Yogi, Yogi, Yogi

Hello lovely readers – I know I’ve been neglecting you, and for that, I apologize.  I’ve decided to just go with the flow in life right now, and not stress about things that are out of my control…including being busy.  I just couldn’t get to the blog, but I’m not going to feel badly about that – I’m just going to let it go.  Que Sera Sera.

On the upside, a huge chunk of me being too busy to blog in the last little while is actually WONDERFUL news:  I was away from home for six days in a row, and part of that was my very last weekend of Yoga Teacher Training.  That’s right, my LAST weekend.  I did my teaching practicum on Saturday, and it went very well…so I’m actually a yoga teacher now!  Do you know how exciting that is for me?  I still have to do my written exam, but I’m not worried about that, especially since the practical part is out of the way.  Huge sigh of relief!

A lovely group of people to take Yoga Teacher Training with – I am so blessed to know each and every single one of them!

Completing the Yoga Teacher Training over the last 5 months has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life.  I learned a lot about myself, improved my yoga practice in leaps and bounds, and made some wonderful friends.  There is talk of a 500 hour certification (another 300 hours on top of the 200 I’ve already done, with a lot of specialty training and master teacher shadowing) with the same group next year, and I’m pretty sure I’ll take the training if I can make it work within the context of my life.  It was honestly such a beautiful journey with an incredibly beautiful group of people.

In other yoga news, I have completed Day 6 of a 30 day yoga challenge.  Today wasn’t a full on practice, but I did manage about 25 minutes of Sun Salutations followed by some seated postures and a brief Savasana, so it still counts.  It will be tough for me to fit in a yoga practice each day, but I think it’s a committment worth making time for, especially since every other facet of my life has been spinning so wildly out of control lately.  Yoga and running are the only things keeping me sane and grounded lately, so I plan to make time for them amidst the chaos – I deserve that!

Anyway, it’s midnight and I have to teach an early morning circuit class in 6 hours, so I guess it’s bed time!  I guess it’s a good thing I’m getting in the yoga, since I’m definitely NOT getting in the sleep…


Apple Zinger Green Smoothie

One of my favourite ways to get in a few servings of fruit and veggies; it’s so delicious that it tastes like a treat!

Basic Ingredients

What you need:

2 apples
2 carrots
a chunk of ginger
2+ large handfuls of spinach
water (I used about 1/2 a litre)
a blender
I start by chopping up the carrots into bite-size chunks and tossing them into the blender with some water.  Blend until the carrots are pureed, then add in pieces of apple (skin too!) and some grated ginger. I LOVE me some ginger, so I use quite a bit (it’s what gives the smoothie its zing), but it can be overpowering for some people, so use it with caution.

I use the Pampered Chef Apple Slicer/Corer and a hand grater for the ginger.

Depending on your tastes, you might want to change up the quantity of some of your ingredients.  For example, if you like your smoothies a bit sweeter, you might want to use 3 apples instead of 2 – totally up to you!  Lastly, I add in my spinach.  I frequently have to push it down with a spoon, or it just sits on the top of the blender and doesn’t get mixed in with the rest of the smoothie.  Usually spinach is the only green I add in, but I was almost out tonight, and I wanted to make sure that I got my veggies in, so I added some Kale into the blender as well.

Smoothie and tuna for dinner

For some reason I wasn’t super hungry tonight, which is kind of odd, since I did TWO different workouts after work.  Weird.  Anyway, I decided that my smoothie would be enough to hit the spot, but I’m smart enough to know that after two workouts (and with an early morning circuit class to teach tomorrow), that I need to give myself a bit of protein, too.  I’m not normally a big fan of tuna, but it is a pretty nutritional choice, and it was a quick and easy option for me.  In order to make a can of tuna palatable, I usually mix it up with mustard and some fresh or frozen dill…that makes it almost yummy!

My old blender. See how orange the mixture is? That’s why I added the Kale…I needed to get my green on!

I’m finding that I am using my blender more and more, and as I wrote in a previous post, my blender is pretty old.  I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the Vitamix lately, and I am most definitely interested…but I’m not sure I feel comfortable paying over $500 for a blender.  I know that a Vitamix is capable of doing much more than just blending, but I’m not really sure I will ever use it for anything else.  Do you have a Vitamix?  Is it worth the hefty price tag? 

Quickie Update

Hello my lovely blog readers!

This will be a super quick update post, since I still have hours of homework to do, and I plan to go play softball with some friends after dinner.  Lots has happened this week, and like usual, I’ve been too busy to write about it…plus my husband has been home since Monday night, so forgive me if I felt like spending my free time with him.  He goes back to work tomorrow morning for 3 more weeks.  Sigh.

I got in quite a few good workouts this week, and Rob even came to take my class on Thursday morning!  That made him realize that he is getting out of shape, so he promises to start working out again at the gym in his work camp.  He stopped going to the gym when he started working out-of-town, and that hurt my heart a little bit, so it’s good to see him getting back into healthiness.

On Wednesday, I finally got to see my liver specialist about my second biopsy results.  We have confirmation about my tumor, and it’s not what my doctors originally thought – it’s the worse of the two possibilities*.  It’s called an Hepatic Adenoma, and it has to come out.  Apparently there is a fairly high risk of it becoming malignant later on, and I certainly don’t want to mess around with that!  Because it’s growing so rapidly already, there is also a pretty significant risk of it rupturing if it gets too big…especially if we get pregnant, which we were working on before the liver tumor reared it’s ugly little head.  Anyway…surgery is planned for September, and I will be out of commission for 8 weeks, and then will have to take it easy for about a month after that. 8 whole weeks!!!  Poop.

I am not looking forward to that 8 weeks.  Even when I am so super busy that I don’t have time to breathe, I still fit in workouts.  Exercise is pretty much a necessity for me lately.  Life was pretty sucky when I hurt my back and had to take it easy on the exercise front – and this won’t be “take it easy,” it will be “donothing.”  Double Poop.

My doctordidtell me that I would be able to do some light walking after a while, and that I could probably swim and maybe do some light yoga after about a month, but I have to be very careful not to do anything that will put strain on my abdominal wall.  I guess I will be improving the front crawl and all of the leg work in my standing poses.  I will also get to read, and maybe spend some more time writing, without the stress of work involved…so there are definitely some positives involved here!

*worse of the two possibilities is still pretty good by comparison.  A cancerous tumor would be much, much worse, so I am VERY thankful to be dealing with this little setback!

Stability Ball Workout

*Apparently I accidentally posted this earlier when I first started writing the post – whoops!  Sorry, dear readers…

Despite having another busy week, I was able to fit in quite a few workouts:

Monday – 5k run with the dogs
Tuesday – Sunrise Sweat early am fitness class
– evening 5 k run/walk with the dogs
Wednesday – Mix It Up Circuit class
– 3 k run with dogs
Thursday – Sunrise Sweat early am fitness class
Friday – day off
Saturday – 3 k run with dogs
Sunday – 5 k run with dogs, followed by a brief pack walk with the other Dog Park volunteers to see the park space
– I haven’t done it yet, but I’m planning a yoga practice this evening (which I desperately need, since I haven’t practiced since Teacher Training last weekend!)

That’s 9 workouts in 7 days – not bad for someone who works around 55-60 hours per week!

As the title of this post suggests, I thought I would tell you about some of the moves I do on one of my favourite pieces of equipment – the Stability Ball (a.k.a. Swiss Ball or Balance Ball).  I used these moves for one of my class workouts this past week; we workedhardusing only stability balls…so it’s a workout many of you could do at home.

Back Extension – thanks Oprah for the photo!

Back Extension:  Place your hips and abs on the ball, and plant your feet firmly (about hip width apart).  Contract your belly button toward your spine, raise your hands in front of your forehead, and use your core to lift your upper body toward the ceiling.

This is a very small, controlled movement; you are only aiming to lift your torso a couple of inches off the ball, but because you are working to keep your balance while lifting your upper body off of the ball, it is avery effective move.  This exercise targets yourentire core, including both your upper and lower back muscles.  Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
To make this move harder, lengthen your arms until they are straight, or add a small weight in each hand.

Step 1

Stability Ball Lunge:  Begin with one foot behind you on the ball, and the other foot planted, pointing forward – far enough ahead that when you lunge into the front leg your knee DOES NOT come forward of your ankle.  I sometimes find it difficult to get into the correct position; some people like to hop the front foot forward, but it’s helpful for me to place both hands on the ground, plant the front foot between my hands, and then reach back with the back foot to place it on the ball.

Step 2

Keep your torso upright, and keep your arms outstretched for balance, or place your hands on your hips.  To complete the move, lunge forward into the front leg (remember to keep the knee above the ankle!), and allow the ball to roll backward behind you. Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps (on each leg).  If you have difficulty getting into position for this move, try using a bench or chair instead of the ball – those stability balls can be a real pain in the butt!  Once you’ve mastered the move and feel more confident with your balance, try again using the ball.

Hamstring Curl

Hamstring Curls:  Lay on your back, hands beside your hips with palms down.  Place your heels on the ball, engage your belly button toward your spine, and lift your hips up toward the ceiling.  Use your legs to pull the ball toward your butt, and then push it back to the starting position.  That’s one rep.Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps, or challenge yourself to do as many as you can in 60-90 seconds.

If at any point you need to take a breather, you can drop your butt to the ground when your legs are extended all the way out, but you will get more out of the move if you can keep your hips raised the entire time.

During our workout Thursday, we did many other moves besides these three, but I’ve still got a pile of marking to finish for school tomorrow and a yoga practice to fit in, so three is all you get for today.  I hope your Sunday has been lovely, and your upcoming week is lovely too – happy sweating!







Unlikely Friendships for which I am Forever Grateful

I completed another weekend of Yoga Teacher Training this past weekend, and it really leaves me with so much to say…but the “so much” is so very difficult to articulate.  The physical part is exhausting, but wonderful, and I honestly wish that my teacher, Catherine lived in my town so that I could take her class multiple times each week.  She is so friggin’ good at what she does that I am literally in awe of her.  And I mean literally, literally – not “a lot” or “quite a bit,” like so many of my students actually mean when they have been misusing the word lately.  Catherine is amazing.  One day she led us through an intense Ashtanga sequence which left me drenched in sweat and wobbling on spent quads, and then to finish off the weekend she led a beginner class as an example for us.  It was spectacular.  She is funny, and kind, and knowledgeable, and everything a great teacher should be.  Plus she makes you work your ass off.  Seriously – in a beginner class, she had a studio full of aspiring yoga teachers working so hard that our muscles were shaking and we were sweating profusely.  At the same time, however, it was totally a class that a true, brand-new-to-yoga-never-taken-a-class-or-even-watched-a-yoga-video-before student would have found accessible.  I can only hope that I can bring a fraction of her skill and grace to my classes once I start teaching.

On top of the physical high I get from practicing on the teacher training weekends, I am also really beginning to connect with the more though-provoking side of my yoga practice.  My training is making me contemplate both yoga and life in new ways…good ways, which can only have a positive impact on my health and well-being, not to mention doing wonderful things for my family and our future.  It’s a win-win situation, really!

So different, yet so good together

The last thing I want to mention about my teacher training is the camaraderie I feel with many of my fellow students.  A few short months ago these were people who I knew nothing about, and a few of them were people who I never would have pictured myself getting to know, since they are so completely different from me.  All of that has gone completely out the window, though, as now many of them have become friends.  I really believe that my teacher training group is an eclectic mix of fabulous people, who each have amazing things to offer the world of yoga, and the world in general.  Getting to know these people has taught me things about myself, and about the world I inhabit, and I am blessed to have had the privilege to get to know each and every single one of my classmates.  Some of us have shared fears and secrets with each other; all of us have laughed, learned and sweated together, and the entire experience has been wonderful.  I cannot say where life will take any of us, but I am quite confident that I have made some lifelong friends through this experience, and for that, I am forever grateful.