Friday, March 30, 2007

Harder than any asana

FitYoga Magazine's Yogascope for June

Go on a "mental fast". Challenge yourself to abstain from all negative thoughts and words for seven days. You'll be rewarded with a mind filled with gratitude and peace - plus more energy for fun activities. You might start a new romance. If coupled, you'll have new appreciation for your partner and children. You might also get exciting ideas about finances and prosperity. Your personal asanas: Energizing, joyous postures such as Crescent, Staff Pose, or Lion.

June is still two months away, thats what I hate about magazines publishing dates but whatever, I can try to apply this now. Recently YogaMum @ Yoga Gumbo went on such a mental fast where she went a week without critizing anyone. I wonder if I could do that and immediately I think "No way!". I feel like I am too hard of a person with too much visual stimulation to critique. It's terrible I know. I am super judgmental. Just this afternoon when I went out for lunch I don't know how many negative thoughts I had towards others.

This is the reason why I do not not feel comfortable referring to myself as a Buddhist. I have WAY too much attachment towards others behavior. Because of this attachment, I do end up suffering thus not getting me past the second Noble Truth that attachment leads to suffering. I am overwhelmed sometimes by the lack of consideration, rudeness, and disrespect others show. Greed and selfishness is encouraged more than courtesy and selflessness. I try to meditate on this but even meditation is such a challenge for me. I'm still new to it. I'm hoping with more practice I am able to quiet the mind easier and for more than 1 minute. I guess thats why call it a Meditation Practice and not perfection.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My Ego is SUPER

Finally, a real yoga entry. Sorry for the lack of updates, I've been slacking a bit with the practicing. I did go to class last night. It was a GORGEOUS day out, 78 degrees, the first really warm day of the year and I wondered if anyone would even show up. I completely forgot that we were having a sub as my regular instructor is out doing God knows what. So nice weather + substitute = no showing up? I was wrong and a lot of folks did come also forgetting that our regular teacher was out. So ok, I'll deal with the sub. I have nothing against subs, it's something different but last night the teacher and my ego completely kicked my ass.

This particular class is attended by other instructors in the studio, so one of them requested a "hard" class, whatever that means. The class wasn't so much hard as it was awkward, that's the best word I can use for it. Not so much flow as it was more awkward transitions between the poses. I confess I lost control and my mind for most of the class was saying "I'm HATING this! What the fuck are we doing????" It felt like everything we did cause a pull, strain, tightening of something. Whatever it is, I shouldn't have felt it. It's one thing for feeling the stretch and feeling your muscles working but it's another for your body to say "What are you doing? Don't do that!!!" The only positive thing I got out of the class was a different approach to Peacock pose (Mayurasana). It makes all the difference if you have wrist problems to turn your fingers slightly outward instead of pointing straight back. My wrists are pretty weak so that tiny adjustment really helped me get further into the pose.

Mind you, the folks requesting a "hard" class rested for most of the time while the rest of us slugged onward. I don't blame them, I guess they didn't know what they were asking for. I just did not like the way my body was feeling. I felt very limited, I kept thinking about my heart, and I was completely off-centered. I tried to let it all go and be present but my pride won that battle. Oh well, those are the breaks. Not every class is gonna be great and not every instructor's teaching style is suitable for you.

Tomorrow night's class I'm looking forward to. This instructor, Shri, is going to be on leave soon for surgery. I recently found out that she has a blog talking about it, Paper or Dysplastic?, check it out!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pocket full of cupcakes!

Recently, one of my long time LiveJournal friends has had her cute little Posiez characters available for purchase at Hot Topic. She recently unveiled a new design and you guessed it, CUPCAKES!!!!


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Know when to say when?

Hello! It has been a few days since an update. I haven't had much to say lately but rest assured I'm still here and I still go through my list of links DAILY!

I had a class last night that focused on twisting, I like to twist, it makes me feel like a big sponge being rinsed out. However, there were some awkward moments. There is an article in the recent Yoga Journal about knowing your limits and accepting them. It was an eye-opener and it's helped me think differently about things. In this instance I'm thinking about binding. Some binds I do fine, others I can't even imagine wraping my arm around a bent leg and clasping my hand behind my back in a twist. I'm the only one going for a strap. Maybe I'm not built to reach that way? How do I know for sure? I don't want to pop something trying to reach ya know?

I don't want to say I hate binding but it is definitely one of my weaker areas. Another weak area for me is arm balances. I can do Crow and that's about it, on a good day I can do Side Crow on my right side but a lot has to happen for that pose to work. Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana) in yesterday's class did not happen. Attempting to do arm balances and binds is when I'm faced with my insecurity about my weight the most. I think If my hips/butt/thighs weren't so big, I could reach!. These thoughts are never going to go away, I know this but I do find myself not clinging to it so much. I just kind of say "Oh well" and move on until next time.

Do you know what's hard? Standing on your hands and bringing one leg down to a 90 degree angle and then twist. It is soooo difficult to draw your leg to just a 10 degree angle and not want to come down completely. My poor abs were getting a workout last night that's for sure. While doing this, I briefly managed to balance off the wall completely. It was the action of lifting my leg back up that did something to just pull everything upward where just for a couple of seconds, my alignment upsidedown was perfect and then my heels hit the wall again but it did make me think "Oh!". So that was my class last night. Looking forward to doing it all again tonight.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Any request?

Usually at the beginning of class, the instructor would ask if anyone has any request, something they would like to work on. A lot of times everyone just shakes their head no or someone would say "Hips" or "Shoulders". Last night, the question was asked and someone asked if we could work on the pose shown on the cover of this Yoga Journal, I forget the name so if any of you know, please let me know.

I have this issue at home. When I look at this cover I can almost physically feel the pain I would feel in my knees trying to do this. So the class involved a lot of squatting (which I seem to be doing a lot of lately) and Utkatasanas, really focusing on pushing the pelvis back but keeping the tailbone curled in, very tricky. Also Utkatasana with our belly resting on our thighs and extending our arms foward. As it turned out, this pose is not as difficult getting into as I thought. Did I do it? No, but I ended up doing more of this pose than I had anticipated. I get it!

While standing, bring one foot up across your knee, you're almost in the shape of the number 4. Then begin to bend that standing leg and draw the pelvis back like you're about to sit but press your hands down on that foot and bent knee for stability. Once you're bent over, place your hands to the floor and start to lower yourself by bending the standing leg until your sitting on the heel of your foot. Notice in the picture her foot is right between both buttcheeks, I couldn't quite get it centered but it's ok. The "Ah ha" moment came when I started to lift myself up, almost like there is a string pulling the top of your head. It was the lifting of the upper body where I discovered that with some more practice, I could do this pose! Just gotta work on the balance. I didn't feel any pain in my knees surprisingly but I did feel a little in the standing ankle but I think it might have been because it's not use to that much weight on it? I'm gonna keep at it.

Easter Cupcakes

Easter Cupcakes
Originally uploaded by erinmcgee.
Corilee from Playin' The Edge took a break from her yoga-related entries and shared a recipe she got from her mom on making Special Easter Yoga Cupcakes. There are no pictures of said cupcakes so thought I'd dig out this image by Erin McGee. The handles are chocolate Twizzlers and I believe the eggs are Cadbury Mini Eggs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Throw in some more GREEN

Originally uploaded by littlerottenrobin.
For St. Paddy's day , "littlerottenrobin" baked these cupcakes. They are Orange cake on bottom with Classic White cake on the top, with Lime Curd frosting. I can't believe March is halfway over, I have more green cupcakes to show off! The years just go by quicker and quicker.

Last night was the first Level 2 class I've taken since November. It was my FAVORITE class to take. It is taught by Susan "Lip" Orem who runs a retreat house in the Catskills, Heathen Hill Yoga. I love Lip, she's a maniac! A brilliant, knowledgable, hilarious maniac. You've never had an instructor like her before let me tell ya!

Her classes are very unpredictable. You don't know what to expect each time you practice with her. Every class is completely different. I credit Lippy for helping me advance as much as I have and in building my confidence. I have learned SO much from her.

Have I mentioned she's a maniac? Here's an example. Class last night was about backbends and opening up the rib cage. So to warm up, no sun salutations needed, here was our warmup vinyasa, picture your mat is against the wall and you're facing the wall:

-Down dog
-Handstand (kick up w/ right leg)
-Down dog
-Forearm stand (kick up w/ right leg)
-Down dog
-Down dog

Repeat on the left side. Oh yeah, we had straps tied around our forearms to keep our elbows from flaying out. We did this a couple of times. I discovered that I can kick up into forearm stand with my left AND my right leg. Usually we favor one side when kicking up into inversions. Handstands, not so much, I still gotta work on kicking up with the right leg. The rest of class was spent mostly either in some form of Supta Virasana* with bolsters and blankets and blocks or in different types of full wheel.

The tops of my thighs today feel like a ton of lead. I honestly don't know how I'm going to get through class tonight but I'll manage.

*I really hate this pose. I will probably go into it more on a later date.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Yoga Recap

Last week was a good yoga practice week. It started slow doing nothing Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I went down to my hOMe space in midtown and took the Mixer class which I mentioned in the entry of 1,000 Chaturangas. Did I mentioned I ended up with serious rug burn on my right elbow? Yup, thanks to the long sleeve shirt I decided to wear that day. When yoga couture goes bad! I've been keeping it clean and covered ever since but it hasn't stopped me from practicing.

Thursday I did sneak out of work during lunch and took a 60 minute lunchtime Quickie class. The class was a little more vigorous than I was expecting in the middle of the day. The instructor, John, did show a good warmup for Bakasana involving transitioning back and forward between Uttanasana and squatting. It felt good but by the time I got back to work I felt like someone just beat me to a pulp. Walking back to my job felt like I was walking uphill in snow.

Friday was an Open class at Jivamukti and after a year since going to the studio, I was reminded very quickly why Jivamukti Yoga is sooooooooooooo invigorating. The chanting is beautiful once you settle yourself into and get into the flow of the sanskrit. Everyone should experience Kirtan or call & response chanting at least once, other than just saying Om (not that saying Om is a bad thing). The sequence was fast and sweat-inducing but wonderful and juicy at the same time. I loved every breath of it.

The rest of the weekend I just rested and let the soreness go away. These three classes back to back really took some out me but it will only make me stronger.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Continue the Green Theme

What a pleasant surprise to find that Cupcakes & Yoga was mentioned at All Cupcakes, All The Time, the mother of all Cupcake blogs!

So lets keep the cupcakes coming and not breaking my promise of a green-cupcake-month, I thought I'd do something a little different and share some cupcake-related items found on the craft website Etsy because cupcakes also make a great accessory, enjoy!!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2007 word

The body just amazes me sometimes. How my arms are not sore this morning will remain a mystery. Yoga last night was fun but WORK oh my God! The instructor (Elizabeth) is an Iyengar(alignment-based) Queen. I think I did about 1,000 Chaturangas. One of the allergy medications I'm taking says a possible side-effect is muscle shit! We would hold Chaturanga and move our shoulderblades up and down to notice the difference. I know that the pose isn't all just arm strength but your arms, shoulders, ribs, abs, pelvis but afterwhile I would just plop. I felt like I was in the army. But I know Elizabeth and I know every class is not like this so I'll still go back. The thing with yoga is that it's not all muscle. A good part is where your bones are in relation to the pose. Like is your spine straight when you touch your toes or are you curving it? Does your neck sink into your collarbone? <---I catch myself doing that quite a bit.

Its kind of quiet in the office today so I think I'm gonna sneak out and take a lunchtime class. My studio offers "Quickie" classes 12:30-1:30 so I'm there! My studio is 10 city blocks away from my office which I can walk to in 10 minutes (I've timed it yesterday). Tomorrow is my yoga date with my friend Nicole who is working in the city for the day. We're going to Jivamukti. I can't wait to practice with her, she's so bad-ass with her arm balances (I've see pictures). Most arm balances for me end up with my face on the floor like Wylde E Coyote running off a cliff.

Yoga three times this week? I can't believe it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Winning Isn't Everything

Anyone subscribe to DailyOM? I get daily emails. I try to read them all but I must admit that there are times they just get the delete button. Today was not one of those days. Today's DailyOM was about competing with yourself which hit home with me.

Since day 1 of my yoga practice, it was always in the back of my head to get better. Because of my size, I always believed that I have to work harder at perfecting poses and kicking it's ass to show the skinny folks that I can do this. It's stupid, stupid, stupid. Skinny folk don't care about me but it's hard to shake it. I have injured myself a couple of times as a result. My good friend and owner of the studio I go to thinks I'm crazy. She hates when I talk fat because she always tells me that I'm not fat and I always tell her that it's not gonna work, I still think it and feel it. Some people would think I'm fine, others would consider me overweight, it depends on who you ask.

There are many reasons we strive to outdo ourselves. When we are ambitious in our quest for growth, we are driven to set and meet our own expectations. We do not look to external experiences of winning and losing to define our sense of self-worth. Rather, we are our own judges and coaches, monitoring our progress and gauging how successful we have become. Though we seek the thrill of accomplishment tirelessly, we do so out of a legitimate need to improve the world or to pave the way for those who will follow in our footsteps. Be careful, though, that your competitiveness is not the result of an unconscious need to show others that you are capable of meeting and then exceeding their standards.

BAM!!! Hence my serious competitive nature in yoga. I'm not necessarily competing with the person next to me so don't worry, I'm not watching you during class to see how well you're doing a pose, that's just creepy. I'm competing with my "inner judge". Now this isn't always a bad thing, I don't want to just settle and practice half-ass either. I seek the feeling I feel when I finally held Bakasana for a couple of breaths, the first time I did a handstand, the first time clasp my hands in a bind, it is such a wonderful feeling. I do focus on me when I practice which is good, I just need to not be so hard on myself when I have an off day.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Double Pistachio Rose Cupcakes

Keeping the green cupcake theme going for March, I found these Pistachio cupcakes by QuintanaRoo. Ingredients include:

Unflavored, unsweetened soy yogurt, added vanilla crush to the batter, I decreased the oil called for to 1/4 c, and I added a little more than 1/2 a cup of pistachio meal (from raw unsalted pistachios subjected to some time in my coffee grinder). The buttercream is made up of leftover white chocolate sauce, more pistachio meal, rosewater, vanilla and a tiny bit of green dye.


Friday, March 2, 2007

Save the drama for your Dharma!

Last night's theme in class was "Drama" meaning the chaos we have going on in our lives. The instructor spoke on a personal note that there are things going on in her life and mentioned that she notices drama going on with other people she knows and a lot us sat there and knodded in agreement as a lot of us are feeling in the same boat. I know I am. So she discussed a little about how we perceive the drama that comes into our lives and how do we handle it. Do we tense up and get super moody and confrontational or do we stand back and say "Ok, how am I going to get past this?" and approach it mindfully and not so much emotionally. I'm a very emotional person and my first reaction to bad stuff is "#@$ %#&@!!!!!" and fly off the handle.

So throughout class we were reminded about what we where thinking in the more awkward poses. There was one point during class we were doing a variation of Dolphin where we're up in Dolphin then come forward in a plank then back up again and we did this several times and the instructor teasing said "What if I decide to make you do this for the rest of the class? What are you gonna do?" and I thought "I'm gonna roll up my mat and get the heck out of here!" It's easy to be in Supta Baddha Konasana and feel like all is right in the world. There are poses where I think "Hurry up! It's been more than 5 breaths!!!" but as soon as those thoughts come up, I try to shut them out and focus either on my third eye or my breathing. If I'm choosing to be in class, then I'm choosing whatever comes my way during those 90 mintues. I don't always expect it to go my way because that's not life. Life doesn't always go your way and a yoga class isn't always going to be all your favorite poses but you continue to go right? You do those challenging poses you don't like because ultimately, you know you'll get through it, it's only for a short moment of time and you'll get through it, just like in life I guess. God I love yoga!!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

One for you, one for me.

One for you, one for me.
Originally uploaded by Wuuf.
It's March and the next Hallmark holiday coming is St. Patrick's Day so maybe in honor of that, I'll be looking for some green yummies to titillate your taste buds with. Green frosting doesn't have to be solely used for grass, sweet creamy fluffy grass....