Monday, September 23, 2013

Downward Facing Dog with variation // Ardho Mukha Svanasana


I've never been a fan of Down Dog. It used to hurt my wrists a lot until I gained more upper-body strength to support me in the pose. After all my years of practice, my heels still don't touch the ground unless I bend my knees significantly. It almost never feels like a resting pose to me (which it is supposed to be).

But that's okay. Sometimes a pose will never be easy. But it is still worth it.

To help me deal with being "stuck" in Down Dog for a few breaths between vinyasas, I like to add variations. Whether it's the twist (pictured above), or pedaling the feet or moving from Down Dog to Plank, or trying Three-Legged Dog... it doesn't really matter. Just as long as I have options when my Down Dog isn't feeling awesome.

You can take a look at THIS Yoga Journal video (it's only a couple of minutes) if you're unsure just how your Downward Facing Dog is supposed to look.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crow pose // Bakasana


This is a wonderful arm-balance pose that also encourages core strength. Believe it or not, it's the abdominals that really rock this posture.

If you're nervous about face-planting, then practice this pose on the carpet, or with a pillow under your head. Although, you're already so close to the ground that it doesn't hurt too much when you fall out of it... I know this from lots of personal experience.

Now that I'm comfortable holding my crow pose for a few breaths, I like to try variations. You can turn your legs to one side and do a twisted crow, and from there you can even try extending the legs through the twist. When I master that one I'll be sure to share a photo; for now just picture me falling down a lot.

For a good video to get you started with tradition crow, visit DoYouYoga's day 7 video HERE.

And even if you never get your feet off the ground, this is still a wonderful pose for targeting the core and the arms. I remember being so excited when I finally learned to do this pose (and then Kev just up and did it without any effort at all because he's awesome like that), but there are still some days when I'm not feeling it. Let me know how it works for you!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Renewing Yoga

I remember watching the instructor float down in her chaturanga, seemingly weightless. She would transition between postures without skipping a beat. Meanwhile, I was struggling to understand how I could get the feeling of pushing away from my mat when all I wanted to do was lay down on it and give up. Now I find myself offering similar suggestions to practitioners in my classes; I encourage them to inhale and imagine inflating and lifting right up off the ground. I let them know that a few years ago I was struggling with the same pose, and although I may be comfortable with it now, there are still countless others I'm working on. There is so much growth available in Yoga, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. It's been so rewarding to tackle new postures and revisit the old, familiar ones with renewed commitment. Having friends over to practice has given me just the boost I need to try bringing my practice back to the level it was at before moving from Ogden. What have you been working on lately?
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Friday, September 6, 2013

30 day Yoga Challenge

I've been doing a 30-day Yoga challenge via DoYouYoga.com and I've really enjoyed it so far (I'm about a week into it). Every day, DoYouYoga emails subscribers a video with a targeted practice, and they range from just 10-20 minutes in length. It's not a comprehensive practice, but it's a nice complement to whatever you may already do (or don't do!). For me, I've found it beneficial to do my usual (eight) Sun Salutations as a warm up before attacking the DoYouYoga video. Sometimes I continue my personal practice after a video, or I just do my warm up and the DoYouYoga video and call it good. It's a free service and you can also access the videos at your own pace HERE.

It may seem silly, but I really love that when you sign up you give them your name (or nickname) and when they email you they say, "Hey Liv!" A little component like that can be just the motivation needed to try a challenge like this. This weekend I'm having another Yoga practice in my backyard, so come on over and join me! All of my extra mats are spoken for already, but you can purchase one super-cheap at Walmart, Target, or even Ross.

You can also find me on:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Moving

The last time I remember having a real running routine was the summer after I graduated from High School.

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

So here I am, 11 years later, running on a treadmill in my basement. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I think I kind of like it. With Kev working a lot of hours again, I can't get outside to run in the cooler hours (because he's not here to be with Aspen) so I run at night while Aspen sleeps. My only problem with running is that EVERYTHING JIGGLES. Let's be honest. Even with the runner's high afterward, there's nothing that makes the jiggling enjoyable. Places that used to be toned thanks to teaching 6 Yoga classes a week are no longer toned. And that sucks.

But I'm doing what I can to keep moving this body. Aspen and I are biking a lot. I'm still hosting the occasional Yoga practice at my home (in addition to personal practice throughout the week). I'm running on the treadmill 20 minutes a few nights every week. And I guess it's good to get used to running on the treadmill first. Otherwise being stuck on it during the winter would be even worse. I just wish Maddie wouldn't stare at me warily the whole time I run. It's very unsettling. What are you doing lately to stay active? You can join me tomorrow at 730 for a Yoga practice in my backyard if you'd like!

You can also find me on:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Yogis United

On Saturday I had the privilege of hosting Yoga at my home. I have a shaded patio in the mornings and I miss teaching so much that I decided to have some free classes outside while the weather is still good. Four women came to join me in saluting the sun while listening to the neighborhood birds waking up (and a little bit of Mumford and Sons playing on the iPod). It was the perfect way to start the day.

It felt so good to be leading a practice again. I mentioned to the ladies that in my year away from teaching, I've still had personal practices during which I mumble the cues just so I wouldn't forget. I'm grateful for the chance I had to share my love of Yoga with others, and hopefully I gave them a good experience that opened them up to future encounters with it. As long as I can keep coordinating childcare responsibilities with Kev, I hope to keep offering free classes (he not only did his dad duties during Yoga, but he made pancakes for me and Sophia to stuff in our faces when we were done!).

So let me know if you're interested in coming and we'll see what we can plan for the coming weeks. And just for fun, you could click over to Freeport Yoga Company's Facebook page and "like" the photo I submitted this week. They give a pose for the week and ask fans to send in photos, so I gave it a go. I have a really cute little helper with me so you at least need to click over to see her ;).

Namaste.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Yoga Meltdown


I had a brief moment of solitude last week so I took advantage of it and pulled up a yoga video on YouTube. I happened upon a 35-minute Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown and decided to try it because she's like, a fitness Goddess or something. As soon as it started I realized it would probably be a great workout, but not necessarily a great practice.


If you're not familiar with Yoga, I don't recommend doing Jillian's Yoga workouts. She does a lot of great variations of postures, but not once did she offer a restorative pose for any of her inversion/back bend postures (like Locust and Camel Pose). I actually had to stop the video so I could do a counter-pose to relieve tension in my back. In the video, she said Yoga is great exercise, but it's not going to help you lose weight unless you bring movement into all the postures.

I think that further perpetuates the misconception that Yoga is not a good workout unless it's modified. She rarely used the names of postures until you were already supposed to be in the pose so I always felt a little behind the whole time (and I've been doing Yoga for 8 years!). Jillian obviously knows a lot about exercise and I think she's amazing at what she does, but she's also a little scary. And I don't think Yoga is her thing.

You're not going to learn anything about form or alignment from her Yoga videos, but you are going to get a good workout. I did enjoy a lot of the sequences and I did sweat a lot in those 35 minutes. But maybe the next time you want to do Yoga you should come to my house and I'll do it with you!

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Salute the Sun

Image from Women's Health online
The Yoga classes I've been taking the last few months don't do Sun Salutations. I think they're an integral part of practice, so always feel weird doing one without them. I know some teachers avoid it because they think it will bore the students, or perhaps they don't want to "waste" time on this standard warm up when they have other ideas in mind. Also, some teachers don't do it because it can be a struggle to encourage correct postures in this sequence. So they figure it's easier to skip it.

When I had the opportunity to teach classes, I started each one with 8 Sun Salutations. Four of Series A, and four of Series B. It was also optional to do additional Salutations between a vinyasa (if a practitioner wanted the extra upper-body workout). Yes, to some it may have been overkill, but it was just a part of my style. I always offered modifications in case someone wasn't able or interested, so I never felt badly for including them.

Figure A: Mountain Pose/Tadasana
Figure B: transitional pose
Figure C: Forward Fold/Uttanasana
Figure D: Half Lift/Ardha Uttanasana
Figure E: Plank
Figure F: Hi-to-Low Pushup/Chaturanga
Figure G: Upward-Facing Dog/Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Figure H: Downward-Facing Dog/Adho Mukha Svanasana
Figure I: Half Lift/Ardha Uttanasana
Figure J: Forward Fold/Uttanasana

Flowing through the poses, challenge yourself to inhale for one move and exhale for the next. A good rule to keep in mind is to exhale when your exert or twist. For example, as you fold forward, exhale as if the movement is pushing air out of the belly. Or while lowering down in Chaturanga, exhale as if the floor is pushing air out of the lungs. Conversely, inhales are for reaching or lifting, such as Half Lifts or Upward Dog.

When transitioning from Half Lift to Plank, you can either hop right back to your feet or walk. In the same exhale, lower the body in Chaturanga.

For more tips on Sun Salutations, visit the Women's Health article on this HERE.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yoga print

Print created by Paul Thurlby
I checked out an Alphabet book from the Library and "Y" turned out to be for Yoga. Check out more prints by Paul Thurlby HERE.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Getting my groove back

I worried that Aspen would not adjust well to attending the daycare at the gym. I imagined going to class and being pulled out by one of the care-givers so I could tend to a screaming kid. That fear is what kept me going to late-night classes while Kev was home instead of going to classes during the day.

Our first day there together, I explained to Aspen that it would be a lot like going to nursery at church. There would be nice teachers, toys, and other friends to play with. At first she resisted, saying she wanted to do Yoga with me. I suggested that instead we do Yoga together at home, and she seemed to like that idea.

I took her to the bathroom in the daycare and I'm pretty sure that's what sealed the deal. When she saw the toilet was just her size, she was ecstatic. There was also a set of stairs for the sink so she could clamber up and down all by herself to wash and dry her hands. After seeing that bathroom, she was psyched to be in the daycare. It's one of the first things she mentions when I ask if she'd like to go back with me again.

That was a few weeks ago, and she gives me the same reaction every time I pick her up after my class- whining at me to go away so she can stay and play longer. As annoying as it is to haul my screaming kid out of the daycare after an hour, it's way better than hauling my screaming kid in to the daycare.

The care-givers there are wonderful and I appreciate their hard work to keep the place clean and fun. I love how inexpensive it is to attend this gym and have Aspen go to the daycare twice a week. I'm grateful she has fun there and is excited to go. Since moving to WJ we've been much more isolated than we were in Ogden and I have felt so guilty about Aspen's limited exposure to other playmates. It was hard to go from having at least three play dates a week to only having one (with SueAnn before they moved). And now we're so sporadic with the bad weather and all the plagues everyone keeps getting.

And, maybe more importantly for me, I'm grateful I'm getting the structured exercise that I love and a chance to do something that makes me feel amazing. Challenging myself with Yoga again (and learning to not feel silly shakin' my thang at Zumba) is so rewarding. My body responds extremely well to Yoga and I've seen a significant change since starting classes just two months ago. It's like reconnecting with an old friend.

It's been a huge relief to know that I can not only go at night when Kev is home, but during the day as well. It makes me more consistent when I can go first thing in the morning instead of at 9pm.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Looking for a job in a new city

I picked up an application for the rec center in my neighborhood and eagerly filled it out at home. When I first moved to WJ, I created a fitness-only resume to hand in to gyms when applying to teach. I figured gyms don't care about my experience working at GAP in high school... so I pared it down to relevant jobs and my education.

The following day, I went to the early-morning Pilates class as usual. I yawned through the whole thing (545a is not my best hour) and was startled from my drowsiness when the teacher came up to me afterward to ask about my flexibility.

Although I've kept the information from my instructors until now, I decided to go ahead and tell her that I've been practicing Yoga/Pilates for 8 years, and that I'm certified for both. I didn't want to be treated differently in my classes, so I hadn't said anything the last two months.

But as soon as I shared, the teacher asked if I've ever applied to work at the rec center. I told her I just got an app and was planning to hand it in after class. She. Was. Thrilled. She said they're always looking for more teachers, especially since it's currently really hard for anyone to get a sub.

And not only did the teacher seem thrilled that I was considering employment with the rec center, but she announced it to the whole class as we were packing up our mats and props.

No pressure, right?


When I showed up for the Power Yoga class the next day, the instructor came over and introduced herself as the coordinator of aerobics. She asked me to stay after class and talk with her about my work experience.

She admitted they don't currently have room in the schedule to give me a new class, but once I fill out an employment packet I can go on the sub list. And she has connections with other fitness centers in the area and will help me get in touch with coordinators here and there as well. I've found that in this business it really matters to know someone. Otherwise, you apply online to a gym and your information just gets sucked into a vacuum and never acknowledged. While I'm nervous to be teaching again, I'm also really looking forward to it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yoga Love

I've been practicing yoga off and on for the last nine years or so. Since moving to WJ, my practice has been limited to at-home-only. Which really means I've basically stopped doing yoga. There are a number of excuses- cost, timing issues, a weird pain in my shoulder, laziness... But now I'm finally saying ENOUGH. So I found a rec center very close to our neighborhood that offers a screamin' deal on passes for unlimited attendance to monthly drop-in classes (LESS THAN $25 A MONTH!!). They also have very inexpensive childcare and do not require a membership/contract. I'm having trouble talking Aspen into letting me leave her with a bunch of strangers for an hour while I do yoga, but I'm working on it. When I first started attending (yoga and Zumba classes) I went to the late-night classes and the Saturday morning classes so Kev could stay home with Aspen. We'll see how things work out when Aspen gets left, screaming, in the daycare room. It can't be too embarrassing to leave class to attend to my hopeless little one, right? Having a regular practice again makes such a huge difference in my life. I feel better physically, obviously, but I also feel so much better mentally. I get to feel like I'm doing something 100% just for ME and not feel guilty about it.
And I can't wait to teach yoga again.