Wow, so hot.

As avid a yogi as I am (try saying that 3x fast!), I do not frequent hot yoga. I used to be a hot-yoga-non-understand-er, so I made myself go a few times so I could formulate my own opinion. It was a very scary, interesting, enlightening experience. I kinda get it. So now I go once every year or two. It’s nice to sweat it out. And seriously, do you sweat. You sweat more than you ever thought you could sweat. Sexy, I know.

A friend of a friend was holding a special hot yoga class in support of her Relay for Life team, and I’m always quick to support other people’s great causes, so I actually jumped at the chance to join my bff for a sweat session when she asked if I wanted to go.

It was fantastic. And yes, still scary. As a project manager, I’ve been trained to take the lessons I’ve learned from past experiences to enhance new ones. Here are the lessons learned that I took to this class:

  1. Don’t eat risotta the night before. No one wants to practice with an onion-ini.
  2. Don’t use a metal water bottle. Hot water for refreshment is yucky.
  3. Wear capris, not shorts. I need the traction for tree pose as my legs get too slippery (that’s the sexiness!). Plus my junk doesn’t fit in those booty shorts.
  4. Follow your breath. It’s easier to do when you’re not in a heated room, but this was especially useful when I felt my heart beating so strong and fast that I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. Which is the scary part. My breath helped me get over that fear.
  5. Don’t be surprised by emotional release. This was more from past yoga experiences, not hot yoga in particular. The class was a fundraiser for the fight against cancer, and when she had us think of who we were there for, I thought I was there for my bff. At that moment, I also realized I was there for a very special family member who her lost her fight against cancer 7 years ago. While I was not close with her, I have seen how much she touched the lives of everyone in our family, how deep their love for her is, and how she lives on everyday in each of them.
  6. Visualize. While she led us through crazy ab exercises, instead of “grabbing my rope”, I grabbed cheeseburgers. I often think about food during yoga. It’s awesome.

So there, I survived. And I loved it.

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Work it.

Coming to the end of my month of twice daily yoga, I’ve decided to start me some YouTube-ilates aka pilates from Cassey Ho’s Blogilates channel. She creates monthly calendars with workouts to do everyday, which fits with my structured self. I tried her videos for the first this morning after yoga and, hi, so fun! I knew I’d like her – she’s Asian and perky. ‘Nuff said! My fave thing about her videos is that she verbalizes just what I feel while I work out/bust my butt. “Ahh, this hurts! My butt is burning!” Thank you very much because my butt is burning too. If you want your butt to burn too, join me on the Blogilates training-train: http://www.blogilates.com/

Bad/good habits.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. One of my goals of this month-long yoga program was to successfully integrate a regular home yoga practice in to my routine.

Well, I’m on Day 23 and I think I’ve done it! I’d like to complete this final week of the program before saying for sure (don’t want to jinx it, yo), but I think I’ve done it. Yay me. And yay yoga!!

The first week was a challenge, especially in the mornings. I was already getting up quite early to go to the gym a few times a week, and I looked forward to the off-gym days to get that extra half hour of sleep.

I came up with an easy fix: instead of snoozing when my alarm went off, I got up and did yoga instead. So simple, yet so hard. I have been a notorious alarm snooze-r for many decades now, setting it 20 to 30 mins in advance of the time I actually wanted to get up. Now, I’m using that time to wake my body and mind up slowly with my breath and yoga, instead of dragging my groggy ass out of bed to get ready for work in a fog.

Wow-ee wow wow. What a difference that has made. The funny part was, once I got used to this morning awakening practice, I found myself acting that much more perky in the mornings, and I think I was scaring some of my co-workers away. So I dialed that down a bit.

While most people know me for my love of yoga, it was a personal struggle for me to do it more regularly. I had a lot of non-yoga days in between my yoga days, and I wanted to bridge that gap. I also found it very challenging to practice at home. These videos from Tara Stiles have been heaven-sent! Most of her videos on YouTube are only 5-10 minutes long, which is so much easier to fit in on a daily basis. Otherwise, I was only doing an hour and a half long class once or twice a week (if that!).

What a joy to revel in this new habit, and break old, bad ones.

Day 10. Post-morning practice.

Today’s video was Yoga for Inspiration. My first thought was, great, I really need to be inspired for work (which is currently a bit lean in terms of a challenge). While going through tree, standing splits, to dancer, 3-legged dog to rock star (one of my fave transitions, by the way. One day I’ll end up in wheel!), to standing forward bend hugging my elbows, I could feel my body and mind opening up.

Reconnecting with my breath at the end of the sequence, hands at my heartspace, I gazed out the window and saw a beautiful, pink sunrise.

How’s that for inspiration?

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Kale.

Prior to starting this “challenge”, I was a kale hater. Ok, hate is a strong word. More a kale disliker. I’d tried it in a smoothie before and it just tasted like grass. I normally love greens, but I had to force myself to finish it (hoping each sip would be better, to no avail).

I find that an active yoga practice to be conducive to lighter, cleaner eating, so last week I started to focus on my love for all things healthy and nutritious.

The kicker here was after the hubz and I saw the documentary Fat, Sick and Dying this past weekend. It featured an Australian man who suffered from a severe immune deficiency disease, which he was taking strong steroids for his skin flare-ups that came with bad side effects. In an attempt to cut down and eventually cut out his dependency on these meds, he decided to go on a 61-day “fast”, where all he consumed was green juices. He spent the first month of his journey in New York, facing his food issues head on, then spent the rest of his time touring America with his juicer set-up in the trunk of his car.

He focused on the benefit of micronutrients, which are found in fruit, veggies, and nuts, which the body processes more efficiently than macronutrients, which are found in everything else.

Every time he made juice, we would comment on how good they actually looked! Most of the time, his juices were made up of greens, cucumber, and some fruit like apples. This made me think of the kale smoothie I tried those many moons ago, and I thought I’d give it another shot.

After loading up on tons of greens, veggies and fruit, I decided to make myself a kale smoothie to sip on while preparing a big Sunday dinner for the fam. I looked up recipes to find a smoothie I might like better than the dreaded grass-y one, and read that adding banana may help with the taste. I whipped up a smoothie with a greens mix of kale, chard, and spinach, half an apple, half a banana, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

HALLO, SO YUMMY. I’ve now joined the green side.