Monday Musings: Seatbelts, everyone!

 “This exhibition [Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters or #GDTatMia] presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life.” -  Guillermo del Toro

You might be asking yourself… what the heck does that quote have to do with yoga OR YogaQuest, and why am I quoting Guillermo del Toro?! Fasten your seatbelts, we’re going on a field trip!

One of the many Funko Pop! figures you'll find at YogaQuest

One of the many Funko Pop! figures you'll find at YogaQuest

You find yourself in Uptown Minneapolis on a Tuesday night. You have just arrived at the YogaQuest studio, it’s quest night, and you are on time! The door is slightly ajar, and you hear chatter and laughter coming from inside the studio. You slip your shoes off, leaving them with several other pairs of shoes and sandals. You gently push the door open, and step inside the studio. You notice a lovely wood floor, and warm lighting. There are several people settled throughout the room on their mats, and as you turn toward the front of the room, you are warmly greeted by tonight’s teacher. You notice to your left, a shelf with a collection of lego mini figures, action figures, and gosh, too many Funko Pop! figures to count. You recognize most of them, but one in particular catches your eye. You didn’t even know they made a Funko Pop! of that character, but you are so excited to know it is a thing that exists in the world! You don’t know anyone here, but seeing that character represented, gives you a sense of belonging… someone here must love them too!
You head to the tall shelves to your right, grabbing a mat and bolster to borrow. Making your way to an open spot in the back of the room, you notice the far right corner is FULL full of signed photos from conventions. Some are promotional professional photo of and signed by an individual, but many are group photos of YogaQuest community members with some super awesome nerdy famous people... you can just feel the joy radiating out of those images in particular. Your eyes continue along the back wall, there are posters of bad-ass comic heroes, cartoon characters, and nerdy pop culture. Also, a giant stuffed shark wearing a crown?! You unroll your mat, sit on your bolster, and take a deep breath in, while you wait for the class to begin. Looking to your left, you notice your neighbor has a funko pop figure on the floor in front of their mat?! They notice you noticing it, introduce themselves, and explain that they find it helpful for balance (giving them a focal point that doesn’t move), while also helping them feel like a badass. You consider what you might bring next time, because that sounds like an awesome idea.

The teacher draws your attention to the front of the room, and the quest begins! 
(Try one of our online quests, all filmed at the Uptown Minneapolis YogaQuest studio: http://www.yogaquest.org/online-quests)

Costumes from Crimson Peak on display at Mia

Costumes from Crimson Peak on display at Mia

Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, & novelist, and Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters is an exhibition currently at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, here in Minneapolis Minnesota, through May 28th. Del Toro has collected a wide array of fine art, collectibles, and representation of people and stories which inspire him, keeping this collection in a Los Angeles home he calls "Bleak House”. 

After a stroll through the exhibition, we noticed some similarities between “Bleak House” and the YogaQuest studio. Both spaces are filled with representations of things that inspire us: 
In the #GDTatMia exhibition, actual props from some of his films are on view, along with life size representations of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as a replica of his ‘rain room’, where it always sounds like it is raining. At the YQdio, you will find action figures, framed prints, signed portraits, and often a custom soundscape or playlist (I’m looking at you, Vanessa!). 

Both spaces inspire curiosity, and when we engage our curiosity, we can more deeply explore what inspires us.

This Thursday, April 20th, YogaQuest will be appearing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, taking museum goers through the Guillermo del Toro film Crimson Peak, pose by pose... we hope to see you there!

 
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Rose is a recklessly optimistic Hufflepuff, generally amused by pretty much everything, and a helper at heart. She is navigating a career in information technology, while exploring her creative side through writing. She lives in the south metro, with her husband, dog, and two cats.

Monday Musings: A Guide to Joyful Movement, Part 1

One of the Health-At-Every-Size principles is “life-enhancing movement,” which is described as, “physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.” Seems like a reasonable approach, yet, if you’ve ever spent any time in mainstream culture (ahem, all of us have!), you’re guaranteed to have some preconceived ideas of what counts as exercise.

Mainstream messages like, “no pain, no gain,” depictions of fit people as almost exclusively thin and white, and hundreds of workout plans promising you everything from health to beauty to happiness set millions of people up with false-expectations and an unrealistic approach to fitness. Most of these plans disregard the science behind moving and even more only address physical health.

These messages are so pervasive in our world, it’s hard to even recognize where our own definition of joyful movement stops and society’s expectations begin. The first part of discovering what joyful movement means to you is untangling some of our preconceived notions of exercise. Being aware of the messages that don’t have your best interests at heart is key to being able to identify what truly brings you joy, not just what society tells you should bring you joy.

Let’s explore some common misconceptions… 

  1. I have to workout for xx minutes/x times per week for it to count: The biggest health gains from physical activity come from doing something instead of nothing. Increases beyond 90-minutes/week results in incremental health improvements in general, however, for any individual those benefits might be outweighed by lower quality of life in other areas. Health is a balance of physical, mental and emotional health.
  2. If some is good, more must be better! In the same vein of misconception #1, constantly pushing yourself to take on more days or longer workouts isn’t necessary to get the health benefits of physical activity and may actually sacrifice other areas of health, like your relationships or work life.
  3. Exercise only happens in certain places or only includes certain activities: Your body reaps the benefits of getting your blood pumping, no matter where or how it gets there!
  4. If you aren’t pushing yourself to the max, it doesn’t count: This misrepresentation of fitness as sweating profusely, huffing and puffing, and ready to collapse is actually a bit dangerous. The best benefits from exercise happen at 50-70% of your max heart rate; this means you should be able to speak in whole sentences, though you may not easily carry out a full conversation.
  5. Exercising will make you look a certain way: The big selling point of most fitness programs! Whether they promise a six-pack in ten weeks, losing inches or bulking up muscles, your genetics actually dictate your looks for the most part.
  6. Exercise is only for people who look a certain way: Unfortunately, all those images of a very specific type of person (thin, white, affluent) lead to a lot of people believing they don’t belong in gyms or other ‘traditional’ exercise venues. I can’t change all those exclusive messages (I wish I could), but perhaps this will allow you to see these messages for what they are: a marketing strategy to sell people on an unattainable illusion.
  7. Exercise will make you a better person: There is a sense that people who work out are inherently better people than those that don’t. They are supposedly hard-working, persistent, care about their health… the list could go on and on. Let’s take a moment to reflect on whether this is really true. Are people who work out regularly actually better than people who don’t? Everyone has demands on their time and they must prioritize, yet if someone choosing time with family over time at the gym, does that really reflect poorly on their moral character? Or someone who is prioritizing mental health at the moment? Additionally, some people have means to outsource daily activities of living (cooking, cleaning), freeing up time to workout, but most of us don’t have those options.
  8. Certain activities are better or healthier than others: For example, people tend to think of running as the epitome of healthy exercise, but this strenuous activity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Runners experience a lot of wear and tear on their joints, shin splints and stress fractures. My point is not to convince people who love running to stop running, but to show why people shouldn’t push themselves to do an activity that isn’t enjoyable just because it has a certain reputation.
  9. I need to eat a certain way to get the most out of exercising: For people who aren’t fitness professionals, there is no way of eating or drinking that will change what you get from working out. Formulas for when to eat protein vs. carbs, or how to replenish electrolytes only pertain to folks who do this for a living, for hours every day, or in extreme heat (I don’t recommend this for 99% of people!)
  10. Eating (insert food item here) negates my whole workout! Even though the health and wellness industry loves to associate diet and exercise, the benefits of physical activity are 100% independent from your diet.
     

BONUS! I’ve created a worksheet through Body Brave Consulting to guide you through creating joyful movement. Click here to get access to the worksheet.

Tune in next month for part 2!
 

 
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Ani is a fat activist and Health at Every Size promoter. She is currently pursuing a degree in Dietetics and is working towards the creation of a non-profit to support healthy relationships with food. She is also a geek, yogi, knitter, and lives with her partner and two dogs in Minneapolis.

Monday Musings: Emotional Labor vs. Well-Being

I read a book and some articles to save you time. But the ideas brought up were extremely thought provoking and I heartily recommend reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown to learn about combating shame, if you’re so inclined, and the following articles to familiarize yourself with the concept of emotional labor.

  • Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  • “Emotional labour: A significant interpersonal stressor” by Steven Kiely
  • “How companies force ‘emotional labor’ on low-wage workers” by Ned Resnikoff

What is emotional labor? All people, at some point or another, manage their feelings while “on the clock” to create a work-acceptable facial and bodily display - this is emotional labor. Some jobs require more emotional labor than others, for example: receptionists, therapists, educators, etc., because they must remain neutral or even falsely cheerful with customers/patients/coworkers/students at all times. Often it seems that this crucial and difficult task is not taken into account when classifying job difficulty, both in government and in private sector job classifications. 

"Emotional labor is 'management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display … sold for a wage'” - Arlie Russell Hochschild

How does this unmentioned job duty affect people? Routinely suppressing or faking feelings causes an internal conflict that can lead to stress, anxiety and depression. Being on the front lines often means an employee is subjected to the brunt of other people's displeasure, whether it's because they are delivering bad news ("the doctor is running late") or because they are not seen as someone worth treating well (customer talking on cell phone when ordering coffee), the result is the same. Employees start to feel less than. Less than themselves. Less than worthy. Less than human. At some point the toll of emotional labor carries into employees' personal lives; they can no longer connect with other people or themselves.

How can managers, supervisors, job classifiers and co-workers acknowledge and help employees to deal with the stress caused by routinely suppressing one's feelings or faking feelings? Should employees be allowed more time for health and well being, with more time away from the front lines? Is time away enough?

"We are psychologically, emotional cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging. Connection along with love and belonging (two expressions of connection), is why we are here, and it gives purpose and meaning to our lives." - Brené Brown

Imagine if companies provided all employees with paid time, a few hours a week, for proactive health and well being! People often think physical exercise but other wellness activities like meditation or therapy are crucial for whole health, especially if there is a combination of time for oneself and for connecting with others. Employers would retain and recruit happier, healthier and more productive employees if they incorporated these benefits to offset unpaid emotional labor. Additionally, an institutional wellness initiative is more impactful than an individual trying to find time in their personal life. Health education/information is beneficial, but individuals can only do so much with information. When institutions, supervisors, peers, etc. provide time and support, employees can actually use all the wellness information that is widely available. 

You might not have the power to make institutional changes but you likely have coworkers; how can you support them? 

Perhaps you need support or have been successful at asking for support: how did you ask for help? 

Is being vulnerable the opposite of emotional labor?

Share your ideas here, on our blog, or on our YogaQuest Facebook Page.

 

Other Quotes of Interest:

"SA [surface acting] has been linked to negative psychological and physical health outcomes including burnout in the form of increased emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, reduced personal accomplishment, job dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, psychosomatic  complaints, and intentions to resign."  - Steven Kiely

"When we teach or model to our children that vulnerability is dangerous and should be pushed away, we lead them directly into danger and disconnection." Brené Brown

"Due to the failure by traditional job evaluation systems to adequately measure and compensate for emotional labour in monetary  terms...organizations should consider using formal and informal rewards  and recognition as a symbol of appreciation for the emotional effort exerted by employees." - Steven Kiely

"I am suggesting that we stop dehumanizing people and start looking them in the eye when we speak to them." - Brené Brown

 

Jennyann - Poet, Yoga Teacher, Expert Waffle Maker, Designer

Currently reading:
The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin
Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 1 by Joseph Fink

Monday Musings: Finding Joy

I, like many of us, wake up and check Facebook and see more headlines and horrific news stories. I feel like the world is burning down around my ears all the time. On top of it, and I’m going to be honest here, money’s really tight, I haven’t had time to do the dishes in a week, I’m impressed that I have clean clothing to wear to work, there’s something sticky on my living room floor, and I’ve also started school full time (because I didn’t have enough to do).

It’s a lot.

And I’m not alone. Collectively, we are feeling more and more stressed out – the ends that barely made it are not quite making it anymore, and everything feels tense and scary. And, despite the constant communication, we feel alone in all this. How can I have people over to my house when the kitchen is not just messy, but at high grossness level of mess? How can I take time to visit with friends when I haven’t had any time with my partner? Not only am I freaked out about money ALL THE TIME, but I’m also so afraid that everyone’s going to judge me because we ran out of money again this month, that I just don’t talk about it to anyone.

Secret is: we are all going through this.

How do we stop it?

Two things:

  1. Talk about it. Start with close friends. Open up about how much it sucks to be in debt (and most of us are!). Talk about how you can’t catch up on the laundry. Discuss how you’re afraid people are going to judge you about whatever you’re afraid people are going to judge you about. If you speak up and voice what isn’t being said, you’ll give space for others to do the same. You don’t have to have answers or solutions, but making that connection and that space has stress relieving effects. For me, knowing I’m not alone is so huge – when I can call my best friend and say, “OMG. I just had a bill go into collections and it really sucks, and I’m feeling afraid of it, and there is literally nothing I can do about it” Is incredibly freeing. Names have power. Let’s name these things out loud.
     
  2. Find joy. Trust me, I know it’s trite. But, hear me out. Take a couple moments each day (I do this first thing in the morning), and think about the day before. Think about what made you happy, or gave you a momentary smile. It can be big things, but it doesn’t have to be. Something that gives me joy is writing with a certain pen I have. I just love it and I get excited when I get to write with it. I really love having my daily coffee. Finding joys – small and big – can be a huge stress reliever. It helps to get out of the muck of the day for just a moment.

What are the small joys that you find in your day? Share with us in the comments! 

 

Kat is a yoga teacher (RYT200), student, partner, mother, and all- around badass woman. She is honored to share her Monday Musings with her YogaQuest Community.