Start Yoga, Change Your Life

The facts are out there. You can google them, look them up, find them anywhere. The benefits of a yoga practice are powerful and life-changing. Not only does it provide your body with all the benefits of physical exercise, but it can also help calm your mind, body and spirit. It can help soothe depression and calm anxiety.

And most importantly, it can help you to enter into a relationship and conversation with your body after years of ignoring it. Or worse, after years of someone else having power over our bodies. It’s time to reclaim our bodies. Reclaim our lives. Reclaim our own power over our own futures and reclaim our health – both physical and mental.

In case you’re not sure where to start, in case you feel overwhelmed by all the launching pads for yoga out there, I’ve created this easy-to-follow guide for starting a yoga practice.

Want to start a yoga practice but have no idea where to begin? Have you taken a yoga class before and felt lost and confused – like you had no idea what was going on? If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, The Beginner’s Guide to Yoga Basics is the book for you!

Through humor, stories from my own practice, good ole fashioned practical tips, and over 2.5 hours worth of online video guides and content, I guide readers through the fundamentals of a basic yoga practice. In this book geared towards beginner yoga practitioners, learn how to, step by step, set up and practice a set of basic yoga poses.

I have been practicing and teaching yoga for 11 years and have over 500 hours of yoga teaching certifications. Through simple, direct and kind descriptions, I can help guide you to setting up your own, best yoga practice. Start your yoga journey now with this easy-to-follow guide!

Help me help you to reclaim your life.

Check out my NEW website!

Hey there everyone!

So at long last, after years of procrastination, dreaming, overwork, dreaming and more procrastination, I have FINALLY started my own website. Officially. With a blog this time.

Check it out at: labringle.com . Follow me there!

While I’ve had several blogs throughout the years – the one about my travels in Paris about a million years ago, the one about healing after a lifetime of abuse, and one about searching for what comes next – I’ve decided to combine all my various interests under one header. The only thing that describes how it all comes together…

Me.

Moi.

Myself.

I.

Narcissistic? Really hoping not. Just simplest I believe.

The other blogs provided me with opportunities to hide myself behind my writing. To take shelter behind my words. To not really admit that it was me saying those things. Me writing those things.

They provided me with beautiful opportunities to spread my wings. To test things out. To push myself further. To open up my voice without all the fear of rejection and recrimination that comes sometimes when you really attach your own self to something.

They were my blogs for crawling. But now I’m ready to walk.

Don’t worry, you’ll still get to read my stuff – I haven’t changed and yet I’m completely different all at the same time.

I’ll still try to post the struggles, the inspiration, the yoga and the triumphs of life. I haven’t forgotten you.

It’s just time to start spreading my wings. Time to start trying to turn this whole writing thing into more than a side hobby I sometimes can’t seem to make time for and into something that actually supplies…dare I say it?…an income? 

Ooo that word gives me chills.

The truth is, we writers need to eat too y’all!

So join me on my search for food – through words.

See you there.

Lauren

Because everyone should watch this

I watched this Ted Talks just now and I think the speaker makes some wonderful points. I broke into tears in the middle of this video. In order to end gender violence, we need to change our ideas about some things. As bystanders, we need to speak up every moment we see or hear sexist, racist, or bigoted comments. We can’t just stand up for people in the event of abuse, the development of abusers starts long before that. As a culture, we need to change our attitudes. After all,

“In the end what hurts the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more true statement. What broke me most throughout my struggles with abuse and violence was not the actual abuse itself. It was watching as so many friends turned their backs on me and walked away. Whether they called me crazy or played my story off as me being overdramatic, I felt shattered by their complete disbelief in me and my experience. After my abusive ex, I lost nearly every “friend” I had. Every male friend anyways. I even felt betrayed by my best friend, who continued to hang out with my abuser afterwards. Even she thought that I exaggerated. That I stretched the truth. I sometimes feel like I will never recover from that.

But I can say this much. I never would have spent so many nights completely alone and without company if my story were not true. I could’ve just denied it. Could’ve just assimilated back into my party crowd of friends like nothing ever happened and pretended like everything was okay. Many people do just that.

But my story is true, and I will never deny that again.

I never would have watched as all my so-called friends walked away from me if my story were not true. I would not have spent four straight months of crying every day if my story were not true. I would not have spent months in counseling, years blogging, undergone treatment through yoga therapy, changed my phone number, moved away, cut off all ties with certain people and traveled for months at a time in pursuit of some shred of hope and happiness if my story were not true.

This is not just a woman’s issue, it’s everybody’s issue. Help break the silence:

http://www.ted.com/talks/jackson_katz_violence_against_women_it_s_a_men_s_issue.html

Relationship Red Flags

I just wanted to share this link to this article: “Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality” from the blog “Emerging from Broken.”

The article talks more about Red Flags when it comes to men and relationships (for my own post on recognizing these signs in my domestically violent ex, see here).

There are also some great comments underneath the “Dangerous Men” article, where survivors of abuse share their stories of how, after being trained by abuse, we allow ourselves to overlook red flags. This is a great site to know that none of us are alone. We’ve all overlooked Red Flags in relationships, or with abusers, whether because we blamed ourselves, thought we weren’t good enough, thought our abuser was right about us, etc. But none of us are to blame.

For me, the red flags were mostly verbal at first. I feel like that’s how most abusers start. They begin with little things, things they can pass off as “jokes” or as my “overreacting.” They test the waters, as they get away with more and more, they begin to escalate the abuse. Until it can result in physical attacks, etc.

I had several red flags about my ex-boyfriend. First, the gut feeling in my stomach. But he seemed to really like me, he seemed to treat me really well. He’d liked me for a long time, and bla bla and other justifications. Once he got me to date him, the situation changed. He started subtly cutting me down; constantly calling me “ridiculous” or “clumsy,” laughing at me when I’d trip, embarrassing me in front of my friends when I’d say something silly. All under the cover of “joking.” I blamed myself. Why was I such a clumsy, awkward person? I thought. It got to the point where I could hardly cook or do anything with him around, because I’d start shaking so much from nerves.

Eventually, the problem escalated, to the point where he assaulted me one night. Way later than I should have, I broke up with him. But even then, I never knew what the relationship really was until afterwards, when I was looking up domestic violence online. The truth is, we blame ourselves when we shouldn’t.
These people who abuse us are master manipulators. We just have to have faith in ourselves and love for ourselves, not critique, and that will guide us the way we need to go.

This article helped me process a lot of red flags, and recognize several I hadn’t thought of before. I hope it helps you do the same. For more about my struggle with domestic violence, see here:

Building your own version of healing

Healing. It means something different to everyone. There are different versions, avatars of the same sentiment if you will. I think we can get lost in the abstract ideal of what it means to be “healed.” The truth is, however, that there is no one way of being healed, or experiencing healing, just as there is no one path to achieve this goal.

The looming goal of healing can seem rather daunting. The key is to bring it down to earth, to bring it to something you understand and can accept for yourself. At this stage, you’ve probably gotten very good at recognizing what you don’t want from life (no abuse, thanks!) and what you don’t want from relationships, etc. And you’ve hopefully removed yourself from these situations. The question now becomes what DO you want?

What you want is something very important to determine in the healing process. It’s okay to set a goal for your healing journey. Think about what being healed means to you. How do you want to feel when you’re healed? How will this affect your personal life? Your relationships? And what do you want your personal life and relationships to look like once you’ve achieved the goal of healing?

Defining what “healed” means to you is very important in working towards it. After all, if you don’t know what you are working towards, how will you ever get there? How will a therapist be able to help you reach that goal?

So take a few moments to think about what it means for you to be healed. Talk to your therapist about your goals, desires in this department, etc. Then go get it! In my opinion, perfection does not exist, because everyone’s version of what it means to be perfect is different. It is the same with healing. But defining what you want gives you a goal, a purpose, and can help immensely on your personal journey towards inner fulfillment and peace.

My Aha! moment Part 2: Domestic Violence in a relationship

As I was perusing my blog the other day, I realized that I only shared half of my story of abuse. I have mentioned it off-hand a couple times throughout other posts, but I think it is finally time for me to share the story of my domestically violent relationship. This aha! moment is more difficult for me to share because it is the most recent, and therefore the most fresh in my mind. It involves a lot of guilt on my part, and anger towards myself for letting such a negative relationship continue for so long after I knew I needed to end it. I ask you, reader, to please forgive me, as I try to forgive myself.

It started out sweet; a cute guy, who I’d been friends with for a few years and had all sorts of mutual friends with. A guy I thought I knew, who I thought cared about me. I was so excited to date someone who I felt actually cared and would treat me right. He took me out, he called when he said he would; it was perfect. Or so I thought.

But then the switch flipped. He started getting more aggressive, more critical of me. The relationship was originally long distance, but it went downhill fast when he moved back to the same town as me. It started with little things. He would cut me down randomly. Call me clumsy, ridiculous, and crazy all the time. But in snide, “joking” ways so that I didn’t feel I had the right to be offended because otherwise he would accuse me of “not having a sense of humor.”

Then it moved into increased (and hypocritical) jealousy and a seeming lack of caring, which was so out of character in my mind for how attached he had been earlier. He took another girl (when he was still living out of town) to a wedding, and went clubbing with her until who knows what time of night, then didn’t tell me about it. When I confronted him, he told me jealousy was a stupid emotion that destroyed relationships, and didn’t think I had any right to be upset. However, when I hung out with one of my guy friends (and invited my boyfriend) along, Boyfriend refused to join, because he didn’t want to be “that guy,” but then called/texted me every 5 minutes. When I would hang out with my girl friends, he would completely ignore me, but the minute a guy was around, he couldn’t keep my phone quiet for more than a few minutes.

Later that same night, Boyfriend asked me to call him when I was on my way home and he would meet me there. So I called him, and after assuring himself completely that I was done going out for the night and on my way home, he said he would meet me there- he never did. He stood me up once he knew i was being a good girl.

But I put up with it. And this is just one example. We were taking things slow, he was out drinking with the guys and didn’t want to drive drunk. I should just “learn to be chill and be patient”-things that I wasn’t capable of according to him.

The escalation continued, until my birthday when everything exploded. He spent the entire night embarrassing me in front of my friends; he ignored me, hit on my best friend while refusing to touch me, and then left early. I went with him so we could talk about the fact that he ruined my birthday. It was the one time I had specifically stated what I wanted to do, and he couldn’t even be a good sport about it. Instead, he went off about how he didn’t get why birthdays were a big deal, that he didn’t want to spend money (though he later spent some on drugs), etc.

So we go to his place and I’m crying. He ruined my birthday, he embarrassed me in front of all my friends, he hit on my best friend in front of me. I felt awful. His friend was on his way over so they could continue hanging out. This was when the bad really happened. He interrupted my crying by saying we should just have sex. When I said “no, I’m crying,” he trapped me and attempted to force it on me. I managed to escape and lock myself into a bedroom. Sometimes, he would physically hurt me during, and when I would say something, he would blame me.

According to him, everything was always my fault. When he would push me, it “wasn’t his fault that I only weighed 20 lbs” and would therefore fall over. I couldn’t be patient. I couldn’t be this or that, or exactly, perfectly what he wanted in that moment. He told me I disappointed him. He made me believe that I wasn’t worth anything, that I would never be able to find anyone better.

And I…put up with it. For a while, at least. And that phrase is the hardest for me to say, because I am so humiliated, embarrassed, and horrified that I put up with it, even for just another few weeks. In a twisted way, I loved him. I wanted to believe things would get better, that things would be good again, like they were before. This was also before I was seeking help for what happened when I was little. In my mind, this was just how guys treated you. This was the best I thought I could expect from the male gender. I realize now that that is completely wrong, but at the time that was my truth.

So I put up with it, because I didn’t think I had the strength to leave. I cried every day during the last few weeks, because he made me feel so terrible about myself. And, (I have to take a moment to desperately defend myself) I was at a place in my life where I couldn’t literally deal with a break up. I had just found out about what happened to my little sister, was working on my last semester before college graduation, was not on speaking terms with my brother, was suffering from depression, losing weight unhealthily due to stomach sickness, was suffering from sleep deprivation, all while working, doing 2 internships, taking classes and being president of an on-campus organization.

I was exhausted. I was so busy I hardly had time to breathe and my life was crumbling around me. My family was shattered, several of my closest friends moved away, and loneliness crushed down on me. Boyfriend was my “cure.”

Finally, I left him because he wasn’t treating me right, but I had no idea it was a relationship that classified as Domestic Violence until much later.

I was looking into options for counseling for Sexual Abuse and I ran across SafePlace’s website. Here, I found a description of what classified as Sexual Abuse, and just out of curiosity, I checked the red flags for Domestic Violence checklist. I was shocked to discover that most of the “red flags’ applied to my relationship with Boyfriend. I knew things were bad, but I hadn’t realized just how bad until that moment. I spoke with a counselor over the phone, and she confirmed my suspicions.

Boyfriend was abusive. The thought hit me like a freight truck and terrified the living shit out of me. How had I found myself in another abusive situation? And only months after I had just realized what happened to me when I was younger? (see my Aha! Moment: The crushing blow of realization)

My world rocked, and I broke down. The feeling was awful. And I knew I had to find a way to ensure that he would never get me back; ever. No matter how hard he tried. So I told everyone what he’d done. So that, if my willpower wasn’t enough, my conscience and the judgment of my peers would stop me from ever going back to him. It has been months and I am just now beginning to feel healing arrive, after much effort. I have had to change my phone number, block him on Facebook, etc., to keep him away from me. It takes strength, and it has been incredibly difficult.

Realization hurts. Abuse adds another dimension to overcome after a break-up. The way he treated me affected me very deeply. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when someone breaks you down. But I am so glad I did it. And you wanna know what? The day I left him was the day I stopped crying. And the first time I’d felt peace in weeks.

Get Help: Helpful Resources

I’ve mentioned support in your personal life. Now here are some resources, mostly in Austin, Texas, that I have found helpful (and one that I didn’t try that might be of use to you, if you’re a UT student). Even if you do not live in Austin, you could always call some of these organizations and do phone counseling/have them refer you to a place near you.

Safeplace:
Mission: SafePlace exists to end sexual and domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change.
SafePlace… Provides Safety for individuals and families affected by sexual and domestic violence.
Helps victims in their Healing so they can move beyond being defined by the crimes committed against them, and become Survivors.
Promotes safe and healthy relationships for the Prevention of sexual and domestic violence.
Works with others to create Change in attitudes, behaviors and policies that perpetuate the acceptance of, and impact our understanding and responses to, sexual and domestic violence.

Website: http://www.safeplace.org/
Phone: 512.267.SAFE (for 24 counseling/more info)

Voices Against Violence:
CMHC Voices Against Violence (VAV) is a program of the Counseling and Mental Health Center at The University of Texas at Austin. VAV addresses issues of:
Dating/Relationship Violence
Sexual Violence
Stalking
Our programs are designed to serve the needs of the diverse UT population with information, education, training, advocacy, counseling, and referral services.
Services for Survivors and Allies include:
Individual Counseling
Anonymous Telephone Counseling
Group Counseling
Connection to resources in the community
Advocacy services which may include legal, medical, academic, and/or housing support

Website: http://cmhc.utexas.edu/vav.html
Phone: 512-471-CALL (2255) (UT Students Only)

Overcoming Sexual Abuse Website:
Overcoming Sexual Abuse began as a mother & daughter team, Christina Enevoldsen & Bethany Ruck, survivors of childhood sexual abuse. When we looked for an online support group for ourselves, our search turned up two types of groups: The first type was extremely supportive and nurturing, but lacked any belief or commitment to actually getting better. It was merely a place to share struggles, yet without hope of finding a way out. The second type was very uplifting and encouraging, yet gave the impression that healing was a matter of determination and positive attitude. We knew from our own healing journey that all of those were necessary to heal, but we also knew that without practical answers and tools for recovery there would be no permanent improvement. Since we didn’t find what we were looking for, we started our own group and Overcoming Sexual Abuse was born.

Website: http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/

These are some technical tools if you will for the healing process. These are professional resources designed to target and directly assist the victims with many levels of healing. Whether it is home relocation, counseling, group sessions, job searches for victims, or just someone to talk to, these resources can save you in a million ways. Overcoming Sexual Abuse is a website I found that compiles the writings of several people (women mostly) and their personal experiences, struggles, paths to healing, etc. While it doesn’t directly counsel victims, I have found some of the articles to be very encouraging and enlightening, and show my situation from different perspectives, several more forgiving than my own.