dear yogi: a letter from your teacher

Dear Yogi,

Here are some things I’d like you to know…

Your presence in my class means everything to me, because i know how hard it can be to get out of bed.

 I know the risk you take in getting into your car to come here.

 I know how testing it can be, to sweat and breathe in such close proximity to people who are different than you. You are a brave example of the Universe only knowing how to move in one direction...forward.

 These last 1,000 yoga classes have stretched, tested and expanded me in ways only silence, a wink and maybe a slight nod in your direction could explain. 

None of it is perfect and I’ve stumbled through seasons of wondering if it’s even worth it, if my efforts have been futile, if it’s time to roll up my mat and move on. Though I am grateful not to be in such a season today, 1,000 classes rendered feels like a great time for me to re-articulate my love for you, re-dedicate myself to this craft, and reclaim promises I never made but should have…

  •   I re-commit to my role as a Yoga Teacher and facilitator; a “professional friend” who exercises safety and practicality before creativity. I promise to sequence intelligently and stay open to change.

  •  I will hold fast to the truth that Yoga was invented by people of a different skin color, life experience and view of the world than me. This ancient and sacred practice was never intended to be presented in physical form, shown off for the internet or profited from for personal gain. There will always be a dark side to the ways in which we put food on our table, but I will honor this practice for what it is and where it came from to the best of my ability. 

Further, I will be mindful of cultural appropriation and continue t be a student and advocate of diversity on and off my mat and ESPECIALLY in my classroom.

  •  I will see myself in you, especially when I feel annoyed, frustrated or angry. I will be patient and kind and promptly make amends if I demonstrate anything on the contrary. 

  •  Lastly, I will love you. I will love you as I love myself, as I am loved by God.

 Each time I step into the yoga room, I have a new opportunity to create a habitat for acceptance and a terrain for taking healthy risks. I know what I have, and I am grateful and damn proud. 

 

Andrea Gibson wrote,

“...i intend to leave this place so shattered, there will have to be a thousand heavens for all my flying parts”.

Every yoga class I teach is one of those heavens—

YOU, are one of a thousand heavens for my flying parts. 

 Friend, no matter what, remember that I want to be here. I want to teach you yoga. I want to do this work; for this work is simply my love, made visible. 

 May grace and peace be with you and me and everyone else for the next thousand classes!

 

Love, 

Erica 

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The Myth of Emotional Eating

I'll be brief and I'm not gonna sugarcoat this, because I love you. And I love me. And I've already spend years and years perfecting eating in shame, chronically dieting, binge eating and listening to everyone else, except me, when it came to my relationship with food. I've done all this, so you don't have to. You're welcome :)

If we ever hope to break free of food rules, diet culture and body image issues, we need to be willing to redirect and see things differently. Amen? 

I'm assuming (sorry) that somewhere, somehow, you learned from someone's Great Aunt Beverly that Emotional Eating is something to be avoided, ashamed of and even punished for. 

The act of putting a Milky Way or a Ding Dong (does anyone eat those anymore?)  in your face because you're stressed is somehow a reflection of who you are and how you have no discipline and you're ruining your life. 

First of all, it's not true. It's not true. Again, it's NOT true. 

The problem is not that we are emotional eaters; the problem is us confusing 'emotional eating' with 'shameful eating'. 

Let's explore the difference...

 

I AM AN EMOTIONAL EATER WHEN I...

* eat when I'm bored

* eat past the point of fullness because the meal taste so good

* eat when I'm not hungry, so that I don't miss out on family dinners or outings, where everyone else is eating

* think about food/plan my next meal while I'm eating a current meal or have just eaten

 

Now, watch for the subtle but distinct difference between

Emotional Eating and Shameful Eating:

 

I AM A SHAMEFUL EATER WHEN I...

* eat when I'm bored...and consider myself to be "bad" for it. 

* I eat past the point of fullness because the meal taste so good...and I feel compelled to exercise and burn off what I ate or I promise myself somewhere deep inside that I will never do this again. 

* I eat when I'm not hungry, so that I don't miss out on family dinners or outings, where everyone else is eating...and I end up bingeing because of my belief that if I eat when I'm not hungry I have failed intuitive eating/willpower/listening to my body perfectly. 

* I think about food/plan my next meal while I'm eating a current meal or have just eaten...and I am unable to find pleasure in my present meal. In fact, I feel distracted, displeased, anxious or irritable until my next meal. 

Friends. Not only is Emotional Eating not the enemy, it is NECESSARY, because food is love. It is comfort. It is meant to be pleasurable and deeply enjoyed- why else do we have taste buds?? It's like, why would we thousands have nerve endings on our genitalia if sex was ONLY meant for procreation?? It's the same. And also I wanted an excuse to mention sex stuff. 

Our relationship with food is complex and fascinating and infuriating and dazzling. Take my advice, just for today: (Did you even ask for my advice?) Be proud, so utterly proud, of your ability and your desire to eat with your emotions. To be connected to the earth, its bounty and the people who inhabit it, in such a special way. That's all you need to do today. 

You with me? Yikes? Hallelujah? Meh?

With love,

Erica 

I am not your fat yoga teacher

I'm not your fat yoga teacher
I'm not your curvy
plus size
body-positive
Instagram-envelope-pushing
guru.
I don't want to be
your daughter's
niece's
sister's
or
your
role model.
I am not your fat yoga teacher
no matter how much better
you feel on your mat
because of my size.
We're not playing that game.
I'm not playing this game.
The game where
you look at me
and you think,
I'll give her a complement
I'll tell her how much better I feel
on my mat
because she's not
like
your typical "anorexic" yoga teacher.
That is NOT a complement.
That is NOT love.
That is NOT yoga.
Suppose
my body changes
like all bodies do
and suddenly I no longer
look the way you need me to look
in order to feel like you belong
on your mat.
You're playing with fire.
You're only hurting yourself.
See
this is the damage we cause
ourselves
each other
ourselves
each other
me
you
me.
I am not
your fat yoga teacher.
I am
Erica Jacobs.

Stuff to Remember BEFORE You Lose Your Mind on Thanksgiving

 

Next to my birthday, Hanukkah, and the other 402 Jewish holidays, Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE day of the year. Thanksgiving is what I like to call all-inclusive; everyone is invited everywhere and it's literally the one day a year that people say, "the more, the merrier", and actually mean it. I love community, I love family AND I love when we go around the table and say what we're thankful for and my monologue is always the best one—so people say.

What I love the most about Thanksgiving, particularly in the last 4 years, is being reminded of how far I've come in my relationship with food and my body. It's like I heal from my eating disorder all over again, when I sit down to eat my stuffing, green beans and whatever that yellow stuff is on the other end of the table.

For 16 years, I couldn't imagine not thinking obsessing about food; the calories, the starch, the sugar, the fat... I couldn't think of anything else other than how hard I'd need to work in order to "burn" my food off. In fact, the food guilt started days before Thanksgiving when Yoga teachers, fitness instructors, cashiers at Trader Joe's, Aunt Iris and random women in dressing rooms start talking about eating Thanksgiving dinner like they'll be burned at the stake if they even look at the bread pudding and fig salmon…which is fucking delicious, btw.

So, lucky for you, me, and Whole Foods, I don't have those fears and feelings anymore and I'm here to give some reminders for Thanksgiving day (and EVERY day). Take what works for you and leave the rest, because this is YOUR life.

1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAVOR YOUR MEAL, without cajoling or judgment, and without discussion of calories eaten or the amount of exercise needed to burn off said calories.

2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ENJOY SECOND SERVINGS, WITHOUT APOLOGY OR GUILT. It is tempting and seemingly socially customary to justify wanting and needing more food. This is not true. When you feel the urge to explain or state aloud that you're helping yourself to seconds, DON'T say anything. Just try it. Notice any tension that comes up for you, take a breath, and literally let the words disappear. #Mmmmbyeeeee.

3.YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO HONOR YOUR FULLNESS, even if that means saying "no, thank you" to dessert or a second helping of food. As long as you're not saying no because you feel guilt, shame or restriction, you must honor your body's cues. It knows what it's doing.

4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL A LITTLE MORE FULL THAN YOU WERE ANTICIPATING. This is true even if it isn't a holiday. Sometimes we come to the table hungry and leave feeling a little more full than we expected. Sometimes we come to the table and leave, wishing we had more food. It's okay. This is what is known as, Normal Eating. 

5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EAT "THANKSGIVING FOOD" ALL YEAR ROUND. One of the reasons people (including me) have or have had experiences with guilt, shame, binge eating, purging, and restricting during the holidays is because we think all this food is only available once a year, so we over-eat out of conscious or subconscious feelings of scarcity. Nothing is scarce. There is always enough. Food is always available to you. It sounds selfish and so "American", but it's true. It just is.

6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EAT PUMPKIN PIE...FOR BREAKFAST. 

And lastly...

7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE AN EATER…AND THAT'S A WONDERFUL THING. Each time we sit down to eat, we agree to be a willing participant on Planet Earth. Agree to be here!

*For more support/reminders just how important Intuitive and Confident Eating is, TUNE INTO OUR FACEBOOK LIVE SHOW!

Grace & Peace,

Erica

Destined to Fart: Lessons in Being Alive

...so then he says to me, he says, "but Erica, a boat is NOT the only way to cross an ocean! Maybe you're not supposed to be on a boat. Maybe you're not even supposed to be on the water, really. You're like, on a JetPack- farting your way across the ocean, across your dreams and the message you're sharing with the world. Just a bunch of JetPack-producing, brilliant farts, taking you to where you want to go!" (My friends make really good analogies. Sometimes.)

Let me back up...

I was very busy yesterday; I was busy comparing my self, my business, my mission, my body, my Instagram following and my worth to other people. I was just swamped with paperwork, scribbled with doubt and matters of the ego. I was in meetings with past childhood playground trauma and I even took a call from the department of You're Literally Faking Everything and They're Gonna Find Out You're a Fraud and an Imposter Any Day Now, services, inc. In a nutshell, I thought everyone was rowing a much more important and pimped out boat than me, and that I had straight up missed it.

It's taken me a long time to be able to answer the question, "so, what do you do?" with certainty and clarity; I'm an Eating Psychology Counselor, who specialized in Body Image, Chronic Dieting and Binge Eating. No, I'm an Essential Oils Pusher/Educator. No, I am a Yoga Teacher. No, wait, I am a Writer who blogs, with a degree in Visual Communications. Wait, actually, I am a Relationship Strategist, who helps people identify their Values so they can build and maintain healthy relationships with food, their body and people in their life, based on those values. Oh! And I have a Facebook LIVE show, where I build community and start dialogue and blah blah blah blah.

I've placed a lot of weight on my title, since "becoming" an entrepreneur, forgetting that no one really cares about what I do. They care about who I am. And, in reality, whether we are Tax Attorneys, Trapeze Artists, Branch Managers or Grape-Stompers, we are all here to do one thing:

SERVE HUMANITY.

The ONLY difference is the vehicle with which we choose to do it, that most aligns with our values.

If you envisioned the vehicle with which you serve your family, community, customers, students, etc., how much more fun would your day to day interactions be? If you knew that there is simply no comparison to make, no boat to miss, because you're not even meant to be on a boat in the first place, imagine the peace that would being to your work, your family and your own sense of self-worth. There is so much magic in knowing that your course is not meant to look like everyone elses, and that one job, career, vocation is not more valid or important than the other, BECAUSE we are ultimately Doing. The same. Thing.

So what is your vehicle for serving humanity? Selling essential oils? Yoga? Writing Books? Riding a bicycle? Dancing? Massage therapy? Raising compassionate children? Doing math so other people don't have to? Metaphorically, Are you doing this via ship? Or in a '92 Canary Yellow Mazda Protege? You on a train? Or is it a hot air balloon situation?

Trust me, friends, you have NOT "missed the boat", because we're not all meant to be on a damn boat. But what do I know? I'm just a girl, strapped to a JetPack, farting my way across the land - just a bunch of brilliant farts, taking me to where I want to go, all in an an effort to serve humanity.

from my vehicle to yours,

erica