Lately, we’ve been talking about finding light in darkness (rememberDesiderata?) making decisions based on gut feelings. And today, we’re riffing off of that theme, in a brand new way…
I’m not a “things” type of person, but the “things” I DO own, it’s because they make me feel a certain way, or carry a certain meaning or message.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably see a few things over and over: my stack of bracelets, and a tiny little “Hamsa” I wear around my neck.
Today’s guest is Rachelle Tratt, LA yoga instructor and founder of the jewelry line The Neshama Project.The Neshama Project has developed almost a cult following here in LA, and it was born out of her desire to bring her passion for educating others about a culture she loved and wanting to make the world a healthier, brighter place.
Rachelle inspires me because she’s not your typical yoga pro – or even your typical entrepreneur. She’s seen a LOT, which we’ll get into in this episode, and she always rode on the feeling that she was meant to do something important with her life, without even knowing exactly what that meant.
As you’ll hear, and as you probably already know about me, I’m not just interested in the light easy breezy moments or the dark rough spots, I’m most fascinated by the intersection of the two and how they can, as the tagline says, help you move forward fearlessly onto the path you’re meant to follow.
In this episode, we talk about the fallacy of the necessity of the 5-year plan, turning ideas into action, being a people person and the necessary boundaries that come with that, cultivating your intuition, moving forward through what seem like the worst of challenges life can throw at you, and finding not only meaning but a lesson in every single moment, even if it’s not clear at first. And of course, before this episode, I internet-stalked her and read a sentence somewhere about a Hummus challenge she took. So obviously, I had to ask about that.
If you’ve ever experienced extreme lows, loss, have a sense of adventure but don’t know how to cultivate that, or are interested in building a community that speaks to who you are and who you want to be, this is the episode for you.
*WANT DISCOUNT* Rachelle is offering our WANT community 10% off all Neshama Project products! I wear my necklace and bracelet every day. Use the discount code WANT10 at checkout, and be sure to follow them on Instagram, etc for special holiday deals!
Tricia Huffman‘s been there…twice. First, leaving her secure office job to follow her passion of working in live music production – and second, leaving her successful music production job to follow her passion of living your best life. Neither of which, by the way, were kick-started by anything but pure heart and an unwavering belief in herself that she could.
Tricia wasn’t just a leader in her industry, she was one of the only women in her industry. By asking lots of questions, following her heart, and having a hunger to learn, Tricia went from selling shirts at the House Of Blues to literally running the show on tour for pretty much every big-name artist you’ve heard of…you name it, she’s worked it. As a woman working in a male-dominated field, Tricia always made sure to stay down-to-earth, empathetic, and thirsty for knowledge. Six years and countless worldwide tours later, Tricia was successful, well-loved, and had created both career and community. On the outside, she was living the dream. And on the inside, she was loving it.
And then, something happened that changed her perspective: her father passed away suddenly.
After taking time off from the road to sit and reevaluate life, pursuing what made her healthy and happy, she realized that she had an intense pull to help others do the same. She wanted to do something more with her life: to help everyone live passionately and purposefully. When she went back on tour with that intention in her mind – to help musicians (who are often worn down by rigorous touring schedules, performances, and don’t always have self-care at the forefront of their minds) stay healthy, happy, and yes, joyous while on the road. It was Jason Mraz (at the time, she was his sound engineer and tour manager) who ended up feeling so good as a result of her coaching that he told his team, “I don’t know what Trish is doing…but I want her doing this for us all the time!”
I’m not risk averse in the least, but change is usually something I approach with caution. I ease into transitions, aware that I’m sensitive to shifts and can get overwhelmed by the delicate balance of mourning the loss of what once was + celebrating the newness of what will be. And sometimes, when I’m not in my most self-aware and self-loving state, this caution can slow me down almost to a halt.
People like Tricia inspire me because they are actual living proof that following your passion and sense of purpose always works the way it needs to – even if the vision morphs along the way. Now coaching others both one-on-one and in groups, she’s got a whole line of products to go with her biz, including her Own Your Awesome affirmation deck and a little poster I love about Doing The Wants:
Tricia’s career trajectory and life is a master class in this.
What is your definition of “positivity?” Seeing things for what they are but choosing to find the good in all of it.
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” When I was 15. I had lots of undiagnosed pain and other medical problems and was a freshman in high school and dealing with all of that pettiness and my parents weren’t happy. I felt very alone and unloved and contemplated ending it all. I decided if I was going to end it, I may as well give myself one more chance and live my life, my way, not caring so much about everyone else and choosing to love myself. That it didn’t matter what everyone else was doing I could love myself.
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: I have a pretty good handle on seeing it come up in my mind… I teach people how to tune into it themselves so they can transform it.
But, it still comes up. Right now it comes up most with my new endavour of an inspring merchandise line. I am so eager to get it into stores worldwide and get a ton of exposure, so I have to keep acknowledging myself for all of the progress I am making instead of wanting the big end goal right now.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… Very quickly thrown out and converted into affirmations, and ackowledgment.
When others talk negatively about themselves… I call them out on it and lift them up.
It baffles me that women still… Talk so badly about their physical appearances.
I wish that more women… Would love and appreciate how amazing they are, right now, as they are.
The coolest thing about women is… Our ability to be so many things at once. We don’t have to fit into a box. We can be amazing mothers, teachers, leaders, and express ourselves outwardly by what we say, do and even wear.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Remembering that I have the power to choose how I see it all and what I choose to do with it.
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… calling them out on them (with love) And not just saying “Oh no honey you aren’t ____,” but saying, I don’t want to hear you talk that way about yourself.
Favorite negativity-busting activity: getting out into the world. Even running an errand. Gets me out of my head and reminds me that we all are going through things. It makes me more compassionate.
Fave self-love ritual: walking and really just vegging out and watching good tv and not feeling an ounce of guilt for it!
Favorite feel-good food(s): This vegan gluten free mac and cheese recipe I love to make…But really love a good kale salad and roasted kabocha squash
Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Romantic comedies
My feel-good playlist: I don’t have one! Lately I am into dancey pop driven songs..I think spin class got me hooked on that.
Advice I would give my… …4 year old self: Never stop seeing the world in wonder. …14 year-old self: You are perfect as you are. …24 year old self: Keep following your heart.
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: 1) To be a mother – currently happening. 2) To get my affirmation deck into Urban Outfitters. 3) To be able to run my inspiring merchandise line and be a present mother. 4) To be able to retire (I don’t have an active retirement fund). 5) To show my children some of my favorite places that I was lucky enough to visit around the world. Definitely Italy.
My best tip on self love: Do affirmations in the mirror. It is uncomfortable because it works.
When I truly love all of myself… Everything falls into place
Right now, I am most excited about… The baby I am expecting!
My body is: Strong
Three words to describe me: Real, alive, present
Current mantra: I am a badass!
WANT YOURSELF: Tricia inspires me to follow my heart and take risks, and now I want to hear from you. What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? What did you learn?
Yoga is such a personal thing. While one yogi might love an athletic, fast-paced flow, another might get high off of getting grounded. Whether you're into acro or Ashtanga, hip openers or headstands, Radiohead or Raam Das - there's a flow for that.
...however, a little bit of outside inspiration never hurt.
There are studies and findings, but you don't need to look farther than your own closet to know that what you wear and what you have can greatly impact your self-perception. I'm all about less-is-more, but I'm also incredibly sentimental and know that what I own is a reflection of who I am. This kind of mindful minimalism, especially when it comes to my yoga gear/fitness gear (#myweakness) keeps me in check and feeling fully self-expressed long after I leave the studio. Here are my personal top 7 faves for self-love on and off the mat:
La Vie Boheme Yoga Mats
By far the most drop-down-dog gorgeous yoga mats I've ever seen in my life. I personally own the Bahar Mat and the Navajo Yoga Rug (pictured above), and they make me smile every single time I unroll them to begin my practice. shop here
Spiritual Gangster Crop
One of my favorite brands. So muchso it currently has a monopoly over my closet. I live in this crop. I wear it to work. I wear it to concerts. I wear it to yoga. I wear it to family dinners. Basically, it might as well be my second skin. shop here
Incense, Incense, Incense
I love me some candles, but there is something so special and ritual about lighting a stick of incense. Flicking the match. Gently catching the flame onto the incense. Fanning the smoke a bit until the smoke slowly curls up in ringlets and swirls. That, to me, is yoga. shop here
Tiny Devotions x Danielle LaPorte True Desire Mala
Call me basic hippie-dippie, but I love me some mala action. Not just any mala beads, though - I like my jewelry to have intention behind it. Tiny Devotions is one of my favorite brands - and this collaboration with Danielle LaPorte is gorgeous and simple enough to go with anything. shop here
Electric & Rose Speedway Sports Bra
I cannot say enough good things about Electric & Rose. Forget the fact that their gear is ridiculously cute, cool, functional, and flattering - they're a local brand with a big, big heart. I love supporting small businesses and startups that are run on a fusion of passion and purpose. In a pretty saturated market, E&R has managed to stand out in the crowd. Fun side note, each item is named after a street in the founders' hometown of Venice Beach (love).shop here
Yogasmoga Vivacity Leggings
Doing the eco-chic fitnesswear thing isn't the simplest thing ever when you sweat buckets (hi). Which is why I was so stoked to discover Yogasmoga last month. I visited the new location in Beverly Hills without knowing much about the brand - and walked out a fan for life. Not only is everything about their company eco-friendly and responsibly made (right down to the reclaimed wood they use to build out their stores), their activewear is both fierce and flattering. Bonus points for the very WANTy gold accents on these leggs. shop here
Hope Gillerman Stress Remedy
Essentials oils: yes, they work. And yes, they're game changing. Hope Gillerman is the queen of the essential oil revolution in my eyes, blending scents together perfectly for pretty much anything that might ail you. Her Stress Remedy roll-on is perfect pre-yoga practice - or, let's get real, at work, in traffic, stuck in line at Target on a Sunday... shop here
“Negative talk shows up in my life in the typical places – it’s at lunch with my college girlfriends, and in the locker room of the gym. It’s at work, with my coworkers. But you know where it isn’t? At my house, in my bedroom, in my heart, or on my yoga mat. And that’s all that matters.”
Western “yoga culture” elicits strong opinions and feelings from practitioners, teachers, and pop culture mavens who see it plastered on billboards and capitalized on in commercials as well as headlining summer tours and vacation retreats. Becoming a yoga teacher is now considered a lucrative and fulfilling career (as it should be!), and folks are now foregoing happy hour in order to get their flow on. Hippie-dippie festival gear is headlining the aisles at Target. Mats and mantras are being sold in the same strip malls as 7-Elevens.
And that’s not a bad thing. The more people who are open to yoga – whether it be a regular asana practice or simply a yogic lifestyle – the better. Like the food you choose to eat, yoga is a fluid concept that can be tailored to each individual’s life and lifestyle. And just like healthy eating is trending right now, so is yoga – and that inherently exposes more and more people to an aspect of life that isn’t just good for YOU, it’s good for the world AROUND you. We’re all just bouncing off each other’s energy waves, after all.
The problem with yoga as a pop culture phenomenon isn’t the yoga itself…it’s the generalizations and assumptions surrounding it. It used to be that yoga was just for the crunchy-granola set of the population. Not the case any more. It can sometimes seem like yoga is just about the gymnast poses and aerial acrobatics.
But the biggest problem and biggest yoga myth that’s out there? That yoga is just for one body type.
People like Jessamyn are the solution.
As a yoga teacher, body positive advocate, writer, and all-around incredible human being, Jessamyn is all about yoga equality; about the fact that all yoga is accessible whether you’re a size 2 or size 22.
The majority of yoga photos we see – mostly of “advanced” poses – while aspirational, aren’t necessarily portrayed as accessible. The lack of diversity in yoga pop culture can be harrowing, making those who don’t fit into the stereotype believe by default that they’re unable to practice in a certain way, or lift themselves into picturesque poses without their curves or “girls” getting in the way (I know. I’ve been there). Jessamyn argues that yoga is not about being heavyset or rail thin, it’s about owning your body and getting to know yourself through that full range of self-expressed movement, whatever that looks like for you.
I was instantly drawn to Jessamyn for her honesty, humor, and wisdom. In general, yes (she’s one of those women you feel you know really well just by reading what they have to say, you know?) – but particularly on the subject of body image and self image. I’ve felt my own insecurities in my journey with yoga, thinking I “should” look a certain way in order to be able to practice at a certain “level.” Yet I soon learned it’s not about looking a certain way or being at a certain level. Levels + looks are fallacies. When it comes to TRUE yoga, your practice + purpose are what's real. Click To Tweet
Her blog and now-famous Instagram account (104K followers and counting, go girl!) feel like a belly laugh, breath of fresh air, sigh of relief, and kick in the pants all at once. Because Jessamyn speaks of observations, issues, experiences with such candor and grace. She’ll be cracking you up one second then reach a little crevice in your heart the very next. Jessamyn is not about perfection – she is about progress. Jessamyn isn’t about extremes – she’s about the journey. Jessamyn isn’t about unreachable – she is about what is fully attainable, as long as you reach out and try. It’s beyond an honor to be hosting this beauty on here today.
Name: Jessamyn Stanley
How you’d know me: I’m a body positive yoga Teacher, Writer, Activist
What I love about myself (and why): I love my commitment to personal authenticity at all costs- that I actively strive to be myself at all times.
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Negative talk shows up in my life in the typical places – it’s at lunch with my college girlfriends, and in the locker room of the gym. It’s at work, with my coworkers. But you know where it isn’t? At my house, in my bedroom, in my heart, or on my yoga mat. And that’s all that matters.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… when I’m disappointed in myself and my ego’s gotten in the way.
When others talk negatively about themselves… I am dismayed by the fact that our language can seep into each other’s lives simply by talking negatively about ourselves.
It baffles me that women still… can’t accept the role they play in the continuation of rape control by condoning slut shaming.
I wish that more women… recognized all parts of themselves as beautiful and worthy, from top to bottom.
My top female role models: I am a big fan of many female athletes- I love Amanda Bingson and Serena Williams. I also love Beth Ditto and I’m constantly inspired by Kathryn Budig.
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… being more open with themselves about their actual desires. I mean, if more men just admitted that they love to have sex with chubby women, imagine how they could boost overall female morale!
Favorite negativity-busting activity: You’re probably thinking “um, OBVIOUSLY SHE’D SAY THAT” but whatever- YOGA. YOGA. YOGA. It is the universe’s medicine.
Fave self-love ritual: a DIY pedicure and full body scrub can work wonders for my mental health.
Favorite feel-good foods: Dried fruits, Coconut Water, Tater Tots
Favorite movies to watch when I’m feeling down: Love, Actually, Adventures in Babysitting, Shortbus
My feel-good playlist: It’s basically just Rachmaninoff symphonies with a few Kendrick Lamar songs thrown in.
Advice I would give my …4 year old self: “Enjoy nap time. Just try to fucking appreciate it.” …14 year-old self: “Yes, this is as good as it will ever get with boys.” …24 year old self: “Don’t be defined by your relationships with other people. Define yourself by your own goals and dreams.”
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: 1. Learn to surf 2. See the northern lights. 3. Write my memoir. 4. Find out my genealogy and travel to the part of Africa where my family most likely originated. 5. Visit a Japanese cat café.
My best tip on self love: Stop using other people’s opinions to define yourself. Figure out who you are and make peace with it.
Right now, I am most excited about… my fall yoga teaching schedule, because I will get to visit so many different places and meet so many different students and feel our internet borne yoga tribe bloom into a true mobile network.
My body is: a monster of epic proportions.
Three words to describe me: Curious, Relentless, Free
Current mantra: “Esse Quam Videri”- To Be Rather, Than To Seem
Yoga culture: let’s go there. Sure, yoga is a phenomenal way to get back in touch with your body or cultivate self love that lasts. Rolling out your mat, whether at home or in your favorite studio, can be like a homecoming. Emphasis on can.
I’ve been practicing yoga for over a decade, and in the last couple of years , I’ve watched it morph from a perceivably hippie-dippie ritual to a full-blown pop culture trend. And let me be clear – that is not an inherently bad thing. Yoga for all, I say! The more yogi-minded folks in this world, the better.
However. Just like with other fitness classes and healthy food catchphrases, yoga has become a form of social clout, a way to prove a point or achieve Insta-star status. No truly honest conversation about yoga is complete without addressing the elephant in the room – the plethora of picture-perfect poses on social media and “power”-driven classes that can do more to intimidate than inspire. I’ve written about it before and I’m sure I’ll write about it again: if an “advanced practice” is all about the external display, it not only diminishes the real power of yoga – the internal work – but it can activate those negative voices in your head that say things like “You can’t do that class. You’re not strong enough. Fit enough. You don’t have a yoga body.”
Brigitte Kouba, better known as Gigi Yogini, is working to change all that.
As one of yoga’s biggest body image advocates and body-positive pioneers, Gigi inspires people (especially women!) of every age, shape, size, and look to love their bodies exactly as they are.
Gigi is the woman behind YOGAudacious, a blog that diversifies the faces of yoga and shows what courage looks like from the inside out, as well as a co-founder the Yoga Body Image Coalition, an action-oriented community advocating the Body Positive cause. No body shaming or stereotype-filling allowed: she’s determined to create safe spaces for all body types and backgrounds to be their most courageous selves. Just try this video on for size:
All that bod-pos talk isn’t just lip service, either – she practices what she preaches, and infuses everything she does (from producing the video above to her writing on sites like MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal) with a little more compassion and encouragement than it would normally have. Thankfully for us, Gigi’s in the process of building out her Secret Studio in Los Angeles, a safe haven she’s kept hush-hush for over three years (ps. it’s not so secret anymore). She’s now bringing other all-inclusive teachers and workshop leaders into the mix and keeping it by women, for women. You read that right: finally, a yoga studio that feeds our hunger for supportive, powerful female connection.
Gigi is a breath of fresh ocean air in the midst of mixed messages telling us what a “yoga body” should look like. She is badass. She is a force. She is making the yoga world a kinder place – and is the epitome of a WANT Woman, on and off the mat.
Name: Brigitte Kouba
How you’d know me (occupation or role): I’m a yoga teacher, better known as Gigi Yogini, who shares lots of posts, articles and videos about body positivity.
What I love about myself (and why): I love the fact that my imagination is wild and I have the audacity to chase my dreams…no matter how crazy they may seem.
What is your definition of “positivity?” Finding a way to weave gratitude into everything.
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” I’ve had reoccurring awakenings all the time. Sometimes I get into a rut and then do something good for myself (like yoga, dance or take a bubble bath) and think to myself, “Oh yeah. This is what it feels like to love myself.”
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Negative talk creeps into my life on the shoulders of regret and the underbelly of expectations.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually…a result of following fear down a rabbit hole.
When others talk negatively about themselves…I realize how natural it is for all of us to speak unkindly about ourselves.
It baffles me that women still…try to fit into a narrow stereotype of beauty. I’ve found that self-respect and confidence are by far the most attractive qualities a woman can posses, regardless of dress size.
I wish that more women…could embrace what makes them unique and support each other rather than compete.
The coolest thing about women is…our ability to manifest the miracle of life within our bodies. Even if women never have a child, they still have a magical power to manifest miracles in life.
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: is to stop, breathe deeply and repeat an affirmation.
My top female role models: First and foremost, my mom, Patricia Kouba, is a great role model. Also Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, Tyra Banks, Ellen Degeneres, Amy Purdy, and Kia Miller. Historically, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Lucille Ball, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Susan B. Anthony, and Mother Teresa. I’m also inspired by any woman who has given birth, survived breast cancer, gotten out of an abusive relationship or cared for an aging parent or sick child. Every woman has the potential for being a positive role model. -@gigiyogini Click To Tweet
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by…complimenting women on non-physical qualities like intelligence, courage, strength, compassion, etc.
Favorite negativity-busting activity: spending quality time, laughing and goofing off with loved ones.
Fave self-love ritual: bubble bath with candles.
Favorite feel-good food(s): I always feel good when I eat quinoa and veggies. I also love banana or sliced apple with almond butter. Plus I adore dark chocolate because just a little is enough.
Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Comedies or uplifting documentaries.
Favorite empowering book(s): Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho The Cure – Dr. Timothy Brantley The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey Way of the Peaceful Warrior – Dan Millman
My feel-good playlist: includes anything that makes me want to move…because moving feels good!
Advice I would give my… …4 year old self: play more …14 year-old self: breathe more …24 year old self: dream more
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Raise a healthy family with my soon-to-be husband, Antonio Neves. Build a Habitat for Humanity home. Go on a silent retreat. Bike across New Zealand. Quit my coffee addiction.
My best tip on self love: You deserve to be loved – and the best time to start is now.
When I truly love all of myself…I am unstoppable.
Right now, I am most excited about…marrying the love of my life this summer.
My body is: brilliant and I am so grateful for all it does.
Three words to describe me: Curious, Compassionate, Authentic
Current mantra: I am grateful for all the growth opportunities in my life. I am Divinely guided and protected. I trust all things are happening for the greatest good of all.
In the comments, tell us what part of Gigi’s words of wisdom struck a chord with you (there were a lot of good ones!). What’s one thing you can do to show yourself love today?
Photo credit: Corinna Lander
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My advanced practice is not a headstand Or a handstand Or that twisty arm balancy thingy I learned to do last year after days on end of trying.
My advanced practice isn’t how deep I twist
Or how floaty I get
Or how I move in rhythm with everyone else in the room perfectly without fail.
My level 3 class does not involve higher weights
Or quicker reps
Or all those fancy things people (still) do on a bike.
My advanced class is not 75 minutes, or 90, or a three hour stretch Because really, who cares about numbers.
Do I impress you? That’s on you.
Do I seem weak? That’s on you, too.
Because my advanced practice happens that second I shift from asleep to awake The SECOND I move for no one but me.
Have you ever reached your arms out in child’s pose, pressing through the ground, spreading your body so fiercely onto the mat you think it might stick?
Because let me tell you, that is something.
My advanced practice happens when I skip a pose,
Or a whole eight minutes in a row
Because it moves me so much that all I can do is lay there in awe.
My level threes happen in the quietest moments, the longest holds,
The times when I can feel my soul coming alive not from a shape but from a spark inside.
Because my advanced classes and level X practice happens in less than 60 minutes, or 30, or 20, or more, or 90. My advanced practice is not about a number I can show off because “oh look how strong I am for going so long” – it’s about working and living and breathing smart, intention, intuitively.
It’s about “modifying” (I hate that word) pushups on my knees and then not the day after, it’s about sleeping through my workout altogether and being EVEN MORE OF A BADASS. It’s about not the quantity of my perceived excellence, but the quality of my intelligently-used soul time that maybe only I feel inside. I hope I only feel it inside; it’s my precious fuel that allows me to keep going.
It’s not about what it looks like, it’s about what it feels like.
It’s not about touching my toes, it’s about touching my soul.
My advanced practice is not slow or fast, it is what I decide to feel right. It exists with no distractions, it allows me to meet myself every time without fail. My “power” class is the one in which I fall into a deep savasana, rolling over at the end to realize everything yet nothing is quite the same.
I love my twisty arm balance thingy and upside down is very nice. But my advanced practice involves none of that. Anyone who tells you differently has probably been in a beginner class all along.