Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yoga at Work

Part of this cold is achey, painful joints that feel like they are on fire. And sitting at a desk all day doesn't help. By midday yesterday, it actually hurt to sit in my chair.

When my office mate was at lunch, I took the opportunity to do some yoga in the office. There weren't going to be any downward dogs in my nice dress, but I made it work.

I did a lot of modified sun salutations, spent some time in powerful pose, stretched my arms and neck, and did some spinal twists. After 20 minutes, the phone hadn't rung once, no new emails came in, and I felt much better! I topped it off with a couple laps around the building when my office mate returned.

Afterwards, it was much more comfortable to sit in my office chair and work through the rest of the day.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Cold, Day 2

Today I'm feeling on the mend already. I chalk that up to daily yoga and the new vegan lifestyle. But as much as I want to believe that I've found the secret to life, I'm still sick. Just not as sick as yesterday!

I made it through work today, and came home to get in bed. When I finally got back out, I was feeling a little better, so I went straight for the mat. And that's when I realized that all of my joints are angry. Very angry.

So, I stretched. No power poses. The most strenuous thing I did was bridge, because it felt good to expand my chest. I stretched, and stretched, and stretched some more, and now I'm ready to climb back in bed. :) Preferably with a hot cup of tea...


Winter Cold

I've been fighting it for days I think, but finally surrendered. I have a cold. Yesterday, I was not really functioning. No balance, achey all over, and all stuffed up... all of that does not add up to a good yoga practice.

I threw in the towel, and just did some restorative poses while laying in bed, and just trying to balance my breathing was enough to wear me out!

I know I've read a lot about how yoga can be therapeutic for sick days, but I was too tired to care! I guess that is something to add to my 'sick day plan'. That's a concept I learned for diabetic care - to have a plan of foods you will eat that will feel good when your stomach is upset, but won't spike blood sugar the way normal comfort foods do, to know what medicines will have affects on your sugar levels, etc. Now I need to plan ahead for what yoga postures would help alleviate symptoms without wearing me out.

A little planning probably would have gone a long way yesterday.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm keeping up the love of Chutarunga!

Tonight, as I practiced, I focused on my new found love for Chutarunga again. I'm getting closer to be able to perform a true Army style pushup. Not that it's a necessity for yoga, but I'm interested in the fact that I'm getting so much stronger. I can go down, hover, and go a little bit back up. Four months ago, I couldn't even go down without using my knees, or collapsing without them. Three months ago, I couldn't go down and hover. Two months ago, I could hover but couldn't raise back up even the tiniest bit.

I am truly curious to see what I'll be able to do at the end of my year of yoga that I can't do now. I am still amazed at just how good yoga is for your body, while still being enjoyable.



Christmas day was busy, enjoyable, and short. Short, because I decide to lay down for a little while after dinner, and never got back up!

That makes two days so far in my year of yoga, that I didn't practice at all. One day for being sick as a dog and sleeping, and one day for being tuckered out at Christmas.

It's okay though. As much as I strive for perfection, I also recognize that sometimes, I just need to rest!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

When did I start to love Chutarunga?

Seriously, when did that happen? First, downward dog did indeed start to become a position of rest for me. Then side plank became just another pose.

But when did I start to enjoy Chutarunga???

What an awesome thing love, right? And I just realized it - no forcing my mind to like something I don't.

Last night, as I flowed through sun salutations, I realized I was looking forward to sinking into and hovering in Chutarunga. Once in it, I felt strong, solid, and powerful. And those are definitely good things to feel.

Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) to myself! What a fantastic present!


Oops! I'm a little sore!

After my shortened Power Yoga session on Monday, I realized that when I stop early, I need to make sure to fast forward in the DVD and do the proper end to a routine. Because without doing that, I am sore!

Not sore in a bad way though - just feeling the effects of the workout. But I know that if I had finished correctly, I wouldn't be feeling so much tightness!

Lesson Learned.


Partial Power Yoga

Monday night, I was feeling good, so I pulled out one of my hardest DVD's. Alas, all these days of taking it easy are taking their toll, and I couldn't finish.

It still felt great though, and I was happy to do what I did. Even though I didn't finish, I had a sense of accomplishment after!

Persistence is the key, right? As long as I keep at it, the ups and downs of my year of yoga will even out to one big positive!


Monday, December 21, 2009

More Side Plank

Side Plank felt so good last night that I incorporated it again tonight. And I remembered the first few times I tried to get into side plank years ago, and how amazingly difficult I found it. But now, while still challenging, it's definitely doable.

I have had a lot of issues with being in my thirties, but tonight, I realized how much stronger I am now than I was in my twenties.

And that's pretty amazing!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Side Plank

After a week of relatively easy practices, I decided to amp it up a little today, since it was Saturday. I did that by adding side plank back into my normal routine, and also a few variations of downward dog, with one leg up, stretching over to the opposite side.

My body seemed really happy with the challenge. Even though it's late in the day, and almost time for bed, I feel invigorated. And I feel longer. I love that feeling.

The things we do day in and day out make us feel compact, shorter, compressed. Yoga fixes that, and it fixed me today! I feel long, and a little bit leaner. And definitely stronger. And my forward bend seemed to improve, and get a little closer to what has been my normal. I guess all that stretching of the sides helped me loosen up my back as well.

Now, it's time for bed, and I'm looking forward to sleeping until the sun comes up tomorrow!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

I made it through my first work week!

I did it! I made it through my first work week without giving up on daily yoga!
Friday was an early day for me since I had to be at work an hour earlier than usual. I skipped the morning yoga again to be able to get up at the same time as usual.
After work, I shopped again, and finished all of our family members. Then I came home and wrapped until I was so sleepy I thought I would fall over.
I decided to do a seated practice before bed, since I wasn't feeling too steady.
It helped me release the stress of a non-stop day, and when I was done, I climbed under the covers and went straight to sleep!


For Thursday, the 18th

Thursday I did not get up early to do yoga before work! The night before, we went to the Command Christmas party, and I stayed up way later than usual. So I chose to sleep as much as possible, and then I practiced in the evening.

I was so tired by nighttime, from getting less sleep the night before, and then going Christmas Shopping after work, but I refused to give up on my commitment!

I mostly did sun salutations, and some constructive rest positions, and it felt great! Even when I'm exhausted, and can't imagine doing anything but crawling in bed, yoga is always the right choice.


For Wed, the 16th

For Wednesday, the 16th, I knew it would be a long day, so I got up early again to do yoga before before work. I remember doing it... but at this point, since it's Saturday, I don't remember anything specific to write about it!

I'm realizing that I need to carve out more time, now that I'm working. Maybe I'll keep up the morning yoga as much as possible, and then blog during my lunch, when I come home to feed the dogs.

We'll see!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sitting at a Desk all Day is Anti-Yoga

So, the morning after my first day at work, my forward bend is just not the same. I fully believe this is the immediate effects of sitting at a desk all day!

So I worked on my back, my hips, and my hamstrings. And of course, still focused on my three words.

Today, I got up from the desk several times and walked it out. I hope tomorrow morning's practice is a little less stiff!


My First Day at Work!

I got up early, and did a short power yoga practice before walking the dogs. I still focused on those three words - calm, positive, strong. But instead of doing a relaxing practice, I got ready for my first day at work with invigorating power poses.

Throughout the day, I kept my nerves at bay by remembering my practice, and my three words, and returning to my breath.

Worked like a charm!


Falling Behind Again!

So I've been practicing, but still falling behind on the blogging. I started a new job this week, and I'm trying to figure out how to make everything work.

Sunday night, I was nervous about my first day, and worried about not being able to sleep. So I did a calming practice, with my key words to focus on being "calm, positive, strong".

I actually slept pretty well, and I totally chalk it up to the yoga before bed!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another gorgeous day in Hawaii!

Today was another gorgeous day in Hawaii, and I had trouble getting all my duties done, because I was so mesmerized by the beauty of the Island in 'winter'. When we went out for a walk on the beach, I didn't want to leave. When we strolled though a few shops in quaint Haleiwa town, I didn't want to stop. And when it was time to walk the dogs, as much as I wanted to get outside... time was running out in the day, so I had to send my husband out with them while I stayed in to do yoga. :(

I love yoga. That much is obvious I hope. But somedays, I want to keep going, going, going, and it's hard to get myself to calm down, take a step back, and return to center.

I know it's good for me, but it takes discipline. Today was another day that I was glad to have made this commitment, because if it weren't for having to be honest on this blog, I definitely wouldn't have practiced today!!! ;)


Friday, December 11, 2009

Forward Bend

Today, I focused on really sinking into standing forward bend, with strong legs. My hamstrings have been tight - I'm guessing because I've been feeling a little more stressed this week, and also cutting my practices shorter. Forward bend just wasn't coming as easily, so I decided to spend some time on it, and slowly work back into it.

I varied my arms, and found that it's easiest to really sink in at the beginning, when I'm still tight by holding each elbow in the opposite hand. Once I limbered up, I found it easiest to sink farther by holding on the undersides of my big toes, and bending my elbows.

Now I'm feeling much better, and with this looser more relaxed feeling, I'm looking forward to lying down for a good night's sleep.


So now for the 10th...

I practiced AND I'm blogging. The best part is, my husband is home again, so I get to go back to my preferred routine of him walking the dogs while I practice yoga. That way our nightly routine is over quicker, and we can enjoy the evening more than if I walk the dogs AND practice, like I do when he's gone.

So tonight, I focused a little bit on lunges. Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 mostly, and triangle in between. My legs have been feeling a little tired/weak since the dramamine yesterday, and I wanted to energize them. It worked!

Now, after another super long day, I'm off to bed! Next week should be interesting while I try to integrate a new full time job into the day, without sacrificing on the dogs, the cleaning, cooking good quality food, and doing yoga!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

And for the 9th...

I went out to sea with my husband! It was a long, wonderful day! I took two dramamine pills spaced apart, and boy did they kick my butt! And when I came home, I had to work on a lot of detailed paperwork for a new job I'm starting... so even though I practiced with a series of sun salutations, I STILL didn't blog!

I can't believe I got this far behind on blogging!

For the 8th

I practiced on the 8th too... but after a serious hike earlier that day, I wanted to take it easy. So I practiced from a seated position, and then went to sleep!

Just so you know...

I did practice yoga on the 7th... but I guess I didn't blog about it! I've had a few days in a row like this... and I'll tell a little bit about why in each post for each day.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Catching up on Meditations

In the pre-holiday craft mess that is my house, I temporarily misplaced my Meditations from the Mat book. I am happy to report that today, I found it! It was a ridiculous hiding spot too - the book shelf! (Since I use it every day, it rarely makes it back there, so I never thought to look there!)

Today, I'm catching up on all the days I missed.

One quote in particular sticks out to me, and feels especially meaningful. "Acting with deep compassion from within my own being, I dispel all ignorance-born darkness with wisdom's resplendent light." That quote is from the Bhagavad Gita, which I previously tried to study, and decided to set aside for a future endeavor.

I was just telling a friend the other day that I struggle with sharing knowledge. It seems that often time, people don't want to hear it. But if I know something that I think could be helpful, would it not be selfish to keep it to myself? Or if I know something that can help someone make a positive change? But nobody wants to be a know it all, and nobody wants to be brow-beaten with information. So where do you draw that line?

Today I read that quote, and found something of an answer in it. If I'm acting with compassion, and from a pure place, and 'dispelling darkness' then maybe it is always worth it. If my motives aren't entirely compassionate - and since I'm human, they aren't always - then maybe it's better to keep my thoughts to myself until I've rectified that problem internally.

I'm a knowledge kind of person - I like to know, and I like to share what I know. Which brings me to a entirely different dilemma, one that I'll leave for another day and another post.

For now, I'm happy that I have at least one nugget of wisdom to guide me while I work on this aspect of my personal life. And I'm happy I found my book!


I practiced yesterday, but it didn't last.

Yesterday, I practiced early, because I knew it would be a late night. I was interrupted, and had to take what I had done as good enough.
The day spiraled out of control from there, and I quickly loss my sense of center. It was a good day, but it was hurried, stressful, and unbalanced. One of my biggest struggles is keeping the sense of calm I find in yoga going throughout the rest of my day, and throughout life. Yesterday, I made a little bit of progress in that I tried to stay true to myself, instead of trying to please everyone else. But I didn't keep that solid sense of self going.
I find it helpful to look back, and recognize where I lost my way in the day, and reflect on what I could have done different, and how I could have felt different, if I had been more thoughtful about my words, actions, and reactions.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Not so Lazy!

I sort of stuck to my word today. ;)
I did a more challenging practice, but I still kept it short. I worked with Warrior I, side plank, and push up position the most. All of those get my heart rate up, even though it's not cardio! But I didn't practice for very long, because my stomach was too full. I know you're supposed to wait 2 hrs after eating, but I ate late tonight, and I want to get to bed at a decent time. So instead of flowing through a longer practice, I chose to do a short strengthening practice, and now it's time to let my food digest!



Lazy is what I am tonight! I was feeling a lot of resistance to my practice. I kept putting it off, and just didn't want to do it. I finally just made myself do it, and then as always, I was glad I did. Why do we have that resistance to things we know we love?

I didn't practice long or hard - remember, I said I was feeling lazy! But I did practice enough to restore my spirits, stretch out my back, and generally feel better.

The laziness must end tomorrow though! I want to make my arms and legs look their best in time for a Christmas Party that's coming up. Far from the most pure yoga intention, but motivating nonetheless!


Yesterday's Practice - Taking it Easy

Yesterday, my knees were popping all over the place. It was disconcerting! So my practice was gentle. I didn't want to skip, but I didn't want to risk aggravating whatever was making my knees do that.

I went back to the method of one of my first yoga teachers, who often catered to a class composed mostly of retirees. I didn't think I'd remember it all, but I guess I went to her class often enough that it's ingrained in my memory.

It was a nice change of pace, in a gentle way.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Tonight, I was in a bright, happy mood. I wanted to maximize it, so I set up to practice in a dim room, with good music playing, and I flowed. Sun Salutations. Warrior I to Warrior III to Triangle. Warrior II to Side Angle to Triangle back to Warrior II. Plow to seated forward bend, over and over. I flowed, and flowed and flowed. But I couldn't contain myself, even with the flow. I shimmied too. I couldn't help it. It was like I had energy bubbling out of me. And all through my practice, I smiled.

I wish I knew how to bottle this feeling!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Last Day of November?

I can't believe December is here already!
Today is the last day of November, and I am having trouble reconciling with that.
I went to the Doctor today, and my blood pressure, which was already typically in the low end of the normal range, was even lower. They tested it three times to be sure. It's not dangerously low, but it's in the 'athlete/child' range of low. They asked what I was doing different, and I said daily yoga and a vegan diet. That is really the only changes I've made.
I hope this is a good sign of the positive effects my lifestyle changes are having on my body!
The Doctor also commended me on my weight loss, and tighter control of my blood sugar. It felt good to hear that all my hard work is paying off in a physical way.
So to celebrate, I tackled a pose tonight that I find very difficult - side plank. I don't know if it's because I'm generally getting stronger, or if it's because I went into my practice with increased confidence, but I found the pose much easier to get into tonight, and definitely easier to stay in, at least for a little bit.
Here's to increased strength, better health, and new challenges!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Is there such a thing? After 100 days of yoga, it's definitely becoming a habit, and something I think about throughout the day.

Alcoholics drink to feel better, smokers smoke... do yogaholics hit the mat?

I got upset tonight, and all I could think of was yoga. I stopped what I was doing, and went to practice. I practiced till I felt calm, then I meditated for a few minutes to try and cement that feeling a little bit into place. Maybe cement isn't the right word, because what I really want is a little flexibility, but with a string attached that pulls me right back into place. A saying about a tree comes to mind, about bending in the wind but not breaking, and staying rooted in the earth.

That is what yoga is for me, and I want that to grow even stronger. I want to bend to the needs of the day, but not snap, and I want to always keep my center strongly grounded.

And if craving that feeling every day makes me a yogaholic, then so be it! :)


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Another Good Day, Another Good Practice

Today was a good day. Tonight I had a good practice. I was sweating buckets, and enjoying the physical activity. But I really don't have much to say about anything today. It's been mellow in my house - perfect for yoga. But not much else going on, and nothing too thought provoking. Maybe tomorrow my brain will be more active!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Good Day

Today was another good day, and another good practice. It was shorter than I expected though. I settled in for over an hour of power yoga, but found I couldn't complete it. What I did do, I did well. I focused, I breathed, I fine tuned. But when I found I couldn't do that anymore, I recognized that, and I stopped.

Maybe it was because I ate so much yesterday.

Either way, my practice felt invigorating, and I wanted to keep it that way, instead of pushing through and feeling drained.

I hope tomorrow I can complete my practice, but if not, that's ok. Thirty minutes of good, hard yoga is good enough for me.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I had a quiet, meditative practice, to focus on the things I'm grateful for. I send out intentions almost every time I practice, but to acknowledge the holiday, I put even more focus on what I'm thankful for, and who and what I dedicated my practice to.

I'm so lucky to have a strong body that enables me to practice Yoga, to have a place to practice in, to live on such a beautiful island that always inspired me, to have a wonderful husband who encourages me, and to have a loving family that supports me.

I wish that everyone could have the same abundance of good fortune, if not more.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Surf Yoga

Today, I went up to the North Shore and watched the big wave riders. Their confidence, their respect for the power of the ocean, and their unbelievable skils are all awe inspiring. I saw a sign at a local cafe for surf yoga, and surf massage. Providers tweak yoga and massage to make it work for surfers - building balance, core strength, and taking care of the muscles of the upper back that are so important to paddling.

I've always wanted to learn how to surf. Having alwasy been a lack luster swimmer, I never had the guts. I promised myself that I would try it while I lived here, and today, I'm wondering if I have an advantage by already practicing yoga. Will my balance poses help me get up and stay up on a board? Maybe, maybe not.

But I'm willing to try and find out!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


After my blissful day yesterday, today was full of frustrations, most of which I could have handled better. So I took it to the mat, and spent over an hour sweating buckets in power yoga. And if felt gooooood. With so much focus on form and endurance and not slipping in my own sweat, I totally forgot about the things that were bothering me. And now my arms and legs feel like Jello! :) But I'm happy about it. Really happy.


Yesterday's Practice - Day 100

Yesterday, I treated myself to a spa day. It is a glorious place, and my skin really needed some help. So for my 100th day of yoga, I indulged!

I lucked out and had the Eucalyptus infused steam room all to myself, so I decided to try out my own little private version of 'hot yoga'. I did really, really slow, like turtle slow, stretches, and seated meditation.

It was wonderful, and though it was short because of the intensity of the steam, I'd say it was one of the most beneficial practices I've had yet!


Monday, November 23, 2009

99 Yoga Poses on the Wall...

99 Yoga Poses... You take down, master it around, 98 poses of yoga...

Ok, I'm feeling silly. This is my 99th day of yoga, and when I noticed that, the old song popped in my head. At first I didn't think anything of it, but then I thought of my friend Claire, who has a gorgeous yoga room in her house, with posters of the poses on the wall. I think I'd like to get a poster, and use it as a 'to do' list. A reminder if you will, to learn each and every pose in detail, not just the ones that seems so enticingly challenging. I've got some Amazon shopping to do, so I think I'll add that to the list.

I aspire to have a place carved out just for yoga and mediation some day too. Right now, I rotate through the house. When I'm using a DVD, I'm in the living room. When I'm using an old VHS tape or CD, I'm in the bedroom, where I keep a little TV/VCR combo in the closet. And when I'm practicing in silence, or with a podcase, I'm in the office. And every once in a while, if I'm feeling the need for more space, like for shoulderstand practice, I'm in the kitchen! It's nice to rotate around, but I'd like to be able to have a designated spot. A place that stays clean, and where I could leave my mat out because it's out of the way of traffic. It's not going to happen in this house, that's for sure. But maybe someday...


Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Mat is Calling

Today has been productive. A few things happened that upset me, but I was busy all day, and didn't think about them. When I finally settled into my big comfy chair to relax, my mind immediately went to the things that had bothered me earlier, and I knew no good would come of it. And then I heard my yoga mat, like it was calling my name.

I had a little resistance at first. I wanted to relax in my chair, and watch tv. But I couldn't quiet my mind, and somewhere in me, something was telling me to go do yoga. I've been reading about resistance in Mediations, so I asked myself why I was feeling it right then. Answer: laziness. I wanted to be lazy. But lazy wasn't going to help me. So I tossed the resistance aside, and hit the mat.

I practiced super slow, focusing on each little muscle group as much as I could, and on breathing. I threw myself completely into my practice. I couldn't let my irritable feelings go sitting in my chair, but I knew I would be able to on my mat - especially if I really focused on the poses to keep my mind from wandering. I think that's what people mean when they say 'moving meditation'.

Rocking from seated forward bend all the way back to plow over and over again, I imagined that I was pushing the tension out of my back, down my legs, and right out of my body. And in tree, I imagined myself to be as centered as a tall oak tree, rooted to the earth but always growing upwards. Of course I did other poses, but these poses were where I really hit my groove, and felt a huge benefit.

It's amazing how something that's irritating can turn into something positive with the right frame of mind and a little bit of action!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Letting Go

Today, I read words in Meditations that seemed like they were written just for me. Gates said, "In the end, it is not about control, but about letting go." He talked about how this is an attitude that is cultivated on the mat during your asanas, but that you must also take into your daily life. He talks about choosing to react in the ways of your old bad habits, or choosing to react in ways that help you be the person you want to be. Whether it's a situation you can't control in a store, with your job, or in some other arena, you have to realize that you are only in control of how you react, and the best way to do so is to let it go.

My Mom hasn't written a book, but she's said it to me a million times. "Just let it go Kris." And I resist to that so much.

In yoga, it's natural for me to let go. I can't always do it, but it happens often enough that when I can't, it's very noticeable to me. But in my daily life, this is definitely a struggle for me.

I've brought breath work off the mat and into the rest of my day. Now I need to bring this ability to let go off the mat as well.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Sun Salutations and Breathing

I wonder if it's a normal progression for yoga students to first feel the connection of the flow of breathing with the flow of movement in sun salutations. That has definitely been my experience. Tonight, as I flowed through a series of sun salutations I realized that I no longer have to try so hard to inhale with certain movements and exhale with others. The movement and the breathing are becoming intrinsically linked. It feels natural, as if there is no other way, but I know from my years of sporadic practice that it certainly hasn't always been this way.

I hope this connection keeps growing within my practice. I look forward to having such a natural feeling through the more difficult sequences.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Day, Good Practice

Today was a really good day. Traffic was exceptionally light, and my commute was cut in half. I had time to walk to the gas station to buy some pickled mango, and had a wonderful conversation, in true aloha spirit, with the clerk. It's not often that you can say a gas station clerk brightened your day! She was a sweetheart.

The weather was gorgeous, so I enjoyed the walk to and from the station, and then later on, I got outside with the dog I'm caring for, and we enjoyed the weather too.

Today was an early day for me, so when I left, I rolled the windows down, turned up the music, and got some errands done while I enjoyed the sun and the breeze. I went to a class, and then to a meeting, and then headed for home, still with plenty of energy for yoga.

I did a lot of standing balance poses, meditated in tree pose, really stretched out my forward bend, and then was joined by one of the pups for Shivasana.

And now I'm beat, ready for bed, and looking forward to tomorrow! :)


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tight muscles

I'm not sure what's going on today, but my muscles are tight. Much tighter than usual. I spent some extra time in forward bend, trying to allow my hamstrings to give in to the stretch. They were feeling very stubborn.

Maybe it's because I did new sequences a couple of nights in a row, and then fell asleep last night during my 'easy' practice. Maybe my muscles enjoyed the new workouts, but needed more of a stretch last night.

Either way, it felt good to limber up a little tonight. My balance is off and my muscles are tight, but it still felt good and my spirits are high!


Yesterday's Practice

Yesterday, I was out all day, and so tired when I got home. I wanted to relax and restore, so I chose a meditative practice. But guess what... I fell asleep during it! Oops! So here's the blog post for it, since I obviously can't blog in my sleep!

I guess when you're that tired, the body takes over!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Another evening of engaging practice

Tonight, I practiced very late again - it's been a full, busy weekend.
I chose an arm strengthening sequence, since I did legs yesterday. I started with chest openers, and then switched podcasts to the arm strength practice. I didn't finish it, because I could feel my heart rate rise, and my arms start to get wobbly. I didn't want to push it to far, so I decided to stretch and relax and quiet my mind after. In seated forward bend, I felt like I could have melted into the earth. I felt like there was no room for me to stretch farther, and I was fluid. No strain, no where else to go, just time and space to relax and let tension fall away. And now, with tired arms, I'm ready for bed, and a fresh start to a new week.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Still feeling inspired!

The glow from my wonderful day yesterday has carried through to today!
I slept in a little bit because last night was such a late night, and then made a pot of coffee.
When I went out with the dogs, it was shaping up to be a rainy day, and I was excited about it.
I went to a craft show and picked up some local, handmade gifts for Christmas and caught up with friends.
Then, I headed out to the beach. I figured it was cool, overcast, and rainy... so it would probably be empty. But if there's one thing you learn in Hawaii - the beach is never empty!!! I walked and enjoyed the 'winter' weather, and had a yummy sandwich.
Driving home, I caught my first Koolau Waterfalls - the kind that only spring up on a rainy day. Driving in the Jeep, playing Jack Johnson on the radio... I felt totally at peace.

I tell you all this because two wonderful days in a row inspired me in my practice. I chose a vigorous sequence of standing poses, and in each one, I could feel my torso rising up. It was as if my light mood was helping me lift out of the pose in a way I'd never been able to do before.

Afterwards, in shivasana, I focused on the mental images of beauty I captured today - the beach, the waves, the waterfalls. Wonderful. And I mean that by it's true definition - full of wonder. That's how I feel.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 90 - And what a wonderful day it was!

So, 90 days of yoga! Today was a wonderful day. I went to a concert at the Hawaii Theater that made me appreciate my life, my history, my opportunities, and of course the music.

First there was a screening of a concert DVD that showed many European locations - many of which I've been too. I was reminded how lucky I've been to travel the world. Memories came flooding back of experiences, friends, and feelings that have made me who I am today. It's easy to become disconnected from things that seem so long ago, and when you reconnect to them, you feel so much more alive.

Then there was the concert - Jack Johnson, live, in Hawaii. There were collaborations with Hawaiian artists, and a general spirit of aloha that you just don't get anywhere else. And that made me think of how lucky I am to have the opportunity to be here, living in Hawaii, and to have the means to go to such a concert!

And last but not least, the music. GOOD music. Music that warms your heart and makes you love your life just a little bit more. Lyrics that remind you of why you fell in love, and even better, why you're still in love.

What a great night. I came home, took the pups for a walk, and then settled in for an 'evening cool down' workout from Yoga Journal's podcasts. While I relaxed into it, I thought about all these positive influences I have in my life. I know I already said it, but I just feel so lucky, even honored maybe, to be living this life. It just keeps getting better!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

What a View!

Today, I practiced during the morning, while I was dog sitting in a Penthouse apartment downtown. The apartment had floor to ceiling windows, which has a positive and a negative. Obviously, the view is a positive aspect. But I have a fear of edges, and standing by those windows feels very much like an edge! So that was scary.

I thought it was a perfect opportunity to practice. I used yoga to work through the worry that builds up irrationally while looking over the edge of the floor, and used the view as motivation.

I only had my camera phone with me so the picture does not do the view justice. Seriously, it is FAR from the reality of the beauty of this view.

Lucky I live Hawaii!



I'm at a point in Meditations from the Mat that is over my head. I read the quotes, read the passages, and nothing eloquent flows through my mind. It's really just a resounding 'huh?'

Gates is talking about self-study, giving up hope and just being present in the now, and giving up self-image.

I can't wrap my head around these two concepts. If I give up hope of something better, I can live in the now - a now filled with decadent food, shopping trips, alcohol... I could even start smoking again. I could be very entertained in the now if I gave up hope for the future.

And previously in the teachings about the niyamas, there was a lot of talk about self-image. Being neat and clean, taking good care of one's outer appearance and your surroundings was considered important. But now it's says to give up self image, because it is an attachment, and with attachments, we can't live fully in the present.

I'm confused.

But I'm going to keep reading, and keep practicing, and hope (see, not giving that up yet!) that it all comes together and makes sense to me in the future.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sun Salutations

I love the rhythm and simplicity of sun salutations. I like that after all these days of continuous practice, and years of sporadic practice before that, I can flow through sun salutations without having to focus on which pose comes next. It's relaxing and invigorating all at the same time.

I've been learning lunar salutations too, but I think I lean towards sun salutations because I'm more familiar with them.

Tonight, even though it's a little rainy outside, I practiced sun salutations. It felt great, especially the warmth that they create juxtaposed with the damp, chilled air.

A winter storm is supposed to be headed our way, and I look forward to the chance to practice to the sound of pounding rain. I think if I get that opportunity, I'll switch to lunar salutations and relish in the coolness they entice.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breathing Exercise Bliss

Tonight, I did a wonderful series of breathing exercises aimed at relaxing the whole body. As always, my favorite part was when the breathing was combined with spinal twists. I wonder what that says about my body? I've been told by massage therapists that I hold my stress in my upper back, between the shoulder blades. Is that why I feel so much benefit from supine twists?

I keep saying I need a massage, and I keep saying I'm going to get one. But it just hasn't happened yet. Tonight though, during my practice, I felt like I really needed it, to loosen those tense muscles in my back and neck that are so hard to relax.

One more thought before I close. When I was finished tonight, I didn't want to move. I didn't want to get up and do the things I had to do before turning in for the night. And I mean REALLY didn't. I was so comfortable, so relaxed, and so content to just lay there enjoying the good feelings that my practice had brought. So that makes me wonder too - what does everyone else feel? What do yoga masters feel? Sometimes I'm energized to really live my daily life. But sometimes, like tonight, I just want to cover up with a blanket and be still. Is that a good thing?


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Slow Motion Study

Last night, after I finished my practice, I watched more of a Rodney Yee DVD in both slow motion, and double time speed. Slow motion allowed me to see small tweaks he was making to the poses that are hard to notice in regular motion, and even harder when you are in the pose yourself, only partially watching the screen. And double time speed allowed me to see more of a flow to the sequences and breath together, and have a better bigger picture of how an entire sequence should work together.

So today, I paid attention to those things I noticed while practicing, and I think it really helped. I was able to draw my leg up from downward dog into lunge with less struggle, I felt more muscles being stretched in forward bend, and I could really feel the difference in my abs during standing back bend.

And all that was just from reviewing a DVD I've done many times, but in a different way. A little change in perspective can make a world of difference!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Climbing back...

After a lot of off days, a lot of slow days, today I felt the need to climb back up on my yoga wagon. I felt relaxed and strong, and ready to go. But it turns out, more slow days than challenging days have weakened me more than I thought. So as I settled in for an hour of Power Yoga, I found myself petering out much before the end.

But that's ok, right? My climb is going to take a little longer than I thought.

In Meditations from the Mat, Gates says we have to practice without attachment to results. And that is so hard for me, and probably for most Americans. If I'm not attached to my results, it's hard to stay attached to the practice. It's hard for me to stay honest in my endeavors if I don't think I need to be attached to the outcome. I think that grey area has helped me end up where I am today, realizing that I've slacked too much, and made too many excuses. If it's always ok to not push yourself too much, it's easy to not push at all.

No guilt though. Just understanding. So I need to work a little harder, just to keep myself honest.

Another interesting thought from Meditations this week was this: The questions will be followed by the answers, the answers by action, and the action by growth.

To be able to follow this, I have to be able to trust that I am always honest with myself, or else my answers may be fraudulent, and lead me off the best path.


Slow night

Tonight is a slow night. I really have trouble with yoga when my sinuses are acting up. It's hard to bend over, hard to breath through my nose, and hard to focus.

I only practice for a few minutes - spinal twists, a few leg stretches, a supported neck stretch, and a few shoulder openers. I ended in reclined cobbler, instead of shivasana, because it just felt better.

Sometimes, when I'm not feeling well, I start to feel better once I start practicing. Tonight was one of those nights.

I think it's time to resurrect the neti pot. Maybe if I can get my head cleared up, I can get back to a more challenging practice. I feel bored without it!


Thursday, November 5, 2009


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. First, that I might try transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, which sparks a whole lists of questions for my own belief system. And second, that I think I'm too much of a consumer.

Today, I bought new clothes. Lots of them. And when I came home, my closet had collapsed. Is the universe trying to tell me something?

What does this have to do with yoga? Well, the more I practice, and the more I study the ways of yoga, I'm starting to feel like I need to try harder to be a better person, to do less harm to the world, and to try to do more good. Watching videos about the torture male calves go through at the hands of our milk industry is making me feel awful about buying milk, even though I only buy organic. And the amount of money I spend on clothes and shoes, even though I don't buy leather or wool, could be going to such better pursuits, like education or charities.

So when I practiced tonight, I practiced in the dark, and tried not to let all my 'things' cloud my vision. And I really felt out my feelings, if that makes any sense.

Veganism in today's society, especially married to a meat eater, is a huge transition. I won't do it overnight the way I did vegetarianism. And buying less will be a transition too. Right now though, for me in my life, on my path, I think that yoga is helping me to make the choices that will inevitably make me feel more content with my life.

Oh, and today, forward bend felt amazing... not downward dog. So I did it over and over again, and really enjoyed it!


How can Downward Dog Feel so Good?

I do downward dog just about every day now, usually several times a day, for several breaths at a time. So how can it feel so normal, and then all of a sudden feel so good?

I don't know what I did throughout the day that would have caused this, but I'm thinking I did something. Maybe my posture was more slouched than usual. Maybe my breathing was more shallow, and my chest more tight.

Whatever it was, downward dog was the fix. Getting into it, I could feel my side ribs really open, and my lungs expand. My upper arms felt tight, but they must like downward dog, because the stretch felt amazing.

Sometimes things strike me so unexpectedly. Earlier this week, I was resting in downward dog, and my mind went back to the first time I learned that the pose could be use for rest, many years ago. I was full of disbelief then, but there I was, using it to take a break from a strenuous practice and return to my breath. It wasn't a shocking realization, but more of a acknowledgement of how far I've come in yoga. And then just a few days later, here I am, caught off guard by how amazing a pose can feel.

Every day my body is changing, with yoga and outside of it. I never know what to expect, but I do know that whatever happens will be good!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 80!

Today is day 80, and I took it easy. It was a quiet day, raining on and off with a nice breeze. I took a nap earlier just because I wanted to fall asleep to the sound of the rain. It was blissfully peaceful. And once the house was quiet tonight - husband and dogs all sound asleep - I did some gentle yoga in front of open windows, inhaling the scent of the rain. It has been a very happy day. :)


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Tonight, I had a great practice. I put in a Shiva Rhea CD - not a practice CD, just music. I let the music guide me, and I truly enjoyed myself. I worked on shoulder stand again with the help of my husband, and made a teensy bit of progress. I worked on it until my arms felt worn out, which wasn't as long as you might think!

Outside of practice though, I've been thinking about the ups and downs of this journey, the good days and the not so good. Tonight, when I opened up Meditations from the Mat, I received some perfectly timed guidance.

Gates says, "We will have good days and bad days, days when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and days when the opposite is the case. Years of consistent practice are not built on rigid self-discipline; they are built on the desire to know more." Instantly, I felt better. Because I definitely have days when my muscles feel strong, but I'm just not in the mood, and days when I'm inspired, but my body doesn't cooperate. Like a good teacher guiding me along, Gates and Meditations from the Mat are coaching me to keep going, to know my ups and down are normal, and to help me grow within my own practice.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Lunar Flow Inspiration

Today, I went to the Ko'olina Lagoons. I walked the path around the lagoons, had an ocean front lunch, snorkeled along the rock walls, and then laid on the grass, soaking up the sun. While I laid there, I thought of Lunar Flow, and how you are supposed to imagine standing in front of the sea with a full moon shining down, and that this was the perfect inspiration for that meditation.

So tonight, I practiced with my Lunar Flow CD, and used the beautiful seascapes from today as my mental images.

I always have trouble with one aspect of this meditation, and that's centering my image in my imagination. For some reason, I struggle with lining everything up - my imaginary self, the coastline in front of me, the waves breaking, and the moon shining down. My mind wants to set everything from an angle, as if my dominant eye is even more dominant when my eyes are closed and they aren't actually seeing anything.

Having a real image helped with this a little bit, but didn't eradicate the problem. For me, having things lined up is key to relaxation. But which is more important - to be able to line everything up by flexing my mental muscles, or to be able to let the need for the line up go, and relax even with my meditation offset at an angle? I'm really not sure. I'm guessing though that both are worthwhile pursuits when meditating.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shoulder Openers

I could really feel my efforts from last night's practice today. Between that, and my mini mental meltdown over dog hair, I was in the need for some relaxation and re-centering.

Tonight was the kind of night where every moment was a struggle to keep my mind from racing, to keep from jumping mentally from one frustration to another.

To combat the tightness from yesterday's practice, and the tightness from my self-created stress, I chose a shoulder and neck opening practice.

When it was over, I definitely felt better. I can't say I was completely right again, but I was able to attack the couch with the vacuum instead of just chucking it to the curb! So tonight, yoga helped me my stress, my muscle tension, my sanity, and my wallet! ;)


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Headstand Progress!

Tonight, I did Solar Flow. I was feeling up to a challenge, and afterwards, I felt invigorated.

The highlight of my practice though, was the Shoulder Opening series of the Solar Flow Yoga Matrix, which culminates in shoulder stand. My husband was home tonight, so when it was time to pause the DVD and attempt shoulder stand, I enlisted his help. I'm timid about trying with 100% effort with no one there to spot me, so having him there tonight allowed me to try harder than before with being afraid.

I'm still not able to do it on my own, but with guidance from him, and a decent amount of help, I was able to into and out of the pose several times.

It was a great learning experience too, because just like in class, I learned that what feels right to me isn't actually the right form. What I thought was completely vertical was actually nowhere near straight up and down, making it impossible for me to get up and balance. Since I practice without a mirror, having him there to tell me and to correct me was a huge help!

I feel like I made more progress tonight that in all the other nights combined, and I'm excited about the prospect of practicing again tomorrow!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Back to my Headstand Challenge

Ok, so tonight, I was feeling pretty good, so I returned to my headstand challenge. I practiced on my own, mostly pulling from the Power Yoga tape, since I have that routine memorized, and adding a few things that I like.

Towards the end, I did some of the preparatory poses for headstand, and then tried to get up into it, knowing I wouldn't, but at least exercising the muscles. One side is definitely stronger. If I try to lift up with my left leg first to establish the stance, I get closer, and feel more stable than I do on the right.

And just like I said yesterday, I feel like limber, strong version of me is trapped inside this other version. The gymnast of my youth and runner of my early twenties is there, egging me on, showing me that I can do it in my mind.

I'll keep trying, until I can do it in reality!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

There's a Yoga Master Trapped Inside Me!

Yup, that's how I feel today. Like there's a Yoga Master trapped inside me, dying to get out. Today I am feeling impatience. When I close my eyes and listen to the music, I can picture my body doing things that it just can't do yet. In my head, it seems natural and fluid. But the reality is not so, not yet at least.

Patience, patience, patience. And perseverance, right? I need to be patient and persevere and work towards my goals.

I find it strange that yoga offers instant gratification in that you feel better immediately. But there is no instant gratification when it comes to what I want. And I'm sure that's a good thing, because it will be so much more meaningful and valuable when I've earned it.

That's all for my musings today. My practice was light, and I focused on standing balance poses because my arm is still a little out of commission. More than anything, tonight's practice was a mental exercise to not judge myself, to not push myself, and to try to keep my mind in the right frame of mind, since obviously I'm feeling a little impatient! ;)


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I love Twists

Tonight was another 'easy' practice. I had my flu shot today, and a Pneumonia Vaccination. One arm feels fine, but the other doesn't feel fine at all! So I'm giving them a break.

I chose to do a practice that focused on breathing and relaxation, and incorporates one of my favorite things - supine twists. I love the feeling of breathing in and out while dropping my knees to one side and then the other. It unravels all the tension in my back, and helps me breathe deeper.

It was the perfect practice to end my day. I love when that happens!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trying to Enjoy Abs

Today, I read my mediation earlier, and it was about finding joy and contentment in the activities of daily life. All day, I worked on this.

When I was vacuuming, I considered how lucky I was to have a nice home, a great vacuum cleaner, and two wonderful dogs to clean up after. When I was washing dishes, I enjoyed the actual dishes, because they are simple and plain, and make me happy. I cleaned appliances and focused on the fact that I have the time and energy to do this, as a stay at home wife.

I wasn't perfect. I slipped into negative thinking a lot. But I continued to recall my thoughts, and focus on the positive.

When it was finally time for yoga, I did yoga for abs, which is still my weakest practice. It was an opportunity to focus on the challenge, on the opportunity to strengthen my core, and recognize how lucky I am that other facets of my practice come easily.

And even though many things didn't go 'right' today, I feel like it was a good day. A happy day.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Holding the Pose

I think I've mentioned it before, that Tree is one of my favorite poses, one I can relax in, and truly quiet my mind.

Today's Meditations from the Mat talks about meditating in the pose, letting thought drop away, and breathing into every cell of your body. The author recommended Warrior 2, but to start with this, I chose Tree.

I kept my practice simple - mostly sun salutations. And then I stayed in tree for a while on each side, softening my gaze, relaxing my breath, and feeling my body without analyzing. It's difficult - my mind wanders easily. But since I already find Tree to be an easy pose for me to center in, I was able to take it a step further.

I didn't work on my current challenge today - headstand. But I'll get back to that soon.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

2nd post for the Day

So since I didn't practice or post yesterday, my numbers will be off, and that will confuse me. So I'm splitting today into two posts. One (already done) about yesterday's events and forgetting to practice. And another (this one) about today's practice.

Today's practice was a short power yoga session. I felt weak, but it felt good. Like it was just what I needed, and just enough. My neck was feeling strained though, and I don't know why. It was probably that I slept too much last night when I didn't feel well.

So today is day 70, even though I've only practice 69 times. But I do intend to double up one day soon, so that when I reach 365 days, I'll have 365 practices to show for it, even if it wasn't truly daily. Not perfect, like I mentioned in my other post, but still the best I could do, and that's good enough for me.


I fell off the Yoga Wagon!

This morning, shortly after I woke up, I realized I didn't do yoga yesterday, and I was very angry at myself.

Here's what happened. Yesterday was a packed day. I started out early dropping my husband off at work, and then ran errands all morning. There was a command beach party, and I spent the entire afternoon and early evening at that. I even commented that I needed to get home in time to make dinner, feed and walk the dogs, and do yoga before going to bed.

But then things got off track. I ended up getting take out because we stayed longer than planned. And then, I got sick. Blah. I laid down with every intention of getting back up. But that just didn't happen. I was only up when I was sick, and yoga was far, far, far away from my mind.

I didn't choose to skip it... I just got sidetracked and completely forgot. And boy was I disappointed in myself when I realized.

So my plan today was to do yoga twice. Two full practices, to make up for yesterday. But I'm still feeling a little weak. So I did one short power yoga practice, and that was it. Then, I read in meditations, "Is it possible that judgement or distraction are like the rain, and you are like the earth? The rain comes and goes, but the earth remains."

And then I didn't feel so bad anymore.

The perfectionist in me is screaming, "Do it all the way, do it completely right, or don't do it at all!" And yet, after practicing now for 70 days, and studying the path of yoga, I know in my heart that my inner perfectionist is wrong. We hear it all the time, that we need to honor our bodies, forgive ourselves, recognize where we are... but it is so easy to slip out of that. So I'm not perfect. And my year of yoga is now not perfect. But it's still worthwhile, and still worth the effort. Distraction and judgement come and go, but me and my commitment remain.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Practice is Practice

Today, I went back to Power Yoga. I was tired, but felt like it would do me some good. I think I've been relying to heavily on the easier practices lately.

I went through it, and it did feel good once I got going.

But I realized... sometimes Practice is just that. Practice. I think yoga should be more than that, more than just going through the motions. Days like this though, I am very grateful for the habits I'm forming, so even when I'm not getting more than that out of it, I can at least still go through the motions, and keep my momentum going.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Some days...

Some days, it just doesn't work. Today I've been struggling with my blood sugar levels, and tonight, when I went to practice, they were really  high. And when they are high, I feel funny - lethargic and antsy all at the same time. Unable to get comfortable, cranky, and impatient - that's me.

Normally, I settle in to do yoga, and immediately start to feel at ease. But not today. I just couldn't get with it. I'm having an off day. I decided that was ok, and ended my practice early.

I read somewhere, maybe in Meditations from the Mat, that yesterday's practice is a reminder of the potential for today. Tonight, I'm thinking about it a little differently. I'm not going to get discouraged by today's practice, because just sticking with it gives me hope that tomorrow will be better.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Relaxing, Day 2

Tonight, I practiced Yoga Nidra. I haven't tried Yoga Nidra in a long time, and I think it went pretty well. There was one glaring area of my body that I couldn't relax. My big toe. I find that comical, but it's true.  As my body relaxed, and I felt as if I was sinking down into myself, my big toe seemed to throb even more, and rise away from my body as if to shout, "hello, pay attention to me!"

I guess that means I need to pay attention to my toe! ;) I had surgery at the base of that toe years ago, and it's never been 100% ever since. I'm not sure if it took a certain level of relaxation for me to notice, or if it would have stood out like that tonight no matter what. Either way, I'll be giving it some loving in the form of comfortable shoes tomorrow.

I am continually surprised at the wide range of realizations that come to me during the different types of practices I try.  66 days of yoga has brought me up, down, and all around. And as usual, I am excited to see what comes next!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Yesterday I worked towards a new challenge. Today I focused on trying to relax. 

It was a go, go, go kind of day. Lots to do, lots to think about. So when it was time to slow down, I chose a relaxing practice. And I add a little doggie time in before My dogs love when I pull out the yoga mat, because they know that means I'm coming down to their level, and I'll usually give them some attention after. 

Today, I gave them attention before. I know it's a proven fact that dogs help their owners de-stress, and tonight I capitalized on that. By the time I was ready to hit play on my DVD, I was already in a much better place.

After the practice, and the quality time with my four-legged friends, I'm ready for a quiet end to the night, and a good night's sleep.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Time for a Challenge

One of my goals when I started this daily practice was to be able to flow through Sun Salutations from plank to chaturanga to upward dog to downward dog with strength and grace. And guess what? After 64 days of yoga, I can. Ok, well maybe not with grace, but I can do it without struggling.

It's funny that today is when I noticed that I'd accomplished that goal. The timing was perfect for my next challenge.

A friend asked me today if I did the 'kind of yoga where you stand on your head'. I had to admit, that no, I do not. Headstands have always intimidated me. Even as a kid in gymnastics, I enjoyed handstands, and shied away from headstands. Maybe it came from my chronic headaches, and my fear of ever putting pressure on my head. Either way, it stuck with me, and even now, I avoid headstands at all costs.

I know now that it's actually about arm strength, core strength, and balance. It's not the pressure on the head and neck that scared me as a kid. But I still avoid it.

With one challenge overcome today, I think I'm perfectly poised to make headstand my next challenge. I worked on a few prep poses today after a series of sun salutations. I've been instructed on how to do them before, though I didn't give it my full effort. Now that's going to change! I am excited for the day that I can come post that I've overcome this challenge too!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fine Tuning

Tonight I did my own thing again. My 'yoga mix tape' in my head. I'm really enjoying learning enough to be able to do this.

What really stood out to me tonight was just how many fine tuning cues I've picked up by going to different classes and using different DVD's, CD's, books, and magazine articles for guidance. My mind seems to automatically list off various things to check in with for form, breath, and focus.

This makes me wonder just how many cues there really are, and how much fine tuning can be done. It seems the more I learn about yoga, the more I realize there is still to learn. This seems to be true with just about anything worth learning in life, and now I'm seeing it in yoga too.

I imagine some things will eventually become second nature, and I won't even need my mind to list them off in a mental check list. For now, I'm enjoying the fine tuning, and the journey of learning.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another Day of Vinyasa Flow

Last night's practice felt great, but I didn't want to push it too hard tonight. I can definitely feel the workout in my legs, and while it's not painful, I thought I should be cautious.

So tonight, I did the same Vinyasa Flow DVD, but back to my old level. 

One thing that I noticed tonight was how much I tune into the cues about opening the collar bone, especially in Warrior Two and Triangle Poses. This is not a stretch that comes naturally to me. I curve forward naturally, and probably make it worse by sitting in front of the computer and the TV. So to stretch my back, and open the collar bone feels wonderful. I definitely need the cue to remind me to do that. This is the only DVD I've ever had that includes that cue in these poses, and that's a really relaxing and beneficial tweak to the pose.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Good Workout Tonight

Tonight, I did the next level up on my Vinyasa Flow DVD, and it was a great workout! I feel energized.

Most notably, this series added a high lunge pose with arms extended overhead that I found very challenging, and it also incorporated Stage 2 of Triangle pose, which really deepened the stretch for me.

Towards the end, my legs were starting to feel worn out, so I was very content to reach the twists and then Shivasana.

All in all, my practice was 50 minutes long, but it was so engaging that it really didn't feel that long at all. I love when I can really get into it, and not feel the minutes ticking by!



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Headache Relief

I'm sure I've posted about it before, but it really made an impression again today, so I'm writing about it again. And 'it' is using yoga for headache relief.

Today was another long, full day. Nothing went wrong, but it was full of tasks I don't exactly relish. I recognized that I was letting tension build, but after 3 hours at the vet, I couldn't seem to reign it in.

When I finally got home, I settled in for a 50 minute headache relief practice, and it was absolutely wonderful. My neck and shoulders feel spacious, much of the tension is gone, and most importantly, the pain is fading.

Yoga = Relief (in so many ways!)



Yesterday was a busy day. I practiced early in the day, for about an hour, because I knew it was going to be a long night. When the day was finally over, I crashed into bed for a heavy night's sleep.

And totally forgot to blog! Horrors! ;)

So, to sum it up a day late... I did a "wake up" practice meant to get the body going, and it felt great. I read the last entry on Aparigraha in Meditations for the Mat. And when my errands went awry, and I was really building up steam and about to blow from dealing with our health care system, I asked myself what I was really angry about. What did I need to let go?

The answer was glaringly obvious. I was really angry that I had no control over how others do their job, or how the government makes things as simple as allergy medicine into very complicated tasks. I was really angry that nobody that I ran into cared even a little bit about how ridiculous the problems were, and that they weren't willing to help even a little bit if it wasn't required. I was really angry that I felt powerless and abandoned.

And I needed to let that go. So I did. And today, with a fresh start, I got my medicine, and I got the appointments I needed. And I was able to smile at the pharmacist when she marveled at how well my persistence paid off.

It's good to let things go, let anger go, and smile at the end.


Monday, October 12, 2009


Simplicity has been my theme today, even before I realized it.

I am a relatively neat person, and I'm not fond of clutter. While picking up around the house today, I was thinking about the surfaces, and if they had too many things on them. Obviously, the concept of Aparigraha is sticking with me.

Then I opened the kitchen cabinets, and was struck by how many glasses I have. There are only two of us, and we've never had more than 6 guests at a time, so why do I have over 30 glasses? I certainly don't need that many. Time to clean out the cabinets, and donate.

Later, I was thinking about how I could really use some more streamlining in my organization, to keep it simple. It's not always an easy task, but once it's done, every day chores are easier.

I really do love simplicity. It makes me happy and content.

For my yoga practice, I chose Lunar Flow again, the Shiva Rea CD I recently purchased. It is one of the most simple practices I do, with a series of Lunar Salutations that repeat over and over and over. First with cues, then just with the mantra, and then just the music. As simple as it starts out, Shiva takes it a step further, stripping away one layer and then another, until it just you, your body, and the music. Simplicity.

Then I read my Meditations from the Mat entry. It started with Lynyrd Skynyrd lyrics, "All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied. And be a simple kind of man, someone you can love and understand..."

And that sums up my day, doesn't it? I want to lead a simple, satisfied life full of love and understanding. I think most people do, but not so many realize it. Even fewer know how to do it. Recognizing how much simplicity satisfies me is a step toward that goal for me.


8 Weeks are Complete!

I am so excited that today marks the start of my 9th week of daily yoga. 8 weeks of practice have brought me far, and I am so happy that I have made this commitment, and stuck to it!

Tonight, I practiced on my own. I mixed basic Sun Salutations with a few things pulled from a variety of the DVD's I own. I basically made a yoga mix tape in my head.

It felt great to indulge in only the things I really enjoy, only the things that feel exceptionally good to my body. One of my favorite moves is from Rodney Yee's Power Yoga. Lying on your back, you rock back and forth up to sitting and back down gently, and then you expand the movement to rock all the way from Plow to Seated Forward Bend. It feels wonderful. I hear a lot of popping and cracking, but not in a worrisome way. In fact, I think my back might be realigning itself the way the chiropractor would!

To end, I used some of the breathing and restorative exercises I've been doing a lot of this last week. That wrapped my practice up in a neat little bow, and now I'm feeling really good. Strong but relaxed - that's the goal, right?


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back to the Heart Opener

Tonight, I went back to the restorative pose series with the supported heart opener that gave me so much trouble earlier in the week.

I've been thinking about it since then, and tonight, I didn't have any of those same flashback thoughts. I think I relaxed a little more into the pose, trusting myself enough to open a little more. Mentally, I had no problems this time, but physically, I could feel my muscles pulling back, not wanting to give in and release their tension.

This doesn't surprise me. I have that kind of posture, the rounded kind with my shoulders caved in. That lends to tension in the small muscles between the front ribs. I had a massage therapist once who told me I had chains of tiny little knots running between my ribs like a rosary. She tried to work them out for me, but I found it much too uncomfortable.

So I'm going to keep at this position. Maybe not every day, but with some regularity. I'm going to keep telling my body to relax through breath, and see if I can get some of that tightness to release on my own.

I'm still in the Aparigraha stage of Meditations from the Mat - it's all about letting go. So I'm going to try to let this inner defense mechanism of curling in and guarding my heart go too.



Saturday, October 10, 2009


Today, I focused my practice on Pranayama. I've been struggling this week with not feeling well - low grade fever, stuffy nose, queasy stomach, blah, blah, blah.

I realized that my breathing was suffering from this. Laying back and working through various breathing exercises combined with supine poses really helped me feel revitalized. I was worried my nose would be too stuffy for it, but it didn't pose a problem.

The best part of tonight's practice was breathing while twisting from side to side, every movement synchronized to the inhales and exhales. I felt like all the stiffness from spending so much time resting was getting squeezed out of me, like wringing a wet rag. And the movement really seemed to increase the depth of my breath naturally, and I think that's exactly what I needed.

I'm still feeling under the weather - after all, yoga is not a cure all. But I am feeling much improved after my pranayama practice, and I think that's an awesome result.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Drawing a blank

Today, I'm drawing a blogging blank. I did Vinyasa Flow tonight, and enjoyed it, but I really just don't have anything to say about it.

So I'm wondering if anyone else wants to share what they did today. Please feel free to talk about your practice, or how you're living yoga. I'd love to hear it. Maybe you'll bring me some new inspiration!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Gentle Reminder

Today, I did an "Evening Revival" routine, which is a gentle routine meant to open the shoulders, back, and hips. I know I've mentioned it before, but I was again amazed at how difficult I find the simplest poses when I need to hold them for extended periods, and really focus.

I hold stress between my shoulder blades, and this routine focus on the upper back much of the time. What the DVD claims to be a release of stress feels much different to me in this area. It's not painful, but it's very uncomfortable, and makes me feel uneasy.

Standing with my feet wide apart, arms extended out to my sides, and twisting around, I could feel that my upper back just did not want to release. I'm taking this as a gentle reminder from yoga that I need to be more mindful of my stress. I need to let things go as them come up, instead of storing them away in the tense muscles of my back.

And most of all - I need a massage! ;)


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lunar Flow

More goodies came in the mail today! Yay! My new Manduka mat, 2 cork blocks that are more stable than the foam one I had before, and a new CD "Drops of Nectar" which is a guided Lunar Flow practice with Shiva Rea.

I tried out the CD tonight, and marveled at the difference between Lunar Salutations and Solar Salutations. The poses are so similar, but with the rhythm so much slower, the outcome was very different.

At first, I had trouble keeping my breathing in line with the movements at that slow of a pace. But after the sixth or seventh series, I was getting better at it. I also found that moving so slow allowed me to pay more attention to my form coming out of Cobra and moving into Downward Dog.

I'm excited to have another tool in my Year of Yoga Toolbox!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009


At this point in Meditations from the mat, I'm reading about Aparigraha, which is the final yama, and means nonpossesiveness and nonhoarding.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle of the road with this yama. I'm really good about cleaning about my possessions. I'm quite the opposite of a hoarder. And I think I'm OK in the mental aspect of Aparigraha too. I can let go of preconceived notions in a lot of ways, and I think I'm very open minded.

But I know there are areas that need work. I don't keep a lot of things for sentimental purposes, but what I do keep, I have a fierce grip on, and can't imagine letting it go. Pictures, tokens from my Grandfather, old letters... these are the only things I truly hoard. If I lost them, I would be devastated. I realize that an attachment like that to material possessions is a waste of energy, but yet I still cling to it.

I also know that I have beliefs about myself and the way things *should* be that I hold on to, even when they present challenges in my daily life. And here's where things get complicated. I don't know if I believe that I should necessarily let them go. What dictates which beliefs are worth holding onto and fighting for, and which are holding you back? In a previous section of the book, the author asks, "What are we defending, and why are we defending it?" He was speaking of National Defense, but I think that is an appropriate mediation for figuring out which of our beliefs are worthwhile.

The most interesting aspect of today's entry in Meditations from the Mat was this statement about the effect of practicing Aparigraha: Yesterday's definition of a man or a woman, a race or a religion, a blessing or a curse no longer has any power over us. We can begin to trust our perceptions of the truth in the moment.

Trust your perceptions of the truth of the moment - that is a very appealing concept, and makes the practice of Aparigraha appear very worthy of the effort.


Monday, October 5, 2009

A Surprising Outcome

For today's practice, I did a "Restorative Poses for Relaxation" sequence. This is one of the sequences from the Yoga for Relaxation DVD that I hadn't tried yet.

While I was settling into a supported chest opener, memories came popping into my mind that I hadn't thought of in a long time - hurtful memories, vulnerable memories. I recognized them, and then set them aside, and focused on breathing. But I wondered 'why'. Why were these random memories popping up? The scenes that ran across my mind were ones that had no connection to my day, or even my life anymore. They were moments I hadn't thought if in a very long time. They weren't awful things, but they were things that I find unpleasant to think about because they hurt my heart when they happened.

A few minutes into the pose, the teacher said that the pose could be more difficult than expected, because opening your heart, and elevating it about the rest of your body is a very vulnerable position. She said that people who had been hurt in the past, and who were still guarding their heart would have trouble relaxing in this pose, holding it for an extended time, and keeping the mind quiet.

I was taken aback. Here I was wondering why these memories were resurfacing, and then here was the answer. And the answer was upsetting. Am I really still guarding my heart from the low points of past relationships? That idea is unnerving.

I'm not sure what to do with this. Should I just recognize that I have issues (who doesn't), and then keep going? Is acknowledgement enough? Or should I address these old hurts, and do more to work through them? Should I seek out more heart opening poses, and use yoga to work on this issue of self-guarding?

I'm not used to feeling uneasy AFTER yoga. I'm used to using yoga to feel more calm. Tonight's outcome was very unexpected, and I'm just not sure what to think about that.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Kept My Promise

Today, I kept yesterday's promise to myself to take it easy. It wasn't hard to do, because it was a long, full day and my body was tired by the time I got home.

I did a short, light practice on my own, with no music or video. I pulled mostly from a practice I learned when I lived in Georgia. I took a weekly yoga class there that was largely filled with retired women, and I still have it memorized.

The relaxing aspect must have worked, because before I knew it, I fell asleep! I just woke up and realized I hadn't finished everything for the night, so here I am blogging, and now I'm going back to bed. I'm not sure what tomorrow holds for practice. I need to check in with my body and see if one day of rest was enough.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Shaky, Shaky

The title pretty much sums up my yoga practice tonight. Shaky, unbalanced, and incomplete. I'm not sure what's going on with me today, but I couldn't stay in my poses, and I couldn't finish the hour long routine I had selected. I fell out of triangle, and even wobbled around in forward bend. My legs are sore, my arms feel heavy... and the most frustrating part is that I don't know why.

I don't think I've been pushing it too hard. But just in case I am, tomorrow I'll honor my body. I'll acknowledge where I am right now, even though I don't understand it, and choose a much more relaxing practice.

Moderation is key to living yoga, so I'm going to moderate my practice a little bit to see if it helps.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Be Flexible

"Be Flexible to Be a Better You." The truth in that statement astounds me. Obviously in yoga, flexibility helps to deepen our practice. In other sports, flexibility helps us avoid injury, and allows us to accomplish more impressive feats.

But in real life, every day life, flexibility is essential to joy. As a military wife, I've found that if you go with the flow, take on each change and challenge, and make the best of it, you can be happy anywhere, in almost any situation. If you fight the changes, dig in your heels, and refuse to bend with the currents, you will find yourself to be miserable. Often.

I don't know about you, but I want to be happy, joyful. So I work on my flexibility, not just physically, but mentally as well. Thank goodness for yoga to help me do that!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dancing Warrior

I played with the matrix on Solar Flow again today, and added "Dancing Warrior" to my practice. I loved it. I'm finding that for vigorous yoga workouts, I much prefer upbeat, rhythmic music, as opposed to the traditional soft, slow music. When I was at a local concert a couple weeks ago, listening to native music with percussion performed on huge gourds, I closed my eyes and imagined doing a vinyasa flow routine to that rhythm. After today's wonderful practice, I think I'll pursue that idea, and go looking for some new music to practice to.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A piece of Humble Pie

Today's Mediation from the Mat starts with a quote from Baron Baptiste. "The prize is in the process." In the entry, Rolf Gates goes on to describe a student who is attached to results. He says that being concerned with results and physical progress goes against the heart of yoga.

As I'm reading this, I'm wondering about my arms. A couple days ago, I posted about the changes in my arms, and how happy those changes made me.

Does that mean I'm too focused on physical progress and results? I hope not. It was good timing though, and I'm glad I read it.

I think it's a good thing to know your body, to recognize changes, to strive for strength... that all leads to better health. And better health is definitely something to be happy about!

I'm going to be more careful now though, more thoughtful. I'm happy to be aware of how easy it is to get focused on the wrong things, and lose sight of what really matters.

Speaking of arms though - they are tired! I did a longer version of the Solar Flow Matrix today, and I feel tired, but in a fulfilling way. Tomorrow, I'm going to give my arms a break and do a restorative practice!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Closed eyes

Have you ever tried standing in Mountain Pose, but with your eyes closed? How about tree pose? Tonight, I spent a lot of time in tree. I varied the arms, focused on breathing, and eventually worked my way towards tree with closed eyes. It is so amazing how much harder it can be to hold a balance pose with out having a 'focus point'. This is yet another thing I want to work on - my inner sense of balance, and my ability to rely on it, without reference to the outside world. Maybe it's an unrealistic correlation, but I feel like mastering that would help me stay calm when everything around me is in chaos. Inward balance - physically and mentally - that's what yoga is all about, right?


Monday, September 28, 2009

My arms are changing.

Seriously. My arms are changing, and I love it! I recognize that physical appearance should be one of the lesser concerns in my pursuit of yoga, but it does make me happy to see the physical changes right there in front of my face. It's 'proof in the pudding', and yes, my arms were about as hard as pudding before!

Probably, most people wouldn't notice the changes. But that's ok, because I do. My triceps are starting to have visible definition, and my biceps are getting firmer. Even the area often called 'armpit chest' is getting more toned, less soft.

I think all of this comes from chaturanga dandasana (push up position). So tonight, I went back to Solar Flow, because Shiva uses that pose alot, and encourages you to hover in it. By the end of practice, I was really feeling it in the arms, and I'm happy about it!

This is really reinforcing the fact that when something seems difficult, it's worth the extra attention and hard work to master it. I haven't come close to mastering chaturanga dandasana, but I've been putting so much effort into, and I know that's why I'm reaping these physical rewards.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Power of Repetition

I'm in a sleepwalking daze, so tomorrow I might find this makes no sense. Today, I'm noticing the power of repetition, and I imagine what is the beginnings of habit.

After a wonderful morning and afternoon of snorkeling, beach going, and sight seeing, I was exhausted. I took a 'nap' which turned into much more. Luckily, my husband woke me up to remind me I hadn't done yoga yet. I crawled out of bed, grabbed my mat, and went through an entire practice by memory, without a struggle.

It amazed me that with my brain effectively turned off since I was still so groggy, my body took over and I flowed through the whole series. I guess that's muscle memory right? And it makes me feel like daily practice is truly turning into a habit!

But, now I'm crawling back into bed. ;)


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just a little bit more.

I was thinking earlier about why I've committed to doing yoga every day for a year, and why I'm writing about it. I was reading Meditations from the Mat, and something I read made it all click. I'm looking for a little bit more.

A little bit more strength.
A little bit more flexibility.
A little bit more stamina.
A little bit more understanding.
A little bit more peace.

When I'm practicing, I'm looking for a little bit more.

A little bit more depth in a pose.
A little bit more balance.
A little bit more relaxation.
A little bit more inner calm.
A little bit more breath.

But I'm also learning about moderation. So I have to be careful to temper that desire for a little bit more, and not take it too far, and not get carried away. A little bit more of these things is good, but going too hard, too heavy, too far, too fast would not be helpful at all! I'm going to keep this in mind, and try to practice moderation while searching for that little bit more.


Friday, September 25, 2009

It's the Little Things

First, I did yoga after Zumba today, much earlier than usual. It is so nice to just watch TV and climb in bed at night, knowing I already fulfilled my commitment today!

I did another neck and shoulder opening exercise, and I was amazed at how much little, tiny movements can make a difference. It seemed like seated shoulder stretches should be relatively easy, but I found them increasingly difficult. With focus and the guidance of the DVD, I realized that there was much more tension in my shoulders than I thought.

Focusing so intensely on one small area made me realize just how much I'm missing when I flow through my practice and don't fine tune each position. Today, I found an openness in my shoulders that had to be cultivated, and that I can hopefully carry into my daily practice with focus and attention.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yoga for Relief

Today was a headache day, and I was so grateful to have my "Yoga for Stress Relief" DVD ready to go. I did the 45 minute "Tension Headache Relief" practice, and felt so soft afterward, and my headache was much relieved.

With that said, I'm keeping this short. I'm relaxed and ready for bed, and don't want to stare a computer screen or type much! :)


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teacher Training?

Today, I'm thinking about my career path, my passion, and what impact I want to make with my life. I have been considering yoga teacher training for a while now. Thus far, I put it off because I wasn't physically ready. As I get stronger every day with my daily yoga practice, I realize that it would be very easy to always think I wasn't ready. There will always be room for improvement, and weaknesses to overcome. So when do you know it's time?

There is an upcoming 200 hour teacher training session, starting in January. I think by January, with daily practice, I'd be up to the challenge. But the timing isn't great with the rest of my life. Signing up then would create a major scheduling conflict between my husband and I. But will there ever be a 'just right' time?

I was doing Power Yoga this evening, thinking about how I would change the routine if it were 'my' routine... does that mean I'm cultivating the teacher within? Or is it just time to switch to a new 'every day' routine?

I'm full of questions tonight, but not so many answers. ;)


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yoga with Love

Tonight, I had the pleasure of my husband joining me for yoga! What a rarity, and a treat! He's not the most flexible person in the world, but he did it anyway for me. Best of all, he relaxed so much during the supine poses that he was fast asleep by shivasana.

I chose a slow, gentle practice - not just for the benefit of my husband. I went for a long bike ride with my in laws today, and I was feeling the burn myself! I used muscles I don't normally use, so it was nice to stretch them out and feel limber again, after feeling tight and scrunched up this afternoon.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Jello Legs

I got behind in reading my Meditations from the Mat. Tonight, after an hour of Power Yoga, I caught up. While I appreciated everything I read, none of it stood out to me as particularly special, and none of it got my mind thinking in any one specific direction.

So, I've got two things to mention. One, I thoroughly enjoyed my practice today, and now I have jello legs from it being such a good workout. That's such a good feeling!

Two, yesterday I went to a wonderful concert, "Two Native Voices". Keola Beamer, a Hawaiian Slack Key Guitarist, and R. Carlos Nakai, a Native American Flutist, joined forces to create something beautiful. While I listened to the guitar, I was mesmerized. While I listened to the flute, I was intrigued. But when I listened to the third set, where they joined the two together, I couldn't help but envision myself practicing flow yoga to the music. The two sounds together created such harmony, and my mind went straight to yoga. There was something magical about it, and I can't wait to get the CD and start practicing to it. I feel very lucky to have been exposed to such beautiful, artistic native music.