75 Minute Vinyasa Flow Podcast: Practice with me from your home!

 

I’m happy to share with you a free, online 75 minute podcast where I guide you through an all-levels Vinyasa Flow class. I have a few 30-minute quick yoga videos on my YouTube channel, but I wanted to offer something more to my friends who live far away or just can’t make it to my class regularly. I also like the idea of a podcast over a video because it authentically represents what I present in my classes: I limit my demoing and try to use my voice as much as possible in order to get students feeling in their body and not focusing on what it might look like in someone else’s.

One of my good friends actually requested a full hour-long class a few months ago, but I never got around to it. Hopefully the extra 15 minutes makes up for the delay, Moya!

This class is Vinyasa Flow, so expect a rigorous, dynamic practice to connect you with your breath and get energy moving in your body. There may even be an arm balance or two thrown in there just for fun.

As I get ready to move to Santa Cruz in a few weeks, I hope my Just Be friends can use this while I’m away, while you’re off own your own travels, or whenever you can’t make it to the studio and need to squeeze a home practice in.

If you enjoy the class, subscribe to my SoundCloud page, where I’ll be uploading more classes over time!

 

xoxo

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Yogi Recipes: Italian Turkey Spaghetti Squash Boats

This summer, I’ve spent a lot of time cooking fast, easy meals. Teaching, traveling, and exploring the Bay Area has meant a lot of days getting home late and scrambling to throw something together. This recipe was born out of a need for a fast, hearty meal that would clean out the fridge and satisfy two very hungry yogis. It definitely fit the bill, and I’m happy to share it with you today!
This meal pleases just about anyone who loves the familiar, comforting taste of spaghetti (which is everyone, right?). Bonus: there is something incredibly satisfying about scraping the sides of an odd, yellow squash and magically ending up with spaghetti noodles.
Ingredients: 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 liberal handful of baby spinach
  • 1 large spaghetti squash, halved
  • 1 tsp dried fennel
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
  • 1 pound ground turkey thigh
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled, cooked tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Here’s what you’ll do:
  1. Halve the spaghetti squash, remove the seeds, and place each half face-down in an inch of water in a high-brimmed tray. Place in the oven at 400 to cook while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large pan, sauté the diced onion in the olive oil on medium heat until clear.
  3. Add the turkey and season with the spices and garlic.
  4. Once the turkey is nearly done, add the tomatoes.
  5. Reduce the heat to low-medium, add the spinach and cover the pan until wilted.
  6. Once the spaghetti squash is fork-tender, remove from the oven. Use a fork to scrape the sides until the “spaghetti” appears.
  7. Pour half of the turkey mixture into each half of the squash. Serve straight from the boat!

 

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And I Still Haven’t Forgiven Myself

This past week, on a whim, I threw on Trevor Hall’s album “KALA” as I drove home from teaching.

I have a lot of beautiful, nostalgic associations with Trevor’s music. I first heard his song “The Mountain” the first time I practiced at Just Be, and it brings me back to that first space of playfulness and joy of discovering my love of yoga. In fact, his song “The Lime Tree” was played at the end of most of my very first yoga classes, and every time I hear it I’m taken back to those blistery December nights, laying on my mat in the dark, looking up at the faint Christmas lights twinkling on the ceiling.

But I never really went out of my way to listen to his music on my own until the other day. I had played “The Lime Tree” in my Yin class purely for the nostalgia, and decided to put on his most recent album for my drive home just for kicks. The album shuffled through a few songs, and I enjoyed all of them, but about partway through my drive the song “Forgive” came on.

If you’ve never heard Trevor’s music, it’s simultaneously ethereal and earthy, mixing the sounds of reggae, rock, and Sanskrit chanting in a way that could easily be cheesy, but is somehow effortlessly beautiful. Although I’m, admittedly, a listener of some music that has less-than-positive lyrics (I’m a shameless and unlikely rap and hip hop fan), Trevor’s music always carries an uplifting message. His music speaks of love, compassion, acceptance, and living life to the fullest.

This song, however, had a message that hit me in an unexpected way.

Towards the end, slam poet and “conscious hip hop artist” Luka Lesson recites this poem:

 

“Forgive everything that has ever happened, life is everything we can imagine laid out in patterns of pain and passion, you cannot control it, so keep your compassion. There are no accidents, there are no factions, there is no ‘us and them’, nothing to borrow or lend, no enemy of friend. And only forgiveness can make that happen. Forgiveness is giving, so give yourself this gift from time to time, and from all of your mistakes come all of your greatest gifts in disguise.”

As soon as the last line was finished, something I’ve been namelessly carrying in my heart for years became identifiable. In a sudden moment of clarity, I recognized the source of a lot of pain I’ve quietly kept to myself since I was 13 years old. I suddenly understood nights alone, wondering why I was sad when everything seemed so happy. I suddenly understood hundreds of unfinished poems in documents long archived. I suddenly understood the twinges of guilt, floodgates barely restrained, over every action, every interaction, for the past four years of my life.

I still haven’t forgiven myself for having an eating disorder.

And I know this is ridiculous because every day I preach that mental illness isn’t something we can control, it’s only something we live through. Every day I strive to prove to the world that the things we’re handed only serve to make us more compassionate, more understanding, more relatable. Every day I try to be gentle with myself and move in a direction of lightness. And yet, this guilt has hung onto my fibers in a way I just can’t shake.

I suddenly came to realize that I’ve been writing a confession in my head every day from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed.

I’m sorry that I didn’t take care of myself, and I that I didn’t eat the food that people are desperate for across the world every day. I’m sorry that I isolated myself from friends and experiences that could have changed my life for years. I’m sorry that I spent endless amounts of my parents’ money trying to get out of the grip of a disease that was born from my own mind. I’m sorry that I was hospitalized the weekend of Mother’s Day, the weekend we were supposed to go to a baseball game together and stay in a nice hotel be a happy family for once. I’m sorry that my mother was sleeping on a hospital bed next to me for days without a shower or a warm meal. I’m sorry that my brother’s birthday was ruined because I was hooked up to an EKG two hours away from home and my mother couldn’t be there to celebrate with him. I’m sorry I hurt the body and spirit that I now so fiercely protect.

I’m sorry for it all, and I still haven’t forgiven myself.

The other day before class a woman told me that she reads my blog, and it’s helped her work through her teenage daughter’s recent struggles with anxiety. She told me that my authenticity about my struggles helps keep her grounded in reality, and keeps her from comparing where I am today, years into my journey, from where her daughter is at the beginning of her own. She told me I don’t know how my words are helping others.

But while she- and seemingly the whole world- has forgiven me for my past, I still haven’t.

Because when everyone around me is telling me that they think I’m a good role model, or that they appreciate me sharing my story, or even that they look up to me, I still feel guilty about it’s roots. I still think back to the days that I lied through my teeth and hid good food and swore up and down that everything was okay when it truly wasn’t. I still think back to the days that I yelled and howled at the parents who were only trying to keep me alive when I didn’t want to be.  I still think back to the beginning of teacher training, when I was still so encapsulated by my own self-prescribed routines and obsessions that I couldn’t be present to the priceless gift that had been handed to me.

And to be fucking honest, I think to the days of not-so-distant past when I’m not being a good role model. I think to the days of last week, or last month, or even yesterday when I saw a picture of myself and criticized the tiny imperfections I could see, or when I felt a familiar stress over not knowing what was in the food I had eaten, or when I stared at myself in a  dressing room and cursed the fact that some clothes don’t “look right” on me.

I feel guilty because although everything I teach and everything I write comes straight from the heart, it doesn’t mean I live it all of the time, and sometimes I worry that people think I do.

I’ve never been able to see this guilt until recently, but it’s been bubbling up to the surface more boldly as the clock ticks closer and closer towards my move next month. It’s been forewarned to me since beginning treatment for my disorder four years ago that the transition from high school to college is a common time for relapse. The combination of stress, loss of routine, and adjustment to life away from home is enough to distress anyone, but particularly those with a history of disordered eating, depression, or anxiety. I have suffered from all of these things.

I’ve tried to keep this knowledge on my sleeve and in the back of my mind as time goes on, to keep myself from getting too cocky about my place in remission and to remind myself that recovery is always an active choice, but I’m coming to realize that it’s causing me pain.

I’m tired of assuming that things will be hard. I’m tired of “hoping for the best but expecting the worst.” I’m tired of identifying first and foremost as and anorexic and secondarily as a human.

I broke down to a friend the other day, crying into the handle of their car door in the driveway of their grandmother’s house, about how sick of being sick I was. It’s just recently that I’ve been able to recognize this, to recognize that I’ve been carrying honest-to-god shame about where I’ve come from. Not shame in the sense that I don’t want to talk to people about it (this blog was sprung from the fact that I talk about the shit I don’t want to talk about), but shame in the sense that it hurts the way I’m able to view, forgive, and accept myself.

I’ve come a long way in accepting my flaws. I no longer define myself by my appearance, by my academic performance, or by my comparative success to other people. I no longer beat myself up over flaws or imperfections. I feel confident in my skin and in my voice, and yet I can’t fucking let go of the fact that I did bad things.

I still feel like an imposter sometimes, because of the things I’ve lied about, because of the time I’ve stolen, because of the resources I’ve dwindled. And it’s because of this that I was almost too afraid to go to college- I just assumed that being someone who comes from seeds of pain and sickness I would fail, or at least desperately struggle in a way I simply didn’t want to do anymore. I had come such a long way in my happiness and my rootedness that willingly throwing myself into a whirlpool of disorder (figuratively and literally) didn’t make any sense at all in my head.

But that single line in that single verse of that single song suddenly made me realize that I need to forgive to move forward.

 “Forgiveness is giving, so give yourself this gift from time to time, and from all of your mistakes come all of your greatest gifts in disguise.”

Forgiveness is a gift, it’s not something that comes to us naturally, it’s something we must grace upon ourselves should we want to continue to grow. Forgiveness is a gift that I’ve withheld from myself for so long because I felt like I had committed sins I could never repent, and while I’ve come a hell of a long way, I can only come so far without its aid.

My therapist once asked me if I thought my blog had a theme. I thought for a moment, and then said, “Acceptance.”

“That’s exactly the word I had in mind.” She said, “Acceptance.”

I have accepted who I am. I have accepted where I’ve come from. Now it is time to forgive.

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Everyday Goddesses: Carolyn Wheeler

There are few people who are more fun to be around than Carolyn.

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Photo credit: Jenny Hirsohn

I met Carolyn after she did the Just Be Yoga teacher training this past year, and was immediately in love with her spunky personality, unparalleled sense of humor, and ability to find lightness in any situation. A self-described “east coast/ west coast transplant/bounce around-er,” Carolyn is originally from Georgia, but a California girl at heart. Her wanderlust is close to her heart, and has become a large part of who she is. Carolyn current lives in West Oakland, and works as a yoga teacher and as a patient care coordinator at a doctor’s office.

Sometimes I’m in awe at how I spend my days- I’m always exploring the city, going to San Francisco, taking a day trip to a beach or a lake, going camping, hiking, surfing, doing yoga, or just gardening in my garden.” says Carolyn.

Carolyn is most definitely an Everyday Goddess, and I’m excited to be able to share her story here today (as Carolyn says, “I have a lot of story.”). Without further ado, here is Carolyn in her own words.

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Tell Me I’m Not the Best

When I was in third grade, I got in trouble for talking in class.

We were still at that point in school where our behavior was tracked with colored cards: “green” was a good day, “blue” was a pretty good day with some slip-ups, and “red” was parent-teacher-conference-level bad. From my first day of kindergarten, I prided myself in never going a day without a green card. The very idea of getting in trouble made my skin crawl, and so much as a gentle reprimand made my eyes fill with tears and my cheeks flush with embarrassment. I was the epitome of a goodie-two-shoes, and teachers always gushed to my parents about how well-behaved I was in the classroom.

On this day, however, the unthinkable happened. No matter how many times I was told to be quiet and stop chatting with my neighbor, I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Eventually, my card that had never been touched was flipped to blue, and my world was flipped upside down with it. After school, I ran out to the benches where my mother was waiting for me, and immediately broke down in tears.

I got a blue card.” I choked out between sobs, as though I was confessing to murder instead of being a chatty nine-year-old.

My mother, seeing how distraught I was, decided to go visit my teacher in the classroom. I trailed behind her, crying dramatically in my purple jelly shoes and lopsided pigtails. When we got there, the teacher seemed worried that I was so upset, and sat us down to talk.

“It was unusual.” My teacher said, “She’s usually so well-behaved, but today she just kept talking. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I had to flip her card to teach her a lesson.”

“Right,” My mother said, “She has to learn to listen to her teacher.”

“Well, I think she already knew that,” My teacher continued, “What I really wanted to teach her was that it’s okay to not be perfect all the time.”

This was the first time I’d ever heard this idea. Although my parents never pressured me to be perfect, I had always had a compulsively type-A personality. The idea of not being perfect, and more than that, being okay with not being perfect was incomprehensible. I was the top reader in my grade, the kid who stayed in at lunch to file papers for the teacher, the kid who offered to help adults mediated fights on the playground. I had made a full-time career out of perfectionism before even hitting middle school, and the idea of being okay with imperfection had never even crossed my mind.

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Being an Introvert in College

I’m embarrassed to tell people I’m living in a single dorm in college.

I’m afraid people will think I’m spoiled, or that I’m anti-social, or that I’m weird.

But my blog has always been centered around one rule: talk about the shit you don’t want to talk about.

When I was younger, I tried really hard to be like everyone else. I tried to be loud because the loud people were the well-liked people. I tried to be overtly feminine because the girly-girls were the popular girls. I tried to go to parties and big social events and constantly be around people until I was so emotionally exhausted that I would isolate myself for weeks at a time, all because I thought that was what it meant to be a “fun” person. I didn’t understand who I was, how I operated, or how to find and respect my limits to optimize my happiness and productivity.

After years of soul-searching, therapy, journaling, and reading the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain, I’ve come to realize I’m an introvert, and that’s okay. Being an introvert is not an inherently negative characteristic: I’m not painfully shy, I don’t lack social skills, and I CAN be an effective leader. It just means I need time by myself to recharge and reconnect in order to be happy and productive.

And while some may say I’m missing out on “the college experience” by not having a roommate in the dorms, I know I’m making the right decision for myself. I know that in order to serve others, I must first serve myself, and I cannot pour from an empty cup. I know that I need a space to be alone and disconnect in order to reconnect. I know that it’s okay to make decisions that may be different from the norm because we are all different in our constitution and perception of the world, and that my “college experience” may not be typical, but it will be exactly what I need, even if it looks a little different.

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On the Way Home

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I spent the past four days at the Squaw Valley Wanderlust Festival.

That meant four days of mountain air, practicing under the guidance of masterful teachers, meeting interesting people, hiking and exploring nature, and connecting with the warm yoga community as much as I could. Walking through the festival was like finding my own special haven- everywhere I looked there was celebration. Celebration of life, celebration of nature, celebration of health. Throughout the entire experience I felt no sense of hate, anger, or discrimination. I saw strangers hugging and laughing, friends dancing and playing together, and teachers sharing their passion with such enthusiasm and such love that it inspired everyone to come together and practice as one regardless of who they were or where they came from.

One theme, however, crept up again and again throughout the weekend.

I first became really conscious of it when I took MC Yogi’s class, “Only Love is Real”, Friday afternoon. Before class began, Nicholas Giacomini (who is better known by his stage name) asked the packed class to leave our mats and come circle around him. Pressed shoulder-to-shoulder against the stage, we listened to Nicholas perform his song Road Home. After the song completed, he paused, absorbed the applause for a moment, and then began to speak.

“This class has already happened.” he said, a grin on his face like he knew a secret we didn’t, “We practiced, and we moved, and we laid in savasana already.”

“And then we went to the rest of our day, and we ate dinner, and we went to bed.” He continued, “And we woke up the next day and did it all over again. And the next day. And then the weekend was over and we all went home. And then weeks passed. And then a month. And then two months. And then it was winter.”

At this point the class was captivated. We stared at this unassuming yoga teacher, dressed more like a rapper than a stereotypical yogi, wondering where this seemingly nonsensical speech was going.

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Get Weekly Inspiration: The YogaMaris Newsletter

Hello friends!

I’m excited to share with you the news that I’m beginning a weekly newsletter! I’m sure you’re somewhat familiar with the premise: you sign up with your email to receive information, news, and updates from your favorite websites, brands, and blogs. But I’m also sure that you’re familiar with how full and inbox can become, and how sick you can get of receiving spammy messages because you gave Forever 21 your email back in 2010.

Not to worry, this newsletter is a little different! Here I’ll be compiling the best of the best that I want to share with you! That’s going to mean a short message from me about what’s on my heart and what I feel is important to start a conversation on, my answers to the questions I get here on my blog and on social media, the most interesting news articles and inspirational writings I can find, my favorite recipes from around the web, my old blog posts from the archives, and just about anything that I feel is relevant, valuable, and helpful to include.

That’s a lot of stuff!

Don’t worry, it’s all been made well-contained and easily digestible for you. This is a great way to ensure you stay up-to-date on any special events I’m planning, workshops I’m hosting, or charities I’m supporting. It’s also one of the best ways to make sure your week is filled with some inspiration that will keep you uplifted, informed, and empowered on all things health and wellness.

Click here to sign up!

The newsletter will start rolling out once a week very soon, so go ahead and take a few minutes now to sign yourself up! If at any point you think, “Hmm, I think there’s a bit too much Maris in my life right now” (I get it), unsubscribing is easily available at the end of any email you’ll receive from me. So go ahead and take the leap! This is a free, noncommittal resource I’m beyond happy to offer you.

Below are some screenshots of what you can expect to receive in your inbox on the weekly. Take a peek!

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Weekly thoughts on life, yoga, health, and more.

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Your questions from my social media and blog answered weekly.

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Interesting articles, helpful resources, and scientific studies to help you make informed decisions and life changes.

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My favorite healthy recipes and my blog posts from the archives.

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Updates on my latest events and teaching.

What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up!

On Being a Student

I’ve been practicing yoga for awhile now.

One of the beautiful things about the practice is that you’re never quite done. There’s no endpoint, no final destination where you can say, “Well, I mastered yoga! Glad I can finally check that off my list.” There’s always something more to work on, always a new variation or a new arm balance or a different way to get into an inversion. New edges present themselves in every yoga class you will ever take, and it’s a practice that you can carry with you for literally your entire life in one form or another.

Over the past year or so, however, I’ve found that yoga has truly shifted into a new role in my life. While it was once my main focus in terms of physical fitness and health, it has now become far more of a creative and artistic outlet for me, as well as my form of spirituality and mindfulness practice. While a good Vinyasa class can still kick my ass, and there are many physical goals I have around yoga (I’m coming for you, puppy press), I’ve been craving another way to challenge my body, as well as simply a desire to try something new that will push me out of my comfort zone.

In October, I recorded a podcast with holistic nutritionist, community-builder, and Olympic lifter Steph Gaudreau. Since then, she’s become one of my biggest role models and inspirations. Her message of empowerment, strength, and shame-free health resonates deeply with me and many others, and it’s been a pleasure to get to know her over the past year. If you take a look at Steph’s personal Instagram, the first thing you’ll notice is that she’s a total badass. The more I saw her videos of heavy lifting, complex Olympic movements, and impressive physical feats, the more I started to think, “Hey, maybe I could do that.”

One of my favorite quotes is by Socrates:

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

I wanted to see just what I was capable of, and just how much I could improve, so I headed down to a local gym that specializes in strength training and signed myself up for the summer. With me heading down to Santa Cruz in the fall, I wanted to learn some new skills and ways to challenge my fitness before I got to school, and, honestly, I was excited to test my strength. I definitely feel strong when I’m holding a headstand or arm balance, but recently I’ve felt really drawn to training specifically to develop strength and seeing that linear progression of improvement over time.

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Who Am I?: Letting Go and Identity

It is no secret that Just Be Yoga changed my life.

When I walked through the doors of Just Be for the first time, I was fourteen, anorexic, anxious, and completely devoid of excitement. Getting out of bed in the morning was a struggle- not just because my body was weak, but because there was nothing I was living for. I had no passion, no driving force behind anything that I did and nothing that made me grateful to be alive. It was less than a year since my release from the hospital for my disorder, and around the same time that Just Be was opening its doors to the community. On a random Sunday where a free class at the new studio just happened to be offered, I walked into the room that would, unbeknownst to me at the time, become the cocoon I needed to house my transformation over the next two years.

It was during that first class, drenched in sweat and overwhelmed by the music and the language and the energy of the room, that I first began to believe that there was something more to life- something I was missing out on and something that I desperately wanted to find.

For Christmas that year, my mom bought me the “New Student Special,” which got me 30 days of unlimited yoga classes for 30 dollars. For a month straight, I showed up on my mat- which had been gifted to me by the studio owner on the day of that first fateful class- every day without fail. Some days I was the only one in class. Other days there were “big classes” with five or six of us. The studio was just beginning to blossom, and I began to feel myself grow with it. I got a job working there the summer after my sophomore year of high school; checking people in at the front desk, sweeping the floors, cleaning the mats. More than being a job or a way to earn some extra money, I felt as though I owed some kind of debt to the studio for keeping me safe as I navigated a new chapter of my life, one where I was always seeking something more, something to light me up the same way my first taste of yoga had lit me up. I wanted to take care of it the way it had taken care of me, and more than that, I wanted to be there as much as I possibly could.

Just before I began my junior year, my teacher, mentor, and inspiration Jenni offered me the opportunity to participate in Just Be’s first ever teacher training program. I was astounded, grateful, and, above all else completely terrified. I was scared that I wasn’t ready, or that I wasn’t old enough, or that I wouldn’t be a good teacher. I was scared that I would disappoint Jenni, or that I wouldn’t be able to balance my schoolwork and my yoga training and lose my identity as an academic. But it was this fear that made me realize that I had to do it: nothing would scare me this much if it wouldn’t change me in some way, and I desperately wanted to change.

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