But I need a Yoga Body…

So many great conversations came up over this past weekend with friends, and I want to thank Patty for giving me the ideas for the posts this week.  We talked a lot about life and a little about yoga. One of things said was, “If you think you need a yoga body, that’s crap.” Truth bomb. Plain and simple.

So many times I hear that people would only do yoga if they had a “yoga body.”I ask more about what this means and usually they’re thinking if they were taller, thinner, vegan, flexible, and speak sanskrit and meditate every day. Holy whoa. Stop right there. First hand experience…tall does not equal flexible. Thin does not equal vegan. None of those in combination mean anything and certainly none of them should be a precondition for being able to do yoga.

Unfortunately, the ego plays a HUGE role in yoga.  We get self-conscious when we compare ourselves to others we see in class, covet the bodies we see in magazines, or get competitive thinking we can go deeper in a pose than the person next to us (which can lead to injury), among so many other thoughts. We’re lucky now days that we have so many studios around, online classes, online challenges, international yoga retreats, and more. I’m betting a pretty penny that the foundation of yoga wasn’t in a super steamy room with glossy hardwood floors, shiny mirrors, sexy spandex, and the latest music hits. It was so individual and foundational based upon a set of poses or asanas. I’m diving into more than I wanted to hear, so I’ll save it for another post.

Bottom line…you do not need to look like this…Yoga Body 3.png

…or this…

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or this…

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Let’s be honest…those are beautiful poses. The models are fit and have great bodies. And, Ithaca is now a place I’d like to visit. Not really, but it’s a fun picture. I follow a lot of sites like yogabeyond or yogainspiration and find some quality there at times. These sites are tagged as yoga inspiration or yoga goals, and while I would like to do those poses, it’s not functional for me. I don’t need to be able to do the splits while my boyfriend balances me on his toes. Cool? To some, yes. Functional? No. Not in the least.

Soooo…if you’re wondering if you should try yoga…yes, yes, all the yes’s!!! Yoga means union. Union of breath and body. Do you have a body? Yes. Are you breathing? Yes! Do you have a yoga body? YES!!!

If you’re not interested in going to a studio to try a class or are just not sure which type of yoga would be for you, I am planning to add content over time that will give you the foundation to do your own yoga that is functional for you!

I will share functional poses with purpose, like such…

…or in other posts like the neck and shoulder flow or in the resources tab.

I’m always trying to improve my own alignment and take extra classes with a focus just on that in order to help my students avoid injury due to alignment. I will also be the first to tell you that tall people are not necessarily flexible; but we try, and it gets better.

It’s your own journey in your yoga body. Progress, not perfection.

For more foundational and functional poses, life, and some bloopers, follow me on Instagram, too. Happy Friday!

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Unwind Wednesday – Neck & Shoulder Flow

Over the weekend, I was so very lucky to get to see some of my CDC friends, whom I haven’t seen in 6 or 7 years! So much happens in that time and yet it seems like so little has changed when we all get together. (CDC stands for Collegiate Development Consultant…we were all consultants for our sorority after college.) Lots of laughing, talking, eating, dancing, drinking, and celebrating of our friend Ashleigh at her wedding.  The pictures on my phone didn’t turn out, but once I get a few from friends, I’ll try to share.  The wedding was in Cincinnati, which really surprised me.Screenshot_20160622-173807.jpg I underestimated it as another Midwestern city but it had a great energy, and we all loved exploring the neighborhoods. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time, and wish all the best to Ashleigh and Eric!!

This is three of us on Sunday at brunch after the wedding. If you haven’t tried Nada and there is one close to you, definitely check it out! They were so accommodating with gluten and dairy allergies.

 

 

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Sweet scalenes…so tight!

Whether it is from a weekend of traveling, sleeping on poor hotel pillows, awkward sleeping poses in airplane chairs, or the daily grind of your desk job, we’re destined to develop some poor habits leading to stiff necks and tight shoulders. As a yoga teacher, I try to get to know my students, if they have any injuries, what they do for work, etc., and I know from their jobs, what type of stretches to incorporate.  If you sit at a desk a lot, the chances are quite high you have very tight neck muscles and tension in your shoulders.  Even the most athletic individuals with these types of jobs can experience this because of the constant posture you hold of staring at the screen, sitting at a desk that’s too high or too low, and limiting mobility in general during those 8+ hours.  I am no exception…tight muscles.

 

Here’s a quick little flow that you can do at home or in your office with some modifications.

 

Cow/Cat: Warm up the spine.

Inhale on cow, dropping your belly, and looking up. Try to pull your tailbone toward the back wall and reach the top of your skull up so you feel like you’re creating space in your spinal column.

Exhale on cat, arching your spine, pushing down through the floor with your hands and the tops of your feet.

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Seated pose with neck stretch: You can reach one hand toward the ground, leaning your head the opposite direction, applying just a little pressure with your fingers. You’ll definitely feel this stretch on the side of your neck. Take a few deep breaths on one side and then switch sides and repeat.

20160622_153331Eagle Arms: This pose stretches the shoulders and upper back. Start with arms extended in front of you with your palms up. Cross your right arm over your left near the elbows. Bring your arms (still crossed) back toward you and either wraps arms/hands so that the palms face (like in the picture), or place backs of hands against each other. Focus on breathing into the upper back and expanding the space between your shoulder blades. Raise your elbows slowly and you’ll feel a deeper stretch. Take 5-7 deep breaths, release arms, and switch sides.

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Cow Face (Arms only): As you are seated, reach your left arm toward the ceiling, and bend it at the elbow to let the left hand drop between your shoulder blades at the base of your neck. Reach your right arm behind you and try to grab the left hand. The weight of the hold should be a good stretch, but you can pull a little with your bottom hand if needed.  Modification: You can see here that my right arm is a little tight as it’s not quite perpendicular.  If it’s difficult for your hands to reach, hold a dish towel, strap, or belt with your left hand and let the item drop down to the floor. Grab the item (towel, tie, belt, etc.) with your bottom hand and use the item to allow you to stretch. You’ll slowly improve your flexibility and shoulder mobility to the point you may no longer need the assistive item.

Breathe deeply for 5-7 breaths. Release your arms and repeat on the opposite side. Avoid putting pressure on the neck with the top arm. If this occurs, try leaning back or using a towel as mentioned to assist you.
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Child’s Pose: This is a resting pose. Bring your knees toward each other with distance between your feet. Sit back toward your heels and extend your arms in front of you with forward to the ground. Take 3-5 breaths here.

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Thread the Needle: From Child’s Pose, reach your left arm underneath your body. You can do this with your hips still back, or for a deeper stretch, bring your left shoulder back toward your knees, and your hips may naturally come up (as in picture). The left side of your head will be gently resting on the ground.Take 5-7 deep breaths here and switch sides.

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Downward Dog: From Thread the Needle, come back onto all fours and push up, sending your hips up and toward the back of the room.  Reach your heels toward the ground and pedal them back and forth…it’s completely normal for them not to touch the ground. Take 3-5 breaths here. (Hint: Place your hands a little wider than your shoulders if your shoulders are tight. Also, keep pressure into the base of your thumb and index finger, which should take some pressure off of your wrist.)

Downward dog is great for so many things…elongates your spine. Gives you a realignment (you may here your vertebrae crackle but that’s ok!!). Relieves anxiety and stress since it’s an inversion.

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Standing Forward Fold with Shoulder Opener: Come to standing from downward dog, and clasp your hands behind you at the base of your spine. Fold forward slowly, bring your hands back and let gravity be the pull that stretches them. Soften your knees slightly with a small bend. Breathe deeply here for 5-7 breaths.

Modification: If it is difficult to clasp your hands, use the towel from earlier as an extension of your hands, and grasp that with each side. It will give you more range of motion and allow you to increase flexibility over time.

 

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Kneeling Prayer Pose with Blocks: Start in a kneeling position and place your elbows on two blocks in front of you.  Bring your hands together in a prayer position and drop your head between your elbows. Bring your prayer hands the base of your neck.  Breathe here for 5-7 breaths.

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 Shoulder  Opener with a Wall: Stand near a wall and place your forearms on the wall, parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor.  Your elbows should be at shoulder height and shoulder distance apart.  Walk your feet to a place where your hips are at a right angle with your chest parallel to the floor. Take 5-7 deep breaths.
You can slowly cool down by coming into downward dog and then child’s pose again.
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Namaste!

 

Oops, I Did it Again

Well, friends, I did it again…I signed up for another half marathon. Hehehe.

Good Life Halfsy  Yassssss! Good Life Halfsy. It’s happening, and it’s far enough away, I don’t have to think about it yet, can slowly amp up my endurance and only train for the final 6-8 weeks.  Twelve weeks is just too long for me.  I get distracted and bored and have time for life and good friends to talk me out of running 13.1 miles. There’s something about running in the fall that is just so exhilirating, especially in the Midwest.  It’s like you’re soaking up every last good running day before Mother Nature tells you to take it to the treadmill. Good Life Halfsy, I’m coming for you!

Since “the half” isn’t until November, I have a solid 3 months to do something else, so I’m working on my own training plan to build up my 5k.  The fastest 5k I’ve ever done “officially” was around 28:08.  It was actually what really started my love of running. I signed up on a whim for a 5k in Wichita, KS on a hot, humid June day and won my age group. I know what you’re thinking…I won my age division with that time??  I was shocked, too, but it was a small enough race that not many people signed up. I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now because that’s all it took for me to tell myself I could keep at this running stuff. Since then, I’ve run a 5k on a treadmill in 27:17 with proof…IMG_20160430_181123

Again, I know there are puuuhhhlenty of runners faster, but eyes on my own page. This is fast…for me. My goal is to drop that 27:17 down to 25:00 in 8 weeks. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m working on a training plan to at least knock time off of 27:17.

Here’s how the last two weeks of training went:

Week 1:  

-Monday: Rest Day

-Tuesday: X-Train 40 minutes                                                                                                             

-Wednesday: 2 miles at carb loaded pace (8:10/mile). It was supposed to be at 8:45 pace but carbs happen, and for this initial run, I loved it!!

-Thursday: 40 minutes cross training and 9Round Fitness workout. If you haven’t heard of 9Round, it’s like a box studio with cardio and kickboxing in 30 minutes. Except, you can go in at ANY time during operating hours and hop in on the circuit. You don’t have to wait for pesky class times. It’s entirely flexible to you. The trainers are awesome. The workout is fun and challenging. Most clients bust out 400 calories in only 30 min. Check it out!!       \

-Friday: 3 x (800m @ RP + 400m rest) + Strength training. I ended up running w/u of .5 at 9:31, then 800s at 8:34, 8:27, 8:19 with 9:13 pace 400s as my “rests” with a cool down of .5 at 9:31.  I also did a “push” lifting workout that focused on upper body pushing.

-Saturday: Afternoon yoga at the tavern with Live Red Roots with the following HIIT workout 3 rounds of 15 goblet squat (20#), 10 burpees, 5 lunges/leg (10# dumbbells), 10 box jumps, 15 single leg deadlift (20#)

-Sunday: 5 mile easy run at 10:10 pace…it’s hard for me to take easy runs “easy,” so this was a bit faster in 46:54 (9:08, 9:06, 9:14, 9:39, 9:35). Hills and humidity got me in miles 4 and 5.

Week 2:                                                                                                                                                        

-Monday: 20 min AMRAP (5 dead bug each side, 10 goblet squats, 5 pushups, 10 KB swings) + 10 min finisher (10 pledge plank, 12 straight legged sit-up, 20 total flutter kick, 10 reverse lunge/side, 12 knee-to-elbow plank, 20 lateral hop over cone)

-Tuesday: 3 miles at 8:35 pace with this glorious view…and wind, dust, and humidity, but who’s counting. It was supposed to be an 8:45 pace, so I’m happy.

20160613_200155 (1).jpg-Wednesday: 4 miles walking (studying for a final while I walked…I can chew gum while I’m at it, too. 😉 ) + 30 minutes on bike + 30 minute AMRAP (double front squat 30#, one-arm bent over row 15#, mountain climber, OH press #15 – 30 reps, 20 reps, 10 reps of all)

-Thursday: 9Round

-Friday: 40 min X-Train

-Saturday: 4 x (800m @ RP + 400m rest) + Strength training. I ended up running w/u of .5 at 9:31, then 800s at 8:27, 8:27, 8:00, 8:00 with rests of 200m at 4mph with a 1 mile walking cool down.  I also did a “pull” lifting workout that focused on upper body pulling.

-Sunday: I was actually just going to lift legs and do some yoga since I ran the day before but my body was telling me I had it in me.  So…I did a 5 mile easy run with a 1 mile strong finish – easy pace was about 10:00/mile (supposed to be 10:10) and last mile at 9:10. I wanted to get 60 minutes in so I just finished it out for a little further and finished by lifting legs.

I plan to make this a weekly update to keep track of my training more accurately and see what the 5k improvement looks like from week to week. Happy trails!