Category Archives: yoga

On the wall yoga

On Thursday, I was really feeling the need for yoga. This usually happens when I am tired, sore, stiff and just needing some time to myself to focus on realigning my body and mind. I quickly remembered that they do offer classes here at work so I checked the schedule and sure enough, there was a 4:00 class that lasted an hour. Perfect!

The teacher was new to me but I knew instantly that I was going to enjoy the class. I love how each yoga instructor brings something different, puts their own special touch on their teaching. I’ve been doing yoga for several years now (off and on) and this was the first time I had done what I will now refer to as “on the wall yoga” šŸ™‚

I’ve used a wall before for balance during tree pose, before I got steady enough to do it on my own, and also for laying down poses like “legs up the wall” for relaxation. But no kidding, the entire class was on the wall! I wish I could’ve taken some photos but that would’ve been weird so I went searching instead.

We started out using the wall to work on our downward facing dog pose.

Sorry, I couldn't resist!

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Only instead of placing our paws hands on the floor, we were standing and placed them on the wall. We also transitioned from downward dog to plank, did some side planks, and then worked on our chatarunga, which is one of the most challenging yoga moves for me personally. The instructor said it was good to practice on the wall because some of our body weight is still in our legs and not so much pressure is placed on the wrists. This must have worked because today, my triceps are really sore!

This is what it normally looks like on the floor:

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After doing this for a while, we started working on triangle and warrior II, placing the little toe side of our back foot against the wall for support and our hand for balance if we needed it. It was during these poses (especially triangle) that the instructor noticed my tendency to hyper-extend my legs. I’ve always been conscious of this but she helped show me a way to put a slight bend in the knee and engage the calf and thigh in order to get the same strengthening effect in the leg without hurting the joints. I love how I learn something new every time I do yoga!

Triangle - I used a block under the front hand

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Does anyone else sing "The Warrior" by Scandal when they do this?

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But my favorite time of this class had to be when we did half moon pose. This is one I feel like I can NEVER do, mostly because I don’t practice it much. But I can never get my leg up very far or keep my balance very long. We started out in triangle, then turned a bit and extended the back leg up the wall. The full expression of the pose is like this:

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So just picture that with that back foot against the wall and that front hand on a block and you get me šŸ™‚ We did each side a couple of times and eventually, when we felt comfortable, we could gradually remove the foot from the wall. It was amazing! I felt such a sense of confidence from being able to do these more challenging poses, not to mention the incredible stretching!

After all those standing poses, we finally sat down and did some bridges with our feet up on the wall.

What bridge pose normally looks like

For relaxation, we did some legs up the wall and lying down spinal twists (not using the wall) then shavasana. It felt so good do this after all that hard work:

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I was so glad that I went to this class, it was meant to be. I’m definitely going to have to practice some of these poses on the wall at home. And maybe go back to this class next Thursday too šŸ™‚

Morning workouts have returned!

Thanks to Exercise TV and my dear friend Namaste Mari, I have successfully been able to incorporate some sort of exercise in when I get up in the morning.

Iā€™ve even had a partner working out with me for support!

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But Jillianā€™s ā€œBoost Your Metabolismā€ proved to be too much for Suzie, so she rested while I finished the workout. She was out of breath!

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ā€œBoost Your Metabolismā€ (the abbreviated 25 minute version anyway) was the first workout I did on Exercise TV in a long time but I actually did not do it in the morning, it was 4 in the afternoon!

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But it was quite challenging still, so I felt the need to mention it on the blog. The next morning, I did Jillianā€™s ā€œYoga Meltdownā€ which wasnā€™t very calming or reflective the way Yoga tends to be but it was definitely challenging for my muscles; I was even sore later that day!

This morning, I did Cheryl Burkeā€™s ā€œDisco Absā€ which was a lot of FUN but I did not feel it in my abs at all. Still, dancing at 5:30 in the morning was enough to wake me up and get me going for the day. Iā€™m so glad morning workouts are back in my life!

Do you work out first thing in the morning? What do you do?

I wanted to start running but now that summer is coming to a close, sunrise is getting later and later. Iā€™m way too chicken to run in the darkā€¦by myself at least!

Losing focus & 30 days of yoga

I have not made it to Body Pump this entire week!

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Yesterday, I was just way too tired because I had stayed up late on Wednesday night and had some house cleaning to do for this weekend.

And on Tuesday, I was way too sore from a yoga class that I took on Monday night. It was seriously the most intense class I have ever been to. I was sweating like I was in hot yoga only it was just a regular, air conditioned room.

Now, to me, the point of yoga is not to sweat as much as you can, burn a lot of calories, or to be extremely sore the next day. What I likeĀ about yoga is that it makes me feel leaner and longer, plus it gives me so much mental peace and happiness. It also stretches out the tight spots I get from all the walking, running and other activities I inflict on my body.

And it’s fun to challenge yourself in new ways you didn’t know were possible. That’s what happened in this class and that’s why I was a bit sore Tuesday. We did some long holds in chair pose and with support, I got to do wheel again! I hope someday I can do this one on my own. šŸ˜‰

I recently read about Healthy Ashley’s 30 Days of Yoga challenge, where she is committing to doing at least 10 minutes of yoga per day for 30 days. This caught my attention and I totally intend to at least give it a shot. I mean, certainly I can do 10 minutes, right? Sometimes I stand in tree pose while I’m waiting for dinner to finish cooking. šŸ˜‰

But then again, as a person who enjoys multiple forms of exercise, I have a hard time staying focused on any one (or two) activity in order to see real progress. I jump around between running, weight lifting, yoga, walking, etc. so much that I don’t stick with one thing for very long or I neglect one activity for another.

So what should I do?

I think this is happening because I do not have a specific goal. No races to train for (yet) and nothing else really motivating me right now.

IĀ don’t likeĀ choosing between so many things IĀ enjoy but is it really realistic for me to think that I can run, walk, do yoga and Body PumpĀ each multiple timesĀ in one week? There are just not enough hours or days.

If I were able to fit them all in, I feel like I would be doing each thing one day and then not devoting enough time to anything to keep it up.

Hmm…deep thoughts forĀ a Friday afternoon!

I feel so distracted right now. Did I mention myĀ high school reunion is tomorrow?! Perhaps I should wait until Sunday to make any majorĀ decisions. šŸ˜‰

What are your favorite forms of exercise? Are you able to fit them all in?

Let's talk about abs

I had quite a revelation about abs yesterday. As some of you may know, they are my least favorite muscles to work on. Mostly because I hate interrupting an awesome weight training workout to lay on the floor and attempt to whittle this middle.

That’s not me, by the way, ha ha…

It should come as no surprise to me that since they are my least favorite muscles to work on that they are my biggest “trouble spot” if you will. I have some other issues going on in this area too, like extra skin as a result of a 70 lb weight loss.

But, I thinkĀ I’m over being vain for the time being. I really just want a stronger and more stable core to help me run, haveĀ better postureĀ and to prevent any future back problems. So it’s time to focus on these abs!

On Sunday, I did a really quick 15 minute ab program on Exercise TV. The best part of this was that the entire routine was STANDING. It included a lot of movements with the hips and legs, but I felt more during this workout than I have on the floor in a long time.

Then on Monday I took a yoga classĀ and the instructor said something that really resonated with me. As we went through our asanas, he mentioned how crunches are not ideal for the core because it’s not based on the purpose of those muscles.

“Our cores are not meant toĀ crunch usĀ better,” he said. They are meant to stabilize us. So that is the most effective way to work them out.

One example he gave was the plank. Holding steady in that position requires a strong core (and thus develops a stronger one) because without it, the back would arch and your form would be incorrect and you could hurt yourself. We also did bridge pose a few times, which really made my back feel good.

And I got to do this!

Photo from Eternal Health Yoga Facebook page

I’ve never been able to do full wheel on my own before and having support from another person really made it seem so much easier! And I also got to be a support person and see what that felt like from the other side. It was a really neat experience.

Anyway, the point of this is that I am done doing exercises I don’t like that aren’t really going to help me anyway. And I hope this new revelation about abs (the entire core, really) will help me figure out a way to work them into my workouts more often!

Do you like doing ab work? What do you do?

Make a plan and do it!

After the race on Saturday, I took Sunday off to rest and get my usual household chores taken care of. Then on Monday, I was too busy. Tuesday, I didn’t feel good. Somehow I haven’t exercised since last Saturday!

I’m all about listening to one’s body but I think this has gone a step further than that and I have become incredibly unbalanced.

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Normally, this would not be a problem and honestly a welcome break every now and then, but this has happened two weeks in a row.Ā My concern isĀ not about vanity or worrying about gaining a few pounds, I know that not exercising more regularly than I have beenĀ is just not good for my health.

In fact, I was starting to wonder if the sickness I keep getting off and on might be due to the fact that I’m not moving as much as I usually do? Or have I cut back on exercising because I don’t feel good? I’ve had a sort of chicken/egg conversation going on in my head the past few days!

Last night, I felt like it was time to put my feelings onto paper and make a “plan” as to what I can do about it. Here is what I wrote:

Tuesday May 18th, 2010:

Ugh, I feel awful. Why?

  • Too much food (after dinner)
  • No exercise since Saturday
  • Sore throat/cough/congestionĀ 
  • I gotta move!
  • The foods I am eating are okay, not exercising ISN’T.

Game Plan

Tomorrow, I will…

  • Start the day off with yoga (check, thanks Exercise TV!)
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and drink some tea (check)
  • Take 2, 15 minute walk breaks at work (check 1 of 2, so far)
  • Do yoga class at work (check) or run
  • Do another short workout this afternoon (if time permits)
  • Drink lots of water and tea (so far, so good, check)
  • Enjoy girl’s night tonight!

Man, it felt good to write all of that out. Not only was I able to acknowledge that I was feeling bad, I was able to move on and set a plan into motion so that I won’t feel bad anymore!

As you can see, I have already met more thanĀ half of my goals for the day. They are all simple little things that add up to me feeling better. I’m all about adding up the little things šŸ™‚

And I’m feeling great today…

Exercise TV: Yoga Fitness Plus

Yesterday, I took a day off to spend the day with my husband, see a movie and attend a concert! But earlier in the day I took my dog for a 2 mile walk, so we both got some exercise šŸ™‚

This afternoon, I sort of felt like taking a nap but instead, I decided to wake myself up with a invigorating yoga routine! I looked up the Exercise TV programs on my cable box and found Yoga Fitness Plus with Elise Gulan.

The program was really challenging, including a lot of strength and ab moves and a lot of advanced poses that I am not quite ready for. But the instructor would indicate what someone at a lower level can do.

Usually, I would get annoyed with a really vigorous yoga program and just turn it off but instead of getting frustrated, I just went down into childā€™s pose or stayed in downward facing dog when I felt like I needed a rest or couldnā€™t do what the instructor was demonstrating. This was the first time I had ever done that!

One thing I did not like about this program was that there was no relaxation at the end. After an intense workout, that is my favorite part! But it is definitely a good one to do if you are looking to work up a sweat and get your muscles on fire.

It felt really good to be doing yoga again after quite the (unintentional?) hiatus. I look forward to trying more programs and hopefully getting back into classes again soon!

Do you prefer yoga classes (or videos) or do you like to do your own flow?

Yoga and resting

Wow, you guys! I am seriously sore today. Jackie wasn’t kidding when she said her workout would sculpt the glutes, ha ha!

I’m also feeling kind of tired mentally, so I decided to take a rest day and just attend an easy yoga class here at work. WRONG! Today was the day the easy teacher decided to do some challenging poses.

After lots of triangles, sun salutations, eagles, etc. I am even more tired now than I was earlier today. Oh well, at least I can rest this afternoon and tonight, right?

Do you take rest days? What do you do?

Glorious yoga

I went to another yoga class at my workplace today and it was AWESOME!

I really love the instructor, only the 2nd male I’ve ever had, and the class included a lot of my favorite poses (pigeon, Warrior Series, etc.) and a few that I had never tried…like Eagle.

When I left, my legs were feeling it and I felt totally at peace and calm. There is nothing quite like how a good yoga class can make you feel.

This was my third yoga class this week and I am feeling so good about everything, including my training. I can almost attribute the “frustrating” weeks of my training program to those when I did not include yoga!

Tomorrow, I get to visit my friend Carrie at Eternal Health Yoga and I can’t wait. That will make 4 yoga classes this week, woo hoo!

Do you practice yoga regularly? Do you find that it enhances your fitness program (not to mention overall well-being)?

Two in a row

I recently posted on Twitter asking other running bloggers how often they run. Some said 5-6 days a week, some 3 or 4, with alternating days. Everyone is different!

I had started to think that perhaps I needed to cut down to 3-4 and try not to run two consecutive days anymore because I’m worried about injuries and getting burned out like I did last time I trained for a mini marathon.

So since I ran two miles yesterday, technically I should have just laid low today. But since I like to do long runs on Saturdays (not that I have in a while) I want a day off before that.

So I headed to the gym and went right over to the Cardio Cinema. They were showing “Gone in 60 Seconds” this time. Definitely not a favorite, but still fun to watch while running.

Holy crap, that movie is 10 years old. What?!

Oh yeah, I ran 3 miles in 32:57!

When I first started, my hip felt tight and my knee hurt a bit but after the first mile, I was good to go. I’m so glad I ran today and didn’t talk myself out of it. Now I can rest tomorrow and get ready for Saturday šŸ™‚

I also took a yoga class today which ended up being taught by the same instructor that I got frustrated with once before. But luckily, I changed my attitude, realized the class was about my practice, and it ended up being okay. Not great, but okay!

How often do you run?

Cardio, abs, yoga

Today, I decided to try out more of the classes at Urban Active. I’m really impressed by this gym!

Before I headed out the door, I had to document how incredibly pink I was today. I did not plan this, I swear šŸ˜‰

First, I went back to my favorite Cardio Cinema (today’s selection: the new Star Trek) and walked for 20 minutes, gradually increasing the incline up to 15.0 and then back down. That got the heart rate up and broke a sweat!

Then, I headed to a short 15-minute abs class. I wasn’t too impressed…I guess I am more advanced at ab work than I thought because I barely felt a burn.

Afterwards, I attended the “Urban Yoga” class which was pretty challenging and had me sweaty and fatigued, especially in the legs. Yet I felt refreshed and free at the same time. I love yoga.

I still have a few days left on my free pass then I need to decide if I’m going to join. I really want to, I just have to take a look at our budget and see when exactly it can happen.

Do you belong to a gym? What is your favorite thing about it?