Friday, October 14, 2011

Lose the Battle, Win the War

Let me start off by apologizing.  I have ignored my blogging duties horribly and have little excuse.  Those of you who know me might be surprised by my easy acknowledgement and apparent lack of self-flagellating guilt about this.  Let me explain:  we as working moms live in a perpetual state of failure.  And there’s not much we can do about it.  Face it, there are only so many hours in a day and just so much you can cram into it.  Between the taxi duties, work schedule, daily yoga (more on that in a sec), domestic diva chores and all the rest, something really DOES have to give.  For me it was this blog. 

I’d promise not to do it again but I just may.  But know I won’t mean it.  And I say this as much to myself as to those brave, sweet souls who take the time to read me (Mom and Dad, Danielle and Julie, I thank you.)

So how has the challenge been going?  Well, I’ll tell you. Look at the title of this post.  I can say with aplomb that I have NOT done yoga daily since we last spoke.  WHAT??? (Read this as if it’s being said by Borat, please) Yes, I’ve lost that battle, albeit not by too much.  I HAVE managed to make it most days, I’ll admit, even if it’s just a bit of downward dog in the shower (out of the gutter, please) or some sleeping pigeon before I wake Pixie up.  And I did miss on the day we flew to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, but can you blame me? Flyboy and I DID practice together while we were there and that was really nice.  I would have practiced outside on the beach but the resort wanted to charge me $15 for that privilege so I threw a towel on the hotel room floor and did the business there instead.

The main reason I don’t feel so bad about this admission is that I have truly won the war, which was the point all along.  Yoga is now as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth and reruns of 48 Hours on ID playing in the background as I work (Lester Holt, you truly have the sweetest job on TV.)  My main goals were to make yoga a lifelong habit AND find a way to inject balance and peace into my hectic day-to-day.  Check and check.  Proof?  In all the years Flyboy and I have vacationed in Hawaii, this was the first time for two things:  a trip without my back completely imploding as soon as it realized I was truly on vacation, AND almost zero road rage at the local Hawaiian driving style (the ONLY state with a posted minimum speed on roads – and with good reason.)  Both my husband and I thank you, Yoga.

In fact, it may be yoga that I, ironically, have to thank for being at peace with my challenge misses.  It’s all good if you hit your original target but isn’t even better if you discover another, better one along the way?

Days completed:  81
Days to go:  19

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ahhhh, The Dog Days of Summer

Our Pixie is a bit of an exhibitionist, but can you blame her in this weather?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things I’ve Learned While Doing Yoga

Yoga is equal parts naval-gazing (literally and figuratively) and quiet determination.  This means you get to spend some quality time with yourself, whether you like the company or not.  You also get to spend some time looking at just about everything – from your thighs to your priorities – from a bit of a different angle.  After more than one month of yoga, here’s what I’ve uncovered:

Lying down on the ground in the middle of the day feels REALLY good (note to self:  perhaps try this while on a long conference call.)

The rug under my couch is much dirtier than I could have imagined. Now I know where all the cat hair and errant bits of after-dinner snacks disappear to.

Based on how much I yawn during my practice, I realize I am oxygen-deprived.  It’s a miracle I don’t pass out on a regular basis.

I make way too many lists.  Yoga gives me room to focus and helps me put all the shoulds and wants into the right order and perspective – without a list.

I stoop.  How do I know?  I’ve actually had to adjust the seat and mirrors in my car since starting yoga – my posture has changed that much.

If I have time for yoga, I have time for other good-for-me things, not just work and endless mommy/wife/worker activities.

I know how to be in the present.  Felicia Tomasko on YogaGlo often says during her video sessions, “what can you do in this moment to get more out of - or enjoy - this pose?”  I think that applies to life in general.  What can you do in THIS moment to enjoy what you’re doing and get more out of it?

Yoga pants may make your ass look better but its still stretchy workout fabric and thus your friend AND your enemy.  There’s a reason that wearing these fabrics should be a privilege and not a right, people.

YogaGlo must emit a sound that only cranky cats and children can hear; they gravitate towards it – and me – like moths to a flame as soon as I start a session.  Must invest in better door lock.

What have you learned from yoga lately?

Practice has been a bit all over the place but overall more craptastic than I’d like.   As I hit the midway mark, yoga is now definitely a habit, possibly an addiction (more on that in an upcoming post) but its also easy to let it slide.  And if you don’t get in a good practice for several days, you can forget how much better you feel after a long session than a short one.  There’s certainly room for both but I think part of what keeps me coming back is the way it makes me feel - I need to stay connected to that.

Days completed: 45
Days to go:  55

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yoga Before Wine, That’s Fine. Wine Before Yoga, Say Nein!

After more than one month of daily practice, I’m happy to report that yoga has positively impacted many aspects of my life and health. I’m also happy to report that it hasn’t messed at all with my drinking.  And I’m okay with that.  After all, cocktail hour at our house is a big deal.  So big, in fact, that Pixie can announce its onset daily with deadly accuracy.  Please don’t infer a nightly boozefest; Flyboy and I just happen to enjoy the simple pleasure of mixing adult beverages (preferably ones that translate into a mocktail version for the little one) we can imbibe while enjoying our newly improved garden.

Mmmm, Banana Strawberry Daquiris on the veranda? Yes, please!
That said, I cannot wrap my head around the ongoing trend of slapping booze and yoga together, particularly wine.  I loves me a good glass as much or possibly more than the next yogini, but there is NO appeal for me in imbibing right before doing poses requiring balance or that I’m called to do as a fast sequence.   The potential consequences of this combination are myriad and unpleasant.

Wine after yoga?  Okay, I see it (and have certainly done it) but will confess it’s usually not the first thing I crave after a good session.  Glass of water?  Sure.  A shower?  Sometimes.  Absolutely nothing?  More and more often.

I've selected a sweet one-hour core hatha session today that I can fit in between negotiating colors with the house painters, conference calls and school drop-off/pick-up duties.  I’m coming to the conclusion that flow may not be my thing after all.  I think I like it slow and steady, not fast and furious (pause for double entendre and insert dirty chuckle here).  Yoga Bitch author Suzanne Morrison sums up the flow/no flow debate fabulously (and hilariously) in her recent post, “Confessions of a Recovering Flowtard.”

Days completed:  37
Days to go:  63

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Three Tuesdays: 3 Great Articles about Yoga and the Thyroid

I am one of 50 million Americans with thyroid disease.  My flavor is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis - it sucks and there’s no cure.  And because it very often affects women in the “full bloom” of life with symptoms that doctors (mostly men, natch) chalk up as the result of childbirth, pre-menopause, lazy living, etc., thyroid conditions are often undiagnosed and untreated.  So we’re on our own to get help and find treatment.  Yoga can help alleviate some of the symptoms and even get to some of the underlying causes. Here are three good places to learn more.

This article provides a good starting place to learn more about yoga and natural healing for the thyroid. Patient advocate Mary Shomon (@ThyroidMary) is one of the most knowledgeable and credible activists on the topic of thyroid disease.

This article from shares a few specific poses to get you started. (@dearthyroid) is a good site to bookmark if you suffer from thyroid disease.  Its mission is to “rebrand thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers for ourselves and change the public’s perception of how thyroid diseases and thyroid cancers affect patients and families, financially, emotionally and physically.”  The site offers masses of great information, as well as an active community.

This well-researched article on provides a deeper explanation of the stress – yoga connection.  It also includes several other articles for further reading.

I hope these articles help you; I’ll tweet others as I find them.

Days completed:  36
Days to go:  64

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Would Do Anything (for Yoga) But I Won’t Do That

I confess that some yoga poses still scare me; crane, side crane and half moon pose, in particular. I usually sit these out or stay in the previous pose when these come up during a session.  Most often they’re the poses that involve balancing a large percentage of my body on a frighteningly small area, like my hands or one leg. I’ll try them if they look even halfway doable, but often I’ll just take one look at Lucy Limber hiking her ass onto some kind of arm “shelf” and think of Meat Loaf's famous, if a bit confusing, anthem.  Like the Meat, I would do anything for yoga; it’s been that good to me so far and I want to demonstrate my undying devotion and love.  But I won’t do THAT…

In time, I hope these poses will become attainable.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they will.  I just have to look at other new things I’ve tried to realize there’s a hockeystick-like increase in competency that happens organically over time.  As with SO many things in life, it just takes patience and regular practice.

Oh, and if you’re looking for how a pose should look, what it can do for you or its anatomical or therapeutic benefits, the yoga poses section of Yoga Journal is a great resource.

By the way, does anyone really know exactly what Meat Loaf wouldn’t do for love?  Great song but a bit vague, if you ask me…

Days completed:  35
Days to go:  65

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yoga is Like Growing a Garden: Build A Good Foundation and Maintain Regularly

We’ve been spending a lot of time working on the garden lately.  We have generous back garden, which a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because we have lots of room for plants and such; a curse because it takes a lot of work to maintain.  After a couple of years of benign neglect, hubby and I have recently put in several weekends of labor and now it’s now looking great.  While pulling weeds these past few weekends (an effort made MUCH easier by regular yoga, I might add!) I realize that gardening is a lot like yoga. 

Both yoga and gardening:
·      Require a strong foundation for best results and long-term success
·      Should be maintained regularly for optimal health
·      Are very grounding, literally and figuratively
·      Can be enjoyed, no matter your aptitude or experience
·      Are simple pleasures we all can enjoy daily

You can make this comparison with any simple pleasure you enjoy and that fulfills you:  cooking, knitting, walking, reading…you name it.  The point is to make time for these activities today; don’t put them off.  Skip the “shoulds” and focus on the “wants”. 

I have a 60-minute Vinyasa Flow workout picked out for this afternoon that I’m really looking forward to.  Should put me in the right frame of mind to deal with Pixie alone this evening without entertaining too many homicidal thoughts.

Days completed:  31
Days to go:  69

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How I Make Time for Yoga Daily

Its challenging to make time for yoga in between the exhausting to-do list of tasks we juggle daily; that damn list that, as Robert Earl Keen says, “help(s) me plan my day.”  That’s why I thought it might be useful to share the tricks I use to make sure I meet the RDA of yoga mandated by this challenge.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Dress for the workout.  I’ve used this trick for years.  On days I know I want to workout, I start the day in my yoga wear.  This reminds me I still need to workout - I can’t change until its done.  This is especially useful on days when I know I need to wear big-girl clothes out in public at some point because it spurs me to get the workout over so I can shower, change and primp.  And no, I do NOT subscribe to the idea that yoga pants are okay in public.  See yesterday’s post.

Bookmark your session.  Every morning I bookmark the day’s session on YogaGlo.  I pick one that fits my schedule and appeals to me based on style, specific use or teacher.  I keep it open as a tab on my computer so that, as I go about my workday (which is 99.9% in front of my laptop) it reminds me to get the session done. For those of you lucky enough to have a local yoga studio that offers the perfect class at the perfect time; be sure the session is blocked on your calendar and EVERYONE knows when you’re going to class.  It’s harder for others to encroach on this time if you’re up front about your schedule.

Plan for yoga according to your schedule and workout style.  Some like to exercise early in the morning; others prefer the evening.  I’m an afternoon workout person.  Plan for yoga when you like to exercise; you’re more likely to get it done.  And pick a time when you KNOW you won’t be disturbed. The end of your child’s nap is not a good time.  Nor is when you’re waiting for an important call, email or delivery.  If it’s difficult to block out more than 15 minutes at a time (some days are like that), aim for a shorter practice or break your session into two or three parts. When Flyboy is home, I can usually get in at least 30 minutes/day; when he’s not I may only be able to do 10 minutes while Pixie bathes in the evening.  Some yoga is better than none.

Listen to your body. For some of us, it’s not really a workout unless we’ve broken a sweat or strained something. But sometimes we’re just not up for that level of intensity – we’re tired, sick, entertaining “aunt flo” or sore from the previous day’s session.  Don’t skip a day just because you aren’t up for the tough stuff.  Pick a short restorative (that’s what they’re for, after all) or gentle hatha session.  If you’re far enough along with yoga, you may be able to string together a few poses from memory that you like and call to you.  Whatever the case, don’t skip a day; listen to your body and adjust accordingly.  I typically plan for 2-3 full hour sessions per week and fill in the other days with a variety of 10-30 minute sessions.

Commit yourself to a silly 100-day challenge and then tell everyone about it so you have to stick with it.  That’s what I did and, so far, it’s working.   : )

Does this list help you?  What helps you fit yoga into your day?

Today was another gentle back hatha session.  I seem to be hitting a bit of a wall and I can say with certainty that, if it weren't for this challenge, I would NOT have done yoga today.  Guess there ARE times when stubbornness and fear of failure are useful!

Days completed:  29
Days to go:  71

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Yoga Pant Monologues

The internal monologue goes something like this: 

“Dagnabbit, I have to run to the store for Pamprin, cat food, pull-ups and Vodka, I guess I should change out of my yoga pants before I head out.“

“I’m just going to the store; who’s going to see me?  Natalie the wine steward, who knows all my dark secrets anyway?”

“Why change?  After all, I really, really am going to work out later.”

“And these $98 yoga pants DO make my posterior look awesome. What if just I add a cute top and some Tory flats or Bernardo sandals?”

Sound familiar?  Raise your hands if you’ve NEVER shopped, gotten gas, picked up the kids or run some other errand in your yoga wear.  Okay, all of you with your hands up are fibbing.  We all do it.  The more serious offense, the one that makes this one seem almost okay, is to try to get away with yoga pants at work.  At work? Yep, there’s a debate raging on the interweb about this one right now and I swear there are ladies out there who have themselves 100% convinced this is okay. 

Let me set you straight:  It is NEVER OKAY to wear to work something that you’ve sweat in, worn panty-less or while attempting a position called downward-facing anything.  NEVER.  Unless you’re a yoga instructor.

Now that we’ve established that you should limit wearing yoga pants to the home, yoga studio or gym, which are the best?  I’m sure some of you have succumbed to the Lululemon fever; others are in the throws of Lucy love.  Still others are working it out with Gap Body or even Target yoga wear.  Wear what you like and can afford.  For those still seeking the perfect pair, read on for my take on a few of the top brands.

These are my favorite pants, hands down.  Why?  Let me quote the website: Featuring xBAR technology (eXtreme Body Reforming & Alignment) and the ultra-compressive lucy powermax, the Perfect Core Pant features strategically placed mesh insets on the abdominal and lower back, reminding you to keep the core engaged and your body in alignment. Oh, and the added benefit: it smoothes and shapes problem areas!”  These pants do feel fantastic and do really make you look leaner and more toned, without the muffin-top or any other side effects that compression can create.  Oh, and they come in three lengths and are a dream to wash.  I have one pair and another on the way.

As the ad on their website says, these are the pants you’re best friend told you about.  These pants are addictions to the scores of women who swear that the fabric, combined with the pant cut make their backside look dramatically better.  Who wouldn’t pay dearly for that?  I have one pair of these and they really live up to the hype, but two nits keep them from being my favorite; they don’t come in a short length and are fussy in the laundry. 

Apparently, this is the preferred yoga wear of Hollywood hardbodies Jennifer Anniston, Cindy Crawford, etc.  These are the first yoga pants I bought when I started this quest primarily because I got them for a great price on Amazon and came in great colors.  While these are not my favorites, they’re great go-to pants. 

Prana Mahdia Pant: (I believe this style is discontinued; extremely similar to the Lolita pant)
I have loved Prana forever and used to covet their pants for the gym.  But these pants do not impress.  A bit loose and WAY long.  And they don’t come in lengths.  Good thing I got them on clearance.  I’ll save my money for Lulu or Lucy.

Don’t let anyone fool you, the Nomad Pant, while beautiful and flattering is not yoga wear.  The pant legs are super wide and flowy, making it downright treacherous in many poses.  That said, they’re wonderful as lounge wear and DO work for a trip to the store or school.  And they come in yummy colors and are made in the US.  The Nomad leggings COULD be used for yoga but I don’t think I’d do much beyond a gentle restorative practice. The fabric isn’t all that sturdy and the cute pull-down skirt overlay would probably either stretch out or get annoying after awhile. But they’re super-cute and again, come in fantastic colors.  Barefoot Yoga has the absolute best selection and price on this brand online, if you’re interested.

That’s my take on yoga pants so far; feel free to send me your ideas and suggestions!

Yoga today is going to be a short Vinyasa Flow session.  FYI, I also just got a 7-day free pass to My Yoga Online, which looks to be a rival to my dear YogaGlo.  I'll check it out and let you know more about it in an upcoming post.

Days completed:  28
Days to go:  72

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Most Important Meal of the Day – Berkeley Style

I confess, I’m a cheap date.  I owe it to my Mom.  When I was small, it was just the two of us for a while and we didn’t have much money.  So a big treat was a trip for donuts or Casper’s Hot Dogs.  As a result, these cheap eats are still high on my list as treats from time to time.  Living in Berkeley, these foods can get as high-falutin’ as you like, from artisan sausages to hand-crafted donuts, but they’re still hot dogs and donuts to me and remain high on my list.

This morning after dropping off my husband, Flyboy (super-secret spy name for my wonderful spouse) at the airport, I treated myself and Pixie to donuts from Pepples Donut Farm, a wonderful (if pricey) donut shop here in Berkeley. Offering a startling array of vegan donuts (and weekend brunch), the Donut Farm is typical of the restaurants, cafes and even food trucks here in the Bay Area that are really good at honoring, reinventing, and elevating humble foods. 

We opted for Chocolate Cookie, Orange Creamsicle and Meyer Lemon donuts and ate them at home in front of the TV, picnic-style with hot cocoa. Perhaps not the most nutritious start to the day for Pixie OR me but hey, she’s had a tough first week at her new school and we could both use some down time together.

I’m also not sure if donuts are the best foundation for a long Vinyasa Flow workout later today but at least they’re organic and vegan.  That's gotta count for something, right?

Days completed:  26
Days to go:  74

Friday, August 19, 2011

You Want Me To Put My Foot Where?

On those days when I feel up to it and have the time, I’ll do a 45- or 60-minute Vinyasa Flow class on YogaGlo.  At some point during these sessions, I will invariably think or mutter this question as Yogini Lucy Limber effortlessly places her foot behind her head or up in the air and asks me gently to follow suit. Say what?  Oh yes and don’t forget to breathe slowly through your nose into your ribs, keep your shoulders down and eyes soft.  Anything else, Lucy? Would you like me to recite the periodic table and juggle knives as well?

It’s a lot to take in, especially since just about every practice involves a pose I’ve never seen before.  This is not surprising; a recent study by the Government of India identified more than 900 asanas, or poses.  So, even though I’ve been at it now for more than three weeks, its not too surprising that I’m still charting plenty of new territory.

These poses are fascinating.  Not only do they work on very specific muscles and organs, they work on your emotional state.   There are poses for depression and anxiety, poses for stress, even yoga poses for anger.  In fact, its not uncommon for certain poses to evoke strong emotions and cause tears on the mat.  I think of each of these as an excavation mission, digging out emotions that are deeply buried. And you don’t have to spend one conscious second on this side of the practice.  Focus on the poses (and breathing into your belly button, opening your third eye, yada yada) and the rest takes care of itself.

I think the key to enjoying – and sticking with - yoga is to find a style you enjoy and work at your own pace. Every body is different and brings with it its own idiosyncrasies and history.   And if you practice every day, you’ll find that each day’s session can feel different to you, and that’s okay too. 

I haven’t talked to you in a few days, but practices this week have been mostly Vinyasa and Anusara and mostly 30 minutes/day.  Some poses are getting easier and others are just as challenging.  The half moon pose in particular continues to frustrate.  Some days it’s fairly easy (i.e. mostly doable without grasping the side of the coffee table or falling over) and others it’s only somewhat easy on one side and impossible on the other.  Thank you coffee table, for being my support during this pose this week. 

Days completed:  25
Days to go:  75

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Three Tuesdays: 3 Great Yoga Infographics

This is the first of a weekly round-up of the best new blog posts and graphics out there on Yoga.  This week, I’m sharing three wonderful Yoga infographics from YogaDork and Alison Hinks:

This is a brilliant chart from Alison Hinks that helps you determine what kind of yoga may fit your needs and style.  It’s very, very pretty too!

This chart, also from the talented Alison Hinks, offers a detailed look at all 7 Chakras.  Its pretty small so you’ll want to copy and magnify to see all the deets in here.

And this is a humorous chart from a recent post on YogaDork .  WARNING:  For those allergic to anything slightly “risqué” or who are humor-deficient, read at your own risk.

Today’s workout:  Short and pretty pathetic 10-minute restorative.  Back-to-back long sessions this weekend kicked me in the yoga pants.

Days completed:  22
Days to go:  78

PS:  I know its only Monday but I couldn't wait to share!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yoga Challenge Day 21: Fake It Till you Make It?

I've loved this concept ever since my therapist and my Mom (who is also a therapist) explained it to me so many years ago when I was working through some post-adolescent “champagne” problem with which I filled my 20-something spare time (god knows why.) It’s the idea that you go through the motions of the healthy behavior UNTIL you can do it with honest intent and feeling.

In the case of yoga, this marries well with the theory that we’ve all probably heard in some crappy motivational speech or pointless team-building offsite: you can create a new habit if you do the same task daily for 21 days. 

Okay, so its been 21 days and its time for a self-check:  is yoga a habit yet or am I pushing myself simply because I don’t want to fail? And do I mean it, or am I still faking it?

I THINK it’s a habit because it a) hasn’t been difficult to make time for yoga every day; and b) I’m not thinking up excuses not to practice.

And I THINK I mean it because I a) look forward to it every day and b) I’m seeing deeper changes in my behavior and outlook – and I like them.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

·      Yoga is not hard to do daily if you figure out the tricks to use to get yourself to make time for it (I’ll share my own tricks in an upcoming post.)
·      There’s a sizeable physical “hump” you’ll probably have to get over before you start spending more time enjoying the practice than gritting your teeth until its over.  FYI, this happened for me YESTERDAY - after 20 straight days.
·      The right gear makes a difference.  Spend the dough on a real mat and block; this stuff is not expensive. The right gear will allow you to focus on what you’re doing, rather than be distracted by worries over sliding across floor on that towel you’re using as a mat or slipping off those phone books you’re using as blocks. (I’ll share my list of places to find yoga gear online in a future post.)
·      Yoga has a meaningful impact in as little as 10 minutes a day. I’m not the only one who says this; look it up.  A little yoga is better than none. If you’re like me, the enemy of sticking with something is boredom, so having the option to switch up styles and duration AND being able to fit it in between all that other stuff that fills your day helps you stay on track.
·      Yep, I’ll say it again: yoga works even if you don’t believe in it. I am far from being touchy-feely or hippy-dippy when it comes to spirituality and all that stuff (city of residence notwithstanding.)  Yet I know yoga has already affected me to my core (and I don’t just mean abs and bum-bum, though those are coming along nicely, thanks for asking.)

So yes, I think yoga has become a habit. But, even if it hasn’t, I’m gonna keep faking it until I make it to 100 days.

Oh, almost forgot.  Yesterday was a challenging but enjoyable 60-minute Hatha-based core workout (thanks once again, Felicia Tomasko!)  Today was my first level 2 Vinyasa Flow class and it’s the first time I sweat so much I slipped on my mat.  Now get why Yogitoes skidless towels are considered such a necessity!

Talk to you tomorrow.

Days completed: 21
Days to go:  79

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hmm, That’s Weird

A couple of weeks ago, Pixie made me realize this is a very common saying in our house.  She’s potty training and the current phase involves a meaningful amount of encouragement mixed with verbal prodding to get her to go. The usual response is (always screamed), “I wanna do it myself, myself, MYSELF!!” punctuated by running to the loo of choice.  So a couple of weeks ago she’s in the necessarium taking care of business and I hear her say, “Hmm, that’s weird.” 

Now I’m sitting in the other room in my comfy brown chair enjoying five minutes of repose so I have absolutely no friggin’ idea what she’s referring to. Binky dropped in the bowl? Poop smeared on the wall? A pedophili-maniac leering at her through the window?  The mind reels.  So in I run and she’s sitting there, giggling and holding up exactly one square of toilet paper.  This is when I realized we must say this ALL the time if she’s picked up on it and is using it.

So now I notice when I say it.  Lately it’s been whenever I realize I’m sore in some completely random place in my body.  First it was the right second toe, then both second toes.  Then my ribs, but only on the right side. Now it’s the muscle between my thumb and index finger on both hands.  The same muscle that grew to freakish proportions when I played field hockey in high school.

I figure this must be because yoga is causing me to uncover and correct some weird posture issues and because I’m using muscles in new ways.  And as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been sore all over every day since I started this whole endeavor.  But the second toe on my right foot?  Really?  What exactly am I doing wrong – or right – to cause THAT to be the place I feel it the most?   Makes me realize how deep yoga goes and on so many levels.  Also makes me realize how far I have yet to go on this journey.

As my friend, surf master Dan, once said, “you have to break that s*** down before you can build it up.”  Word.

Today’s workout was a lovely 30-minute morning Anusara series that I actually DID in the morning.  I’ve been experimenting with yoga at different times of the day, schedule permitting, and so far I think I prefer lunchtime.  I’ve never been a morning workout person and evenings are just too hectic so this feels like a good time to take a break and reset for the afternoon.  This may change again tho, as Pixie starts full day nursery school (gulp!) next week so I’ll have more flexibility in my schedule.

I’m also trying to narrow down my “favorite” workouts on YogaGlo to a reasonable number that I can do every week and try to memorize for those times I may not have access to a computer. It will likely be a mix of sessions that includes various styles and durations to satisfy varying time constraints, back pain levels and my ADD tendencies. 

Talk to you next week.

Days completed:  19
Days to go:  81


Thursday, August 11, 2011

That B***h Needs Some Yoga

I am you.  A working parent who juggles work, raising children, household duties, family responsibilities and whatever it is that keeps you sane. I am that busy person who fumes and curses at the FedEx van as it parks in the middle of the street to deliver Mrs. McGillicuddy's 51-piece set of QVC-exclusive Emeril cookware, forcing me to sit and stew until said delivery is done. I'm the shopper scurrying through grocery store and careening past the little old lady with the slow cart, softly chastising both the old lady and myself.  I'm definitely that driver who flips off the crazy Berkeley octogenarian in his 30-year old smog-spewing Volvo station wagon who spontaneously decides a slow, deliberate five-point turn is a great idea at 5:05 pm in traffic - on the street I'm trying desperately to navigate to pick up dry cleaning, get to the store, drop off the kids, etc.

And for most of us this goes on for years.  I myself spent almost a decade in the corporate world, suffering a two-hour long commute to offices filled mostly with do-nothing blowhards working hard to protect their jobs...and not much else.  This didn't make for a happy camper at home OR on the roads, believe me.

But now my life is pretty sweet.  I get to work from home at a job I love, spend serious quality time with my wonderful family and pursue the things I enjoy. I honestly don't have much to complain about.  But careen through the store I've still gone, still found reasons to give my middle finger a regular workout and generally still acted as if the devil is after me unless I get it all done RIGHT NOW.

Enter yoga.  After nearly three weeks of daily practice, I can honestly say I notice the difference and here's how:  I can spot the old "me" from 50 paces.  There she is, rolling her eyes at the person ahead of her in line at Peet's who appears to be making the act of ordering coffee a life-long vocation.  Or the woman honking at the dapper elderly couple taking their own sweet time climbing into their politically correct Prius at Berkeley Bowl. And all-of-a-sudden it looks pretty ridiculous to me to get so worked up over something so transitory and small.

I hope I'm not preaching or overstating here but the world - or at least my little zip code-sized area of it - would be a much happier place if everyone would get their yoga on and chill the hell out.  Please....

Today's workout was Vinyasa Flow, which is the most athletic and sweat-producing.  So far I've only been able to do about 2 Vinyasa sessions/week. The rest have been a mix of Hatha, Yin and Anusara.  There are several good descriptions of yoga types out there and they can be somewhat confusing - this one is a good start.  All that really matters is that you find the type that works for you.

Days completed: 18
Days to go: 82

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Does Your Back Hurt Mama?

Sad but true - its a question my dear Pixie asks me every day as she sees me wince my way in and out of chairs, up and down stairs and help her navigate on and off the loo, changing table and other child contraptions. She's even taken to grabbing her own back and saying, "oh mama, my back hurts." This saddens me on two levels. First, that Pixie has a cripple for a mama - its not bad enough that I'm fewer than 10 years away from being eligible for an AARP card and have a toddler underfoot. Second, that she is even exposed to my infirmities to the point that she wants to mimic them.

The answer? Teach her yoga! Yes, I'm happy to report that now she follows up her back pain question to me with, "mama you need to do some yogurt!" (She's soo close I hate to correct her. Plus its super cute.) She even wants to do "yogurt" with me! So I taught her a couple of poses. She particularly likes happy baby and downward facing dog. She likes it so much that I found a few more to teach her. Try it with your kiddos and you might just have yogurt lovers for life!

Oh and my practice today? It was another gentle session with the lovely Felicia Tomasko on Yogaglo (I heart you and your gentle, loving ways, Felicia) focused on the back. Its truly amazing how you can feel so much power and strength in your own body when it APPEARS you're doing so little. I hope I can handle a longer Vinyasa session tomorrow but it will depend on the back.

As to the rest, I am finding myself communicating with others differently. I realize I can be a bull in a china shop when I'm passionate about something and it can create anxiety in me and everyone around me. Now, and I can't say whether its down to the mysterious power of yoga or not, I find myself less frantic to get my points across; I'm even talking slower! Its a nice, albeit very odd change in husband sure loves it! I said it before and I'll say it again, it works even if you don't believe in it...

Talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Its a Short One Today

So today's practice was a short one. I'm realizing one of the greatest things about doing yoga at home is how you can squeeze it in when you have even just a little spare time. Today it was right after lunch and before Pixie (superspy codename I'll be using for our daughter) woke up. Just a quick restorative practice to ease the back soreness, which hasn't really left me since I started this journey. But I have to believe that this is a good soreness as YEARS of being "stuck", stiff and tight have built up in what I think of as layers of silt and plaque. So it will take time to undo.

As for the rest of it, I realize that I actually feel fairly crummy today because I ate like crap yesterday. So its true that yoga will put you in closer touch with your body. I'm going to start trying to listen to it more closely and take better care. I'm actually looking into ayurvedic cooking and got a recommendation for a cookbook called Heaven's Banquet. I'd love to peruse the recipes before purchasing but the demise of bookstores makes that difficult. I may just add it to my Amazon wishlist and cross my fingers.

I've also noticed that I'm thinking a bit differently about my body. In fact, on my way to pick up Pixie I was thinking about how good I looked in my wedding pictures but how critical I remember being about myself on that day. And how I don't want to look back at this day and notice the same disconnect. I am a curvy 40-something woman who looks pretty good in these Lululemon yoga pants and is now taking very good care of herself. I need to let go of the self-judgment.

As someone once said, yoga works even if you don't believe in it.