Friday, October 30, 2009

Sometimes Your Body is Smarter than Your Mind

If I ever think I am getting so good at Bikram Yoga I can go to class no matter what, there is always yoga karma to remind me to remain humble.

Bikram Yoga class yesterday could be best described as embarrassingly terrible. I had to leave the room, and that is a BIG no-no! It's hard to find the positive in a class like yesterdays but there is something to be learned, listen to your body.

I had the opportunity to go to the early evening class so rather than go home and relax I decided go ahead and go. My tummy wasn't feeling quite right, I had made myself some green juice for lunch and I think I didn't put enough lime in it or it could have been because I was sitting all day in a class and didn't drink enough water. Instead of listening to my body, I went to class. I should have listened and gone home, relaxed, had some water and THEN gone to class.

Instead I suffered through class and ultimately was unable to complete most of the postures. I laid in Savasana for most of the floor series. I tried to do at least one of each of the poses but my stomach was not cooperating, I felt dizzy, and my face and arms were getting numb. So I just laid there and that wasn't much better. The more I stayed in one position, the more the heat started to overwhelm me and I was uncomfortable in every position I tried to lay. My arms started to tingle and then I noticed my face was tingling and numb. Just as class started to do Camel, I sat up and thought I was going to throw up. I sat there and just tried to breath but nothing was working. I finally had to leave the room.

Sherry, one of the instructors at the studio gave me some salt water, which tasted terrible but made me feel much better. I cooled down and the feeling came back into my body. So the lesson here? Take care of your body and listen to your body.

Have you ever had a bad class? How did you handle it? Would love to hear your experiences below.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bikram Yoga was perfect yesterday, because it was imperfect

I am a perfectionist living in an imperfect world and constantly disappointed in myself for not achieving what I think should be achievable. I have little patience for failure and typically only stick with things I am good at. Yesterdays Bikram Yoga class helped remind me there is no perfection and that as long as you try your hardest, you are getting the benefits of your efforts.

It is easy to beat yourself up in Bikram Yoga class for not holding the posture long enough or not going as far as you did last time or thinking you should be able to do it better. I mean, lets face it, it’s darn hot, you are sweating, the postures are not natural everyday positions and what seemed easy yesterday seems impossible today. But Karen, the instructor last night, reminded the class that each class is different and you need to listen to your body. It is so true too. I felt energized when I got into class but then for some reason some of the postures that seem the easiest were hard and I kept falling out. I was getting frustrated with myself, annoyed that what should be easy wasn’t. This type of attitude and self deprecating thought pattern is not useful in the yoga room; it actually can make your class even worse. In the middle of my negative thought process I heard Karen and just stopped and told myself it was ok and to cut myself some slack. I mean really, I just did over 4 hours of yoga on Saturday, over 3 hours on Sunday and took class on Monday, I think taking it easy one day is OK.

So I changed my thoughts and just focused on doing the best I could do and being happy with what I could give. Trying my hardest but not feeling bad if I didn’t do every posture as well as I had in the past. And do you know what? I had a great class! From that point on class was easy. Not easy in the sense it was effortless but in the sense that it just flowed and I wasn’t exhausted. My energy wasn’t being wasted on what I couldn’t do or should be doing, it was all focused on what I WAS doing and being totally happy with that effort.

As I sat in Rabbit I realized I was energized and not limp like a wet noodle. And class was almost over! I hadn’t held every posture or completed every posture the best I had ever done but I was happy anyway. It was as if I had the best class, perhaps the most perfect, imperfect class.

YogaAccessories 1/4" Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yoga Yoga Spa - that was my tri this weekend

Yesterday was a day to remember, Bikram Yoga for 4 ½ hours and the Dallas King Spa and Sauna for 4 hours. It was like the ultimate expression of “killing yourself in the room” to feel good outside of the room.

Courtney Mace and Joseph Encinia, the 2009 US Yoga Champions, were at the Bikram Yoga Dallas studio teaching Advanced Bikram Yoga and conducting coaching for the people that are participating in the 2009 Texas Yoga Asana Championships. Yoga was amazing. The regular class was great, I felt like I was focused and “in the room” the entire class. It was hard and I was exhausted at the end but still felt good inside.

After refueling we started the Advanced Series which a fast pace series of the classic 84 asana postures. Courtney and Joseph led the class together and gave great instruction. It was a fun, fast paced class. I can’t do all 84 postures but it is so great to see other people do them. I am so in aw of what the body can do. And everyone is different, that is what is so great. People that have never taken Advanced class were doing amazing, crazy things with their bodies and people that had taken Advanced class before like me were sometimes doing completely different postures in amazing ways. The Advanced class to me is the type of class that really challenges the mind and body. Although there certainly are limits to what the body can do, it is usually the mind that keeps someone from not being able to perform a posture.

There is a pose called Pregnancy Pose. You cross your legs, which is Lotus, then you push your arms through the creases of your legs, then roll your back and tuck your head and clasp your hands over the back of your head. You basically end up looking like a pretzel or something. It is crazy! Usually I can’t clasp my hands, I guess I mentally don’t think I can tuck my head or roll my back enough. But yesterday I did it. My hands weren’t in a tight clasp but I did get my fingers together. Somehow with Champions in the room the mind and body want to do better…and amazing things happen.

In Wheel, which is a back bend to the extreme, I was able to get into wheel from the floor and then lift myself up to standing; which is the first time I have been able to do that since I was a teenager. I even went from standing to a backbend to wheel – with a spotter, but still, I did it! Such a cool feeling.

So after killing ourselves in Advanced class and getting great coaching tips and corrections on postures, I went to the Dallas King Spa and Sauna. It is a Korean Spa, and according to someone I know that has been to real Korean Spas in Korea, this one is pretty authentic.

Now, I don’t know anything about Korean Spas and I only have been to a few American Spas. They have been talking about it at the studio so I knew there were hot and cold “baths” and different rooms you go to sit. But beyond that I was clueless and I am not one to just “try” new things. So, when I was asked to go I said “oh, I didn’t bring anything to wear.” This to me was my easy way out. But then I was told they give you “uniforms” to wear. Hmmm, I thought about it and decided sure, I’ll try it. Why not? I mean, I just killed myself taking Bikram Yoga all day, why not relax in a spa.

So we go. And it was amazing! It is a huge place with large lions at greeting guests at the entrance. And yes, in fact they do have uniforms, pink ones! I think to myself, this could be ok! And then we go into the ladies area. Everyone is naked! Oh, I think…this could be bad. There are signs every where telling you to shower before you get in the “bath” which is really a small pool. I walk into the area to shower and it is all open showers. Flash backs of boot camp are swirling in my head and then I start remembering the open showers I just saw when I went to see Alcatraz. I’m about to retreat when I see everyone else I came with just shrugging their shoulders, undress and start taking a shower. Hmmm I think….I can do this. I mean, I change in the yoga studio and everyone sees me, this is only slightly more escalated. And then all I can think about is thank goodness I shaved!

The baths were hot and cold, you are suppose to alternate between hot and cold ones. This requires of course getting out of one pool and into another, yet again exposing myself to the world. You quickly get over issues with that though because everyone is doing it and no one really is looking anyway. So I just tried to enjoy the water and relaxation.

After the baths we got dressed in our uniforms and walked around to the different rooms. If the hot Bikram Yoga room wasn’t enough, there were plenty of hot rooms there to relax in! There was a great room with Charcoal on the walls that smelled wonderful. I think that was my favorite room. It is technically called the "Hawng -Toe -Ssut - Jjim" Room but that is hard to say so I like calling it the Charcoal room. It was wonderful, there were baggies hanging that had great smelling stuff in them and one wall was covered with charcoal and huge amethyst rocks.

There was a salt room, gold pyramid room, cold room, yellow soil crystal room, Fire room, base rock room and others. We literally could have spent all day there going from room to room! And of course in most of the rooms you sweat but it is a good sweat and a relaxing sweat. Some of the rooms people were even just sleeping. Each room has different healing therapeutic qualities that are explained on the plaque outside of the room. And they work, my skin feels so soft and clean, the spots of eczema on my legs seems to have softened and aren't as red and itchy.

They also have a movie theater, big screen for sports, massage, food and Karaoke! It is the craziest place I’ve ever seen and it was wonderful. Such a great experience. It was a wonderful ending to a fabulous yoga weekend. I was so relaxed and peaceful I slept so soundly, I didn’t wake or stir one time through the entire thunderstorm. Going to work was hard today, I wanted to sit in heated rooms that smelled or aromatherapy scents and laze around all day. Maybe next weekend!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bikram Yoga Heals, Yoga Champions Inspire

Bikram Yoga was awesome today! I had a great class, there was lots of energy in the room and Joseph Encinia taught class! The 2009 US Champions were also in the studio today providing a discussion on their yoga journey and they both demonstrated some amazing postures. It was an inspiring day for sure.

Courtney Mace, the 2009 Women’s US and International Yoga Champion, talked about her many ailments and challenges that brought her to yoga and how Bikram Yoga really healed her and helped her overcome not only physical challenges but she also learned so much about herself and how to honor her body. I love hearing how people found Bikram Yoga and what it has done for them, everyone has a different story and path but they all find Bikram Yoga and benefit from the healing qualities.

Joseph Encinia, the 2009 US Men's Yoga Champion, has a story that is not too dissimilar to Courtney Mace. He too had many health challenges growing up, more so even than Courtney. Joseph had a heart attack at the age of 13, had rheumatoid arthritis and struggled medical other issues most of his life, until he found Bikram Yoga. Now he is healthy and his arthritis is in remission, and he looks amazing! I met Joseph 4 years ago when I first started taking Bikram Yoga and he looked great then but now, if it is even possible, he looks even more amazing and the things he can do with his body just blows the mind.

Here are some of the postures that Courtney and Joseph performed today.

Full Standing Head to Knee

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Bow Leg

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Standing Bow

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Full Standing Bow

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Full Standing Head to Knee

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Bound Lotus

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Handstand Lotus

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop


From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

From Sat.ChampionWorkshop

Here is a slide show of the full posture demonstration. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I got to take class from the 2009 US Men's Yoga Champion!

Joseph Encinia is back in his hometown, Dallas, Texas, teaching Bikram yoga at Bikram Yoga Dallas. 

Bikram Yoga today was awesome! Awesome because Joseph Encinia taught class, he is the 2009 US Yoga Champion and use to teach at my studio. It was so exciting to be in class with him teaching, he is so inspiring.

I normally set my mat on the left side of the room on the first or second row, I am a creature of habit and I like certain spots in the room better than others. But today I must have subconsciously known Joseph was teaching because I set my mat in the middle of the room right in front of the teacher stand. Being in front of the teacher is great; you get to use their energy to help you through class. Joseph’s energy is wonderful, he loves Bikram Yoga and it comes out in his teaching style, you can’t help but push yourself to try harder.

During the standing series I could tell I was trying really hard, my spine felt like a wet noodle, it was hard to stand up straight without shaking. This is always a good sign, it means I am working hard in class and doing my best. Of course, it wears me out too and I feel exhausted and want to run from the heated room. But I never do, I just breathe and try and remember the standing series doesn’t last forever.

In the standing series I sometimes think how wonderful it will be to be on the floor, that the floor series is so much easier than the standing series. But it’s not easier, just different. Today in the floor series I certainly wasn’t thinking it was easier! I was exhausted and wanted to just lay there but who can do that when the 2009 US Champion is teaching class?! Let’s be serious. This is not the time to be wimpy. And so….I completed the floor series, maybe not with the best grace but I did manage to make it through every posture. There was no smile on my face; but I hardly ever have an expression, I’m usually concentrating on making it through each posture.

As I laid in final Savasana, noticing my towel was so wet with sweat it couldn’t soak up anymore and sweat was still streaming off me, I felt good, happy- happy to be done with class and happy to have had Joseph teach class. I’ve missed him and it was good to see him. He’s teaching and coaching this weekend too, I can’t wait, it is going to be a Yoga | Yoga |Yoga weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Challenging Bikram Yoga Class Done!

I did it, I finally made it through Bikram Yoga without sitting out a posture. Yesterday’s class was hard and not what I would call fun but it after it was all over I felt such a sense of achievement and I knew I was on my way to many more great yoga classes. We kill ourselves in class so we can feel wonderful outside of class!

I had trouble in the balancing series which puzzles me. Some days I can balance and lock my knee and nothing moves, other days I am like a wet noodle and nothing will keep me balanced. They say it is all in your head. They say in class if you focus and keep your mind on the task, you can do anything. They also say every class is different and you should let your body tell you what it can and can’t do.

This is so true, some days are amazing and no matter what the heat or humidity is doing, the postures are awesome and I can hold them the entire time. Other days it is like a slow beating and I am counting the postures until the end. And why is that? Because life gets in the way, life takes over the mind and body. One just never know how it is going to go, all a person can do is go and do their best and give 100%.

What I struggle with is giving 100%. I’m great at giving 50%, I think you get 50% just for showing up. I’m good at giving 80% or even 90%, it is giving 100% all the time that is a challenge. I gauge this by my attitude in between postures. If I am exhausted and “dying” then I assume I am giving 100%. If I am not breathing hard and can stand perfectly still without my legs wobbling, I probably didn’t try hard enough or go deep enough in the posture. This is just my way of gauging my own effort in class. I think everyone is different and should find their own measure of success for each class. Never assume that one persons success is what you should be striving for, you will never succeed. This is one of the reasons you should focus on yourself in class, you are there to improve yourself and you can only do that if you watch yourself and forget there are others standing right next to you, probably about to fling sweat on you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I think Birds Like Watching Bikram Yogi's

Yoga is a funny thing, you never know from day to day if you are going to have a good or bad class. Is any class really bad? Don't you score any "points" just for showing up? Sure...but just showing up to class doesn't benefit your body or your mind; you have to push yourself physically and mentally. For me, today was a good class. This isn't to say I completed all the postures or did every move to 100% effort but I was better physically in class today than yesterday or the day before or the day before that.

As I was coming out of the second set Triangle, it occured to me I was doing better today in the standing series than in previous classes, actually, at all since I started going to yoga on a regular basis again. It was like today was the turning point and each day after today will be stronger and more focused. I can't wait for the day when I can complete class again and still feel like I have some energy left, that 90 minutes of Bikram Yoga didn't just kick my butt. It use to be like that, where I would have more good days than bad. Sure, everyone has a bad day...didn't eat enough, didn't drink enough water, stress from work, etc., but those days come and go. In general, for me, I expect my practice to get better over time and I've been a little disappointed in myself that class seems overly difficult and more challenging than it should. But today made me think I was making progress. Can't wait for tomorrows class!

Of course, there are always the things that remind me I need to keep coming and working on "staying in the room." Like the birds. Sunday I took class and as I turned my head to the right in Savasana, I noticed there were no birds on the electrical wires outside the back windows. There are frequently birds sitting there, almost like they know there is a 90 minute show, a show where they get to watch humans sweat to death - on purpose! From time to time as I lay there I see birds fight for a good spot or the ugly duckling bird gets shoved to the end. On Sunday though, no birds. I thought to myself, hmm, they must have flown south for the winter. Not that it is winter here but you can see where the thought pattern was going.

Then today as the instructor so graciously opened the side door ever so slightly I noticed the sound of birds chirping. Again, as a laid in Savasana, the thought of birds passed through my mind. Why are the birds in the front and not in the back on the wire?  Is it too cold on the wire? Maybe the tree in the front shields them from the wind? Are they the same birds? Do they chirp like that in the back on the wire? These are the thoughts that traveled through my mind as I tried to relax and be completely still in Savasana. So although my physical practice appears to be getting better, I still need some work on the mental practice!

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One Event Closer to Completing My Personal Challenge

From 2009Komen5k
I’m one event closer to completing 12 events this year! As you may recall, my friend Ginny and I decided to challenge ourselves to complete 12 events in 2009. We decided this hmmmm, in August! This was all in an effort to get excited about Bike Run Yoga and get others involved in being active, having fun and getting to do “their” tri, whatever that might be. I’m happy to say I am one more event closer to completing my goal.

I ran in the Susan G, Komen race in Dallas, Texas on Saturday. It was a chilly morning and the parking areas were packed, I had gotten there a little late. As I rounded the corner of the parking garage I saw they were waving people through, darn it, the garage is full. Now what? Where are these people going to park? I see head they are waving people to another garage. But I think to myself, that is the premium garage they were charging to park in. What they heck, if I have to pay, I will, I need to park! And what do you know, they aren’t charging anymore because it is the only place left to park! Score! I parked super close to the event, walked down a few flight of stairs and all the sudden I was in a steady stream of white and pink t-shirts and pink hats, streamers and anything else people could decorate themselves with to show support.

The expo was going on but I headed for the starting line, I thought to myself, I can get the free stuff later…no need to carry it around. I made my way to the starting line and waited with what seemed to be thousands of people! It was a huge crowd of walkers, runners and everything in between. It was such an awesome sight to see so many people in support of cancer research.  I took a few pics, tweeted and we were off!

The start was slow, just because there were so many people trying to run in a narrow area. I decided to just run and see how far I could go, not looking at my watch or trying to run intervals, just running till I wanted to stop. They had said there was water at the halfway point, my goal was to run to the water stop. We weren’t but maybe a half mile in when I say a guy on the side holding his ankle. Bummer I thought, just a half mile in and already hurt. That occupied my mind for a few minutes, thinking of how it happened, what he must be feeling seeing everyone run by him….I think I had created a whole story for him by the time I was almost at one mile. As I peeked at my watch and noticed it said I had been running for a little over 8 minutes, I thought, man, I can do this…just keep running!

It felt good, I wasn’t too winded and the cold air was comfortable and seemed to make the run a little easier. As we turned a corner near a school I heard cheerleaders…did I make it to the half way point? I smiled at myself. As I ran closer to them I saw no water…what is this? Some trick? It’s ok I said to myself….it must be close. I looked down at my watch and calculated how long it should take me to run a mile and a half and well…I was just about there….so I kept going and as I turned the other corner…I saw port-a-potties! This seemed like a good sign, water must be near.

As I approached the water, I took two and walked. I had done it. I ran a mile and a half without stopping. Now this might not sound like a huge feat to some but my whole running career (less than 10 months) I have run intervals at a maximum of 5 minutes, walking one minute. To run 16 or 17 minutes without stopping seemed like a huge deal! All of this was running through my mind as I tossed my cup in to the trash and started to run. Calculations seem to keep the mind busy so as I am trying to figure out what double my current time is I hear someone tell their friend when we get to the second light, we are almost there. Second light I think….hmmm…that can’t be that far, easy breezy! So I run and I run and I run…forever.

I miss several evil cracks and holes in the road, successfully avoiding injury and then all the sudden, as I wipe sweat off my forehead, there it is up ahead, the second light. As I get closer I see the street name is Park, the same street we started on. I quietly thank the mystery lady for the comment about the lights because now that I see it and now it is Park, I feel confident I can keep running and make it in.

As I turn the corner onto Park the street becomes familiar, I remember it from when we walked the 5K as a company team a few years earlier. It isn’t that far I think, totally doable….just keep running. It was surprising easy and as I turned the last corner to the finish line, I sped up and powered in for a time of 33:43, perhaps one of my best average running times. I felt so good after it was done. I had done something for myself and others that morning, helping bring awareness and needed funds to cancer research and well, a little workout for me.

If you can help the Susan G Komen Foundation or want to run in one of their events, please check out their website for more information. Let’s help find a cure today!

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 USA Yoga Champions in Dallas Oct. 24th & 25th

The US Yoga Champions Courtney Mace and Dallas’ own, Joseph Encinia will be in Dallas next weekend as part of their nationwide tour promoting yoga, fitness and the USA Yoga Regional Competitions. Ms. Mace and Mr. Encinia will be teaching beginning Bikram Yoga classes, demonstrating their winning yoga routines and teaching  the Advanced Series for Bikram teachers and those interested in competing in the Texas Asana Yoga Championships in Houston, Texas.

If you ever wondered why Bikram Yoga is one of the fastest growing health and fitness trends, come to Bikram Yoga Dallas on Saturday, October 24th or Sunday, October 25th and experience class taught by the 2009 US Champions. You will get to practice yoga taught by some of the best yogi’s in the US. Their energy, love and enthusiasm for Bikram Yoga will inspire you as it has hundreds of others.

On Saturday Ms. Mace and Mr. Encinia will demonstrate their winning routines from the 2009 US Championships held in Los Angeles, CA. There will be a question answer period after where you can ask all the questions you want about Bikram Yoga.

For more information and ticket information, please go to

For Tight Hips, Try Tree Pose

Tadasana, aka Tree Pose – a sign the standing series is coming to an end and sweet Savasana is soon approaching.


After working every muscle in your body and increasing your heart rate, Tree Pose is a much needed and welcome change. Tree Pose helps calm the body and slow the heart rate back down.

I personally like Tree Pose. Maybe that is because it is easy for me to do or it could be because practicing Tree Pose in class means we are almost to the floor series and I can have a water break! Either way, it is a great pose. If I ever feel tight from running or cycling, Tree Pose is great for opening the hips and releasing the tension.

How to do Tree Pose:
Stand with feet together
Grab the right foot from the underside, bend the knee
Bring the right foot up to the left thigh as high as you can
Left leg should be locked
Push the knee back as far as it will go
Hips and upper body should be straight and even
Bring the right hand into prayer
Repeat on other side

Health benefits:
Creates greater flexibility on the hips and knees
Releases abdominal tension
Good for arthritis, rheumatism
Improves circulation
Strengthens lower extremities
Good for preparation to Lotus Pose

Photo is courtesy of Bikram Yoga Dallas

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where are the Glass Salt and Pepper Shakers?

It's a small thing, literally, but what happened to the salt and pepper shakers on flights? It is like they were banned from airlines for bad behavior.

There are many wonderful things to say about First Class on airplanes; they have bigger seats, more leg room, most airlines give free headsets, you get free drinks, long flights have food, hot towels are fun and well, it's just more comfortable. And all of those things are wonderful....but today I was reminded of one thing not still in First Class, salt and pepper shakers. It isn't that I am a flight snob, I sit in coach most of the time but when I do get the chance to upgrade, particularly on a very early flight, I do. It is one of the great perks of frequent business travel.

Through the years I've noticed some changes and I noticed it again today as they served me a cheese omelet with potato, fruit and biscuit. What happened to the tiny salt and pepper shakers that use to come on the tray? I miss those, they were so cute! Now they give you a tiny envelope looking thing with salt a pepper in sealed baggie. Don't know what I am talking about?! Think I am crazy? Sure, but that was a given before I started writing this silly blog.  Back in the day, American Airlines use to sit tiny glass salt and pepper shakers on the food trays. They had little silver twist on tops that were shaped like cones. They reminded me of restaurant shakers but on a miniature scale.  They were square and after using them I would neatly set them side my side like two peas in a pod, yen and yang just hanging out together.  I'm sad they have been demoted to some closet at the AA corporate office. A sign of the times perhaps. Maybe people kept swiping the tiny jewels or maybe it took too long to refill them each flight. Who knows, all I know is they are gone.

But I am glad to see real silverware is back! After 911 real silverware was removed from planes. It was a little weird to eat from ceramic dishes, glass bowls and drink from glassware and yet, use plastic silverware. Granted, American bought some of the nicer plastic ware but still...I missed the oddly small fork with tiny tines and petite knife. Some time ago, maybe a few years now, I noticed real silverware was back...but still no cute tiny salt and pepper shakers.

These tiny cuties are exactly like the ones in First Class but we only got two, not a whole basket full! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Snuggie is a True Fashion Statement!

My friend Melissa bought me a Snuggie! It is so cute and soft. We have been laughing at these since they came out, it is even more hysterical they came out with "fashion" ones like this one in animal print. The Snuggie is one sizes fits this is what it looks like on me! It looks like a kimono for a 20 foot man. 


From Snuggie

Here is me sitting with the Snuggie, as someone might if they were watching tv or reading a book. Look how cute it is, it matches my slippers! 

From Snuggie

I actually find this extremely practical and am really happy to have one. I keep my place fairly cool in the winter (I'm too cheap to keep the heat on at a normal temp.) so I am always bundled in a blanket. Every time I want to read, work on the computer, use the remote or pet Ginger, my cat, I have to take my arm out of the warmth of the blanket. Now I can easily do any of those things and stay nice and warm!

AND....I tried it on at the office and I think it is the perfect office accessory. I typically have a blanket on my legs anyway and this way I can be fully wrapped in a blanket and still work. Maybe work will buy one for everyone for Christmas. Thank you Melissa, I LOVE IT!

Get your Snuggie today! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Keep Your Mind in the Yoga Room

Bikram Yoga starts the same each time, a breathing exercise, done twice…then a series of postures in the same order each time. This consistency and structure are something that I appreciate and enjoy. It isn’t for everyone, many people find the structured class too restricting and unforgiving. For me, it gives me an opportunity to focus on my practice and work on focusing my mind not on what is trying to invade my yoga time, but focus on the task at hand, practicing yoga.

Today as I stood still before Standing Head to Knee Pose, I noticed the sweat streaming down my arms like I was in a shower.  It is interesting to me how much water can seep out of a body. I must lose a gallon or more of sweat each class. It was pouring off my face and running down my arms almost tickling my skin. My thoughts were quickly interrupted by David, the instructor, giving instructions for Standing Head to Knee Pose and all the sudden my mind was back on the posture and locking my knee.

As class laid down for Savasana, our instructor said Savasana is the hardest posture to do correctly. This is because part of doing the posture correctly involves keeping the mind in the room, not thinking about anything but laying there, breathing. David, our instructor said we should keep our minds in our brain, meaning, you have to keep your mind in the room, focused on yoga and your breath.

Then as I completed the full expression of Fixed Firm Pose, I noticed on the wall the word “concentration” and it seemed ironic to me that I was not concentrating on the posture any longer, I was focusing on the word. And how appropriate I thought…I should be concentrating on the pose and the instructions. And yet, I laid there thinking of “concentration” and thinking…I should blog about this. And then just like that, I heard David say “use your elbows to help yourself up…” and I was back in class, focused on the yoga.

I don’t think the postures are the hardest part of class, although, they are darn hard, the hardest part is letting go of the world outside of the yoga room enough to allow the yoga to work its magic. If you can let go and “keep your mind in your brain”, you will be amazed at how great a class you can have! I plan on working on this every time I go to yoga.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bikram Yoga - Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose

Dandayamana-Bibhaktapada-Janushirasana aka Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose

Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose is right after Triangle Pose and is a nice break from the intense poses leading up to it. This by no means should indicate it is easy! Far from it. I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for about 4 years now and still can't keep my hands together. The goal of the posture is to have your forehead on your knee and to keep your hands together in front of your toes. On good days I can get my forehead to the knee by bending the knee up and my thumbs stay together. The rest of my fingers are spread apart, keeping me from falling over. On a bad day? My knee and forehead touch but my hands are spread apart and it is all I can do to jusst balance. Remember, it is right after Triangle so the body is already fatigued and is not really interested in producing much effort.

This posture is wonderful though to calm the breath and heart after Triangle. And although they say it isn't a stretching pose, I do feel it sometimes in the back of the legs (always a trouble spot for me).

Here is how to do Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose:

    * Stand on one side of your mat.
    * Spread your legs a meter apart, arms are extended above your head, elbows locked, hands in prayer.
    * Turn to the right, back foot is at a 45 degree angle, left foot is parallel to the wall.
    * Tuck your head and bend the spine so you forehead touches your knee.
    * Keep arms locked and extend the fingers past the toes, hands still in prayer.
    * You can bring the knee up to reach the forehead if necessary.
    * Repeat on other side.

Benefits of Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose:

    * Increasing metabolism
    * Helps with depression, loss of memory
    * Is good for those with Diabetes, thyroid or goiter issues
    * Helps balance blood sugar

Photo courtesy of Bikram Yoga Dallas.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Pinnacle Posture - Triangle Pose

Love it or hate it, Trikanasana aka Triangle Pose is THE pose in yoga.

I have to say, I did a pretty poor job blogging in September for Yoga Month. My goal was to blog each day about yoga and specifically a daily post on the Bikram series to go over each posture. In my own defense, this is my first real attempt at consistent blogging and I’m not a great writer. Actually, pretty much anyone that knows me can tell you I am an average writer at best. So why blog? I suppose because I think I have things to say and wisdom to share. But writing an interesting and well written blog every day is surprisingly hard work, much harder than I thought it would be. So as you can see, I only got as far as Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose in the Bikram series. This perhaps is appropriate since the next posture is Triangle, often called the pinnacle posture, the one the uses all the muscles, the one “you” have been waiting for…or so they say in the dialog.

Let me tell you, I personally am NOT waiting for Triangle pose. I dislike Triangle pose for a number of reasons. I’ll list them….
1. By the time class gets to Triangle my arms are already whipped and often my shoulders are burning.
2. The teachers never seem to move from “arms parallel” to “arms perpendicular” fast enough.
3. The carpet is slippery and I always seem to slid to a wide split.
4. I can never touch the ceiling like they say in the dialog, no matter how hard I try.
5. My shoulder and chin never touch, it is like there is an imaginary wall between them.
6. Not resting weight on the elbow or the fingertips in nearly impossible.

And yet…there are so many GOOD reasons to WANT to do Triangle pose.
1. It is the only posture that improves every muscle, joint, tendon and internal organ.
2. It revitalizes the nerves, tissue and veins.
3. It improves the spines flexibility and strength.
4. Improves flexibility and strength in the hip and torso.
5. Firms thighs and hips.
6. Slims the waistline.

It is the ultimate love hate relationship. What is best for you, you hate to do, isn’t that always the way? But what is bad for you like fast food, candy, drinking, smoking, or whatever your vice is, is so easy to do and hard to resist. This is why I do yoga and why I do Triangle pose, to be better, to do better, to improve myself from the inside out, top to bottom….

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Clouds Clouds Go Away, Come Back Some Other Day

I remember waking up this morning sweating to death under the covers and tossing them off to get some fresh cool air on my body. As I laid there, it seemed like an eternity, I contemplated what time it might be and if I could lay there a bit longer before the alarm clock buzzer went off. As I rolled over and peered over at the alarm clock with my fuzzy eyes, I noticed it was 6:00 am and no alarm was set. This should have told me the tone of the day. I laid my head back down on the pillow, closed my eyes and pretended to look at the ceiling through my eye lids. UGH I thought, I have to get up. I had missed my 30 minutes of snoozing which is needed for a good morning start on a work day so as I rolled out of bed, put on my leopard printed slippers, I shuffled to the bathroom, still half asleep. I needed a hot, very hot shower. 

My morning routine is pretty much the same everyday, shower, put stuff on face, check twitter, check email, tweet important things for work, find clothes to wear, dry hair, go to office. Pretty easy. I decided to wear a cashmere sweater I bought last year, one of the few pairs of black pants that still fit (I have lost a few pounds recently and refuse to buy new pants.), boots and a scarf. As I get ready to leave, I remember I need to open the curtains for my very spoiled cat. She likes to look out the window and annoy the neighborhood dogs with her lazy and blessed life inside. As I opened the curtains I realize all the windows have condensation on them and I reach out to touch the window and it is warm. Great I think, now I need to change, I will surely sweat to death in this sweater. I peruse through my wardrobe and don't find a thing to go with black pants. How can that be?! I have an entire closet full of tops, one whole row is devoted to black and white tops, seems impossible that I could look in and find nothing to wear. And it isn't so much that I have nothing to wear but more that I had thought it out and decided what I was GOING to wear and the weather was not cooperating so now I had to change my mind, hard to do. 

I decided to leave on the tank, pants and boots and settled on a Target sweater with a scarf from 1993 wrapped around my waist. These things seem to balance out the Tiffany rings, bracelet and Pucci perfume. Finally dressed and ready for work. 

I walk out the door and immediately appreciate my clothing choice change. It was humid like a rain forest, the air just sort of stuck to you. This gives one so much appreciation for air conditioning, which I turned on in the car and ran the entire 5 miles to work. I know, don't hate me....I have a short drive. 

But even in that short drive I managed to find more than a few annoyed drivers testing their horns and impatient people that decided today was the day to whip in between cars. And even when I went out for lunch people still seemed to be in an annoyed state, or maybe today was horn testing day and I missed the memo. Either way, I say relax people! 

The clouds and wetness in the air seem to be moving on, hopefully this weekend will be beautiful, maybe I will ride my bike or go for a run. I think I need it, the clouds seem to have moved on in the sky but they have returned to my head. Bike, Run, Yoga...any would be good to clear the fog from my brain.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Consistent Yoga Makes for Better Classes

I went to Bikram Yoga yesterday, it was the first time I had been in 7 days and boy did I feel it! They say you should go at least three times a week and not have larges gaps of time between sessions or it is like starting over each time. Although my body still remembered the postures and the flexibility was still partially there, I could really tell it had been some time since my last session.

Class started off well but by Triangle I was beat. For some reason my arms felt extremely fatiqued so even holding them paralle for a second was too much. I suppose I could chalk it up to too much ACL Fest in Austin.  Pretty much all I did all weekend was walk around 15 acres at Zilker Park. But that would be too easy of an excuse. It is more likely that not exercising for 6 days played a bigger part. (I had gone to the gym one of the days.)

And I know this, consistent exercise is best.... but sometimes knowing what is best is not always enough. So my goal for the rest of the week is to work out at least 3-4 more times, Saturday looks to be the busiest day with regular yoga class and then advanced.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ACL Fest - Will 2009 be Known as the Mud Year?

I survived ACL fest! Saturday was full of rain and Sunday was full of mud, both were an experience!

On Saturday my dad and I went ahead and staked our area under the big tree near the BMI stage. While we were setting up the chairs my dad sat in his and it promptly fell apart. This to most people might seem like am alarming situation where you might be concerned about the safety of the person. Not me, I sat there and just laughed, so did my dad. After using his handy nail clipper/multi use tool to fix the chair, we went back out to meet up with my mom and family friend, Warren.

On the way out we saw a huge happy face on the ground, the exit security guy had gathered the grass clippings and made a smiley face. It was so cute I took a picture of it.

We enjoyed a drink at Chuy's before going to an Austin Monthly, VIP Hospitality Lounge at the Barton Place Sales office where we learned about the condo's for sale and saw some great interior design elements. It was a nice retreat from the rain, we didn't stay long though, and we had music to listen to! We donned our yellow ponchos and headed towards the entrance. I would have thought yellow ponchos with Mickey Mouse would be easy to spot in a crowd but as it turns out, there were lots of people with yellow ponchos with Mickey on them! It's a good thing we mostly stuck together or we might have ended up with the wrong group of people!

We saw Alberta Cross, whoever was on the Raveonettes stage - they weren't that great, Cotton Jones and Papa Mali.

Sunday was pretty much a mud fest from the start. When we got to the entrance they had rerouted everyone to a single line to reduce the amount of traffic on the already worn grass and they had moved the entrance lines to the side, we suspected because the other entrances were worn down and muddy.  After we got in, our suspicions were confirmed, it was indeed muddy! Wow was it muddy. The worst spot early in the day, an maybe all day was around the food area. Every step was met mud coming up over the shoe and in my case, flipflops! Mud oozed between my toes and seeped into the tiniest places between the sequins of my shoes.  And joy, the City had used compost and waste to help kick start the grass so the entire place smelled like a barn and cow manure. NICE!

Even so, we stayed until almost 4:00 pm and as we left, more people were still streaming in. The mud didn't seem to faze too many people. One kid next to us was covered in mud like he has been rolling around in it. Other people we saw went to a different extreme and wrapped their shoes with plastic baggies. Whatever way works right? As long as you have fun. 

ACL Fest is never boring that's for sure. Whether there is a dust cloud, mud or scorching heat, you can always count on good music, great people watching and long lasting memories.

My Fitflops after Sunday! :( A good scrubbing got most of the mud off.

Friday, October 2, 2009

ACL Fest Shells Out Some Awesome Music

Austin weather holds out, first day of ACL Fest is a success.

As I sit under the big tree we always use as a haven, waiting for Kings of Leon to start, I can't help but reflect on the day. It started with great music at a local restaurant, Threadgills, breakfast at Austin Java and finished at one of the best outdoor concerts ever, ACL Fest.

Threadgills and local radio station, KGSR, held early morning "sampler" music sets spotlightinging several ACL Fest singers and bands. Donations of $5 got you in, a breakfast taco and coffee, what a deal! Today's performance donations went to HAAM, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.

We saw performances by The Greencards, Tom Snider, The Walkman and Mediski, Martin & Wood. My favorite had to be the Greencards. I saw them several years ago and loved them. Tom Snider was very funny, would recommend him if he is playing a gig near you.

After Threadgills, we decided to grab a parking spot close to the festival and walk to grab a bite to eat at Austin Java. I had a yummy breakfast burrito, my second of the morning in case you were counting.

We made the short walk to the festival and waited for the gates to open. As we heard the Starwars theme, the indicator the doors are open, I saw people rushing down to the Livestrong stage and to our tree haven. It was an funny sight for sure. By the time we got in the tree where we sit was almost full and the music hadn't even started!

There was good music like Nelo, The Greencards and Reckless Kelly and not so great music like Bassnectar or pretty much anything else on the Dell stage. One exception is Sound and the Jury, they were on the Dell stage early and were great to watch and had good music.

Its good to have a haven to sit and relax. As sit here and I look around and see people hurrying to Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kings of Leon and I'm pleased I feel totally content in my chair listening to the music from afar, under the tree. What a beautiful way to end the day.

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