(Accidentally) Furthering My Yogic Practice

Today I (accidentally) made great progress in my yogic practice.

I attended my first level 2/3 hot yoga class. I also attempted my first headstand and didn’t die! Considering I intend to (eventually) pursue yoga teacher-training, I think this is a giant leap in the right direction. To be fair, I didn’t exactly attend this class on purpose…

Yesterday I attended (what I considered) a difficult class after 5 days without practicing asanas (poses) at all. I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit by a truck, so I decided to go to the relax and restore Yin class today instead of a more challenging one. Of course, my groggy morning translated to a slow day of plodding through menial tasks and chores which led me to (naturally) get behind in my work. Consequently, I was running late to yoga after arriving to (and leaving from) a meeting behind schedule, and I didn’t make it on time for the class.

Not wanting to leave without my daily dose of yoga, I decided to stay for the last class of the day – starting 15 minutes later than the other class. It didn’t register with me until after we’d begun meditation that this was a level 2/3 class.

And let me tell you, it is amazing what your body is capable of, even when it is most exhausted! Don’t get me wrong, this class was tough, and my tired muscles suffered. After I got through it, though, I realized that perhaps I’d previously been too easy on myself. Here was the push that I needed to help me grow stronger in my practice.

My struggle today – in class and outside of it – was more mental than anything. During the day I allowed myself to sink into a lazy automation instead of gearing up to accomplish something great, and in my practice, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the other students in a level 2/3 class. Luckily, I was proven wrong by an accident.

I’ve been told that the best way to improve at something is to practice with those who are more accomplished than yourself. I am confident now in the truth of those words. Had I not pushed myself (even by accident!), I would never have known what I was truly capable of.

Now, I plan to amp up my goals. For the next few weeks, I’m going to attend at least one level 2/3 class per week, in addition to 3-4 other classes (schedule permitting).

At the beginning of another class, our instructor suggested a few ways to live a yogic lifestyle off the mat. She mentioned swapping to energy-efficient light bulbs and conserving water. “We are so lucky to have the technology available to us to take long hot showers and baths, but maybe occasionally – even just once a month – you could cut off the water and bathe like they do in India, with just a bucket and a sponge.” A few people in the class chuckled uncomfortably, and I shifted a little on my mat. I have never been good at quick showers! So here is another goal : limiting my shower time to 10 minutes.

My third goal is to go to bed at a more regular, early time and to wake up at a more regular, early time. I’m going to say 11:00PM and 7:30AM.

I’m going to conclude this post with a couple of links that were shared with me today and that I believe are particularly relevant. Namaste.

Video: Yoga for Pain Relief

15 Things to Give up in Order to be Happy

Ally in Yogiland

Goal 1: Establishing a Fitness Program

TO TACKLE MY HEALTH & FITNESS GOALS I’ve decided to pursue a couple of things:

First, I am going to further my practice of yoga by attending at least one class a week, culminating in a teacher training course in mid June. This is something I’ve been considering doing ever since I began attending regular yoga classes in Montreal a year ago, and besides the benefits to my physical health, teaching yoga will help me grow spiritually as well.

Second, I plan to take up kickboxing, a sport in which I’ve always been interested – mostly because other martial arts I’ve tried move too slowly for me (I’m too ADD to try to perfect one move for the duration of an entire class). Not to mention, kickboxing is great for losing weight! Because of the interval-style training and the fast-paced competitive environment, you can burn between 600-800 calories in just one hour.

I bought a Groupon for ATA Martial Arts Kickboxing classes, and attended my first class last week. Loud pump-up music blared during our class with buzzers, bells, and countdowns played over it to signify when to change exercises. I learned some new exercises with nothing but a band, and I got to beat the sh*t out of a punching bag. What more could you want in a workout? The next day, though, I felt like I was 80 years old. Well, no pain, no gain, right?

As a side note, for those of you interested in trying it out but afraid to be the uncoordinated or unathletic one, the majority of my classmates were actually middle-aged women trying to get in shape. So don’t be intimidated! Go sign up. Ilovekickboxing.com has all kinds of deals running all the time.

Additionally, I’m finally taking care of my knee issues by going to physical therapy once a week so they can teach me exercises that will strengthen my knees and the muscles around them. They also give me lots of free things like exercise bands and pieces of styrofoam to roll around on (no really, this thing gives a killer massage). Once my knees get the OK from PT, I’d also like to start running again, and maybe even run a couple 5Ks. I’ve found that whenever I have a goal to work towards (even a small one), doing the work doesn’t seem nearly as daunting.

FOR ME, EATING WELL IS MORE DIFFICULT than keeping up a fitness routine. Ever since I started counting calories this past Christmas, I’ve been on a roller coaster of resolve. While I’ve been able to gradually change what I eat, I still find it difficult to control how much of it I eat. It’s all the snacking that gets me. I’d like to think that it’s our snacking culture that is the (or one of the) true culprit in American obesity.

When I studied abroad in France, my host mom asked me once why I was eating in the middle of the day. “It’s not meal time,” she said. This apparently makes sense to the rest of the world, but not here in the US of A. To be fair, I think that healthy snacks eaten at specific times of the day to ward off hunger are a good thing. For example, lately I’ve planned two healthy snacks (I love SlimFast snack bars – they taste like candy bars!) between breakfast at 7:30 and lunch at 1:30. This has prevented me from, say, buying a candy bar and a soda from the vending machine to try to assuage my hunger. And I eat them only when I am starting to feel hungry, not because I feel like eating.

IT’S THIS MINDLESS SNACKING THAT WE NEED TO AVOID. When I began tracking my meals, I became much more aware of how much each food is “worth” so to speak. Here’s a little list I came up with to help put things into perspective.

Foods that have 100 calories (aka 15 minutes on the treadmill):

  • 1 medium-sized banana
  • 1 average-sized (non specialty) slice of bread
  • 1 packet of mayo
  • 3-4 large tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz glass of 1% milk
  • 1 10 oz can of beets
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 1/2 Tagalong Girl Scout cookies
  • 1 1/4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • 4 Tostitos Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips
  • 1 slice of sandwich cheese

Be my buddy on My Fitness Pal.

Read more on my goals.

News and Goals at GWDE

Things have been busy here at GWDE!

You may or may not have noticed that my posts over the last month or so have been sporadic. I’ve been quite busy with life and haven’t made the time to update. I’ll admit I was also getting a little tired trying to catch up on my September Road Trip posts. Whew! Glad that saga is complete.

A FEW GREAT THINGS HAVE OCCURRED RECENTLY:

• GWDE turned 1 year old! I started this blog back in January 2011 6 months after I’d moved to Montreal. One year, a blogging award, and 60 posts later, I’m still going strong. Here’s to another year!

• Roseanne from itsallyogababy.com featured my yoga mat bags on her site, and I’ve begun listing new items (including vintage skiwear!) on my Etsy page. I will also be distributing coupons the first weekend in March at a Yoga mini-retreat taught by Diane Barnes of Mindful Living Studio.

• In the meantime, I’ve been applying to graduate schools for Creative Writing (should be hearing back from them by April. Wish me luck!), and started working in wardrobing for film.

• In January, I worked as Wardrobe Assistant to Malgosia Turzanska (Costume Designer for MGMT’s Time to Pretend music video!) on The Edge of the Woods, and have been assisting her a couple of weekends on her current project, Child of God.

• I also came up with simple modernized Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O, and JFK costumes for a music video for local singer/songwriter Chieftan (FB page going live next week). With any luck, the music video will be up later this week.

• On top of all that, I’ve started working part time and moved into a new apartment…yesterday. I’ve also been volunteering at an art gallery and (trying to) volunteer at a local theater.

Life is, for lack of a better word, busy.

I do have a few goals for the next few months. They include:

1) Establishing a fitness program and healthy diet that I can stick to (posts on healthy recipes! and fun exercises!)

2) Gaining more experience in wardrobe/costuming through local and out of town opportunities (indie films to go see!)

3) Creating an idea board for my Etsy site & adding new items in my store (follow my tumblr for updates)

4) Continuing to minimize my possessions by throwing away or donating anything old, used, or rarely used (you should look forward to a post in the near future with pictures of awesomely hilarious items I’ve dug up from my childhood)

5) Downloading more Kindle books and reading them all (I will tell you all about my lovely Kindle and why it’s my favorite toy ever later)

6) Watching more classic films and films in general (I’ve got a looooonnng list, but I’d like to write a review here and there too)

and last, but certainly not least:

7) Updating my blog more often and with more pointed topics (see above)