Sunday Night Check-in: A+ Weekend

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I had an early, relaxing Friday night. I did my yoga every day. I ate healthily. I went to the Farmer’s Market. I slept like a dead person every night. I shopped at Trader Joe’s. I walked the dog each morning, ate Louisiana strawberries and took time to read. I visited with a couple of really good friends virtually and even visited my sister in Cottonport today. As weekends go, I loved it. I had everything I needed.

I did have one complaint. I bought a fresh chicken at the Farmer’s Market yesterday. I paid almost $15 for it, and I roasted it. I usually have good luck roasting chickens, but this one turned out tough. I’m not sure if I cooked it wrong or the bird was tough, but I was very disappointed. I really don’t cook meat much, so when I buy it, it’s a splurge. Today I took it out of the refrigerator and chopped up the breast to make chicken salad. Hopefully the mayo and greek yogurt will tenderize it a little. It’s a head start on lunch tomorrow with a container full of strawberries for dessert.

I went with my sister today to her school’s production of Guys and Dolls. I’d never seen it, and it was a really wonderful production. I couldn’t believe the performers were high school students. They were very good. The costumes were amazing. There’s a song toward the end where the two lead actresses sing about their marrying their beaus. One character has been engaged for 14 years to her fiancee, and he won’t marry her. The other one is not so sure she wants to marry a gambler. The song details their conversation where they decide that the best course of action is to go ahead and marry them and try to change them later. It was a really funny song, but I found myself getting really irritated. I had to restrain myself from jumping out of my seat and screaming THIS IS BS!!!! HE WON”T CHANGE!!! I realized this was a theater production, and it wasn’t meant to be a lesson in life, but it still irked me just the same. I hate the messages we get from songs and the movies about love and relationships.

Marry the Man Today

I got a chance on the ride over to listen to Bobby Bone’s Top Thirty country countdown. The Louisiana countryside sped by while I listened to interviews and some of my current favorite songs. I have a short vacation coming up this week, and I spent some time thinking about it. I’ll be visiting some of my old pals in St. Joseph MI. When the weather forecast came on, and the meteorologist said it was going to reach 90 today, I sucked in my breath. Oh no … here we go. I pulled up St. Joe’s weather forecast on my phone. The temp was 46 and sunny. Ahhhhh…….. I’m trying not to think about it, but the truth is the thought of summer here is starting to weigh heavily on my mind. But, I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all … tomorrow IS another day.

Have a good week, y’all.

One of my current faves… Girl Crush

Indulging at Magpie

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When I was in Tulsa, I bought some granola at the Farmer’s Market, I eat a little every morning with some full fat yogurt and whatever fresh fruit I have on hand. It’s my favorite warm weather breakfast. I eat it around 6, and it keeps me full until about 10 AM. But, I have yet to find a granola I really like in Baton Rouge … well, one day I had some I liked at Magpie Cafe on Perkins. So, when I ran out of the Tulsa granola, I ran by Magpie Cafe to grab some. At $10.32 for 8 oz. of Granola, the delicious stuff is like gold. I’m glad I eat only a small amount every day, but I have to say I balked at the price before I snatched it up.

Yummy Breakfast Fare

It is most definitely homemade, and it’s filled with nuts and some kind of sweetener along with the oats. My favorite granola of all time was the granola made by Groovy Foods in Memphis. It, too, was pricey, but I loved it. Every time I went to the Farmer’s Market, I bought the biggest bag they had. I’ve heard she’s since gone out of business, but I’d love to have more of her granola. So, I decided this week that my next big project is to start making granola at home to find the perfect recipe. Then, maybe I’ll become the best granola provider in Baton Rouge. Until then, I’ll continue to buy Magpie Cafe’s yummy goodness.

This morning I stopped by for one of their scones. If you haven’t been to Magpie Cafe on Perkins, you really need to try it. They are the healthiest coffeehouse that I know of in Baton Rouge. They have wonderful juices, organic coffees and the most fabulous pastries and breakfast I’ve found. The cafe itself is very attractive. The outdoor seating is not on concrete and has plants and flowers right beside the tables. This morning it was warm and muggy, and one of the employees plugged in a fan to circulate the air. They really seem to care about the atmosphere as well as the food. And, it shows. The place – as always – was jam-packed. I know that Baton Rouge has a reputation for fried food and unhealthy fare, but Magpie’s success is proof that a healthy-eating community does exist.

Healthy Fare

I wanted a blueberry scone as the peach scone I had awhile back melted in my mouth. The scones were gone by the time I got to the counter, so I had a blueberry pop-tart which was a tasty pastry confection that wasn’t too sweet but was flaky and wonderful. If I’d been hungrier, I could have had gouda grits or eggs benedict or a fabulous looking spinach-ricotta quiche. Everything looked good. And, apparently, they are used to running out because they have times on the menu when they will stop making certain items. They ran out of three things while I was waiting in line. There was so much other deliciousness to fill the void that somehow it didn’t matter. I also ordered a whole milk latte which has become my mainstay.

Magpie has a small store where they sell t-shirts, coffeemakers and even some glass canisters for food storage. I fell in love with the glass canisters one afternoon when I was visiting, and I’ve started buying one piece every time I go in to start replacing my plastic storage containers. The glass is lovely, and it really keeps everything nicely. For some reason, I feel very European keeping my veggies and fruits and yogurt in glass containers. And, being European is always best, right?

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One of these days I’m going to Magpie for lunch. They always have fabulous menus posted on the wall with farm-fresh local veggies, quinoa and fresh meats. Just reading the descriptions makes my mouth water. And, to be honest, their granola is pricey, but everything else is really reasonable. Perhaps when I start making my own granola, I’ll realize how pricey it is to make it and understand why granola always has such a high price tag. The jury is still out on that one.

Even dogs have a doggone good time…

It started raining after I left the Magpie this morning. It’s been raining every since. I’m snuggled up to my kitty Buster, and I have a phone conversation scheduled with my friend Nancy and a virtual coffee date with my friend Davina from Memphis. I haven’t done my yoga yet, but it’s on the agenda. I bought lots of fresh veggies, dairy products, farm eggs and a fresh chicken at the farmer’s market, and I plan on roasting the chicken, some asparagus and potatoes this afternoon for dinner. It’s looking like I’m in for the day regardless. I have some reading to do for work, and I need to do a little house-cleaning. But, I may not get to that. Somehow that just seems like so much work.

Yoga Challenge Day #12: Opening the Hips

 

So, Wednesday night I decided to do a challenging yoga class since I’d done more restorative classes the previous two days. I searched Yoga Download’s inventory and found one that ended up with Compass Pose. I wasn’t familiar with that pose, and it wasn’t Crow or one of those I can’t stand, so I picked it. The description said it would stretch out my hamstrings and inner thighs, so I thought that might be a good balance to last week’s backbending practices.

The class was definitely as promised. Lots of lunges, forward bends and hamstring stretches got my legs and hips feeling loosey goosey. It was a strong Vinyasa (flow) practice with lots of standing poses interspersed with some chatarangas and sun salutations. I felt really strong … much stronger than last week. But the leg stretches were really burning. I hate stretching my hammies. The running I’ve done for years gets me really tight in that area, and it hurts. But I know it’s important to keep them stretched or tight hammies will start to throw off my pelvis which throws off my lower back. In other words, hamstring stretching will help me avoid lower back pain as well as other stuff. So, I complied. But, I have to admit I snarled at the teacher a little bit.

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About 3/4 of the way through the class, she started adding on to the already painful stretches. She encouraged me to go into full Monkey Pose – otherwise known as a full split. Yeah … I don’t think so. I did the best I could with my hamstrings yanking on me and burning the whole time. I was really beginning to despise that little 20-something teacher. She was going on about how she couldn’t get fully into the pose, but she wasn’t nearly as far away from it as I was. Finally – after an eternity – she let me get up. Searing pain in my hamstrings and numbness in the rest of my leg told me I’d probably gone a little too far. I made a mental note to back off on the other side and not let her encourage me to push beyond my edge.

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After I did more intense hip opening and inner thigh stretches – to the point where I thought my legs would fall out of their sockets, we actually started moving into compass pose. I was thrilled that the preparation stuff was over, and we could finally do the pose and end this torture. We rocked the baby which felt really good. It consists of holding your lower calf in your arms and pretending it’s a baby. It feels really good to my outer hip. Just as I started to think things were turning around, she tells me to put my right knee over my right shoulder. What? I sort of got into that, but then she wanted me to add my arms into the mix, and I totally lost it. I called her a few choice names, and did the best I could. There may be a little too much freedom in doing yoga at home. I think I would have been kinder if I’d been in public. It wasn’t very yogic of me at all.

The full expression of the pose. I didn't get there.

The full expression of the pose. I didn’t get there.

When I went to bed, I was so tired that I fell fast asleep. It felt really good, but I was really sore the next day. Thursday I did Yoga Nidra instead of a movement class and then tonight I did a gentler vinyasa class that was still a bit challenging, but I managed to complete the class with a sense of dignity and with the teacher’s reputation intact.

I am sleeping better. I’m feeling a lot more flexible, and I feel a bit stronger. My arms feel like they are getting stronger faster than my legs, but it may be that the classes I’ve done tend to challenge my legs more. They’ve all had a lot of standing poses. I don’t feel as anxious, but it may be that I’ve not had a lot of anxiety-producing drama going on. Work has been pretty smooth, and I’ve not been traveling like I was. I’ve settled into a routine of walking Ashok in the morning, going to work and doing my yoga in the evening. Even my animals are starting to get the flow of things. They met me at my mat this evening.

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Yoga Challenge Day 10: Life Lessons from Yoga

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The yoga challenge continues. This week I’ve been doing more restorative classes. Over the weekend I ramped it up, but I haven’t been sleeping, so I’ve been doing restorative. Tonight, I hope to add another challenging class, but we’ll see how I feel when I get to my mat after work. In my Morning Pages this morning, I was writing about some challenges I have in my life right now, and I realized that all of the affirmations and advice I am giving myself are all things I learned first in yoga.

When I first started practicing yoga in 2000, I was a very different person. Well, I was probably the same person, but I had a very different approach to life. People laugh when I say I WAS Type A because they see me now as very Type A. But, I can assure you my Type A today is more of an A-  instead of the A+++ it was back then. I was competitive, edgy, snarky, hard-driving and completely and utterly miserable inside. Yoga provided a path to learn some hard lessons in a much softer way. I learned through my body and experience rather than someone telling me. I’m a bit hardheaded and telling me to do something is not nearly as effective as my learning it myself.

Some of the life lessons I learned in yoga are:

  • My mat is my personal space and sanctuary. It is defined, and it is mine. Don’t walk across other people’s mats, especially with your shoes on. If they tell you to join them on their mats, you can go but respect their personal space. Everything is vice versa.

Our pedicured toes.

  • Do not compare myself to others. I am where I am because of my life experiences. Yoga – and life – is a personal spiritual journey. Like one of my friends quotes, “There’s only one spiritual path, and everyone is on it.”
  • Respect my ‘edge.’ I will strengthen and improve by playing with my ‘edge’ but I can hurt myself going beyond it.
  • I can always rest in Child’s Pose.  It doesn’t have any other meaning except that I want to rest. No judgments.11111961_10153204912922770_3732936620956608850_n
  • Teachers – just because they may know more about some subjects – are not authority figures nor are they perfect or to be trusted unless proven trustworthy. Although yoga can be a spiritual path, not everyone has a spiritual agenda and not everything is sacred. Use my brain and gut to decipher what is safe.
  • Some days I need to be gentle with myself and other days I need to get out of my comfort zone. Neither is easier.
  • Often the hardest thing to do is to slow down and lean into the pain. It might be easier to rush through and push into power, but I learn to breath and to survive by allowing stillness.
  • All teachers have something splendid to offer if I just open my eyes to see it.
  • The magic is in the poses. When I was in teacher training, we all were freaking out because we were new and didn’t feel confident to be teachers. Our teacher, Katherine, assured us that this practice was thousands of years old, and the magic is not in the teacher. If we get students in the poses, the magic will happen. I learn by doing. My teacher is just a guide.
  • I approach my practice like I approach my life. If I’m getting injured or too tired by the yoga I practice, I’m probably doing that in my life. If I’m being lazy, well that fits too. And my approach to both changes all the time.
  • I evolve constantly. Where I evolve to is my choice and my journey, but I go one way or another. I don’t stand still.
  • The poses I avoid are often the ones I need the most. Enough said.

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  • Opening the heart can be all at once painful and glorious. After my second divorce I did a Camel Pose in class, and the tears and pain came bursting forth through my body like a cannon went off. All of the pain I’d been protecting myself from by closing my heart for years spilled onto my mat in a puddle of tears. It was a glorious release.
  • Tiny adjustments to alignment can make a huge difference. Rotate your inner thigh out … focus on releasing the psoas … breathe into your hip. I was struggling with getting my balance in Half Moon Pose, and a teacher told us to engage the groin muscle and roll up and out with that muscle. OMG … immediately I was up and strong. It was that tiny awareness that made all of the difference.
  • Honor your body’s wisdom. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. You’re not pleasing anybody else by not following your own lead. Your body knows a lot more than you think it does.
  • Keep moving and feeling. Our bodies hold emotions from past experiences, and when we open through yoga, we release those held emotions.  I always want to be living in the emotions of today not jumbled up with emotional baggage from years past. Don’t be afraid to feel them and let them go.
  • It’s not about me… it’s about the yoga. You can approach yoga as a great exercise class or embrace the hundred other great things it does for your nervous system, awareness, presence and energy. It doesn’t matter how you approach it. The magic is in the poses.
  • Turn things upside down. When times are really rough … or boring … or out of whack, do an inversion and turn everything upside down for a minute. It makes you aware that you are wonderfully alive, and new blood and energy flows to places that need it. Just make sure you have support in place! It can be dangerous!
  • The breath is truly the life force. It is with the first breath that we come alive and the last that we die. How do we take it for granted all of that time in between? Nurture it, pay attention to it and use it sail through difficulties with more ease.
  • One is not a lonely number. It is often a lot of fun to practice yoga in a class with others, but it is entirely different and lovely experience to practice solo, to listen to my own breath, to watch the stars go by with only myself as the witness and to honor my own internal voice as my greatest teacher.

What lessons have you learned from yoga? I’d love to hear them!

Alternative Living: Shipping Container Homes

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This one from Jeston Green starts at $39,000

When I sat down last year with my financial planner brother, we were discussing retirement plans and my fear that I wouldn’t have enough. He told me that 75% of Baby Boomers only have $25,000 in savings. And I have several friends – most of us single – who are worried about having enough to retire comfortably. We joke about just working until we die, but I know that we don’t want to. I know I’ve still got 10 years or so left to work, and I plan to really be saving and making headway during that time.

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Interior of one on tinyhousetalk.com

I told him I was worried about some of my friends who did not have the luxury of working for companies with 401Ks and having enough salary to chunk away 8-12% from an early age like I did. Apparently, the key was to start saving early, and I did. I don’t know how I did because I’m not much of a planner when it comes to money, but my Dad’s fear about money and insurance kept me scared enough to listen to my HR folks when they said I’d be throwing away money from the company if I didn’t participate in a 401K. Now, I’m seeing how smart that was.

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One piece I still have missing though, is equity in a home. I will need to buy a condo or something soon with a 15 year mortgage in order to get it paid off. A 30-year mortgage would get me to 84, so I’m not sure how helpful that would be, although it would be better than what I have now. Time will tell what I can do. So, when my brother and I were talking about me and my friends, and I was talking about housing, he said I’d just have to get creative. Creative? I was thinking Golden Girls, and that certainly may be the ticket. But he told me about these container homes that people are building. He showed me some pictures of these sustainable, durable and cost-effective homes built from shipping containers like those on trains.

Beautiful Homes Made Out of Shipping Containers

I was blown away by the creativity of these homes. They could be tiny houses or you could use several containers and make really big houses. They are affordable and adaptable. And they are definitely environmentally sustainable. All of those are on my list. It’s got me thinking about finding a pretty spot somewhere in the mountains and creating a commune with my girlfriends. We could build a common area from a shipping container or two with kitchen and living room and then maybe surround it with our separate domiciles for sleeping and a kitchenette or studio. We’d have our privacy, but we could also hang out and be a family when we wanted to. Plus, if we wanted to have a yoga studio in a shipping container, it would be a great fit.

Watch Tim Steele Design build one onsite.

I can’t wait to see what other trends happen by the time I retire. It gives me hope that I won’t be living in a hovel or in an area of town that sucks just because I’m not loaded. Who would have ever thought of a shipping container? Perhaps being trailer trash won’t be such a bad way to go out!

Here’s a link to more spectacular container homes!

Sunday Night Check-In: Hanging In

05100cca76926e973614334fbbb5f72d72e337-wmI did my yoga practice this morning. It felt particularly good. I loved the teacher. I loved the poses. I loved the opening it created. I’m glad I did it because my day required groundedness and lots of compassion for others and myself. I suppose every day requires that, but I’m not always able to give it like I’d like to. My ego and insecurities get in the way. I hate that I’m not perfect. I hate that I’m not even close to perfect. But, I guess if only perfect people can throw stones, there’s not a lot of stones coming my way. I just need to keep on going and trying to be a better human every day. I’m better than I was 20 years ago, so I guess that’s something. I have to say I’m sorry less and less, but it’s still a big part of my vocabulary. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

I’m going to call it an early night. An epsom salt bath is calling my name, and I hope it helps me sleep. Send some prayers my way, will ya? I’ll send some right back to you. Pray for nothing in particular … He knows what I need.

Good night, y’all. I hope you have a great week.

Yoga Challenge: Days 5 & 6 – Acknowledge and Celebrate the Work Done Thus Far

Yesterday, I was really tired. You know the kind of tired where you can hardly move without hurting? I felt like that. I had to be at work at 7 AM, and the day felt really long. I got home, took a little nap and still didn’t feel refreshed. So, I made myself a deal that if I did a restorative yoga class last night, then I would do a challenging class today. I have to tell you that last night’s class was yummy. I actually did two classes. The first class was a restorative class with bolsters and long holdings utilizing gravity to hold the poses. There was no effort. There was no pain. There was just pure supported comfort. After I finished that, I did a 35 minute Yoga Nidra with Rod Stryker. He has this amazing, sexy voice, and it literally transported me into another dimension. I slept like a baby and didn’t get up until late this morning. I felt so rested. Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 5.53.23 PMThe deal was that today I would do something challenging. I was actually still sore this morning. Yesterday I was really sore. Doing yoga 4 days in a row is exercise whether I like to think of it that way or not. I prefer to think of it as a mind-body wellness practice, but yoga builds a lot of strength and is even good for cardiovascular health with the right practices. So, for my challenging class, I picked a practice that focused on one of my favorite yoga poses, Wheel or Upward-Facing Bow.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 5.50.02 PMWhen I first started practicing yoga in 2000, I was obsessed with Wheel Pose. I saw a picture of it, and I was drawn to learning how to do it. I practiced and practiced at home. I didn’t have the strength in my arms. I didn’t have the flexibility in my back. I finally build up enough strength and flexibility to do it, and then I took a teacher training class and learned I was doing it all wrong. Luckily, I still had the strength, so it was a matter of learning to do it the right way. I’m surprised and pleased that I never hurt myself. As good as yoga is for you, you can definitely get hurt. Any teacher that tries to get you into inversions or deep backbends as a beginner might be a dangerous teacher. Any pose that is centered around your spine doing things it doesn’t normally do should only be done under the guidance of a good teacher. I’ll get off my soapbox. You can find out more about Wheel Pose at YogaJournal.com

Rod, the instructor from YogaDownload.com and today's practice, leading the model through the practice.

Rod, the instructor from YogaDownload.com and today’s practice, leading the model through the practice.

Today’s class took me through a Vinyasa (where one pose flows into another) practice warming up my body and my back for Wheel. It was really challenging. I found myself shaking through the whole second half of the class. Along with the shaking, I was trying hard not to beat myself up. Why did you stop doing yoga? You used to do this without any problem. I had to really work against my tendency to push myself beyond where I needed to go in the poses. It worked. I didn’t beat myself up too badly, and I was still strong enough to do Wheel Pose twice before collapsing into an amazingly restful Savasana.

Upward-Facing Bow (Wheel Pose)

Photo from YogaJournal.com

Photo from YogaJournal.com

One of my girlfriends called me just as I finished my practice. She told me that she had a terrible bike accident yesterday. She was bruised up, hurting and more than a bit scared about riding her bike again. I said I was sorry, and she told me that wasn’t why she called. She said, “You will be so proud of me.” This morning she had gotten up afraid of riding her bike again and hurting from being banged up. “I told myself that I was not going to let myself give up. Riding my bike is good for me, and it will make me feel better and maybe even help me sleep. So, I got back on and rode it again!” she excitedly said. I was proud of her. What an amazing thing she did for herself.

Later, I started thinking about how I practiced yoga steadily for about 5 years. I was really strong. I could do most of the inversions. I felt comfortable in my physical body, and I loved the practice. Then I started resisting practice more and more. Since then, it’s been on again and off again. I complained about myself to a yoga teacher one day, and he said that’s why they call it a ‘practice’. We don’t have to be perfect. How I practice my yoga is a metaphor for how I live my life. I don’t do it perfectly. Sometimes I’m weaker or lazier than others. Sometimes, I just hide and don’t show up at all. Other times, I am courageous and get back at it again. Just like my friend, I have to just keep getting back on the mat. It’s not whether or not I do it well that matters. What matters is that I keep going back at it to take care of myself.

Alex, the teacher from last night’s yummy class, kept urging me to repeat, “I acknowledge and celebrate the work done thus far.” I loved the way that phrase felt in my psyche and in my soul. I’ve lived 54 years in this lifetime. I’ve done a lot of work. I’ve married and divorced. I’ve moved across country several times. I’ve failed at relationships – all kinds. I’ve succeeded at relationships – all kinds. I’ve built at least two long-term careers in different fields. I’ve been good and bad and everything in between. While my body was lovingly folded into itself yesterday evening, I truly did acknowledge and celebrate the work I’d done thus far. And in today’s practice, I acknowledged and celebrated the work that is yet to be done.

Right now, it’s time for dinner. I’m having crawfish pie and roasted green beans. I’m having a celebration … and I have 6 days of yoga to thank for it. Namaste, y’all. It’s a Louisiana Saturday Night, for sure.

Yoga Challenge Day 4: It’s Been a Long Day

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It’s been a long day. I had to work, pick up my CSA box in the Garden District, cook dinner and then head to the library for the Artist’s Way group. I had already planned that I’d do a short wind-down yoga practice after the Artist’s Way because I wanted to walk Ashok this morning early.

I chose a class called “It’s Been a Long Day” off YogaDownload.com. Celeste, the teacher, was enthusiastic and led me through some gentle stretching to work out the kinks from sitting all day. It felt really yummy, and I feel ready for bed. I just wanted to check in and say that Day 4 of my 30-days of yoga is complete.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.38.21 PMI also wanted to share that there is an Earth Day Sale going on at YogaDownload.com. You can get my 2009 renewal price of $60 per year until April 23. I have to say I’m liking this site. It’s only yoga, so you have to be into yoga, but they do have some power yoga practices as well as meditation, gentle and beginner classes. What have you got to lose?

Namaste and good night, y’all. Tomorrow is FRIDAY!!!

Yoga Challenge: Day 3 – One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

Screenshot courtesy of YogaJournal.com

Screenshot courtesy of YogaJournal.com

I didn’t sleep well last night. I slept better than Monday night, but I was up at 3:30 AM this morning. I promised myself that the next time I had insomnia I would get up and do a meditation rather than laying in the bed tossing and turning. It just makes me anxious, and I start associating the bed with NOT sleeping. So, I got up and completed a Yoga Nidra practice. Since it was yoga, I could’ve checked that off as my yoga practice, but I really wanted to practice tonight in a more physical way. Besides, it might help me to sleep better tonight.

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Photo courtesy of Yoga Download.

My friend and fellow blogger, Tara Mae, decided to join me in the challenge, and she joined Yogis Anonymous for her classes. I used to be a member of Yoga Download when online yoga first came out. It began with audio only which I liked because I could keep focused internally rather than watching an instructor. They eventually went to video, and I opted out of it. I got curious about what is out there these days, and so today I went looking. I googled ‘best online yoga classes’ and found an article on About.com that had several reviews. You can view the article here. The first site I went to had photos of the yoga teachers on the home page. The first photo I saw was a picture of the yoga teacher who had an affair with my second husband at the end of our marriage. Ugh … I’m not joining that one. I watched the start of one of her videos just to make sure that she is not aging as well as I am – she’s not – and moved on to the next site.

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Screenshot of tonight’s class

I finally decided to go with my old site Yoga Download because they seemed to have really upgraded their selection and had a couple of my favorite teachers, Ana Forrest and Les Leventhal, in their line-up. I got to renew with my 2009 cost, so I joined for $60 per year. The current rate is $90 per year, so it’s still not bad.

Les Leventhal’s Class in San Francisco … His class is HOT and so is he!!

Tonight, I came home and chose a backbending class. I thought maybe it might give me some energy and help with my somewhat low mood. I loved the teacher, Channing Grivas. She had such a soft voice and gave such gentle and steady instruction. My strength was good but not quite good enough to do every pose. I used the modifications, and I was able to get through the class. My knees were creaking a bit, and I hope as I continue to practice and get stronger, they will be more stable. My flexibility seems to be really good. I really enjoyed the class for it’s backbends and hip-openers. We did lots of low lunges combined with heart opening backbends. I felt really stretched out and loose by the time we laid down in Savasana.

One of my favorite moves we did tonight was Pigeon Pose. It has always been one of my favorite poses. Running keeps my hips tight, and I love that this pose uses gravity and my own body weight to move me further in the pose. Sometimes I’m so tight it hurts a bit, but tonight I felt really good from the previous hip-openers we did. I never push myself past where I need to be. I learned a long time ago that yoga is about playing with my edge – not pushing past it. After sitting slumped over a computer all day, the combination of hip-openers and backbends felt really good.

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Variation of King Pigeon’s Pose from tonight’s class. I was somewhere in between the two of them in completing the pose. I’ll get back to the full pose again someday!

You can learn more about the One-Legged King Pigeon Pose in this Yoga Journal article. It has other amazing benefits to the body beyond just feeling good. Namaste, y’all. Let me know how your practice is going if you are in the challenge. I’ve heard from a couple of people already.

Yoga Challenge: Camel Pose or Ustrasana

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I just want to do a brief post about my second day of the yoga challenge. I couldn’t fall asleep last night, but I was determined to do yoga this morning. I got up at my usual 5 AM and turned on my computer. The mouse battery was dead. Does the universe conspire to test my resolve? I had to pull batteries out of a flashlight in order to get my mouse working.

I tuned in to Melissa’s Vinyasa Yoga class on Live Streaming Fitness. She’s about 8 months pregnant but taught an awesome flow class. It was intermediate to beginner but very good and just what I needed. I was sore from the practice on Saturday and the one on Monday, so it felt good to move. Jessica encouraged me to post a pose each day for people to read. I have 4 friends who are percolating on the challenge, and I know at least one practiced today! Yeah, Nancy!

Anyway, I want to feature Camel Pose today because Melissa led me through it this morning, and Teresa led me through it yesterday. Click here for Yoga Journal’s info on the pose. It’s a great backbend, but people with lower back problems should follow the instructions below to modify. Backbending opens the heart which many yogis say will cure depression. I have to say that it helps me. I love backbends. They wake me up, keep my spine flexible and feel really good!

Enjoy! And I hope you’ll join the yoga challenge. You can make it what you want. Do one pose a day … one class a day … learn about yoga… I don’t care. It’s your practice. It’s not perfect, that’s why it’s called a practice. Namaste.

Camel Pose