Stream of Conciousness about Social Media

So many feelings about all the talk about Essena O’Neill being so transparent about social media and Instagram especially when this all happened right as I’m learning that being a yoga teacher means being a independent contractor and that I’m working for myself and selling my services and social media is a big part of that reality. I felt strange about starting a public Instagram in general, I have had a private Instagram account (with fewer than 50 followers) for over a year, I feel comfortable and safe posting there, knowing that only family and close friends will see what I put out. I have had strangers and even old friends try to get access to those photos, and I say no, so to choose to post publicly and then go even further and hashtag the hell out of the photos to gain followers hasn’t exactly felt natural.

I began taking photos of my practice basically when I got Instagram last year (I had just gotten an iPhone – yes super late to the game) and also around the time that I started to practice yoga regularly, seriously and beyond the asana. My practice made me feel good mentally, it made me appreciate by body and it’s abilities instead of putting myself down and gave me so much strength. I appreciated and loved seeing micro-improvements each time I practiced and taking photos was a fun way of documenting this progress and sharing what I could do with family and friends. 

My first photos were taken exactly like the ones I still take. I ask Jamie (or my brother, or a friend in-studio) if he has time to take a photo (and then once he says yes I convince him that 10 different asana photos are sorta like 1), I may or may not be warmed up, and we take them. We don’t seek out places to take the photos, I am extremely fortunate to have a cottage to go to and have a park nearby so I can take gorgeous outdoor shots. The photos aren’t edited (other than a cool Instagram filter here or there). I’m usually sweaty. I sometimes look at them and feel self-concious. Sometimes I look at them and feel awesome. 

My public instagram has way more followers than I could have ever imagined. With the Essena O’Neill story blowing up, I’ve done even more introspection into why I’m choosing to use social media and what it’s effects are on me and my life outside of this emerging business. 

I’ve noticed that on public social media, I choose to keep family and friends more or less separate. I also tend to veer away from photos that are head shots or where you can explicitly see my face. I posted a head shot a few weeks ago (before the numbers of people seeing my photos had mushroomed) and since there has been more traffic to my page, the amount of creepy and unwanted comments on my appearance has further deterred me from posting more personal shots. Because of this, unfortunately its not exactly a safe space.

Why then do I keep posting? For the same reason that I go to a yoga studio, I am looking to be part of a community. I want to be surrounded by like-minded people with beautiful and inspiring souls. Unfortunately, as in real life, we have to weed out the creeps. I also realize that even if I don’t like it, social media is a strong presence and a useful tool for me to market my brand and let people know about me as a yoga teacher and allow for potential students to learn what I am about. 

I feel to some degree that as an emerging teacher, I do have to stand out, I do have to do something to bring attention to what I do and social media is an effective way of doing this. However, I understand and respect what Essena is saying, and I think she has also opened up an extremely important dialogue with her transparency. Although I remain so conflicted, I am choosing to keep control over my public accounts by only posting what I am comfortable with posting, and follow a strict no creepiness policy (my account is clearly business related, if someone posts something irrelevant, posts me in something unrelated, sends me an inappropriate message, etc they are immediately deleted and blocked, no questions asked). I also choose to keep all my Instagram notifications off. I check when I put up my daily post and then I leave it for the day. 

I’m extremely thankful for the conversations that have come out of Essena’s video and it is directly because of her post and the traction that it has gotten that I have been inspired to confront the feelings regarding the business of social media that have been mulling in my head for weeks now and further adding to the anxiety of making this dream of teaching a reality. It is because of her that I want it to be known that my photos are a product of my love and passion for the yoga practice and I want them to reflect that. For this reason they are not and will not be edited. They will be reflective of my practice and the practice I can hopefully inspire as a teacher. They are not paid for. I will remain open and honest about what I put into the world. I want to be inspiration. I don’t want to be #goals. Let’s continue this conversation, encourage honesty on social media and hopefully ignite passion for yoga through this medium. 

Confessions of a Bad Blogger

Hello friends! Long time, no talk. You may have been wondering where I’ve been… and I’ve been around, it’s just been a gosh-darn busy summer and getting back into the swing of things hasn’t been easy.

This summer, I finished my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training Program, meaning that yours truly is officially a Yoga Instructor! I have begun teaching friends, family and even in studios. I have really been putting a lot of focus into getting those goals off of the ground, which means that I have (unfortunately) put this blog on the side. That’s about to change. I find that writing is soothing, fun and something that has really been missing from my life. While I did take breaks to complete my teacher training, it was never my objective to have this fall by the way-side, so I am getting back at it. Getting back into healthy routines, healthy patterns and lifestyle.

There has been some good that has come from this unintentional break though! I have had a lot of time to try new products, explore new recipes and brainstorm ways of including my teaching into the blog!

So stay tuned for new things coming up! Send me a message if you have any ideas, questions or comments I would love to hear from you.

Namaste.

A Quick Break from our Regularly Scheduled Programming

I don’t have a “real” post for you today because I am currently on my fourth day of 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training! I am so excited about this experience and so far have nothing but amazing things to say about the program, the teachers and my peers! While I’m off doing this I would love to hear what you would like to see more of or any suggestions or ideas for posts. I think it would be interesting to write about my first module of my teacher training experience and have some great natural product reviews and recipes coming soon also! I love hearing your feedback!

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr @omshantilife!

Thanks for your patience!

Namaste.

Welcoming the New Year!

The turning into a new year is always a time for reflection. Looking back on the year that has passed and gazing forward to what may come. While in yoga, meditation and life it is important to remain in the moment, the new year is a good time to set goals and review what you could improve from the year before.

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I had a really great 2014! My partner and I have been living together for over 3 years, our cats are healthy and we are happy! I found out my passions in life, yoga and living holistically and took the steps to make these passions my careers! I began this blog, applied (and got accepted) to a 200hr yoga teacher training program, made new friends, achieved huge yoga goals I never thought were possible and became happier and happier with each passing day!

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If you have never set new year’s goals, this just may be the year to start! Goals are not necessarily the same as resolutions, you aren’t aiming to change anything about yourself, rather you are pushing yourself to achieve something new! I think one thing that is very important while setting goals is to pay attention to what is achievable and what is not, you do not want to disappoint yourself or get down on yourself if you cannot accomplish something that is too “lofty”. You can also break down goals into smaller mini-goals. There is no elevator to the top, only stairs!

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If you do choose to make resolutions, don’t worry about making them life-changing, work towards making them life-improving. For 2014, my resolutions was to wear sunscreen every day! This year’s resolution is to meditate for 5 minutes every day. Eventually, I’d like to be able to meditate for 20 minutes, but this is a good example of breaking down goals into mini-goals.

Remember that resolutions, goals and reflection don’t just have to happen once a year. You can make positive changes whenever you see that they are necessary!

With that being said, some great things that you can do to improve your 2015 are to drink warm lemon water every morning, write down in a journal a few things every day that you are grateful for (try to think of things big and small, find the beauty in the day to day), try and practice yoga every morning for at least 10 mins, practice mindfulness and make healthy food choices (always leave a little room for a splurge… see my belated birthday dinner below).

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I will be bringing you posts all about healthy goals and improvements for the new year in January and have many posts ready for the new year! However, I’d like to know what you would like to see on this blog. Do you have any suggestions? Any idea for posts? How was your 2014? Are you looking forward to 2015? Or have any goals/resolutions? I cannot wait to hear from you and hope that your 2015 will be spectacular!

Namaste.

Welcome

Hello everyone and welcome to Om Shanti Life, a lifestyle blog focused on living a healthy, natural life.

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My name is Kaitlyn, a twenty something Canadian who has always been toying with blogging, starting some but never following through, until now. I guess I’ve never had something that I’m as passionate about as yoga and living a natural, healthy and above all a HAPPY life.

I was born and raised in Canada. Where? One guess:

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I grew up being a very active child. Like most Canadian kids, I was thrown into skating (figure skating in my case) at the tender age of 3. I moved quickly from group classes to begging my parents for my own coach, to finally spending every waking minute on the ice. I woke up at 6am every single morning to skate, went to school and then back to the ice rink at night. I spent my summers at skating camp and was competitive for almost ten years. Figure skating was my passion.

At 13, I started having extremely bad back pain. I never liked to show it, but eventually it read all over my face and my coach pulled my parents aside and told them to go have it checked out. I was told that I had a slipped vertebrae and a pinched nerve in my back. I was then told that if I didn’t stop figure skating then and there that I wouldn’t be walking by the time I was 30. Like the determined kiddo I was, I was told that I was allowed to keep figure skating if I “kept my feet on the ground”, something that seemed totally impossible because of my love of jumping, but I agreed. Two years later, at 16, I was bored and in pain so I finally hung up my boots.

The next three years, were probably the worst of my life. I ended up quitting figure skating while my Grandmother and Grandfather were, for a lack of a better word, dying. They had always been a strong and important presence in my life so seeing them struggling threw me for a loop. Without skating, the main outlet that I had, I feel into a deep depression and the anxiety that I’ve always suffered from became too much to bear. I spent most of my time working on my social life, and didn’t do anything for my own health, mental or otherwise until I was 19.

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At 19, I finally decided to get my act together, I joined a gym and started working with a trainer who was familiar with my injuries. It was great, I was running, lifting weights and feeling pretty good. Until I wasn’t. The back pain that I had been continuing to ignore lead me from chiropractors, to physiotherapists, to orthopaedic surgeons, all who wouldn’t touch me. After a year long wait, I finally stumbled into a specialists office. The specialist took one look at my X-rays and MRIs and told me there was nothing he, or anyone could do, I had 6 slipped discs, degenerative disc disease and nerve damage in my legs. My Mom, partner and I all stared at him, begging him for a suggestion, any suggestion. He told me to join a gym. (Oh, the irony!)

While this was happening, I was also dealing with a general malaise. I woke up every single day with a headache, was taking heavy duty prescription painkillers for my back, I was so depressed that I was sleeping until 6pm and so anxious that I couldn’t leave the house. My skin was sallow, I was constantly tired, my stomach always hurt, my skin always rashy. I felt ugly, not myself. Who was “myself?” My doctor put me on anti anxiety medication after medication which not only didn’t help my emotional health but caused me to completely balloon and develop a whole slew of different insecurities. When people took photos of me, I had no idea who I was looking at. The girl in those photos couldn’t possibly have been me!

I realized that I needed to do something and soon! I started doing yoga almost as a mistake. I bought a yoga dvd because it was on sale for $5 and I thought it would be an easy and fun thing to do. At the beginning, I couldn’t even finish 10 minutes without huffing and puffing and feeling as though I was going to pass out. It was a big discouragement. Over time, I started looking on YouTube for beginner videos that I could do at home, no judgement. My partner bought me a cheapo mat and I would do 20 minutes of yoga once or twice a week. Looking back on it, I suppose that I started yoga strictly hoping that it would help me lose weight, I had developed seriously disturbing eating patterns because of the weight gain from my medication. I realize now, that I was quite literally on the mental path that would save me from my bad habits, and myself.

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I continued doing yoga once or twice a week for about a year or so, until I started thinking, “Hey! This is really amazing, look at what I’m accomplishing, everything that was hard is easy now! Let me keep pushing myself and let me see where it can go!” I started doing intermediate videos, then advanced poses. I would take my mat up to the cottage every weekend and just do flows in the forest with all the animals running around, or I would take it to the lake and listen to the waves lap up against the shore.

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The more I was doing yoga, the healthier I wanted to be in my life. I had toyed with raw veganism as a way to lose weight (it wasn’t for me), but enjoyed being able to eat a rainbow of food and wanted to avoid using chemical laden products that had been tested on animals, I wanted to live naturally. So I did.

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As soon as I began to listen to my body (quite easy to do while practicing yoga) and eating what it needed, when it needed it, everything changed. I was eating fruits and veggies at every single meal and avoiding foods that caused my migraines and eczema to flare. I began eating foods as medicine and went off of all my painkillers and prescription anti-anxiety medication. I was feeling so good! Inside and out! My confidence started coming back. My self worth! Other people had to know about this! I started pouring over books written by nutritionists and felt that every single word was written for me. It wasn’t long until I decided that I would go back to school to become a holistic nutritionist and get my yoga teaching certification so that I could pursue both my passions and help others. Which brings me to this blog.

I write this story (or perhaps overshare) for you to understand that if you have found this blog because you are looking for a way to feel better, I’ve been there and the solution is so simple! I’m here to help you! And if you found this blog because you just crave living naturally, healthfully and true to you, then I’m here to give you a few ideas too!

My goal is for The Om Shanti Life to be a safe space because that is what my mat is to me. I don’t worry about how much I weigh or diets, because when I do yoga, those aren’t the things that I think about. I also will not ever tote a specific “diet” or way of eating. You are the person who knows your body the best. Different bodies need different things. Yoga, eating mindfully and living naturally have completely shifted my perspective! Hopefully they will do the same for you! Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing things I wish that I could change, I look at myself and think about all the amazing ways that my body serves me. I hope that you will feel the same!

The Om Shanti Life is many things. A place for me to post healthy and exciting recipes, share reviews of natural products, suggest practices to improve your life and to talk about all the exciting things in the world of yoga, nutrition and healthy lifestyle that you’re sure to enjoy!

I look forward to sharing this with you!

Namaste.

(Note: I am not currently a registered holistic nutritionist or certified yoga teacher. Those are my goals, however and will definitely keep you updated and discuss my journey to those goals in this blog!)