Workout: 

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Time: It really was the length of one commercial break.

Review:  If you want to really get something out of this workout, do one circuit for every commercial break (especially difficult if your show is, for example, something like The Bachelor).

Speedily yours,

C

Arms:

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Time: About ten minutes, or two and a half Dada Life tracks.

Review:  I have weak arms.  This hurt.  Half way through I went to my knees, and for the last ten I moved to a table top and did them at an incline.  I seriously need to work on my push up power!  For the purpose of this challenge, I really wanted to limit myself to exercises that required no props (weights, yoga mats, stretch bands, etc.) but I found it pretty difficult to find an upper body workout that did not require some kind of weights.  This push up one is simple, though, and really great.  It definitely targets the whole upper arms and trap.  Add a plank for your core and I think we have a winner.

Abs: 

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Time: I had enough time to do this before I got in the shower to get ready for work.  During this time I would normally be pressing snooze two times on my alarm clock.

Review:  Not being someone who knows a lot about crunches, I’m not sure I got the form right on some of these.  If I were to do this again, I would probably want to do some googling on proper crunch technique.  Other than that, It didn’t seem like too hard of a pill to swallow.

Going through these work outs that target muscle strength and that don’t have much of a cardio element to them makes me realize how much I enjoy getting my heart rate up. Without the cardio, the endorphins don’t really get there.  It makes these work outs a little boring.

Yoga:

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Time: Yep.  8 minutes.

Review: Being my first week back working in preschool for the year, my back is already starting to ache from being hunched down with those little three year olds all day.  This workout was quick, and helped me chill out after week one of preschool boot camp.  I put on some chill out tunes (yep, spottily “Love Life. Love Yoga” genre), got out my mat, and went through these poses.  I added some chatarangas at the end and a few warrior ones, and it was really nice.  My back felt better too!

This week I plan on making sure to get that cardio in!

Sorely yours,

C

Pinterest workout  of the day:

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Pinned from: Fit Sugar

Time: half of an episode of The Killing

Review:  This was a killer.  The first circuit was so easy, but about two minutes into the second circuit my legs were burning! The last plank was a doozy.  This is a super easy workout to do while watching T.V. and I memorized the sequence after the first run so I didn’t have to keep checking the web page.  I will say that using a timer and being aware of every second passing can make a minute feel like a very long time.

Not a bad sweat for 25 minutes of work!

Weak kneed-ly yours,

C

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Last week, my coworker’s suggestion that we try a cleanse this weekend inspired me to try something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now: try a raw food diet!

I originally became interested in raw food last year, when almost in the same week, I went to a restaurant that serves raw food, and I reunited with an old friend who had a girlfriend who ate a raw diet.  I reacted to it like “huh…. why would anyone want to do that?”  I still think it would be hard to exist in a world with hot bowls of soup on a cold day, or mashed potatoes.  period.  All of my comfort foods are hot or warm, and all of my comfort foods are definitely cooked.  Not to mention I LOVE to cook.  Is there anything better than seasoning a pasta sauce to perfection, leaning over the pot, and inhaling the salty, moist steam?

That being said, I definitely did some re-identifying of comfort foods when I became a vegan a couple years ago, and I’m sure given the right motivation, I could do it again.  For the purposes of this particular challenge, I will only be going raw for one weekend, that is one long weekend.  I started my challenge yesterday, and I will be completing the raw food challenge on monday evening.  My intention is to explore what makes a food comforting, how we interact with food in social situations, and how eating a raw diet makes my body and my brain feel.

Wish me luck!

rarely yours,

C

So my challenge was terrible. That’s why I have been avoiding writing up a post – I don’t really have anything good to say about it. I’ve been reflecting and thinking. I’ve been trying to look for the lesson in all of this. Here is what I came up with…

I missed my first challenge class mid-month, and I immediately facebooked Gary, hoping for some words of wisdom. His advice? Chill out. After talking to him, and some of my other instructors, I realized that my challenge for the month wasn’t going to be going to every class, my challenge for the month was going to be accepting myself, and knowing I did my best, despite not making it to every class.

I found that I could look at the challenge as one long class. Skipping one class could be akin to skipping one posture in the series. It doesn’t mean the class is a failure, and you can always start fresh. The yoga mat is a place for clean slates, and rebirth, and that isn’t just within a class, it’s within a lifetime. The mat will always be there, and it will always be happy to have me on it. It doesn’t mater how long it’s been.

So that being said, I have a story for you: When I first started practicing yoga, I went to Bikram Yoga Vancouver (just the best place north of the Sweatbox!). During standing head to knee, the instructor would say you should look “like an L like Linda.” Every time they said this, I would glance around the room. Who was this Linda? Why was she always in the same classes as me? It literally took me probably a year to figure out they were referring to the shape my body should be in. My body should be in the shape of an L.

Acceptingly yours,

C

Today is day three of my latest 30-day yoga challenge. It’s actually a 60-day challenge (kind of) but more on that later.

I haven’t blogged about it yet, and I haven’t made a big build up to it, because I am experimenting with a new approach. I’m keeping things casual. I’m changing my internal monologue to “time for yoga,” instead of “omg day three of thirty. This is so hard. I must hydrate. How are my electrolytes? I’ll never get through this.”

The fact is, I know what this path looks like. Although my 30 day challenges have each been unique, I’ve been here before, so the confidence is there. This will be my fifth 30-day Bikram challenge, and I have no doubt I will make it. My new challenge is to open up and just accept it for what it is, instead of dramatizing it into something it isn’t.

And anyway… There’s been plenty of drama already without my head making it any worse. That’s a story for another post.

Casually yours,

C

Tin Can Studio is a dance studio where mysterious and wonderful classes are taught.  Fire dancing, aerial arts, hooping, and belly dance, among other things.  

When I first started taking classes, at Tin Can Studio, it wasn’t Tin Can Studio at all, it was Kendra Hayes teaching Belly Dancing classes out of her home.  Kendra is an absolutely amazing instructor, and a beautiful dancer.  I recommend that all of you immediately go pick a class from Tin Can Studio’s repertoire and take it, because you really can’t go wrong.

The new space, in South Seattle, is lovely.  Breezy and bright inside, but with a homey feel to it too.  Its decor speaks of comfort.  Every instructor I have had the pleasure to interact with has been open, kind, and welcoming – all important things when you may be trying out an art you’ve never heard of, much less tried.

This particular class that I am taking now, is poi dancing, and the instructor is Tierany Seriflame.  She teaches us brain twisting poi moves with humor and an unreal amount of patience.  Here is a video of her performing with her poi dance troupe, Ignition.

So a little background.  Poi originated in New Zealand.  It evolved from the Maori’s swinging weapons and is now practiced as a form of dance.  I am really not qualified to tell you anything more about its history than that.  What I feel I am more than qualified to tell you about though, is how it will teach you humility in the blink of an hour.  I left my first class feeling like I’d just escaped a labyrinth.  I didn’t know right from left or up from down anymore.  My already poor sense of direction had been more than challenged. 

If you’ve ever tried juggling, you know how difficult it is to move your two hands independently of each other.  I’ll be swinging away, thinking I’m spinning my sock poi (nope… no fire up in here just yet) in two different directions, then, like magic, suddenly my left hand has switched to imitating my right, and I’m doing everything wrong.  It’s like my arms have minds of their own… or perhaps that they have no minds at all and are completely beyond my control.  At one point, I actually exclaimed “I’m doing it!  I’m doing it!” and promptly whacked myself in the face.

In my first class, I was extremely frustrated, but already by the second class, I was feeling more confident.  It turns out one of the tricks to getting the poi to go in the general direction you want, is to not try to force them there.  You kind of just have to subtly suggest that they move somewhere and let the momentum carry them.  At the end of the hour I left with tired arms and an aching brain, but I feel good about trying this new thing.  I think it’s good for my mind to try to think in different ways.

More to come… I signed up for the whole class series!

Flammably yours,

C

It’s hard to believe that in exactly 24 hours I’ll be starting pranayama and the 26 postures of the Bikram yoga series. It’s pretty amazing actually that I’ve made it this far in the challenge avoiding the 6AM class, but sleeping in as late as I can is definitely a priority. I’ll rearrange my schedule into such a blur of activity in the afternoon that it practically requires an event planner to execute before I will take an AM class. Tomorrow, though, my hands are tied. I have no choice. I also have no doubt in my ability to do it.

A friend recently published a little gif on her Facebook wall. It said “stop for a second and consider this: you can literally do whatever the fuck you want.” after doing my first ever Bikram challenge a few years ago, I began to understand what this meant. Now I understand it on a deep, personal, visceral level. I understand that it means I can go to a 6AM yoga class if i decide to, but I also understand it applies to a whole lifetime of decisions I can and will make for myself.

Last night as I fell asleep, I was thinking about my karma yoga, what I am here in this life to do. I was palpating my feelings about things in my life, choices I’ve made, people I spend my time with. It occurred to me that discovering my karma yoga has everything to do with the original intent I set for myself when I started his challenge. I read it every day on the poster we wrote all over in the change room, in my awkward scrawl: I will stop being afraid.

When you realize that you are singularly responsible for the path your life takes, and furthermore that you have control over that life, it is scary. That seems like a lot of responsibility for a gal like me. Yoga also teaches us, however, to take things one teeny tiny step at a time. To forgive ourselves when we’re not ready for something yet, and that if you go to your maximum, and continue to apply pressure to that point every day, one day, without fail, you will blossom.

Buddingly yours,

-C

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Readers,

I am officially finished with day 12 as of 6:30 pm this evening. I feel really great! There were a few days in there around seven and eight that I was just really feeling exhausted, but over the weekend things kind of started to turn around for me.

Overall I have found that since I have been doing so much yoga this year, I am noticing fewer monumental physical changes and breakthroughs, and instead this challenge has been much more of a mental journey for me. I have been having these moments of intense, all consuming clarity, especially after camel. It’s like I can almost see all these doors opening up in front of me, showing me which path to take in my life. In those moments the choices I should make are so obvious. Having the wherewithal to carry them out in real life, however, is a different thing.

In terms of where I am physically: I’m pretty tender. I especially am feeling soreness in the base of my neck, and in my shoulders. It doesn’t feel like a dangerous pain though, more like stiffness from working out. My lower back is hurting again. I’m struggling a little bit to know when to push through it and when to ease off. Last time it hurt like this I pushed through it and it was better than ever for some time.

I’ll leave you now with an a few bullet points:

1. I did toe stand!!!!!

2. Did you know there is a formula for how much water to drink? Divide you body weight in kilograms in half, and that is the number of ounces of water per day you should be drinking. I learned that at the Eating for Beginners lecture that I went to through The Sweatbox. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the next one, Detox: how and why?

Purely yours,

-C

Hi readers!

Today in school we had a professional development day, which in half day preschool means we didn’t have any students. My coworker and I went to observe another general education preschool in the district this morning.

As we arrived in the classroom, we heard a tiny bell chime, and then absolute silence. When we entered the classroom, the students noticed us, but none of them said anything, and we all sat in silence for exactly 3 minutes. Another tiny chime, and the teacher calmly directed the class’s attention to the board as the day began. Every student in the school had just begun his day with 3 minutes of silent meditation.

It is amazing to see a group of 4-5 year olds attending so perfectly to themselves. This is something that I know I and many other students of yoga struggle with when we are practicing savasana.

Savasana is one of the poses I am focusing on throughout this challenge. Focus, in general has been something I have tried to work on lately, and I have found it has effected my whole practice in a very positive way. When my internal monologue is limited to “breathe in, breathe out, don’t be afraid,” the teacher dialogue still has a way of seeping through my brain and into my body. I am finding my postures are improving, and that I am able to go much deeper into them than before. Most importantly, I am learning how to stay more present, that makes me happier in class, and happier in my life.

Practicing these mental skills in savasana makes them easier to access in the rest of the postures. Practicing this meditation in the other postures, helps me to use it in my life. At work, at home, with my friends. As thoughts and feelings come to me, I am more easily able to feel them and then move on without getting caught up in the meaning or the drama of a situation.

Watching those preschoolers practice meditation this morning, I was struck by the notion of how much it could improve their ability to think, learn, problem solve, make friends. There was an element of calm that was very pervasive throughout the school. It was beautiful to see these children and adults using the practice of meditation to improve their lives. It made me realize how important it is to practice being calm, centered, and relaxed.

Mindfully yours,

-C