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Cleanse Day 4

So, Day 4 on the cleanse. I had a glass of green juice and some sort of berry shot and then hightailed it in freezing cold weather to class. I will be glad when the cleanse is over as I’m dreading those chalky protein shakes. Bleh!

Class was definitely not 100%, sat out 1 set of a few postures, but did most of the class. Even saw some tiny improvement in bow pose. And rabbit is definitely a bit easier (although still hard).  Had a lot of problems with standing bow pulling pose. The balance. Go figure. My mind is as manic as ever, even on a cleanse and lightheaded. My day ahead was buzzing through my thoughts, sticking to the cleanse, etc. The morning classes are starting to grow on me, mostly b/c the studio is calm and not a madhouse. It puts me in a better frame of mind. On the plus side, I played no mind games with myself last night or this morning, deciding and undeciding whether to go to class. The alarm went off and up I went!

Today I brought my morning shake to work. Normally, I’m a vegetarian that occasionally eats fish. Here I’m eating a little more fish since it’s my best option for 4 oz. of protein. I tried tempeh already and need some variety.  I can do this for 3 more days although I think I’ll be done with fish for a while after that.

Did I mention I continue to have day dreams about food, glorious food. And odd mix if I say so myself since it’s not candy, ice cream or cake! Totally craving pasta, eggplant parmesan and I keep eyeing the menu of a vegan restaurant I found (Peacefoods, for those in NY), that delivers. Many dishes to try!

My next yoga class is slated for Thurs, followed by Fri, Sat and Sunday, hopefully giving me 5 times this week. Not bad for a cleanse week. Let’s take it one day at a time.

Namaste and  Nachos!

 

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Relax Your Mind

I have a teacher who in savasana always says “Relax your mind. Relax your mind. Relax your mind.” I have also heard a Bikram quote about your mind being a bad neighborhood to reside in. That’s me.  I continue to play mind games with myself and it’s exhausting! Getting to class these days is hard enough, with my constant canceling and rescheduling classes online and setting and unsetting alarm clocks–some sort of wacky yoga OCD. (See my earlier post on Mind Games) I’m still trying to figure that out… then on top if it, I continue to be frustrated with myself in class.  It starts pretty damn early when I can’t grab my hands under my ankles in warm up. I have tried and tried. I think it’s my shoulders, however, for whatever reason, at nearly 10 months of yoga, my hands can’t shovel behind my ankles but sort of to the sides of my feet.

I am going to consciously working on just being in class and observing my practice vs. judging it. As you can see, I have a ways to go :).My thought process is something like this in class:

Breathing: Gee, I hope I get my shoulders higher one of these days.

Halfmooning: I’m moving pretty well side to side. Lock your elbows

Hands to Feet: Grrr, why can’t my hands scoop up under my ankles #$%$

Awkward Pose: Why does it hurt when I go up my toes? Go higher on your toes and balance.

Eagle: Why is my leg no where near wrapping around my ankle? Why is everyone else able to do this? Is it my hips? I suck.

You get the picture…

There will always be people who are better, who are more flexible, who have an easier time with their practice. No point in comparing them to me.

I have read that with practice comes improvement, so I just have to trust in the process. I also have to try to find the right balance. I mentioned earlier my cardio level has really declined so I’d like to add a few spin classes to my week. I’m also hoping that helps me drop a few pounds, which in turn will make some poses a little easier to do. Attendance in cardio classes will likely come at the expense of yoga, however, I think while easy to get obsessive about it, you need balance in all things. If it slows down my yoga progress a little, then I’ll just have to deal with it.

Namaste y’all!

 

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TMI

Jumping back into morning classes after being out of town the last few days. I’m never what I would call my most alert at 5:30 am. I put on my yoga clothes, then my regular clothes (it’s cold out!) and head to class. Starting today, for the next 2 weeks, my usual morning teacher is away so I’ll be having a series of subs. Should be an interesting way to experience different teachers and how I relate. This morning the class was more packed than usual, making me think the teacher was pretty great. It was a teacher I never had before. He was very chatty, friendly and demonstrated a lot of the postures-something I rarely see. He was extremely animated, which was nice while the cobwebs of my sleep disappeared.

I completed all postures, better in some (airplane), worse in others (bow sitting pose),  challenged in the same group where I am struggling (standing head to knee, bow, toe, etc.) but generally pleased with getting the class done.

So, readers, the story starts here. I head back to the locker after a too brief savassana. Out of the shower, I’m starting to put on my clothes and realize I forgot to bring a bra. First time that’s happened, but I immediately realized I didn’t put one in my bag. So I’m starting to panic and quickly thinking through my options. It’s 8:30, I don’t have time to run home, are any stores open. I put on my shirt without a bra hoping… no go. Then it hits me they have yoga bra tops for sale. So, I put on my clothes, cover up with my coat and buy the plainest, black sports bra (of course, size Large, WTF??!) and head to my office where I immediately lock myself in the bathroom and redress. Disaster averted. You can believe when I get home tonight, a bra will be the first thing I pack into my bag for tomorrow’s class.

Namaste.

My Bahia black yoga bra, although this is not me and my size large

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The Mix

I’ve been wondering if it’s best to mix up yoga with different forms of exercise. Frankly, the biggest challenge is the time. I’m trying to get better at yoga, so tend to focus all my potential gym time there, however, I’ve noticed my cardio level is definitely lower than when I regularly went to the gym.

One of my yoga teachers has always told us to supplement yoga with strength training while one of my friends who is a yoga teacher has recommended to do cardio on the side. Currently, I do neither as I fear it would result in less yoga class attendance, which lately has already been sketchy. It’s also impossible to imagine going to Bikram and then the gym on the same day, although I suppose that’s possible.

I’ve definitely noticed, Bikram does not seem to do much for building my arm strength and while my cardio level is lower than in the past, the workout does seem pretty comprehensive.

 

What’s your workout mix?

Shutting the Mind

I am really trying to work on quieting my mind. It definitely is playing some tricks on me before class (yoga takes so long, you’ve had a rough day/week, take it easy…, did you just cough? better watch it…) and in class (why can’t you grab your ankles yet? why do you keep falling out of standing bow pose, the extra weight you gained is really making this pose harder, will this teacher shut up so I can get out of camel). I also seem to experience a strange sense of the random (I’m in the mood for lasagna, when did the first Star Wars come out? Do I have any gluten free pasta at home?).

On the other hand, at some moments, I’m good at being in the moment or being positive (Just breathe, get control of your breath, this is your class, you’re making progress on this pose, you can do this). One thing my mind is not is quiet. It’s always busy thinking about something (I can’t believe how trashy Celebrity Apprentice is, these yoga pants are too tight, why does the teacher keep helping the pretty girl?)

One of my goals is to simply say SHHHH! I assume a moving meditation is meant to still the mind so I’m adding that to my list of things to try…

Bikram Yoga and Winter

I started Bikram Yoga in the Spring, so I am just now discovering the peculiarities of hot yoga on very cold days. For one thing, my studio is jam packed with coats and boots and the lockers seem a lot trickier to navigate when you’ve got tons of layers to shove in. That’s really the least of it though. Because I live in the city, I walk to and from yoga. It’s a great feeling to first enter the hot room after freezing on the way there. I do find I’m stiffer than ever from the weather, so I try to get to class early and stretch a bit.

The biggest challenge I find is leaving yoga and going back out into the cold. After class and a shower, I am still fairly overheated. My hair is generally wet and I then have a 20 min walk home. I’m wondering if I need to spend longer cooling off before going outside and if this may be contributing to the cold I still can’t entirely shake. How do other people handle the cold?

 

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Getting Rid of Excuses

One of my biggest challenges with yoga is attending steadily. I’d definitely like to shed this in 2015. This has only been a recent issue since getting sick on and off for a month, and it’s been harder than I thought to get back into a routine. I was averaging about 4x a week before and I’d like to return to that habit, or even notch it up to 5x.

Here’s the typical noise in my head: I’m tired, I think it’s better that I go home and rest than go to yoga.  The class is soooo long. It’s dark out, I can’t wake up this early.  I just ate an hour ago, I’ll be sick. I’ll go tomorrow. I’d really like to relax this weekend. It’s such a shlep. I’m too busy at work. I feel run down. It’s so packed in class, I just can’t deal. Any of these sound familiar??

So, what’s the plan? Pretty simple. Shut off the noise. Go to class. Go to class. Go to class. If I feel sick or get worse, don’t go to class. Other than that, just go. I almost never regret it. So I’m basically going to turn off all the voices and push.

 

 

Serendipity

So, after a nearly 2 week absence from attending yoga due to a cold/cough/flu, I went back yesterday. That’s the longest time I have not attended class over the last 6 months, so naturally I was a bit concerned on how I would feel. Would I have lost a lot of progress? Would I need to take breaks? Happily, the class went well. I did lose ground on a few postures (toe pose, triangle) and general flexibility, however, I definitely felt all the months of consistent practice will make it easier to bounce back and in some postures, I felt I was largely the same.

More interesting was the message of the teacher last night. One of the toughest I take, he was focusing on knowing when to push and when not to. He talked a lot about listening to your body and understanding some days you can really push and other days you really can’t. About being smart and focusing on using only the muscles required, not tensing your body and tiring yourself further. About making small gains vs. giant leaps. About being patient with yourself. Perhaps because I had not been to class in a while, I listened carefully, really soaked up his words and took a lot of inspiration from what he said. I think sometimes we get caught up in what we can’t do (see my last post for example!) versus the fact we are working toward getting better. Never being done.

Namaste.

The Poses You Struggle With

Everyone has poses that come easy (or easier)  and those that are a real struggle. For example, I could do fixed firm pose, leaning all the way back, fairly quickly in my practice, however there are more than a handful of poses I really struggle with.

As a newbie, and someone who is not flexible (years of running partially to blame I think), there are some asanas that I have to smile and keep struggling with.

1. It starts early for me, one of the warm up poses in half moon, where you place your hands under your ankles…uhh… no. My hands literally cannot go behind me. I put them on the sides of my feet more than under my ankles… bending my knees doesn’t seem to matter, I just seem to really have a hard time and my shoulders seem to stay put, not willing to even remotely move behind my knees.

2. Next eagle pose. My foot is stubborn and refuses to wrap around my other leg. I squeeze tightly and hope I’m getting the benefit, however my foot stays outside the other leg, not behind it. I attribute this (Rightly or wrongly, more wrongly I suspect) to 2 potential things: I’m very short and I’m plump. There’s a few poses I’ve found where carrying some extra weight makes the pose more challenging. This is one of them.

3. Standing Head to Knee. OK, This is a hard one for many. For 6 months, I could not pick up my leg at all. I’d stay in the first part of the posture of locking my standing leg. Overall, this seemed to be the only posture I felt I was making no progress. I could not wrap my hands (fingers entwined no less) under either leg. I’d see people in their first class do it and I just wanted my arms to be 6 inches longer! Here’s where weight comes into place as well. I think my stomach and chest gets in the way when I lean forward making this posture harder. I have made progress on this though.

4. Separate Standing Leg Head to Knee Pose: This is the one where the posture only starts when your head touches your knee and it’s ok to bend your leg. Well, I bend and my head has never touched my knee. This may be my second most frustrating posture.

5. Wind Removing Pose. The third part of this pose involves lifting both knees up and wrapping your arms together, grabbing your opposite elbows. Well, my fingers clasp here. Again I think I can blame my stomach mostly, although my back way be very tight (making my dream pose-Full Camel even trickier-see post below)

6. Locust Pose. My legs feel like they barely move here when I try to lift them both up simultaneously. I struggle here both to do the posture correctly and to make progress.

I try hard not to get negative with myself or frustrated during these postures. It does happen I have to confess, however, I look forward to getting better, moving forward and making progress. Namaste.

AM or PM Yoga?

Currently I’m wrestling with whether to try and do yoga early in the am or after work. Well, currently, I’m trying harder to get over my annoying cold. However, in the scheme of things I am thinking that getting into a habit or pattern will help. Make sense? In all practical ways the morning makes the most sense. Less chances work or life will get in the way, great to get it done with and the classes are less packed. On the flip side, evening has some of my fave teachers, I’m a bit more flexible and better hydrated. However, the  classes  are packed and the demands of work not infrequently cause me to cancel classes.

Here’s my problem. The morning classes are REALLY early. I need to wake up at 5:15 or 5:30 am and in winter, it’s dark and cold. It also means I need to be in bed by 10, making me as exciting as my grandmother.

If I take a 7 or 7:30 class I get home 9 or 9:30 and still have to eat dinner and unwind.  Mixing and matching, which is what I’ve been doing sometimes works, although often makes me tired in the am and tired at night. I know it’s most important that I go, regardless of time… What works best for you?