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  1. 6 likes
    This is myself thinking out loud here, especially since I've been stimulated after reading other people's experiences with "slumps". My teacher said at the end of class on Wednesday that we can treat our mats as a refuge. I thought that was an effective way to remember what my practice represents to me. It usually cultivates a feeling of contentment from within. So, why did I deny myself refuge for an entire month, finding solace instead by escaping via TV, sleeping in, forum browsing, and online shopping? Those were external factors that help distract, but what was I trying to avoid thinking about? I didn't truly acknowledge this until now, after reflecting on a conversation with my sister earlier this week. I have some issues going on that I didn't want to acknowledge as big deals. I reaffirmed my decision not to visit my parents over the holidays so I won't have to explain why I don't want to see or ever talk to a certain family member again. I speculated with my husband about changing to a different job role so I don't have spurts of high stress and deadlines that require me to work on holidays and weekends. I don't have the solutions to these issues, but now I'm ready to keep them in the back of my mind instead of escaping like before. That's not the same as being ready to face them (hence, I'm not actively seeking advice), but, I won't run away anymore. I shared details to avoid minimizing or exaggerating. Now I can sit with the truth and breathe through it, just like how I get reminded to breathe during my twisted lunges.
  2. 5 likes

    A Week for Patience

    The last week has been packed with two sick children and a mother whose assisted living placement needs changing due to a decline in her care. I am grateful for the opportunity to be available to my children and to comfort them when they are ill. I'm grateful that when they are ill, it is a virus that passes without trauma. I am grateful that I am in a position to be near my mother, to provide comfort to her, and to manage her care. That is why I can realize that letting my yoga practice temporarily suffer is something that happens but that it was always be there for me. I had to take two days break in a row this week, and I can feel that my flexibility has waned just a bit. I am not ready to publish any of my Mermaid Pose attempts right now, but today I was able to raise both arms overhead while keeping my balance. I've decided that I need to work on the balance piece before I can move into reaching back for a foot. Just a readjustment of my plan. I've been having some hamstring tightness that I have to work on in the coming week too. This week's unexpected opportunity to work on my patience has been a gift. I know that every experience offers an opportunity for growth. The choice is mine as to whether or not I accept that opportunity as a positive experience in my life and in the lives of those around me.
  3. 5 likes
    Thank you, yoga practice, for teaching me core strength and balance that saved me from feeling like a fool today in my first TRX class! Thank you, yoga practice, for making me do hard one-legged bridge poses that gave me the confidence that I could last through my first class. I was out of breath already after the warm up of doing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S6NSvsAcu8. But then the next exercise was hamstring-focused with one foot strapped in the air while doing hip raises on our back. After I heard everyone else in class groan after that exercise when I felt like I could keep going, I knew yoga would help me finish the class. Thank you, yoga practice, for showing me how to keep my core engaged and how to breathe through discomfort and hold a position. Thank you, yoga practice, for developing my balance, which I utilized when we did the TRX exercise transitioning between a one-legged squat and a Warrior 3. Thank you, yoga practice, for introducing me the concepts of restraint and listening to my body. I skipped many reps throughout the class without judging myself, knowing I had already reached my own personal point of exhaustion or needed well-deserved rest. Thank you, YBC Forum, for reminding me the importance to engage muscles in ALL exercise and not hyperextend! Many of the TRX exercises required "straight" elbows, so I made sure I was relying on my arm muscles to pull myself up, keeping the elbow slightly bent and never locked.
  4. 4 likes
    I have been attempting to do Chakrasana for a few years. Maybe once every 2-3 months I would try just to see. I would always get stuck at the spot where I could almost flip over. For a long time I was sure that I should be able to do it but it just never happened. I am sure a good teacher would have been very helpful. Yesterday I managed to do it. It was actually embarrassing. I ended up in Chaturanga just like is suppose to happen, just like it was nothing. It seemed so easy – struggling for so long when it is this easy? If anyone thinks of trying it there is a serious neck injury warning with the pose. Apparently some people attempt use their neck as a lever to flip themselves over. Ouch!
  5. 4 likes


    As of today, I have completed 7 acupuncture sessions that I initially began almost three weeks ago in order to find relief from knee pain. It is important to note, that I received a synvisc shot just over three weeks ago too. Prior to acupuncture, I was unable to bend my knee without lots of pain. At that time, keeping it immobile hurt just as much as moving it. I can report today that I have had no pain in my knee for nine days. None. Zip. Nada. The swelling in my knee, calf, and ankle have been gone for over two weeks. I know that the synvisc is helping, but the pain began to ease and fade well before the doctor told me that the shot would begin to work. I'm entering the "maintenance" phase of acupuncture now, so my appointments are going to be 10 days apart and then moving to two weeks apart. I'm probably going to keep them going at a month apart from then on going forward. Not only has acupuncture helped my knee, but it has relieved the sinus issues caused by allergies, and some other miscellaneous issues that can pop up as they do for all of us. I must say that I am a believer! I can sleep without waking up from pain, walking is so much less painful (and exhausting), and I intend to go for my first, tentative run in over two months this week. Yaaaayyyy!!!! Ahhhhhhhh. Relief. I feel so much more energy now. I'm diving headfirst into a new project and have a new spring in my step for all the excitement. Hope you are all well. Have a wonderful week!
  6. 4 likes

    Getting There

    Life these days is.......odd. I feel light and happy and sad and foundation-less and grounded. I'm doing something that goes against the grain of my Type A life. I'm rolling with it. No, really. I am. Last weekend, my family and I (including our third child, canine Riley) ran away for a few days to the Wisconsin Northwoods. We've been there before to rent summer cabins, and my family used to own a tiny cabin on a tributary of the Wisconsin River....however, I haven't been there during the winter for many years. This trip was just the thing to help the healing process. Snowy and silent and beautiful. Due to the "off season" stay, we got to treat ourselves to a house that we wouldn't rent during the summer season. There was a loft with a view of the lake for yoga practice, deer hoof prints in the snow, family time without interruption, good old "supper club" steak dinner, and time to rest. Heavenly. My yoga practice is slowly returning to me. Thank goodness for YTT. It's encouraging me to stay with it. I'm starting to find joy in returning to my mat. However, further complicating 2016, a chronic knee injury has resurfaced. No running, limping walk, feeling like and old lady, and just damn pain. Well. Today, after YTT, I was pain-free for the first time in over four weeks. Guess what? I'm canceling the ortho appointment for next week. My plan is to ice twice daily, see Emily my wonderful massage therapist, make my first ever acupuncture appointment, and use what I've learned in YTT to see if I can fix this my own self. My knee has had issues off and on for 15 years. Going back and forth to the knee doc without a permanent fix has grown old. I'm going to try to see if yoga is what I need for a fix long term. I hope so. And I've really excited about working on this. The point is that I wouldn't have had the patience to just BE with my knee and to see how it goes before. As I said, I'm rolling with it. And I'm good with that. Planning some good plans for me and for my/my family's future this spring, and I am just psyched to be doing something exciting and new and fun. My life feels new. I am so grateful that I can attend Candace's retreat in May. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to take this YTT course and to travel a new career path with all its possibilities. I have faith that I'm on the right track. And that's saying something. Life is good. from Living Your Yoga, by Judith Hanson Lasater
  7. 4 likes

    New Year, New Game

    2016 is here. With. A. Bang. I am a little bit in awe of the craziness that has descended upon my family with the arrival of the new year. So far, it's been an El Niño. (Disclaimer: All events within this blog post are absolutely real. Also, I am not looking for sympathy. Really. Just a collective "WTF?!" will suffice. Think "purging" when you read this, because that's what this blog post is doing for me.) 2015 closed with a call from my mother's memory care community. It looked as if she was ill, and that I might have to take her to urgent care in the morning. I went to bed, after letting my children welcome the new year officially for the very first time, with clothes and supplies at the ready for a long day ahead. 8:20 a.m. came on January 1st with the phone call I'd half-expected. My mom most probably had an infection and needed urgent care. Red alert for ya, urgent care is closed on holidays. So, to the ER I went, with my poor, little 68-year old, advanced dementia-afflicted mother riding shot-gun. I was blessed by the powers that be with wonderful holiday staff at the ER who got my mother out of my mini-van and into a bed. Her blood pressure was a measly 67/45. Things deteriorated further, because tests told us that she had a raging infection and was septic. Long ago, my mother had told me to never plug her in, when we'd gone over the what-ifs of life. Well, neither of us had anticipated a diagnosis of frontal temporal dementia at age 59. It was a game changer. And administering antibiotics at this late stage of that game smacked of "plugging" her in at this point. I told them NO. NO antibiotics. NO IV fluids. Just NO. Enough was enough. Painful for me to honor her wishes, but there you go. That was over 8 days ago. Her siblings and my sister came in to say good-bye. We played with the dry erase board in her room. (Staff just tolerated our slightly-hysterical humor.) They have since gone back to their lives for now. My mom's two sisters are (wonderfully) ready to come back from their homes 4 and 6 hours away whenever I call for them. Her college professor brother checks in via text. My sister cannot deal....and I can't worry about that anymore. My Delaney Jane and I moved out her bed to make room for a hospital bed at the memory care residence. She's a gamer, that girl. My mom is back at the memory care residence, with hospice. Reaching the end of her adventure on this earth could take hours or weeks. The point is that the end is near. I am relieved that her peace will be soon. However, I will miss her. However, I've been mourning her for eleven years....since the dementia butted its ugly head into our lives. This is confusing to the humanity in me that wants to mourn vs. the caregiver who is tired and rather raw/worn from emotion. She'd have wanted this over ages ago. I've been reading to her, and knitting, driving to get supplies, and indulging in my own little comfort care while preparing for YTT class. (Such a timely read for me.) But, this is a yoga blog. Let's get to the yoga. Today, January 8, was the first evening of YTT for me. I have been looking forward to it for a long time. I almost didn't go, because of so many reasons. For instance, the memory care community staff accidentally cut off and threw away mom's DNR bracelet. Guess who got to put on a new one after going over AGAIN the painful paperwork that states that no one should interfere with my mother's death process? Anyone? But somehow when the time came, I left her to go to YTT. Talk about conflicted emotions, shall we? What made me leave my mom's bedside for more than four awake hours so far this year? Here's what. My mom would have been furious, if she'd been able, had I taken myself out of an opportunity that I'd been awaiting for so long. An opportunity to make the world a slightly better place, like she did once upon a time as a social worker, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I can only hope that I will be able to fill the shoes that my mother's imminent passing will leave empty. Right now? All is quiet. No jangling of the phone bearing news. We wait. I am learning patience and also that I am not in control. I am struggling to be ok with that. The lessons of the new year will serve me well, I know. YTT was WONDERFUL. My instructor is kind and witty and strict-ish. Classmates seem interesting and devoted. The yoga studio is beautiful. I felt free and new and alive. What seemed earlier today as a tragedy of timing, now feels like a gigantic blessing and a gift. I feel optimal gratitude. Tomorrow will be a big test. I will briefly stop by to check on my mom and then head over for 9 hours of YTT. This training feels like so much more than yoga for me. Send me good thoughts, please. This community is the only place who has been told my story of 2016. I am glad you are far-flung. It makes the telling feel safe. Thank you.
  8. 4 likes

    Paris: Je t'aime!

    We arrived home from our trip to Paris on Friday afternoon. Yes, that Friday. Upon arrival, our phones blew up with concerned texts from friends and family. Our newly beloved Paris was under attack as we headed home from her. As a matter of fact, we had spent the previous day wandering the neighborhood near Bataclan, the concert venue of the attacks. We'd gone to see an exhibit at a tiny gallery in the area. Having just been there makes the attacks more closely felt and more heartbreaking to my husband and to me. Our trip was simply blissful. The hotel room was tiny and romantic and the building itself elegant. There was barely room in it to do a decent yoga practice (but I worked it out); the view was a lovely flower-boxed building across the street from us, and we listened to French voices wafting through our balcony window as we drifted to sleep each night. My French was adequate, which was exciting. According to my Fitbit, we logged between 20,00 and 33,000 steps a day to all the must-see sites, along with many neighborhoods where we found ourselves lost without caring. The steps (and a solo early morning run along the Seine) offset the macarons (Laduree.....yum!), red wine, croissants at each breakfast, hot milk in my coffee, and simply-fresh-delicious french food at every meal. There might have been a Nutella crepe that happened too. Not a pound gained during a week of less organized exercise and more food intake.....that is reason to celebrate. All in all, this trip was what it was meant to be: An adventure that was lovely, restful, and a great getaway for two marrieds with kids, etc. Thanks for the well wishes and great tips. Good to be home!
  9. 4 likes

    "Progress" is Relative

    Well, well, well.....Mermaid Pose is progressing......very little. I have been working on the pose, but I know now that I should have been doing so much more in the way of hip openers this whole month in order to have moved further along. Live and learn. Also, I am aware now that Mermaid Pose might be a bit down the road for me. I was just so ready to jump in and DO IT! But, I'll keep working on it, and when I nail it, I will post the most wicked Mermaid ever. Real life has also been inserting itself into my practice over the last two weeks, as it tends to do. I had to move my mom to a new memory care community. Stressful? Sad? Self-Doubt Inducing? Yes. Yes. Yes. Then, that same day in the middle of it all, the phone call from school came to alert me that the event leading up to this happened: My point is that I did not concentrate on my practice as I had wanted over the last week and a half. However, I did not give up and quit. Bigger for me is this: I did not stress about it. I did what I could. Some days, the real life stuff made me feel tired and off. On those days, I did a gentle flow or an easy run. Some days I knitted and read a book during my free minutes instead. And you know what? My balance has improved a little bit. I still feel a charlie horse coming on when I bend up my leg, and I don't know what that's all about. It's ok, because instead of getting very far on Mermaid Pose: Week 1 Week 4 This happened: Headstand practice has made me feel calmer, and so I did more of that over the last 10 days or so. Then, last Sunday, in the middle of the school baseball field while my son kicked a soccer ball and my husband hit ground balls to my daughter, I did a headstand. And then another. Then I practiced handstands against the fence. I'm pretty sure I looked like a nut, but I didn't care. And that, my friends, is mindfully practicing yoga. <3
  10. 4 likes
    Day 8 photos posted here. Day 9 was special to have its own entry, already shared here. Day 10 Before practice: a unique day. Spent 1.5 hours waiting for a free concert, but I figured my husband and I would do it without question if we were on vacation. Turned out I was a bigger fan than I thought, so I jumped and danced without being self-conscious and just got into it - something entirely new for me. It felt refreshing - opposite of the experience we had a month ago when we went to a wedding with a friend who refused to dance. I realize now that we were passing judgment on others (in jest, not cruelly) so others couldn't pass judgment on us. Now I understand how tiring it was to think that way. I felt light and free when we got home and originally thought that would be perfect to do a longer yoga flow class. But when I saw that the day's suggested yoga video was to de-stress, I realized it would make more sense to wind down since I certainly burned off enough energy. After practice: I felt more relaxed - my shoulder soreness subsided. I was still happy but not pumped up. Day 11 Rest day for yoga, but I made time for myself to go running Day 12 I ended up being out all day, so I took a rest day but with a few poses and stretches before bed. I spent all day outside helping my sister take care of my nephews (3 and 6). I told my sister at the end I had fun but had no idea how she does it everyday. I was impressed that I maintained enough energy to patiently reason with my nephews (yes, even the toddler!), and simply wait for them to understand instead of trying to force them to do what they needed to do. (In retrospect, I did find it amusing to watch my 3 year old nephew grab and put back the same lollipop 10 times, but, hey, he finally let it go!) Day 13 Before practice: groggy, just woke up. I originally set my alarm for earlier to try to make an in studio class, but, I felt tired and knew I had "sleep debt" for not sleeping as many hours as normal during the week. I gave myself a break to do a home practice instead. I chose to do Day 9's 20 min video for tight legs since I have been on my feet constantly for the past 3 days. After practice: Felt refreshed. I pleasantly realized I still had lots of patience because something happened right after practice ended that would previously annoy and frustrate me. My husband came home from a pulled lower back at the gym. It seems unfair, but I would previously get annoyed whenever he got injured because he tends to push himself to the limits, and, I have to do more things on my own around the house when he's hurt. My wrists and joints have also been feeling wonky lately (I think from Day 7 when I was doing some standing splits and put too much weight on my fingertips), but instead of having that get me down and frustrated on top of taking care of my husband, I just let my husband know, "My wrists and joints are still hurting. So, I can and want to help you, but I won't be moving as fast." He wasn't rushing me, but, I know previously I would have rushed myself and unnecessarily stress myself out. Day 14 Oops, I ended up reflecting on my practice today rather than practicing. I pushed off my home practice for later, but my husband's injury shifted our schedule, and I couldn't practice before dinner. Instead of beating myself up, I will view this as a lesson learned to do my home practice earlier in the day. I'll probably set an alarm time so I treat it like attending a studio class. Opportunity for improvement for week 3!
  11. 4 likes
    Today's my first YBC challenge participation and first yoga selfie! These are both things I stubbornly refused to do before because I was afraid a challenge would stress me out or motivate me to push beyond my limits when I am nursing a chronic neck injury. But now I know my body better, so I can truly be mindful in this challenge and do modifications or rest if needed. Now, for my yoga selfie... I recorded myself and then took a screenshot, as per Candace's advice. Overall, I realized I don't "look" as good as I feel, but, that's fine - I still feel good! Trying to find a place to prop my phone was challenging - I couldn't find a high enough or far back enough platform to capture the top of my head properly, and had to film it vertically. But I did find that using a cooling rack was a great device to prop my phone! I now appreciate everyone who manages to take pictures of their practice now. My chosen pose is bird of paradise because I first saw this pose demoed 5 years ago when I started, and then did not mindfully do the pose. I forced myself into the bind and pulled a shoulder muscle. Luckily it was a small tweak that went away quickly, but now I know I can't afford to do that anymore with my body now that I'm getting older. Here we go! I always thought my right side was stronger because I could straighten my leg more, but, I see now that is at the expense of my upper body tilting. Meanwhile, my left side is more bent, but, more stable looking in the upper body. Maybe at the end of the challenge, I can post the before-and-after comparison videos to see how rocky / stable I am getting into the pose! Now that I finally figured out how to film myself, I want to study the rest of my practice! I realized looking into a mirror is not the same.
  12. 4 likes
    Week 1 (and Day 1) I've decided to focus on Mermaid Pose. I've had a lot of fun playing with beginner arm balances over the summer, but I'm determined to work on my flexibility, especially with the hip flexors. This program gives me the perfect excuse to do that! As a runner, I'm tight in the hips and the IT bands. As a probable result, I've battle lower back pain and a psoas injury, which went undiagnosed for months about this time last year. After traipsing to three different doctors and having some pretty scary causes for the pain tossed around, the psoas was suggested to be the problem by my massage therapist. Some uncomfortable massaging of it, physical therapy, patience, and it was finally healed. Anyway.... let's just say that my gratitude for a good massage therapist and the ability to run and stretch again knows no bounds. Without further ado, here's my first ever attempt at Mermaid. I tried to lift the other arm and promptly fell right over, by the way. It's good to find new ways in which we are total beginners, no? Lots of room for growth.
  13. 3 likes
    I completed my fourth acupuncture session yesterday. Going into it, my knee was feeling much better, but there was still pain. Also, I tended to easily feel like I was hyper-extending it doing noting amazing....just walking. On a sidewalk. Slowly. By today, however, I have no pain at all. Stiffness? A bit. Also, I am still swollen behind the knee to the point that I cannot sit back on my heels. I'm also feeling more grounded. Is that acupuncture? Mental rest from not having pain? Better weather? I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that my doctor has assured me that this is too early for the synvisc shot to be working. I'm doing more yoga too, because I have more range of motion and less pain. Yoga leads to more range of motion and less pain. See the cycle I'm finally able to jump into like a game of double-Dutch jump rope?? I'm moving along cautiously optimistic.
  14. 3 likes

    A New Chapter

    My mom flew away on Monday morning. I had been with her overnight and the whole day before, stepped out for 15 minutes, and she was gone. Our healing begins now. Very grateful for my practice that helped me keep it together over the long days and longer nights. Happy that I have YTT to distract me and to bring new knowledge into my life. Rest in Peace, Mom. You've more than earned it.
  15. 3 likes

    Day 1 - New Me Goals!

    Overall goal: Less pain + continue a set of physical therapy exercises each day I also do yoga. My observations below are reminders for myself - not a lecture to anyone! Informally, I've been observing whether I feel more intensity / discomfort in my "pain areas". As Candace always remind us, we should work in a pain-free range, so, this may seem like a dangerous goal of mine to accomplish with yoga practice. My situation may be different from others in that if there is pain, one should just rest. I've taken a break for 1-2 months, and, the pain didn't go away on its own anymore because there's been too much muscle atrophy - my body is too uneven now. My left shoulder is higher than my right, my hips are slightly tilted when I stand, so my right lower back side is scrunched up (where I feel pain), and my right shoulder muscle is physically smaller and weaker than my left. I didn't believe this until I did some bicep curls again - I used to be able to do more curls with my right arm than my left, and now, my left arm is stronger. I suspect everything gets worse cumulatively the more I sit and work, but since I can't always take breaks from work, I want to learn to manage this pain with a more consistent yoga practice. Most of my chronic pain feels like DOMS, and if there is any sharp jolting pain or the discomfort level is more severe than it's been before, I immediately back off, do modifications, or do a resting pose instead. But if the discomfort is at mild to moderate level, I feel I can keep going and learn how to relax those areas instead. These are my "problem" areas with Day 1 status, with the details on how I am measuring the level of discomfort after: Neck: Moderate to Severe (based on my left side's tightness) Right shoulder: Moderate Right lower back: Moderate Left hip flexor: Mild Neck pain (a more chronic issue for the past 2 years due to not ideal sleeping positions for the past decade.) Check: Do my levator scapulae stretches and monitor my range of motion sideways Day 1 Status: Left side stretch feels tight and stops at about 50 degree angle from my shoulder, but, no pain. Right side has minor discomfort but seems like full range of motion at 30 degree angle from my shoulder. Shoulder pain (Related to my neck pain, but mostly between my shoulder blade and spine on my right side. Both my levator and rhomboids connect to the shoulder blade part, so it's not clear if both or just my levator are hurting.) Check 1: Observe the level of discomfort in the front right of my shoulder when I do archer arms, with my right hand on the bottom. Day 1 Status: Moderate discomfort Check 2: See if I can reach out my right arm straight (while still in socket) and raise overhead to be parallel with my head. If I can, make sure I can do it without any "clicking" sound. Day 1 Status: can't keep arm straight to go overhead without risking the clicking sound, so I stop. Lower back pain on right side (quadratus lumborum) Check: Right side hurts in trikonasana (triangle pose) when reaching out to the left Day 1 Status: Moderate discomfort Left side hip flexor (psoas) Check 1: Warrior 1 with left leg back Day 1 Status: No discomfort (was severe in the past when I had to take a break) Check 2: Sit up from lying down in navasana (boat pose) Day 1 Status: Mild discomfort
  16. 3 likes

    Boot Camp

    Today, I took my first ever boot camp class at my gym. I've been a member for just over nine years, and my M.O. is this: get in there, get 20-30 min of good cardio, 35-45 minutes of strength, stretching at the beginning and end, and try to not speak a single word to anyone in the process. It's worked for me. I never thought of the gym as a social experience but as a place of solitary meditation through motion. And, full disclosure time, I really thought I was pushing myself when I was at the gym. This morning, I discovered that I'd been living in a dream world. A co-worker suggested boot camp to me last week while I was doing a total mat work out, and she'd plopped down next to me to do some core work. If you must know, the reason I was on the mat for an hour is because it was the first snow storm of the season that day, and I'd forgotten my gym shoes. (Side note: Surprisingly, the total mat work out turned out to be pretty ok, once I shook the negative attitude about forgetting my shoes.) Anyway.....she said that the Sunday morning boot camp class was great, so I said I'd give it a go. It. Was. Brutal. I had to ask the kid working the fitness center desk where to find boot camp class. His reply? "Do you know that's the hardest class here? Even harder than TRX." Great. I found the room. It was conveniently situation right off the elevated track. There was a circuit of nine stations that the sweet and welcoming (but slightly overly energetic for a Sunday morning) instructor had thoughtfully planned. We worked through the circuit twice with 30 seconds at each station (she said, but it seemed closer to a minute) with other activities making a surprise appearance throughout. There was running. There was jumping rope (I hate hate hate jumping rope, because I stink at it.) There were squats (three different kinds) and walking lunges with weights. There were planks (of course). There was a plethora of abdominal exercises. We finished with stretches and a child's pose. I really wanted to just stay in that child's pose and cry for a little bit before I got up, but I didn't. Well, maybe I did. By the time the class hour was over, I was a limp noodle with sweat dripping off the end of my nose. It was wonderful. I can't wait until next Sunday.
  17. 3 likes


    Savoring some quiet time. It's almost 1am. The house sleeps. I'm reading yoga blogs, knitting, having a glass of wine, and thinking. Getting ready to begin YTT in January, I've been reading a lot more on the practice and ideologies surrounding yoga. I've had a slight revelation or two, unfollowed a couple flashy yoga types on social media, and ramped up my readings on Yoga as an ancient philosophy. I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to approach teaching yoga as a practice and as a tool in schools for children who struggle. I am searching for ways to introduce this gift of yoga to others and how I want to represent myself in the realm of yoga. I will not attempt to authenticate myself in a way that is false. However, yoga means more to me than a trend. It's something beyond physical fitness. My desire is to convey that yoga can heal a broken heart, give hope for a better tomorrow, uncover what was never thought possible, deepen a belief in oneself. It is beautiful. As an emerging practitioner, I honestly believe in the mystical properties of yoga. For me, it goes something like this: my daughter Delaney believes in fairies. She is twelve and a half, and the magic of the world is starting to slip away from her ever-hopefully believing fingertips. But fairies? They are real. She is a firm believer. They live in our garden, visit in the night, provide a beauty in a world that has suddenly become scarier and uglier as her growing self becomes more aware of the horrors that are possible on earth. Sad? Depressing? Yes. But. Fairies are her escape. They deepen her faith that the good will triumph over the evil. The light over the darkness. They give her a path of hope and light and beauty.... and youth. That is yoga for me. It is my fairies. My challenge is to learn how to help convey its mystical and healing properties to others and to help them understand that they are free to choose what yoga will mean for them. Delaney Jane: My fairy advocate.
  18. 3 likes
    I did a sequence in class that caught my interest, running through a similar sequence twice both times resulting in a 'side angle namaste twist', but gradually increasing it's intensity by changing which leg is forward while twisting in the same direction. The sequence: 1: Down dog, step through (left), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin 2: Down dog, step through (right), crescent lunge, twist to the right with hands in namaste with arm on shin 3: Repeat opposite I find this interesting as it may deepen the second round pose by doing a weaker variation first, preparing the body.
  19. 3 likes

    What's Next?

    I liked the Mindful Practice for 30 days. It is the first "challenge" for yoga that I've rode to the end. I'm thinking of going back and doing the 30 Day Yoga for Tight Hips challenge that Candace put out there earlier this year. I started it and then got distracted by.....oh, who knows. Tight hips are the bain of my existence. They interfere with moving without pain sometimes, with my running, with sitting comfortably, and it just drives me nuts that I haven't been able to ease things. I wonder sometimes if I really am holding stress in my hips. When things get stressful in my life, it seems like everything, but especially my hips, are tighter. So, that's my next jam.
  20. 3 likes
    I'm a bit late checking in - I extended my 30 day to Oct 1st because I took an extra rest day, and, I wanted to save my progress picture for a home practice. I had a sad start of the week - I lost my favorite teacher of 3 years last week. Then I found out my second favorite teacher of 2 years had to move, and I missed her last class and never got to say goodbye in person. I wrote a thank you note for my studio to forward to her via e-mail, so, that was what mattered to me most - to let her know how much she changed my practice. I'll expand my horizons to try more teachers and hopefully find adjustments I like. Anyway, let's look at comparison photos! Please comment on anything, I will lovingly accept all feedback and not be offended. Now I'm looking forward to picking a new photo outfit for the next challenge... haha! The reason why I love adjustments so much is because a lot of my body is hypermobile, and I am working on my self-awareness to remember what proper form feels like. Day 1 and earlier, I was just proud of myself that I could lift my leg up and only focused on extending my upper leg, and did not pay attention to what the rest of my body was doing. This challenge allowed me to see all the nuances in the body - if I try to straighten my torso but forget to keep my upper body still, my shoulders will become uneven. If I focus on making my shoulders level, then my leg and torso lean over to one side more, or, in one picture, my neck tilts in the opposite direction of my torso to compensate for balance (Day 1, first pic)! My oh my, I have no idea how to control my body it seems. This challenge gave me a chance to deepen my home practice and discover all these nice advantages from using a tablet instead of the TV: Move the tablet around if I needed to see a demo and not crane my neck up to the TV in an awkward positionUse extended earphones and practice while my husband nappedZero set up except for laying out a mat - with the TV, I had to move over a heavy coffee table, lift up the rug, and lay out my mat on the hardwood, and still run out of room sometimes.Enjoying blue sky and a palm tree as my view out my backyard during the daytimeAdd flexibility and lower stress in my life if something came up and I couldn't make the scheduled class timesWhat I learned from staring at myself: It's a pain to make progress pics when there are two sides to keep track of. Double the work, but, it's revealing where places are tight when I compare sides. Tightness will come and go, just like balance is worse than some days than others. It appears my left shoulder was tight on day 30, which is why it looks exactly the same on day 1 (2nd picture). The inverse of the above - some days will better than others, independent of time. The last picture I put Day 30 and Day 16 so I can see that Day 16 was a good day when my shoulders were level!Some torso leaning from the standing leg is OK if it evens out the shoulders? Please confirm if you know, or if this will straighten out more with more consistent balance. My hypothesis is based on the last picture - shoulders are even, but more tilt. And first picture, shoulders are even, but torso is still tilted (but got rid of the neck tilt.)Some more noticeable improvements just can't be captured in pictures. First instance, the 2nd picture looks exactly the same to me. But, getting into the pose was definitely a different story! The videos revealed more that I wobbled instead of hopping around to try to save my balance, so getting into the pose felt much more stable, stronger, and also, slower / mindful. Does anyone have recommendations for a free video editor to speed up videos or make them into gifs?
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    The peak pose of the class I yesterday was lotus, which I've attempted before and failed, so naturally I was expecting to have to sit it out. However when the pose came around towards the end of the class we where lead through a few lead in poses including half lotus. Much to my surprise (and my teachers) I managed to get into lotus pose on both sites without much difficulty. This was sitting on a block, I tried it again in my practice today and I can do without, though it's very strong. I've been very surprised with how much progress I've been making, considering that I was contemplating eliminating downdog from my practice just a few months ago. I think this goes to show the importance of keeping on trying poses even if you can't do them today, things do improve over time, and with regular practice using good methodology, rapid progress is possible.
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    Day 22: I decided to do a home video / progress pics when I did a practice at home rather than in studio, on Thursday. Before practice: Felt a little ungrounded - knew I was going to my teacher's last class, who I've been going to consistently for almost four years. After practice: Emotional. Beginning of class my teacher talked about self-awareness being key, and it hit me hard. My teacher said her main goal in teaching is just to share what has helped her and hopefully reduce suffering. I started thinking back to all the times when what she said has helped me when I had rough times.. oh! So much gratitude for my teacher. I'm pleased and content though. I gave her a somewhat symbolic gift and heartfelt card, so this was a great time to remind her of how much she is appreciated. Day 23: Self-proclaimed rest day. The left side of my lower ab muscle (in front of my pelvis) has been rather tight for the past few days, so I decided to just give it a complete rest today. I still did my physical therapy exercises! Day 24: Before practice: A little flustered - didn't finish everything on my to-do list before yoga practice, but I finally realized that was not going to happen and put it off till the next day. I then took a full hour break to do Candace's 60 min slow flow yoga.After practice: Hopeful - I realized I've been over-worrying about my recent aches and joint pains because almost 2 years ago, I thought my neck pain would "just go away" with rest, but, it has evolved to impact my shoulder. But now I see I've backed off and regained my strength in my wrists, and when we did some boat work, my lower ab muscle didn't have that horrible tightness I felt a few days before. I was also pleased to realize what an advantageous view I have with a home practice when I lift my arms in tadasana. Progress pics from day 24 below. (On the right, I started smiling / laughing because my husband woke up from a nap and yelled, "I'm so tired!!!")Now I wonder if my left shoulder is tighter (harder to bind behind), which is why it looks like my right shoulder is leaning forward in the first picture. Well, it's not the end of the 30-day challenge yet, so I'll compare with day 1 later!
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    Day 17: Before practice: I was sad that I re-injured my neck - I was sleeping with a u-shaped neck pillow on my back (not my side) and still managed to get hurt, but I have no idea how.After practice: I decided to take it easy and do some static poses for 10 min to relieve shoulders and do gentle neck releases. I felt relief and gratitude that I knew enough about my body to pick yoga stretches I found to be most helpful. Day 18:I meant to do some light yoga after a quick run, but I ended up doing neither - instead I squeezed in a quick round of physical therapy exercises before bed. Then I learned the hard way after a pretty stubborn headed (on my part) conversation with my husband that I was not doing my physical therapy exercises correctly. I asked my husband, "How do I differentiate being easy on myself vs. making excuses for not doing yoga / running / physical therapy?" He agreed I move from the extremes of judging myself too harshly and then being too easy on myself to the point I don't have motivation - currently I'm not trying hard enough. I did not take the news easily because I thought I was lying to myself all last week, patting myself on the pack for being more patient, when I haven't prioritized the most important thing - my health and neck. So, I guess a better method going forward for me to handle criticism is to remember that any current judgment doesn't take away my past victories. I wasn't lying to myself, I just didn't know I was doing my exercises incorrectly. Day 19:Before practice: A little foggy, but, woke up to my alarm to attend a free yoga event in honor of National Yoga month instead of sleeping in.After practice: Proud of myself for moving forward. I modified about 75% of my vinyasas to address my wrist pain, but I did some full version ones without pain. I even attempted side crow, for the second time in my life, and I was able to lift up a foot briefly. I even had my husband check my form for my physical therapy resistance band exercises after. I realized I could approach them more mindfully and contracted slowly. Finally, I looked at the schedule and realized Day 19 was a rest day - I didn't actually miss out on a day then and swapped out day 18 and 19. Funny how things work out. Day 20:Before practice: Went on "chores" mode, so did Candace's 30 min twists video (for a previous day) while letting something simmer on the stovetop.After practice: Felt pleased and had some fun with a new pose (sun dial) that was not close at all, but I loved the build up of different stages on how to get there. I also liked this video because we held poses for longer than other vinyasa focused ones.P.S. The muscles around my armpit have been sore! Yay, I've been doing my physical therapy exercises correctly! Day 21:Before practice: Tense - long day of sitting at work. My lower back sometimes feels somewhat sharp pain, which was already sore from walking 6+ miles over the weekend (I need to focus more on my posture). The chill out sequence looked perfect for me!After practice: Head felt clearer after I stood up. The sequence helped release my lower back (it popped when I did the supine spinal twist). I will need to repeat this sequence as breaks from work more often!
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    Day 15 Before practice: I felt slightly frazzled. I was trying to book a hotel for an upcoming international vacation before class, but I put it on hold so I could go to class on time (yay, I let go of finishing a task!) After practice: Satisfied - my teacher gave me personal verbal cues on which muscles to engage to get deeper in a pose without assistance with weight. Specifically (I'm writing this so I can remember), I was able to touch my head to the ground in Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged forward fold) after I engaged my quads and then my bandha. Previously my teacher had to strongly assist me for me to understand where to go, pushing my hamstrings to the limit, but using this cues made me stop relying on stretching my hamstrings. Day 16Before practice: A little disappointed in myself for losing track of time while doing work and not being able to make it to the studio. I decided to follow Candace's 20 min upper body strength video instead and "gain back" some time so I didn't feel rushed to cook dinner that evening. I also thought this would be a good way to build my home practice - I have grown attached to specific local teachers, so when I got focused on something else and lost track of time, I would cry out of frustration for not being able to make it to class on time. I was... that overwhelmed back then, to put it nicely. I figured to give myself a break, feeling more content with my home practice will take off the pressure to always try to make it to the studio. After practice: Felt more grounded. When my wrists started acting up during the video, I just paused and did my wrist release stretches to warm them up more. I was pleased with myself that when I was doing my bird of paradise, I took my time lifting the leg and didn't hop around trying to readjust my balance like I did in previous attempts. And now, for lovely pictures! I realized that I always thought lifting my right leg was my "stronger" side because it's my dominant leg and more flexible. However, I realize the standing leg is my entire foundation - so in actuality, my left leg lifted side is stronger because my right standing leg is my base! Top picture: left standing foot isn't even straight (oops), and right shoulder is drooping a bit. Bottom picture: right standing leg looks strong, shoulders are level, and hey. my lifted left leg doesn't look that much lower than my lifted right leg now!
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    Day 9 reflections: As part of the mindfulness challenge, I reflected on how I felt before and after yoga class. Before, I felt pretty tense in my neck and slightly annoyed that I keep re-injuring my neck in my sleep - it's been so hot that I didn't sleep with a neck collar one night, and, now I'm paying for it. At today's Forrest yoga class, I spent a lot of time breathing in and out of twisting poses that challenged me while allowing my neck release. At the end of class, my teacher, as usual, asked us to observe if there were a shift from the beginning of class to now, and to be grateful that we were able to make that shift. I felt content (as I usually do) and light. So light to the point of absent-mindedness - when I got home, I didn't even remember if I picked up my house keys at the studio after class (I did). Then I remembered something I read earlier this week from "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown (read in parallel with Candace's recent gratitude post and KristiSmithYoga's advice #2 - the universe keeps telling me how important gratitude is!) I've been wanting to escape and feeling disconnected for awhile, even though I know I have a "sunny disposition" and all my friends describe me as "super happy". I can easily point out funny or cute things and laugh about it with others - that's all externally based on circumstances. When I read the above, I thought joy had to be a state of exuberance or even enlightenment due to the spiritual aspect, but now I see it's just the opposite of fear. When I'm content, that lightness I feel is because I have no worries going through my head - I never connected that until today. I've been struggling to cultivate my own sense of self-worth. I have equated making others happy with my own happiness for a long time, and wondered why my happiness isn't always enough. Now I understand my yoga practice is a constant cultivation of gratitude that leads to me feeling content, and that is my joy.
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    Updates for the past 3 days: Day 5 - Realizing I'm not being mindful off the mat I've been using yoga and running as an escape from some hard realizations I'm working through emotionally. But today, when some things disappointed me, I didn't voice it and instead, stewed about it, and passively-aggressively took it out on my husband. I will try to be mindful not only during this yoga challenge but in my everyday life - for example, let my husband know at the time, not later, what is bothering me. And if I don't know yet, just admit that. It's too much pressure to always try to figure things out first - it doesn't have to be that way. The good news though.. my knees hurt slightly today, so, I swapped out today's suggested yoga practice for a rest day instead. Day 6 - Restorative was just what I needed I had an honest talk with my husband in the morning - that helped lift most of my tension. I still developed a mild headache throughout the day, mostly from sleep deprivation. I followed Candace's restorative yin session - my chest is especially tight (hard for me to do backbends and twists), so I appreciated the poses. I focused on just breathing deeply (no ujjayi, just breathe), and, my headache did subside. Day 7 - Stalking my fear Feeling more motivated today, I decided to sit down and watch a recorded session from Wanderlust with Ana Forrest. The 2 hour playtime scared me, but then I realized she spends time to demo and describe what to do first, so, it's not holding dolphin for 2 hours! The theme was "stalking your fear", and, being more aware of where we hold tension when we get scared. I know my tight spots are my neck and between my shoulder blades, but, I found out today that it was my throat - you know that, lump in your throat when you receive bad news? That's tightness, not a lump! It made sense, if I'm constricting my throat and lowering my chin down, of course my neck and shoulders are going to suffer. I always love when I learn something new about myself.
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    All we have to do today is show up on our mats. No demands. No expectations.
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    Desk yoga

    "This is a nice one for the desk. Take your right arm straight up overhead. Bend at the elbow so the forearm lies across the top of the head (do the best you can). Take the left hand and gently pull the right elbow for more stretch. Try to extend the right elbow up towards the ceiling. When you breathe deeply notice how the ‘shoulder stretch’ effects all the way down to the hips. Someday the arm will come behind the head but do not strain the neck. Grab both elbows with the forearms over the head and stretch upwards and back. Try taking your forearm behind and across the middle of your back. Maybe grab your other arm. Do the best you can. Then allow the breath to lift the chest up. When the chest lifts notice the shoulder open, try to get the shoulder to rotate backwards slightly, all those parts are connected. Constant repetition is important. Find a comfortable place in the stretch and let the breath do the work. You will also find it helps tremendously for sitting at a desk all day. Doing these intensely once a week will not be particularly helpful and may cause injury."
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    Do you remember that song from childhood? I'm probably dating myself, but "Merrily We Roll Along" was one of those nursery rhyme, sing-songy little ditties that my mother and I sang during a long walk to pass the time or during a long car ride. Sometimes, that song is stuck on a loop in my head. I'm not sure why. It happens at the oddest time: When I'm limping along down a long hallway at school. Seriously?! My knee journey has been such a NOT merry sort of ride. Understand that I realize I'm healthy. I can walk. My pain isn't from illness. I'm grateful for all those things and more. However, I can't run (STRESS RELIEVER!). The pain wakes me throughout the night (I"M TIRED!). Limping around all day is exhausting, makes me feel clumsy, inspires crabbiness, and makes me feel a little hopeless that it'll get better. This all started two weeks after my mother died in January too. Insult to injury, anyone? I just want to heal. Everywhere. This time (because this is a recurring little thing for me.....just about annually with a few months each year wasted to pain and anti-activity), so this time, I decided that enough was f$%&*!g enough. Here's my usual: Pain begins after a tweek while running or after wearing sky-high heels (all of which I've now thrown away, btw); I fight it out, stretch, and ice; I bite the bullet and call the doctor; and two weeks of increasing pain later I see the doctor; I pay for imaging tests and get a cortisone shot sometimes; every few years I go to PT; pain subsides and rebuilding of muscle and running stamina begin. Again. 9 months later, repeat. Sometimes the limping causes psoas problems or low back pain. It's a huge inter-connected network of one injury leading to another. Aarrgghh!!!! Well. This time after the cortisone shot didn't work for the first time ever, I said, "No more!" I went to my awesome massage therapist. She spent one entire hour on my right leg, making appalled and sympathetic sounds over how tight my quads and hamstrings and calve muscles were. After that, I was pain-free for three wonderful days. Then the pain and stiffness all came back. I went back to the doctor and told him his cortisone shot was a massive fail for me this time. He suggested I try synvisc shots. What they do is help the area surrounding the knee to create more lubricant cells around the knee. I read that the active ingredient comes from rooster combs! Anyway, I went with it. Sadly, the synvisc takes up to a month to work once the shot is done. I am six days in and will keep you posted...... I'm sure you are all waiting with baited breath......:) Another new things for me that I decided to try is acupuncture. I went for my first appointment today. First of all, I am just fascinated with this form of medicine. The acupuncturist took her time to explain the ideas behind the practice. She asked me a million questions about my health. She was fascinated and excited to see that I have a rather large old scar above and just off center from my bad knee. She explained that not only did the damage of the fascia quite possibly have something to do with my current, chronic knee issues, but that the area of the scar is also perfectly in line with a major meridian of energy that is now quite possibly blocked. Isn't that interesting? I was a little nervous about the needles, but it was fine. After they were inserted around both knees and feet, she also placed one on my forehead, at the top of my head, and at sinus points (to help with my allergies and sinus problems while I was there). She hooked up two knee needles to a little machine that used electrical stimulation to aid healing in that area. Then she left the room. I wouldn't say that I was skeptical, but I was just giving this a shot without devoting too much at the time. However, while I lay there, I became so relaxed that I felt medicated. In a good way. After 30 minutes, she removed the needles, and I went about my day. I feel a little more sore than usual today, as the acupuncturist said I would, but a relaxed feeling is still with me (even now as my son continues to slam an indoor basketball through the hoop on his bedroom door, creating a jarring noise each time......). I go back in two days and then three times next week. After about four visits, my knee should start to really feel better, and after twelve, I'm hoping to go into maintenance in order to be and remain pain-free. I'm excited to track this and see how it goes. Sadly, my insurance doesn't cover this, so it's an investment. I'm willing to try it though. Feeling cautiously optimistic about my chances to heal and hoping to be running and practicing yoga more comfortably soon!
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    Finding My Practice

    I've been having a hard time getting to my mat since my mom died last month. I know my practice will help me heal, yet it eludes me. I've been running and lifting and generally working out at the gym.... but yoga.....yeah. I haven't left it completely, not by a long shot. Since I'm currently in a 6-month long YTT program, I'm working on the mat, for sure. But, it's missing something. I think the missing part is my heart. I know it'll come back, and I'll keep trying. Until then, I've gotta just feel what I'm feeling and be patient. (And I'm trying to be grateful for the opportunity to work on my patience.......not my favorite thing!) (Notice that I am ON my mat.......not giving up! Good thoughts!)
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    These are my pain points I assessed on Day 1 with their current status: Neck: Mild - only on left side now (when I've been feeling it mostly on the right for the past 2 years) Right shoulder: None (seems to have been relieved from a neck stretching incident) Right lower back: Faint, less than mild Left hip flexor: Faint, less than mild Top of foot pain (new, made me take a break from yoga and running from day 7): Dull ache after walking 5 miles intermittently on Sunday. Otherwise fine but not walking that much. But, I didn't really work on my pain the way I envisioned with daily meditation and daily resistance band exercises. Some people are more draconian than others in sticking to a strict schedule, so if reading about this laxity disgusts you, then please, switch to another thread. Given my rest state, I'm investing the time and money to get motivated from professional guidance since trying my own self-care is not enough. I kept thinking to myself that yoga was enough to relieve the pain so much, and with that gone, I feel a bit lost. I made these appointments so I can stop obsessing about what is wrong with me and make it someone else's problem. Yes, the whole body is connected, but, apparently there isn't enough time to address all my pain in one visit. I am parsing out each issue separately for now since I have the time, and it's a new year for me try to maximize my healthcare benefits. Visit with new physical therapist visit was useful for my neck pain He confirmed that my posture is good (when most people slump shoulders and head while working at a computer), but, my thoracic spine is so stiff / straight that it's so hard to round, and that may be why there is so pressure on my neck. Cat and cow are the best stretches for me - I didn't realize how good it feels when I do cat, but I stopped because this position put the top of my foot down on the mat. My PT showed me how to just hook my right foot over my left ankle to protect my right foot. Tomorrow: try out a meditation and stress reduction class co-taught by a Tibetan monk and clinical psychologist It's also covered by insurance as group therapy, so, I'll see where it lies on the spectrum between traditional group therapy or free meditation classes I've been to before. Next week: see an orthopedic foot specialist my foot pain My PT told me they need separate referrals for each body part focus, and I only got one for neck/shoulder pain. Pretty inefficient when I can see specialty doctors without referrals, and, the orthopedic will probably at the end give me a referral back to PT, but, at least I'll have another opinion from a different perspective. Pending next week / next month: an orthopedic spine / back specialist to rule out joints misalignment (and minor scoliosis in my upper back as suspected by my massage therapist - it actually makes sense why I can't bend it forward or back easily if this were true) Maybe there is some truth to vertebrae and joint alignment. 2 years ago, my previous physical therapist said she was popping my neck joints back in, but I didn't really believe her. But, yesterday while stretching my neck back and trying to massage out some parts, I felt a nub off-center to the right of my neck that retracted when I was gently touching it to figure out if it were just a knot. Then the craziest thing is all that right shoulder pain just disappeared after that, and, I've never felt so lightweight and free in more than 2 years. My massage therapist recommended a chiropractor to me, but I got scared about extreme adjustment stories. Yet, I also got scared to see an orthopedic because most of them are also surgeons, so I assumed it would be invasive. But, I realized I can just go to an orthopedic first for a diagnosis and then figure out my options. Again, I may just end up getting referred back to PT, but, with a new perspective. I suppose all of the above is justification to myself that I am not scheduling random appointments to make myself feel better.
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    Day 7 - Check-in

    Well, on Day 5 the doctor ordered me to take a week's break from yoga and walking long distances. The tendon pain at the top of my right foot hasn't gone away in over two weeks, but I kept on doing yoga almost every day because, cheapskate me, I had a GroupOn for a monthly unlimited pass. I got concerned because we thought about going skiing this weekend, but ski boots are intentionally tight and will likely push right into that top part of my foot! So, I'm letting that notion go and not rushing to test my foot. I stated my intention to still participate by following along with the suggested meditations, but I haven't. I'll try listening to a short guided one when I first wake up so it's more likely I'll follow through. I continued with my physical therapy exercises for my shoulder, hanging onto a pull-up bar, and doing eagle arms to stretch out my upperback and relieve my aches. Our pull-up bar is one of those as-seen-on-TV kinds that fits across a doorway. So at the minimum, I jump onto it each time I walk by and try raising myself a few inches to warm up my achy back muscles. Goal status: Upper back and neck pain is slightly worse since I'm less active overall. Lower back right pain has disappeared now, so at least something is improving. I sucked it up and finally scheduled physical therapy next week with someone new. I realized I can't always have yoga practice to help manage pain due to my random injury prone body!
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    Pushing oneself is different for everyone - even in yoga when some teachers talk about "finding your edge" when stretching, I have to find a different focus to figure out which muscles to engage muscles to not stress my joints or ligaments. Some of the high-energy aerobic classes I liked so much before triggered fainting spells and pulled muscles. I had to learn how to focus and endure discomfort done in a slow, subtle way (forcing me to look internally) rather than in a high impact way. Today's class focused on twists and lunges. We did a standing series that lasted probably 5 minutes or so on one single side, so my quads and glutes were burning as we held each pose - and amazingly, I stuck with the whole sequence without ending early or skipping. As I walked home, I realized around exactly around this time, 6 years ago, I tried my first yoga with my sister at home using a pre-natal yoga video. We did a bunch of high lunges in the video, and I kept whining to my sister the whole time, "It hurts!! How can you stand this!!!" As I kept falling out of the poses (from agony and imbalance), my sister said, "Shut up! This is pregnant women yoga! You can do it!" And yes, my pregnant sister was doing it! I'm pleased now that I've learned how to cope and endure the terrible burning, how to recover when I feel my balance sway and... to not whine! Learning how to endure was learning how to push myself safely in different ways than before. Now I just need to see if the not whining part will follow off the mat, too!
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    When I first started watching Candace's videos, I thought, why are there so many short ones? None of these can replace my 90 min classes in the studio. (such judgment! I admit it!) But! I am coming back from a rut - I didn't do any workouts for a whole month, including yoga. 2 weeks of this was due to vacation, and then, I got slammed by work and stress (working over Thanksgiving holidays). I've been so exhausted - sleeping for more than 10 hours at a time. I knew exercise and yoga could help re-energize me, but, I just couldn't bring myself to start. I had shamed myself for slacking off and was too embarrassed to go back into the studio, and was also not even sure if I could last an entire class. I finally stopped making excuses yesterday and finally did the 15 min hip opening video. Siting at my desk all day causes my hip flexors get tight, and, this video make me re-appreciate lunges and make me feel more excited about resuming my yoga practice and not afraid to face my regular teacher even though I haven't seen her in over a month! How do others use the short 15 min videos? Do you view them alone as short breaks in the day, or do you bundle them with other videos to have a longer practice?
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    My mom used to use that phrase: Live in the Leap. It's good advice. It means to live in the moment and to take some risks. I like that it's "leap" instead of "jump." Leap sounds joyful and sort of carefree. So, I strive to live by these words. When my two kids were very young, living in the leap maybe wasn't a good idea for me. I played it safe. I was practical. I stressed - a lot - about sleep schedules, breastfeeding vs. bottle, choosing a daycare and then a preschool.....and a multitude of other things. Always a "worrier," this way of life stuck to me like glue. I kind of liked it. I had my ducks in a row, and I had my lists in order. All seemed well. Or did it? The kids kept growing, as they do, but I was still stressing. By now, my mom's early onset dementia demanded that I move her to an assisted living community near me so that I could help care for her. That gave me another whole level of stressing and list making. I worried about spreading myself too thin. About not having enough time for my mom, who was floundering with horrible anxiety related to the dementia. I worried that I was dividing myself too thinly and that my kids were suffering. I was looking for reasons to argue with my husband, who was dealing with his own personal issues at the time too. This scenario went on for over six years. Constantly. There was no winning, and I was a ball of knots. My family, friends, co-workers said how strong I was. How good I was at juggling it all and how well I was taking care of my mom while being such a good mom myself. I was a total fraud and a pretender. The other part of my story is that once upon a time, before we moved and my younger child was born and before my mom got sick, I was a teacher and then a curriculum coordinator. Sadly, I did not love my career. It was ok, but I wanted to feel more passion in my work life. I stopped working full time when my husband's job moved us and all the other stuff listed above happened. I was more than ok with it, but I felt a definite absence of SELF and of PURPOSE. I was told that raising my kids was a full time job and that should be enough by more than one person (shocking in this day and age, right?). Then what do you think happened? I got so close to the edge that I really thought I was going to lose it. And it scared the hell out of me. I knew I needed to make a drastic change in my life, because I wanted to be the mother that my children deserved, the wife my husband needed, and a person who I actually liked myself. I searched for what could fix me. I breathed, and I tried to learn how to sit still and to be still. I went back to the mat, where I'd always dabbled, but this was different. This time, it was for my mind instead of for balancing my runner's knee and leg ailments. I started reading about Yoga, it's origins, it's transformations, it's power. I have grown in my practice, but more than that, I've healed as a person. I could almost cry just typing those words. Finally, I'm in a good place. My family life is happy. I am able to enjoy my children. My children have a mom who is calmer and happy. My mom is in a new home where she is safe and kept more contentedly busy, so that my visit is a bonus rather than a near daily must. I'm substitute teaching and teaching knitting...and I love it...the flexibility and the work itself. I've let go of people who are not good for me. I can even sit in stillness once in awhile. I feel this incredible freedom to figure out WHAT IS NEXT for me. So, after lots of thought and journalling and discussion with my ever-supportive (and much healed) husband, I think I've finally figured it out. I begin YTT in January. My plan is to train teachers to use yoga in the classroom to aid student learning, relieve student anxiety and stress, and to help lessen behavior problems. I will also offer Yoga for Teachers, as I know firsthand how stressful their job is and how much a calmer teacher can positively influence our children. My hope is that I can build a business around yoga and teaching. I'm excited and nervous to talk about it for fear of jinxing myself. Isn't that silly? To honor my wonderful, loving, and wise mother as she used to be, I must "Live in the Leap" and make this venture REAL by saying it out loud. Thank you to YBC community members for listening. Thank you for this wonderful community, Candace. You have no idea how much you've had to do with my healing. I hope you all follow me on my adventure. I'd like to take a yoga class and then go for a coffee with all of you! xxoo The person who taught me to Live in the Leap
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    Yes to #yogaeverydamnday, but some days are made for running. Fall colors coinciding with 70+ degrees Fahrenheit.....well, that doesn't happen very often in Wisconsin. Today's run was excellent, and then I melted into some sun salutations for a post-run stretch sesh. Feeling good as I continue to work on some hamstring tightness and knee discomfort. Running today did remind me that I prefer to have my feet on the ground rather than on an airplane. As my Paris trip gets closer, I'd love to hear what anyone with a little flight anxiety does. I've flown dozens of times. It's fine. I get through it. However, turbulence (even mild) unsettles me (see what I just did there?). I want to ENJOY my flight as part of my vacation. Tips and/or wisdom anyone?
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    Day 30

    Today marks the end of the 30 Day Mindful Yoga Practice for me. Refection time: There was tons of progress, but not always in my chosen pose (Mermaid). Over the last 30 days, in addition to working on the pose, I also concentrated on my focus during practice. I strived to "let go" and to "be in the moment." Somewhere along the way, I found my headstand. It's more solid some days than others, and it's still a work in progress. I attribute it to the mindful focus for this project. Also, and this is huge for me, I found arm stand for the very first time. It was a fluke too. I was doing a video practice, and Candace went into arm stand. I thought, "What the hell," and gave it a whirl. I was against the wall, so the balance was minimal, but there I was on my arms! Now, I'm a little obsessed with being upside down. I'm working on handstand too. I feel like my practice has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 30 days all in all. In Mermaid, I gained flexibility and balance. I'm happy with that. I chose this pose as a gauge for my tight hips, to see how well I am loosening them. I'll continue to do this as my practice grows. This was fun. Day One Day 30
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    I followed the suggested schedule today in the 30 day Mindful challenge. At first, I thought it was too troublesome to piecemeal the different components, but I kept a tab open to the page that showed the warm up poses and diligently paused between the two videos and followed the course. Today's main video was Candace's tone-up sequence with blocks. I only have foam blocks and at first thought I would not get any benefit from the class. But, I used the opportunity to try it out, and noticed that using blocks between the hands in my high lunge focuses me to not hyperextend my elbows when reaching upward. I also made sure not to overextend my shoulder out from my socket when doing some of the tone up exercises that extends the arm in front of the shoulder. Without the weight of the block to distract me, I realized I could better focus on my form. I've definitely held blocks between my thighs or shins to engage my core, and holding between my arms helped engage my upper body. I get the cues and adjustments to "wrap my shoulders", and that is so difficult for me to spread my shoulder blades apart on demand, but, imagining that I am squeezing a block between my hands might help. Does anyone else like using blocks to engage? Is it appropriate to apply the same method to my arms? Lastly, a funny story that happened today. While doing the meditation part today, Candace cued to feel the navel expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale. I realized then I was doing ujjayi breath and not relaxing because my belly remained engaged during both inhale and exhale. I am a natural mouth breather, but when I get cued to breathe deeply, I always refer to ujjayi breath. During meditation, I almost laughed because I remembered that I also was doing ujjayi breath without realizing this morning, when I had my physical check up with my primary care doctor. A few months ago, I saw my doctor in the same yoga class. I said hi to her after class and let her know I was her patient, but have only seen her twice. I was wondering today when an appropriate time would be to ask if she's still going to yoga classes as small talk. When she was listening to my chest and back and asked me to breathe deeply, I kept doing it through my nose, like ujjayi breath. Then she said, "ok, now through your mouth". ha! I was about to admit I was doing "yoga breathing", but then I chickened out because the next part was the pap smear. I realized then it was not really the best time to try to bond with my doctor over yoga! Have you guys encountered other people in your yoga classes outside of normal class? Would you have still said hi if it were your doctor during your annual / intimate exam?
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    I tried to be mindful today to focus on my alignment - to keep my body centered. After I reviewed today's pics, I see that I am still compromising my foundation with my flexibility to extend my leg. Today I felt so good and warmed up (did the yoga after running), I didn't even realize I went out of alignment. I think it's best for me to focus on the basics and work on the foundation first before extending the leg now - lay off by keeping my knee bent but practice on centering myself in the bind. It's fun to try the full expression of a pose, but, now I know I can't improve until I back off and fix my foundation. I let my progress in flexibility excite me too much so that I ignored everything else - my day 1 left leg picture looked the most legit, and, had the lowest leg lift! I tried two methods today: method 1 from bound extended side angle with hops (like in Candace's video), and method 2 from forward fold / uttanasana. It took more strength to get up with method 2, but I think I wasn't rotating my shoulders enough. I compared pictures between the two methods - method 2 actually makes me feel I lift my leg higher but at the expense of me hunching over. I'll stick to method 1 for now! My body looks aligned in bound side angle pose, so it's a natural prep for me to open up. Also, to help with comparison photos, I am wearing this outfit only when I film myself (as per Candace's tips!), so please don't think I don't do laundry...
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    Progression on Mermaid Pose is meh. It's only Day 4, though, so I'm staying positive. I will say, though, that my hips seem tighter than ever. I noticed that even sitting with crossed legs, my knees seem farther off the floor than last week. Maybe I'm overworking my muscles and tightening up. I'm thinking that running isn't helping, but I don't run much lately. 3.5 miles 3-4 times a week. Almost nothing compared to other years at this time training for Tough Mudders or marathon. Also, low back and psoas are sore. Poor me! (NOT! Grateful for the movement and health that I have....don't get me wrong!) The best I can say is that I did not fall over today when I lifted my right hand off the floor to rest on my thigh as my left hand reached back to hold my left foot. However, it was only for a milli-second, too short to even catch a screen capture of it. No photo today! Staying with it and looking forward to achieving the next step in the process. That is all. Also! Had the best savasana ever today. I struggle to relax.....ever....., so feeling the total relaxation and soaking in of my practice today was kinda mind blowing.
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    Costa Rica Retreat

    I've been back from Costa Rica for almost 36 hours. I'm here to report that I can still feel the sense of calm that I was able to achieve while I was there. The jungle was beautiful, the ocean was wonderful.....the country was the perfect place for me to visit at this point. Candace's retreat offered great yoga (one morning, we even began before first light and ended with the dewy morning sun risen...loved that). I was fortunate enough to have met a wonderful group of women (including the YBC forum's own wonderful Brenskip55 and Clever Yoga's awesomely kind Ellie). The group of retreat participants was diverse, but we all got along and bonded. There was adventure, downtime, great food, lots of wildlife.....I loved it, and I was ready to come home when it was over (Which is, I believe, the mark of a great vacation.). The departure of some of us, Candace and me included, was delayed for a day because of the eruption of a large volcano near San Jose, CR the day before our scheduled departure. Luckily, there was a room at a lovely hotel near the airport, a Hard Rock Cafe across the parking lot, and a tiny fitness center for some treadmill running. I spent that "bonus" night working on my yoga teacher training final exam components. All good. And now I'm home! My family was so glad to see me (and I them). Life is back to normal, sort of. I feel like the better version of myself that I'd hoped. I put some things to rest while I was gone and nudged some other things to life. Taking a break from real life is good. I am grateful to have had the opportunity. Thank you, Candace, for providing the back drop! The YBC Costa Rica 2016 girls, and our often-companion-during-yoga-practice dog. (He once gently head butted me during a practice while I was in Downward Facing Dog) Playa Hermosa, taking in the sunset and just feeling the pura vida.
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    Here we are, already one-third of the way through 2016. It's been an interesting year for me so far. Parts of it have brought emotional and physical pain. Other parts have brought healing and hope. It's been a full ride so far. As I sit at my kitchen table with tea, knitting, and watching the birds at the feeder outside, I'm reflecting on what I've learned this year. 1. What's worked to heal in the past doesn't always work. My darn knees have been giving me problems ever since I was a teenager. It seems that I am pigeon-toed just enough to throw things off. What worked in the past? Cortisone shots. Physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory medicines. Well, guess what? I don't have time for physical therapy. Or, let's just say that I'm not willing to spend all that time on PT anymore. Last cortisone shot in February? Didn't work a lick. This was the first time ever that's happened. And the medicine? Kills my gut. SO! I decided to try something new. I did get a shot, but it's not cortisone. It's gel. It builds up the cushion around my knee cap and lubricates. I'm chugging the apple cider vinager and swallowing raw honey to help with joint health and limiting inflammation. The tartness is always a little shock to my system each morning, but there are sooooo many health benefits to this little habit, that I'll keep it going. Finally, acupuncture. In addition to healing my knee, I feel like it's helped me in so many other ways. 2. Let people help. I always did things all by myself. No asking for help. Muscling through, putting my head down, toughing it out......these were my mottos. When my mom ended up in the hospital on January 1 and died almost three weeks later, I decided to let people help. People WANT to help. I feel gratitude for having people in my life who want to help me and my family. My husband and I get along better with me trusting him to help.....by me letting go of feeling like I have to do everything in order to have it done right. My YBC Forum friends helped too. Feeling nurtured is such a healing experience. And it's not weak to let people help. 3. Taking care of myself is not a luxury. So, ok. I could take this too far if I wanted and abuse the lines of "taking care of myself" to making it "doing whatever I want and using self-care as an excuse." But I won't do that! I will try to not do that! Easing up on myself is something that has been difficult to do, and I'm still struggling with it, but I'm working on it and seeing the benefits. I feel calmer lately, and I feel more present in each moment. It's been an epiphany, really. And this lesson has led me to take a portion of my small inheritance from my mom and spend it on me. Enter, Costa Rica for Candace's retreat. 4. Life is damn precious. This one, I already knew. It's just always worth reminding myself. This is the reason why I'm plowing forward with my plans for a new career, come what may. I've been tiptoeing nervously around the idea of making yoga a part of my life that extends to career. That's why I'm doing the teacher training. I'm going to give workshops at schools to teach teachers to use yoga in the classroom to help kids learn better and to feel better about themselves. That's my main goal. My website is up and running and waiting for my credentials and insurance to allow me to market myself more and approaching schools. Good things are happening. I have gotten some interest from two organizations to have me teach yoga classes and give workshops too. I'm scared and excited and ready to jump in with both feel. After all, yoga saved my life......... 5. Yoga Rocks. Numbers 1-4 above had so much to do with yoga that I felt it deserved the finale. Yoga has healed my body and my soul. It's taught me that I'm stronger than I thought I was (and that I don't have to train for a fourth Tough Mudder to prove it ). It has helped me with relationships...strengthening some and letting go of others. Yoga has steadied my mind so that I could think. It helped me make decisions for my mom and to allow me to let others in to help. I'm grateful for the presence of yoga in my life. It has brought and continues to bring me joy in practice and in the wonderful people I meet through its communities.
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    January Reflection

    Well, I was only able to actively participate in the yoga challenge for the first week before I got an injury. Since my doctor directed me to not to do yoga (barefoot exercises aggravate my foot), I've been trying to practice other parts of yoga, particularly meditation. But, I think there are the other principles beyond asana, such as ahimsa, being kind to oneself, that I learned. Satya - not lying or truthfulness Learning my own truth for me was to believe in my own intuition. I was afraid I was being a hypochondriac when I made a bunch of doctor appointments, but, it turns out I have midfoot arthritis. Now I am awaiting an MRI now to confirm forward treatment. I thought I failed not managing things on my own, but, I realized my pain was bigger than what I could control, so I sought outside help. Sutra 1:12 on Vairagya - Non-attachment I will pursue my health without "worrying ahead" about the outcome, but not be detached from my own well-being. Ishvara Pranidhana - surrender to God or surrender to the universe I'm not religious, but my teacher explained that it doesn't have to be "to God", but acknowledging that there is something bigger than yourself. Thus, I like the interpretation of "universe" more. My pet rabbit of 10 years passed away from a stroke recently. I was surprised how intense my sadness was, even though we expected it since she was getting old. I was also surprised by my recurring dreams of "second chances" to save my rabbit. Then my therapist explained that feeling guilt can be easier than feeling sadness, and, guilt is a way of trying to regain control of the situation. After I acknowledged that death was out of my control, I could let go of the guilt. And, surrender.
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    Getting There

    Life these days is.......odd. I feel light and happy and sad and foundation-less and grounded. I'm doing something that goes against the grain of my Type A life. I'm rolling with it. No, really. I am. Last weekend, my family and I (including our third child, canine Riley) ran away for a few days to the Wisconsin Northwoods. We've been there before to rent summer cabins, and my family used to own a tiny cabin on a tributary of the Wisconsin River....however, I haven't been there during the winter for many years. This trip was just the thing to help the healing process. Snowy and silent and beautiful. Due to the "off season" stay, we got to treat ourselves to a house that we wouldn't rent during the summer season. There was a loft with a view of the lake for yoga practice, deer hoof prints in the snow, family time without interruption, good old "supper club" steak dinner, and time to rest. Heavenly. My yoga practice is slowly returning to me. Thank goodness for YTT. It's encouraging me to stay with it. I'm starting to find joy in returning to my mat. However, further complicating 2016, a chronic knee injury has resurfaced. No running, limping walk, feeling like and old lady, and just damn pain. Well. Today, after YTT, I was pain-free for the first time in over four weeks. Guess what? I'm canceling the ortho appointment for next week. My plan is to ice twice daily, see Emily my wonderful massage therapist, make my first ever acupuncture appointment, and use what I've learned in YTT to see if I can fix this my own self. My knee has had issues off and on for 15 years. Going back and forth to the knee doc without a permanent fix has grown old. I'm going to try to see if yoga is what I need for a fix long term. I hope so. And I've really excited about working on this. The point is that I wouldn't have had the patience to just BE with my knee and to see how it goes before. As I said, I'm rolling with it. And I'm good with that. Planning some good plans for me and for my/my family's future this spring, and I am just psyched to be doing something exciting and new and fun. My life feels new. I am so grateful that I can attend Candace's retreat in May. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to take this YTT course and to travel a new career path with all its possibilities. I have faith that I'm on the right track. And that's saying something. Life is good. from Living Your Yoga, by Judith Hanson Lasater
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    Should I adjust my intention to fit the posture? Or should I adjust the posture to fit my intention?
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    One week until Christmas.....and no snow. I live in Wisconsin for a reason, people! I love winter, and Christmastime is the best time every for snow! So, there's that. Also, I did a number on myself. Here's what happened. I love boot camp. Love the challenge, the vibe, the social aspect, the fact that I didn't have to come up with the workout myself, la-la-love. Love it so much, in fact, that I started Bodypump classes too. These weren't as intense as boot camp, but I was really loving the help with upper body work. The problem is that I pushed it too hard too fast and hurt myself. A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty intense pain on the left side of my chest. A whole bunch of scary stuff was running on a loop in my head for days on end. The pain persisted so much and robbed me of so much sleep, that I went for an exam. I found that I'd strained and bruised my chest wall on the left side. So painful. Now, I have to rest. This should make me jump for joy. Doctor's orders to sit and knit in my pj's with a cup of tea? Ahhhhh, no. I start YTT in a few weeks, and I want to be ready. But, here I sit. I plan to keep running and do some other work that won't strain my chest muscles. Bummed, because I was really feeling the new and improved upper body strength. Then I remind myself that I'm healthy, I'll heal, and I'm not required to meet any fitness goal on any specific timeline. For now, tea, knitting, and using the handy excuse to let the small people in my house do dishes. I will try to savor the rest imposed upon me and go from there. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!