Posts tagged ‘Yoga’

Day 24 of the Challenge

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Thank you to all for another beautiful day.  I am grateful to be here and to share it with you!

I am on Day 24 of my yoga challenge, and  I have learned a few things:

1. Yoga is amazing.

I continue to experience the benefits.  My body continues to strengthen and become more flexible.  I am more grounded and connected to my body.  Even my cycle has changed a bit for the better.

2. It is still hard.

Though I’ve gotten MUCH farther in this yoga challenge than in the previous attempts, it hasn’t been easy.  I’ve almost missed days, I’ve cut out a few minutes from a few sessions.  However, the determination to stay faithful to the challenge and to my body has kept me going.  Matching my days to the calendar days has been extremely helpful as well — I don’t want to get behind!

3. Adaptations are OK.

I can’t always do the moves.  I can’t always do the whole session.  That’s ok.  I’ve really internalized this.  The most important thing is that I’m consistently putting this loving attention on myself — and on my body in particular.  If a body part is feeling strained, I leave the pose.  If I’m running short on time, I skim through the video and cut a little out (while still maintaining the balance within the practice).

4. The current challenge usurps all other habit-building attempts.

I’ve attempted to build a few other habits while focusing on this one.  As anticipated, my consistency has been sporadic.   No matter what, this habit comes first.  This is my foundational habit.  I build from this habit because it is the most important to me at this time.

5. It’s time to start thinking about my next challenge.

I’ve discovered that I can be very successful with these  multi-day challenges, completing at least 3 others in the past.  There are a few challenges that I’ve been contemplating, but I intend to use the Law of Proper Perspective to pick the one that will be the most enjoyable and motivating, as well as personally beneficial.

Have you picked a challenge?  How are you doing?  If not, might you give it a try?  Please share in the comments below! Much love and many blessings.

45 Days ‘Til el Camino: In the Chrysalis

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The good thing about setting lofty goals is you still accomplish quite a bit if you fall a little short!

It’s been a good week.  I haven’t walked quite the distance I was hoping for, but I did get in a long walk and a few short-medium ones, and I continue to walk the dogs.

I’ve also slowly started picking up a yoga practice.  I’ve been wanting to for a while, but now that others have recommended yoga for el Camino to strengthen the core, I have more motivation  I picked up 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene again, and I play whichever day matches the date.  For example, I started on May 7th, so I looked up her “Day 7” video.  The first day or two I just watched a bit.  Then, I missed a few days. But Wednesday, Thursday, and today I actually did the whole video for the day, and I’m really enjoying it again.

I’m continuing to go through changes inside and out.  Some of them are still not feeling great, but I had a fantastic accountability call with my mastermind partner for the month — she has such great images — and she told me I’m in my chrysalis!  What a beautiful analogy! She says I’m in the darkness before I BURST out into my butterfly form. She described how caterpillars will shake in that chrysalis for a week! And I’ve heard that if you cut a butterfly out of the chrysalis to “help it out”, it’s wings will not be strong enough, and it will soon die.  If that’s the case, I’m ready to take this chrysalis on! Let’s make some change happen, baby!  I can be strong!

Whether you are in your chrysalis or flying high, have a great rest of your week, everyone!

Much love, many blessings. ❤

New Yoga Class Adventure

"Silhouette People Doing Yoga" courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Silhouette People Doing Yoga” courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you ever think you’re in fantastic shape and want a reality check, take a new exercise class.  Seriously.   Also, if your fiancée tells you that you won’t be able to take a shower for the next day because he just re-caulked the tub, don’t sigh in relief that your exercise for the day is only yoga.

Today I went on a mini-adventure and tried out a free class at a new yoga studio.  As I entered the heated room full of 60 (yeah, 60) mats and bodies, I was filled with anticipation.  Who doesn’t like to mix things up and try something new once in a while?

And then we started the class.  Within 15 minutes I wanted out.  Within a half hour I was hoping we were almost done (we weren’t – I caught a glimpse of the cellphone my neighbor had in front of her, and my heart sank: only 12:34, and I had thought we were about done already).  But at some point the class finally wound down, and I realized I had loosened up a bit — even though I wasn’t enjoying the lack of breaks and the sweat drenching my shirt and dripping down my face.

So, overall, I’m glad I went, but I badly missed my regular yoga instructor.  Here is the rundown of what I enjoyed about the new class and what I enjoy with my regular class.

New Class: Free Strip-Mall-Yoga Class

  • Good Workout – I did feel like I went to an exercise class.  A lot of movement and good breathing.
  • Good Flexibility – I was touching my toes by the end of class!
  • Challenging Moves – The instructor added advanced modifications which looked like an interesting challenge!
  • Detox and Chakra-Talk – I have been talking lately about how I need to detox, and I’ve also been learning more about Chakras.  The instructor brought up how yoga is great for detoxing and talked about how certain poses open up particular Chakras.
  • Balancing Pose with Others – My favorite part of class was one of the balancing poses because of the bonding that resulted.  We were packed in that room like (insert cliché analogy here) such that our mats were practically touching each other.  During one particular pose – I believe the “airplane pose” – we have our back bent forward, our arms out the sides, and one leg in the air, perpendicular to our other leg.  The instructor encouraged us to hold onto our neighbors to help balance.  I have an incredibly hard time balancing, so I didn’t want to put my neighbors at risk, but I gave in and tried it, and it worked!  I was grounded and able to balance better, and I felt a sense of community with our little row of airplanes.

Regular Class: Park District Yoga

  • Not So Much Sweat – When I was done with the experimental class I felt completely disgusting.  I don’t even sweat that much with Zumba or the elliptical!  I know that part of it was the temperature and part of it was the movement.  And I get it . . .but I didn’t like it.  I barely sweat in my regular yoga class.
  • Really Feel Relaxed – In the new class we didn’t take any breaks.  In my regular class we make a gentle transition from movement to movement so that I can grab some water, retie my hair, or grab my towel for my modifications, without freaking out.  I also am able to really concentrate on my breathing, rather than on what the heck a “crescent moon” is or whether I’m going to collapse when I go from plank to lower plank to upward dog to lower dog in a matter of 30 seconds.
  • Really Feel Stretched Out and Worked Out – though the pace is slow, we hold poses for a long time, so the muscles are really strengthened.  I often struggle up the stairs after a good session.
  • Feel Confident – I’m at about the same level as everyone else in class —  a little tighter in a few areas, and more flexible in other areas – so I feel I fit right in.
  • Stretched Important Areas – My regular instructor usually starts with a gentle warm-up that loosens the back and neck and gets us thinking about our breathing.  In this class we dove right in with “Extended Child’s Pose” (which is NOT a relaxing pose if you have tight feet like I do.)  I was thinking: “Wait . . . don’t we work up to this?”  I much prefer “Embryo” . . .  Makes me feel like I’m back in the womb. . . ok creepy. . . moving on!. . .
  • Everything Explained – When my regular instructor calls out a pose, she names and then describes it, which benefits newbies AND people who forget which pose was which.  The new instructor was well-intentioned, asking us to raise our hands if we were new to yoga, but then she jumped right into class, calling out poses left-and-right, and only occasionally explaining what a pose was.  She also didn’t direct us on how to perform the pose correctly, something that my regular instructor is very particular about.  For example, for “Downward Dog”, my regular instructor insists that newbies watch her do it before they even attempt it, and then she walks over to each of them and helps them do it so that they don’t do it incorrectly and hurt their shoulders.  (“Push the floor away!”)
  • Modifications – My regular instructor is very good about suggesting modifications for those who might have joint issues, flexibility issues, etc.  For example, I need to have a towel under my bottom for the forward leg stretches because otherwise I’m stuck and can’t lean forward at all.  Also, for certain warrior/warrior-like poses, I often opt to keep my head down if my neck is not feeling up to par.  (Many years ago I took a yoga class and had a messed up neck the next day.  Coincidence?)
  • Older Crowd – You’d think I’d like a younger crowd, but I don’t.  An older crowd is more comfy.  I don’t feel as competitive and inadequate with my regular groups.  In today’s session the teacher was joking about how some students might be recovering from hangovers, and I was like “What?” and looked around and was like “Oh . . .”

As I look back, I see that my regular class is clearly more satisfying.  I wasn’t planning on taking on another class, anyway, but I thought I would see what’s what.  It’s good to see a little more of the yoga community and what else is out there.  And maybe I can up the challenge and convince my current instructor to offer her intermediate class again.  In the meantime, I have plenty to work on . . .

Dancin’ in My Underwear

"Legs Of Woman" courtesy of luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Legs Of Woman” courtesy of luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been trying to exercise every day, and it has led me to get at least 4 days in a week, so that’s a good thing!  My exercises of choice have been yoga, Zumba, the elliptical, walking, and my latest – domestic interpretive dance; i.e. — dancin’ in my underwear.

That’s right. I like to boogie in my undergarments.  On some days when I don’t have early morning teaching, I lower the shades, shimmy down to my comfies, and turn up the “workout” itunes playlist.  Sometimes I really have no idea what I’m doing; sometimes I go with what feels right; sometimes I incorporate some Zumba; other times I use white-woman’s-club-dancing (overbite may be included).

It’s not usually as good a workout at Zumba and the elliptical; it’s not as bendy as yoga; and it’s not as outdoorsy as walking, but I think it incorporates a bit of all of those exercises, and it is definitely the most fun – and the most convenient!  No attire required, no leaving the house required, minimal set-up required (hit play), and no dog accompaniment required.

So, if you’ve been hit by a blizzard, your Xbox is malfunctioning, and you don’t have any exercise equipment, consider creating your own workout.  I think you’ll enjoy it. 🙂

So, You’ve Decided to Do Yoga: 12 Tips for Newbies

Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Girl Doing Yoga” courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

I don’t think people can truly appreciate yoga until they come back for class after a long holiday break.  I feel amazing after today.  And yoga is pretty amazing.  It’s helped me feel better, and I have friends who have really felt the difference, too.  I hope to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

Well, today was the first day back and also the first class of a new session, so, at the first class, there were some new folks.  Inevitably there are some things that they don’t know yet, and some get scared off and never come back.   Below are some tips I’ve learned from yoga over time.

1. Know Your Body. Make sure you tell the yoga instructor if you have any medical issues that may make some of the moves difficult; i.e. major surgeries or injuries.  Just like in any other physical activity, you can hurt yourself in yoga if you don’t take care of your body.  Your yoga instructor should have suggested modifications ready for you for moves that involve those sensitive body parts.  And if the instructor offers you any kind of modification, and you think you might need it, take it!  The first time I took yoga, the instructor offered a neck modification for one of the poses, and I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to be different from everyone else (see #4 below).  The next day my neck was messed up, and I blamed it on yoga.  It took me years to come back.

2. Figure out the difference between discomfort and pain. You’re going to feel uncomfortable during yoga — it means you’re working hard!  (A particularly uncomfortable sitting pose comes to mind — it stretches back the feet and the toes and is the more uncomfortable than getting caught snooping through someone’s medicine cabinet.)  But nothing you do should be hurting you.   Yoga should feel more like a good workout and less like a rhino sat back on you and crushed all your bones.  Ok, I’m exaggerating.  But, the point is, listen to your body.  You’ll figure out what’s good “hurt” and what’s pain.  And if you’re not sure, don’t risk it.  And on the other hand, once you’re pretty comfortable, feel free to push it if you know you can.  Not too fast — but gradually push it.  The more you can safely stretch and push your body, the better for you.

3. Don’t forget to breathe. This is particularly important during balancing moves or very difficult poses.  Don’t concentrate so hard that you start to turn blue, and anyway, breathing during yoga is just as important as keeping that oxygen flowing during any type of exercise.   Truly, breathing is the most important part of yoga.  Our instructor likes to remind the class that nothing is as important during that class as breathing.  If we just breathed the whole time, we would still benefit.

4. Try to focus.  Be in the moment.  Focus on the pose.  Better yet, focus on the breathing: deep breath in, deep breath out.  But if you can’t, don’t sweat it.  Just like in other types of meditation, if you catch yourself drifting, bring yourself back.  If you’re completely distracted, try again next time.  My mind was all over the place today, but I wasn’t too worried about it because I know I’ve had better days, and I will have better days again.

5. Recognize that everyone’s body is different and everyone’s experience level is different. This is a particularly hard one for me and can be a particularly hard one for newbies.  Someone like me might get frustrated easily because I’m still considered fairly young, and I’ve been doing yoga on-and-off for about 3 years now.  So, I sometimes think that I should be able to do any of the poses.  This is clearly not the case.  Even though I have a particularly flexible torso, arms, shoulders, and hips; I’m equally inflexible in my legs, lower back, and feet.  I also have fairly awful balance.  And unless I continue practicing balancing poses and leg stretches,  I’m probably not going to see any dramatic results any time soon.  That’s where I am right now.  And that’s ok.  Remember #3: Breathe.  Also, some yoga days are better for you than others.  You might find you can’t stretch as far or hold your balance as long as you did the weak before.  Don’t panic; that’s perfectly normal.  One session you might feel fantastic, and the next week you might feel like you can’t do anything.  Any number of factors from sleep to diet to stress level to weather changes, etc may have changed your body, and your body will change again. Again, remember #3.  Breathe.

"Silhouette Girl Doing Yoga" courtesy of ponsuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Silhouette Girl Doing Yoga” courtesy of ponsuwan / FreeDigitalPhotos.netDon’t worry. This is NOT a pose we do in the beginner yoga class. . .

6. Bring a mat.  Brian and I have missed yoga once or twice because we realized we had forgotten our mat, so we turned around and went back home.  People have attempted the class without the mat, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  It’s uncomfortable doing some of that stuff on the floor.  Also, you might want to bring a towel or block to go under your bum or your knees  — your bum for some of the exercises if your lower back/legs/hips are tight, and your knees if you’ve got bad knees.  I bring a towel because I have super tight legs and lower back, and it gives me a lift during the leg stretches so that gravity can help me get past my block.  You also might want to bring a yoga strap (to help with various stretches, especially shoulders or legs).

7. Make sure you are comfortable. Try to wear flexible clothing that is loose enough to move with you, but not so loose that your T-shirt collar has slipped over your face and is suffocating you during downward dog or so loose that your pants have fallen down or tripped you up and caused you to topple into your neighbor while you’re moving into warrior pose.   Also, figure out what to do with your hair.  If it’s short or super long, you’re golden.  If it’s somewhere in the middle — as mine has been while growing out — it gets a little trickier.  You may want to put it back in a headband if it’s fairly short and put it in a low ponytail if it’s fairly long.  You’ll want to have it out of your face for the poses where your head is hanging down, but you’ll want the ponytail low or high enough so that it doesn’t bother you in the poses where you’re lying down.  Finally, some people like to have a sweatshirt or blanket in the winter months for Savasana, the stationary meditative final pose in yoga.

8. Be prepared to get cozy.  If it’s a packed class with your mats staggered to conserve space, you may end up with someone’s head near your feet, and your hand near someone’s leg, so just be ready for it.  Going along with #6, you may want to make sure your legs are shaved and your toes are painted because your neighbor might be getting a bird’s eye view or accidental feel.  (If you are perfectly comfortable with yourself and care nothing about the opinion of others, bless you; I’m jealous and hope to someday aspire to your greatness.  If you care nothing about your toenails and leg hair because you are male, that doesn’t count.)

9.  Try not to eat too near class time.  And if you must eat, choose carefully.  (Refer to #7 again and think this through.)  I have a particularly rambunctious stomach, so this is a tricky one for me.  And at the same time, if you let one slip, don’t freak out about it.  It happens to the best of us, and people will forget (unless it happens every class, and you notice that people are starting to leave you and your mat a lot of extra space.)  I’ve done it; Brian’s done it; I’ve heard other people do it.  Life goes on. And besides all that talk about gas, other unpleasant side effects of yoga on a full stomach can be just as unpleasant:indigestion and nausea.  Something to think about.  Also, do not drink alcohol before yoga.  It relates to #9 below, but especially do not get tipsy or drunk before yoga.  It’s bad enough trying to do balancing poses when you’re tipsy, but trying to do any standing yoga poses or stomach poses are particularly awful when your head is spinning and your stomach is a little unsteady.

10. Drink lots of water.  All throughout the day.  Yes, it can make you have to go to the bathroom, but it will also make the poses easier for you, and it’s healthy for you anyway.  Dehydration leads to charlie horses, and nobody likes those.   Also, to avoid dehydration; avoid alcohol and  particularly salty or sugary food.

11. Do NOT vigorously exercise on the same day as yoga.  This includes weight-lifting, long-distance exercises, and very intense shorter exercises.  You will be dying during downward dog if you decided to weight-lift that same day, and you will be crying during the warrior poses if you just came back from a long bike ride.  Believe me, I’ve tried it.  Yoga is exercise.  Even I forget that.  Do you think my somewhat tight stomach and legs are from the elliptical or walking the dog?  Guess again.  It’s yoga.  You may not be moving too much, but you are working the whole time with every pose you hold, some of which you might hold for a long time (which is what some people are not prepared for and why they don’t come back).  Don’t underestimate it.  If you are really set on getting some extra exercise in, go for a walk or try some other low intensity activity.

12. Bring it home with you. You’ll get a lot more out of yoga if you do some every day.  Can’t hold that balancing pose?  You will after you practice!  The more you practice, the stronger and more flexible your body will become.  Can’t stretch down and touch those toes?  I can’t either!  And that’s why I’ve started stretching my legs every day.  I also practice posture poses in the car and when I’m walking around, in hopes that my back is more straight as an arrow and less curved as a rainbow when I get to be 106.

Happy yoga-ing!

"Woman Doing Exercise" courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Woman Doing Exercise” courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Some day I will be able to do this!!

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Body Update

"Sports Jump" by Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Sports Jump” by Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve made some big changes this year, and I’ve already gone through a lot in 2012.  I’ve been thinking a lot, going back through my memories and blogs (and more reminiscing is to come, I assure you).

With the improvements I’m making to myself, I keep wanting to push things just that one step further.

Here is what has happened so far:

EXERCISE

1. I picked yoga back up in the fall.

2. In the fall I also began stopping by my parents’ to use their elliptical once a week (now sometimes twice).

3. Lately I’ve tried to walk/bike/dance/something another day each week.

DIET

4. In the fall I cut back on snacks filled with preservatives.

5. I also began buying more organic fruits and vegetables.

6. Two weeks ago I started giving up meat.  This has encouraged me to consume more vegetables.

7. 7 days ago I gave up ice cream.  3 days ago I started giving it up again.  (Work in progress.)

8.  Lately I’ve limited sweets mainly to dark chocolate, veering off a bit when I’m out with company.  This has encouraged me to consume more fruit.

MENTAL/SPIRITUAL CHANGE

9. I picked up meditation but lost it when the 21-Day Meditation Challenge ended.  (Now I just try to meditate briefly here-and-there in the moment.)

10. In the past week I’ve been paying particular attention to my emotions, my intentions, and whether I’m emitting positive or negative energy.

NEWEST

11. I am refocusing on the consistency of my supplementation.  I’m taking my multivitamin, Nutriferon — when I feel I need an immune boost, GLA complex for hormone regulation, Vivix for overall health and well-being, and now Moodlift Complex “for a positive mental outlook.”

12. I’ve also decided to avoid any and all medication (except in emergency cases).

I feel like I’m experimenting on my body, but in a positive way.  With each change, I observe my body’s reaction.  With any setbacks, again, I observe what’s going on inside.  It’s been an interesting ride, and I look forward to experiencing the results!

How to Appreciate and Recognize Yourself (Blog About It!)

Image courtesy of Master isolated images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things that I got done that I have not given myself credit for:

  • Getting the house clean enough for my family to come over.
  • Getting all grading done and grades updated on-line by the end of Friday, as planned.
  • Giving my first writing workshop.
  • Getting caught up on all my mail: work, yahoo, and gmail.  (Still have a lot of writing e-mails to look through, but got through A LOT.)
  • Finishing Mentalist so that I can give it back to Mom tomorrow (library copy).
  • Exercising 4 times this week!  (No, I did not do them all on the planned days, but I did 4 days!  Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday.)
  • Voting.
  • Getting some fresh air on 2 beautiful days.
  • Getting the litterbox emptied out and putting in all fresh litter.
  • Writing!
  • Trying to make my life easier and succeeding.
  • Experimenting with changing negative predictions to positive ones, and succeeding.
  • Making it through 6 daily sessions of the 21-Day Meditation Challenge!
  • Sitting here and eating arugula out of a bag.  (Yes, it’s weird, but I’m feeling lazy, and at least it’s healthy!)
  • Introducing myself on the Chicago Writer’s Group on yahoo groups.
  • Buying myself a special new journal
  • Going out to a movie and dinner (yes, reversed!) with my fiancée.
  • Taking Shaklee GLA Complex to try to regulate my mood swings.
  • Taking my multivitamins, Neutriferon, and Vivix daily (or as soon as I remember!)
  • Trying out a new book club book.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Allowing myself a day free of work (unless sifting through e-mail counts as work?)
  • Practicing the lying-on-my-back, legs-against-the-wall stretch for my legs and lower back that my yoga teacher recommended to me.
  • Trying an alternative route home to avoid the crazy return traffic.
  • Being up-to date on bills and errands.
  • Writing this post!

I think that should do it for today!  I’m already feeling great!

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