Health & Wellness

Don't say I'm OK, I'm not OK

OK

I subscribe to Lion's Roar newletter and they recently shared an article, I'm Not O.K., You're Not O.K. - and That's O.K. It also made me think of one my favorite Face To Face songs, A-OK.

When scrolling through Facebook and Instagram we might see our friends and family sharing their lovely moments - exotic vacations, smiley happy selfies with friends, fabulous outfit posts, delicious meals they're about to indulge in, just living their best life.  Meanwhile you're living paycheck to paycheck just trying to get by.  We worry about how the bills will get paid next month, do you have enough groceries until payday, do you have cereal or scrambled eggs for dinner?  Ok I say "We" but yeah, this has been me some weeks. 

The article starts off with the need for people to TALK to someone, anyone, even a stranger.  Because we carry this weight that things are not OK but we don't want to others to know that.  Everything is OK! I'm good, you're good, we're all good! I mean no one wants to listen to us complain about our fears and anxieties about the world, our country, and closer to home.  But it's cathartic to talk to someone about it isn't it? They may not have solutions, you may not be looking for a solution, you just want to verbalize your worries to someone who would listen, and that's enough. That's O.K. 

One of the things that REALLY gets on my nerves is when I'm told "You sure upset easy for someone who does a lot of yoga!" 

via GIPHY

Yes, my temper can still be short and I let my worries and frustrations out not in the most practical ways but I swear the yoga is helping.  Just because I practice doesn't change my surroundings and external situations.  I'm not always gonna respond the best way to a trigger. That's one of the things that I give myself a hard time over.  Why am I not a better person now since I'm into all this yoga and meditation, why do I still let old habits come back?  When I start to think that I'm doing all of this wrong and I'm just a hypocrite that's when I stop and pause, take a breath and remind myself that I'm not perfect, I'm not always going to get things right, I'll slip up here and there, do better next time, and that's O.K.

 Be honest with yourself, be hard on yourself, and be kind to yourself. 

"A-OK"

You think that I'm invincible
It's gonna pull me down, pull me down
You think that I'm invincible
I'm going to pull me down to somewhere I don't wanna go
It's OK

You think I'm indestructible
It's gonna pull me down, pull me down
You think that I'm a miracle
I'm going to pull me down to somewhere I don't wanna go
It's OK

I don't know what you want from me
But it's probably already gone
I don't care what you think of me
Your opinion means nothing at all

Don't say I'm OK
Don't say I'm OK
Don't say I'm OK
I'm not OK

Don't say I'm not trying
Trying to do what's right
Now it's time to walk away

I don't know what you want from me
But it's probably already gone
I don't care what you think of me
Your opinion means nothing at all

Don't say I'm OK
Don't say I'm OK
Don't say I'm OK
I'm not OK 
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Yoga Practice With Some Restraints

Yoga_restraint

It's happened a couple of times at the yoga studio where someone will tell me that they enjoy reading my blog.  I always react the same way - surprised and flattered.  This is genuine shock because I don't update my blog as much as I used to but I guess it's still out there and it makes me happy that people are taking the time out to read a post or two and find something to relate to, regardless of how old it might be.

Embracing vulnerabilities...working with your handicaps - it seems like this has been an ongoing theme that keeps popping up in different places this past week for me.

I had my physical last week. I brought up my lower back issues with my doctor.  It stiffens up if I'm still for a long time or walking really slow for a while - this always happens when I go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It gets especially bad in the middle of night. I could be laying on my back and if my body turns, the pain wakes me up, and it is painful! Waking up is just bad but once I move around and exaggerate my hips when I walk, things loosen up and I feel better.  I have to be mindful going into Savasana at the end of a yoga class because if I’m laying flat for too long, it’s gonna HURT when it comes time to come out of it.

I had x-rays done and learned that I have arthritis from my L4 to S1 which is pretty much the end of my spine to my sacrum, lovely.  I posted this news on Facebook and some people responded like I just announced my death sentence LOL! I'm still doing yoga and exercising and I'm still doing yoga teacher training this Fall.   Nothing is changing that.

The only thing I can really do to relieve myself of this pain is to build my core strength and drop some weight. Easy right?   Not when you hate core work as much as I DO!  I brought this on myself.  I sometimes cheat. I don't "engage my core" as much as I should, I also don't move as much once I'm off the mat - that's the hard part about working from home.  You get your workout in the AM, and then the rest of the day you're on the couch with your laptop, you may occasionally switch to your desk, or sit on the floor using the coffee table, but that't it. So I gotta make a new plan to add more movement to my daily routine.

I'm just glad I don't need to make any changes to my practice. I've already been mindful of my twisting because sometimes I feel like there's a brake keeping me from twisting further, especially if I'm twisting to the right in Triangle Pose (Trikonasana).  I love using a block, I love using a strap, I hate using my core - so that's what I need to do more of! I refuse to let my back get any worse.  I gotta learn to love core or just not hate it so much.  There's always something new to pay attention to.

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Will Yoga Help Me Lose Weight?

Will Yoga Help me Lose Weight

This question comes up a lot in a yoga Facebook group I belong to.  I also had someone ask me recent what kind of yoga they should do to lose weight - so I'm gonna answer this today, I think....I'm gonna try. 

We live in a society where we want to lose weight quick and easy with as little effort as possible so we try diet pills, wrapping our stomachs in seaweed or plastic wrap, and drink some weird liquid that will supposedly help burn off fat. Yeah I've tried all of that stuff - except the seaweed and plastic wrap.  Because the truth is, I was lazy and didn't want to give up the food I love.  This was before I started yoga. 

Yoga is more than just stretches and holding poses, there are several different types of yoga practices where some are more sweat-inducing than others.   While there are actually Eight Limbs to Yoga, I am only talking about the Asana (postures) limb of yoga.  When I talk about "Yoga", I'm only referring to the movement and poses.  Ok! Moving on!

The way to weight loss is increasing that heart rate and you can do that with Power Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or any style that is heavy with Vinyasa Flow (lots of movement, less pose holding) but I'm not sure if it raises your heart rate enough to see a significant amount of weight loss. You'll definitely burn some calories, gain flexibility, strengthen muscle but it also can relieve stress and calm your mind.  I watch enough of the TLC show "My 600 lb Life" to know that a lot of weight loss struggle has to do with your mental abilities and gauging what your body craves.  So yoga helps the mind, which will help you through your weight loss journey.

Everybody is different, and weight loss is different for everyone.  Some people can do it with just yoga and a plant-based diet alone. I am not switching to a plant-based diet and I'm not gonna "give up" foods that I still love - #notsorry. Even though I currently practice Baptiste Power Yoga and sweat off buckets after every class, I know that I need more cardio than this yoga practice can provide so that's where the spin and boxing come in.   I always hated cardio and never wanted to do it until I found something that is fun and keeps my brain engaged.  

Can yoga help you lose weight? Yes! It is still movement and beats sitting on the couch for an hour, how much you lose and how soon? That all depends on the amount of work you put into your physical practice. But if you go deeper into your yoga practice, it can help you shift your eating habits and change the way you think about food.  Your mind becomes more in tuned with your body and what it needs. Eventually, you may crave less junk food and more water, fruits and veggies.  This continues to happen with me where I lose the urge to eat certain foods, it just happens organically. 

I'm not here to say that yoga is an easy way to lose weight. Like with anything else, if you want to get real results that will last, you have to PUT IN THE WORK and stick with it for the long haul.  You will start to feel the difference along the way and feel more confident about yourself. You might even become less concerned about losing weight and more about just feeling energized and healthy!

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Can't Sleep? Meditate

Sleep_meditate

After experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one last month, my mind has been hyper-obsessed with health and wellness.  Some of my habits need changing and one of them had to do with my sleep.  All the yoga and other workouts I did weekly was not helping me get a good night sleep.  I would fall asleep with no problem, but find myself waking up two hours later and either stay awake or fall back to sleep only to wake up a couple more times.  It was frustrating to the point where I dreaded bedtime, can you imagine? NOT wanting to go to bed because you knew it was gonna be another shitty night?  

I tried drinking a glass of wine earlier in the evening, that sometimes worked but mostly did not. I started taking Tylenol PM.  For a while it seemed like the Tylenol PM was working but it wasn't consistent.  Then I learned about the side effects such as messing up your kidneys.  I was responsible with how much I took every night, but I'm always nervous about what kind of long term damage I'm doing to my body.  That's why I never experimented with drugs and quit smoking 15 (!!!) years ago.  So damn, I was starting to think that maybe I should stop taking these pills that only sometimes helps me sleep.  What else can I try?

I recently brought meditation into my life and it has become a two-time per day (morning & bed time), daily practice.  A friend told me about Yoga Nidra for sleep and how I should give it a try. Using the Insight Timer, I found a few guided Yoga Nidra for sleep sessions and they were okay but some were kind of long and I've grown to like my meditations with background music.  Let me tell you, there are some great guided meditations for sleep and I've bookmarked a bunch.  I listen with my earbuds in so when I'm done (or if I wake up), I have to take them out and put my ear plugs in but find myself falling right back to sleep. It's become my regular routine and I can't go to bed without meditating first, even if it's only for a few minutes.

I'm happy to say that after doing this every night for the last several weeks, my quality of sleep has improved greatly.  I might still wake up but not as much as I used to, and I'm feeling more rested overall. I credit this all to meditation and not adding any foreign substances to my body.  There are so many benefits to meditating, not just for sleeping but being awake too. Meditation not only brings stillness, but it can also lower your stress level, improves overall health, increase your energy, taps in to your creativity, and bring some clarity to your mental well being - which makes sense, I mean, how many times do we lie awake in bed with a zillion thoughts racing through unable to sleep?

There are so many different ways to meditate, there is a style for everyone.  Meditation helps you to slow down and observe whats going on around you and how you respond to it.  In this current political climate, I think we can ALL use some meditating to help us step back and collect ourselves before we react to something.  

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