Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Second Trimester Bikram and a battle wound from standing bow

Second trimester Bikram is GREAT!!!  In general, for the most part, I feel human again - in the first trimester I definitely felt pregnant and weird enough to keep me tentative.  Not just in the studio, but also just in regular life.  You never knew when a random wave of nausea of extreme tiredness would hit.

Second trimester is very different.  As I said, I feel like myself - as opposed to feeling pregnant.  Sometimes I have to remind myself there is a little being growing inside of me.  I remember though when I get dressed, as no pants fit anymore (thank you bella band.)

In the studio, even after a week off for Thanksgiving travels, I was able to do a whole class, all postures, no problem.  Sure it was hard but that's because it's Bikram!  In the first trimester I never knew when I'd be sitting some of the standing series or feel wobbly or dizzy.

The pregnancy series does leave me feeling a little bit sad because I miss doing standing head to knee the way everyone else does it.  And I REALLY MISS standing separate leg forehead to knee.  If you get to do that pose a lot, CELEBRATE it!!  The benefits to your endocrine system are incredible and the compression to the internal organs and digestive system is unparalleled.  I cannot wait to do that pose again.

So I have a serious Bikram battle wound from Monday's class.  I was practicing in the back (as I do when I'm doing pregnancy modifications) and was kicking so hard in standing bow that my foot slipped out of my grip and the top of my big toe left side smashed down onto my glass waterbottle which was sitting on the window sill behind me.  Luckily: I didn't break my toe or the glass, just spilled the water.  My toenail is still attached.  I was bleeding as I sliced the top of the toe skin near off.  Huge flap.  Blood and grossness.  Also I swore loudly as I went down.

I was transported back to training when there was unbearable pain and the breath, and that was it.  I didn't get up for balancing stick I was sort of looking at it and realizing I was bleeding.  A few paper towels helped mop it up and I finished class as best I could.  Wow.  I was really kicking.  Note to self: stay away from the window sills.  Never again.

Hope you are all finding joy in your yoga practices whatever and however they may be - celebrate the fact that with life we can do yoga and that is wonderful!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Iyengar fabulous

Image compliments of

I started an Iyengar class last night that I'll be attending for at least seven weeks.  Boy was it awesome!!!  The teacher taught at a local yoga festival I attended and I was sure to catch her class, as I've been curious about her for some time now.  

I was greatly inspired by her class at the yoga festival and found that she had a series starting yesterday.  The class was well attended - it's her level1/level2 iyengar class (as opposed to her foundations yoga class).  I have done some Iyengar in the past in NYC at the beautiful center there and loved it.  So much yoga, so little time!

Anyway yesterday we did a lot of work on extending the upper thigh bones out of the pelvis.  Also a great and difficult downdog to chatturunga move repeated a few times.  My chatturunga hold is measly.  My form is good but my stamina is lacking.  I don't practice enough sun salutations!  The series culminated in full arm balance (handstand) which she helped me get up into and I balanced off the wall (awesome!)

It was a great wonderful amazing class.  She's a strong and challenging teacher with a firm voice that demands compliance.  What I miss from iyengar is a real emphasis on subtle opening in small parts of the body.  I was able to modify everything for pregnancy with relatively little change from the rest of the class.  I have a feeling I'm going to learn a lot from practicing with her pregnant as far as how to modify.  Sure I know the Bikram pregnancy modifications but that only covers the Bikram class.  I know the basic tenants but there were things I learned last night.

My sanskrit is a little rusty so I'll just call the pose separate leg drape over front leg, hips rotated - I learned that pregnant or menstruating you don't have the heels in one line so as to leave more room (less pressure) on the pelvic area.

I had a total blast.  I'll be teaching Bikram tonight.  I practiced some in the last week but am also making sure I get my swimming in.  

Take care yogis and yoginis!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Moving through the first trimester - introducing pregnancy modifications

image compliments of

I started to incorporate the pregnancy modifications and it's been wonderful.  I had a sonogram and I am over 11 weeks along so it's been the perfect time to start adding them in.  I've felt a little weird in the belly down stuff for a while so it's nice to have a set of postures I know I can do without hitting contraindicated things.  This allows me to do class at 100% of my ability, rather than dropping off here and there working at 50% or less in a pose that I know will eventually be contraindicated.

One thing about the pregnancy series that I miss is the hormone flushing effects of standing separate leg forehead to knee and rabbit.  Instead, I do down dog.  Good for the upper body strength, but not so good for pressure to the pituitary gland.

I will have to post more on this subject, but I'm happy in the hot room, sharing the news in my studio, and feeling very healthy otherwise.  I even ate KALE last night.  I normally like kale and leafy greens but in my first trimester it's been difficult to keep up my veggie intake.  Without nausea to blame, I feel it's important to give it the old college try, so that's what I'm doing.  By the way, we added bacon to the kale.  That's how you make anything palatable apparently!

Teaching has been great recently - and I just got my bikram certificate finally after paying off the last $3500. My hubby gave me a nice gift certificate to get it framed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The wonders of practicing Bikram while pregnant

Image Compliments of Claudia's Boutique

Aaaaah.... finally.  After a difficult week last week of practice - first trimester meets jet lag meets a cold meets triangle...  I was able to do 90% of class yesterday and was also able to teach a fun and energetic class afterwards.  I feel amazing today.  Not drunk with pregnancy hormones - but darn near normal!!!!

Class last night I had very few expectations.  I had emailed Diane Ducharme earlier to ask about how my practice seemed to be falling apart last week and she said to skip practicing for my first trimester!  I am not really taking that advice because of how good I feel when I practice - it affects me positively better than any other exercise.  Her message had a wonderful impact on my mind going into the studio - like it was all icing on the cake - whatever I could manage to do.  (Managing expectations.)

The first set of pranayama is so hard.  It takes a lot of discipline not to breathe extra - to last the entire six counts.  But by the second set my body is able to open up and breathe.  It's wonderful.

Warm up yesterday was pretty good - put it this way, I was not struggling to keep my hands in the grip in half moon.  That when you know you're in for it.  I can usually do an abnormally deep backbend - I mean I can get a foot or two away from the floor.  Yesterday as I went back slowly I felt a tug in the uterus area and backed off.  I will see... but it may be the end of my super deep back bending for a while.

I was able to do some kicking out in standing head to knee and standing bow was good on my right leg both sets... left leg I was struggling.  By balancing stick I was starting to get short of breath but I managed to do most of it and catch my breath at separate leg stretching.  Made it through all four sides of triangle (barely) and skipped a set of sep. leg forehead to knee (which is an abdominal compression pose and I don't want to be doing it "hard" anyway.)  I was not dead by tree and was able to do tree and toe - first time in a while.

The spine strengthening series I'm taking really easy now.  I started to go up "like normal" for cobra and felt the tug in my uterus again and slowed way down, using a bit more of my arm strength to get up into it and hold it.  Locust I'm using my forearms right under my hips to relieve pressure in my abdomen and am not lifting high, just focusing on tightening the leg.  Full locust I'm not lifting up high and floor bow I'm not doing much more than getting the grip.  I don't want to create any undue pressure down there.

Beyond that, I felt the tugging in camel so I backed off it a bit and rabbit I'm not really walking the knees to the forehead at all.  I was mostly just so pleased to be able to do class yesterday.  I feel amazing today.

I need to drink about twice as much water as usual after class, and also between practicing and teaching I had an Ultima electrolyte mix and an apple.  Was able to teach a strong and energetic class.  This morning it was the MOST. IMPORTANT. THING. that I got scrambled eggs.  :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A** on a platter

image compliments of

First trimester plus jet lag plus triangle = complete collapse.

I had a brutal practice yesterday.  Though I entered and left the room with a smile on my face.  This pic is of a thorn flower, because practicing yesterday was a thorn in my side.

I took a week off to go on vacation (which was booked before we got the positive pregnancy test.)  We had a wonderful time.  It was like a honeymoon, only four years delayed.  I managed to stay away from nausea and have a good time.  The travel there and back was tough - especially dealing with the six hour time difference.

I had a pretty good idea that yesterday would be difficult.  Just walking into the hot room felt uncomfortable.  Bad sign.  In pranayama, I was dripping sweat and struggling a bit.  By the end of the warm up, I knew it was not to be a great class.

I did not kick out in standing head to knee, but still, by the second set of standing bow, I was kneeling about every other set.  I felt waves of nausea and lightheadedness when I tried to stand up for tree/toe stand so I just went into savasana.  I noticed I was pretty clenched - uncomfortable... even my face showed it I'm sure.  It's tough as a teacher to be sitting out so much of class.  I don't have a baby bump and only the teachers know I'm pregnant so it's a real ego check to practice appropriately and take care of myself.

The spine strengthening series is difficult for me to begin with as my breasts are sore.  Last night I was barely picking myself up a few inches.  Bow pose was a joke.  By fixed firm I couldn't believe how badly I was feeling and felt the need to leave the room and get some electrolytes to mix with my water (I use Ultima).

I completed most of the rest of class... first set of camel was a no go, but I did do the second set.  I did the super beginner modification of rabbit (hands on the floor).  Seperate leg head to knee with stretching happened at about 50% of my normal effort and strength as did spine twist, and I did some exhales on the floor (supine) as people did kapalabhati breathing.

I was toast.  I was dripping sweat.  It was amazing.  I got home and had to have OJ mixed with water and I rested on the couch.

So... I'm looking forward to getting my practice back little by little.  I know the jet lag and return to work were complicating factors.  And, when you take time off you always pay for it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm............ PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!

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Hilariously enough... I'm not going "facebook-public" with this news.  So if I do happen to know you, email me, let's celebrate, but please don't mention anything on Facebook yet!  Most of my friends and family don't read my blog, and I wanted to sort of explain what's been going on with me recently, and how it's been affecting my life and yoga practice.

So we did start trying in July, and things have been incredibly rocky all the way through until about a week ago.  My body was not exactly acting according to my plans, and it was making me kind of crazy.  I had an incredibly difficult time accepting what was going on.  I hardly had the energy to practice consistently and did not have the positivity I always try to connect with when I write.  Thus... blog silence for the most part.  Though I believe people like to read the truth, I also believe that if you're going to put things out there in the universe, err on the side of being positive.  If you don't have something positive to say, maybe it's best to hang back.

I struggled with exercise, turned to food, and slipped a bit into a bare minimum style of living, where getting through the day and getting home seemed like an incredible triumph.

So a week ago today I took a pregnancy test and it was positive!!!  I'm ecstatic.  I know it's quite early on in the process but my policy has been to tell many people I'm close to in my daily life.  First of all I have absolutely no poker face and second of all if something does happen I would want all the support I can get.

So now begins the joys and challenges of practicing Bikram while pregnant, and just, in general, living while pregnant!  I already find it challenging to be in the hot room and notice that because of the increased blood in my system, the increased demands on the heart of pumping said blood, that I get to that heart-slamming place a lot faster than I used to.

I have made a policy for a while of staying out of the front row and kind of minding my own business in the back of the room so as to keep from getting my ego involved in my practice.  It's medicine, and it doesn't matter what the poses look like, it's what's right for you on any given day.  Blank slate.  What does this mean for my practice so far?  Sometimes I have to spend a little time in standing bow set up just literally catching my breath.  Kicking out in head to knee is optional though I've been doing it (hence the need to catch my breath in standing bow.)  The spine strengthening series all I can say is OW OW OW OW!  When I'm on my belly.  Locust pose I've stopped smashing my breasts with my arms which means I can't get my hands together.

Everything else is still normal.

Teaching... wow.  This is where I feel it.  I get out of breath and sometimes have to stop talking to catch my breath.

The physiological effects of pregnancy are so fascinating to me.  It's like I'm my own science experiment for the next eight months or so.  I'm looking forward to blogging about it.  I do intend to keep this blog as a yoga blog and I don't intend to turn it into a baby blog or anything.  I'm not a big fan of kid blogs because I think it violates the privacy of the child.  Who wants to know that mom posted pics of you in the bath when you were little??? Really???

In general I'm grateful for this gift, this experience, and the strength I needed to get through a challenging time. I couldn't have asked for a more positive and awesome conclusion to that chapter and I'm excited for the new story that's just beginning.  Namaste all friends.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Morning Viniyoga Therapy for Hips

I've been doing this great yoga therapy sequence in the mornings.  It's from Gary Kraftsow's Yoga Therapy for Hips, Lower back and Sacrum.  It's such a great way to wake up.

I go right into the other room where my mat is set up alongside a portable DVD player.  The room is nice and big with a high ceilings featuring a pair of skylights and tons of windows with a view onto the green side of our house including the garden. 

The series begins supine (on the back) and works in the viniyoga style - which is gentle targeted movements that are timed with the breath.  Most poses have two phases - moving in with the inhale and coming out with the exhale.  This is so different from your typical yoga approach - get into an asana and stay for a while, calm breath.

The purpose of the 30 minute hip therapy routine is to stimulate circulation around the hips by working the distinct muscle groups of the hips in rounds of poses.  I have been practicing this series to work my own hip issues.  My left leg is currently .25 inches longer than my right and with the help of Bikram and a chiropractor, I've made progress.  Great progress... but have still had this nagging pinching sensation on the left medial illium area.

This yoga therapy sequence is healing me!  Not only that, but it's helping me be able to hike - an activity that I've been unable to do for a few years.  I'm also learning it from the inside out because I want to teach it.  It's not like in my corporate yoga work I can do targeted yoga therapy for individuals.  There's no time or money for that.  But in these worksite group settings, I'm dealing with inflexible, stressed people in office clothes.  So I need to find adaptable poses that aren't too challenging and are close to the floor.

Taking sessions with Gary at a YJ conference was mind blowing to me.  Sure, you look at people doing viniyoga and the yoga perfectionist mentality scoffs.  Knees bent in warrior two?  Spending a half hour on the floor doing yoga in the morning?  Really?  But the work you do is safe and balanced enough to get deep into the body and heal it through gentle breath-centric movement that increases circulation, keeping what's working working and allowing some easing of tension in other muscle groups.

Anyway, there's this great lunge series I thought I'd share with you.  

Stand on the knees, knees hip width apart.

Bring the left foot forward, creating a 90 degree angle with the left leg (left foot under the left knee), both hands on the left knee.

Inhale as you lunge forward, and gently lift the chest.
Exhale and come back out.
Repeat twice.
It's easy, in this part, to really lunge forward and feel the right hip stretch.  However what I've learned is that if I don't max out the lunge (which seems to stretch the surface muscles of the hip) and really focus on the chest lift away from the pelvis, you stretch much more deeply into the psoas and hip.  Deeper connecting muscles.  It feels A-MAZ-ING!!

On the third lunge "in" instead of coming out on exhale you stay for a couple breaths, adding in an arm movement.
Exhale drop right arm to the side.
Inhale lift the right arm to stretch deep into the psoas.  If you start to get the nuance of how to stretch deeper into the hip connectors, this arm reach can augment the stretch.
Exhale arm back to the side, repeat twice.

Come out of the lunge, repeat this series on the other side.  So you can work this so intensely and deep that you're shaking at the end of the pose.  However it's safe for uninjured beginners.  They don't quite get the nuance and the set up is a little challenging to their stability, but they will certainly be able to work to the point of feeling something great.

I love it.

With regards to Bikram, every time I'm on the mat right now is really tough.  I'm starting the journey of conception and basically it's toying with my emotions a lot, which for me, just makes my Bikram practice so hard.  I don't feel I have the fortitude of spirit to even get on the mat a lot, and last week I gave myself the week off - I didn't push myself to practice.  I don't feel awesome though - it definitely helps me when I do practice.  So my goal this week is to hit the mat four times between today and Sunday.  Here's hoping!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still kickin

Compliments of Weblo... THANKS!

I'm still makin' it through over here... Have had some medical issues that put me into a place where I was struggling with reality.  Some things I've tried are keeping up with my yoga and exercise (to the best of my ability), doing some EFT with a professional, dropping therapy for a while (why force things?) and just trying to relax and appreciate the good things in my life like my hubby.

I'm not in any serious trouble or anything just wishing for things to happen faster than they are.  That may give you some clues!

Hope everyone is out there taking great care of themselves and being kind in the mind.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Struggling with acceptance

Something is going on in my life that is quite difficult for me to accept.  I'm asking anyone out there, if you read this, to please send me some prayers of hope and acceptance.  Patience, hope and acceptance.  Thank you.

A teacher helped me last night

Setting: The pool.
Task: complete a set I cooked up that's quite challenging

10 x 300 yards
first 200y of each repetition is freestyle (8 lengths), best moderate/quick pace possible
then 100 yards (4 lengths) backstroke, recovery pace
then rest approx 20 seconds

I've only gotten through six passes of this set.  I've tried a few times.  Swimming 3000 yards is almost two miles so I was willing to work up to completing the set, honoring my joints, as I get my endurance back in the pool.

A guy in the next lane asked me if I wanted to do some workout stuff with him but I declined, as I have declined him in the past.  He asked what I was doing and if he could join in (smart guy, eh?)  Of course, I said!  I had completed 3 x 300 at that point.  He is much faster than I am.  He basically "paced" me and urged me to swim a bit faster than I would have.

It kicked me up into a higher gear and I powered through numbers 4-7 with him. Then he was off to do some coaching - I swam with the masters swim coach!  I had a great time, and after he left, I slogged through the last three repetitions of the set.  Not as fast, but I made it.

He encouraged me to come swim with them in the winter - and maybe I will!  I'm so proud of this set.  It's quite hard and takes real endurance.  I can't wait to do it again!  The next few times I will just try to complete the whole 3000 yards (1.81 miles).  After that, I'll start working the intervals in more concrete times (rather than a loose 20-30second rest at the end.

I couldn't have done it without a teacher's help.  I love love love feeling like a student.  Being a student.  Being helped and supported.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I was a mess on the mat

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Last night's class was in the midst of a huge and torrential downpour.  The humidity was amazingly high in the studio.  Our studio has been closed for a week so I enjoyed my week off from practicing and teaching.  For me, Bikram is a practice I will do for the rest of my life.  How can I do that?  The best recipe for me is to not burn out on it and to learn to be very kind to myself in the practice room.

So when presented with a week off, I took it.

Sunday was the first day back, great class.  Teachers don't rush to end right on time for our Sunday morning class, and it's always an exercise in endurance and limitations when even three to four minutes are added to the class!  I worked hard, took class from a teacher I haven't had before.  Then I spent the day weeding and mulching in my garden.  Lovely!

Which brings us to yesterday, Monday.  The studio air was thick, it was raining, and it was a steamy class.  I'm adopting a modification for some lower back pain - so I'm practicing with my feet apart in pranayama and half moon.  Class was difficult for me from the start, and I really struggled during standing balancing poses.  Standing bow should really be called wibble wobble or falling bow or something.  It's such a challenge for me to stay in it.

My balance was off, and by triangle and separate leg forehead to knee, I was exhausted.  I think I even caught myself swearing at the teacher in the floor series - something I haven't done for ages.  The floor series was difficult.  I couldn't even do rabbit - I had to do the serious modification of hands on the floor.

I felt like a mess on the mat, my head was all over the place, I was getting into and out of poses late and early respectively, but I was doing my best.  That much I knew.  I didn't have any juice in the tank.

I'm hoping this means that better classes are around the corner - it always does.

My teaching class last night was just packed with dialogue.  As someone who teaches at a non-dialogue studio, I have always worried about the dialogue slipping.  However I listen to my recording in the car pretty faithfully and last night just spewed it.  It came very naturally.  Dialogue that still needs work: Standing separate stretching pose (this was one of my easiest at training thus I haven't worked it at home at all), bow pose (really???) and rabbit and separate leg forehead to knee with stretching.

None of it is that bad though.  I know what the dialogue points are, it's more a question of order.

Anyway, I was wiped after my class (as opposed to feeling juiced and energetic as I usually do).  So... teaching was going to be a challenge.  Just add dialogue, watch the clock, and the students had a great class.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Breakfast Cereal Compared - Cereals from Post, Kellogg's & General Mills

Breakfast Cereal Compared - Cereals from Post, Kellogg's & General Mills

I found this to be a great resource for comparing breakfast cereals!

(If you don't already eat your own colon blow concoction of bulger flax flakes that you ground yourself.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guest Teaching - I did it!

Wow, so beautiful!  Image compliments of Luk Waiho at
I teach all over my state in worksites, however, I had not taught Bikram in another studio until last night!  I was quite nervous but of course, things went wonderfully.  I ended up with two teachers in my class (the studio owner and an attendee.)  It was wonderful and fun.  I'm quite proud.

I "brushed up on my dialogue" as Manali would say and taught a strong class.  I noticed I was pushing through postures quickly - I ended up a few minutes earlier to the end of the floor series than usual.  This was a bonus because I'm usually rushing the final breathing.

For those of you who don't do Bikram, it's taught based on a dialogue (a monologue really) of instructions.  The partner in dialogue is the student's body.  Though thankfully my studio does not require strict dialogue, some studios do.  So I choose to keep my dialogue chops up but also teach in my own style all the time.  It's a nice way to balance the purist in me and my creative power.

In my own practice I've actually been... well... practicing in a more consistent manner.  It's like I fell back in love with Bikram.  It took a while after training.  But I'm back - fallen in love.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Philosophy on... Philosophy

So there has been some talk recently "out there" in the blogosphere about philosophy and concepts, especially as presented in yoga classes by teachers.  (Specifically here and here (no. 2, religion) )

It's got me thinking, as I am both a philosophy major, and thus incredibly drawn to that which lies beyond asana, and a bikram teacher, who teaches a pretty secular yoga class that is heavy on asana, light on concepts.  Though I'm a Bikram teacher and practitioner, I'm also a practitioner of Shambhala Buddhism-inspired mindfulness and meditation.  So where do I fall in?

When it comes to yoga, I do not personally feel that teaching sanskrit concepts is an authentic representation of my being.  Were I to teach the aspects of spirituality that I find most powerful, and, frankly, helpful (utilitarian), I would teach learning to stay via the secular study of meditation.

I feel that the concepts that lie behind both asana and this style of Buddhist meditation are powerful.  Further study in these concepts has accompanied the deepening of my asana practice and my meditation study, it's true.  However, I agree with Bikram that hours upon hours of physical study (asana, pranayama and meditation) is the best way to advance.  The benefits that come of practice are the embodiment of everything the concepts strive to teach us.

For instance, yamas and niyamas which serve as a sort of ten commandments of yoga (thou shalt and thou shalt not), a batch of ethical guidelines... they are wonderful.  I subscribe to them fully.  However I don't think of them as a personal guidepost.  The fact of the matter is that my path of practice has led to the general (and ongoing) purification of mind and body.  It's just not possible to practice with regularity and maintain certain habits.  For me.  As I increase my mindfulness and awareness in my life I am naturally tending to gossip less, be more truthful, be more compassionate, harm less, commit more to that which I believe in, and become less attached to the physical things that surround me.  All in degrees, of course.  I have not mastered any of this.

Has that come because I think about and talk about the yamas and niyamas?  No.  It's come about because I practice, and I meditate, and I try to bring mindful awareness to my life (if only to realize that sometimes I'm completely not mindful).  I'm not going to get further into the eight limbs of yoga nor the different meditation practices and concepts...  I think one example suffices.

So this brings me to explore the case of what it would be like if I did have a platform at the beginning of class to talk about concepts, similar to an Anusara yoga class (which is another style of yoga which I love.)  You would most likely find me talking about ways in which to handle that which comes up in the specific practice of asana and even more strongly in the in depth study of meditation.  Self-acceptance and honoring of the body we are in right now would be my refrain - because learning to be nice to myself has opened up my ability to bear witness to the world around me from the point of view of the present moment.  The only way I could stand the power of the present moment is to learn some sort of inner kindness.

You probably wouldn't find me talking about a sanskrit word, what it means, and how it applies...  at least not at first.  I have recently purchased a book called Nourishing the Teacher (which is co-written by a local teacher here in Vermont, Anjali Budreski of Yoga Mountain Center, Montpelier VT).  It's like the bible of Anusara-inspired lesson plans which are based in yoga concepts applied in real life.  The book is quite amazing and I really like it.  Should I start teaching a more concept-based style of yoga later, I will certainly be learning from and working with this text.

So I guess this brings me to my point.  I feel I teach a philosophy-based yoga (whether in the studio or the workplace.)  But rather than the concepts driving the theory, I try to let the practice of practicing drive my teaching and communication.  How do you learn best?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tough class last night

Last night my studio head taught Bikram - and I rarely get to take class from her.

I think the class was about 95 minutes long (as opposed to 90) and it really pushed my limits.  The second set last side of triangle seemed to take an eternity.  And she introduced the pose as "we're going to do it Anna's way" so I knew I couldn't drop out of the pose.  I just couldn't.

I hung there for what seemed like an eternity!

I am pretty good about honoring my body and my practice and taking breaks when I need to.  I use the breath as a barometer and know when I am in my "uh-oh" zone with the breath.  However, I also have the strong urge to set a positive example in class of how to work the asanas.  This is my edge.

Sometimes that urge to set a positive example allows me to hang for just a second or two longer than I think I can without going into the uh-oh zone, where I'm breathing in and out hard, and without control (though always through the nose).

Pose specifics... I'm finally finding the setup for standing head to knee (yes I said the setup) to be a bit more comfortable.  It's always been a really hard thing for me to hold the foot - I think because of my bustiness, frankly.  Kicking out, I'm able to hold in the position for much longer, though not ever yet through the entire first set (60 seconds).  Elbows down?  Iffy... haven't touched the forehead to the knee for some time.  I'm more interested in firming up the strength in the setup than that final part.

Standing Bow - I'm moving more slowly and falling out less.  But still falling out a lot more than I'd like.  (Hello expectations!)  I am working hard on the standing leg strength.  Also, as I start to come down, I'm thinking about rotating the shoulders around the axis of the upper spine.  It's the COOLEST feeling that I discovered a few weeks ago.  Every once in a while I get to my max and am able to hold it and work it.  My flexibility is miles ahead of my strength in this pose so my goal is to move more slowly to allow myself to hold it longer rather than maxing out and falling out over and over and over.

Toe stand - I fall out every single time.  I have short arms and can't touch the fingers to the floor when I walk the hands around.  I'm so wanting to balance here!  Sometimes I have a glimpse of it.

Cobra - My cobra really feels good and strong.  I try to not come out early even when I go up nice and high.  Sometimes it feels like FOREVER.

Locust both legs up I'm truly getting the sensation of bringing the weight forward and pushing the chest down. This is getting me more height than ever, though it's not anything impressive.

Really working the stretch in rabbit...

that's where I'm working most right now!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Triangle - I've come to love it!

Image compliments of
Yesterday morning it was a lovely Sunday morning Bikram class.  There were surprisingly few students at the studio.  It's usually one of the most crowded classes of the week.  I walked in and there was a spot front and center for me, so I took it.  I haven't been practicing quite as regularly as I should, so I knew that to work hard and hit my maxes I'd be taxing my system.  I made a note to watch the breath very carefully and work on lengthening the exhales, to move slowly, and with intent.  That always serves me well.

Lynn Whitlow came to Vermont in June and I learned a lot from her about how to teach triangle.  From the setup (warrior II) there is a nice way to go into the pose that seems to work well for students.  Let me just say that getting students into warrior II with a nice wide step and the bent leg thigh parallel to the ground is another thing altogether!  From a well-aligned warrior II, if you just move the arms, but stay upright, the upper body stays lifted.

From there, you reach the bottom hand down toward the toes and the upper hand up toward the ceiling.  The amazing thing is that when you raise your eyes up to the ceiling and turn chin to shoulder - THE SHOULDER IS RIGHT THERE WAITING FOR YOU!  The benefit for students to practicing this way is that they don't experience the upper body tipping over and dragging the body frame down.  Instead you enjoy a lifted upper body from the beginning.

It's so amazing, and I've been teaching it this way since I saw Lynn.  Yesterday in class, as a student, after the first set my teacher asked if I'd demonstrate.  I've come a long way with this pose.  It really used to be my nemesis and getting down into warrior II was something I thought I couldn't do.  Even at training, on the carpet, I could hardly hold both sides both sets more than a few times.

Now I demonstrate triangle.  Better yet - I LOVE IT!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Moving slowly in the heat

Image compliments of - get it?  A snail?  Moving slowly?  :)
What is moving with grace for me these days?  It's been a period of calm, quiet introspection.  I've been practicing but not pushing or straining.  I've made it into the pool a few times as well.  I'm headed to teach my first class tonight in 1.5 weeks.

There come times when the best thing to do is to "not do."  To move at a slow pace.  To do the bare minimum and be really glad to have done so.  I'm going through a period like that, of calm and quiet, of light practice and effort, of minimal movement and lots of water.

It's hot, it's summer, it's time to enjoy!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I love wildflowers

I just got a bunch of wonderful seed and spread it... here are images of the flowers I planted.
Foxglove (
blanket flower (

and scroll down for the yellow flowers at the head of a post on the front page - the yellow ones are evening primrose.

I love gardening!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My first yoga therapy session (as a teacher) and Bikram

Image Compliments of
I am on my way to becoming a yoga therapist in the viniyoga style.  This may take me years - it's quite a long program to become a therapist - a full two years - and there is a stepping stone program as well that I'd need to complete as a prerequisite.

So... it's quite a ways away but I have started working individually with folks in my office.  I use Gary Kraftsow's Yoga for Wellness to help me find good types of sequences (ok... so I'm not officially therapying myself yet).  I trust his work.  Then I identify one to four postures to work with and I'm encouraging them to work on their own - to really "own" the poses.  I have two people I'm working with so far - one with recent knee surgery and one who runs and has tight hips.

Yesterday I made it to Bikram after a dentists appointment (out of the frying pan into the fire, eh?) and had a great class.  I didn't blow it out because I'd just had oral surgery (filling).  But I loved being in the room and practicing.  Then I taught a great clear and concise and hard class.  Woo hoo!

I just took a break from this post to teach my ergonomic workshop... OVER THE PHONE.  I won't be doing that again - it's very disconnected.  Luckily I've taught it a few times and have the patter down tight so I have my rights and lefts all secure.  It's so important to be really clear.  The group is in Vermont with a branch in Arizona so I just spread my worksite yoga beyond the borders of Vermont - first time!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eat like a Greek for Health

Image Compliments of
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lengthen lifespan, combat cancer, protect against diabetes, help you breathe better, and improve rheumatoid arthritis. The summer is a great time of year to experiment with this delicious and healthy style of eating. Visit Oldways ( for great details and recipes to get you started eating Greek for health.
  • Bring fruits and vegetables to every meal. Consume whole, unprocessed, and local fruits and veggies when you can. Wash them well.
  • Next, add beans, legumes and whole grains like: barley, bulgur, whole wheat breads and pastas, buckwheat, wheatberries, rice, and quinoa.
  • Lean protein is the name of the game with an emphasis on seafood and fish, poultry and chicken. Red meat is an occasional treat, and portions are small.
  • For dessert, opt for fruits first.
For breakfast, try low-fat yogurt with fruit and nuts, or steel cut oats, or a veggie omelet. At lunch, you can “go Greek” by filling a pita with hummus and stuffing it with fresh greens and vegetables. Another great idea is a salad with olives, nuts, and a lean protein of your choice. Dinner starts with vegetables and grains. Try a new recipe each week (check Pasta with sauteed vegetables and beans or fish is a great solution and is quick to make. Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner in moderation, and a bowl of berries and greek yogurt for dessert.
Refer to the Oldways Mediterranean food pyramid as your guide to going Greek for health.
  Source: Oldways, On Health Vol 21 No. 8

Friday, June 25, 2010

Vietnamese Cole-Slaw Type Salad

This is an amazing salad.
4 large bok choy leaves, rough bottoms discarded, stems cut 1/4" bias and leaves shredded
4 big leaves Napa Cabbage
1 bunch watercress rough chop
1 large carrot cut into matchsticks
leaves from 9 stems each basil, mint, cilantro, rough chop
1/2 small cucumber (I used 2 whole cukes)
a chili, thin sliced (optional)
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
grilled protein of your choice

Vietnamese Salad dressing
1/4 cut fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (used rice vinegar)
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 tsp hot pepper sesame oil (just used regular sesame oil)
2 tbsp agave nectar (we used honey)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tbsp finely diced red onion or shallot

Recipe and Video Compliments of

The ultimate Indulgence - 2 hours of yin yoga

Image compliments of wikipedia

My studio head teaches yin once a week.  I rarely make it to the Thursday 6pm class, but I have been interested in this method, and have started reading up on it on my own.  I have Sarah Powers' book Insight Yoga.  Last night I did the long form series for stimulation of the kidney meridian.  For more on the kidney meridian, click here.

The yin method is opposed to more yang styles of yoga, like Bikram or Ashtanga or even vigorous vinyasa.  Yang is all about doing - Yin is all about being.  I have had the pleasure of doing my yang work the last two days in the garden.  I've been transplanting day lilies all over the place.  It is such a pleasure to have gotten my movement in through home improvement!  And a deeper pleasure last night to sit down, while my husband worked, for two hours with my mat, blanket and pillows.

Once I worked out a clumsy way to use my cell phone alarm to give me 5-8 minute long countdowns, I settled in to practice.  Poses were: Butterfly (like badokanasana but heels away from the groin, and supported), saddle pose, Sphinx, Seal (this one was tough to hold for 4 minutes!), supported forward bend, spine twist, happy baby, and savasana.

I don't have pics of these unfortunately but luckily there is this resource if you are curious.  Yin Yoga Pose index  It took two hours to get through the sequence holding most everything for at least five minutes.  The twists I did 3-5 minutes on a side.  I went deep, relaxed, and I'll tell you what - I slept like a BABY for the first time in over a week.  We have an oversexed and territorial woodpecker who likes to get drummin' at about 5am these days.  We're going to hang some pie plates as deterrents but haven't gotten to it yet.  So I was able to sleep from about 10:30 through to 7am.  Wonderful.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Vitamin D - gettin' the good stuff!

Image compliments of  THANK YOU IT'S A BEAUT!!

In my life as a worksite wellness practitioner, I write monthly health newsletters and have done so for over a year now.  Vitamin D is consistently in the news.  There are always vitamin-of-the-year trends (like selenium and vitamin E in the recent past, both of which were shown to be just fads in trials).  However, Vitamin D keeps coming up as providing some SERIOUS benefits!

Vitamin D plays a big part in reducing the risk for a great number of diseases: osteoporosis, some cancers, autoimmune infections, and cardiovascular diseases.  It's essential for calcium absorption, which is why you see many calcium fortified foods also now contain vitamin D.  How do we get this vitamin?  Both through diet and exposure to the sun.  Did you know that ten minutes in bright summer sunlight provides a blast of 10,000 IU of vitamin D?  (We'll get to dosing and IU - International Units - later.)

Blood levels of vitamin D in adults in the US are amazingly low.  77% of adults were shown to have deficient levels in a recent study.  Why is this?  We're inside more, we wear sunscreen (which blocks vitamin D absorption from sunlight), we don't, in general, eat enough of the foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D, and many parts of the United States don't get strong sunlight year round.

In fact, if you draw a line from San Francisco to Boston, any location above that line gets weak sun for most of the year - exception being the summer.  During the fall, winter, and early spring months, the sunlight at our latitudes is not strong enough to provide vitamin D for skin absorption.  And... don't get me wrong - I am not advocating tossing your sunscreen either.  It protects from many harmful aspects of sunlight, those that can cause skin cancer.

So what are we to do? 

The current recommendation is 400IU (International Units) of vitamin D daily.  International units are the measure of vitamins and other supplements, and can be found on the nutritional information of all vitamin supplements.  Studies are underway to assess whether that 400 IU number is enough.  It is projected that the recommended dosage may creep up to 800 - 1000 IU daily for adults.  And, for those who have vitamin D deficiency, taking larger doses (like 2000-3000 IU daily) may be needed to boost levels to the recommended amount.  Blood tests can determine your vitamin D levels, and check with your doctor before beginning a vitamin d regimen.  Signs of vitamin D deficiency are lethargy, muscle soreness and low energy levels, but those may be the result of extremely low levels.  You may want to ask for this test next time you get your blood work done.

Standing in the bright summer sun for ten minutes can bring a dose of 10,000 IU in one quick blast!  However, we do not recommend tossing your sunscreen.  How can you balance this out?  You can go outside during mid-day, in the summer, and sit for exactly ten minutes, which is not long enough to give a sunburn.  Set a timer to make sure you do not burn!  Then apply sunscreen as you would.  You'll get the health benefits of vitamin D without the dangers of sunburn and sun exposure over long periods of time.

How do we get vitamin D in the winter in the north?
Dietary sources are tricky.  Fatty fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel are rich in vitamin D, especially when the fish is wild, not farmed.  In foods that are fortified with vitamin D (milk, orange juice, soy milk) there may be 100IU per serving, which means you have to chug a lot of milk to get a good vitamin d boost.

Which leads us to supplements.
Because sun exposure can be tricky and have negative side effects, and food sources are few and far between, supplements may be for you.  I personally take seven seas fish oil and vitamin d3 supplements, along with one or two other things.  Vitamin D3 supplements come in many doses, even up to 2,000 IU capsules.  Check with your doctor before taking large doses, to see if it's really necessary for you.  Who knows - maybe you're one of the 22% of the population with adequate levels of the vitamin, in which case - keep at it!

Vitamin D in the news.
Keep your eyes peeled for the results of this great study that's starting soon.  The Vital Study is getting underway testing Omega-3 and Vitamin D3 supplements - together and separately.  Omega 3 oils are shown to help cardiovascular health, and the disease fighting vitamin D will be tested as well.  Harvard and the National Institutes of Health will be working on this five year study, involving placebos, double blind testing, the works.  They're testing people over 65 to see how the supplements affect risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke in people with no history of those conditions.

That's the scoop on vitamin D - keep it in mind next time you get your blood tested.  I went to the doctor today and am scheduled to have a full blood panel done - it's been ages since I've even had a primary care doctor, so it's time.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Social support means so much.

Image courtesy of frogboots365 photo - THANKS!
I just wrote a 14 page single spaced case study on the PATH wellness program in Vermont Schools. I work for PATH, loosely, during the day - yoga teacher by night! So it has been a long and stressful last ten days. Thankfully I am on the other side of it.

Hubby was gone for the weekend, leaving me lots of free time to go to a Bikram yoga seminar with Lynn Whitlow, and to work on the case study, and to teach, all of which I finished by about 2pm on Sunday.

However, as I was slogging it out (writing) and working on my personal yoga practice, I felt a distinct lack of human connection and support. I ended up taking yesterday off because I was so burnt out. I even found someone to cover my class last night so I could stay home and have an evening with my husband. It was so important to have the physical and social and emotional connection with him. It righted my balance so much.

It's not all about doing - work, yoga, exercise, achieving the body you want to have, etc. It's sometimes about being with those you love, and that's all it needs to be.

The posture clinic with Lynn was amazing. I was only there for Saturday because of work, unfortunately, but I got a great dose of serious teaching. I was refreshed in the seriousness of Bikram, as a prescription for health. I will talk more about this in the future... but I wanted to just get back on the blog, post a pic of a peony to honor the beauty going on in my own garden, and to say thanks to my husband for being my partner and my social support, the one who rights me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Very happy to announce....

I've been awarded a Wellsphere Top HealthBlogger award! Woo hoo - check out my badge!

I'm going to a posture clinic with Lynn Whitlow of west coast Bikram yoga fame this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. Something has happened in my Bikram practice recently. My hips have completely opened up and I'm able to hold the foot both hands in namaskar during tree and I'm able to get up with the upper body in toe stand pose.

I taught a great class yesterday in the worksite, teaching most of a viniyoga routine that has been medically proven in an evidence based study to alleviate low back pain and stabilize that area. The executive director of the organization has been to all of my yoga classes. I'm so proud of them - talk about executive buy in.

I also have created an ergonomics workshop that I've given twice now. Once to a room full of guys! Most of my worksites are more non-profity but this one was all guys. They were good sports and asked some great questions.

Lots going on with work, wellness and yoga and I'm quite busy. I just wrote a proposal for the National Wellness Institute - they're calling for webinar presenters for the fall 2010. Hope I get it. And I'm working on a case study in wellness profiling a group of 19,700 people. It's amazing work.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Back on the Mat - Bikram or Bust

It's great to be back on the mat. I've taken a bit of time off the blog, getting my head back on straight, and doing a bunch, a BUNCH, of work - teaching in the studio, I led a great ergonomics workshop at a client (will repeat once more Monday and on a conference call to Arizona later next week) and am writing up a case study on wellness at work. Phew!

I finally got back to taking some Bikram classes. I practiced on Monday, Thursday and Friday (and heading tomorrow and Monday) to classes taught by people!!! No more of this practicing Bikram on my own. Well... not as a mainstay. I've decided that after the end of this week I'm not subbing anymore and am just working on getting my practices in consistently.

I don't know why, I can't even believe it, but I was discounting this practice for a little while. I was thinking I was only making "marginal" gains in my body with Bikram and was looking to add some new stuff in. Well, I am going to add some new stuff in, but am going to get 4-5 Bikram classes in as well. The power of the practice escaped me while I was not getting into the hot room with a teacher for a little while. Classes are actually challenging for me right now, first time since training that's happened.

I'm also pushing it to my limits, which often pushes me off balance. For me, when I'm pushing to my flexibility edge, I often don't have the strength to support it for long. However, I know I've made progress by working out there on the edge. On Friday, I worked half moon to full bend, deep backbend (saw the edge of my towel) and am able to hold my face to the legs (even with my large bosom) for a bit and pull up on the thighs. Man does that feel good. Heart pounding from the get go in class.

I want to do more ashtanga work, but I really have a problem with all that forward bending in room temperature. It's no good. The first day I did it in the morning I was sore at the hamstring attachment point top of the thigh. That's dangerous stuff. However in practicing Bikram, I'm all delightfully sore in the heart of the hamstrings, right where you want to be working. The meat of the muscle.

Next weekend great posture clinic with Lynn Whitlow coming. I'm missing a bunch of it - teaching Friday and Sunday morning prevent me from getting there for more than Saturday day but that's fine. Sunday after I teach then practice on my own I'm going to a restorative 2 hr class. I CANNOT WAIT to bliss out. Big week of work, huge draft due Friday, so not much blogging for a bit. Namaste!

Friday, June 4, 2010

First official Mysore practice

I'm glad I was alone... I don't think it was very pretty - but I did it along with my Richard Freeman video. I made it up to about 90% through the standing series. I didn't stop because I had to, I stopped because I want to ground myself in the basics before moving forward.

Things I DIDN'T get:
- My sun salutations this morning were sluggish and I'm still dealing wtih a wrist injury. I didn't stay up off the hips.

- I didn't have the bandhas. Not for long at least!

- I didn't have the exact breathing, though I did my best on that front.

That said... I am looking forward to doing more. I have to be careful practicing in regular temperature however, as the muscles (especially the hamstrings) are tight. Amazing that this practice is done in the morning!

I'm also looking for tips on working the transition from chaturunga through up dog staying up off the hips.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When we struggle with motivation.

Motivation. It's such a loaded word. For me, it's associated with a lot of "should's" that seem to float around my brain.

Usually a period of distinct lack of motivation, at least for me, coincides with some events in life. I have had two disappointments in the last two weeks, and am feeling that lethargic feeling that comes with feeling down, and not being terribly active.

My solution to these times of lack of motivation is patience and gentleness to myself. I know that soon enough I will be back in the swing of things, eating in my healthy way, moving in my healthy way, and that to force myself up to that level of activity means not paying tribute to the real me, the actual me, the authentic me.

The authentic me needs time to rest and reflect right now. I will be back, but on my own terms, of acceptance and love.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When one door closes, another opens. Usually a bigger better one. Like French doors with stained glass, right?

Sadly, this yoga teacher training I wanted to attend has been cancelled. I applied for a scholarship to do social media and blogging to publicize the training. I must say I was really hoping to go. So I found out yesterday there were not enough attendees so they had to cancel it.

This disappointment and my last - the unexpected passing of my dear aunt, have led me to the kitchen. In my past, as I recover from Compulsive Overeating Disorder, I might have gotten junk food to numb out the pain. I did something slightly different this last two weeks. I cooked a fabulous dish definitely serving as comfort food (lasagna last night and brisket two weeks ago). But the difference between bingeing on junk food and cooking a dish that requires time and effort, care and attention, is huge.

I love losing myself in cooking. Especially a complicated recipe like lasagna, where you simmer the sauce, boil the noodles, grate the cheese and assemble.

I will find my way back to my mat this afternoon for a trip to the hot room to do some Bikram. It really has been too long. I'm also dabbling a little bit with home practice and am wanting to dip my toe into ashtanga to work my upper body strength. Unfortunately I tweaked my wrist a little bit ago and am just starting to get my chaturunga back.

When I thought about going to Bali in August, I wanted to do a lot more vinyasa based yoga to get strong in that way as well. So I am going to pursue that goal over the summer, while still practicing Bikram as well. I am giving myself a little time to grieve this small loss before pushing on ahead and trying to practice every day.

Hoping you find love on your mat today.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Grateful! Grateful! Grateful!

Image courtesy of Recreating Eden
I am so unbelievably grateful today - I truly feel as though I have dipped my toes in the river of abundance and it's sweeping me faster and faster toward my goals. And, I have felt recently that the universe is benevolent.

Recently I completed a yoga photoshoot, in order to use pictures that I own for my sequence handout sheets at workplaces. Little did I know what I would hold in my hand when I completed the document, design and all. All the work I do on newsletters, forms, and other marketing materials I generate in InDesign by Adobe has paid off - I have a document that looks great. Truly original! If you would like to see it I would be happy to send you a pdf but it belongs to jointly to me and my employer (they agreed to shared intellectual property). You can see some pics here.

On another note, we have been in an ongoing struggle to replace our failed leach field at my house. The project has dragged on and on... so I finally changed designers. Today our new designer showed up and our excavator uncovered beautiful soil for an in ground system on part of our land. This means - a much cheaper job for sure. In uncovering this soil, we cleared part of our land that we thought we would be waiting years to get to. Now it's all open and I have news that I'm going to be able to easily afford the system, and will have a huge new 1acre lawn bulldozed and seeded with grass by the fourth of July. I cannot believe how wonderfully this has turned out!

When the universe closes one door, another opens. In this case, a beautiful set of french doors with stained glass.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yoga Photoshoot!

Well here they are! Some pics from my photoshoot. Hope you enjoy them. More soon - busy day! Click the photo here to see the Picassa Web Album.
"Anna Van Fleet"

Yoga is not just for the skinny minnies out there - yoga has taught me self-acceptance and given me self-esteem as I practice. I continue to gain appreciation for all my body can do in the yoga room, and I carry that out into my life.

I hope these pictures inspire a new generation of yogis and yoginis who understand that we do not all have to look like those in the pages of Yoga Journal to find the path.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cleanse Day 2 - energy, love and light!

Image compliments of Appetite of Life
Good day my fine feathered friends. I am just bursting with energy. I cannot believe how amazing I feel - I'm buzzing inside. Yesterday I had herbal tea and water to begin my cleanse and around 2PM I went and shopped for veggies and made juice.

Juice recipe:
2 apple
4 celery
handfull watercress
chunk of ginger (to taste)

This juice is amazing - I loved it yesterday and am having it again today for lunch. For dinner yesterday I did a combo of carrot, celery, tomato, watercress and ginger but that was really nothing to write home about. The juicing thing is quite an art and I do not have the science of the green drinks down yet.

I did one other juice fast in my life and it was all about weight loss and getting ready to get ready for my pending wedding. I reread some things that I wrote about it at that time and realize how backwards my thinking was then. I really wanted to do anything to lose weight then. Now it's all about my health. I didn't even think about weight loss as a motivation to do this cleanse (but I'll take it if it comes.)

I was acting out of fear then, fear of my weight, of looking bad in pictures, etc. I have grown so much since then. I have gone through therapy for my Compulsive Overeating Disorder (COE) and have become a yoga teacher. I have followed my passions and my life has opened up so much.

So this time around, I'm juice feasting for health and wellness. I can feel such a difference.

Because I have a strong Bikram practice, I was also able to practice and teach a class running on nothing but fresh juice. I would not encourage a first time student to do anything like that. However I know myself and my body and I was able to do it. I had a coconut water between and made it through no problem. I feel happy and adjusted and have none of the fears I did in my last juice fast - I have no fear of sitting and drinking juice with people when they are eating, for instance. I'm also not stuffing myself with juice - I'm making good amounts, diluting with water, and trusting my body to tell me when it's ready for more. Result: I feel positively buzzing with light and energy! Amazing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cleansing Day 1

Image compliments of Joanne Tucker at beautiful flower paintings, check them out!
Today is day 1 of my cleanse. There are numerous reasons why it's the right time to cleanse. I'm adding in a lot of yoga, fresh juices (time to dust off the breville!), teas and broths for a while and will end as it's time to end.

My body is crying out for a break - some introspection - and some time to reflect as it warms up here in Vermont. My recent trip to New Orleans and the passing of my aunt have put me into a cycle of comfort food that's not doing me any good. It's one of those things that really perpetuates itself - the reaching for comfort.

I'm working with Pema Chodron's Getting Unstuck lectures as well.
The teachings tell us that there is suffering.

There is dissatisfaction and frustration. Often nothing seems to go right. There really is a wound. But it is not necessary to scratch it. Working with addictions is about not just impulsively grabbing for something to stop the itching, not just grabbing for something to fill up the space, not giving in to this impulse to feel okay and just to get comfortable as soon as possible.

When we scratch the wound and give into our addictions we do not allow the wound to heal. But when we instead experience the raw quality of the itch or pain of the wound and do not scratch it, we actually allow the wound to heal. So not giving in to our addictions is about healing at a very basic level.

It is about truly nourishing ourselves.
So... these are the teachings I am working with through the end of this month as I add lots of healing and introspection to my daily life... and leave behind some of the things that are clouding up my vision.

Last night preparing for bed, I did a very nice sequence.  The yoga poses (without meditation and pranayama) are going to be used in a wellness program I work with for the purpose of preparing the body for rest.  I must say they left me feeling clear and relaxed.

1) Restorative Seated Forward Bend
Sit, propped up by a blanket or two under the hips if needed, with legs wide open, and bring a chair or prop onto the mat. Lean forward to place the forehead gently on the chair (use something soft if you need to.) There should be no effort in keeping the legs open and straight so do as much as is right for your body type. (Extremely tight hips? Open the legs as much as is comfortable and put rolled blankets under the knees.) Relax in this position, eyes closed, for a full 3 minutes. Allow the body to twitch and move and settle.

2) Sphinx pose
On belly, place forearms on the floor, shoulder width apart, palms down, fingers facing forward. Lift head and upper body up to assume the pose of the sphinx. Upper arms should be perpendicular to the floor, chest up, neck relaxed. Add depth to this position by pulling the palms gently toward you on the floor. No need to move the hands or arms, just feel what that slight pull on the floor does to open the chest. Remain until physical fatigue sets in then change... should be a minute or so.

3) Child's pose with a block to support the forehead if necessary - hold 1-3 minutes.

4) Dvipida Pitham (Pelvic raises, dynamic with the breath)
On the back, feet planted on the floor, heels close to the hips, palms down. On inhale, raise hips up to maximum, drop chin to chest to stretch the back of the neck. On exhale, lower the hips down as you gently unwind the spine vertebrae by vertebrae. Celebrate the looseness and relaxation in the lower back. Repeat 3-5 times or more if you're loving it.

5) Supine twist
On back, bring knees up into the chest. Arms out to the sides, palms down, keeping knees together, lower knees toward right elbow. Rest keeping or trying keep both shoulders on the floor, space and extension in the lower back (think left hip away from left shoulder.) Look left if your neck is not tweaky. Relax. Perform twist to the left, then repeat both sides. Take your time.

6) Savasana

7) Meditation on the breath 3-5 minutes

8) Alternate Nostril Breathing Alternate Nostril Breathing for 3 minutes or until the feeling of clarity in the sinuses and lungs is achieved (I don't advise going on and on forever here! This is powerful stuff.)