Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe + February Events

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”
“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

The end of 2016 was a rocky time for me. Changes, necessary changes, were happening. While I recognized the utility of these developments, they still didn’t feel good. I have been working on feeling comfortable with discomfort, as that is usually a sign that circumstances are changing, but it’s a challenge. In 2016, part of my self-development also included shooting my shot: inviting people to coffee, lunch or drinks and saying “I need your help.” Vulnerability can be scary, but I found that once people know they can help you, they’re more than willing to do so.

As such, I started to notice my network expanding as friends made introductions, acquaintances became advisors and I became comfortable in making requests and subsequently helping to connect others as friends reciprocated with their own needs.

In January of the new year, I am now starting to see the benefits from the connections I made in 2016. The statement that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with is true. As you become the least smart person in the room, you grow and expand your knowledge. Thankfully, this notion applies to both my professional life and my fitness life, as I connect with yoga friends for two events this month!

Feb. 18 – Soul Sistas Yoga Kickoff

Last year, a friend said she looked around and realized she knew several black female yoga teachers and enthusiast, so she brought us together and Soul Sistas Yoga was formed. J, Kawanah, Tam and I are all dedicated to creating sacred spaces for women of color to practice yoga and connect breath, movement and energy.

I’ll be leading two yoga sessions at our debut event on Feb. 18, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the SunstoneFIT Mockingbird Plaza (5400 E. Mockingbird Lane).

Session A – Beginners’ Yoga: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Mental Health and Meditation Workshop: 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

Session B – All Levels Yoga: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Tickets range from $15 for one class to $40 for the entire day of learning. Get your ticket and then get one for a friend who keeps promising to come to yoga with you but never has made a class.

Feb. 25 – Athleta Namaste After the 5K (Leap of Faith Motivational Run and Yoga)

I’m all about this event because it reminds me of Wanderlust 108, which I’ve been to twice and will be attending this year again on April 15.

I can manage 3.2 miles of jogging and who doesn’t deserve some good stretching and breathing after accomplishing that, right? When Kory, the event organizer who I met at Wanderlust last year, asked me to teach the Namaste After the 5K yoga session, I freaked a bit. I had to remind myself that my vibe, what I’d been cultivating, was bringing me new opportunities. If I run from them, I’m not being true to myself.

namaste after the 5K image

As the yoga teacher for Namaste After the 5K, that means I have to invite, you, your mom and your partner to come out to Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix Lozada Gateway (Continental Avenue Bridge) on Feb. 25. The warm-up starts at 7:30 with Orangetheory Fitness and the 5K kicks off at 8:45 for runners and 9 a.m. for walkers. If you’re coming for the yoga, that starts at 10:45 a.m. Get your ticket today!

These two events in February came because of the tribe I attracted, as well as saying yes, even to actions that were outside my comfort zone at the time. I’d love to know what you gained when what you were seeking found you because of your energy.


Confession Time: Social Media Fitness Stars Do Nothing For Me

Recently, while reading Greatist’s list of the 100 most influential people in health and fitness, I realized that I recognized next to none of the men and women who were known primarily for their social media presence.

Influencers 2015 Banner

As much as people look to social media for fitspo photos, my ignorance doesn’t surprise me.  I’ve never looked to individuals, wanting to emulate them, not even from my formative pre-teen and teenage years. While some girls wanted to be Britney Spears or Beyoncé, I simply enjoyed their music and stage performances. You won’t find me riding for the Rihanna Navy or shouting from the rooftops for any other legion of superfans. The only people I stan for are family and some exceptional friends, and, of course, my husband.

Looking to what other people are doing also translates to personal relationships, romantic and platonic. The #squadgoals and #relationshipgoals movement mostly amuses me me. I see the excitement, the posts and comments, and I think “When we spend so much time looking to others for how we want to conduct our lives, how do we determine accurately what works for us?”

Going back to fitness: if I’m so busy being obsessed about this woman’s abs or another personality’s arms, am I starting from a healthy point? While inspiration can help kickstart the process, it’s also important to accurately assess what is viable based on the time and effort we’re willing to put in. If you’re working 70+ hours a week at work, you might not be able to take that romantic Italian vacation with your super-hot, 6’3” boyfriend like you saw some social media celebrity do. Similarly, if you’re on a first-name basis with the 7-11 clerk due to your need to get Blue Bell at 12:30 a.m. on Saturday after the club, you’re not on track to get six-pack abs. This is not to say it’s unachievable. It’s just improbable based on the level of dedication that these things take.

The only thing that’s going to help you hit those fitness goals.

The moment I gave up on absurdist goals like six-pack abs or a butt you could bounce a quarter off of, I gained clarity about what I could actually achieve. I could definitely feel stronger. I could definitely lift heavier, week by week. I could definitely see the progress in a yoga posture, in the number of burpees I can do, in the way I feel about sprinting on the track. Achievements happen outside of the social media bubble. They happen when you put social media down and actually get up and out, challenging your best efforts. So sure, scroll through those top 100 fitness personalities. But when you put down your phone or tablet, be sure you’re picking up the kettle bell!

Are you affected or inspired by fitness personalities on social media? What extra element do they bring to your exercise program?

Continuing Education: My First Yoga Workshop

I’ve talked about how hard it is to stay on top of my own fitness. This weekend, I challenged myself to keep learning by attending one of Sunstone Academy’s yoga workshops. (Full disclosure: I work for Sunstone part time as a teacher and I attended Sunstone Academy for my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training.)

In the past few months, Sunstone has offered workshops on diet and nutrition with Dr. Sommer White. This weekend, the workshops focused on advancing one’s yoga practice. Of the four available courses, I went to “The Art of Arm Balancing” on Saturday afternoon.

If she can do this, I totally can as well, right?
If she can do this, I totally can as well, right?

Y’all. I don’t think I’ve challenged my body this much since…ever. The warm-up alone, as we found and engaged the entire core, had me sweating bullets. By the time the teacher, Lady Yoga, got us into our first arm balance (the ever-approachable Crow), I knew I was in for a major workout. As Lady Yoga explained, arm balancing is not just arm strength; you have to engage mula and uddiyana bandhas. These bandhas help us lift and stay into balances and inversions.


Over the course of the workshop, Lady Yoga led the group of about 20-25 people, half of whom were also teachers like me, through Crow, Side Crow, Baby Crow, Running Man, Flying Pigeon, Eight Angle (which I could not get to save my life) and the most challenging for me, Visvamtrasana.

Nailed it!
Nailed it!

Not since training have I been so challenged in my practice, and I loved every moment. I will be attending more yoga workshops, focusing on both the asana (physical practice) and philosophy. Keep up with what workshops I’ll be attending in my quest for knowledge by following me on Twitter: @veleisap.

And if the workshop wasn’t enough, I decided to hop on the Grit Fitness X Luke’s Locker kickoff challenge. Whew, y’all, lemme tell you: the ladies of Grit Fitness are amazing. In an hour, we went through a dance cardio, kickboxing and glute workout and I felt (and still feel) all of it. Check out their latest fun challenge: #LUKESGRIT, plus my sweaty selfie with Annabelle, who kept me moving throughout class!



Festival Review: 5K & Yoga at Wanderlust 108 in Houston

I mentioned earlier this year that one of my 2016 goals will be attending a yoga retreat, so when my mom said we should attend Wanderlust 108 in Houston, I was all over it. Wanderlust was on my radar but I thought they only went to the standard festival locations: Colorado, NY, beautiful islands with amazing views. Imagine my surprise and delight that they came to my hometown of Houston, Texas.

Wanderlust - me and mom

The experience was fantastic, and Wanderlust is now high up on the list of events I would attend again. Here a few of the fun-learned lessons from the event:

  • Plan to fail and have a sense of humor about it – My mom and I got all the way (30 minute drive) to event location and then realized we’d left our yoga mats at the apartment. At that point, all we could do was laugh at ourselves. Thankfully, Pravacana Mats was one of the vendors and we ended up with both a mat for the day and for the memories.
  • Accept what you can control and embrace what you can’t – Wanderlust billed the event as a “mindful triathlon,” starting with a 5K, followed by an hour and a half of yoga and ending with meditation. The forecast stated heavy rain all morning, but the event was going on rain or shine. Rather than drop out of the event, my mom and I went full force into the 5K. It started out cool and dry and halfway through the rain was coming in sideways. What can you do at that point but enjoy the natural cool down of the rain? Thankfully, it all cleared up for a lovely 90 minutes of yoga with Faith Hunter (a hilarious teacher who kept the energy high) and Brook Cheatem (who I need to go find, since she teaches in Dallas).
  • Recovery is as important as preparation – confession time: I am not a runner. In fact, I low-key dislike running long distances. Give me sprints and I’m a happy camper. So five kilometers of running had my hip flexors, glutes and thighs upset with me. The post-run rolling with TriggerPoint helped me focus on those trouble spots in a new way, and I plan to incorporate the lessons into my regular stretching routine.
  • Enjoy the moment – though I may be of the “look at me” generation, I have never understood the compulsive need to document every moment of my life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Though it wasn’t very “yogi” of me, I wanted to smack the camera out of everyone’s hand during asana and tell them to focus not how cute they think they look but instead center in on the energy of 200+ people who want to enjoy the moment.
  • Say yes to new experiences – one of the sponsors, #ActuallySheCan, set up a trampoline and a photographer, which means of course I couldn’t say no. You can’t avoid new experiences for being afraid of how you’ll look to others!



Level Up: How to Stay On Top of Your Own Fitness as an Instructor/Trainer

Recently, I had a thought: if I took an informal poll of my fellow fitness teachers or the trainer members of the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, probably 99 percent would say that as their teaching and training increased, their focus on their own growth went down. An inverse and perverse relationship, if you will. Speaking for myself, as I’ve invested time in reading, learning and teaching others, my training schedule has suffered. I almost have to force myself to dedicate an hour to getting on the mat, not to creating a new flow or reading the latest yoga news.

As a student, you have seemingly unlimited time to learn, explore and jump around to different classes and studios. Now that I teach, I have a home studio and getting to other locations to experience other instructors often takes a back seat to meeting and greeting with the teachers and students at my own location.

It’s easy for me to recognize when I need to switch it up and revert back to being a student. Not only do I physically feel the need for a return to a challenge, but my mind clues me in that I’m not growing. My fitness routine, whether it’s yoga or weight training or my “unbridal bridal” regimen of sprint work on the track, connects me to an inner energy source and allows me to be a better teacher. I sleep better, digest my food easier and generally am a happier person when I’m challenging my body and mind through fitness.

Me, as a student, working on my handstand.
Me, as a student last year, working on my handstand.

Returning to the act of being a student is a humbling experience, and often, as teachers, we need a reminder that there is no end to the practice of learning. We can all be taught something new, whether we are a beginning instructor or a seasoned veteran trainer. When we don’t expand our minds through continued education, what we put out to our students can become stagnant or boring. And really, who wants to be a boring fitness leader?

I vow anew to give time back to myself, to explore not only different instructors at my own studio but with other yoga studios. After getting my butt kicked at Surf City Fitness last month, I’m excited to try new experiences and see how it shapes my teaching principles. I’m a big proponent of lifting, and lifting heavy, and I’ve seen the improvements to my time on the mat due to pumping iron. Thankfully, my fiance and I belong to the same gym, and he loves kicking my tail in the weight room, telling me to lift heavier, move faster and challenge myself. I’m excited about my renewed focus; maybe you’ll join me?

If you’re an instructor, have you found that your own fitness journey has stalled as you’ve taken on clients/started teaching?

If so, how do you plan on jump-starting it again to ensure that not only are you satisfied with your progress but you’re giving your students the best knowledge and experience based on what you learn?

Shout out in the comments, or message me on Twitter (@VeleisaP) or Instagram (@LeisaWithAnE). Looking forward to hearing from you!

Getting the Details Just Right + Title Nine Bra Giveaway

With less than three weeks left until the “wedding of the century” (disclaimer: this will not be the wedding of the century to anyone aside from me and the future husband), I’ve decided to get on an officially unofficial game plan for my fitness. Aside from teaching 4-5 times per week, I’ve kept a semi-regular lifting schedule for the past few months. However, office snacks and a generally relaxed outlook on food had me up a few pounds a few weeks ago. I don’t advocate crash dieting or intense exercise regimens that simply won’t hold up beyond two weeks, so I am now working with my trainer of choice, my future husband!

When he told me that the plan involved sprint work two times a week, I tried to remember the last time I bought a strong sports bra…I’m still trying to recall. Thankfully, I got the best opportunity for someone in need of a well-fitting sports bra right in time with an invitation from Title Nine to attend the preview of their 2015 Bra Fit Fest.

fit fest details

According to Title Nine, “the lack of a good sports bra is often the biggest deterrent to regular exercise.” As someone who usually ends up grabbing the nearest medium, I can attest that a properly fitted bra, one that goes by cup size and not S-M-L-XL, would likely provide more support for the girls. Upon walking into the Title Nine store, I saw a wall of bras and knew I’d come to the right place for the bra that would get me through a track workout. Crissie and Andrea, my “bravangelists” (expert bra fit specialists) at the McKinney Avenue location, schooled me the different types of fit Title Nine offers, along with cute color patterns and bras that actually look…sexy.



These bras are called “beautility,” a combination of beautiful and utilitarian. Love this concept! Bras can be measured in cup size and “barbells,” meaning the amount of support given for activities that range from walking to light jogging and beyond to cross fit and running.

Next, it was my turn to take a spin in the dressing room. My eye immediately went to the Seismic Underwire bra, due to the slight shimmer and the perforations that I knew would allow my skin to breathe. Plus, with underwire and individual cups, it would give me enough support for both yoga and jogging. Next I tried Tech Athena bra. The neck came up slightly higher than I was used to but I found that I liked it. With wide shoulder and chest bands, the bra provided enough uplift that I felt like I could run, box jump and jump rope with the best of them.

fit fest try on

Fun break: I did the “hippity hop ball” fit test for fun. I refuse to be embarrassed about this video!

I ended up going with the Booby Trap bra for a few reasons.

  1. Out of this world support – This is saying a lot, considering all of the bras I tried on would pass the Title Nine Fit Test. The Booby Trap though…ridiculously good.
  2. Straps that adjust in the front – There is nothing more annoying as a woman to need to adjust your straps. You take off one side adjust, put it back on and if it’s not right, you shift it back off your shoulder again, inching it up and down until it’s just right. No need for that with the Booby Trap bra. Plus, the adjusters are velcro!


I left the store with the Booby Trap bra on and headed right to my workout at SMU’s track. It held up to my 80-, 50- and 30-yard sprints without digging into my back or shoulders like other bras can do. Suffice it to say, I’m a fan!

While the average American woman wears a 36C bra, the vast majority of sports bras are built for A and B-cup women. The fact that Title Nine has bras that go from 32AA to 40EEE shows me that they honor the range of sizes for women. Plus, with a 360 day return policy (365 minus the five days a year their stores are closed), you can try a few different ways to test your bra before deciding that it’s absolutely for you.

Title Nine Fit Fest in Dallas

In addition to entering the contest, sign up for Title Nine Dallas’s Fit Fest on Wednesday, October 7 and Thursday, October 8. RSVP at


Title Nine Giveaway

I’m so excited about my experience with Title Nine that I’m working with them to give away a sports bra to a lucky reader! All you have to do is send a tweet, tagging me (@VeleisaP) and Title Nine (@TitleNine) and use the #T9FitFest hashtag. Tell us what kinds of activities your sports bra needs to handle, how excited you are to see the range of sizes or even about the last time you were sized for a sports bra. The winner will receive a Title Nine sports bra and a free personalized fitting from a bravangelist. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday, Oct. 11.

Rules: Must be 18 years of age and a U.S. resident to win. No spam accounts or giveaway only accounts are allowed, only valid personal/business accounts. Must follow all entry requirements. Winner will be notified via email and have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen in their place. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Do Yoga & Surf In the City

One of my 2016 goals is to attend a yoga retreat. There’s something about the thought of waking up on the beach, stepping out to truly salute the sun and then taking a dip in the ocean that puts me in the permanent “vacation” frame of mind. Plus, I want to learn how to surf! Until then, I’m stuck in the concrete jungle of Dallas.

Apparently, being in the relatively land-locked city doesn’t mean I can’t figure out how to find my center while challenging my balance. Last week, I found myself at City Surf Fitness down in Deep Ellum with a group of fellow fitness folks (gosh, I love alliteration), hanging 10 and trying not to tip myself like a little teapot right off the board.

Finding Balance at City Surf Fitness
Don’t I look really calm, as I try to work my guns? Alex of Just Alex (on my right) was a champ and kept me laughing the entire time. (Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors Facebook page)

The very laid-back instructor, who looked and sounded exactly what you would think of a surfing coach, took us through several incarnations of the City Surf Fitness workouts: Big Kahuna, Beach Body Bootcamp, City Surf Circuits and Buddha Board. While I had a love/hate relationship with City Surf Circuits because of the way it worked my body from head to toe, as a yoga instructor, the Buddha Board held a special place in my heart. I could imagine myself out on the waves, finding my balance, as we moved through Warrior 2, Reverse Warriors and Child’s Pose. Sweat poured from my face and once I stopped rocking, I could sense an inner calm that belied my intense effort to find stillness.    After working up quite the sweat, we were treated to delicious juices and smoothies from Simply Fit Meals. The Almond Mylk was sweet without being overwhelming, thanks to the dates. I have a bag of dates in my fridge, waiting to be used in a homemade snack bar recipe. The Sweet Beet could have used a touch more sweetness, but when I added it to a smoothie, it was the ideal amount of flavor. Simply Fit Meals Juices - Dallas Fitness Ambassador I definitely need to try my hand (and foot) again at working the board. Check my Instagram to see if I make it! Thank you to the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors group for coordinating the workout, I’m hooked and I can’t wait for the next event.

Surprise: Your Yoga Teacher Might Be Just As Nervous As You Are

Recently, I taught what I think is my best yoga class to date. Which is surprising, because it was the 5:45 a.m. class and I am far from a morning person. I also created the flow at 11:30 the night before.

Using the feedback I got from my studio manager in a recent evaluation, it felt like the light switched on. I was able to get off my mat, make adjustments, speak to purpose both of posture and practice, and truly engage with the students on a different level.

It was like magic.

I write all this to state that usually, I’m a mess (inside my head) during class.

nail biting
Flickr image via Freddie Peña

Much is made about how uncomfortable the student experience can be, as a newbie, or a plus-size yogi, or as the only black person in class. I get it, because I’ve been there. Judgment, whether from an internal voice or those around you, can cause discomfort and mess up an otherwise powerful yoga class.

As I’ve moved from student to teacher (though, aren’t we always students?), the voice inside my head still occasionally pipes up with doubts about my abilities. As a teacher, it’s not about how best to keep my balance in Half Moon. Now I wonder if I’m clearly explaining how to move into postures, properly motivating the students and being a proper example of a “yogi.”

Before my first flow class, I was a ball of nerves. Did the flow, you know, flow? Was I going to remember to discuss intention, or would I enter the room and immediately blank out? The thought of making hands-on adjustments terrified me. What if someone pulled something or passed out: could I handle in-studio injuries?

Though I’d love to believe that in due time, I will no longer get nervous before my classes but I doubt it. There is an energy unlike any other that comes from leading a yoga class. The senses are heightened as you become attuned to the energy of those around you. You can feel the room’s expectations of a transformative experience, and you want to deliver. I harness all of this and, instead of allowing it to overwhelm me, I turn it into my motivation.

So the next time you head into your studio, sign in and grab a mat and towel to set up for your hour of power, you should know that the slight tension in the air isn’t just coming from you. The same way you expect so much of yourself, your teacher is expecting even more of themselves as the leader of the class.

We want to give you a 10 experience, and we can be hard on ourselves if we flub or seem skittish. Be kind, not only to yourself, but to your teacher. We could use the love.

Shopping for Your Workout Without Going Broke

I got a fun package in the mail this week: new exercise tights. Colorful, stretchy, sweat-wicking workout gear. Me, being who I am, I immediately shared it to Instagram.

A photo posted by Leisa (@leisawithane) on


Several friends wanted to know about how to shop for their workouts. I’m now working out or teaching upwards of 4-5 times a week, and I’m learning about making a limited supply look good. Plus, according to the sales numbers, activewear represents nearly 16 percent of the total apparel market, which means we’re spending plenty on workout clothes. 

Here are some of the things that I’ve learned about shopping for a workout wardrobe that will keep motivated to move.

Buy on clearance. Who doesn’t love a good sale? Online retailers and brick and mortar shops alike have to clear out merchandise regularly, which means a great deal on clothing. Make friends with the team at your favorite store and sign up for email alerts to be in the know about upcoming sales and specials.

Shop at the end of the season. In addition to sales, shop seasons. Once the temperatures start to change, and when you have drastic temperature changes like we do in Texas, you need to move from sleeveless singlets to layers. Some of the deepest discounts I’ve come across have been during the summer and winter gear swap in merchandise.

Be open to non-name brand clothing. Some yogis, CrossFitters and Zumba-heads are label-conscious and only wear Nike, Adidas and Lululemon. But me, the way my checking and my savings is set up…I can’t afford to drop $75-$100 on tights and $20-30 on tanks and tees. Not only am I sweating pretty heavily every workout, I’m washing items at least weekly. While I am not spending $5 on throwaway t-shirts and cotton tights that go nubby in one wash, I do believe in a bit of frugality. I’ve found that J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and H&M (home of fast fashion) provide a cute and comfortable outfits, usually with wicking material that helps keep you dry while you’re lifting, dancing or stretching.

Choose your prints wisely to mix and match. While we all want to be cute in colorful patterns, a monochromatic color palette means no one knows how often you’ve worn a piece. Maybe your lucky color is black, blue, red or green. Use the solid color as a base and throw in patterns for variety.

Here are a few links around the ‘Net that will help you maintain your wardrobe:

How to avoid pilling in yoga pants: 6 athletic wear questions answered – via

Toxic chemicals lurking in your yoga pants – via PopSugar

Presenting: Yoga Photos + 10-Minute Yoga Flow

My good friend, writer extraordinaire CJ Johnson, approached me about a photography project, I couldn’t say no. CJ and I originally “met” on Twitter. Upon discovering that we live in the same part of Dallas, we’ve managed to keep in contact and establish an in-real-life friendship, discussing creativity and life.

After explaining to me her vision, we met up in the visually-rich Dallas arts district, beginning in Klyde Warren Park. Since it was a (very) warm night, we chose to start at the quieter west end of the park. CJ’s approach was very conversational, allowing me to immediately feel at ease as I moved through Sun Salutations to warm up.

Over the next couple of hours, the photo shoot moved from Klyde Warren Park to the Meyerson Symphony Center and the Dallas Museum of Art, ending with a catch up session and ice cream.

I’ll be sad when CJ moves to LA soon, but that just means I have someone to kick it with on the west coast.

And here are the best of the best photos:

Smiling Upward Dog Dancer at the DMA Close Up Tree at DMA Side Crow Revolving Chair Handstand Triangle Chatarunga



Here is the first part of a recent flow I put together for my APY Flow class. I want to share this so readers get an idea of my style of flow.

Before beginning, warm up with 2-3 Sun Salutations. Find a library of postures, including the below, over at Yoga Journal.

Warrior One

(straighten the front leg and shorten the stance by bringing in the back leg)


(rise out of Pyramid, release arms to the sky, bend both legs and lift into the balance)

Warrior Three

(bring hands to the mat, keep hips level)

Standing Split

(bring lifted leg through to hip height, cross over standing leg)