Barn Yoga

I don’t know when I started considering myself a yogi. If you’re not too precious about it, I supposed anyone who does yoga once and enjoys it can be considered a yogi. I think I always hesitated because I can’t do an unassisted head or handstand for very long before flopping sloppily to one side and most of my stretches end at other people’s starting positions. But I think I’ve finally accepted that, despite my shortcomings in the positions – or asanas, as they’re called – I can finally embrace the title of “yogi.” Also, I just called them asanas, did you catch that? I’m such a true yogi.

Vocabulary aside, I’m finally comfortable being considered a yogi mostly because I now seek out doing yoga with different people in different places, no matter where I am.

At least, that’s what led to me to my barn yoga experience.barn yoga 3.jpg

I was touring with three comedy fellows in upper Pennsylvania when we all drove by a tiny little storefront that said “Barefoot Yoga.” I was intrigued and we all googled it immediately. Actually, I probably didn’t because I was too busy staring out the window in awe of the greenery that surrounded me. And one of the fellas was driving. And the other fella I don’t think was interested. Come to think of it, I think only the one guy did the googling and reported the results to the car for the rest of us to feel like we had, also, found out the information.

Was this important to the story? Nah, probably not. But what is life if not frivolous?

Anyway, it became apparent to us (thanks to whichever google sleuth brought us the information) that there was a class available the next morning that wouldn’t conflict with our shows. I immediately wanted – nay needed – to go.

I should have said “neigh needed” since this is a post about barn yoga and horses live in barns. Alas and alack. Add it to the list of writing regrets I pile up every day.

The morning of the adventure, I took time to actually run for the first time in a long while. I went at an insanely fast pace according to the treadmill I was on. I also realized that the treadmill was absolutely broken and couldn’t go at a very fast pace, despite what the readings were saying. But you’d be surprised how much confidence you can gain even if you know you’re being lied to.

Though it maybe wasn’t a seven mile run at a 6 minute mile pace (as the treadmill suggested), I was sweaty and I was ready. In the end, only one of the fellas I was traveling with joined me for yoga. The others had their reasons. But, hey, it’s yoga. It’s honestly the only activity where it’s genuinely the thought that counts.

Boy oh boy was I glad that I had a buddy for this experience, too, because it was a total delight. We entered the studio (which was a small converted barn) and immediately took our shoes off because that’s what it looked like we should do and I like to follow the rules. I couldn’t help but let my overwhelming enthusiasm take over when Teresa, the teacher we saw online, walked up to us in the flesh. We were new to the class and new to her, so I of course made it a goal to become her new best friend. Within no time, I was wandering the studio, taking in the beauty of the space and all the crystals in it, and explained happily what we were doing there. After me berating…err, um, enthusiastically talking to her for a bit before class, Teresa became almost as excited about the start of class as I was.

barn yoga 2We set out our borrowed mats, blankets, and blocks in the locations Teresa set out for us (neither of us had any idea where to place ourselves because we didn’t know where she’d be sitting or anyone else would be sitting…it was a mild meltdown until we demanded she just tell us what to do). I got a spot under a hanging crystal, so I was as happy as can be. Soon, a few locals trickled in and we started up class.

The details of the class itself are likely only interesting to the nerdiest of yogis. It was definitely more traditional, slower, emotional based yoga that I do enjoy dabbling in on occasion (rather than my usual intense, sweaty, get down into it yoga). The most telling pose was when we all got into “Goddess” position with a small squat and our hands in specific mudras that reminded us to feel connected while letting anxiety, worry, and doubt fall by the wayside.

Yeah, your hands can provide that kind of confidence. Our bodies are pretty amazing.

The whole class was excellent for relaxation and Teresa definitely did something by choosing those positions that made me leave there feeling grounded and a little emotionally lighter. Teresa seemed to delight in having us in class as much as we enjoyed the class. We took pictures afterwards to commemorate the occasion.

mi tour 4

Later, when my partner and I were a little out of our comfort zone for a particular project we were working on, we put our hands in mudras, got in goddess pose, and let Teresa’s wise words of letting go of what you can’t control take over so we could do our best and let the experience be what it was.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you ever get the chance to do yoga in a converted barn, do it. And, hey, even if it’s not converted, it’d probably be pretty fun. Assuming, of course, you’re a dedicated yogi like me.

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Pilates

My body is pretty clear about what it likes and doesn’t like. I’ve talked before about how spinning, thoupilatesgh great for many, just is not my jam.

I’ve also talked about how I really love doing Yoga. I go through phases of enjoying running. And love to lift regularly.

But, truth be told, there is one type of exercise that I rarely do that my body looooooooooves. Have you guessed it yet from the title of this article and supplemental picture?

Well done, super sleuth. It’s Pilates.

I rarely do it because it can be pretty pricey. I learned that my body looooooooooved it when I lucked into finding a new instructor years ago in Chicago who needed teaching hours so was able to teach and use equipment for free. I just recently lucked into the same situation here and have reaped the benefits of a really kind, really great teacher giving me free one-on-one classes.

And I seriously come aliiiiiiive afterwards.

Briefly, here’s why I love it. I love efficiency, and Pilates is efficient as hell. Do this move four times and you’ll be sore for a week. The one-on-one attention allows the instructor to look at how your body is compensating for the weaker spots and you can adjust accordingly. I can see the subtle tendencies between the sides of my body and what areas tend to takeover and make up for the lazier and lacking ones. I’ve got really tight hip-flexors that try and do all the work for my lazy ass abs. But Pilates doesn’t let your hip flexors do that. It calls that shit out, gives your hip flexors a rest and makes your abs pull their own damn weight for once.

Not only that, but I find myself thinking about pilates maneuvers and moves long after my session is over. When I run, now, I tell my abs to step up so my hip flexors don’t have to do all the work in the run. I focus on subtlety in form and check in with all parts of my body to see if and where I’m over-compensating.

I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m legitimately obsessed.

Soon my girl will cost a pretty penny to do one-on-one classes, and I’m glad she’ll be earning some money. But it means I’ll have to pull back on my regularity for lessons for now. Though, who knows, I could come into a lot of money soon and I have a feeling most of it will be going towards Pilates. That and adorable dog costumes for my friends with dogs. But also mostly Pilates.

Quiet Time

I’m not always great about finding time to do the things I love. For whatever reason, they tend to be the first things that get pushed by the wayside when I get busy.

Writing is one of those things. And in some ways, as you can tell by my more inconsistent posting, it’s fallen a little by the wayside.

Part of that is genuinely time. As I promised not long ago, my schedule is dramatically changing. While I’m still writing and creating, it’s taking different facets. I’m also juggling a few things at the moment that will all hopefully shake out soon so that they don’t all have to be juggled at once because one of them will take off. But until then, my time is even more limited.
So I’ve had to get smart about the free time I have available. I’ve had to learn to combine certain things I enjoy doing to make sure I’m always getting the most out of every activity. And that has meant combining two things I love that I don’t make enough time for right now- exercise and meditation time.

I know it’s the norm anymore to bring music with you to workout or run. It really can help pass the time. For a long time, I’ve enjoyed listening to podcasts, stories, audiobooks and lectures while working out. It keeps my imagination stimulated while I get my sweat on.

KIDquiettime11 2But lately, I’ve been in a bit of stimulation over-drive. For good reasons. So I’ve had to shift my focus. Now, when I’m running or lifting or yoga or whatever-ing, I leave the music at home. I don’t even bring my phone with me. I don’t want the distraction. I want to just enjoy the sights and sounds for a short period of time and let my own thoughts take over. Those thoughts, as I know from my (unfortunately sporadic) meditation, like to run wild. But as long as I breathe and keep a mantra, whether it be “just to that car” or “I feel good” or “I trust myself” or “don’t look weak to the passersby,” I can get through it. And when I get back to my apartment and I finally start letting the world back into my headspace, I find I’m much calmer and more in tune and in touch with what’s going on around me.

Plus, sometimes I even say “hi” to another runner. Or pet a giant loveable dog named Hero and have a conversation with the owner because I was open and not distracted by my podcasts.

That being said, I still love my podcasts.

But too much of a good thing, even imagination stimulation, can be detrimental to your mental. So don’t go mental. Be sentimental. And get quiet.

Not super proud of how I ended this but, heck, it’s been a while so cut me some slack.

Couples Running

I don’t often like to get too much into my personal life here, but I am going to take a quick pause from my usual policy of “NONEOFYOURBUSINESSLEAVEMEALONE” to tell you something cool about my significant other.

Sometimes we actually go running together.

As some of you may know, I haven’t been competitively running for a long time. I two-children-running-on-beach_70368391changed my focus a while back to more weight training and whatnot. But we’re doing a little dual-motivation challenge with each other that’s making both of us hop back on the running horse. (Metaphorically, of course. He actually hates horses so this can only be a metaphor.)

It’s not easy to find a running partner in any capacity. I tend to like to run (and usually just workout) alone. And I still like to do that. But having someone else along for the jog is surprisingly nice. Especially when you genuinely enjoy that person’s company. And I genuinely enjoy his. Which makes my genuine frustration for getting back in shape ease up a little. And makes me look forward (even just a little bit) to going running. Because it means I get to hang around someone I enjoy being around. Even if we’re both doing something we both aren’t super excited about.

It’s nice.

As nice as running can be for be for me at this point I guess.

Anyway, I could talk about it more but that already feels like an over-share for something I tend to stay very private about so I’m gonna go hide in the shade in the corner and wait until you forget all about this and we can all go back to staying quiet and not talking about my personal life because it’s “NONEOFYOURBUSINESSLEAVEMEALONE.”

Are You Using This?

lift-weightsI’ve discussed before how I’m not the most social at the gym. But there are some questions that don’t bother me that much.

“Are you using this?” is typically not one of them. It’s a reasonable, polite question that can avoid some serious confrontations.

It’s just, when I get asked by the same people several times if I’m using some weights that I’m clearly using, I start to lose my patience.

And that’s what happened the other day. I didn’t technically lose my patience, but I sure came close.

A small group of dudes who were clearly total bros who loved to come to the weight room and pretend their working out when really they’re holding weights in strange positions and gossiping like Sex and the City ladies.

Yet because of their proximity to me, they seemed to think if I wasn’t actually touching a weight at that moment that it was easier just to ask me if I was using it than to go look for and find a similar (or, dare I say, heavier?) weight themselves.

The first time it happened, whatever. The second time, I was confused. But the third? I thought they must have been messing with me. But they weren’t They were just too lazy to walk to the weight rack themselves and too self-absorbed to realize they were asking the same person.

Doofuses. Doofusi? Doofi? Doofi.

Inside Out Shirt

success kid shirtYou’ll notice that I do my best on this blog to never gym shame anyone. Unless it has to do with basic gym etiquette (or sometimes basic human etiquette).

But you won’t hear me making fun of people. Part of that is I just in general have a policy of kindness. But part of it is because I recognize that I often don’t have all my sh*t together, so far be it from me to point out somebody else’s shortcomings.

Case in point: I saw a woman the other day with her shirt inside out. I thought, “Come on lady. Check your shirt.” Then I caught myself judging, realized it was just because I was exhausted while working out and trying to find something else to think about, and made myself find three things about her to compliment in my mind. I felt guilty for passing judgement (I’m Midwestern. Feeling guilty comes naturally.), so I made myself do kindness penance.

And, wouldn’t you know it, a couple weeks later, I’m at the gym and realize midway through my workout that I had my shirt on inside out.

I could have gone and changed, but I figured “Meh. Such is life” and let it go.

Because we’re all human and we have days we’re more “off” than others. And I figured anyone who noticed wouldn’t care. And anyone who would notice and care about such things wasn’t worth my time anyway, so I shouldn’t care.

Because…

be-who-you-are-and-say-what-you-feel-because-those-who-mind-dont-matter-and-those-who-matter-dont-mind-11

Ayurveda Schedule

training_the_mind_healing_the_body_16360dpI recently listened to this fantastic audiobook called Training the Mind, Healing the Body. It’s dense and hefty, but totally worth it.

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started listening, but the title was catchy so I was 0pen.

It turned out to be a great audio course in holistic healing, specifically through using Ayurvedic methods.

That sentence felt really zen and really nerdy. And I loved it.

One of the ideas that stuck with me most was the argument that our body, like the seasons, has it’s own schedule. Which means more than just whether or not you’re a “night owl” or an “early bird.” Theses guys basically make the argument that all bodies respond to certain stimulus at certain times better than others. You’ll have to do your own research to learn the details, but I thought it was a really cool concept. And, since I’m all about trying out different schedules that work with my life, I’m gonna try this one on for size.

It makes a lot of sense. Even if I can’t implement all of it, there are small things that I can. Like, the idea that your body is more responsive to exercise and energy in the morning than late at night. And that you genuinely need to wind down and sleep at reasonable hours and your sleep will be better than if you sleep too early in the morning.

I don’t exactly have the most holistic schedule at the moment and I don’t always have a lot of control over the windows of opportunity I have for healthy habits I enjoy like meditation and exercise. But I’m slowly but surely carving out a more reasonable and doable schedule for myself and a generally more balanced life. So as I continue to get closer to that balance, I’m going to do my best to implement all these small changes as well.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

I’m Scared of Teacher

I’m not a masochist.

At least I don’t think I am.

scary teachBut there is one teacher I have been going to consistently who terrifies me and I love her for it.

She teaches cardio kickboxing and boot camp. I’m scared enough of her in cardio kickboxing, I can’t imagine her in boot camp.

But I do know if I went to boot camp, she would whoop my butt in shape in not time. That’s why I love her.

I’m a big fan of anyone who has passion for what they do. And this fitness instructor clearly has passion for whipping people into shape. And it’s spectacular.

The shy part of me that loves to be invisible and anonymous at the gym despises her. She sees me. She offers me motivation and instruction. And I secretly love her for it. Even the shy part of me appreciates it.

So I keep going. And I keep getting yelled at. And I keep getting better. And, although I know eventually I’ll get used to it, part of me will always be scared of teacher.

 

 

Exercise for Sleep

Tpuppy snuggleshere are multiple excellent reasons for exercise. I write about them constantly.

One I rarely talk about is the fact that it helps me (and most people) sleep soundly.

I have a lot of energy. I’m a pretty energetic person. I’m actually really aware of my energy level because it’s a good indicator of my inner mood. If I’m exhausted midday, it’s likely because I’m doing something I don’t want to be doing. If I’m sleepy at night just before bed, it’s been a good day of accomplishments. If I’m still anxious when I’m going to sleep, odds are I didn’t exercise and/or be productive enough that day.

Exercise, for me, is the opportunity to not only clear my mind and gain some perspective on what does and does not actually need to be done in the day. It also gives me a place to let out some of the pent up steam from various projects or interactions throughout the day. It energizes me if I’m feeling drained (and know it’s not from lack of sleep) and it calms me for the rest of the day.

I use my energy level as an indicator. And it typically directly corresponds to my exercise consistency.

Yet another reason to add to the long list of why getting up and getting moving is good for you.

 

Cooky Yoga Man

I’ve been talking about getting out of the house more lately and challenging myself at different t-rex yogaclasses (including and especially Yoga classes).

I recently had a substitute teacher at a yoga class that tickled me pink. Not literally. But I have a feeling, had he been given the chance, he would have.

He was a cooky guy.

He started the class casually with a long chat for about 5 minutes about different things that he found interesting. The few of us who were there didn’t seem to also find this interesting. I could tell by the way we all got confused wide-eyes and looked around at each other.

Eventually, he got the class started. He was almost so casual that we had to more or less guess that we were starting. I was front and center and I couldn’t help but laugh. He reminded me of every socially awkward teacher I had growing up. He was a big guy, which means nothing to me fitness-wise, but he really only semi-coached the poses and barely stayed in them. At one point, he even got a phone call so our quiet yoga music got turned into a robotic voice repeating “The phone is ringing. The phone is ringing.” Because that’s exactly the type of ringtone a guy like this would have. I wondered what it was until he simply, casually said, “That ringtone cracks me up,” then continued half-heartedly doing poses and giggling to himself.

I was also giggling profusely.

Even though my traditional yoga workout wasn’t stellar, at least I got a good laughter yoga workout in. Especially on the drive home after the “class.”