Reset 2.0

September will always feel like a beginning to me, even though I am no longer a full time student, and even when my stepkids have moved on from their secondary and post-secondary journeys.

Over August I took a hiatus, some lazy days, less structure, no pressure. My personal planner was void of social engagements, my alarm clock was not set for 5 am, and I just lived.

Although I strived to follow my O diet (see forthcoming post on the exploration of my food sensitivities), I did not do anything health/fitness-related. However, the yogi in my was in bliss, following my instinct with what I wanted to do with my days and nights, enjoying the company of my husband, family, and fur babies.

extended hand to big toe

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana | Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose (modified kflo-steez)

But now that September has hit, mornings are cooler, the sun rises a bit later, and I’m ready to get back to my “normal”: yoga (home and studio practices), green smoothies, gym classes, etc., etc.

New projects, new classes, new practice spaces…, let’s go, YO!

 

Reset.

reset

I wish I could be consistent. Always, forever. Having order and structure bring me more ease than too much fluidity and flexibility. I find calm and self in routine.

But, life’s too fun and short to ALWAYS work out and ALWAYS eat clean and ALWAYS get lots of sleep.

So you fall out of habit. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit – it feels like it takes less than that to fall out of one. Like, the amount of time it takes to sip an import beer or two and a devour bowl full of potato chips.

But then I remember that being active, eating light, and going to bed early make my body and mind happier, lighter, and darn right joyful.

Busting my hump in boot camp, being present, rolling my mat out for my yoga, swimming in green smoothies, letting the little things go, consuming too much ginger and keeping focus is how I reset.

Ballet-asana…

Pink-canvas-split-sole

What’s my summer fitness project this year? (FYI, last year I tasked myself to get conditioned on the bicycle so as not to die every time I went on a “fun and breezy” bike ride with G. I have yet to take my bike out for longer than a 5 km ride this year, BAHAHAHA.)

Ballet! Hey, why not? I have 4 years of experience over 30 years ago, and I’m relatively flexible, thanks to yoga, right?

Um, no. Wrong-o.

Well, let’s just say that the first week was humbling, to say the least. I very quickly had to learn how to undo everything my body felt natural doing in order to hold a proper ballet standing posture and stand in one spot (first position). My “flexible (lower) back” was causing me to arch too much, preventing me from standing up straighter and taller.

Damn all those years of hip-hop booty popping and stiletto high heel wearing!

In order help us learn how to pull our lower backs in and draw our tailbones down, our teacher gave us a visualization: pretend you are holding a loonie (or toonie, depending on how much money you need to save up to register for the full ballet program in the fall) in between our butt cheeks and squeeze, squeeze, SQUEEZE!!!

In addition to the toonie squeezing, there are just a few other things to remember while standing in first position (and yes, this is only the first position!): feet at a 45 degree angle, inner thighs pulling outward, knees pulled in, quads tight, ribs down, collarbone wide, shoulders back, chin lifted (pretend you are looking up at your audience on the first balcony), corners of our mouths turned up and eyebrows lifted. (She calls these our “Bogosian” eyebrows, for the Jets fans out there.) We have to remember all of that on top of the actual exercises she’s teaching us at the barre – exercises with French names. Mais oui, mon chérie!

After a few classes, I found it a bit difficult to remember all of this plus the exercises we’d been taught from class to class, and really started to feel down on myself about my stubborn arching back and tailbone. I thought, maybe my body just isn’t built for ballet? Then started to ponder other dance forms I could pursue in future summer sessions…

But then I took a step back and remembered that I didn’t wait all these years to sign up for this intro class just to give up after the second week! I remembered how proud I was of everything I’d accomplished over the years in my yoga practice (physically, mentally, and emotionally), and that I didn’t learn any of it overnight. I pulled my boot straps up split sole shoes on and was determined to work harder on my posture, review the French terms, and do some of the exercises our teacher encouraged us to practice at home.

Once my next class started, I was more able to find my posture quicker (and get as straight as I could!), squeezed the F out of that toonie, and got through the class with more mental ease. I was finally starting to really enjoy it, feeling the difference in my body after just a couple of weeks, and started to get excited about how much more I’ll learn before the end of this session.

Bring on even more graceful, good times!

Wake Up!

kitten savasana

I am a serial snoozer. I am rarely able to get up and out of bed as soon as my alarm clock goes off.

Sometimes, I fall asleep again for another 10 or 20 minutes. However, when those 20 minutes cut in to what I do before getting ready (e.g., feed the cat, pet the cat, look at cat pics on Instagram… and, oh ya,  yoga!), I then have to rush around just so I can catch my bus. I hate running out the door in a rush. That’s just not how I want to start my morning.

To try and avoid that, I set my alarm 15 or 20 minutes before I actually want to get up. But then I’m cheating myself out of those precious last moments sleep, which are especially important when I’m getting up at 5:30.

Argh, there must be a better way! *shaking fists up to the sky*

Cue to this past Sunday’s class… While being gently coaxed out of savasana, I had a waking-up-epiphany – why not get up the same way I rise out of savasana??!

  • Deepen and bring your awareness to your breath.
  • Start to wiggle your fingers and toes to gently introduce movement back to your body.
  • Reach your hands overhead to stretch out from head to toe.
  • With your eyes still closed, turn on to your right side for a few breaths.
  • Using the strength of your hands, bring yourself to an easy sitting position, legs crossed.
  • Finally, thank yourself for a good night’s rest!

Namaste.

Update: Ok, this totally worked last week, but for the past 2 days, I’ve been lying in bed for almost an hour before getting up. Oh well –  they call it a practice for a reason…

Go with the Flow

When I practice yoga, especially at home, there are a few different things that bring me to my mat:

  • I want to try out the pose of the day for that Instagram challenge.
  • I didn’t work out today at the gym or do any Pilates, so I should do some yoga.
  • My quads and hamstrings are tight from Boot Camp yesterday.
  • I need to work on my headstand.
  • My neck and shoulders are sore from sitting at my computer all day.
  • I’m stressed out and need to decompress.

However, there are days when just wanting to step on to my mat is enough. I don’t set an intention in my mind, there isn’t a specific body part I want to stretch – I just start to move and let the physical asanas take my body and mind on it’s journey…

  • Stepping on to the mat, pressing up in to my first downward dog, and easing in to a few vinyasas, I realize that the flow of a few sun salutations is enough to loosen things up, open me up for my day and ease my mind in to full consciousness.
  • Transitioning from one-legged dog in to wild thing, I can promote expansiveness by opening up in to wheel.
  • Starting an early morning practice to gently wake with some light twisting and opening postures, then having it evolve in to a lesson on how to take the knowledge and strength I’ve built up over the years and channel it towards new and exciting (aka SCARY!) postures that will expand my practice and further my development on the mat…

By day, I am a project manager, so I am disciplined to plan ahead and organize all of the spinning plates. However, the disciplines of Risk Management and Change Management are to handle things that are outside of what we’ve planned for. Both my profession and my yoga practice have taught me that there is only so much you can anticipate – sometimes you just need to go with the flow and let yourself be taken away to blissful parts unknown.