Health & Fitness

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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Love and Acceptance In Your Forties

I wrote this in my private journal yesterday afternoon and felt compelled to share it here in case it might bring comfort, hope, reassurance to someone who is currently in a dark place hoping to get out of it.  Maybe it won't take you as long. It's never too late.

  Accept_forties

It took a really long time to get to this point, most of my teens and twenties, part of my thirties living like this. For many, many years, I hated who I was. I was so insecure, so unhappy. I carried so much anger and sadness. That's what initially drew me to Yoga, hoping it will change me and it did but it didn't come quickly.  It wasn't until I got to my 40s to feel comfortable in my skin - accept every extra pound, every dimple, every scar. To really get to know who I am, what I am made of, and who I am capable of being.  I am strong, beautiful, smart, witty, funny, weird, and open. My silence just means I'm observing, listening, taking it all in. I don't need the attention, I know where my support comes from. We go through the shit we go through so we can look back and at it and say "Oh....that's why." There's something to gain from everything.  I'm still getting used to not being angry or sad all the time. Instead, I'm replacing that energy with yoga and working out - which has saved my life, and saved me from more unnecessary pain. It's opened new opportunities to experience, new people to meet.  I write this now with a heart full of contentment, compassion and acceptance of the person I've become. Looking back at who I used to be with some regret that I let that person carry on that way for so long. Don't worry about the time wasted, I'm looking forward to what the next part of my life has in store - older, wiser, confident, loved.

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Forty Days Later

Forty_days

Forty+ days later!  I wanted to write a recap of the 40 Day Challenge in my last blog post.  I finished last week, I did it! I didn't drop out!   By about Day 20 I was considering it but I knew if I did, I would be really disappointed in myself, and I'm tired of being disappointed with myself. 

In addition to the insane amount of yoga I was able to fit in, I found myself feeling stronger, more confident, more self-aware and acknowledge the parts of me that needs improvement - not physically but junk that is taking up space in my brain.  The self-inquiry was the hardest part of this challenge, I really don't want to self-evaluate that much, I mean who does?? But it's necessary to do once in a while.

One of the things I learned is  that I cling to things too much, especially things that are no longer in my control.  I don't need to think about people from my past who I wish could see how much better off I am without them, who cares? And I don't need to plan every detail of my life.  It's okay to just be present, which meditation has helped greatly. 

I mentioned the Insight Timer app and oh my God, it has been life-changing! I went from a person who struggled to meditate on their own for five minutes, to meditating twice a day in the morning and at night.  So many bookmarks and teachers I follow now!  I continue to struggle staying asleep, some nights are easier than others.  The nightly meditations help. I really don't want to take Tylenol PM anymore, although that didn't always work either.  

Then there's also the community, I love my yoga studio!  I mean I loved it before but I have made more friends and connected with more of my fellow yogis, it's pretty special.  It's nice to go somewhere and be a part of a group that is so open, supportive and welcoming.  I look forward to doing more workshops and classes there.  Plus there's a group of us that's been taking Spin/Boxing classes in Beacon which I'm pretty obsessed with.

That's actual footage of me!  It's great to get my sweat on and move.  I've grown to like the cycling and my cardio is getting better. With Boxing, I still gotta work on my form but boy do I feel it in my arms and shoulders.  Plus my coach is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  If you're reading this Eva, YOU INSPIRE ME!!

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Yoga Challenges And Trying New Things

Once again I am snowed in so I thought it would be a good time for a blog post - the first of 2018! The last day of 2017 was so bad. I woke up early in the morning with a horrible stomach bug and I broke in the new year binging on Ginger Ale and Pepto Bismol, it was pretty terrible.  I had wanted to take yoga classes New Year's Eve and New Year's Day but my body had other plans.  I ended up not practicing for a whole week because I was sick after the stomach bug wore off. I also wanted to make sure my body was fully recovered for the challenge I signed up for at the yoga studio: 

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 4.12.20 PM

I've never signed up for any kind of challenge before so I thought this would be a good way to start the year and commit to something to the very end.  It's more than just doing yoga for 40 days, it's about meditation and personal revolution - how to be the best YOU that you can be and address what is holding you back.  Getting the yoga time in is not a problem, but I need help with meditation.  I've wanted to add more meditation into my life but books, articles, podcasts weren't enough to get me to stick with it.  Doing a challenge and being a part of group to help with accountability is helping, plus I learned about the Insight Timer app which is awesome.

With all the yoga I've been doing, I thought about adding something different to my workout routine.  I don't go for my walks/jogs anymore because I got bored.  Through work, I learned about The Studio @ Beacon which just opened up this month.  They are a Boxing/Cycling studio and the idea of mixing the two sounded kind of cool.  I like the idea of going to these smaller fitness places over joining a gym. I think my big box gym membership days are over! I took my first class, which was the first class for the studio and it was fun!  I was reminded that I hate cardio, all the yoga in the world did not seem to change that. Thirty minutes of spin and the remaining 20 minutes doing boxing and core work wasn't bad.  Personally, I would prefer to do more boxing/core and less spin but again, that's my dislike for cardio talking. Maybe I'll grow to like it more like I have with Hot Yoga, either way, I'll be back next week!

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Listening Make The Difference.....

From my Instagram today...

I guess what I'm trying to say is sometimes, when you KNOW you can go further, it's best to listen to your body say "Ease up! I'm tired!!!" and not push yourself.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's good to push yourself, that's how progress is made but there's a happy balance that's takes some time to figure out.   I hope I'll get a better night sleep tonight because I have another yoga class tomorrow morning. :) 

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Come Jog With Me!

I started writing about Running in my other blog but I'm transferring that over to here.  The holidays sure slowed me down.  Getting back into a regular jogging routine has been a challenge. I'm still slow as a tortoise.  Late last year I was starting to feel some serious pain in my right ankle and shin.  I got a new wrap for a my ankle, compression socks, and compression sleeves for my calves which helps with the shin pain (I'm not sure it's shin splints).  I think they look pretty cool...

Come Walk With Me

I was going almost every morning, not resting enough and I think it finally caught up with me to the point where I just couldn't manage through the pain anymore. I didn't go to a doctor because I didn't feel any pain when walking normal. I just overexerted myself. So after some rest, I'm getting back on it but not forcing myself to go every morning anymore.

Come Walk With Me

You guys, it's not often I take a selfie while exercising. I look 20 years older and my head looks like a potato past the expiration date.  But I was happy with this picture I took back in the Fall - so here's my face.   That Puma jacket is my favorite thing to wear when I'm out walking and jogging.  I always wear a hat, even when it's hot.  I go out early in the morning as the sun is coming up and I don't like having the sun in my eyes.

I walk around my apartment development which alone is 1.15 miles but I also go to the track right next door, isn't that convenient? 

Come Walk With Me

This is my collection of t-shirts to get sweaty in. Great for warmer weather but in the cold, wearing 100% cotton is a big no-no.  You don't want to wear sweaty clothes in the cold. Come Walk With Me

Last Summer was the first Summer of regular outdoor exercise. I fucking hate it.  I definitely prefer the colder weather.  I think the coldest I've ever gone out was 18 degrees (not counting wind chill) and I think that may be the lowest I go out. 

My biggest challenge is getting out the door. This matters more to me than my run time or my weight.  I enjoy the time I have by myself, listening to a podcast or my music, and being outside. It's a great way to start my day and when I don't, I feel like a bum.   It's so hard to do something routinely, having to stop, then picking that routine back up again. The best thing I can do is remind myself that it's a blessing I get to spend this time outside every day and something to be thankful for.  Good plan?

 

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