Monday, September 30, 2013

How do you get stronger arms? Do push ups.

I went to Gaia Flow today to get a little more arm and ab work than what we get in Bikram yoga. Gaia Flow has a "Weekend Warrior" class that is fairly warm, though certainly not as hot as Bikram yoga. They start the class with something like 300-400 ab moves. Seriously...300-400...I guess it depends who it teaching or what kind of mood they are in. Then they move into the good stuff, arm balancing, core working postures where even the fittest of people start to quiver before the teacher says to move into another posture. And if you aren't challenged, there are always variations of the posture..I stayed with the basics.

I've been several times, they always stop after the ab work and discuss something the studio is "working" on or "focusing" on for the week. This week it was moderation. Moderation in your practice and in life; letting go of the ego and knowing your limits that day. I thought it was interesting and perhaps not a coincidence that I am participating in a moderation eating group and he referenced attempting to practice moderation in your only eating a few chips at a Mexican restaurant. And many of the things the teacher used as examples of moderation in yoga were things I try to communicate when I teach.

Today in class I tried to practice moderation and not kill myself doing postures I am not totally familiar with or frankly, that good at. Downward dog is a favorite and a "go to" transition posture for just about everything we did today. After awhile my wrists started to hurt. I probably could have stayed in the postures but only to the determent of my ability to move my hands later. I opted to be safe and sit out a posture here and there, sip my water and wipe the streaming sweat off my face. Much of the arm balancing postures I couldn't do, arm strength is not something I have and though we do some arm work in Bikram, it isn't one of our top selling points.

After class a friend and I were talking about what we thought of the class and I got to the part about class when we did the arm balancing postures and my weak arms. I commented that I was trying to "work" on my arms by doing push ups at home. He asked how many I was doing. "Uh, 3-4 at a time at the moment." he laughed and the proceeded to tell me I should be able to do 100 push ups a day. 100?! After we both had a good laugh, he looked at me completely serious and said, "yes, you should be able to do 100 push ups every day." Dude, I can barely do 5, how the heck am I suppose to do 100? He was kind enough to break it down and say I could do 10 push ups 10 times a day which sounded more achievable. And, because we did so many push up moves in class he said I should shoot for doing another 50 the rest of the day to make my 100. 50?! Sheesh...uh...ok....

I know, you are wondering if I made it. It wasn't easy but I did 50 push ups. Ten at a time. Oddly enough, the last two "reps" I was able to pump out 4 solid without stopping, then a few more, then boom, was done. It was as if my arms got STRONGER as I did more. Shocker I know. I'm eager to see what tomorrow brings. I will either be able to do 100 or my arms might feel so weak I won't be able to lift myself off the floor. Check back tomorrow to see if I can still pull myself up to the computer to type.

Friday, September 27, 2013

When step count doesn't matter.

Finally got on the bike again and went around White Rock Lake. The weather in Dallas was just perfect for a quick jaunt around the lake. I was impressed with my ability to maintain a somewhat reasonable pace considering I haven't been on the bike since April. 

I debated I've been using a pedometer to track my steps and have been astonished at how inactive I am some days. Some days I barely make it to 2000 steps. The only time I've ever gone more than 10000 steps was when I ran 4 miles.

I debated whether to run to get steps or do something different and ride. I decided it's more about being active which in the case of yoga and cycling don't include steps. So today, even though I'll barely crack 3000 steps, I feel pretty good about 12.5 miles on the bike.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Getting Rid of Pain with the MELT Method

MELT Method Hand and Foot Treatment Kit

Earlier this year a friend of mine posted she had been to the Hand and Foot MELT training. I was intrigued so I looked it up and saw it was balls and rollers and what looked to me on initial review to be pressure point massage. I have been using a foam roller for years and recommend them often to yoga students, runners, cyclists, etc that are feeling pain. Based on my previous knowledge of foam rolling, reflexology and fascia I thought MELT would be a great compliment to what I already teach. An boy was I right!

I just got back from the Hand and Foot MELT Training and am so excited to share how just a few minutes a day can help keep a person pain free. I mean, who doesn't feel pain every once in a while? I consider myself a fairly healthy person without a lot of pain but sometimes I get a crick in my neck or I get what feels like a knot in my muscles or when I am crazy enough to think I can run more than a 10K and my legs cramp up. Pain happens. Kind of like S**t. It just happens. But that doesn't mean you have to live with it.

Here is a real example that happened to me this weekend.

We were sitting for most of the two days learning about fascia, nerves, pressure points, etc. I was sitting at an angle I guess my body didn't completely agree with because once we took a break and stood up, I all the sudden felt a crick in my neck and had this pinching pain on the right side of my neck and shoulder area. When this happens at home I usually put some Tiger Balm on the area or get a neck roll, warm it up and put it around the area.

I didn't have any of those things but we were about to do a foot treatment. We started with the left foot and after just a few minutes on the left foot I all the sudden noticed my neck didn't hurt anymore! No more pain! IN MY NECK? How the heck does pressing on my feet help my neck? The body is an amazing thing. The connective tissue, fascia, that is just below the skin is all over the body and is all connected, thus I am sure why it is called "connective" tissue. So you can effect an area not close to the feet by simply pressing on some points and sending fluid through the body.

I vaguely knew this because of reflexology but I've never studied it and haven't done reflexology in response to a pain, it has always been as an add-on to a massage treatment.

What was completely the ah-ha moment was when Sue said connective tissue can be dehydrated, even if you drink a lot of water and most of the time what we feel when we are tight or stiff is not so much about the muscles, it is dehydrated connective tissue. And dehydrated connective tissue can create pain in your joints, stiffness, reduced movement and imbalance.

Want to learn more about MELT? Want to try it? Connect with me on twitter for news on upcoming classes, I'll be teaching classes in Austin and the Dallas area. If you are interested in more immediate help, email me at carolyn (at) bikerunyoga (dot) com.

Purchase MELT products and Sue's new book!

I took a full MELT Class the day before training started.

This is super cool, bunion treatment! 

Sue Hitzmann and me after the training, MELTed and happy!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bikram 30 Day Challenge - As Simple as Going to Class Everyday

Thirty Day  Bikram Challenge - Done.

 I recently (three days ago) finished my fourth Bikram Challenge. I kind of wimped out and only did a 30 days challenge but I consider that pretty good since I didn't initially start with the intentions of doing a challenge, it just sort of happened.

It started with just going to class every day. It has been easier, I dropped my teaching class level down so I stopped teaching three and (eekk!) four classes some days, making it impossible to take class. So since I am not teaching as much, what the heck I think, go to class. And I did....every day, except two. The nice thing about my studio is during a challenge you can take one day off per week, so in a 30 day challenge, you only need to take class 26 times to complete the challenge. Back in the old days you had to do 30 classes and doubles every day at the end were a common trend. This often resulted in being "over Bikramed" and you wouldn't see people for days or weeks.

What I thought was interesting was my non effort. I wasn't trying to do a challenge, I was just going to class everyday. It wasn't even until half way through that I decided to start marking down on the Challenge Calendar all my classes. Once I starting actually tracking my classes and adding stickers, the idea of going to class everyday was more of "I have to go to class to finish my challenge" and less of "I am going to go to class today". And since I finished the challenge what have I done? Still gone to class everyday, without really even thinking about it.

What is the moral? Get out of your head and just go to class.

Andrew and me after class.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Helpful Yoga Tip of the Day: Men, don't stick your hands down your shorts.

Guys, please, don't thrust your hand down your shorts to readjust what you failed to get right in the changing room. One, we can see you do it, not ideal. Two, you have now just grabbed you "package" and are about to sweat all over yourself or other people. Ick.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ellie's New Collection is Coming Next Week!

Have you heard of Ellie? It's a new yoga wear line you can only buy online. Click here to access their site. They have a unique model, you have to become a member to buy their clothes. Don't be intimidated though, it is easy to sign up and their clothes are super cute.

They sent me some cute clothes to try, I got the Kiss Me Capri and the Peek-a-Boo top. I've worn and washed both several times and love them! They dry quickly, a plus for hot yoga, they fit great and they wash well.

Kiss Me Capris have a two tone color look on the waistband, it is pink with a portion covered with black mess so it looks like two colors. Fit is true to size, I got a medium, which I normally wear and they fit just like all my other mediums.

Peek-a-Boo is open in the back and has long armholes to allow a cute bra top to peek through. The above bra is one I have had for years, it isn't Ellie, though they have some really cute bras as well.

They are coming out with a new collection next week, a great citrus yellow and bright royal blue. Last month they have a wonderful coral collection. Check their site often, they have new collections monthly. #loveellie

To Fall Out or Not Fall Out, that is the Question....

A student asked me recently what was more important, staying in the posture or trying to keep going further even though she couldn't stay in the posture, specifically, keeping her balance. This is an important question, one that many students have, probably because as teachers we have different philosophies and depending on who you ask, you will typically get one of two responses. The typical main responses to this type of question are one, "challenge yourself to not fall out" and two, "if you fall out, get back in and keep trying"; or some version of these. Neither is right or wrong in my opinion, it just depends perhaps on where you are in your practice and what your goals are for your practice.

Here's my interpretation of what both of these mean and why both are good things to practice.

Challenge yourself to not fallout- don't allow yourself to fallout.
This way of thinking was most vividly presented to me by Lynn Whitlow during a workshop. She said something to the effect of "Choose to not fall out." and then did this thing with her mouth to imply "just do it". It stuck with me, I try it every class. Some might think this is complacency, it isn't. it isn't about "hanging out" in the posture and not improving, it is about drawing up every gumption, strength, determination, focus, etc to stay in the posture - as if your life depended on it.

So many times people think they will fallout/come out of a posture and they do. That is mind over the matter. Think in your mind you will stay in the posture, and then struggle, try, breathe and stay in the posture. 

It isn't all about mind over the matter though, sometimes it is the body. If you are in tune with your body, really seeing the self while in class, you often know why you weren't able to stay in the posture; either you moved your weight and didn't compensate right and became off balance, or you got a cramp, or you let your hand slip, or you stopped breathing, or something else. This is where I believe this philosophy works best, in those exact moments when you are about to give into whatever is it and about to come out of the posture, simply don't allow it to happen. Don't let the body fail.

I remember one time in and advanced class Susan Anderson explaining mountain pose and how it looks like people are perfectly still in the posture when in fact their muscles are contraction and relaxing as they necessary to keep balancing on the knees. I try and remember this when I am in class and really pay attention to the muscles in my body, which ones are working and how they are working together, some stretching, some contracting, some relaxed, all to keep me balanced.   

Challenging yourself in this way changes your practice. I believe it provides more focus and more benefit. Yes, we say you get benefit from just being in the room, however, you get MORE benefit IN the posture. Working to not fall out of a posture builds physical strength and flexibility and improves your mental determination. When the going gets tough in life, what do you do? Struggle for 90 minutes and your ability to handle the "tough" outside of the room improves greatly. 

This isn't easy and it isn't for everyone. Sometimes you do need a break and need to come out of a posture. Allow yourself that choice from time to time. Don't let the ego take over where you are trying to do more than you can because of some ego trip, desire to compete with yourself or someone next to you, or with some expectation of how your class would be. Be smart, just don't give up on yourself.

Continue to try to go further each time, if you fall out, get back in and keep trying.

So sometimes "don't fall out" becomes "hang out" and people stop trying to improve and they just stick a posture the whole time in a position that is easy and not challenging the body. That is not the purpose, if confused, reread above.

Sometimes a person might need the second option; if you fall out, get back in. Revolutionary? Perhaps not, but it is often a forgotten mantra. How many times have you fallen out or come out of a posture and just waited for the posture to be over, never trying a second, third,or fourth time? It's hard to get back in; you typically have exerted all your energy in the first attempt and any energy you had left was expended as you came out of the posture, mentally beat up yourself for coming out, fidgeted with your towel, chuggged some water, and maybe reached down to grab that hand towel to wipe off your sweat. Getting back in seems worse than......hmmm .......worse than....let me think...a poke in the eye?!

The class is 90 minutes of struggle, no one said it would be easy, no one said you would enjoy every minute of have to struggle to get out of your comfort zone, change your perception of what you think you can do and mostly, let go of control.

If you fall out, keep trying, get back in no matter how tired you are, no matter how hard it seems, no matter what your mind is telling you your capabilities are....give 100%. Pay attention to your body, just don't let self doubt, ego and personal judgment dictate what benefit you get out of class. 

Consider "falling out" as an opportunity to understand the body, its limitations and its abilities, on your journey to improving your health. Every time you fall out of a posture, learn from it, notice why that happened and improve the next time. One day, as we say in class, eventually in the future, you will find the balance, strength, flexibility to stay in the posture. And why do you care about staying in the posture? Because through the postures, the practice of yoga, one can find unlimited health benefits. Improving your health, whatever that means for you, is yoga. 

I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying. ~Michael Jordan

Failure is the key to success; each teaches us something.~Morihei Ueshiba

Just for fun: The pictures below are of my standing bow over the last 5+ years, maybe after another 5 years of determination I will be able to lock out my knee! 

March 2013

Sept 2012

 May 2010

Oct 2008
2013 photos by Tom Dean, 2012 photo by Yoga Bliss

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I actually cooked something GOOD, Quinoa and Kale Patties

I found these yummy looking quinoa and kale patties on Pinterest, the picture really made me want to make them. I saved the image to my food board and clipped the website to my evernote. It took me a few days but I finally made it to the store to get the ingredients. These are easy to make and really don't take that much time. Plus, bonus, I can easily heat these up on my Cuisinart Griddler for a fast meal.

Flip the grill sheets around to the flat side.

Here is what mine looked like once I formed them into patties.

Brown the top and bottom in a pan. 

Finished! With an avocado spread. YUM!

Here is where I got the original recipe.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gatorade lemon and cucumber sport drink has no lemon or cucumber in it!

A friend of mine came to yoga class recently with a new Gatorade, Lemon and Cucumber. Have you tried it? She gave me a taste, it tasted like lemon and cucumber, it was actually kind if good. Then I looked at the label said it had NO FRUIT JUICE! The only ingredients are chemicals!

Why people drink Gatorade is beyond me. If you want electrolytes or carbs to get through a workout, there are so many other healthy choices, why put chemicals in your body?

I was so disgusted with the stuff I told my friend I would make her REAL lemon and cucumber juice. It's delicious by the way...100% juice.

I used my Hurom juicer and bought 4 organic cucumbers and 2 organic lemons. It produced two bottles of great juice. You can drink this before, after or during a workout for electrolyte replacement the natural way.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sometimes yoga class just sucks, good news is there is always tomorrow.

Yesterdays yoga class sucked. I know, I'm not suppose to say that, we tell students all the time not to have judgment, to have no ego and to be happy with just being there. But really, it sucked. 

Why did it suck? I don't know, could be because I only took one other class since Sunday, could be because I haven't been eating very well or it could be because of all the water I drank during the first part of class. Any or a combination of all could have contributed to my struggle in class, which is what I equate as "sucking". 

I've been feeling physically weak lately, my muscles seem to fatigue very easily. I took a spin class a few weeks ago and really struggled, my legs just didn't seem to want to move. I tried to run 4 miles recently and could barely make it, had to walk most of the way. 

No doubt it has something to do with what I am putting in my body. You are what you eat right?  Eating well and maintaining a regular workout schedule are so important to "feeling" energized. Note to self: must do more yoga, must eat healthier. Good thing I am on my way to my food co-op, Urban Acres, looking forward to healthy eating this week!

Yummy fresh organic veggies from Urban Acres!
Cleaned and ready to eat
Update: Happy to report after drinking some green juice and pacing my water intake in class, today's class was MUCH better. :) 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Got back on the bike after a long hiatus

Got back on the bike today and rode 17 miles after not riding for a year. It seems fitting, today was the Tour Dallas as I think that ride last year was the last time I was on my bike. I didn't ride in the tour this year; have been focusing on other things and missed the emails about the ride. But that's ok, the good news is you can still ride around town, even if you don't pay a race fee.

Weather was great, very windy, especially around White Rock Lake but warm and sunny. I've always thought White Rock Lake is a great place to train if you are looking for tough conditions, there is a never ending supply of wind gusts, people and dog obstacles and the lovely gnats.

It was a tough and slow ride, maybe as slow as when I first got my bike. It proves you have to use it or you lose it; not that I lost my ability to ride but I certainly have lost my speed and endurance.

Hopefully my next ride will be a bit faster and less painful. ;)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sign Up for Two Week Ab and Yoga Program From Yoga Journal

Yoga? Sure. Strong Core? Yes! Sign up for Yoga Journal's two week ab strengthening yoga program. Starts April 8th. 

I signed up, looking forward to great abs! I'll keep you updated on how I do. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Legs, Abs, Arms Workout You can do at Home

Lately I have been motivated to tone up. I bought a cheap "ab trimmer" from Aldi, on sale for $5.99, got my hand weights out and started my own workout routine at home, abs and arms. I was doing bicep curls, tricep extensions and sit ups and noting them in a workout note in Evernote. That was going pretty well for a week or so, I could really see a difference when I practiced the advanced Bikram class, I was able to do a lot more. This was motivating. 

Today I was suppose to workout at the gym with a friend, neither of us really know what to do so after researching a few things online I came up with a workout routine to target the areas we really wanted to focus on, legs, abs and arms. As it turns out we didn't get to workout so I tried the routine at home. I skipped the running part because it is raining in Dallas and I already took a 90 minute Bikram class. 

Below is the workout routine. Try it, let me know if you like it. 

A few notes about the workout. I put the weight I used and the number of reps in each set, feel free to modify. I'm not a trainer so some things I do might be a little weird. For example, I don't know why I do bicep curls from the front and side, I just feel like it does slightly different stuff. All I know is my biceps are definitely more defined than two weeks ago! 

Legs, Abs, Arms Workout
Complete noted or as many as you can in each set, three sets of each
  • Run 20 minutes Skipped
  • Lunges with weights (8lb) 20, 20, 20
  • Squats over a step 30, 30, 30
  • Tricep extension (12lb resistance) 13, 15, 15
  • Bicep curls (8lb) front 13, 13, 13
  • Bicep curls (8lb) side 13, 13, 13
  • Upright row (8lb) 15, 15, 15
  • Side plank (60 sec, 45 sec, 30 sec) 60, 45, 30
  • Sit ups 25, 25, 30
If you can still find one at Aldi, they are on sale for $5.99

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dash Down Greenville - Price Goes Up March 11

Need something fun to do?! Come run the St. Paddy's Day Dash Down Greenville! Click here to register.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

4 Tips on How to Avoid Bad Habits in Yoga Class

What is a bad habit in yoga? How does one form one? These questions and how to avoid bad habits floated through my mind recently while teaching. Students try so hard in class to do the right thing, but for what purpose? So often there is a misconception that your goal is to look "pretty", look effortless. The look of effortlessness comes from being at peace and not fighting against the body. Gaining the benefits from the pose comes from practicing each move the right way.

Bad habits are things we do as students because we either don't understand what the teacher is saying or we can't or won't do what the teacher is saying. Over time, the body remembers these tiny modifications and a bad habit is formed. Maybe it is something as simple as where you place your foot or how you hold your arm or something simple like twisting the wrong direction or not standing in the most stable position. It is muscle or body memory, the body gets comfortable and before you know it you are doing postures wrong, not getting the benefit and in an extreme case blaming yoga for either an injury or lack of results. 

The right way to practice postures is not easy, news flash, it isn't suppose to be, but it is the safe way and more rewards are reaped from correct form than allowing the mind to decide what you should be doing. 

When I think of people modifying small parts of poses to fit their body, I am reminded of something I learned in multi-level marketing; opi, other peoples ideas. The basic principal is the use other peoples ideas to improve yourself, in the case of multi-level marketing, financially. In the case of yoga, physically and mentally. And they say to people that balk at this notion, "If your ideas were so great, you would be the successful one." Use the ideas of those before you to improve the body, no need to reinvent the yoga, to change it or to improve it, it is what it is. Just follow the instructions and reap the rewards. 

Another way to look at it. "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you've always got."

4 Tips on How to Avoid Bad Habits:

  1. Be mindful, be present. - In class and listen to what the teacher is saying and only move to the instruction. 
  2. Look at yourself. - Really "see" yourself in the mirror and notice where your body is and how it is moving. Don't just stare in the mirror at yourself, SEE yourself. 
  3. Self correct. - When you hear a correction or instruction, look at your body and self correct. The teacher might not be talking to you yet it might apply to you. And even if you don't hear something you need to do, if you are looking at yourself, you might see you need to make a tiny adjustment; foot, hand, head, arm, etc. 
  4. No expectations, no judgement. - Let go. It's just yoga. The goal is not to get a PR or to out do the person next to you or to mimic the girl in front of you. The goal is to improve the body, mind and soul. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Excuses, Go get Your Sweat on for FREE!

Free Class at Bikram Yoga Dallas - West Village

Ever wanted to try Bikram Yoga? Too cheap to pay $49 for an unlimited month? Too cheap to pay $20 for a class?! Don't worry, you are running out of excuses. Bikram Yoga Dallas- West Village has a FREE class every  Sunday in January at 2pm. The time is now. Grab your mat, big towel and an even bigger jug of water and get to class. Sweat out that last part of 2012 and get ready for 2013. Don't have a mat? All your towels in the dirty clothes? No excuses, they will let you borrow one for free your first class. It is advised to register for class as these often have a waiting list. Click here to sign up. 

And if you need more motivation, here is a great "thought of the day"....
Getting On With It
Worrying about how everything will get done or whether I am capable of doing it limits my ability to respond to challenges considerably. The less I think about doing something and the faster I just get on with it, the fewer problems I cause myself. Good planning is always helpful, but time spent fretting and procrastinating is a major drain on my energy. The more willing I am to respond positively to opportunities, the more my capacity will grow.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Slap Bracelets Hold Wrapping Paper

I saw this on Pinterest I think, or Martha Stewart, slap bracelets used to secure wrapping paper. I love the idea and have been looking for slap bracelets on sale.
Michael's has some on clearance for $.40! I found a few in a red and white stripe, perfect for my holiday paper. The other ones are just random was really the goal. The bracelets work great around regular sized rolls.
I have some rolls that are very tiny, I got them from my nieces school fundraiser, the rolls are too small for the bracelet to hold on, I need a slap bracelet for a baby!
Here is a sampling of the bracelets on the rolls.

New Bag Styles