A Dancer’s Journey

Valerie Estrella was raised in Stockton, California but her parents called her by her middle name which is Georgianna. They called her Georgi for short. She was born in 1967 in the Summer of Love or actually Fall of Love. Her first-generation Mexican American Father was a musician and her Mother was a nurse. The Apple didn’t fall far from the tree because Valerie definitely has a passion for music and as a health coach for healing. 


John, Valerie’s father in 1968. He was a music teacher for Stockton Unified for over 30 years and a local musician. Valerie credits her father for having music in the house. Everything from classical, jazz, disco, funk and Mariachi. Thanks for loving music.

Valerie was the youngest of four children. She has three older brothers. When Valerie was born, the Dr. lifted her by her legs to show Leonora her baby girl. That’s when Leonora exclaimed, “Look at those legs, she’s going to be a dancer.”

Valerie’s mom Leonora was the first in her family to graduate from College. She went to school while working full time. She was a nurse over 40 plus years. Leonora supported all of her children in their pursuit of music and art. She’s a talented artist too.

When Valerie celebrated her 8th birthday, her mother gave her a black leotard with pink tights and Georgi just died. Her gut instinct was “NO I DON’T WANT TO DO IT.” Leonora was gentle and said let’s just try it and see how you like it. She didn’t have a choice so she went. Turns out she had a blast and fell in love with dancing. She studied with Judy Ratto at Judy’s Dance Studio in Stockton, CA. She progressed to point shoes within a year as she had very strong ankles and feet. After a little while she started to take tap and jazz. She enjoyed it and danced consistently for 5 years.

Valerie at 9 years old on Point.

When she was 13 she decided she was too cool to dance. So she did what parents dread and she quit. Although she took a break from dancing in a dance studio, in high school she was a Song Leader at Del Mar High School in San Jose. Valerie transferred schools her Junior year and decided to go by her first name which was Valerie because Georgi was too much of a nickname. When you transfer schools your Junior year of high school you kind of want to blend in. She got tired of having to explain why she had a boys name. Valerie, as she was now known, was able to choreograph some of their dances at Del Mar High School in San Jose and had fun. She was able to dance at the 49ers HalfTime show with about 500 other teenagers who went to the United Spirit Association Camp. It was a routine to Footloose by Kenny Loggins in 1984. Joe Montana was the best!!

In college Valerie studied ballet at San Joaquin Delta College with Dorothy Percival. Dorothy was really good with technique as she carried a little stick and wasn’t afraid to use it. Just that little extra bit to get you set up correctly. This is where Valerie became really flexible. She graduated with her Associate of Arts Degree in General Education in 1988. She finally decided she needed to pick a career. She really wanted to be independent so she ended up majoring in Criminal Justice at California State University Sacramento. She graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.

After she had been working for about 10 years for the State of California she really was experiencing pain through her back, severe insomnia, depression, and anxiety. She had just gone through a stressful divorce and had relocated from Southern Central California to Northern California. Valerie knew that yoga would be her cure for back pain.

She started taking yoga at her local gym and one day she heard an ad on the radio about becoming a Yoga Instructor. Her eldest brother, Christopher had recently passed away. He was very much into Eastern philosophy and studied meditation and energy. She decided to become a yoga teacher in honor of her brother. In 2008 she completed her Ashtanga yoga 200 hour Yoga Alliance Certification with Michelle Paisley Reed. Michelle went on to become a best selling author. This is where Valerie first heard the concept of being able to manifest. Valerie was really happy that she had learned so many different ways to stretch. And in 2009 she started teaching at Millennium Sports Club in the North SF Bay of California.

John Christopher, Valerie’s eldest brother was instrumental in Valerie becoming a Yoga Instructor. Chris, as he was known, as a drummer and had very strong arms. You might not be able to tell but he had a super strong grip strength and was into advanced meditations when it wasn’t cool in the ’70s. Chris is so loved and will be forever honored as a true Earth Angel.

Valerie became absorbed in the gym culture which involved maintaining certifications, getting new training and continuing to get stronger and develop herself. The Millennium provided her with opportunities to get excellent training in Les Mills Body Flow, Les Mills CX Worx, Zumba and U-Jam Fitness.

Valerie in 2012 with Solano County Zumba Instructors. Look for the Legs and you’ll find Val

Zumba is where Valerie really got the confidence to dance in front of people. She also participated in many Zumbathons for Party in Pink, ToyAthons and many other fund raisers. Valerie was having so much fun because she was dancing and helping the community.

Look at the lovelies from Solano County Viva Zumba

In 2012 Valerie was still experiencing quite a bit of stress from work and was exhausted, moody and just feeling overall no good. So she went to a work shop called Growing Wild in Santa Cruz with Joy Smith who was also a Zumba Trainer and a health Coach. Joy encouraged participants to become a health Coach. It was dancing and juicing and clean eating for 3 days and after doing that Valerie began to feel better and decided that she needed to learn as much as she could about healthy eating. So she decided to become a health Coach in 2013 through Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Organic Greens are great just wash them really good.

In 2015 Valerie began to study voice with Alina Adams. It was divine intervention that Valerie began to study voice. It is because Valerie had paid for her daughter to have voice lessons who did not want to do it anymore. So Valerie started to take lessons and she really started to enjoy it. Alina really worked with Valerie. Zumba gave her the courage to get in front of the crowd. She decided to Sing Like Nobody is Watching You can watch her sing here.

Valerie performs Shatter Me at a local recital

After a few years the Millennium, it was bought out by In Shape SportsClub. Well, it was beneficial because the Millennium was suffering from the 2008 recession and was getting ready to shut their doors, it started to feel like it was work. Logging into websites for training, too many small changes pushed her over the edge and she decided she didn’t want to deal with all of these changes. She was working a stressful job and she was at the end of her career. She had to work until October 2017 and it was just getting to be too much. So she decided to resign from teaching.

After she resigned from teaching she created EnlightenYourLives.Com as she knew that she had so much information to share with the world and felt that a Blog would be the best way to share it with the world. She could influence more people on a global basis than taking a few clients here or there. She also wanted to focus on her own dancing and began to study with Angeline Lucia of Dio Amore Dance and Fitness. Angeline has a large background in dance. Not only is she a fantastic dancer but she’s an excellent instructor. Valerie studied, Ballet, Tap, Salsa, Hustle and too many to list. (All you have to do is go to one of her dance socials and you are doing Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Salsa, Bachata and so on and so on and so on. Angeline was instrumental in getting Valerie prepared for a performance at her retirement party in October 2017.

Valerie definitely decided that she was going to continue to dance and that’s what she has done. She stopped taking dance lessons because it was time for her to dance to her own beat. To take everything she has learned through dance, yoga and fitness and begin to integrate it into what works for her. She really started to have fun with improvisational dance. You can catch up with her on her Youtube channel.

She’s having fun dancing to whatever her heart desires. Ballet, tap belly dancing. She’s exploring and enjoying her freedom and Belly Dancing is in the air for 2019. In March 2019, Valerie will perform at a restaurant in the SF Bay Area. Here’s wishing her much success in 2019 and beyond.

Mother and daughter in 2017 at Valerie’s Birthday Party. Special thanks to the mom who inspired dance in her child even when the child didn’t want it. XOXO

When Was The Last Time You Hung From a Tree?

In this short video I demonstrate a couple of ways you can hang from a tree even with your feet on the ground. You just keep your feet on the ground but allow your upper body to release and get a really nice stretch.

I couldn’t edit this for the life of me. Oh well, life isn’t perfect buddy.


I hope you get a chance to hang out with some lovely trees soon. There are many beautiful birds you can see. They are so adorable. Take care friend. Hope to see you soon!! Oh yeah if you don’t mind subscribing to my Youtube channel or sharing this video. Maybe it will help somebody. Even kids need this more than ever. Thanks for shining your light. It doesn’t have to be super in your face. but you know you can share your light on the DL if you know what I mean. Take care beautiful!! Valerie

Tummy Time Helps Strengthen Back

baby yoga

Most mother’s know what tummy time is.  It’s when your child is a baby and you put them on their tummy to strengthen their core.  That’s where they eventually get the strength to roll over and crawl.  It’s a very important part of child development. As you know they have to get used to carrying that really large head.  So they lay on their tummy and lift their chest.  They do many poses that are in yoga and pilates.

I am not shy about my neck and shoulder pain.  It comes and goes.  I started to think about child development and how after years of a sedentary job my back had become weak and no amount of massages was going to help it.  So I started to think maybe it was time for me to try some tummy time.

As a Yoga Instructor there are many poses that focus on strengthening your back. Sphynx, Cobra, Up-Dog, Bow and the list goes on.  Pilates also has many as well.  So I would do the Asanas and hold the poses for a breath or two but then move on.

I googled a YouTube Video about Tummy Time and they said that babies need to work up to 15 minutes per day.  But actually what the lady said was to hold Sphynx pose for 15 minutes.  Now I’m not sure if that’s accurate because that sounds like a long time to me.  But I decided to do Sphinx pose for 5 minutes.

sphynx

This picture can also be modified to where you keep your chin down.  If you feel any pain back off.  You also want to make sure to engage your abdominal muscles and your glutes.  It’s not easy but you can do it.  Consult a yoga instructor or physical therapist if you need help.

I would come out of it if I would feel any pain.  The morning after I did this, I kid you not.  When I woke up in the morning, I did not feel any pain or stiffness.  I felt really strong.  I told a friend about this and he tried it and said he felt better the next day too.  Now keep in mind that you can modify this pose as well.  There’s is also baby cobra which is a great place to start too.

cobramostchallenging-baby-cobra

Could tummy time be the answer to back pain?  I also did rolling from back to tummy, happy baby, just kind of rolling around the floor and it felt amazing.  Aim for two or three times a day, for three to five minutes at a time to start, and progress from there.

If it’s good enough for a baby, it’s good enough for you baby.  Take care of yourself because we need you baby!!

Valerie is a health and wellness Coach and a Yoga Instructor.  She’s healing herself after a 26 year career and sharing her wisdom with the world.  To read about another simple healthy living tip about silence click here.

VAL BELLY DANCING

She Allegedly Retired

blonde hair blur daylight environment

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

It’s been about 7 months since Valerie retired. And  WHOA is in her vocabulary!!!  She had no idea it was going to be the way it is.  Just to summarize that she did work in law enforcement for 26 years and  also wore many hats on top of that.  She studied singing, dance, started a blog and is also raising a responsible teen.  So needless to say prior to retirement she was on a fast paced treadmill.  And was able to run quite fast.  Did she get tired?  Hell yeah but she just kept pushing herself because after all that’s the  way she was trained.  No Pain, no gain.

Fast forward to retirement and now she finally gets a chance to rest and relax.  Umm not exactly.  She designed her retired life to keep herself on that treadmill.  How and why did she do that?  Well she got a puppy, kept up with all of my hobbies and realized that she was really exhausted.  But she kept pushing herself anyway.  Now instead of stressing about deadlines at work, she was stressing about getting the dishes done and doing laundry.  Seriously?  How the hell did that happen?

tired office worker

She realized that people get so programmed to go at such a high rate of speed that it is difficult to slow down.  Imagine when you are on a tread mill and you get off suddenly, well your heart keeps racing and it takes a little while for it to slow down.  Well that’s exactly what happens when you retire.  It takes a minute to slow down.  Except it’s a rude reality check to realize that you never got off the treadmill.  The treadmill just changed from the treadmill to “Plogging.”

The realization that one seriously just needed to rest.  Stopping all work just isn’t possible as a mom, your on call 24/7.  Especially with a puppy.  (counting respiration rates, taking temperatures of a puppy and trying to find her pulse,trips back and forth to UC Davis etc.)

How the heck do you slow down anyway?  The answer is to take time to rest.  Maybe  watching TV is not a waste of time.  I usually watch an interesting movie but you really need that downtime.

happiness

If you allow yourself to rest you will find  that one will start to feel more calm and sleep better at night.  Work still occurs but now just take more breaks and  don’t worry about anything.  Valerie is recovering from all of those years of over work.  Her favorite thing is when  plans are made and the plans fall through.  She stopped putting on make up as much.  Started doing yoga everyday.  Basically getting back to basics.  Valerie realized that “Yoga Teacher heal thyself.” has real meaning. Getting back on the yoga mat and just let go of the past and the future.  Allow yourself the time to rest and heal.

What was the result?  Well She feels way better.  She is more calm and relaxed.

Everyone is different in their experience.  And by the way what works for you might not work for everyone or maybe you want the freedom to explore your own options.  It’s called Freedom of Choice.  So please do what your heart desires.

Remember even cell phones get a chance to charge themselves.

Valerie is a Health and Wellness Coach and a Yoga Instructor/dancer and singer.  She recently retired and is redesigning her life.  Life is a journey and it has many ups and downs.  Find the pathway that serves you.  This is a belly dance inspired movement.  She also gives a talk at the end about diet.

5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health

Originally Published on WordPress.com on April 29, 2016 By Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health
Yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner says yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships, and more.

Ever notice how good you feel — mentally — when you’re practicing yoga regularly?

Yoga teacher and licensed psychotherapist Ashley Turner, who is launching a groundbreaking new Yoga Psychology 300-hour advanced yoga teacher training next month, says yoga is the key to psychological and emotional healing as well as resolving issues with self-confidence, relationships, family of origin issues, and more.

“Yoga is a psychology — the whole practice helps us work with the nature of the mind, the nature of being a human, how emotions live in our bodies, how they affect our behavior and our minds,” says Turner, who reveals that yoga helped her recognize and cope with her own low self-esteem. “This course is reclaiming the deeper roots of the practice, not just asana — the mental and emotional benefits.”

See also Let It All Go: 7 Poses to Release Trauma in the Body

Below are 5 ways that yoga can benefit your mental health and well-being and even improve your relationships, according to Turner.
5 Ways Yoga Benefits Your Mental Health

1. It moves you from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, or from flight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. You typically have less anxiety and enter a more relaxed state. As soon as you start breathing deeply, you slow down out of fight or flight and calm your nervous system.

See also The Science of Breathing

2. It helps you build your sense of self. Through yoga, you get to know yourself and cultivate a more nonjudgmental relationship with yourself. You are building self-trust. You exercise more and eat healthier, because your unconscious mind tells you, “I’m worthy of this me time, this effort.” At the end of the day, everything comes down to your relationship with yourself. When you get more confident and become more rooted in your sense of self and your center, you develop a healthy, balanced ego, where you have nothing to prove and nothing to hide. You become courageous, with high willpower. You’re not afraid of difficult conversations — you know you’re still going to be OK at the end of the day.

3. It improves your romantic relationship. When you’re more centered and more peaceful with yourself, you’ll be the same way with your partner — you’ll view them through the same lens of compassionate, unconditional love. You’re less reactive — for example, you may know that snapping at your partner is not a wise choice.

4. It helps you become aware of your “shadow” qualities. The yoking of solar and lunar (light and dark) in yoga makes us recognize qualities in ourselves that we were not aware of, helping us be more mindful. A lot of my work centers on the shadow concept from Carl Jung. How do we look at those places in our bodies where we hold tension, tightness, knots of energy? That’s typically where we are holding our psychological or emotional energy. We work from the outside in, so asana is so important. A backbend will open your heart and release the stiffness between the shoulder blades — at some point, you will have some sort of emotional release, which you may or may not be conscious of. It’s about doing the inner work to shift or change and be open to doing your best with your weaknesses and faults.

See also Mandy Ingber’s Sequence to Heal Your Heart + Embrace Joy

5. It helps you deal with family of origin issues. Essentially that’s our karma — we can’t give back our family, we’re born into it and that’s what you get. It’s about owning what I call sacred wounds (rather than blaming) and taking them on more mindfully. You’re the only one that can change — the only thing you can do is control your actions and your behavior. Other people will inevitably be forced to show up in a different way you’re showing up in a different way. Think of the Warrior poses — yoga helps you rise up and do your best.

See also Pillars of Power Yoga: 10 Strong-Core Poses for Confidence

Yoga

Originally published on webmd.com on December 10, 2017 By Jennifer Robinson

Yoga

How It Works

Workout fads come and go, but virtually no other exercise program is as enduring as yoga. It’s been around for more than 5,000 years.

Yoga does more than burn calories and tone muscles. It’s a total mind-body workout that combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation or relaxation.

There are more than 100 different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Others are gentle and relaxing.

Examples of different yoga forms include:

Hatha. The form most often associated with yoga, it combines a series of basic movements with breathing.
Vinyasa. A series of poses that flow smoothly into one another.
Power. A faster, higher-intensity practice that builds muscle.
Ashtanga. A series of poses, combined with a special breathing technique.
Bikram. Also known as “hot yoga,” it’s a series of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature.
Iyengar. A type of yoga that uses props like blocks, straps, and chairs to help you move your body into the proper alignment.

Intensity Level: Varies with Type

The intensity of your yoga workout depends on which form of yoga you choose. Techniques like hatha and iyengar yoga are gentle and slow. Bikram and power yoga are faster and more challenging.
Areas It Targets

Core: Yes. There are yoga poses to target just about every core muscle. Want to tighten those love handles? Then prop yourself up on one arm and do a side plank. To really burn out the middle of your abs, you can do boat pose, in which you balance on your “sit bones” (the bony prominences at the base of your pelvic bones) and hold your legs up in the air.

Arms: Yes. With yoga, you don’t build arm strength with free weights or machines, but with the weight of your own body. Some poses, like the plank, spread your weight equally between your arms and legs. Others, like the crane and crow poses, challenge your arms even more by making them support your full body weight.

Legs: Yes. Yoga poses work all sides of the legs, including your quadriceps, hips, and thighs.

Glutes: Yes. Yoga squats, bridges, and warrior poses involve deep knee bends, which give you a more sculpted rear.

Back: Yes. Moves like downward-facing dog, child’s pose, and cat/cow give your back muscles a good stretch. It’s no wonder that research finds yoga may be good for relieving a sore back.
Type

Flexibility: Yes. Yoga poses stretch your muscles and increase your range of motion. With regular practice, they’ll improve your flexibility.

Aerobic: No. Yoga isn’t considered aerobic exercise, but the more athletic varieties, like power yoga, will make you sweat. And even though yoga is not aerobic, some research finds it can be just as good as aerobic exercise for improving health.

Strength: Yes. It takes a lot of strength to hold your body in a balanced pose. Regular practice will strengthen the muscles of your arms, back, legs, and core.

Sport: No. Yoga is not competitive. Focus on your own practice and don’t compare yourself to other people in your class.

Low-Impact: Yes. Although yoga will give you a full-body workout, it won’t put any impact on your joints.

What Else Should I Know?

Cost. Varies. If you already know your way around a yoga mat, you can practice for free at home. Videos and classes will cost you various amounts of money.

Good for beginners? Yes. People of all ages and fitness levels can do the most basic yoga poses and stretches.

Outdoors. Yes. You can do yoga anywhere, indoors or out.

At home. Yes. All you need is enough space for your yoga mat.

Equipment required? No. You don’t need any equipment because you’ll rely on your own body weight for resistance. But you’ll probably want to use a yoga mat to keep you from sliding around in standing poses, and to cushion you while in seated and lying positions. Other, optional equipment includes a yoga ball for balance, a yoga block or two, and straps to help you reach for your feet or link your hands behind your back.

What Family Doctor Melinda Ratini MD Says:

There are many types of yoga, from the peaceful hatha to the high-intensity power yoga. All types take your workout to a level of mind-body connection. It can help you relax and focus while gaining flexibility and strength. Yoga can also boost your mood.

Even though there are many instructional books and DVDs on yoga, it is well worth it to invest in some classes with a good instructor who can show you how to do the postures.

Chances are, there’s a type of yoga that suits your needs and fitness level. It’s a great choice if you want a holistic approach to mind and body strength.

Yoga is not for you if you like a fast-moving, competitive workout. Be open-minded, since there are physical and mental benefits you can gain by adding some yoga into your fitness plan, even if it isn’t your main workout.

Is It Good for Me If I Have a Health Condition?

Yoga is a great activity for you if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. It gives you strength, flexibility, and mind-body awareness. You’ll also need to do something aerobic (like walking, biking, or swimming) if you’re not doing a fast-moving type of yoga.

If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart problems, ask your doctor what you can do. You may need to avoid certain postures, like those in which you’re upside down or that demand more balance than you have right now. A very gentle program of yoga, coupled with a light aerobic activity like walking or swimming, may be the best way to start.

Do you have arthritis? Yoga can help you stay flexible and strong without putting added stress on your joints. You get the added benefit of a mind-body approach that can help you relax and energize.

If you’re pregnant, yoga can help keep you relaxed, strong, and in shape. If you’re new to yoga or have any health or pregnancy related problems, talk to your doctor before you give it a try. Look for an instructor who’s experienced in teaching prenatal yoga.

You’ll need to make some adjustments as your baby and belly grow and your center of gravity shifts. After your first trimester, don’t do any poses that have you lying on your back. And don’t try to stretch any further than you did before pregnancy. Your pregnancy hormones will loosen up your joints and make you more likely to get injured.

While you’re pregnant, avoid postures that put pressure on your belly or low back. Don’t do “hot” yoga, where the room temperature is very high.
WebMD Fitness A-Z Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on December 10, 2017