Yoga

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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I'm Doing Yoga Teacher Training

YTT

I recently made my deposit for the Yoga Teacher Training at the studio I go to for this Fall! Holy Crap!!!! Freaking out much?? Yes. Yes I am. 

This is such a big deal for me and something I've been going back and forth on for ages.  When I started practicing yoga back in 2003, I fell in love with it right away and knew I wanted to do more than just take a class once or twice a week.  Then I learned that there were Yoga Teacher Training programs available and thought about it....a lot.  Thought about it TOO much. So much, that doubts were getting to me: 

You're too fat, no one will listen to you.

You're not that flexible, how can you teach something you can't do?

You're not that strong.

You can't do (insert advanced pretzel pose here).

You're wasting your money.

And then I lost my job and I stopped going to my old yoga studio in the city and eventually stopped practicing altogether.  Years passed and I didn't practice.  I started up my yoga practice again last year and I've been IN IT!  Doing the damn thing 3-4 times a week and after finishing the 40 Days To Personal Revolution Challenge, it got me thinking. I wanted to go further and deeper in my yoga practice and the studio's own Yoga Teacher Training program came up.  Right away I thought "Nah....no money, my practice is better but it's not as strong, I'm still not where I should be physically..." and FUUUUCKKKK I'm doing it again!!!!

Then mortality smacked me in the face when I lost a loved one suddenly in March and it completely silenced those negative thoughts.  Life is short.  Don't delay.  Stop holding yourself back.  Do the things you dream of doing!!! It will all somehow work itself out.  So I'm going for it and I'm pursuing what I should have done 10+ years ago.  Back then was not the time and I wasn't ready for it mentally and emotionally.   I'm ready now.

Where life will take me after I complete my training? Who knows, but I can't close myself to opportunities and living my best life anymore.  Even if I don't end up teaching anywhere, that's okay.  I just love talking about yoga and how much it has helped me that I want to share those benefits as much and as accurately as possible, even if it's just to my friends and family.  I really want to know what I'm talking about.

So this Fall, from September to December, I'm going to be immersed with Yoga Teacher Training and I'm so excited, and so nervous, but SO EXCITED!! 

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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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Life Lately - A New Home and LOTS of Yoga!

Newhomeyoga
I'm back! Well, let me not get ahead of myself.  I'm back to writing my blog.....today. No promises of how regular this will be, but I have good intentions! 

So much has happened since my last post in July. For one, I bought a home! I moved into my new condo with Mike at the end of August. It's only a few minutes from where we previously lived and it's bigger.  The whole Summer was a big stress-ball and there were moments trying to get a closing date just made me want to give up and keep renting. In the end, everything worked out and we're settling in nicely. I can't wait until we are totally unpacked, shelves up, and more furniture is purchased but overall, I love my new home. 

Speaking of being home, I've been spending A LOT of time at Firefly Yoga practicing several times a week.  It helps that they're so close to home. I've completely fallen in love with the practice again.  I've dusted off some of my old books. I just finished The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers and I'm now reading Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice.

I started posting videos on Instagram doing a couple of inversions.  I figured a couple of things: 

1) I see too many videos of people in the gym lifting weights. 

2) Not to sound egotistical, but I like to see myself.  I like to see if my alignment is right.  My lower back has been giving me problems for a long time and I don't want to make it worse. 

3) Being a bigger, stockier, bulkier, curvier girl - whatever you wanna call it, I hope someone who is curious about trying yoga but is afraid because they don't have that "yoga body" will see it and say "Wow! If she can do it, why not me?"  I got a yoga body too! It's just not what most people think of at first. 

I still have those insecurities.  Recently, I stayed in the city and reserved a spot for a class at Lyons Den Yoga in Chelsea. I've never been there before but I heard great things about it and they teach Baptiste Yoga which is the type of yoga I've been doing.   I could not sleep the night before because I had SO MUCH anxiety of walking into a yoga studio full of beautiful, tall, fit NYC people and then there's me.  I hate feeling that, I thought I was over it since I've developed a stronger practice but nope! Turns out I had nothing to be worried about and I felt like an ass afterward for losing a night sleep.   

No matter how much I practice asana, the biggest challenge is always getting out of my own head.  I learned from that day and hope to go back to Lyons Den when I stay in the city.  It would be a nice balance to all of the unhealthy eating I do when I'm there. =D

I hope to get back to blogging again on a regular basis, this Summer was just ridiculous with the move that I didn't get a chance to really enjoy the Summer.  Now that Fall is here and it's my favorite time of year, I hope to bring myself back to some kind of normalcy which includes writing more. 

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My Introduction to Hot Yoga

Hot_yoga

It's been almost 3 months since I got back into yoga, hooray!  It's been great so far and I really wish I didn't wait so long to get started again.  Today I wanted to specifically talk about Hot Yoga which I started back on Friday, April 21st.  I mentioned in my previous post that the idea of "Hot Yoga" freaked me out.  I hate the heat! I don't like Summer! I'm clumsy, I'll probably slip on my own sweat and break my face. But Firefly Yoga in Fishkill is sooooo close to home.  I wanted to include more Vinyasa into my practice because I missed that flow movement and  it feels like a full body workout. 

I talked about signing up for a Power Vinyasa class, taking the class, and hating the class because I thought I was going to die from the heat, I was thinking negative thoughts about myself the whole time, but I couldn't stop thinking about the class afterward.  I've been back every Friday since - I went this morning!  It is just one hour but it is the most difficult hour I put my body through. 

I learned my lesson after the first class. I need to hydrate starting the day before, not just that morning.  Thursdays I am drinking water all day and peeing a lot.  When I went back the following week, I was better prepared for the heat and the mind games that may happen.  This time was better. I still took breaks when needed but I kept my mind on my breath and in each pose as I mentally cheered myself on instead of being self deprecating.  I was still super wiped out afterward but felt good.

In the weeks following, I can see a difference in my body.  Poses I struggled with the previous week were more solid the following week.  I know there will be weeks where my body will still struggle but these Hot Yoga classes have been more mentally challenging than physical - don't get me wrong, they are REALLY intense physically and sometimes my lower back just doesn't want to have it, but I see it as a real mind over matter practice. Plus my teacher, Noelle, is super sweet, it's hard to hate her lol!

Now I feel like I've turned into one of those Crossfit people who never shut up about doing Crossfit, except it's Hot Yoga.  I'm just so excited to have a regular practice and exercise routine again!

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