th, 1:00-3:00pm.  Text on the flyer in white reads: Nina Laubach leads you through yoga postures and alignment techniques to help you discover a healthy, strong, and vibrant spine!  $25 for Pulse members $35 for non-members PULSE Kettlebells & Yoga 6720 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Middleton 608.833.6450
  • Learning about optimal movement patterns in our hips, neck, shoulders and low back in and out of yoga postures
  • Practicing a progression of poses that allows for any student to practice healthy backbends, twists, and forward folds to cultivate spine suppleness
  • Uncovering habits in our own yoga practices that may be contributing to back pain or soreness
  • Building an awareness of both the stiff and overly-mobile places in our bodies

A yoga practice that supports a healthy and supple spine can be a great contribution towards feeling vibrant in our bodies, having upright postures, and being able to do the activities we enjoy every day.

Moving with Metta - A guest post from Jessica Boggs

I recently attended a massage technique workshop, where, as in all learning experiences, some participants were afraid of “doing it wrong”. The instructor, a snappy Japanese man who did NOT look anywhere close to being in his mid-60’s, simply said “as long as you move forward with love, you will never do it wrong”. 

I have been teaching massage therapy for over a decade, and while I have tried teaching this principle, I have never heard it stated so succinctly. Most new massage therapists enter the profession because they want to take care of people, and then quickly transition to “I don’t want to hurt you!” mode as they learn more specific technique, precautions, and contraindications. They start to get lost in all of decisions they need to make to ensure a safe, productive session, and lose sight of the whole person sitting in front of them. 

When someone in your life is upset or stressed, do you ever think twice about putting your hands on their shoulders, or going in for a hug? Of course not. This is the principle of metta, which is a Thai/Buddhist term that translates to “loving kindness”. It can also mean “a strong wish for the happiness of others”. Isn’t that lovely?? I think we can all get behind this idea, no matter if it’s about bodywork, driving down the Beltline, or just making breakfast for your family.

The last time Anne and I taught our Thai Massage and Partner Yoga workshop (for regular people--not massage or yoga professionals), it started off with pairings being unsure--not wanting to “screw up”, fall over, or hurt each other. As we moved through poses and worked with compressions, partners became very focused on taking care of each other, and helping each other to figure it all out. The room was bursting with living metta! It was so much fun!!

Sunday, June 28th, we will be teaching again! This is a great opportunity to pair up with a partner or friend for an afternoon of stretchy-pants fun. You don’t need to be good at yoga or good at massage--we will guide you through each step, and as long as you approach your work with metta, you will never do it wrong. Hope to see you there!

Get more information here.

Jessica Boggs
WI Licensed Massage Therapist #3099-143
papercrane massage therapy, LLC

HIking is yoga - a guest post from Charlotte Easterling

I love hiking. I’m not hardcore about it—I stick to trails and always have my map handy. My Eagle Scout husband likes to tell me about portaging canoes and rucking through Philmont, especially when I get excited about being at a park that has indoor plumbing and a nature center. I am SO not hardcore.

Black and white photo of Charlotte doing warrior two on a hiking trail.

But no matter, because I love being out in the woods. There’s always a moment in the hike when I feel, almost like a physical sensation, some of the tension roll off me. My breath deepens, my head clears, and I’m THERE. And I feel like I’m part of all that wildness and beauty. It feels like being home.

Even with all that, I know it’s all too easy to disconnect from nature. Commuting, working, the lure of the screen—they all make getting out and getting away just a little bit harder. They’re also the things that make getting out even more necessary.

So much can be found in the natural world: a sense of rhythm, a feeling of belonging, a chance to observe the quiet way the rest of the world keeps on going without human interference. It gives us a sense of place and perspective. And it puts us in touch with wild creatures, allowing us to see them as they are.

One of my favorite hiking memories was at Whitefish Dunes in Door County. It was going to start raining any second, so my husband and I were hurrying a bit. Suddenly a red-headed woodpecker flew out of the trees, made a big circle around us, and landed on a tree trunk just a few feet from us. Everything went still as we checked each other out. Rain, hurrying, everything else was completely forgotten in that moment of seeing and being seen. It was fleeting, as is everything in nature, and that made it all the more powerful.

Nature heals us, and being in it helps humans form a little bit stronger connection with our home. That’s good for everyone. Get out there this summer, turn off the screens, and just walk. Then take a moment to pause and listen to yourself being part of the world. 

To get in on some of that goodness this month, please join Anne and me for our Move & Meditate workshop at Devil's Lake State Park. We'll hike, breathe, meditate, and flow. Get the details here.

Simple soothing - A guest post from Charlotte Easterling

It’s an all-too familiar feeling for me: tingly hands and feet, spaced-out and foggy mind, and a racing heart. Physically, I’m fine. My brain, though, is convinced that the world is coming to an end.

Anxiety sucks. Anyone who’s dealt with it knows that. The good news is that there are a lot of ways to manage it, including mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation. In fact, a recent study shows that mindfulness can be just as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating anxiety and depression.

That’s one of the reasons I teach. I’ve seen the power of these practices in my own life, so I know this stuff works. I love sharing it with other people, and some of my favorite moments as a teacher have been hearing back from students who let me know they’ve used these techniques and felt better.

Here’s one of my favorite practices for getting into my body and steadying myself:

  1. Sit on the floor if it’s comfortable (you can also do this in a chair or in bed).
  2. Press your hands against the floor or your thighs. Feel all the points of contact between your body and what supports it. Let yourself feel heavy.
  3. Once you feel grounded, place one or both hands over your heart. Feel the rise and fall of your inhales and exhales without trying to control or slow them. Continue to breathe, just noticing how it feels.
  4. Feel your heart beating under your hand. Just like your breath, don’t worry about the rate, just notice its steady rhythm.
  5. Cycle your attention through these three sensations: grounding, breath, heart. See if that helps you let go of some tension and clear your mind.
Image of asphalt with white painted flowers and an orange border. White text superimposed on the image reads: Yoga for Anxiety Relief four-week series.

I’ll be teaching a four-week series in June, with a focus on helping you release tension, get grounded, and quiet your mind.

Playlists: Anne's Winter 2015 Mix

What's up, Om-mies!! (I had to. I did it to the teachers this week too. I'm sorry.)

We're putting playlists up because music is awesome and will change your soul. Check out my Winter 2015 Yoga Playlist HERE!  It's earthy and organic and juicy and I love it.

Something you love and want to hear? Leave a comment with you favorite yoga tunes and I'll try to work it in!

xoxo -Anne 

PULSE gone Bad @#$?

You may have noticed a new look on our site and tone to our marketing materials!

We're going hardstyle and want you IN ON IT!

We love yoga. We love it!! And here's the thing: we believe that Yoga is something a little bit more than Asana.

We believe that Yoga extends to all forms of movement if they are done with the intention of increasing awareness of internal experience, creating freedom and happiness for all beings and generally creating a better world.

  • We have a referral program coming out in the next month that would give you the chance to practice with us FOR FREE!
  • We have workshops and immersions available to take your practice down the path of mastery.
  • We have free consultations available with our strength and yoga coaches to help you begin that path. 

Please take advantage of all we have to offer because it won't just change YOUR life. This stuff ripples out into your family, your community and your city. So while things might get a little bit edgier around here, we really want you in on it because we believe it could change the world.

Tune up your practice - A guest post from Charlotte Easterling

You know that crackling sound ice makes when you drop it into a warm drink? I'm pretty sure I've heard that noise coming from my (and my fellow yogis') bodies when we're warming up on the mat. Ah, winter.

Illustration of person in peaceful warrior pose with light rays shining from chest.

As you might expect, I'm a dedicated yoga practitioner. It's usually not hard to get me out the door and into a class. But let the temperatures drop and the nights turn long, and suddenly I'm mastering slothasana. Energy conservation mode is a survival strategy, though, not necessarily an enjoying-your-life strategy.

That’s the thing that gets me out of my fabulous leopard-print pajamas and into my yoga togs. Resisting that instinct to hibernate does good things for my body and mind. It’s even better when a teacher makes good use of a mysterious thing called the energetic arc. That arc is essentially the energy flow of the class, the thing that gets you from your pre-practice rest into all sorts of demanding poses, and then back to rest. The best part, though, is what the arc does to you while you’re moving your body. Ever left a yoga class feeling like you got a caffeine jolt without the jitters? Or have you experienced a good old fashioned yoga buzz? Hello, energetic arc.

It’s a fun thing to play with, both as a practitioner and a teacher. How big and sparkly can I go without leaving everyone cranked up at the end of class? How grounding and calming can I make the arc before I need to scoop people off the floor and pour them into their cars? It’s a fascinating process, this energy flow.

On March 8, I’ll be taking a longer route to exploring that arc with a Winter Energy Tune-Up practice. For two hours, I’ll lead students through an energetic flow followed by deep grounding yin/restorative poses, and then polishing the whole works off with a bit of yoga nidra. To add to all that energetic goodness, my friend Field Stark will be joining in to provide Reiki while you practice.

Think of your practice an experiment in alternative energy. As a bonus, you don’t need solar panels on your yoga pants to give yourself a big boost of sunshine.

This is BIGGER than you.

I tell my yoga classes frequently (and my kettlebell classes not frequently enough) : THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU.

When was the last time you stopped to think about that? What you are doing on the mat, on the deck, with the bell is far greater than you. What you are doing - whether you know it or not - is contributing to the easing of suffering for those around you. YOU are changing the world by down dogging, kettlebell swinging and taking some diaphragmatic breaths.

It took me a while to figure this out, because anything resembling fitness seems intrinsically selfish.  (And in many circles, it is rooted in a place of self-disgust. "I need to be different in order to be acceptable.") But I've said before that kettlebells and yoga are - to me - Yoga: the process of turning inward for the purpose of showing up more authentically.

My teacher says, "What happens on your mat happens in your life." When I show up with my dark, my joys, my frustrations, my anxieties, my injuries, my strengths on a regular basis in the studio -- I have more of a tendency to show up with those things on a daily basis. Showing up with those things on a daily basis allows me to be with other people in their own joy and shit and pain and hope.  

What happens on your mat happens in your life.

Metta meditation asks us to start the series of blessings and compassion: with ourselves. THEN we get to start extending compassion and hopes of joy and peace to those around us! Because when we do not believe we are worth of the beauty and relief and reality of freedom and happiness, we are not capable of easing the suffering of those around us. When I come to my mat or press a kettlebell or run around outside to practice being happy and free? I get to start the process of putting myself in a position to help others do the same!

SO. I will tell you again: What you do MATTERS. What you are doing is BIGGER THAN YOU. Coming to your yoga mat. picking up a kettlebell. going for a walk. is a HUGE responsibility and blessing...because you are undertaking the life's work of easing the suffering of those around you on chaturanga, one swing, one step at a time.


REVOLUTION not Resolutions

Every year, I see clients, students and teachers making dedications to massive changes in their lives. There is a deep sadness around this for me, as so many of these friends and colleagues make resolutions rooted in the idea that there is something intrinsically wrong or broken about them.

I feel so grateful to have a brick and mortar location this year from which I can stand and shout: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU!

Are there changes that would decrease your suffering? Or ease the suffering of those around you? Bring more joy and light to the world? Of course! But you cannot, by losing weight or being more productive, increase your intrinsic value.

You are 100% as amazing as you will ever be RIGHT NOW. In THIS moment! I  would offer that any changes or additions you make to your life should serve to allow that light to simply shine brighter.

I have decided that my hope - my way to ease suffering and share light - for this year is rest. This year I am anti-resolving to undertake no major business moves, certifications or life changes that are not healing. I will invest myself in what I have started to grow. I will care for myself deeply and with purpose.

At PULSE, we’re resolving to offer you the same opportunity.

We promise that this January, you will receive no weight loss, "getting in shape" or dieting messaging from us. We promise to offer you the chance to nurture yourself deeply in classes, workshops and from home. Grow in strength and grace. Create a foundation for 2015 that revolves around authenticity and willingness to show up.

Share your light with the world, dear friends. 2015 is going to be a bright one.

Anxiety busters - A guest post from Charlotte Easterling

How does anxiety feel for you? Nagging worry? A feeling of doom? Maybe some physical signs show up, like racing heart, sweaty palms, and tingly feet. However it manifests, it’s a feeling that most of us would prefer to avoid.

That’s how I got interested in yoga. I found that the movement and opening quieted my mind and body for a while and gave me space to breathe. At first it happened just during bits and pieces of practice, then eventually that feeling started following me off my mat. And I was hooked.

Years later, as a teacher trainee, I ate up anything I could get that would help me find that freedom from fretting. Once I was teaching, it was something I could hardly wait to share with everyone who walked into my classes.

From my own experience, I’ve learned that dealing with anxiety requires more than one tool. Different triggers and situations need different approaches. Some of them are long-term changes that keep things a little quieter. Others are “fix me now” solutions that break the anxiety cycle before it takes off.

A few ways you can cool things down when you start feeling anxious:

Poster for Yoga for Anxiety Relief workshop
  • Take some deep belly breaths. Stress breathing is high in your chest and tends to be shallow. Slow and deepen your breath into your diaphragm.
  • Get some light exercise. Push too hard and it’ll crank you up. Choose something moderate and rhythmic like walking, dancing, or yoga.
  • Check in with your body. Are you hungry? Thirsty? Having pain somewhere? Sometimes anxiety can be a response to your body’s needs not being met.

Looking for more? Join me on January 11 at 1pm for my Yoga for Anxiety Relief workshop. I’ll share yoga sequences, breathwork, meditation, and lifestyle tips to help you manage anxiety and feel better.

SFG II : How pressing 22kg changed my belief systems and my life.

Belief is a powerful thing. Belief propels you forward. Stops you in your tracks. Creates beginnings and endings. And all without you ever having made those conscious decisions.

For years I believed I wasn't capable of running a business. I believed I wasn't capable of ending my cycles of disordered eating. And most recently, I believed that I did not belong in an elite group of athletes and coaches. I went into my SFG II*, an advanced kettlebell training weekend, undertrained due to illness, injury and the crazy of running a business (I knocked that belief into next Tuesday. I think.) But more importantly, I went in carrying a silent belief that I didn't belong there. That I wasn't good enough, strong enough or a good enough coach to stand up with such an elite group of people.

Belief is a powerful thing. Belief propels you forward. Stops you in your tracks. Creates beginnings and endings. And all without you ever having made those conscious decisions.

(If you want to skip the whole story and get to the point, find the **)

I opened the studio space for PULSE Kettlebells and Yoga on September 2nd, after two months of negotiations and just one week to renovate and turn over the previous studio. Something I had never thought possible was suddenly brick-and-mortar!

I promptly got sick (because apparently 14 hour days are a good idea for 2 weeks in a row?) and stayed that way for more than 2 weeks. A little overzealous (who, me?) I injured my shoulder on my first workout after my last cold bug, just one month out from my SFG II. I couldn't move my neck or shoulder, had radiating nerve pain and just f!@$ hurt. Crushed, I called my sister and my trainer sobbing. I had worked so hard up until the studio opening and was fitting in three training sessions/week even with all that was going on... it was a really heartbreaking morning.

Thanks to an amazing (and patient) massage therapist, encouragement from my coach and a little bit of stubborn, I slowly rehabbed my shoulder and was back on track! Until the Monday before my certification...when I got slammed with another cold bug. This time? No messing around. I canceled all my clients. Subbed out most of my classes. And turned Netflix to STUN with Scandal and Blacklist while I chugged a gallon of orange juice and a gallon of homemade miso soup over the course of 48 hours, breaking only for acupuncture and naps. I WAS GOING TO FREAKIN' PHILLY.

(So I showed up at the airport, my troubles behind me! Until they told me the flight was oversold by 30 and I'd be lucky to get a seat. COME ON!!! 30 minutes of agony later, I was lucky. And got the last seat, much to the dismay of the 5 people behind me who got bumped. Thanks, Delta.)

Before I tell any more of this (rather long) story, I really want to take a moment to thank whoever made it possible for me to be on Team Sansalone and to Joe Sansalone. I was lucky enough to work with my trainer's trainer (!!) and one of the most talented coaches I've had the pleasure to work with. 

Back to to SFG II.

Day 1: I passed my flexed arm hang -- piece of cake. I passed my snatch test in 4:20, PR'ing by more than 20 seconds. See also: my sore biceps and lats for the next 72 hours. I failed my 22 kg press test after a really decent grind, which wasn't a surprise given my red shirt status. I also failed to anticipate the volume of level 1 skills we'd be doing. I was TIRED by the end of day 1.

Day 2: Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Fatigue/soreness had set in due to my lack of volume the previous month, and my brain went into overload learning the bent press (new fave challenge.)  Then.... the swing workout. 24 kg, double 16 kg, double 12 kg, 32 kg .... go down the line 10 swings each. Keep going. Unfamiliar with the swing or double swing? That's a long walk down a short plank. I choked down a bagel for lunch and spent at least 30 min that afternoon choking back tears (or straight up crying in the bathroom) because my usually VERY compliant body was in full-on rebellion. "Oh. You'd like to jerk those 16 kg bells? That's nice."

OK. SO!! All that aside: I learned SO FREAKIN MUCH. I learned what it was like to feel completely at a loss as a student (I'm pretty sure at one point I heard Joe say "That's a good cue, but her brain's about to short circuit, so we're gonna let her work with this.") I learned quality > volume. I learned that a strong trunk translates into power faster than you can imagine. That a good coach walks the fine line of balancing kindness with a demand for quality.

** Day 3: Failed my 22 kg press test again but it was a LONG GRIND and I felt something shift around the middle of it. Joe coached me a few times on lighter lifts and I did some bottoms up work to keep my lat sealed. Tried the lift again. Clean. Pressed. GRIND GRIND GRIND ..... bell starts to drop ... and something inside me snaps. I let out some kind of ridiculous Amazon anger shriek and completed the press. And failed because the bell can't drop on it's way up. F!@#$ but true.

Went to lunch for a walk and called my mom because something deep had let go in that attempt...something deeper than my lat. And as we talked about it, tears swelled to my eyes as I realized that I was holding onto a belief that I didn't belong there. So that was it. The hitch in my strength and my achilles heel: a deep rooted belief that I didn't belong. A belief I was no longer willing to subscribe to after all I'd been through.

So after the rest of my tests...windmills...jerks...push presses... I sat down and realized that I was sore. and tired. and my shoulder hurt. and -after talking to my coach- that I was going to try one more time, results be damned. I walked up to the 22 kg and said half out loud/half to myself "I belong here. I am strong enough. I am good enough." 

and I really meant it.

I cleaned. Wedged. Grunted. Pressed. and let out another variation of the hilarious warrior yell I'd emitted before. AND IT WENT UP. No questions asked. No pause, hesitation or doubt. It just went up.

It took a moment to realize what had happened as I racked the bell and put it down. Got the nod from my coach. Heard people yelling and shouting in trumph for me. And sort of ignored Team Leader's handshake in favor of a chalk-y bear hug.  I bounced up and down like a two-year old in a candy store and hugged people I'd never met, immediately grabbed my phone and texted 5 people (yeah, yeah...) and I came home the next morning still reeling with the excitement of texting my coach I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!!!

I passed my SFG II against a lot of odds. And - oddly - I am even more proud of that than I am of  successfully running my kettlebell and yoga studio or of anything else I can remember. I MET AND TRANSFORMED MY OWN BELIEFS, the most powerful things I've ever come up against and I am really proud of that (Just writing this, my heart gets all swell-y again.)

So here's the moral of the story - for those of you who have tirelessly read through this absurdly long post: changing your beliefs will change the course of your life. By all intents and purposes, the 4th attempt at a lift after 3 days of physical testing should have failed. But a simple shift in *belief* is what shifted my ability to move weight that should have been immovable.

The trick is to dig below conditioning, thought and understanding, and look at what it is you truly believe about yourself. It's not always (or often) pretty. It can be undesirable or confusing. But if you're willing to meet the parts of yourself that you've covered over with productivity or inactivity or whatever it is you're using to hide from yourself? S!@$. WILL. CHANGE. If you're willing to let it.


* Strong First Girya Level 1 requires stamina. You must understand and execute 6 Hardstyle Kettlebell lifts with 2 test-sized kettlebells (24 kg for men, 16 kg for women > 124.5# = me.) It's a grueling weekend that builds mental fortitude and toughness.

Strong First Girya Level 2 requires finesse. In addition - of course - to stamina, mental toughness and a "survive at all costs" attitude. On day one, you must pass your snatch test (100 in 5 min) and strength test (5 pull ups + 1/2 bodyweight military press for men, 15 sec flexed arm hang + 1/3 bodyweight military press for women) and go on to review the six SFG I skills. Day 2 is review and practice of Level 1, followed by a headfirst leap in the bent press, push press and jerk. Day 3 is review and practice of those lifts...and skills testing.

Perfect French Press Coffee

Can I just say how much the quality of my life has increased since I figured out how to make French Press coffee that doesn’t taste like two-day old burned Starbucks?
I’ve been through three iterations of drip coffee makers, a Keurig and a World Market FRENCH PRESS COFFEE MAKER in my drinkin’ years.



What French Press does NOT =
⦁    caffeine at your fingertips (Keurig)
⦁    caffeine as an alarm clock (programmable drip)

French Press DOES =
⦁    Fragrant
⦁    Delicate
⦁    Cathartic

1. Mark it 8 (ok..12)
Use a permanent marker to note the 12oz mark on your French Press (or 24 oz mark if you have to share.)  Seem silly – but this has saved me MANY an under or overbrewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

2. Boil Water (almost)
Three words: Use. A. TeaKettle.  When you hear the kettle START to whistle juuuuust a teensy bit, pull it off the heat. Microwave only if under extreme duress.  Heat the water to boiling, and remove from the death machine.

3. Bump and Grind
In the 30-60 seconds it takes your water to go from boiling to juuuust the right coffee brewing temperature, grind your beans.  COARSELY.  I do 6-8 pulses with my grinder.
What’s that you say?  You can get pre-ground beans?  RESIST, I say!!!  Fresh beans ground to the right French Press consistency actually do make a difference!

4. Stir and Steep
Pour the water slowly over the grinds.  (I like to make big SLOW loopy circles — but highly doubt this affects the taste.)  Then STIR.  Using a chopstick or spoon, stir the grinds into the hot water for 5-10 seconds or until you get a little foam. 

Steep from 4-6 minutes depending on your COFFEE ROAST  I do my flavored/light roasts for 6… and a French Roast for baaaaarely 4.5 as I value my teeth.

5. Heat the Mug + Pour
While that’s doing it’s thing, I pour remaining hot water from the kettle into and the mug I plan to use and let it heat while my coffee steeps.  When you’re coffee’s done… just DEPRESS the plunger (no.  it doesn’t have Zoloft) and pour into your warm mug!

I usually add 1-2 Tbs of Organic Half and Half (if there’s more than “milk” and “cream” in the ingredient lists, it’s no longer food, people) and sip slowly!

Meditation for body confidence

I have a friend who is breathtaking; her thighs are smooth, her arms are toned, and her abs are sculpted.  Her silky hair and flawless makeup are picture-perfect every single day. She photographs beautifully and she’s funny, talented, intelligent, and driven.  She eludes a strong sense of confidence and is truly lovely in every way.  She also struggles with low self-esteem…

We, as women, have been steeped in a culture of dissatisfaction with our inner and outer selves. We are told, “You’re beautiful just as you are,” yet we are inundated with ads for diet pills and books on fad diets.  We are told, “Get strong, not skinny!” as we watch TV shows about how to get thinner faster and movies featuring waif-like women in size zero jeans.  We are told, “Stand up for yourself!” but are far too often represented as shrew-like and demanding when angry or afraid.

So how do we begin to build a strong foundation of self-love, self-care, and healthy self-image?…

Read the full article here!