Category Archives: Living Yoga

My Biggest News Yet!

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I’M PREGNANT! My husband and I are so excited to be welcoming baby girl Gilman into the world this August. This is something we have always wanted and truly feel incredibly blessed with this gift.

The journey to becoming pregnant has taught me so much. It’s always important to remember that our biggest challenges are our greatest gifts. They allow us to grow and discover a deep strength that we never knew we had.

I’m so excited to share this amazing news with each and every one of you! My due date is August 13th and I’m planning on teaching right up until then. I will be taking some time off after the baby comes, so sadly, the RunYoga Spring series will most likely be the last series for 2017. I will keep you all updated on my schedule as we get closer to this exciting date!

With love,
Cara

Trust the Process

Take a deep breathe in. Fall is here and it can be overwhelming! New schedules, new roles, new places, i.e. CHANGE, takes time for adjustment and its important to give yourself the space to find perspective.

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This is something that I have struggled with this month. As someone who loves a schedule and routine, this month as been challenging for me as I have been traveling for teaching and taking on new projects. Instead of trying to micromanage my schedule to find comfort, I have been working on becoming grateful.

As mentioned in my “Our Thoughts Create the World We See” blog post, our words have a powerful effect on our perspective of the world. So when I find myself feeling overwhelmed by change, I tell myself that this is not happening to me but for me. Every road block and every transition is providing something for us to learn and grow from.

Turning to this place of gratitude has been powerful not just in my life but I hear it day after day. A good friend of mine is about to embark through a number of huge changes in her life. In talking with her on how she was dealing with it all, she said,  “Instead of looking at what I HAVE to do, it’s important to look at what I GET to do.” Such a beautiful way of putting everything into perspective.

We can’t control what happens to us but we can control what happens within us. Let gratitude give you the perspective to see change as an opportunity to grow and to view life events as a gift, not an obligation. Trust the process.

Love,
Cara

Our Thoughts Create the World that We See

After spending this past weekend at Kripalu, I finally got the itch to write. As many of you know, Kripalu has always been a place of transformation for me and having the opportunity to not only be a student at this special place but also a teacher, opened my heart completely.

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During my stay, I took an inspiring workshop, The Energy of Our Thoughts led by Izzy Lenihan. It provided a lot of connections and reasoning to what I commonly say in my classes, “our thoughts and our words create the world that we see.” Our thoughts are the most powerful tools for change and if we can practice pausing and watching our thoughts, i.e. what our yoga practice is all about, then we can reduce the suffering in our life. Sounds easy right?

Obviously, it’s the hardest thing we can do and why we have suffering in our life. On average, we have 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day and many of these thoughts are the same thoughts that are repeated each and every day. For us women, 1,300 of these thoughts are negative. Our thoughts become habits and so we become stuck in these cycles, in yoga we call these sumskaras.

The question becomes how do we break these cycles of thoughts and pull ourselves out of this negative whirlpool? We destruct these barriers by working on the unconscious part of our mind. Everyday we experience the five following emotions: love, joy, anger, sadness and fear. I guarantee one of those emotions stands alone and zaps a majority of your energy every day. For me, that emotion is fear.

During the workshop, we were instructed to write a letter to our most dominant and unpleasant emotion. Here’s what I wrote in my letter:

Dear Fear, 
You show up every morning to scare and intimate me. To make me feel like I’m not worthly of love or worthly of my role in this world as a yoga teacher, wife, sister and friend. You zap my energy and you’re exhausting! I keep waiting for the day when you will fade away but you’re always there; waiting in the wings. Yet at the same time, you motivate me and you almost inspire me. By experiencing you, I know it’s because I care and I’m afraid of failure. If only we could work together. Without you, life would be so much easier.

We then had to have our emotion write a letter to us. Here’s what fear wrote to me:

Dear Cara, 
I’m here to let you know what you’re capable of. I’m your inspiration and keep you on your toes. What pleasure would you have in life if everything was certain? I bring excitement into your life and allow you to properly plan. Uncertaintly keeps you alive and it allows you to better appreciate what you have.

This exercise was very interesting for me. It allowed me to be very present with my emotion and instead of attaching my self worth to it, I was able to take a step back and observe it. I was able to LEARN from it.

“Honor your emotions and befriend them, for they have a lesson for your soul.” Such a beautiful way of putting it. Instead of letting the emotions of our thoughts drive us, how can we seperate from them and learn? What can they teach us?

Our thoughts create the world that we see. Instead of getting stuck in the energy and habits of our thoughts, we have to break the cycle. It’s time to work with our emotions by facing them. I encourage you to go through this same exercise. Write a letter to your most dominant unpleasant emotion you’re experiencing and then have that emotion write a letter to you. What did you learn?

I will end this blog post with this beautiful quote,

“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.” –Chinese Proverb

With love,
Cara

I’m Back! India Recap

I’ve been home from India a little over a week now, and with every day that I’m home, I realize more and more how much this experience has changed my life and my perspective.

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Tuesday, January 5th was the day that I left for India and it feels like years ago. I woke up that morning in my husband’s arms with a strong feeling of love and calm, despite the anxious energy I was feeling about my trip. Going to India was a big deal. I’m not much of a world traveler so the thought of getting on an airplane and traveling across the world was terrifying. Plus, I heard story after story about the ins/outs of traveling to a place like India—poverty, sickness, jet lag, culture shock, etc. I was prepared for anything and everything but I was still terrified. However, this all changed that morning when I woke up; being in my husbands arms and experiencing that feeling of love and calm, I knew this trip was destiny and it would change my life.

This same feeling came over me when I arrived at my gate at the airport and met two of my classmates. Our program, SuperSoul Yoga 500 hour Advanced Teacher Training, had established a Facebook group and even though I was “friends” with everyone in my program prior to going to India, I had no idea what to expect. Our group consisted of people from all around the world—Australia, Sweden and Austria. However, once I met my classmates, I knew that I would be spending time with some amazing and inspiring people. I felt a sense of comfort and home just a couple minutes into our conversation.

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Arriving in Mumbai late the next night, however, was a little less comforting. You can feel and see the pollution in the air; it’s this thick foggy haze. There’s constant beeping, everyone feels the need to use their horn all the time, and they also never drive in their own lane. And there’s extreme poverty.

I woke up that Thursday morning to singing. I looked out my window and down below and I saw this.

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At first, I thought there was construction going on next to our hotel and the construction workers were blaring a radio. Then as I got closer, I realized that those were homes and the singing wasn’t coming from a radio, but were voices from those living below. As I listened closer, I was able to make out the words and it was the same phrase repeated over and over again. They were chanting the maha mantra, called the “great” mantra;

“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Krishna, Krishna
Hare, Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
Rama, Rama
Hare, Hare”

Which translates to, “Oh Lord, let me be of service today.” Little did I know that this chant would be something that I would chant everyday during my stay in India and also something I would bring home with me.

Our stay in Mumbai was short, as we left for the Govardhan Eco Village later that day to officially kick-off the start of our teacher training program. My Eco Village experience was much different than Mumbai. Everything was quiet, peaceful, and simple. We were welcomed with a candlelit dinner and this is how and where we ate every meal; outside under the cover of trees under the sun or under the star filled night sky.

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Everything we ate came right from the farm and all the farm labor came right from the cows that lived there. Every product that came from the Eco Village was a sustainable product—soap, shampoo, etc.

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In addition to 21 people that were part of our teacher training program, we shared this home with the great Radhanath Swami, monks, an orphanage and other visitors from around the world. Even though each community of people were so culturally different from one another, there was a special sense of oneness among everyone.

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Our days at the Eco Village were full days—6am yoga practice which included meditation, chanting, pranayama and asana till about 8:30am. Then breakfast and a little bit of free time. Class time from 10am to 1pm. Lunch from 1 to 2pm. Sometimes a break from 2 to 3pm. Then class from 3 to 5pm. Satsang (songs and stories) from 5:30 to 7:30pm or so. Dinner till about 8:30pm and then some of us would gather before bed to play harmonium under the stars. We called ourselves the Radharani orchestra.

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As hard as it was to get out of bed at 5:30am every morning, once I walked outside into the beauty of the morning, I was grateful for it. The stars were incredible—so big and bright and the light from the moon was so vibrant. Walking to yoga every morning reminded me why I had come so far from home to complete this advanced 500 hour teacher training certification; to reconnect with myself.

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The attraction of completing my 500 hour teacher training certification with my favorite teacher, Raghunath Cappo, is what lured me into signing up for the program. Traveling to India was an added bonus since I knew I would most likely never have the opportunity to travel this far ever again. Yet deep down, I also knew I needed some major me time. Every morning that I walked to that yoga shula under that star filled sky, I allowed myself to remain open to whatever that day had to teach me and offer me. And each day had so many offerings and learnings.

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We immersed ourselves into the Bhagavada Gita, the Yoga Sutras, autonomy, sequencing, assisting, advanced asana/transitions, meditation, pranayama and had the honor of hearing from Radhanath Swami almost on a daily basis during our satsangs in the evening. This immersion into yoga and our disconnection from my day to day and regular stimulation—tv, radio, phone, traffic, daily hussle, etc.—allowed my mind to actually be clear for one of the first times in a very long time and I actually felt present. I felt like a sponge; taking it every piece of information and wanting to learn everything. I also felt a strong connection with the world around me.

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The simpliness of living in the Eco Village was the most beautiful thing. You felt connected to everything around you—the night sky, the moon, the stars, the mountain views, the cows—the peace and stillness allowed you to magically open. One of the memories I will always take with me is the night of the full moon. We had our evening satsang on the roof deck of the building where we were staying, and as the full moon rose over the mountains, we sang and we chanted,

“Hare Krisha, hare Krishna,
Krishna, Krishna,
hare, hare,
hare rama, hare rama,
rama, rama, hare.”

As we chanted those words I just kept reminding myself to keep disconnecting to connect. To trust that whatever is meant to be, will be. To never forget the power of finding stillness in the self to exist in a higher state of mind.

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This higher state followed me right through the course of my training and even back to Mumbai where I spent my last day in India. Part of our graduation was participating in the annual flower festival hosted at the Radha Gopinath temple by Radhanath Swami. We spent the morning of festival plucking the pedals off of more than 3,000 pounds of flowers as Radhanath Swami spoke about the power of oneness and the power of love. Then that night, we headed back to the temple for kirtan as thousands of pounds of flowers were showered on us. It was such an incredible experience. The beauty of the flowers and the music, and being in the presence of a diverse community of people all united together, left me completely speechless at times with tears in my eyes and then at other times made me giddy and full of laughter. The energy in the room was indescribable. And that was my last night in India.

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The next morning everyone met for breakfast and we all said our goodbyes. It was such a tough day. To have spent over three and half weeks with each of these individuals for more than 13 hours per day and then to say goodbye was  devastating. I truly met the most incredible people and it was so sad to think that we would most likely not all be together again.

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This thought still gets me so sad as I write this blog post. The people that we surround ourselves with is so important—they can either bring out the best in us or the worst in us—and to have had such an incredible experience with these people that inspired me to be the best I can be, I’m forever grateful.

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I might not still be in India in the magical place of Govardhan Village with my amazing SuperSoul yogi’s but every time I play my harmonium and sing,

“hare Krishna, hare Krishna,
Krishna, Krishna,
hare, hare, hare rama,
hare rama,
rama, rama”

I’m able to go right back to that place in those moments—chanting before the sunrise, sitting and listening to satsang in the evening, playing harmonium under the moon light with the Radharani orchestra, or dancing at the flower festival. It will forever remind me to stay open, to be authentic and to trust whatever will be, will be.

Namaste yogis 🙂
Love,
Cara

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I’m Going to India!

That’s right! I’m headed to India to complete my 500 hour teaching certification with Raghunath Cappo. I’m incredibly excited yet completely terrified all at the same time, but because of that, I know I’m making the right decision to leave what’s comfortable and embark on a journey of challenge and growth.

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After taking a week immersion with Raghunath at Back Bay Yoga this past July, I was LIT up. I felt recharged and inspired as both a teacher and a student. I knew that this week experience had to continue in someway or another and sure enough, I found information on Raghunath’s 500 hour certification program in India on his website.

The sign-up process for this program took AWHILE. Almost nightly, I would open the web page and read the description. I was so scared to take the big leap. The thought (and still the thought) of being away from my family, my home and my yoga/running community makes me terrified but I couldn’t stop visiting that darn webpage and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

And once I get stuck on something, it’s hard for me to budge because I know it’s lingering for a reason (i.e. I should do it). After a few weeks and probably thousands of visits to that webpage, I applied for the program.

So it’s happening….I’m going to India! The VISA is all set, I’m off to the travel doctor next week and I have begun my reading/homework prep for the training. I will be leaving on Tuesday, January 5th and will be returning on Monday, February 1st. I will be 2 hours north of Mumbai and will be staying at the Eco Village. Lots of yoga, meditation, philosophy and Kirtan!

I can’t wait to take this journey to India with you! Maybe this blog post will inspire you to take a new journey of your own? Don’t let fear stand in the way, if your passion or desire is lingering, chase after it 😉

 

Get FAST

47:11; I beat my 10K PR (personal record) by 4 minutes. Despite the pouring rain and less than ideal running conditions, I took on the BAA 10K and rocked it out.

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he before and after pictures of the BAA 10K

My shift in running has happened over the past 8 months when I started to do one thing. I started to run with people. Since October, I have run with people that are faster or the same speed as me a couple times a week. Mondays, I run with my RunYoga crew. Wednesdays, I run with the Marathon Sports Boston Run Club. Fridays, I run with friends after my 7am yoga class at Back Bay Yoga and this past winter, on Saturdays, I ran and helped coached the Marathon Coalition as our runners prepared for the Boston Marathon. These runs keep me accountable and consistent and they’re FUN! I’m no longer looking at my watch watching the miles tick by. I’m laughing, chatting and enjoying each and every step. Running with people has allowed me to control my breathing, focus on my form and also understand my true potential as a runner.

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ummer RunYoga Crew
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inter RunYoga Crew

Last April, I was running with the Marathon Sports Boston Run Club and about 2 miles into my run, I looked at my watch. I was running a 8 minute pace and I felt amazing. I thought to myself, “this is way too fast”, but I held the pace. Fast forward another 3.5 miles and I finished with an average pace of 7:53min/mile. This was a pace that I’ve never run before, for at the time, I was averaging 9/9:30min/mile pace on my runs.

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Friday morning runs along the Charles River

I mentioned this running victory to two of my running buddies with such pride. They were happy for me (of course!) but they wanted me think a little bit bigger. “Cara, you looked really strong out there. I’m sure you could up your pace to 7:30min/mile pace easy.” I thought to myself “no way!” but at the same time, I thought, “why not try?”

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Running candids 🙂

That’s what I did. That next Wednesday, I joined the group and set out for a 7:30 min/mile pace. My two buddies and my other running friends were with me the whole way; encouraging me and pacing me. We finished that 5.5 mile run at a 7:20 pace. BOOM! Everything changed from there. I started to view myself differently. I started to run differently. Each and every Wednesday, I ran with my crew; targeting that 7:30 pace and using the run as a tempo run. When I got to the starting line of the BAA 10K, I was ready to own it. And I did!

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Marathon Sports Boston Wednesday Run Club

Community is so important. They motivate us. They inspire us. They keep us on track and accountable, but most importantly they allow us to see our best selves and what we’re truly capable of doing. Running with others has done just that for me and I’m so incredibly grateful for it. I’m grateful for not only the physical benefits it has given me but most importantly, the friendships and memories it has created and how it has changed my perception of myself.

You want to get faster and be better? Let’s all run together. Who inspires you to be a better runner?

Opportunities for you to run with others:
> Monday nights: RunYoga, 6pm, Fenway (Fall session starts September 14)
> Wednesday nights: Marathon Sports Boston, 6:30pm, Back Bay
> Thursday nights: Boston Marathon Adidas Run Base, 6:30pm, Back Bay
> November Project: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6:30am
> Marathon Coalition: Trains 15 charity teams for the Boston Marathon                

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Take Your Yoga Paddleboarding!

This past weekend, my husband and I road-tripped it to the Catskills to my in-laws vacation home to get in some family time as well as some R & R. We spent the weekend hanging with the family/celebrating my niece’s first birthday, sleeping in, napping, watching movies, feasting on local amazing food, reading and also paddleboarding.

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I’m relatively new to paddleboarding and made it my mission to dedicate some serious time to get comfortable with the board. Here are some quick tips for those beginners out there:

  • Be light on your feet
  • Stand with your feet a little bit wider than hips distance
  • Focus on standing tall and activating your core
  • For a little bit more power, feel free to bend your knees a bit as you paddle
  • To get the “fear of falling” jitters out, practice standing up and sitting down on the board.

Once I got into my groove, I decided to do some yoga. Here’s a sequence that’s perfect for beginners, great for core strength and most importantly, it’s fun and playful! Hold each pose for 5 rounds of breath. Enjoy!

WARM-UP

Downward Dog to Plank to Downward Dog (repeat 3 times)

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Low lunge

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1/2 Split

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Lizard Lunge (two variations, on hands or forearms)

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Forearm Plank

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Plank

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Downward Dog

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REPEAT OTHER SIDE 

SUN As With MALSANA VARIATION

Downward Dog

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Plank

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Step to Malsana (yogi squat)

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Fold

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Tadasana

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Fold

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Flat Back
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Plank

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Chaturanga

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Upward Dog

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Downward Dog

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REPEAT 2 to 4 TIMES

STANDING POSES

Downward Dog

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Low lunge with Side Bend

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Runners Lunge Open Twist

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Warrior 2

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Lizard Lunge (2 variations, hands down or arms down)

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Dolphin

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Forearm Plank

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Baby Crow

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Childs Pose

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REPEAT OTHER SIDE

PEAK POSE/BACK BENDS

Hero with Eagle arms (both sides)

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Crow

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Camel

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Childs Pose

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Thank You

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m not only grateful for the good in my life but I’m also grateful for all of it—the rejections, the failures and the challenges. I took Lynne Begier’s class last week and through her words and teaching, I was reminded how much these set backs in life bring even more love in.

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As many of you, Jon and I’s life has now been touched by Parkinson’s disease. Ironically, this challenge has done nothing but bring more love and community into our life. We joined the Michael J. Fox Foundation community and have been incredibly supported by Team Fox and the Young Professional Group here in Boston.

We had the honor of running our first marathon together in Chicago for Team Fox. We became an event planning team hosting three hugely successful events to raise money and awareness for the Foundation–Pedal for Parkinson’s & Yoga.Beer.Beats at Sweat and Soul Yoga and Charity Night at Sweetgreen. These events alone raised more than $4,000 with over 200 people in attendance.

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Pictures from our Pedal for Parkinson’s event last June

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Pictures from our Yoga.Beer.Beats event this past November

Jon and I have also met incredible people throughout the country who either have Parkinson’s disease or have a family member that has passed with it or is living with it. One person who has truly touched our lives is Jimmy Choi. Jimmy is a member of Team Fox and has Parkinson’s disease. He has taken this challenge and it has inspired him to run marathons and also create community. It’s people like Jimmy who are changing not only their life but who are also changing ours.

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Jimmy has completed a number of marathons (too many to count!) and this is us with Jimmy after the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

And lastly, because of YOU we have raised $7,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation of which 100% will go to the programs and research for finding a cure. Jon and I are so humbled and so honored to feel the love and support from all of you. I’m truly a believer that with bad can only come good, especially on this day of gratitude. Let this story inspire you to let every challenge not define you but motivate you to find the good.

“Our challenges don’t define us, our actions do.”- Michael J. Fox Foundation .

With love,

Cara & Jon

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Our 26.2 Miles in Chicago!

Last Sunday, Jon and I took on the big 26.2 miles at the 2014 Chicago Marathon. We ran, we conquered, we got a personal record and we celebrated!

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Celebrating our marathon victory after we crossed the finish line

This marathon will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first marathon Jon and I ran together (it was my 8th marathon and Jon’s 2nd) and we had the honor of running for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Team Fox.

Having Jon running by my side on race day and also running for such an incredible cause made this marathon so much more than just miles. It was all about community. I can’t thank everyone for their love and support. The messages and your donations mean so much to Jon and I.

The marathon experience-the training and the race itself–just like yoga, teaches us so much about ourselves and life.

1. Love yourself. Trust that you are strong enough to go the distance. 
During the marathon around mile 18 or so, I was struggling. My quads were so heavy and I was having a hard time keeping up with Jon. So much so that I told Jon that I had to slow down since I was scared that I would not be able to keep up the pace for the rest of the 8 miles we had to run. He turned to me and said, “Cara, let go of that doubt, you are stronger than you think.” And I was. I kept up that pace and even picked it up during the last stretch.

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ile 17 at the Team Fox cheering section

2. Let yourself feel the nerves.
Let your nerves get you into that zone. I had the honor of meeting Deena Kastor at the 2009 New York City Marathon expo and she asked me how I was feeling. I said “really nervous”. She turned to me and said, “I don’t call it being nervous, I call it being excited.” I think of that phrase whenever the nerves start to kick-in.

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Walking for the race to start in our corral

3. Be present. Pain. Miles. Everything passes you by.
Everything changes with every step and every breath we take and the marathon illustrates that fact perfectly. Every mile of the marathon brought new music, new crowds of people, different neighborhoods, varying amounts of pain and excitement. It’s important to be present because everything will and can change within an instant.

4. You’re not alone. Everyone is cheering you on.
Chicago had the most amazing crowds. 1.7 million people were spectating the race. The energy was insane! Jon and I had our names on our shirts and it was so cool have people you don’t even know cheering you on.

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ur view of the starting line

5. Repeat your running mantra.
As things started to get more difficult, Jon and I would repeat our running mantras to each other to stay focused, present and positive. My running mantra was “we finish together”; reminding me of my intention when I signed up to run Chicago, to create community and awareness for Parkinson’s disease.

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I placed my race mantra on the back of my shirt to keep me inspired

6. Celebrate and take it all in.
I’m incredibly grateful for this marathon and everyone who has supported us! The celebration continues! Cheers and namaste!

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o the left, Jon and I the next day celebrating at brunch. To the right, celebrating after the marathon with fellow Team Fox runner friend, Jimmy Choi. 

Fearless Friday: Trust is My Mantra

What I love about marathon training is that it forces me to live my yoga each and every day.

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Trust is my marathon mantra. Each and every time I lace up my sneakers and head out for a run, I trust that I’m strong enough, I trust that I’m good enough and I trust that I can do anything I put my mind to, especially, on my long runs.

My long runs require not only the most energy and are the most physically challenging but they mess with my mind. The first couple miles are a wait and see game….am I on pace? Do I feel any pain? Can I run 13 more miles? Did I bring enough water? Did I eat enough? The questions go on and on. This is where my mantra comes in again. TRUST. Just like in life, you have to just put one foot in front of the other and just trust that things will work out for the best and if you believe it, they always will.

You might not always run as fast as you like or in the best weather conditions but some of life’s best lessons come from our hard ships and just believing and trusting that everything will work out for best. I have found that my hardest runs (bad weather conditions, injuries, fatigue, etc.) were the runs that made me the most equipped and ready to take on the distance of the marathon.

Things will never be perfect but trusting and believing that things are how they should be will always allow you to go the extra mile. What’s your running mantra or a mantra you use to bring inspiration to your day?