Reacquainting Myself with Regular Yoga Practice

Can you believe it’s almost Fall? Where did Summer go?!

I start teaching yoga again one week from today, so I’m in preparation/panic mode this week. But, not totally panic mode because (ever the planner) I started preparing myself for teaching yoga again two weeks ago. I started by trying to schedule daily breathing time. Continue reading “Reacquainting Myself with Regular Yoga Practice”

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The Daily 10

So, remember way back when I did the Sun Salutation Challenge? I wondered what would happen to my yoga after it ended….and I found out.

Well, I stopped doing my yoga and it has cost me dearly! Last summer I killed it at running for A LOT of the summer. This summer, not so much….what’s the difference? Well, firstly is that last summer I was coming off of a great semester of teaching yoga, I was teaching yoga twice a week in the early mornings, and I was teaching Summer I and Summer II yoga. I was mad about yoga at the time and I knew that the fall semester would change my activities. Continue reading “The Daily 10”

Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations

Welcome to March!

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile now….unsure of what all to write and which day to post it under. I’ve got a lot to write about this week and so I thought I’d start here with some yoga. Last fall I started building up to performing 108 consecutive Sun Salutations. Don’t know what a Sun Salutation is? Check out my post about how I do mine here. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #52 – My 108 Sun Salutations”

Getting Started

It’s Monday! I say that with enthusiasm and vigor and overall happiness today. I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before and it’s making a huge impact on the way that I approach things. This is something she calls the Lightning Bolt effect….when something just happens out of the blue because of something you read/watched/heard/saw or even just because you make a decision that you don’t normally make. It’s kind of like when I watched What the Health?….it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but it prompted me to change….right then (more on that progress later.

In the section I read over the weekend Rubin describes strategies for when to begin a new habit….much like New Year’s Resolutions. The time to act is now. How often should you do it? Regularly enough for it to stick. And a third factor (for me especially) is to find someway to be accountable/track/monitor your progress.

Some people have the approach to new habits called the Clean Slate approach. They wait for a significant event/day to get started like the beginning of the month, their birthday, or the start of the new year. I have tried all of those approaches and fall into what she describes as a “tomorrow” effect. It’s easy to say I will start tomorrow and then…..I don’t. I put it off or I make excuses or I give myself free passes to change what I had committed to. For me, the time is now. I did this with buying my new planner (which I cannot wait to use….whole other post). Instead of my usual wavering and procrastinating, I did it when I found one I liked. I didn’t worry about finding a better one; I bought it and now I have it and I don’t regret my decision.

I needed to use the Do It Now approach this weekend also. In my NETA PT workshop at Wingate University I was talking to the students about the goal of doing 108 sun salutations. When I left the workshop that day and started reading Better Than Before I thought to myself:

When can I start doing them?

The answer was NOW. So I got up and I did 10 sun salutations. They were hard to do because I was wearing shoes, in my hotel room, very stiff from standing all day, and had no mat to grip my hands. But I did them. Then I wrote them on my calendar for next Saturday. After further consideration (on Sunday) I decided to take the step to make the habit more regular. What would happen if I wrote sun salutations on every day of my calendar? I ended up choosing almost every day (because there were days where there were no lines left to write anything) and it made me feel satisfied.

The danger to this approach is that it’s what Rubin refers to as a Blast Start. Blast starts are great for some people, but at the end of their self-imposed “streak” they sometimes are giving themselves permission to quit what they’ve decided to do. This leads to a lapse effect. It’s always harder to come back to something the second time around. Why? I don’t know the exact answer, but I think it has something to do with the novelty of the experience being worn off. I feel like this has happened to me a little with running at the moment. I put on my calendar for this next weekend to pick my new race. That always perks me back up!

And that’s the third and most important component for me…..accountability. I’m not great at being accountable to myself. I think that’s the habit I want to change the most. My follow through. So, here’s what I’m doing to be more accountable about things:

  1. Writing it down in the planner
  2. Checking it off and doing each thing NOW instead of looking for “The Best Time” to do it
  3. Tracking all of my exercise in MapMyRun (even Sun Salutations)
  4. Telling you and everyone I can about what I’m going to do (I find it hard to disappoint others even if they’re not invested)
  5. Being ME

The last one means that I’m only committing to do the things that I know will make me happy. My word for today is SMILE and each time I look in my planner and read it, it makes me smile. It’s a reinforcement of how I want to be and who I truly am.

How do you go about starting a new project or habit?

Which strategies are most successful for you?

What is your longest streak on something?

Workout Wednesday #11 – Sun Salutations

I bet you thought I forgot about you….I haven’t, but I have missed “chatting” with you this week. I promise more to come! But, for today, let’s workout…

You may or may not remember a long time ago on the blog when I started talking about wanting to do a Spartan Race some day. I was attempting to do Burpees. Well, Sun Salutations are the Burpees of the Yoga World (something I say a lot). (You can click that post to see a graphic of the Sun Salutation I teach here.) So today, for your viewing pleasure….Sun Salutations!

Check out Traci’s 108 Sun Salutation post here!

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, un-sponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

Workout Wednesday #10 – Awakening Poses

Are you awake yet? Are you up? Has your day begun? Today is the first day of classes at my new school, UNCW, and I start teaching there tomorrow. But, it’s the first semester in a long while that I’m not teaching yoga. So, while I won’t be out of my element with what I will be teaching, I also don’t want to get out of the habit of doing/teaching yoga. The next few weeks (and possibly longer) I will focus Workout Wednesday videos on a series of yoga poses (asanas). This week we’ll begin with Awakening Poses to get you up and going for the day or energized at any time of day. The key is to remember to move one breath: one movement. Don’t know how to breathe in yoga? That’s okay, there’s a video for that too!

Before you get started you may want to check out these links to the poses on Yoga Journal to find out more about the poses, their benefits, and their risks:

Supine Spinal Twist * Bridge Pose * Seated Bent Reed * Seated Spiral * Cow/Cat * Spinal Balance

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, un-sponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

Workout Wednesday #9 – Yoga Prop: The Wall

Do you know what a yoga prop is? It’s a tool that allows you to do your yoga better or differently. For most people practicing yoga involves a mat, music, and the occasional instructor. Other yoga props that people may be more familiar with include:

Some people are scared to use props because they think that it’s not “REAL YOGA” or that it makes them look weak. Not true! Props are essential for some people and may be the only way for them to experience yoga at all (think Chair Yoga). These props are great, but even more important thank all of the others (for some participants) is the WALL!

And, as always….

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, un-sponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

Just curious…

Have you tried props yet in your practice?

Why or why not?

Meditation Monday #34 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Artha)

The second Purushartha is a complicated one in yoga. The reason being that so many people believe that yogis are akin to St. Francis of Assisi….renouncing wealth, giving up all worldly possessions, and communing with nature. However, yoga doesn’t ask us to be martyrs nor saints. Instead, yoga says that we should aim for Artha or prosperity, abundance, and success in our lives.

But why?

Continue reading “Meditation Monday #34 – How to Meditate: The Four Aims of Life (Artha)”

Workout Wednesday #7 – Breathing for Optimal Performance

Do you know how to breathe? Way back last fall I asked you to take notice of your breath in the first Mini Movie Monday post. If you haven’t watched that video….you may want to. Breathing is essential to our daily life and especially to our performance as athletes and fitness enthusiasts. This Runner’s World article (and many others) highlight one such study regarding runners and it’s pretty much a universal truth when it comes to exercise:

“Exercise improves the conditioning of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, and the intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs and enable you to inhale and exhale,” says Everett Murphy, M.D., a runner and pulmonologist at Olathe Medical Center in Olathe, Kansas. “When you take a breath, 80 percent of the work is done by the diaphragm. If you strengthen your diaphragm, you may improve your endurance and be less likely to become fatigued.”

This was backed up by researchers from the Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance at Brunel University in England, who recently measured fatigue levels of marathoners’ respiratory muscles and leg muscles. They found a direct link-runners whose breathing was the most strained showed the most leg weakness-and concluded in their study that the harder the respiratory muscles had to work, the more the legs would struggle in a race.

The key to preventing lung-and leg-fatigue is breathing more fully.

Therefore, today we are going to learn a yoga breathing technique known as Dirga Pranayama that will teach us to breathe more fully in our daily lives as well as during our activities.

And, as always….

While I am a fitness professional with multiple degrees and certifications, this workout is unsolicited, un-sponsored, and not intended as advice for you to use to diagnose your own injuries, treat them, nor rehab anything; nor is it an exercise prescription that will meet your personal needs, likes, and abilities. Please check in with your healthcare professional if you’re having health problems and before starting any new exercise routine.

Just curious…

How has breathing impacted your performance? Your life?

Coming Down

It’s been awhile since I’ve written on the blog….a little over a week. On Monday I had every intention of posting about how wonderful it was to have taken my last dose of Prednisone, but the truth is that this week has been a little of ups and downs. In my health journal I have seen my first smile on Tuesday when I went for a run with a friend and didn’t have to take the meds, but also my first frown because Wednesday I was so fatigued and couldn’t get off the couch to go exercise.

I am pretty okay with the neutral face days because that means that I’m still getting life done. I had another smile on Thursday while getting to experience Goddess Yoga as taught by a former student of mine. Things are looking up, but coming down from the Prednisone has meant that I’m more tired, my mind has slowed down, and I’m adjusting to the old eating patterns again.

And today? Today gets another smile! Today I am in Rochester, New York at one of my favorite workshop sites (Rochester Athletic Club for Women) teaching the NETA Pilates Specialty Certification. I love this place because the women are amazing, the facility is super clean, and the host, Nikki, is fabulous! I would work for her if I lived in this area.

I’m also getting the opportunity to eat at one of my favorite restaurants….Root 31. Today I had their Mediterranean Flatbread for lunch and it was so good that I ate it before I could snag a photo for you. For dinner I had to indulge in my go to Beets and Sweets salad. At first I thought it was a little smaller than last year, but it still hit the spot after my 4 mile walk on the treadmill. I wanted to run, but seriously….the treadmill is so close to the ceiling at this hotel that I was afraid of going through the roof!

Now I’m just prepping for another great day of Pilates training, one last meal at Root 31, my trip home, and a better week ahead. Check in with me on Monday for a full recap of my weekend away plus the start of a new Meditation series (think How to Meditate); Wednesday we’ll be breathing together in a different way; and Saturday I’m back doing another race for RTE.

How is your health holding up?

What is on your agenda for the week ahead?

What was the best part of your weekend?