How Restorative Yoga Healed My Body Image – A Guest Post from Anna Guest-Jelly of Curvy Yoga

How Restorative Yoga Healed My Body Image

Let’s party like it’s 1999.

Or, let’s at least go back there in our minds. Picture this: I’m a curvy gal in my first year of college. I’m away from home. I have terrible migraines (this is nothing new). I hear that yoga can be good for pain, so I somehow get my hands on a Rodney Yee VHS tape and start practicing.

Only when my roommate is in class. Always with the door locked.

As I practice, I like it. I love it, in fact (which is weird because I have never liked any form of anything that looks remotely like exercise). So I want more of it — but I want more of what I see on the videos.

More tone on my body, more gymnast-like flexibility, more speed — more, more, more.

More to Less

As the years went by, I did get more of that — mostly the speed and flexibility. But then things shifted in my body: my curves got curvier, and I couldn’t go as far into poses as I used to.

To say this was a hit to my already fragile body image was an understatement.

I think I took about a year off practice at this point. I was so discouraged that I couldn’t do the poses I used to that I thought I shouldn’t bother. I thought I had finally reached that point where I was just “too big” for yoga, so it was time to move on.

Except, of course, I couldn’t. I still found myself surreptitiously doing poses — but “just to stretch,” of course. Not yoga.

Gimme Gimme

During my more, more, more days, no one could have convinced me to do a restorative yoga pose. One of my teachers would teach Savasana and then leave the room; students could leave whenever they wanted. The intention was to give people the space to take their time.

I took it as the opposite, though. I usually reached for my car keys while we were getting into position. Then I would politely wait as long as I could and bolt for the door. I’d say on my more restrained days that this took approximately 42 seconds.

I just didn’t see the point.

But then one day after my self-induced yoga break, after feeling particularly stressed from work and school, I decided to indulge myself in a full restorative workshop. What possessed me to do this, I’ll never know. (I think I thought of it more like a massage than yoga, so that made it okay with me.)

All I know is that after the careful precision of set-up, the internal (and sometimes external) groan of delight after settling in and then fully letting go into the poses, something shifted.

I felt relaxed, grounded and centered. And, yeah, I wanted more again — but this time it was totally different.

Me Time

You see, restorative yoga is all about y-o-u (or, in this case, m-e). Everyone’s set-up is slightly different.  This is really the goal of all yoga, but restorative invites you into it differently. The goal is to make yourself as fully comfortable and supported as possible. This was new to me as I’d been “raised” in a yoga environment where competition wasn’t explicitly encouraged, but it also wasn’t exactly discouraged.

This restorative yoga was about meeting yourself exactly where you are — and loving every minute of it.

When I realized that, I felt a marked turn in my relationship toward my body. For the first time, rest, ease and letting go entered the equation. For the first time, self-care became my priority, not what I tried to avoid.

After that, you couldn’t get me out of a restorative pose if you wanted to (but who would want that anyway?).

Thank goodness.

Want the low-down on Anna’s restoratives? Click here to download the Restoratives chapter from her book, “Permission to Curve,” for free!

Self Acceptance Through Yoga: aka Back Off Beeotch

image: WeHeartIt

Today you’ll find me guest posting on Rosie Molinary’s blog. Please check it out and be sure to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by. Yes, it’s a reprint…one worth repeating if you ask me.

While you’re there please be sure to poke around in Rosie’s archives. She’s got a bunch of excellent work on self-worth, beauty, self-acceptance and adoption.

Talking Adoption on Yes and Yes

Today I am guest posting about adoption over at one of my favorite of all times blogs – Yes and Yes. If you are curious about the hows and whys of our adoption journey, this is where you’ll find some answers.

Sarah Von is a world traveling former ESL teacher with a love of Taiwan and a contagious laugh.

I hope you stop over to read my post and while you are there stay awhile and get to know Sarah a bit.

TGBTS Recipe Edition! Best Damn Granola – EVER {Guest Post!}

Our return from Taiwan was even sweeter because of how our dear friends took care of our food needs.  Vanessa was one of our many friends who kept us well-fed in those first few blurry, jet-lagged weeks.
Here’s Vanessa to share the recipe for the best damn granola ever.
With the news that the newest member of the Hackbarth-Brewer household would soon be arriving, loved ones couldn’t wait to stock the family with all things baby:  clothes, toys, books, furniture, good wishes, advice.  And food.  Lots of it!  Every new family needs it, but in the first few weeks with a new baby, who has time to chop carrots when there are songs to be learned and long walks to be taken?

Tami’s fellow yogi, Madeleine, rallied friends to sign up on Mealtrain, a website that helps organize meal-making and delivery.  Safe home from Taiwan with Sacramento’s newest resident in tow, Tami and Jed began receiving deliveries of hot, nourishing meals from friends eager to feed them lentil soup, black bean soup, chicken soup, hearty chili– all foods to fuel the new parents through jet lag and diaper changes and a new life with the sweet babe.

I couldn’t wait to get in on the action, but living more than an hour away, I wasn’t going to be able to casually drop off a casserole.  So I looked toward less perishable options and immediately thought of one of my favorite recipes, a slightly tweaked version of the very best granola ever, which is handmade by Early Bird Foods in Brooklyn.  It’s a delicious play of sweet against salty, made luscious by a generous hit of olive oil.  There’s plenty of room to adjust the ingredients to your taste by, say, leaving out the sunflower seeds and adding in a cup of chopped almonds instead.  If you want to add in dried fruit like currants or chopped apricots, wait for the last 20 minutes of cooking so they don’t get too dried out.

You might look at the amount of olive oil, maple syrup, and brown sugar and think you can save a few calories or fat grams by using less, but don’t do that.  Their proportion (along with the salt) is what gives the granola its magical addictiveness.  Eat the granola with yogurt or milk or as an ice cream topping, or do what Tami does and use it to top cooked apples.  Usually I just eat it by the handful, pausing occasionally to lick the salt off my fingers.

Ruby (and Tami) helped me whip up another batch of granola this week.  From the looks of it, I’d say there’s a new cook in the family!

Bon appétit to Ruby and her mom and dad!

Welcome Home Granola

3 cups rolled oats (not baby oats or the quick-cooking kind)
1 cup raw, shelled sunflower seeds
1 cup raw, shelled pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
1 1/4 cups coconut flakes (the thick, wide ones, sometimes called coconut chips)
1 1/4 cups raw, chopped pecans
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (something bold and fruity is preferable)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup pure maple syrup (any grade is fine so long as it’s real maple syrup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup raw cocoa nibs

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Combine all the ingredients except the cocoa nibs in a large bowl and mix them together to coat everything evenly.  Spread the granola out on a large, rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, carefully stirring the granola every 10 minutes;  pay special attention to keep the edges from burning.  During the last 10 minutes of cooking, stir in the cocoa nibs.

The granola should be uniformly light brown when it is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly.  Taste and add a little more salt if you like.  Store in an airtight container.


Questions? Comments? Love for V3 or me?

Do you have any recipes or favorite {dairy free} foods to share?


GUEST POST: Yoga+Music (not quite 365) – Trouble In Mind by Hayes Carll – Recipe Edition!

 It’s Tuesday and that means the Recipe Edition!  


I’m thrilled to announce that Teacher Goes Back to School has a GUEST POST

Today’s recipe and divine food photos are from Vanessa over at The Beet Goes On and Good Things Come to Those Who Wait. 

{Don’t forget to CLICK the links!}


My nose is cold.

And it’s about time.

Fall around the Bay Area likes to take its time getting here.   Just last week, in the middle of October, the temperature was hovering around 90˚ here in Oakland.  But today, as I think my cold nose indicates, we might have finally turned the corner and left summer behind.  As much as I appreciate the pleasant weather, I am eager to get on with autumn already.  Because there’s nothing like a cool, crisp morning to enjoy one of my favorite breakfasts:  jook.

Jook, sometimes known as congee, is Chinese rice porridge.  It’s a dish found across Asian cultures, from Thailand to Korea.  Jook on its own is meant to be a little bland;  it works as a canvas for any number of toppings, which vary regionally and culturally.  It’s simple to prepare and simple to dress up to your taste.  It’s comfort food, a warm and soothing start to the day.  It’s medicine for a cold and stuffy sinuses.  It’s a calming remedy for a nervous or queasy stomach. 

Growing up, I ate jook with traditional Chinese accompaniments:  very thin matchsticks of fresh, peeled ginger, cilantro leaves, chopped green onions, soy sauce, white pepper, and a tiny drizzle of toasted sesame oil.  But the options are virtually endless, and a list of ideas of how to top your meal follows the recipe.

So as I enjoy all things autumn– the refreshing air, the butternut squashes, the tiny pirates and ballerinas who will make their way to my front door in search of sweets in a couple of weeks– I will also be warming myself (and my cold nose) with a steaming, hot bowl of my favorite fall breakfast.

image: Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan


makes 4-6 servings

1 cup uncooked white rice, long or short grain (Basmati or Jasmine will work fine as well)

½ pound/8 ounces raw pork or chicken bones (optional)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

8 cups water, plus more as needed

Place all ingredients in a large pot (at least 4-quart capacity).  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Let it cook uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary. 

That’s it!

The jook is ready when the rice is cooked to the point of falling apart.  The consistency of the finished product is up to you.  I like mine like thinned out oatmeal– hearty but brothy.  If there is any meat on the bones, pick it off and add it to the mix. 

Here are some garnishes you can use to top off your jook:

Image: Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan

soy sauce

toasted sesame oil (just a tiny bit!)

fresh cilantro

fresh green onions

fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into very thin strips

white or black pepper

a fried or hard-boiled egg

cubes of tofu

cooked, crumbled bacon or chopped Chinese sausage (lop chong)

fresh, hot chile peppers or hot pepper sauce, like Sriracha

fish sauce

lime juice

fried garlic, shallots, or onions

fresh spinach leaves

green peas

chopped green beans, broccoli, or bok choy

fresh carrots, thinly sliced

alfalfa, wheat, radish, or bean sprouts

seaweed flakes

toasted sesame seeds

togarashi or furikake

dried Chinese mushrooms (cook them along with the jook itself to rehydrate them)

pork floss

dried or fresh, cooked shrimp or fish

ground peanuts

bamboo shoots

shelled edamame

What are your go-to healthy foods?   

How do you change your diet based on the season?   

Send me your recipe and you may find yourself featured here!    


Today’s yoga brought to you by the home practice.     

Today’s music is   


Yoga Teaching Update:    

 FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online    

 These classes are for every body – level 1/2. Bring your friends!    

 Looking for a restorative YogaNap ? Please check my teaching schedule.  


If you found this post useful, please share it on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks!

Yoga+Music(not quite 365) Infinite Light by Lightning Dust – Recipe Edition! Guest Post!

It’s Tuesday! And that means the Recipe Edition!  

Each Tuesday I will share an easy, nutritious recipe so you can join me in the home-cooked self-care.   

I’m thrilled to announce that Teacher Goes Back to School has its very first GUEST POST

Today’s recipe and divine food photos are from Vanessa over at The Beet Goes On and Good Things Come to Those Who Wait. 

The Payoff


 I’m all for food that is easy to prepare.  Maybe not so much the frozen pizza rolls, exactly, but more like a hunk of bread spread with soft goat cheese and topped with strawberry jam.  Or roasted vegetables, which require so little preparation aside from a few swipes of the knife and a dousing of olive oil and salt before they go into the oven. A roasted chicken.  Perfectly ripe strawberries that require that you do nothing but wash and savor.   

You get the idea. 

So when it comes to fava beans, a most delicious reason to love spring, I sometimes hesitate buying them.  Each little prized nugget is wrapped in its own protective little sac, and then those little sacs, say 5 or 6, are nestled into a large, leathery, fibrous pod.  Getting to the sweet bean itself requires some combination of peeling, shucking, poking, cutting, squeezing, prodding, tearing, pulling, pinching, and extracting.  


It’s not difficult work, but it’s repetitive and can take a while.  It’s the kind of project to tackle when you have a podcast of “This American Life” you need to catch up on or when you’ve got someone who can lend another set of hands and some conversation.  I usually slip into a quasi-meditative state as I hit my shelling rhythm– but only if I’m not hungry when I start out, or all I can think about is shoving handfuls of favas into my mouth.


An armful of the whole pods might yield just a few cups of beans, but those beans are worth all the effort that go into them.  They’re firm but kind of creamy, buttery but kind of green and bright.  And though not the most convenient of foods, the reward for the work is big– and delicious.


Here’s a simple recipe that really allows the favas to shine.  This method of roasting the beans whole and then shelling them is a little easier for me than shelling the beans raw– with the skins softened a bit, they’re a bit easier to manipulate.


Fava and Ricotta Crostini


makes 4 large pieces or 8-12 smaller pieces

2 pounds fresh fava beans in pods (to yield 1 heaping cup of cooked, shelled beans)
extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
juice of one lemon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
firm, sturdy bread, such as a whole grain sourdough loaf, baguette, or batard cut into slices about 3/4″ thick
1 cup fresh ricotta 

Preheat oven to 425ºF.   

Rinse and dry the fava beans.  Put them on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to lay them out in a single layer.   Toss them with about 2 tablespoons olive oil.  

Roast the beans, tossing them once during cooking (tongs are helpful for this), for about 10 minutes or until the shells begin to wilt.  You don’t want too much color on them– just a slight change in texture.  Plus the residual heat will continue to cook the beans after they’re out of the oven. 

still in the pod


Remove the tray from the oven and allow beans to cool until they can be handled with bare hands.  Remove the pods from the shells.  Then remove the beans from the pods and set aside in a bowl.  (I usually pinch off a tiny piece of the shell on the seam and squeeze the fava bean out.)  

a coming out party


Season the favas with the lemon zest and juice, sea salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 

Toast or grill the bread.  Evenly distribute and spread the ricotta over the toasts, then divide the favas evenly over the ricotta.  

ready to eat!


Drizzle with a little more olive oil. 

Eat.  Enjoy the payoff.



(P.S.  It’s really a treat to be Tami’s guest blogger, especially on Recipe Tuesday!  Many thanks for sharing your patch of the internet with me, Tams!)


Editor’s Note: I totally appreciate V3 as she’s known around here, sharing her deliciousness with my readers. <3

What are your go-to healthy foods? How do you change your diet based on the season? Send me your recipe and you may find yourself featured here!  


Today’s yoga brought to you by the restorative home practice. I am home with a cold today and already using my Hugger Mugger bolster under my knees. <3 

Today’s music is Infinite Light by Lightning Dust.  


Yoga Teaching Update:  

FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online  

A big thanks to those who came to my and Donna’s class last Friday! Always an honor to practice with you. 

These classes are for every body – level 1/2. Bring your friends!  

I’m teaching with Erin – May 28th!  

I’m also scheduled to teach July 9th! 

Office Hours with Michelle are on Fridays from 3:30-4:30, so come on by the studio before class and say hi!