Monday, December 23, 2013

Momentary Lapse

Kishu Tangerines
Kishu, courtesy of Specialty Produce
At some point this winter you will open the crisper drawer in your fridge to reach for a Cutie or a Kishu.  You know the ones: easy to peel, sweet, tart, just the perfect balance and everything you want in a winter citrus.  You have have to make lunch  you're desperately trying to get something into your system because the energy you got from the coffee you mainlined a few hours ago and the two small pancakes you inhaled while making breakfast for your kids has long-since burned off.  You are busy, a little shaky for lack of nutrition and therefore rushing around; you grab one of the tiny citrus with a mighty taste and realize the minute you start peeling it that you'd inadvertently grabbed one of the other random, small tangerines that orchards put out this same time of year, to compete with the stellar new varieties coming from China or Japan.  You are silently cursing to yourself, knowing that once you start peeling a citrus fruit you must go all the way, and that quick, juicy, sugar boost is that much further away.  You have to keep peeling, even though all you can remove is a small, fingernail-sized piece each time and you're so tempted to toss it and grab the orange you really wanted!  But you don't waste things; you compost, you recycle everything you can (and probably stuff you can't), and you just can't justify throwing it away.  So you continue to peel tiny little pieces and remember that it took a farmer planting and nurturing this orange just as much as the other guy, and this guy has to try harder because he doesn't have the new-fangled 'easy peel' feature to attract a whole generation of people who are too busy to sit and peel a little tangerine with a tough peel.  Then you realize you should take these few moments to connect with the earth and remember the fruits she offers.  By then, you've eaten half of the little tangerine and you take a deep breath and remember that you can just grab another one, and this time you'll make sure it's a Kishu.  Now, however, you hold the other little tangerines and clementines in a higher esteem than you had before.  :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Balance


According to Dictionary.com Yoga is a 'union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle' or is 'any of the methods or disciplines prescribed, especially a series of postures and breathing exercises practiced to achieve control of the body and mind, tranquility, etc.' I don't buy the "control" factor, but the word union and the pairing of mind and body are certainly words that resonate.

Balance is something I am constantly striving for.  I'm sure most people are.

A while back I had one of those ZING! moments.  I realized that it's all about finding a good balance.  As we become adults it's all about finding balance between having fun and work.  It's not something we would have been capable of as teenagers.  We dutifully went to school and did our homework (well, some of us did and some of us didn't but that's neither here nor there), we played, we grew and we learned, but once you're an adult you have to be responsible for yourself.  You have to pay bills and feed yourself and make sure that you treat yourself if you're sick or you do what you need to do to make sure you survive.  Your parents are no longer responsible for your survival at this point.  

As an adult we get older and go through challenging times where that perfect balance may be too difficult to achieve or maybe that part of us that wants to have fun outweighs the part of us that should be working.  The older we get we aren't just balancing work and play, we are balancing a family, relationships, children; it's all about trying to balance everything out.  If I kept going with a list of all the things we balance on a daily basis, my head would likely explode!  But all that aside, I find that practicing yoga is helping me with my balance.

The balance is not just physical (balancing stick pose, half moon pose, eagle pose, the list goes on...) but mental as well.  It can all be very Cartesian.  My mind and body are connected, therefore I need something that unifies it ~ my breath!  I asked my daughter tonight what she thought yoga was all about.  "Doing deep breaths," she said.  I was so proud.  I know it's more than that, but there is something so basic and instinctual about breathing and it really is the core of yoga.  When you get into other forms and styles, like Bikram, the breathing is less emphasized but you still need to know how to do it and stay balanced.

Today was class number 16!  I'm more than half-way finished with my 30-Day Challenge at Indie Yoga.  I am so proud of myself.  Before now I was a once a week studio yoga person.  I would occasionally use my yoga DVDs or do Zumba on the Wii but this was pushing my body far more than I ever have before.  It's exhilarating and tiring (talk about balance, I fell asleep on the couch twice this week), yet oh so rewarding.  I can feel a difference.  I can also feel the muscles telling me to take it easy on certain days and not push too hard.  Now that's finding a balance in body.

I just wonder, after these 30 days are over, how will I get my balance back?

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Budding Yogi

So I'm starting to feel a bit like a yogi...well, almost.  Today was Day 6 of 30 in the 30-day Yoga Challenge, a little Vinyasa 1.  This one was different, we used the blocks between our thighs during our down dogs and our chaturangas. Now, doing a true chaturanga requires strength in the upper arms (of which I have little) and core (which I am still working to restrengthen after two kids).  I never really considered the role your thighs played in the whole process until today.  It was different.

That's what's great about yoga.  The poses can often be the same, but the feeling is always different.  I guess that can be the same for any class you take.

Last night was class number 5.  I took the Vinyasa 2 class and it was a little tough.  The evening classes are more challenging as the day rolls to a close and I've been working so my brain and body have been chugging along for 12 hours already.  My upper thighs were sore, my core was feeling weaker and so my up-dogs to my down-dogs were all mushy.  We did a lot of warrior 2 and warrior 1 poses and chair poses. My thighs were done.  It takes a lot of energy to keep myself from laying on my mat in child's pose and closing my eyes, drifting off to yoga sleep.

But I am determined!  I will conquer these 30 days.  I will complete this challenge!

Now I must sleep or my joints and muscles will be screaming at me in the morning; not due to soreness, but due to lack of rest :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How do you Yoga?

Today was day number three of 30 in the 30-day Yoga Challenge...

Usually the first thing I do when I enter the yoga studio/practice room/sanctuary (what-have-you) is lay down my mat and my towel and place my water bottle nearby.  Then I sit myself down and take a look around the room to see what everyone else is up to.  When I first started taking yoga I had no idea what you were really supposed to do.  I didn't read up on it or research any moves.  (Now there's a whole site for beginners, see here). I'm sure most people do what I did and just say, "Hey, I think I'll try that yoga thing people keep talking about."  


Really, I learned about yoga when I was thirteen or so while visiting my aunt in South Jersey.  My other aunt's boyfriend taught Tai Chi and Yoga at the Twelfth Street Gym in Philly.  That was an interesting place.   My aunt's boyfriend was named Chik and he was from Istanbul.  I only remember seeing him with a shirt on a few times; his typical attire was baggy yoga pants, sandals and his ponytail.  To me, as a thirteen year-old, he screamed YOGA.  I think he still teaches at that gym...

Nostalgia aside, I've always done yoga here and there, mostly at home with my DVDs.  I started practicing in studios about five years ago off and on, but really committed to doing yoga at a studio at least once a week last summer.  It's been very good for me, especially since my job keeps me in a seated position typing on the computer most days.  Those hip flexors are thanking me for my commitment to yoga.

Thanks to a good friend and a nearby yoga studio, I'm getting into my yoga groove.

Back to the whole preparation for class thing...How do you prepare?  Like I said, I'm pretty easy.  I don't need complete silence or complete darkness, nor do I have a ritual before class.  I look around before my classes and see people laying in savasana or in child's pose.  Others are lying on their stomachs or sitting cross-legged on their mats with their wrists resting on their knees, thumb and pointer fingers barely touching.  Now that is a yoga preparation pose!  I still feel like a novice, despite my knowledge of most positions or asanas.  I couldn't have told you what a frog pose was until today, as I am constantly learning things, but I could still do a basic sun salutation and do a darn good downward dog.  I just find all the little idiosyncrasies people have fascinating.  I'm sure I could do a study on yoga behavior...men vs. women, hot yoga vs. room temp, mirrors vs. no mirrors, the possibilities are endless!

As for the 30-day Yoga Challenge:

Day 3: Vinyasa 1.  Despite having skied yesterday for the first time in eight years, I am not sore today.  I believe that's because of all the darn chair poses I've been doing and the umpteen million we did last night during the Candlelight Yoga.  This morning's class was awesome.  I must say, Charity is a great teacher and her music rocks!  Last night our instructor said something that made me think; she said that those of us who are doing the 30-day challenge will have a great first two weeks, then we may hit a wall.  I'm hoping that doesn't happen.  I am hoping my goals for this challenge will push me through to the end.  By the end of these 30 days I want a stronger core, greater flexibility and greater peace.  Hey, no laughing, everyone needs goals, right?

I am looking forward to my fourth class, perhaps my favorite class: Surf Flow, Vinyasa 2...

Stay tuned for more yoga!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Yoga: 30-Day Challenge!

First, let me start by saying, I am no Yogie.  I don't consider myself to be a guru or even an expert.  I just like to do yoga.  It's good for my muscles, good for my joints and it's good for my mental well being.

Image courtesy prweb.com

Second, consistency is key.  And balance, balance is also key.  Consistency is key to a lot of things (keeping your blog followers being one of them), and I could write an entirely different blog post on the art of balance (we'll save that for another time).  I've also found that consistency and balance go hand in hand with a positive, well-rounded yoga experience.  You must be consistent in your practice; weekly, daily, monthly, whatever your thing, keep it consistent.  Balance is essential but it's not something we are all born with nor is it something that comes easy to most.  You can develop both consistency and balance, but you have to actively develop these two things.

I am on my way to developing my consistency and balance, all the while challenging myself to 30 yoga classes in 30 days.  This is all thanks to Indie Yoga in OB.  There are some great incentives for finishing, but I'm really going for the personal satisfaction of completing 30 yoga classes in 30 days!

Yesterday was Day 1.  Hot yoga, which is a variation on the Bikram yoga.  It was an awesome class, and if I could finish out my last eight Bikram classes through my Living Social deal at Indie, I would.  It wasn't as hot and we were only in the class for an hour and fifteen...it's amazing how long that last 15 minutes lasts.

Day 2, today, H2O Candlelight Yoga.  It was quite a class!  My hubby and I went skiing (well, he snowboarded) earlier today.  We got in about ten runs and my thighs were already feeling the burn.  Tonight in class, we must have done chair pose about the same amount of times.  I was really feeling the burn at that point.  I'm excited to see what the next 28 days brings!!
Image courtesy abc-of-yoga.com
More on balance and consistency tomorrow.  Now, I'm a bit pooped.