Tag Archives: yoga

lifting with love

I started a new exercise program this week. At least once a week, for an indefinite period of time I am doing personal training. It was under my own volition to change things up from the routine of hiking, walking, yoga. It was also an act of self-care.

 

Because of my recent lyme diagnosis, I’m not supposed to be doing long endurance training like running, cycling, or even super long hikes. (So I hike with breaks.) But movement is paramount to my joy.

 

Movement, in nearly all forms, is my soul’s dance. I learn to be patient and understanding with my body, so that I can be patient and understanding with all parts of myself.

 

So when I started training this week with Luc at Sherpa we kept it short to 30 minutes. Perfect so as not to overexert myself.

 

I felt so good carving out this time just for me. It felt good being under the guidance of someone else. It felt good moving my body in different ways. I noticed where I’m weak and I noticed where I’m really strong.

 

I noticed that nearly every single time in my life that I’ve picked up a weight or walked into a gym it was to change or fix the way that I looked. And I noticed that this time, that just wasn’t the case.

 

It wasn’t about fixing my body. It was about expanding my movement horizons and stepping outside my safe movement boundaries. It was about laughing and learning and loving. It was about ultimate self-care; staying strong while I’m also making ample time to rest and recover from the lyme.

 

My arms, I noticed in the mirror, have so little tone to them right now. This used to send me into a tailspin of negative self-talk and self-hate. But this time, as we were doing some kind of weight lifting thingy, I looked at my untoned arms with love. Like, dammit, they’ve been through some shit and they’re still here! Lifting heavy things!

 

It felt really good to exercise and move this way. It felt freeing. It felt joyful. I saw my shapes in the mirror and embraced them. I felt strong in my soft body suit.

 

I know that not every day will feel like this. But it’s exhilarating to know that this is possible.

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embracing my softness

i am embracing my softness.
my body goes through changes. I keep growing. When I’m running regularly my body looks different / maybe more toned? In my head I feel like a ripped badass. I felt this way during my 5 consecutive years of triathlons…
those days are long gone now.

but why not feel like a badass in my softness too? it’s usually the colder months when my body goes into softening mode. i notice it in my arms since i’m still wearing tanks when i’m teaching. i’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the studio mirror and notice it around my belly since my pants don’t fit quite the same and i have a little belly puff over the elastic waistband.

every year i’m getting more and more used to the softness. and feeling equally badass, if not more so, as a soft maggie, than a more firm/toned maggie.

i’m getting more accustomed to it, embracing it even, because of this: i am not defined by what my body looks like. i am not better for being toned. i am not bad for being softer. i also am not better for being soft! and i am not worse for being toned! ha! See how that works there? I know – I’m still wrapping my brain around it.

It’s all good though. All of it. All the shapes and sizes and stages our bodies go through. because the real maggie, the real you, is within. it’s untouchable and it’s felt through connection, through exchange, and through energy. Amen.

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Body Image Coaching

Hi there,

One of the commitments I made this year was to be a model or a guide for women to learn how to accept {and one day love} their bodies and their beings. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding out behind the ambiguous title of health coach or wellness coach.

It felt safe to not get too specific. Not to tell people the work I really dream to do. Or to not pigeonhole myself to one niche. But do you know what happened? I kept coming back to Body Image. I kept coming back to how shifting my perspective on my own body image enabled me to see through my body shell and see all parts of myself. Value all parts of myself. NOT just how I look. It helped me to get over fear-based exercise. To ditch dieting. To better understand and accept who I am.

And at long last I’ve created my Body Image Coaching page. Woohoo!

No more hiding behind ambiguities. I have to follow the work that simultaneously breaks my heart and builds it back up – time and time again.

And, after a very sweet, supportive conversation with my sister this weekend in LA, I’ve decided to offer payment on a sliding scale. I want to make this available to as many women as possible who need it.

I encourage you to reach out to me if this resonates with you. I encourage you to share this with any woman you think would benefit from the work.

This work is not just about loving our bodies. It’s about shifting the collective consciousness of women to fully embody and ROCK the bodies we were born with. To treat them with the utmost respect and love.

With Love,

MC

PS. Not on my email newsletter list? Sign up here to receive the latest offerings and events! XO

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Bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise

I’m bidding farewell to the days of fear-driven exercise. I’ve spent far too long afraid that if I don’t exercise enough, consistently, or at least 3 times a week I’ll put on a few pounds.

It just doesn’t matter anymore. I noticed this last week when I was getting over a cold and migraine. It had been over a week since I’d taken a yoga class or gone for a hike or a vigorous walk. And I noticed something exquisite: there was not an ounce of guilt or anxiety in my body.

I used to feel intense anxiety and stress over fitting a run or a rigorous yoga practice into my schedule. I felt like a lazy bum if I missed two days in a row, or god forbid, more than that.

This is not me hating on exercise. This is me noticing how my relationship to exercise has changed. Exponentially.

There was a year when my hip (torn labrum and then some) was constantly in pain and I developed IT Band syndrome on top of that. Even though I was wincing in pain during a slow jog, I convinced myself I needed to push through it. I knew what was best for me — rest, take it easy, be gentle — but I willfully ignored my intuition. Not just once, but for months.

Too often I would sacrifice the health and well-being of my body and end up icing my knee, rolling out my hip, in the hopes that I’d undo the longer term damage and be up and running again in just a couple days. This somehow settled my nerves.

Exercise was not only punitive, but a vehicle to avoid feeling deep, dark, difficult emotions. I was afraid of the potential changes in my body if I didn’t exercise but I was more afraid of the feelings I’d have to confront if I sat still for too long.

That’s not to say I never had a run that brought me to tears (I did) or a yoga practice that left me weeping (I still do). But along my road to recovery from my eating disorder and severely negative body image, my relationship with exercise was deeply in need of transformation.  

Today, I feel thankful that I’m no longer exercising in excess and that I’m saying goodbye to the days of fear-driven exercise.

Today when I exercise, when I move, it’s a body prayer. It’s a connection and a call to the divine. Staying aligned and checked in to the energy flowing through me. Saying hello, how are you?, I cherish you. Saying thank you, I see you, I hear you and … I love you.

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My ME-ness Is More Powerful Than a Wrinkle On My Forehead

There were three of us in the room Monday night at the eating disorder recovery center. Two students, plus me. Something about all our energies combined made for a very sweet vibration in the room that night. The electronic candles were scattered around the makeshift altar and I had soothing spa-like music playing on my Beats Pill.

The woman with the flowing grey hair wore a shirt with a radish on it. We started off the class in lighthearted banter talking about “trigger clothing” and how her radish (or turnip depending on how you looked at it) shirt managed to escape the search when she was first admitted to the center a couple months ago.

It escapes me what theme I gravitated to for this particular practice because what stands out so much is what it felt like to be in that room with them, and what happened after our class…

I taught them but I received so much. It felt effortless to guide the two women through a series of seated poses, to all fours, back to a seat, and finally to a restorative pose where they were able to luxuriate for over 10 minutes.

I closed the practice by giving them some reiki and felt extremely moved by both women’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable with me.

After I called them back to their bodies, the space, the breath, and the two sat up, one woman turned to the other woman and said:

“I have to say that you just looked so beautiful in that twisted pose,” as she emulated the flowing grey haired woman’s posture and demeanor.

She continued:

“You looked so confident and proud.”

“The next time I see you slouching around the house I’m going to remind you what you’re capable of,” she said with a laugh.

I refrained from any kind of commentary on this exchange I was fortunate to witness and just allowed it to happen, amazed for one by my student’s ability to see another woman with such high regard. To lift her up instead of compare.

The confident and proud woman RECEIVED the compliment with such grace and humility. She then in turn said how she’s going to sign up for yoga when she returns home. How it has changed her. How she now finds a new engagement and fascination with her own body and how it moves and works in a multitude of ways.

“Like if I move my right hip a little wider I feel stronger and then my shoulders can broaden,” she explained.

Oh my goddess I was in heaven just listening to this. I didn’t need to direct them. I didn’t need to insert my own feelings on the subject. These two women had learned so much, had grown leaps and bounds. I just watched them taking what they were learning and letting it rip!

Now I just have to keep believing that yoga has an incredible ability to support women in their path to recovery from eating disorders.

I’ve said this so many times before in earlier blog posts but … Yoga Healed Me.

Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to a friend who is 4 years sober and found sobriety and recovery through the amount of time he spends outdoors: hiking, climbing, camping, you name it. I found myself thinking about how we all have such individual healing and recovery paths.

In those early years of recovery when I was at my worst I never went to treatment, barely spoke to a therapist (I can count – it was 3 sessions), and didn’t even tell a medical doctor about my bulimia until years after the worst was over.  

This isn’t to say these are not viable, successful options for recovery. It is my belief that they are.

For me though my path was, and still is, yoga. (It should be noted that in the 10 or so years since the worst of my eating disorder I have integrated therapy and life coaching among other healing modalities onto my path and I include this information in every health history I complete).

First yoga was about understanding my body better. Much like my dear student who found fascination with the movement of her hips, I started to love the way my body moved. I loved my thighs for how strong they were.

These days it keeps hitting me that my yoga practice has illuminated a path toward a deeper understanding of this:

I am not just my body or my cellulite or my round tummy. Nor am I just how well my clothes fit. I am not just my migraines. I am not just my relationship to food. I am not just my eating disorder. And, as much as my ego hates to admit it, I am not just my personality. My Maggie-ness, my ME-ness transcends AND encompasses all of that. My ME-ness is part of a universal energy that is so much larger and more powerful than a wrinkle on my forehead.

There is still an infinite amount of understanding and learning and knowing I have left to do. And because this is something that feels very big and infinite and scary and exciting, I’m going to pause. Let this marinade and … To be continued…

With Love,

Maggie

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Why I’m Glad I Stayed…

Yesterday I had one of those days…
I went to my friend’s magical island.
I didn’t have my phone because it crashed that morning.
What I did have was a swimsuit, a dog, and a willingness to receive the day.
I felt groggy and had a headache from too much wine the night before.
My heart knew though, I needed the island and the friends there.
I needed to say fuck it to getting my cell phone set up in time.
Of course the normal panic of “what if so-and-so tries to contact me?”
I even went through all the texts I would miss out on that day.
The missed opportunities to post on Instagram and Facebook.
Missed opportunities to check in on what my friends were doing.
I made an intention to surrender.
I surrendered to feeling naked without my phone.
I surrendered to cherishing time with my dog and the people around me.
I am an introvert so after paddling and hanging poolside with the group, a little panic started setting in…
I immediately wanted to jump off the island and swim to shore, to my car, and go home.
But I couldn’t. For one I had a dog. And two … all my stuff?
My body felt tired and creaky and in need of rest and space and alone.
Alone, alone, alone.
I just wanted some time alone. I felt it deeply.
I meandered up the path to the tea house on the hill.
Perfect: yoga mats were draped over the porch banister of the tea house.
I took one and set it down on the floor.
Daisy the dog circled around the porch, watching birds and passersby on sailboats.
I liked to think she was also keeping watch, for me.
Bikini-clad, I felt the breeze against my skin.
I began to move in a way that felt natural to my body in that moment.
I moved, I sat, I breathed, I moved, I sat some more.
Daisy came and went, licked my feet when I sat.
Finally, after who knows how much time had passed, I laid down.
I draped my sarong over my shoulders and torso, unfurled my arms and hands by my sides, and gently closed my eyes.
I slipped into sweet slumber while the sounds of Daisy’s pitter patter on the porch and the chirping of birds lulled me in and out of this state.
I heard the motor of a boat every so often.
It didn’t bother me.
I welcomed it.
Here I was – so free.
No one knew where I was. No one could reach me. No one could find me.
No one, except the two little girls on the island that day.
They were 3 and 5.
I started feeling the thump thump of their running feet coming up the stairs of the tea house.
One of them squealed with delight: “Oh it’s Daisyyyyy!”
And I was tickled with delight to be brought out of my slumber by such dreamy innocence.
So I stayed.
I stayed on the island when my introvert-self screamed to get out and hide and be alone.
It’s like what we learn in meditation: when we stay, the real work occurs.
When we stay, we allow the softening to happen.
When we stay, we are more able to receive each moment as a gift.
AND when I stayed I got to go for a sunset sail with friends and Daisy.
I’m so glad I stayed.

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Thank you yoga, Thank you teachers.

It’s International Day of Yoga. My friend reminded me last week with a little nudge, nudge and soft encouragement that maybe I should do something for it.

 

I don’t have any special class or event planned and I’m hoping I’ll make it to class tonight or even to my mat to move a little and meditate. But what I will do, what I will honor is what this practice has done for me. And what I have been able to do for myself by way of my yoga practice.

 

I used to squeeze my thighs so hard to try to get them to look more stick-like. I’d pinch my belly fat and imagine how much better my life would be if I could just cut it off. I calculated every calorie going into my body and how each calorie (and then some) would go out. My mind was consumed and I was completely obsessed. My obsession with food and how I could control my body took over my life.

 

Yoga sandwiched my eating disorder. My practice began when I was 16 and my eating disorder was full throttle around 19 – so I was practicing yoga all through my disorder. But what I know now is that during a lot of that time, I wasn’t really practicing. I was going through the motions of yoga. Showing up, rolling out my mat, bowing my head and saying namaste at the end of class. I nailed poses ease because I’m fairly strong and fairly flexible and have always had great proprioception. What I wasn’t doing though was connecting. I was completely disassociating from my body and for a while there, I was using yoga as just another form of exercise to burn off those calories.

 

This all shifted when I found a small studio in Bloomington, Indiana and a teacher by the name of Wendy. I didn’t even know what style of yoga we were practicing (turns out it was astanga) add to be honest I can’t tell you a whole lot of the asana that I learned – but what stays with me to this day is the feeling of entering into a safe space. It was always quiet when I walked into the building, up the stairs and turned the corner. Everyone spoke with a hushed tone as we set up our mats and gathered our props. The space and the time was sacred.

 

Wendy didn’t tell me how or what to feel. She instead created opportunity for me to feel. I kept returning to her classes, as often as I could fit them into my schedule and budget. It was in this space that I remember looking at thighs and bursting into tears because for the first time I saw them as something other than “too big.” My thighs, for the first time ever, were strong and beautiful and amazing.

 

I came home to my body for what felt like the first time. That was inner peace. That was my invitation to heal and no longer allow myself to stray and disassociate from my body and being.

This was the tip of the iceberg and there have been many more teachers since then who helped facilitate my healing – and still do to this day. So, I can’t stress this enough but  … Thank you teachers.

 

IMG_9114On this international day of yoga I also want to acknowledge the practice for what it has brought me – healing and inner peace. Eating disorder recovery is not a one and done deal. It takes time and it too is a part of my practice: staying the course, staying connected, noticing when I get triggered, and repatterning my responses.

 

Thank you yoga.

 

I would love to hear from you: How has yoga impacted your life? Whether you just recently got your feet wet or are a long-time practitioner – what have you noticed?

 

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An Education: Thoughts on Closing CT Bowspring.

As I write this I am in the midst of a transition. Although it could be argued: aren’t we always in transition at any moment of our lives?

 

I moved to CT in November 2013 and was eager to find my new yoga home and community in Fairfield County – a place that felt so familiar to my childhood and adolescent self but as an adult felt like new territory.

 

Through mutual friends I was introduced to the owner of a new studio in Westport. We clicked and I was hired on the spot.

 

And so began my teaching career in CT. I soon took on up to 6 weekly classes at the studio and found my way into my first yoga home here. As some of my students there liked to say, I found my church.

 

Eight months later, August 2014, I learned that the studio had less than a month left before it would shut its doors. My heart sank. I lost a job and would miss the students, the ritual and routine that helped me make the transition to my life in CT.

 

I felt stranded until I found myself at a beautiful barn-like studio in Wilton. October 2014 I took my first Bowspring class and haven’t looked back since. It resonated so deeply with all the shit I was working through with body image and healing the residue from my eating disorder. I dove deep into the practice, immersed myself in a new community, and adopted this practice in my teaching. I even had the fortunate opportunity to teach at this special space.

 

It was a short ride before I learned in May 2015 that they too would be shutting their doors. Bummed didn’t even begin to describe the way I felt about this loss. It felt sudden and I was afraid because not only were we losing the space but my two teachers announced they would be moving.

 

In September 2015 CT Bowspring made a brave attempt to resuscitate the community and provide a space to practice. We prayed we would retain students and somehow – it sometimes felt as if we’d need a bit of magic – attract new ones. We, perhaps naively, had the vision that we could show the world how innovative and effective Bowspring was. At least I did.

 

And now here we are just 2 days short of officially shutting our doors.

 

I feel sad, frustrated, angry, hopeless, and defeated. Admittedly I also feel relief because the path to this difficult decision was so murky and exhausting. I feel responsible for not being able to hold it together and for not being able to provide a house of belonging for our students.

 

Our student base is modest in number but deep in connection with each other and I wish I had a magic want to house that connection for them. (Someday though…)

 

My ego is also a bit bruised by the fact that in the three years I have lived here I have been involved with three studios that have shut their doors. And with each one I feel more and more vested – especially this last one. AND I trust that there is no better education than experience. I have learned so much working with the partners and teachers of CT Bowspring. Sometimes we all got along and sometimes we were at each other’s throats – often brought on by the frustrations of 8 people with 8 different visions, trying to run a business together. Live and Learn.

 

Ultimately we all shared the same passion to explore and SHARE how the body moves through space with each other and our dear students; even if it meant we looked like weirdos to the outside world. It is not uncommon to twerk in slow motion in a Bowspring class.

 

In keeping with the spirit of my love for all things cheesy, I want to share this with the teachers and students of CT Bowspring:

 

You held space for me to grow. You held space for me to stand up for myself. You held space for me to be angry and frustrated. You held space for me to experiment (and dance) in class. You held space for me to be more open to the way I was so hard on myself for years. You held space for me to soften when I saw YOUR hearts softening. You held space for me to see how strong I am when I saw YOUR strength. You held space for me to slow down and be gentle. You held space for me to feel like I belong.

 

I feel like we (where we = anyone who has taken a deep dive into Bowspring) are all in on this crazy secret. Bowspring. And it’s not just the alignment that we’ve been privy to, but the encouragement to be our own badass authentic selves – the dark AND the light – and to embrace who we are and what we’ve got rather than trying to fit a mold of what we should be.

 

You teachers and students of Bowspring WORLDWIDE remind me to do that every day. And even though we may not have a dedicated space (for the moment) here in CT we still hold each other accountable to keep up the good work.

 

Let’s keep up the good work, ok? 

With deepest love and admiration. MC

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June Offerings

I’m gearing up and getting excited about two new offerings coming up this June:

  • Meditation & Running (or walking!)
  • Bowspring Semi-Private Classes

AND these classes will be at my new location in Norwalk, right of exit 16 on I-95. Check ’em out!

JUNE Offerings

Meditate & Run (or walk!)
4-week series starts June 1st

“Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach.”  
– Dr. George Sheehan, the Philosopher of Running

What if when we exercise, we could experience it as a soul enriching activity instead of an obligation or a chore we “should” do?

As a runner I have drawn many correlations between running and meditation. Often taking to the long runs because of their tendency to put me in a trance-like state of intense concentration and pointed focus. Both practices require patience, consistency, and patience.

Explore the relationship and effects meditation has on moving mindfully. You can run or walk. The first 30 minutes of class will be dedicated to breathing and meditation and the remaining time will be spent in movement that elevates the heart rate. (If it’s a rainy day we will still get outside so come prepared!) You will be guided to focus on a specific theme each week pertaining to deepening the mindbody connection through meditation and movement.

Wednesdays June 1, 8, 15, 22 at 8:15-9:15AM
Thursdays June 2, 9, 16, 23 at 5:15-6:15PM
$175 for 1 class series or $300 for both
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.


“What I am vs. What I should be”
Semi-Private Bowspring Classes 
4-week series starts June 6

Disassociation: the disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected.

When I read the definition of disassociation I understand this to be an opposite of yoga. It sheds light on how yoga helped me heal from an eating disorder and how it helps me cope with the pain and discomfort of migraines. When we are in pain (emotional or physical) as humans we tend to react by disassociating. We distract ourselves with alcohol, tv, drugs, sex, gossip, food, self-loathing, quickly fixing what we think is broken, and so forth. A true yoga practice asks that we connect and ASSOCIATE with our bodies and our beings. It creates space for us to let go of “what I should be” and instead recognize “what I am.”

This is a unique yoga experience that I have developed where we will deeply explore physical movement and engage in conversation. What you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, is the focus of the work we will do together in these intimate groups. Through movement and the understanding that comes from asking questions and dialogue, you will be guided to make the shift from “what I should be” to “what I am.” It is a long journey that is a lifelong practice that will allow you to awaken to your truth and break the habits of disassociating from our bodies and our beings.

Mondays starting June 6 (last class June 27)
Intro / Beginner at 8-9:15AM
Intermediate / Advanced at 9:30-10:45AM
Cost: $250 for the series
Location: Total Life Care Center, 152 East Ave, Norwalk
Email maggie@maggieconverse.com to register.

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Migraines: A New Chapter

migraineday 2Today I awoke with a piercing pain on the right side of my forehead, just above and slightly behind my right eye. I awoke to that, plus nausea. I immediately thought to myself “CRAP.” I had the sinking feeling I might be in for a migraine attack. Fear rose and I deliberated between muscling through the day or making the calls to cancel appointments and clients.

 

As soon as I stood up to go to the bathroom and drink some water I knew it: this one was for real. Sometimes I wake up with a mini-migraine that subsides after going through morning rituals of drinking water and moving around. The quality of pain is different than that of the full on migraine attack. The migraine attack includes the piercing pain traveling down the back of my skull to the top of my neck, that metallic taste in my mouth, and the nausea. These things signal it’s time to slow down and take care.

 

And what I’m learning, is that these migraines require time and patience. I’ve gotten to know them, to understand the ebbs and flows, the build up to peak pain and nausea, and then the slow descent back to feeling like myself again. Where I notice things like how blue the sky is, how wonderful it feels to move around, and how delicious food tastes.

 

To provide some background, for the last year I was on a clinical trial drug where I received a monthly injection to prevent migraines. Doubtful as I was, the trial worked and I was nearly migraine free for an entire year. When I say it changed my life, I really mean it. Long gone were the days of regularly canceling work and social events. And the PediaLite that sat in the back of my fridge for nearly a year finally got tossed out as I no longer needed it.

 

To wake up with this piercing migraine today triggered fear that “the migraines are returning.” I really don’t want to return to the way I was living my life where I would be out of commission for 2-3 days at a time 3-4 times per month. The only places I visited were the couch, the bathroom, and my bed while waiting for the migraine to pass. Needless to say it was a big lesson in impermanence: I constantly reminded myself “this too shall pass.”

 

As I venture into this new chapter of my experience with migraines, I am vowing to be gentler with myself. I wonder: What can I learn? How can I move more slowly? How can I take better care of myself? This process is sweet, soothing, and softening. Even just by taking this new perspective, I feel more at ease.

 

I spent an hour this afternoon lying on my floor supported by two bolsters and covered by a cozy white blanket with gongs playing in the background. I was transported out of the pain state. Even though the migraine didn’t totally disappear, the pain lessened and I felt more relaxed.
I felt grateful to surrender to the process of migraine and at the same time to take accountability for my own self healing. After giving myself this mini gong bath, my faith that “everything would be ok” was fully restored.

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