Hiatus and Good News

Hello my dears!  Just wanted to post a quick note to say that I’ve been traveling all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, and for the precious few snippets of time that I’ve been home, I haven’t been able to hang out much at my actual home.  You see, we are having renovations done, so we’ve got tradespeople trying to get some work done, and they probably don’t want me pestering them, so I’ve been leaving them alone.  Because they’re here, I had to go to the lake (oh, poor me – right?!  Supremely kidding – I LOVE it at our family cabin!), but there isn’t any Internet access there, so alas there have been no posts lately.  Annnnnddddd I’m heading back there tonight – I don’t even have a toilet here, so there isn’t much point in sticking around home!  That means I probably won’t post anything else for another week-ish.  I think you’ll survive without me.

Before I go, though, I want to share some happy news:  today I wrote my last yoga exam, so I AM COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY DONE my 200 hour teacher training.  I won’t be certain until I get the marks back, but I feel pretty good about today’s test…and I felt pretty good about the last one too.  I got that exam back today, and guess what?  90%!!!  That’s right – I’m a smartie-pants.  I’m being facetious, but I am pretty proud of myself, and it’s fabulous to be finished.  Amazing feeling, I tell ya!  Now I just have to wait for my certificate to arrive so it feels even more official…oh, and then I’ll probably enroll in the 300hour add on when my teachers offer it a little later on (but don’t tell my husband – he thinks all this fitness learnin’ business is OVER!).

Anyway, I’m off to the lake – I hope your summer has been delightful so far and only continues to get better!

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…

Lions and Tigers and Handstand, Oh My!

I just got home from an intense weekend of Yoga Teacher Training.  I have such a love/hate relationship with these weekends.  This weekend was EXACTLY what I needed to refocus what is important in my life: my loved ones, my health and my sanity.  I started to write about my love/hate relationship with the teacher training weekends, but as soon as I wrote it, I realized that it wasn’t really true.  There is no doubt that these weekends are draining; we complete a physical asana practice for 2.5-3 hours each day, and then do a lot of book/lecture type learning and posture labs.  Yoga teacher training is not easy (and I’m glad of that, or ANYONE could be a yoga teacher), and the weekends are quite taxing on both a physical and mental level.  I’m finding this especially difficult given how hectic the rest of my life has been as of late, but I really believe that the training is also exactly what I need to slow down my life (even if it is a lot of extra work right now!).  This weekend has reminded me how important yoga has become for me, and even though I’ve been busy lately, yoga really isn’t the thing that I want to let slide in order to make room for it all.  Why not?  Well that answer is simple:  when life is hectic, yoga (and snuggling with my husband when we actually get to see each other!) is the only thing that brings peace and calmness to my crazy.  I learned today that the way to change your practice for the better is to practice vigorously, often and for a long time.  The vigorous and the often I can make happen right now, and the long time will only come if I continue to practice!  I can – and WILL – make adjustments in other ways so that I can continue to improve my practice – that is what is right for me right now.

Learning from Catherine Munro – who is unbelievably amazing – is so perfect for me, because even though I wish I was familiar with more of the poses already (like most of the others in my class are), I also realize that I have the benefit of learning these new poses the right way the very first time I do them.  That means that my practice will continue to improve, and I can be confident that I am receiving excellent instruction every time I go for another weekend of training.  Plus, she works us REALLY hard, so I can be sure that I am building strength and burning calories every single time I take a class with Catherine!

We worked on inversions this weekend, specifically Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), Sirsasana (Headstand) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand – pictured to the left).  With the exception of trying an assisted handstand in a workshop a few months ago with Catherine, I had never done any of these poses before this weekend.  They were terrifying, but I got up into all of them (with help, obviously – I don’t think it’s actually possible to do this shit without assistance unless you’ve been practicing for a WHILE!).  Apparently Handstand is the pose that is most frightening for the majority of people, but I wasn’t that nervous about it.  I found it kind of exciting, actually, and like the others, it was very invigorating.  The pose that freaked me out more than any other was Pincha; maybe because the floor was so close to my face, I was afraid my nose was going to smash down into the hardwood…but it didn’t, so we’re all good.  I will definitely be practicing this pose (and the others, too) in order to gain some confidence with it.  The biggest obstacle that I see here is needing help to get up into the pose, and since I don’t practice in a yoga studio, and my husband is out-of-town for work a lot, that might be tough.  I WILL find a way, though.  If you happen to stop by for a visit, I might just put you to work helping me to get my legs in the air!

I Want to Pump You Up!

Did you read the title with an odd, pseudo-Austrian accent a la Hans and Franz of SNL fame?  I hope so – it is much cooler that way.

I thought it would be a fitting title for two reasons:

A) I spent a lot of moolah this weekend on fitness equipment for my “Sunrise Sweat” class, which starts this week.  The point of the class is to “pump up” my participants…well, sort of.  Two of the ladies in my class texted me a picture of a woman with arms as big as my calves (and much more muscular) accompanied by the message, “We’re game for class but we don’t want to look like this!”  I guess that means they aren’t going to be taking any steroids before arriving at my fitness class.  I don’t think they really have too much to worry about; while I design workouts that build strength, I am much more interested in a streamlined physique than growing giant manly arms!

B) I spent a large portion of my evening pumping up recently purchased stability balls and BOSUs.  Notice the foot pump?  I overheated my electric pump and had to use the manual one.  It took a while, but I got everything inflated, and had a little leg workout at the same time.

Speaking of legs – I have really exciting news!  At least it is exciting news for me…you might think it’s a little silly, because I tend to get excited about things that other people sometimes find a bit ridiculous.  But on with the story:  every time I have attended one of my Yoga teacher training weekends, many of the other teacher trainees have these fabulous leg warmers and cool high socks to keep their feet and legs toasty before and after practice.  I always wear plain white ankle socks and feel really boring.  Plus, because my yoga pants are crops, the bare skin on my legs sometimes gets cold.  I covet the cool leg warmers…but no more!  I am now part of the cool kids’ club.  That’s right – I have leg warmers.  I found them at Wal-Mart for about $6, and had to have them.  I also bought two pair of $3 knee-high socks while I was there, and turned them into my own DIY leg warmer creation.  I can’t take all the credit, though; I totally stole the idea from a wonderful yoga classmate named Melissa.  Melissa reminds me a bit of a rock star, and she wears the neatest stuff – including a sweet pair of home-made leg warmer socks that I have been coveting for the last month.  I hope she doesn’t mind that I borrowed her idea!

Here’s how to create this look:

1. Find a pair of tall socks that you enjoy – this pair can go all the way past my knee if I stretch them, and I really like the purple stripes.  The other pair is a pretty boring grey, but they will probably match with more of my other stuff.

2. Take a pair of scissors and cut off the toe of the sock just below the seam line.  Then cut a triangle out of the heel.  Most socks have a slight line where the knitting changes direction, and many socks (including these) have a different coloured heel – cut just inside the different colour/knitting line.

3. Voila!  You have a neat little pair of leg warmers.

Here is a close up of my toes – I just got a pedicure on Friday, and I’m loving the sparkles on top of the dark plum, so I thought I’d show off up close.  Thanks Sharla at Exhale!

Motivation Meltdown

I’ve read a lot of posts tonight about having a lack of motivation, and as much as I hate to hear about others who are struggling, it is nice to know that I’m not alone.  This past week has been VERY tough on me:  I am into my no-prep semester, which means that I am teaching full days, without any breaks at all.  There are four class sessions within my day, and because of split classes, I am now teaching six classes in a four period day.  I spent the majority of the weekend at school just trying to stay on top of things.  On top of that, I am also teaching the morning fitness classes (and contemplating adding in one more per week), plus managing our household and taking care of the dogs on my own.  My darling husband is still working out-of-town, so for the time being it is all on me.  Add to that my own homework to stay on top of my yoga teacher training, and I’m beginning to feel like I may have “bitten off more than I can chew.”  It’s been tough, to say the least, but I have managed to fit in a few good workouts this week!

I got in two good runs on the weekend and had a great yoga class tonight.  Monday was my rest day, so I had every intention of running Tuesday morning, but my body decided that it needed an extra hour of sleep instead.  Sometimes you just have to listen when your body tells you to slow down, I guess!

I teach my circuit class at 6:15 tomorrow morning (I will be off to bed very soon!), and I have a few more good workouts planned for the rest of the week, so I am still mostly on track…sometimes it’s just a lot more difficult finding the energy to fit in a good sweat session than I want it to be.

But let’s conjure up the positive, shall we?  I have managed to fit in some good workouts amid the chaos, I’m rather enjoying the students in my new classes, and I’ve been able to eat well and (mostly) stick to Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet.  Really, I amazingly successful!

My Adho Mukha Svanasana Sucks

So apparently my Adho Mukha Svanasana sucks.  That’s Downward Facing Dog for all you non-Sanskrit speaking folks.  No one actually told me that my Downward Dog is terrible; I just kind of came to that conclusion on my own this past weekend.  It was weekend #2 of Yoga Teacher Training, and we focused on Sun Salutations, which obviously include a lot of Downward Dog.  It’s a common pose – perhaps one of the more famous ones for those not very familiar with yoga.

This is what Adho Mukha Svanasana looks like:
I was just about to draw your attention to this model’s flat back and straight hands (which I definitely need to work on!), but upon further investigation, she actually appears to have some of the same difficulties as I do.  Hmm…curious!  I need to turn my hands outward a few degrees in order to get the desired flat back and wide shoulders.  Turning my hands out is the easy part, though; the real work here for me is rotating my shoulders outward in their sockets and spinning my upper arm muscles outward in the same way.  My biceps need to spin out while my triceps turn in toward each other, all while I place more weight emphasis on my inner palms – this is WAY more difficult than you might imagine.  I am failing this task miserably, but I’m working toward success – and really, isn’t “working toward success” a success all on its own?
For those of your who know me outside of the blogging world, you will know that I like to be good at what I do.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, if you will.  For precisely this reason, it sucks that I suck at Downward Dog.  BUT I don’t suck at everything in my yoga course…in fact, on Saturday, Yoga Teacher Catherine said to me:  “Chrissy – that is an awesome Chaturanga!”
This is Chaturanga…
It is VERY hard.  It takes a lot of core strength and people complain about doing this pose all the time.  Having Catherine tell me that my Chaturanga is “awesome” makes me feel like a Yoga Rock Star – even if my Adho Mukha Svanasana does suck!

To Om or Not to Om?

Yesterday I wrote about my first “Early Rise Circuit” class being a success (at least I hope it was!). I told you that I would tell you about two things, and the other experience I want to write about is the first weekend in my yoga teacher training.  It was Heaven and Hell all wrapped into one.  Okay, “Hell” is a tad harsh, but it was REALLY TOUGH!  We practiced for hours each day, then learned a bunch of really intense information, and finally did posture labs, where we got to break down the ins and outs of a few specific poses.  I am sore all over from all that practicing, but it is a wonderful sore.  My arms, legs, chest, back, abs, and every other tiny muscle in between are alive with a combination between feeling fatigued and excitedIf you don’t know what I am talking about, then take up yoga, and I’m sure you will get it soon enough.

The course is not just physically demanding, though; I need to learn a bunch of stuff too.  Maybe it’s my karma for making students learn about stories and symbolism in my day job.  In addition to a bunch of anatomy (which I thankfully have a pretty good handle on from my AFLCA group fitness leader training), I have to learn the names of all the poses.  Not the English names either.  I don’t get to wuss out by saying “Triangle pose” or “Downward Dog.”  Oh no.  I have to pronounce Parivrtta Trikonasana and Adho Mukha SvanasanaYa – that’s what I thought too.  I learned so much over the course of the weekend that I cannot even begin to put it into words.  Only 7 more intense weekend sessions left to go – but I’m not sure my brain actually has room for 7 more sessions worth of information!
 
 
The YogaWorks course is being offered through Shanti Yoga Studio in Edmonton, and our instructor is Catherine Munro.  She is fantastic.  Well except for the part where she makes us hold Downward Dog for-EVER.  She clearly knows her stuff, she is an excellent teacher, and she has an amazing sense of how the human body works and moves.  If I can glean just a fraction of her knowledge and expertise I will be golden.
 
 
One thing I considered when choosing which teacher training to do was the spiritual aspect of each program.  I’m sure you have all been to/heard about/watched a movie with one of those yoga classes where they sit and meditate and chant.  You know, the “Om-ing” and the chakras and that sort of thing.  I fully realize that “that sort of thing” is an integral part of yoga, but I also know that I am far more interested in the stretching and the strengthening than in any sort of chanting*.  That is exactly why I chose the YogaWorks course over some of the other options being offered in Edmonton; there seems to be a much greater focus on the physical aspect of practicing yoga, which I like.  So I was a bit surprised to come face to face with my very first Om.  That’s right – we “omed.”  We chanted too.  At the end of each day, Catherine led a call and response chant that was about 4 or 5 lines long.  The most surprising part about this (especially if you have already read the footnote at the bottom of this post), is that I kinda liked it.  I was a little nervous the first time because I didn’t have the foggiest clue what the heck we were doing, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal.  I suppose that I was already really relaxed from a wonderful and extended period of savasana, but I found the oming to be a lovely experience.  It was peaceful, and empowering, and wonderful.  Perhaps there is more to this yoga business than simply building physical strength by moving through and holding poses.  I guess I’m on board to learn all about it!
 
 
* I honour religion, and I love the idea of community – which can readily be found in a church/spiritual community – but religious and spiritual rituals freak me out a bit.  I was once asked to participate in a sweet grass smudging ceremony with some First Nations People, and it made me so nervous that I started shaking uncontrollably.  I also dated a Catholic boy from a fairly religious family for a little while, and attended a few weddings with him; the “Peace be with you” stuff made me squirm.  For real.  Not kidding even a little bit.  I think it’s awesome when people are in tune with their religion and/or spirituality, but rituals typically scare the crap out of me.