Monday, April 27, 2009

trying new things

I took a bit of a break from yoga because I got really busy, but it wasn't a stressful kind of busy. I jumped back in by trying the most advanced DVD that I have, and I'm certainly feeling it. It was challenging, but the pace was too quick.

I'm not feeling the bite of the economy right at this moment. I'm thankful for the respite.

Monday, April 13, 2009

heel levitation

My flexibility and patience have increased tremendously since I started yoga. My stress has been lowered. So why won't my heels do the same?

My heels suffer from "I'm-not touching-the-floor-itis" whenever I go into downward dog. It's not uncomfortable for me to hold the pose, but the modified one-legged downward dog gets pretty tiring after a couple of repetitions.

A little Googling revealed that I'm not the only one with this issue, but apparently there are some people whose heels never touch the ground. Is that true? I hope my heels are Earthbound someday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

before bed

I ordered Hemalaya Behl's Yoga for Urban Living after reading a recommendation I found online. I really like that it focuses a little more on the poses and their names. It also has smaller and longer workouts appropriate for morning, longer mid-day session and nighttime.

Oh, do I ever love the pre-bed yoga session -- it's called Evening Bath. The savasana involves a blanket. A BLANKET! I can't wait to try the rest.

Monday, April 6, 2009

money can't buy it

I'm not the only one connecting yoga and the economy! Sarah over at the Yoga Today Blog has an excellent video to loosen your hips and your mind:

guided by voices

I recently put in an order through SwapADVD for a new-to-me yoga DVD. I'm still loving Better Sex Through Yoga, but it's clear that I'm not going to be ready for the advanced DVD for at least another month. I need something different sometimes, and I'm not always in the mood for Molly Fox.

So tonight, I decided to try Lunar Flow yoga from Yoga Downloads. Tina from Carrots 'N' Cake always speaks highly of this practice, but I avoided it because I figured it was a video. It's a little tough to rearrange my computer monitor to watch videos, but I decided tonight was the night and proceeded to move some things around on my desk.

What a surprise! These 20-minute free downloads actually are mp3s, which is great. I had been wondering how I'd do my yoga when I travel to India in July (I know what you're thinking, but I'm going for a wedding and I don't think the trip will include yoga).

Being able to focus on a voice rather than a screen made a difference in how well I concentrate in each pose. I felt like my breathing was better as well. The only issue was knowing what pose to be in. My yoga DVDs and one Bikram class haven't given me the opportunity to know many poses by their names. I figured out plow pose, but you should have seen what I did for dead bug pose. It wasn't what you're seeing at left, nope nope.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

deep breath

Now that I've done my yoga for the evening, I feel a little bit better.

We had layoffs at my company on Monday, and more layoffs at another branch were announced today. The air in my office gets really toxic and predictable when layoffs are announced. "I can't believe they laid him off! He's the best whatchamadoodler here! Our company is going down the drain! I bet we're next!"

I can't live peacefully with all of that negativity floating above my section of cubicles. I was relieved to watch the Dow jump over 8,000 today on its way up, even if it ended the day slightly lower than that. Although economists are conservative, I see that as a good sign that things are on the mend.

However, that won't help the unemployment rate, which will be the last to go as our economy heals. It means that I am not safe from layoffs, and that I have been living on the edge for most of my time at my current company.

These days, it is only safe to breathe peacefully when I'm alone in my car and during yoga.

too hot, then too cold

I spent last weekend in Buffalo visiting my boyfriend. While there, he introduced me to Bikram, the style of yoga that he has been doing since February.

Hoo boy. I couldn't do most of the standing postures because I was sure I was going to pass out. We didn't have as much time to adjust to the heat as we should have, so that may have had something to do with it. I was just fine once we moved to the floor. We'll see if I attempt it again.

I came home to a hectic workday on Monday, but I haven't really done yoga since. Why? I didn't turn my heat back on. The apartment has been at 59 degrees, which is just bearable enough to watch TV in and sleep in, but I haven't gotten much else done. I had hoped that spring temperatures would reduce my need for my heating system, but I guess it's not warm enough yet.

I just turned on my central air, however, and I expect to be dropping down for more triangle poses shortly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

and drop down for a triangle pose

The little experiment that I mentioned in the previous post went well. I definitely feel a difference in my strength since I first started yoga. Although I am repeating many of those initial poses in my current practice, I found that the biggest difference was in how well I tolerated my first triangle post.

Technically, I know that the hand on (or near) your calf is not supposed to bear weight. However, my core muscles were not strong enough to hold me there, so in order to make it, I made it into a load-bearing arm. A bad habit, as The Everything Yoga Blog would say.

The Dow has been sneaking up these past two weeks. I check up with it every five minutes because my company has a widget on our internal homepage that lets us know how the economy is doing. Financial experts say that we shouldn't get excited because bonds are still in the toilet, but I view the uptick in the stock market as a very good sign.

However, I know that the job market will get worse. Our company is making some cuts to consolidate some of our offices. I know it's smart, but I hope that our office doesn't seen any more cuts. We've been through enough, thanks, but that no longer bothers me on a daily basis. I feel more at peace.

I wonder if we could institute a three-minute corpse pose at the end of the workday? You know, to boost morale.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

going backwards to go forward

I was sharing my yoga progress with my boyfriend this week, and he suggested that I try one of my easier DVDs again to see how much I've improved. I'm planning to do that today.

Much to my chagrin, I had little time for yoga this week due to a freelance project. Going through the routine on Friday make me feel a little creaky. That's what missing three days will do to me, apparently.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

couples yoga?

My boyfriend and I both started yoga around the same time. We live in opposite parts of the country, but last time he was here, I talked him into doing a yoga DVD with me.

While I've been bending in front of my television, he has been doing Bikram at a studio in his area. Yes, the man who hates being too hot enjoys Bikram. I'm trying to talk him into taking me to a Bikram class when I visit him next weekend.

It does make me wonder how often couples do yoga together, and if it gets awkward when one person surpasses the skills of another.

Friday, March 13, 2009

working through it

I might have been a little too active on Wednesday. I spent six hours painting large-scale items. After dinner, I spent 50 minutes on the bike and then did yoga. On Thursday, I rolled out of bed to a world of pain in my legs.

I'm convinced that I didn't pull anything because my legs hurt uniformly. Getting in and out of chairs has been fun. Unfortunately, I then proceeded to spend most of Wednesday and Thursday eating things that aren't so good for me because I thought more sleep and food would help. To make up for that poor decision, I pulled out the intermediate Better Sex Through Yoga DVD and took a crack at it this evening.

Yoga goes by so quickly when you're unable to do 25 percent of the poses as long as the instructor. Technically, I can't touch my toes for prolonged periods of time yet, but I still got a good stretch. I might be stuck in intermediate world for a while, but I'm OK with that.

Next up: figuring out how to connect my computer to the TV so I can take advantage of the 20-minute sessions on Yoga Download.

I guess if I'm feeling too lazy, I won't even leave the couch:

Living Room Yoga - Getting the Most Out of Your Living Room from Jim Ford on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

staying power

In addition to yoga, I regularly spend time on my exercise bike. Tuesdays and Thursdays are givens because I watch a lot of TV those nights (Exercising to The Biggest Loser is really enjoyable), and I usually hop on another night or two.

On Biggest Loser nights, I usually bike for about 30 minutes per hour of the show for a total of 600 calories lost. Normally I have to pause my bike a few times to stretch and get a drink. Tonight, I got on that bike and stayed on for 64 minutes straight.

It could be that I finally hit a point in my cardio where I was ready enough and focused enough to stay on the bike for that long. However, I can't help but wonder if my regular yoga sessions have added to my stamina in a positive way.

I do have weights, stretchy bands and a medicine ball, but I don't use them regularly. For the most part, yoga is my weight-bearing exercise. I Googled yoga and stamina and found this feature on five yoga moves to improve stamina, so I guess my theory isn't completely baseless. Cool!

Monday, March 9, 2009

how very mellow

It occurs to me that I might be hitting my tipping point when it comes to yoga. Since starting three weeks ago, I just practiced three days in a row. Previously, I practiced every other day, and sometimes less than that.

So what got into me? Well, something in my body said "let's do yoga again!" rather than hop on my exercise bike or be a couch potato. My body wanted to be stretched, and I wasn't going to say no.

Today's practice went by very quickly. I was better able to follow the instructions and focus more on my breathing than ever before. A part of me thinks that I need to switch my DVDs more often, as I've done the same one for the last six sessions. I think I'll go back to Molly Fox tomorrow (!!!) and see how that feels.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

what's your poison?

I think this blog could use a lighthearted post, don't you? :)

I started my adventure into yoga a few weeks ago with Molly Fox's Yoga Sculpts. This simple yoga routine, which was filmed in the early 1990s, was a great introduction for me to sun salutations. She does go a little quickly, but once you've run through the DVD one time, it's much easier to keep up with her. The setting is simple, so there's nothing to distract you. I plan to go back to this DVD from time to time to shake things up.

I put Molly to the side when my three-DVD set of Better Sex Through Yoga arrived at my doorstep. Yes, yes, I know, sex sells and all that. I would be lying if I said that I didn't buy this DVD set because it claims to stretch out your "sexual core." However, a lot of the complaints on Amazon seem to be by people who tried this DVD once and judged it by its looks. Yes, there is some cheesy porn music, but instructor Jacquie Greaux isn't moaning and groaning. Yes, some of the moves look sexy, but they're also the right ones to stretch out your body properly. My legs and hips haven't felt this stretched out in a long time.

I considered trying MTV's Power Yoga, but I heard it was fairly fast-paced, so I decided not to try it. Thankfully, I joined SwapADVD a while ago, so I have access to quite a few yoga DVDs in case I feel like changing things up.

Anyone out there have a good yoga DVD recommendation?

reaching for the stars

While I was practicing yoga this evening, I was reminded of some of the reasons why I've been motivated to keep doing it. The biggest reason is that yoga helps me focus on one thing at a time, something that I don't get to do at work. The secondary reason is to stretch my body further than I ever have.

I thought about that second reason while lying on my stomach and moving into another pose. I want to stretch my body, but I've had a difficult time stretching my vision of the future when it comes to my career.

That's not to say I can't handle change. I am adaptable, and I have tried to find other outlets for my craft so I can try new things. Next week, I'm going to start volunteering at a local children's museum. I just sent an e-mail to the local massage school to find out more about their programs. To most, that might seem like enough, but I feel too rooted to the idea of what I'm doing for eight hours a day, five days a week, that I sometimes worry I'll be too tired to pick myself up to do it again if I'm laid off.

The optimistic part of me continues to say, "Don't worry. Just do your best." Now that my body feels better, I feel like I'm getting closer to clearing my mind and listening to that cheery inner voice that normally comes in loud and clear.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

when anxiety becomes reality

Sometimes it's hard to believe that I've been holding my breath this long.

If you ask the experts, the U.S. officially entered a recession in Dec. 2007. The news was announced about a year later. The recession began four months after I started work as a business reporter in a new town, a little place that one economist thought would only be mildly affected by any bad financial news.

In the back of my mind, I knew the economy was floundering, but it didn't hit my pocketbook until my longtime freelance gig stopped assigning anyone work in the fall. The company was supposed to be sold, but it seems things didn't work out. I didn't even get a parting W2.

The reality of the economy hit again last month when two-week furloughs were announced. And again today, when I discovered that no one is getting raises this year at my company. Our 401k match stops in April, which seems to be par for the course these days.

Although no one is sure how deep this recession will go, experts are whispering about the possibility of a 10 percent nationwide unemployment rate by 2010. It is nothing like the Great Depression, which had an unemployment high of 24.9 percent.

The reality is, 10 percent of people will be out of jobs. Ninety percent will still have them. But as I see the cuts we've made at my company, and watched news of other cuts and company shutdowns elsewhere in the country, I feel like I will almost certainly lose my job if things get much worse. No matter how rational I make the arguments in my head, I can't let go of the idea, and "plans" to immediately apply for unemployment and head out to the temp agencies in town haven't soothed my fears.

In January, I met a high school friend of my boyfriend's who was very into yoga, Bikram to be specific. Something about her demeanor calmed me, and I linked that feeling with her dedication to yoga. The economy being what it is, I decided to go the DVD route. For the last two weeks, I have been doing yoga every other day.

My body feels relaxed, although my mind is not. I tend to focus on getting the positions correct and holding them for the right length of time rather than on the breathing. I just want to look like I'm holding it together long enough to make it to the corpse pose and conk out for a while. That's my career philosophy, actually -- I'll rest when I'm dead.

As I write this post, Daylight Savings Time has hit my neck of the woods. Later this morning, the sun will seem to rise later than usual, and some of us will feel deprived of sleep for more reasons than losing an hour. I hope I'm able to forget my fears for a moment, lean deeply into my downward dog and breathe.