Category Archives: fitness

Working Smart Not Hard

Those that know me know that I avoid hard work at all costs.  It’s not that I wont work hard – I just prefer to work smart whenever possible and keep my load light.

In honor of that – step on over to Shine, my yoga studio’s blog, and read what I posted there this morning (in lieu of writing 2 separate posts today on two separate blogs).  It’s about my becoming so yogafied that when my experiences aren’t “yogic” enough, I get a little restless and how important it is to give ourselves permission to simply finish, i.e., relax, rest and rejuvenate when we exercise.

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Yogis Interruptis

For thirteen years I’ve been a fan of yoga.  Not an addict.  Not a stalker.  A fan.  I’ve enjoy the practice and fit it into my life as was appropriate, meaning, sometimes it’s taken a back seat to other areas that needed my attention.  In theory, I wanted to be more committed to my practice, but activities like motherhood, moving, and volunteerism got in the way.  Looking back, I believe that was part of the problem.  My theoretical yoga practice had a bigger hold on me than my actual one.

Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root word yuj which means “to yoke”, or “unite” and many claim it’s specifically about the union between mind, body and spirit.  Because the word may also derive from the root “yujir samadhau,” which means “contemplation”, you can see how for some, yoga is more about the mind and/or spirit and less about the body.  Which is fine if you need a distraction from always focusing on the physical and hating yourself, like I’ve done most of my life.  But if your default setting is always set to “cerebral” as mine tends to be (because it’s a lot easier to ignore the body that you hate if you spend the majority of your time in your head) it was easier to focus on living my yoga than performing poses on a mat.

I had hoped that yoga would eventually bring balance to the body part of the equation.  I think sensing this innate need is what inspired me to sign up for yoga teacher training (YTT), but in the end it was my mind that made the decision because teacher training was also a way to make a living.  Since I was already volunteering at the studio and really liked the yogis I met there, it seemed like a smart idea to make money doing something I enjoyed.  Regardless I was going to FINALLY give my yoga practice the attention it deserved (while secretly hoping that yoga would give me the physical body I’ve always wanted).

That was the plan, until my head took center stage because besides going to numerous yoga classes, YTT meant reading books about yoga, taking notes from lectures about yoga, conversing about yoga and and thinking various thoughts about yoga.  This of course was my favorite part of the training because it kept yoga between my ears where it truly liked to be.

After paying my first deposit and receiving my book list, I got cracking.  Instead of going to class I read Power Yoga and Moving Into Stillness.  Rather than doing asanas, I memorized their sanskrit names.   The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali?  Something I discussed with my classmates in lieu of actually experiencing them.

Training to be a yoga teacher quenched my thirst for yogic knowledge.  It meant understanding anatomy, physiology and contra-indications for poses.  I learned facts about properly sequencing a class and was taught the best way to verbalize alignment cues.  Because I intellectualized yoga so much, I spent most of my physical practices analyzing the teaching styles of the instructor and stealing ideas to use for future classes.  Thus yoga, even when training to be a teacher, continued to be a cerebral endeavor.

But then an interesting thing happened.  By the third weekend of training I was hitting the studio every couple of days attending vinyasa flow and even some hot yoga classes.  Besides simply doing more yoga, I was also walking daily and eating healthy.  Finally and perhaps for the first time in my life I was allowing my consciousness the luxury of settling within my body and staying present in it for more than a few seconds, here and there.  Yoga was slowly (and without a lot of fanfare I might add), doing it’s job.

Then, halfway through teacher training as I was FINALLY on my way to unifying my mind, body and spirit, a freak accident occurred.  I hit my head.  Hard.  The dizziness that made practicing more difficult was no where near as problematic as the results from my MRI.  It seems that yet again, my head was getting in the way of my performing the asanas.  Not my mind per say, but my brain itself.  The physical body that I’d become expert at ignoring must have finally had it, so to get my attention, it moved north to officially compete with my mind.

Turns out,  I wasn’t just a yogi with a concussion or an inability to yoke her mind to her body.

I was a yogi with 9 brain lesions.

I was a yogi with Multiple Sclerosis.

Yes, that’s correct.  A yogi lousy at living in her body got the disease that affects the body with an alarming level of inconsistency.  The disease that constantly brings your attention back to your body due to the ever changing plethora of physical symptoms it creates.

Did you hear that?

That was the sound of my personal yoga practice crashing into a brick wall.

I know what you’re thinking.  A progressive neurological diagnosis?  Or course she turned to her yoga practice to create health and wellness.

Naw.  I didn’t have time for that.  I had to go get a job.

Some Yoga Posts

I was the administrator for my yoga studio’s blog during our 21 Day Yoga Challenge, which piss poor excuse or not, is why I’ve been neglecting my own.

Here are 2 posts that I placed on their blog, Shine, this past month:

Falling Down and Beyond The 21 Day Challenge.  Enjoy!

 

21 Day Yoga Challenge

I mentioned participating in Sol Yoga’s 21 Day Yoga Challenge in previous posts.  Hence my lack of blogging here, as I’m supposed to blogging on Shine, Sol Yoga’s blog.  I posted there today if you’re interested.  I’m warning you – it’s not pretty, but it’s honest.  More importantly, others have blogged and over the past week and Shine is becoming an eclectic mix of inspiration, artwork, poetry, and insights.

Check it out, when you have a chance.

AHA Moment

I truly believe that cracking the weight loss code is like trying to crack the DaVinci Code.  Seriously.  I know tons of people, myself included, that at some point have been doing everything right only to get zip in terms of results.

Here we are, day 12 of the new year and I’m guessing some of you may already be feeling frustrated by your fitness regimen and are perhaps grabbing for a doughnut as you read this in disgust.

STOP!

Read this great article instead!  It has photos and more importantly, answers as to why long term aerobic exercise doesn’t work for fat loss.  Sure it’ll help your heart and that’s wonderful, but if you’re hoping to drop the pounds by spending hours upon hours at the gym on treadmills, ellipticals, or training for marathons or triathalons…trainer Rachel Cosgrove says, “Don’t get your hopes up, crazy lady.”  Instead, she suggests interval training and uses her own experience training for an Iron Man to back up her claims.

Thank you Michelle for posting this (and for somehow making a Prune Truffle look and sound good – didn’t know that was possible).

I’m very interested to know if others have had this same experience as well. I know I have and I can think of people that literally run their asses off but never seem to run their asses off.

Happy Health Everyone.

Day Three

I’m counting today as a yoga day even though I taught because I demonstrated about 45 minutes of yoga poses as there were many new-to-yoga folks in my class at noon.  If I can unroll my mat again tonight, that would be great.  If not, I’m not too concerned.  Besides…

I’m sore as shit.  It’s not pretty.  You can read about it over at the Sol Yoga Blog, Shine.

http://solyoga.blogspot.com/2011/01/2-days-in-row.html

When all eyes are on you, you tend to hold the pose longer or go for the more advanced version, only to pay for it later.  What can I say.  I’ve got an ego too, you know.

What could I have possibly learned in only three days you ask?  Actually a lot.  I have completely dreaded 2 out of the 3 classes this week, only to feel 100% better afterward.  Clearly exercise is one of those things you have to force yourself to do.  If you’re waiting to be the person that LOVES to exercise, plan on waiting a long time.

There’s also something about feeling sore that although is painful, is better than the pain and discomfort you feel from feeling creaky, old and out of shape.  There’s a power to this kind of pain, that is transformative.  So even though I haven’t lost a pound, my clothes don’t fit differently and my yoga practice hasn’t advanced in the least, there’s potential there that I can literally feel inside my body and that’s pretty intoxicating.

Makes you wonder why the hell I had pushed my practice to the back burner for so long?  I’m sure I’ve felt this way before – many times in fact.  What kind of dumb ass am I?

Guess that’s another topic, for another day.  Regardless, someone please remind me of this post the next time I chuck my exercise program, okay?  Promise?  Thanks!  🙂

21 Day Challenge

I work at a terrific yoga studio in town, called Sol Yoga. One of the things I like about Sol is that the owner simply wants people to do yoga.  She’s not interested in becoming a yoga superstar or being at the helm of a vast yoga empire, she just wanted to get more people in Frederick, MD into a yoga studio, so she opened one six years ago.  This little, 4th floor walk up studio with a few teachers and volunteer staff has grown to 2 locations, 3 yoga spaces, 20+ certified teachers,  20+ volunteers, 100+ classes a month and even has a spin off called, Little Sols which is a yoga studio for kids.

Literally at Sol you can do yoga from the womb onward.  Although we don’t specifically have a senior yoga class, yet, I’ve taught and/or taken many a class with students in their 70’s and 80’s.

As a teacher, I enjoy seeing my advanced students rock advanced poses, but my favorite yoga teacher moment to date was when I yelled out “Ardha Chandrasana” (Half-Moon Pose) and had a woman in her 80’s nod yes, when I offered her an assist and whispered, “Do you want to try it?”

Image from Yogapostures.com

She not only tried it – she did it!  It was amazing.

But here’s the down side to being a yoga teacher.  You spend so much time teaching and thinking about teaching and thinking about the music you want to use while you’re teaching, that you end up spending less time doing yoga for yourself.  Because of this, Sol is challenging all staff to participate in a 21 Day Yoga Challenge.  The theory being that you can’t truly inspire students if you’re not doing yoga yourself.  She’s hoping it’ll kick start in all of us a drive to, “Do More Yoga and See What Happens

We start next week.  So as not to shock my system, I’m starting today.  Meaning, I’m going to put yoga first and not the pile of laundry, or the fact that I need to run to the grocery store or the realization that I took down all of my Christmas decorations but forgot to take down the garland outside my front door.  It’ll all get done whether I go to yoga or not, so why not go?

This challenge is open for staff but anyone can do it along with us.  Interestingly,  Yoga Journal is also challenging their readers to a 21 Day Challenge next Monday as well.  This is a great way to get some free yoga videos sent to your in-box each morning that allows anyone to join in no matter where you’re located.

If however, you do reside in Frederick and have always wanted to get into yoga, I strongly recommend Sol Yoga.  If you’re completely new to the studio, you can sign up for 2 weeks of unlimited yoga for a mere $25.  It’s the most cost effective way to experiment with different teachers, classes, times and styles without breaking the bank.  Friday nights at Sol mean, $5 happy hour yoga.  There are 2 donation only classes where you pay what you want, if anything.  There’s a ton of hour long, $10 classes if you can’t afford or don’t have the time for a 75 minute, $15 class.  And of course, there are many specialty packages you can purchase to keep your costs down and your yoga participation up.

2010 was supposed to be the year I was going to fully commit to my yoga practice.  Instead I went back to work and spent every ounce of my free time recommitting to speech therapy.  After 9 months of working, I think I’ve got a routine down, so I’m happy to switch gears and make 2011 my year of living yogaliciously.  Should be interesting.  I’ll keep you posted.