Tag: bodypositive

The Evolving Meaning of Yoga

The Evolving Meaning of Yoga

What does YOGA mean to Me? And Soon, You?

Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Yoga can be exercise, quiet time, meditation, breathing, practicing kindness and compassion, a lifestyle, a way to turn inward and listen. It can be whatever the individual makes of it. My personal experience of yoga has changed from my very first class in the fall of 1994 through this present day. I am sharing my journey in hopes that you, the reader will feel free to experience yoga in whatever way serves you. Instead of saying “Oh, I don’t do yoga,” perhaps you will tell yourself “I can do yoga and I can make it what I need it to be.”


My Yoga

Now, yoga to me means to breathe (The literal definition means to yoke or to bind). To me, the most important thing my clients and or students can take from practicing with me is how to use your best tool – the breath. It is how to bind the breath with the movement to create a moving mediation. It is at times to lose yourself on the mat and to let go. To get out of your head and out of your body – to just be – without complications. And sometimes it is to connect with your body, to feel discomfort and to breathe through it – learning you can tolerate discomfort by focusing on your breath. Sometimes it is to move in my body, to feel my body, to challenge my mind and my muscles. To face fears, to lose balance, to fall and get back up. To let go of my ego and to recognize my mind and body are different every single day and that is 100 percent okay. That is what yoga is to me today, but it has been an evoling relationship with myself and my mat.



Yoga had always intrigued me. As a freshman in college I took beginner’s yoga as an elective course. Once I felt comfortable with the basics, I ventured into town –Fort Collins, Colorado to really experience something more authentic. I can still recall vividly the first three yoga studios I ever practiced in. I believe I was trying to find a sense of calm and let go of emotional baggage. Well, I let go. I literally hung upside down at this studio in Fort Collins, held by a piece of fabric. I think it would likely be considered acro yoga today. I woke up at 6 am to attend Women Warrior class. Only now do I realize this class was Ashtanga yoga. I remember thinking, “Are we supposed to be female warriors bowing down to the sun?” I also remember feeling my arms shake and the fatigue of the never-ending chattarangas. The physical commitment and the fact that the class was at 6 am – the time of sunrise, led me to abandon this class. (Did I mention I had to ride my bike to class?)


Pre-natal Yoga

My practice was inconsistent throughout years until 2005/2006. I was pregnant for the first time and had an unfound fear that my regular routine of pilates would squish the baby. I felt more confident in the idea of prenatal yoga with a private yoga instructor. My instructor’s name was Jen Guarneiri. She taught me to move with my body. While alignment was important, it should not sacrifice the safety of your body. If my palms didn’t touch over my head, that was okay. This yoga was very accessible. It also felt incredibly good to do while being pregnant. No other movement felt as natural and easy as yoga did while being pregnant. I felt unstrained and at ease in my body. The best part of this scenario is that my husband whom I had thought would never ever practice yoga, became intrigued. My instructor offered him a free yoga session and he too became a yogi. The breathing, the stretching and the need to keep your mind free of chatter brought a new challenge and a reprieve. Yoga and mindfulness became part of our everyday life so much that it was one of the premises of my third book, Women’s Health Body Clock Diet.



After almost 20 years in NYC, we left for the burbs. My world turned upside down. I could not find a yoga studio similar to those in NYC when I needed it most. I could not quiet my mind, nor could I access my authentic self – I needed that – a place to provide a sacred space free of judgment. While I did not find that space, I did find a form of yoga that energized me. Ironically, I realized this yoga was the same form of yoga that I had first experienced in 1994. The opportunity for yoga teacher training presented itself and I knew I needed this now more than ever.


The teacher training experience was pivotal as I reached a new understanding of yoga and that was binding the breath with the movement. I never fully understood Ujjayi breathing until my teachers Lucy Feaster, Renee Scherer and Jenny Mirmelstein at Life Power Yoga emphasized the significance of the breath in Ashtanga yoga. It changed my entire practice. And has since changed my life.


L’ifestyle Lounge

Now my yoga has become the L’ifestyle Lounge, in Closter, NJ. It is all the different types of yoga we offer. It is 80 degrees Rock, Sweat and Glow, it is Breathe and Bend and it is yours, as much as mine. I invite you to begin your yoga experience with me and my amazing staff who are hand picked for individuality. Our classes range from warm power flow to prenatal to open class with instructors such as Lisa Schnall and Elyssa Toomey allowing for authenticity, alignment and your own yoga philosophy. Leave judgment home and come to the mat.

Creating a Body-Positive Social Media Experience

Creating a Body-Positive Social Media Experience

Creating a Body-Positive Social Media Experience


by Laura Cipullo and the Whole Nutrition Services Team

There are many positive aspects to social media — making new friends, expanding community, learning about subjects you care about, and getting various perspectives on the news. But unfortunately, as most of us are aware by now, there is a darker side. Every day there seems to be another story about online harassment. The most high-profile social media news recently involved Lindy West. On January 3, the body-positive activist quit Twitter, disgusted with the platform’s inability to control its abusive members.

So yes, social media can be harmful, whether you are in recovery for an eating disorder or simply trying to feel better about your body, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it. There are ways to make Twitter, Facebook and Instagram more positive. Below, I offer some suggestions.

  • Secure your accounts.

You can make accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram private, meaning you approve who follows you, and no strangers will be able to comment. This easy action will eliminate “trolls” (abusive commenters) and just generally protect your security when you are online. It is also a bright idea if you have children or teens who use social media.

  • Know your hashtags.

If you’re new to social media, you may be confused about what hashtags are. They are ways to organize information. You will see this sign – # – followed by a phrase or a word. To see body-positive accounts, images, comments and news on Instagram and Twitter, look up hashtags like #effyourbodystandards, #bopo, #haes (health at every size), #riotsnotdiets and #bodypositivity.

  • Block when you need to.

If someone is harassing you online, you can block and even report them. If someone is being a persistent enough troll, they can lose their access to Twitter entirely, as happened to Milo Yiannopoulos, the man who waged a harassment campaign against SNL actress Leslie Jones.

  • It’s ok to take a break.

You’ll find most people on social media tweet or post often, but when it comes to social media, there are no rules. A social media break can be good for your mental health. It can certainly help you be more mindful! Simply announce you are taking a break, and when you expect to come back, so your followers are not left in the lurch.

  • You don’t have to overshare.

People tend to overshare online, but you don’t have to. You don’t need to post pictures of yourself, if you aren’t comfortable with that, and you don’t have to talk about the innermost details of your life. Oversharing can invite trolls or unwanted opinions, and may work against you with a future employer. Social media is like a good acquaintance — but not like your very best friend or family member that you tell everything to.

  • Make use of lists.

Twitter has a list function that allows you to group social media accounts based on subject. So you can have a list of body-positive folks, news about fashion, recipes, etc. Doing this makes Twitter less of a mess to wade through, and allows you to control what type of news you get and when you want to get it.

  • Reach out.

One of the best parts of Twitter is being able to talk to others. So if someone is tweeting about a subject important to you, you might want to reach out to them to keep the conversation going. By doing this, you’ll connect with like-minded folks who care about the same issues you do.

  • Remember, you control who you follow.

When you start out on social media, follow the people you know in real life — plus publications and organizations you trust. Avoid those who post selfies of their “perfect” bodies (including celebrities like the Kardashians) or magazines that feature unrealistic diet stories (like advice on how to get that “bikini body in one month”). So many women’s and health magazines promote unrealistic body standards, so you have to be careful about who you let into your feed. Look at the L’ifestyle blog post on five magazines that won’t make you feel bad — all of these publications (except for MORE, which is now out of business) have social media accounts.


Also, many women’s magazines frequently do round-ups of body-positive Instagram accounts to follow. @NicoletteMason is one of the more well-known Instagram bo-po stars and a top fashion writer, while @mynameisjessamyn is great if you need some yoga inspiration.

I follow over 2,000 people on Twitter, and I try to focus on those with body-positive attitudes. My suggestions — straight from that list — include @FoodPsychPod, body-positive author @LesleyKinzel, @DrJennyThomas of Harvard, and Endangered Bodies NYC @EndgrdBodiesNYC. Click on “following” on my Twitter profile, for more of who I follow. I am at @LauraCipullo on Twitter and Instagram, and Lisa Mikus, RD, my colleague, is at @LisaMikusRD on both platforms, and we are all on Instagram at @EatKaleandCupcakes and most recently, @LifestyleLoungeNJ.

Hopefully, these tips will help you create a more body-positive feed. I would love to hear from you — on social media, of course — if you’ve found the article helpful. And feel free to let me know of other suggestions you have that I haven’t covered here.

Here’s to a more body-positive 2017!

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