Journey to Handstand

As part of my yoga teacher training, I am required to put on a 1.5 hour workshop of my choosing. This includes coming up with a marketing plan, pricing, creating a flyer, and creating an outline of your workshop. I am so glad that this was part of my training, as I had so much fun researching my topic and envisioning the end result!

Since I absolutely love being on my hands, I wanted to put on a workshop that broke down the basics of handstands, including a daily practice to build up strength & confidence. So, the title of my workshop was “Journey to Handstand” – and it happened this past Friday night! Guys, I loved it. Putting on a workshop is SO different than teaching a yoga class – you walk around, you talk, interact, stop, start, coach, talk some more, and work one-on-one with others. If you know and enjoy what you are talking about, it is so easy and fun!

Nina Elise Yoga Handstand

9 people showed up for my workshop – students from my yoga classes, as well as my fellow teacher trainees. Everyone was such a good sport, and I am so incredibly grateful for the support from everyone!

The workshop was broken down into 3 parts:
Beginning/Intro: introductions, history, basics, overview
Middle: warm up the body, drills, prop use, partner work
End: Cool down stretch w/savasana, reflections

I also sent out a few tips/drills for at-home practice at the end. And that was it! 1.5 hours – If there were more people, I could have made it to 2 hours. It was fun, a great learning experience for me, and hopefully a learning experience for everyone who attended!

Looking back at where I was 1 year ago – just having ended a 4 year relationship, barely being able to drag myself out of bed every day, low confidence, and having no idea what direction I wanted to go in my life – I am shocked and humbled to see how far I have come. I never would have dreamed of teaching a yoga class, let alone teaching a room full of friends I only met in the past 7 months how to handstand. I am so full of love, gratitude, and happiness – and cannot wait to see what next year brings! Facing fears and doing small things that you love every day changes you – I truly hope everyone one of you can realize that there is always love and hope, even in the seemingly darkest times. And with that – I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from my favorite book(s):

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

– Albus Dumbeldore

Yoga Teacher Training Recap: Philosophy & Anatomy

Since I have been incredibly busy the past few weeks (New job, etc – more to come on this!), I have not been able to really sit down and type up a summary of part 3 of 6 of the last 100 hours of my yoga teacher training (200 total)… And now, I just finished up part 4, so I am going to combine the 2 weekends in 1 post! I have been learning so much – it can be overwhelming, especially as a perfectionist… I want to be the most knowledgeable teacher for my students/clients so they can get the most out of class, but there is to learn. But, it will all come with time, and this is all just a journey… so for the time being, I am soaking it in, growing, and enjoying it all 🙂

Module 3: Source – Gain a Deeper Understanding of Yoga as a Science, Philosophy and the History Behind It (10 hours)

  • 8-9:20 am: Hot Yoga Class
  • learned history & background of yoga
  • learned about different types of yoga (hatha, bikram, ashtanga, hatha, etc)
  • taught part of a class
  • watched a movie called Enlighten Up!

We learned about different yoga philosophies & religion, popular yoga texts, the sutras, mudras, the 8 limbs of classical yoga, etc. While the Sutras are basically my yoga, or how I try to live my life (TRY is a key word here ;)), the rest of the information is not something I would normally gravitate towards. It’s all interesting to learn for sure, but not something I feel knowledgeable about or comfortable with teaching to anyone.

I’ve been reading Do your Om Thing, which breaks everything down (all of the above) so it is easy to understand, but only a page here and there. I don’t know if I fully buy into the whole mudras, chakras, etc thing, but maybe just because it’s not something I am ready to dive into/explore/experience at this point in my life. And that’s ok! I love the physical part of practice, and I love throwing in bits and pieces of what I am learning in my classes. Eventually, over time, it will all evolve – which is why I love yoga! No 2 classes are ever alike, or will ever be the same.
Module 4: Body – An Exploration of Anatomy, Physiology & Subtle Energies (14 hours)

Day 1:

  • 8-9:20 am: heated yoga class
  • learned about skeletal system
  • learned about muscles
  • taught part of a class, incorporating anatomy in the sequence
  • set dates for workshops (If anyone is interested in attending mine.. it is November 13 @ 6:30-8 pm… “Journey to Handstand” – and its FREE! Shoot me a note for more details)
Nina Elise Yoga Lotus Handstand

Come handstand with me! November 13, 2015 6:30-8 pm

Day 2:

  • 8 am: taught part of a class, on the fly (one of my biggest fears – how can you not plan a class?!)
  • learned more about the muscles
  • learned about the glands (endocrine system)
  • adjusting in poses – for specific muscles
  • went over homework for module # 5: plan a 30 minute class + incorporate a daily kindness practice

This class was broken down into 2 days – which, it most likely could have been made into a month or year long class. Anatomy is no joke – learning all the muscles, ligaments, tendons, tissues, the glands, the bones – that’s a lot of learning in itself, but how do they work together? Which muscles are used in what poses? What adducts/abducts? what is flexion vs extension? internal vs external rotation? The body is amazing. And no 2 bodies are the same – even our bone structures are different, meaning it is physically impossible for some people to do a pose. It’s so.much.information.

Luckily, it’s incredibly interesting to me, and it will be something I will be pursuing continuous education in following my training (Jason Crandall, anyone??). I could seriously lock myself in a room and study this stuff for hours (Just bought The Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long – can’t wait to read it, I feel like such a nerd!). I tried to go down the route of personal training a few years ago, but I couldn’t get into it. Yoga is more of a physical/mental/spiritual journey – not that you can’t connect with people while doing personal training – but for whatever reason, Yoga resonates with me more (possibly due to my gymnastics background). It makes me want to learn as much information as possible, even if it seems overwhelming!

nerd yoga

Joining my 2 jobs: yoga teaching & eCommerce! #nerdyoga

So what’s next? Still teaching my 8 am heated power class on Sundays, plus possibly adding a second class later this year… I will also be picking up a workout/yoga class at my apartment gym – think interval/circuit training OR running, followed by yoga. Goal of this class is to help people understand how to stretch after a workout and the importance of stretching afterwards (using yoga, of course)! Also, to meet people. Because, I haven’t had much time for that lately, and my social life needs help 😉

So for all of you yoga teachers out there – what are your thoughts on yoga philosophy and anatomy? Does it interest you? And for all you yogis/anyone who goes to yoga classes – what are your favorite yoga classes to go to? I would love to hear what draws you to class!

ACL Post-Surgery 10 Months

10 Months Post-Op Summary (11/13/2014)

  • Running about 2x a week on the treadmill
  • Circuit/tabata workouts 1-2 times a week – with HIIT – sprints on the treadmill, ab work, etc
  • heated workout classes
  • Yoga 1-3 times a week. Classes but also practicing at home
  • Trying to gain more flexibility in my knee to sit back – I can sit on my heels, but i can barely sit on my butt between my heels – the Virasana pose in yoga. I feel like after 10 months I would have been able to do this… anyone else still have trouble?


  • I have not been running as long – between moving and the colder weather, I haven’t had the time or will to go run on a treadmill for long periods of time. I usually jump on the treadmill for 15-30 minutes, depending on how I feel. I know my cardio has definitely taken a hit, so I am working on building it back up.
  • Last month, I talked about Rolfing. So far, I have gone to 4 appointments and have seen a little bit of improvement:
    • easier to take deeper breaths
    • feel more balanced – when i walk, when I stand
    • legs felt lighter after the second session – not sure exactly what was done, but a lot of work on my lower legs. I feel like they have been really neglected, and now they are not so tight or knotty
    • IT band on left leg – feels stronger, doesn’t bother me except for the occasional meniscus issue

I am going for my fifth session (out of 10) this week, and am so excited. The fifth session works with the deep ab muscles, and is supposed to help with digestion as well. I will most likely be done with my 10 sessions by my next post, so hopefully I will have amazing results to share then 🙂

These past 2 months have been extremely stressful for me – emotionally, physically, mentally – but I somehow feel stronger than ever. I don’t worry so much about things, and my daily meditation practice has made things a lot more easier. I have a lot more time to workout nowadays since my commute to work has literally been cut in half, which has also made life less stressful… although, going through a breakup makes things about 10x harder to do, especially when you just want to lay in bed all day. However, I am thinking of getting my 200 hr yoga teacher training next year, so I know the training will be taking up a lot of my time then!

ALSO: I forgot to mention that I won a giveaway from willrun4pizza‘s blog! I have been wanting to try Nuun electrolyte tabs for a while, so I am so glad I got to try them 🙂 I got the tri-berry active tabs and the all-day grape raspberry. The active tabs had a type of fizzy/biting taste to it, which reminded me of drinking a soda. the all-day tabs had a vitamin-y smell to it, but tasted good! My only negative review would be the fake sugars and a few added ingredients like propylene glycol – are they really necessary??  I always forget to add the active tabs to my water when working out, but I like to add the all-day tab to my water at work. I feel like I drink too much water sometimes, and it really throws off my electrolyte balance. These tabs are awesome for helping with that! Has anyone else tried Nuun electrolyte tabs?


ACL Post-Surgery 9 Months

9 Months Post-Op Summary (10/16/2014)

  • Running 2-10 miles a week
  • Circuit/tabata workouts 1-2 times a week – with HIIT – sprints on the treadmill, ab work, etc
  • Workout classes like barre and heated workout classes
  • Yoga 1-3 times a week. Classes but also practicing at home
  • Still a little swelling in my knee, it comes and goes. I can sit back a little more easily on my heels since last month
  • I have been running longer distances, usually 4-6.5 miles. I sometimes have to give myself a few days rest, as my knee (outside left) feels a little off/sore. This is an indicator that I need to strengthen my quad muscles more… meaning more squats!
  • Went to an orange theory HIIT class the other week, and my RIGHT knee started to hurt! I’ve been trying to build up more strength on the right side of my right leg – from my ankle to my hip – as there is some serious instability and weakness going on there. I have had soreness in my right knee/knee cap and all up and down my right leg for a while, and I am wondering what is really happening. I have never had knee pain like this before (in my good knee) – I couldn’t jump up or do a squat! This was after doing 30 minutes of sprint intervals on the treadmill (with an incline), so I am wondering if I just overdid it with my workouts.
  • I went to my first Rolfing session today! It is pricey (about $120-$130/session) and painful, but I have heard that it works wonders for athletes (or anyone in general!). You do a series of 10 sessions to re-align the body. I was evaluated standing up: my hips are tilted, my entire left side of my body is slumped lower than my right, my entire torso is tilted/shifted, and my right leg/knee is over-compensating. For my first session, my neck, lungs, shoulders, arms, hips and lower back were worked on. The only way to describe how it felt is that my skin felt like it was being stretched! I could feel the crystals being broken up under my skin, and it HURT. However, only a few hours after my appointment I feel like I have more space to breathe in my lungs (I have always had trouble taking deep breaths). I was told I might feel tired for the next day or so, and to drink lots of water, as the tissue/fascia is opened up, so more fluid is able to flow through. Below is a description of rolfing – has anyone ever tried? If so, what were your results?
    • Wikepedia describes Rolfing as “…an alternative medical treatment marketed by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration (RISI). The Institute states that Rolfing is a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity.” Rolfing is essentially identical to Structural Integration, whereby a forceful technique is used in an attempt to re-position tissues under the skin.
    • “Rolfing is typically performed in a progression of 10 sessions, sometimes called “the recipe,” which is claimed to provide a systematic approach to address goals for the theorized alignment and movement of various body areas. The purported purpose is to educate the body to have better alignment within gravity. Rolfers manipulate the body to move the fascia until they believe it is operating in conjunction with the muscles in a more optimal relationship. In addition to physical manipulation of tissue, Rolfing uses a combination of active and passive movement retraining.”
    • “Skeletal muscles often work in opposing pairs called the “agonist” and the “antagonist”, the one contracting while the other relaxes. Rolf theorized that “bound up”fascia (connective tissues) often restrict opposing muscles from functioning in concert. She aimed to separate the fibers of bound up fasciae manually to loosen them and allow effective movement. She claimed to have found an association between pent-up emotions and tension in muscles. This claim of a muscular/emotional connection is not supported by scientific studies.”
    • Benefits of rolfing: “Rolfing Structural Integration has the ability to dramatically alter a person’s posture and structure. Rolfing SI can potentialy resolve discomfort, release tension and alleviate pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body. The genius of the work rests on Dr. Rolf’s insight that the body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is balanced in gravity. Athletes, dancers, children, business professionals, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing SI. People seek Rolfing SI as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities.”

I am seriously so.excited. for how I am already feeling after only 1 session! Back tightness, sinus issues, IT band tightness, lower back issues, breathing restriction, knee problems… I am hoping a lot of these issues are resolved after my 10 sessions.

So 9 months – not feeling much difference from 7 or 8 months… maybe a little more confidence, and not thinking about my knee so much. And my knee flexibility – never thought I would be doing a scorpion in handstand like this EVER! The human body’s ability to heal after surgery continues to surprise me everyday.


Also – I ran my first race last month – 4 miles! Normally, I would have run at a 7:45/8 minute pace… however, I ran at an 8:40 pace. The course was awesome, but I was not feeling good. About 1.5 miles in I was ready to be done! I feel like I have really grown to dislike running because my pace times are not very good. I have to be patient with myself and realize that it will take time to get back to where I was! Besides, I am enjoying yoga and my heated fitness classes way more than running every day 🙂

ACL Post-Surgery 8 Months

Not much to report – i would say my knee feels about the same as month 7. However, I have been feeling stronger in my workouts, pushing myself to do sprints on the treadmill or run over 6 miles at a time. I am not sure how I expected my knee to feel at 8 months post-op, but it is still not 100% back to normal. It feels pretty great, though! Recap is below

8 Months Post-Op Summary

  • Running 2-6 miles 1-2 times a week
  • Circuit/tabata workouts 1-2 times a week – with HIIT – sprints on the treadmill, ab work, etc
  • Workout classes like barre and heated workout classes
  • Not applying oils to my knee or icing anymore – no pain
  • Yoga 1-3 times a week. Classes but also practice at home + lots of handstand work!
  • Still a little swelling in my knee, it comes and goes.
  • Completed a  whole30 – 30 days of strict paleo – to see if what I was eating was causing any inflammation. I made it to 3 1/2 weeks before I started introducing foods like grains and dairy back into my diet. I honestly didn’t notice a difference, but I was also eating a lot of nuts/fruit to compensate for my lack of chocolate.
  • Still have clicking/catching feeling on the inside/behind my knee. Not sure if it is still scar tissue around my hamstring or what… anyone else experience this? No pain, it just feels like a tendon is tight or catching on something.


So I ran a race the other weekend – about 2.4 miles. It wasn’t a super serious run, because a lot of beer was consumed. I drank a beer before running lap 1, stopped after lap 1 and drank a second beer, ran lap 2 and drank a third beer, ran my 3rd and final lap and finished up with a 4th beer. I did not throw up and I was the first girl to finish! I even sprinted towards the end! I am running another beer run on Saturday, then on Sunday I run my first “real” race that is actually timed – 4 miles! I am trying to be relaxed about my run – I am still trying to get back to my pre-surgery pace, but its been a struggle. I am also not running as much, which doesn’t help. However, I do have a half marathon in January to train for, so I can save my training miles for that 🙂



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