fitness · yoga

Workplace wellness extending to the nursery

Last week I saw this video by the BBC about London’s youngest yogis. A yoga program for small children is being piloted in some London nursery day care centers, with the goal of providing the tots with inner strength for battling the stresses of modern city life in the 21st century.  Here’s what it looks like:

Toddlers on yoga mats, crouching and standing, one with head between knees.
Toddlers on yoga mats, crouching and standing, one with head between knees.

Honestly, to me it looks like any day at any nursery with any group of kids.  When they have a space which allows it, children regularly move around every which way.

But this is movement with a purpose.

The purpose, according to the CEO of a nursery company in the UK, is to address the lack of feelings of stability, of calm, of safety in a sometimes-dangerous and mostly-urban world. She says in the video,

Where do children get quiet? Where do children just get a time to be? Where do children get space, just to feel safe and able to just do a deep breath? 

The idea, it seems, is to institute a playplace wellness program at nurseries to help kiddos identify when they’re feeling sad or mad or upset or stressed, and to teach them movements (kiddy yoga and other things) to address those feelings.

We’ve written about workplace wellness programs on this blog before. Here are some of them:

Work, wellness, and weighty matters by Natalie

Problems with workplace wellness programs: where do I start? by Catherine (me)

There are also numerous posts about team step challenges and other sorts of workplace challenges by Tracy, Sam and others. Here’s a new one:

New job, new fitness challenge?#uoguelph by Sam

What’s the tl:dr version of all these posts? For individuals in particular workplace challenge programs, mileage varies.  Some find that them fun, and others find them stressful or interfering with their regular physical activity routine.

Looking at them in general, though, there are a number of problems.  First, they don’t actually seem to work— that is, they don’t tend to result in increased health among workers enrolled in the programs. Second, and more worrisome, is that many of the causes of stress and ill health are found in the workplace itself– long hours, uncompensated duties, no accommodation for life issues, short vacation time, lack of control over work time, etc.  Fixing those features of work life will make a world of difference (as opposed to offering a 7am meditation class in the conference room before work).

But back to the London tots and the word of that CEO. Where do children get space to move, breath, play, rest, and enjoy life?  How about in their homes, in their schools, in parks in their neighborhoods, in museums and playgrounds and pools and lakes and beaches and woods?  That is what we need to be working on and identifying and speaking out about.  Creating little zones of mini-serenity for children isn’t going to fool them into thinking the world is a happy-go-lucky place. Let’s get working on making neighborhoods safer, housing better, jobs more plentiful and better-paying, and healthcare more accessible for all.

I know, I know– these are all idealistic and massively difficult goals.  But so is doing this:

A woman in a balancing pose with one leg behind her head and the other against her right arm, in the air. Yeah.
A woman in a balancing pose with one leg behind her head and the other against her right arm, in the air. Yeah.

Some goals are very very very hard, but worth working toward. Even small progress in this respect makes a difference.

Guest Post · swimming · team sports

Women for Water Research Swim Trans Tahoe Relay (Guest Post)

Here’s a post by Roberta M on her relay swim of Lake Tahoe (whoa– isn’t that water really cold? Read more to find out).

On Saturday, July 21, I had the opportunity to join five other UC Davis-affiliated women to swim the Trans Tahoe Relay.  The Trans Tahoe Relay serves as a fundraiser for Keep Tahoe Blue, but we also swam to support the  Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) and the Center for Watershed Sciences (CWS).  The day was sunny, the water was cool, clear, and refreshing, the mountains ringing the lake were beautiful.  It was an exhilarating, fun, tiring, and fulfilling day.

Just to give a sense of size of the lake and its surroundings, here I am with my guard poodles at a Lake Tahoe overlook in August 2014.
Just to give a sense of size of the lake and its surroundings, here I am with my guard poodles at a Lake Tahoe overlook in August 2014.

 

The Trans Tahoe Relay is a race that crosses the northern end of Lake Tahoe from east to west at a part of the lake where it is 10 miles wide.  (The lake overall is approximately 22 miles long and 12 miles wide – it’s a very large and deep lake!).  Teams are composed of six swimmers each, with a support boat.  (We owe big thanks to TERC for providing us with a boat and to TERC’s director, Geoff Schladow, for piloting the boat).  The rules are that each swimmer swims for 30 minutes, and then takes turn swimming 10 minutes each, until the 10 miles is completed.  On our team, after our first leg each of us did two 10-minute legs, with two members of the team doing a third 10-minute leg.  So, we didn’t break any speed records, but we were happy with our result anyway!

Our boat for the day arriveth! We were very grateful to have the use of the TERC boat.
Our boat for the day arriveth! We were very grateful to have the use of the TERC boat.

 

We didn’t all know each other before the race, but we were brought together by our love of swimming and our passion for the environment, with each of us doing research in an environmentally-related field.  (My own areas of research encompass philosophy of evolution and ecology as well as environmental ethics).

Here we are, the swim team, plus vital support folks, on our boat, all smiling.
Here we are, the swim team, plus vital support folks, on our boat, all smiling.

I’ve done a number of open water swims, including one at nearby Donner Lake (2.7 miles), but this was my first relay, so I didn’t know what to expect.  In some ways it was very much the same.  You’re in the water, it’s often a little cold (we were told to expect 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, but thankfully it was more like high 60s), and you’re just trying to stay focused, keep your pace up, keep going.   In other ways, though, it was very different.  In most open water swims, you feel very much alone, and that can be part of the challenge, to be “in your head” for such a long period of time.  But here all you had to do was pick up your head to see the boat and your teammates, so you never felt alone.

Getting ready for the tag and switching of swimmers.
Getting ready for the tag and switching of swimmers.

 

And whereas my best time for the Donner Lake swim had me in the water for an hour and 23 minutes (and that was drafting like mad), here the swim was broken up into segments.  In some ways that made it harder, as muscles tightened between swims and then were forced to be used again, but it also made it less mentally challenging because you knew that your time in the water was a limited, manageable chunk.

Still smiling, even after my 30-minute leg of the swim. Warm swim coat courtesy of my sister and nephew.
Still smiling, even after my 30-minute leg of the swim. Warm swim coat courtesy of my sister and nephew.

 

But I’ve left out one really big difference between a relay and a solitary open water swim: the time in between swims.  Here whichever five swimmers who were not in the water got to hang out on the boat.  We talked about swimming – how much swimming we’d done in the past, how much we were able to fit into our busy schedules now.  We talked about our research, and learned about the interesting projects that each of us was engaged in.  We ate snacks and recovered between each swim.  And we encouraged each other and cheered each other on.  No one worried about our time or how fast each person was going (something that is in any case impossible to tell without a GPS).  Instead, we enjoyed the day, enjoyed each other’s company, and swam for a good cause.  We were a true team.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.  2019, perhaps?

Almost at the end, now!
Almost at the end, now!

 

Roberta M is a professor in the Philosophy Department at UC Davis, specializing in philosophy of biology and environmental ethics. She enjoys walking with her poodles, swimming with Davis Aquatic Masters, and her 10-minute bicycle commute to campus.

aging · cycling · fitness

And whoosh, I am carried forward! on needing and getting a throttle (guest post)

Dear readers, I’m delighted to share with you one of my favorite posts by one of my favorite bloggers, Coach Aruni.  I took her mindfulness in eating course at Kripalu in western Massachusetts, and she gave me some tools for thinking differently about body image, self-acceptance, self-love and eating in more satisfying ways (to me).

This re-post from her newsletter and link to her blog is about bikes, e-bikes, and the joy and freedom of movement on two wheels. Enjoy!

Aruni and friend, small kids with big bikes and big adventures in mind.
Aruni and friend, small kids with big bikes and big adventures in mind.

Biking was freedom. As I kid, I couldn’t get home from my school, John James Audubon #42, fast enough to shed my school clothes and wiggle into my play clothes. Dragging my bike out of the cellar, up into the back yard, awkwardly sprinting with it through the narrow walkway separating our house from Mrs. Eisner’s next door, with the two sitting lions guarding her entry, onto the street, Arthur Avenue, and whoosh, into Nay Aug Park, across from our house. I would lose myself in the spiraling bumpy paved paths there, biking and weaving and pretending I was a Royal Canadian Mountie, out to save the beautiful damsel in distress. (It was my era of Sargent King of the Yukon—I was infatuated with the uniform.) School, it’s stressors, my aloneness, my stuttering, all faded as I biked onward, peddling toward glory and that well-earned kiss.

As childhood passed, my biking receded, as did my obsession with the uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounties. Time and life went by. It all changed.

However, once in the ashram, biking had its resurgence. We were an active lot back then and my then- fantasy-crush, my now-wife-of-decades, was one of the most active of all us “sisters”. Biking, hiking, swimming, we were committed to the unity of body, mind, and spirt. The Berkshire Hills were not daunting for me; fueled by sisterhood, spiritual longing, carnal lust, and a plain, ordinary desire to fit in, I biked and biked on.

While courting and married, biking continued its role as primary activity in our burgeoning family life, the hub of vacations, amazing day trips, great adventures big and small. This continued for a long while, years upon years, until it didn’t.

It all changed. Why does it shock me when things change? Everything always does.

My wife hurt her knee. I tried biking that first summer without her. It didn’t stick; I missed walking the dogs and being in the family unit. Solo-pleasure seemed unwarranted, undeserved. A few more bike-less summers passed. I got older and slower, with less energy. I hurt my shoulder. We got a new president. I gained weight. Blah-blah. And blah. Not only was there no biking, there didn’t live in me the willingness to take the risk and get out of there and try. I knew I was no longer able to—to what? To get up the hills? To feel that free in my body? To relax into that level of bliss?

The Berkshires Hills were now, for me at sixty-eight, truly daunting.

Until Boomer. Who is Boomer, you might wonder? Boomer is my one-month-old bike-friend, my new e-bike. E stands for electric; she, unlike me, is fueled by a battery. When I need the assist in moving forward, in getting up the hill, both literal and metaphoric, I put slight pressure on the throttle, and WOOSH, I am carried forward.

I now have a throttle. I didn’t even know that I needed one. A friend initiated me into the world of the e-bike. I had no clue about my need or any potential response or solution.

Realizing I now have an externally provided throttle is my fighting back against aging, giving my middle finger to mortality; nothing can stop me now. I’ve had a profound month, biking around, getting use to Boomer’s larger, stockier frame and relaxing into my relationship to that amazing apparatus, the throttle. Initially I had some shame; some still lingers. She’s so Cute, that bike, so fancy and upscale. Shouldn’t I be able to do It all myself? Obviously, the answer is simple. No. I need help.

I can ask for help. Clearly, I need it. I didn’t realize how vulnerable and tentative I have felt, so distant from accessing the energy of moving up the hills of my life. But now, there is a throttle. As I engage it, support is right there, at my fingertips.

Why is it so hard to acknowledge change? How come asking for help often doesn’t even exist on our radar? What strategies can we use to imagine creating support, manifesting an “external throttle” to get up the steep slopes of our lives? Please come on over to this week’s blog as we explore this arena of life. At the blog, too, you’ll find a of picture of Boomer and me in our new partnership, sixty years after the above picture of me in the land of Biking Bliss, 1956. I also will post a snap from this morning’s glorious Berkshire ride. (here it is!)

Aruni and Boomer, a big red bike and her new two-wheeled partner in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.
Aruni and Boomer, a big red bike and her new two-wheeled partner in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts.

 

Aruni is a writer, teacher/facilitator, and life coach. You can read more about her and from her on her blog here.

cycling · fitness

Two great things go great together: feminist philosophy and bikes

Since Wednesday night, I’ve been in Corvallis, OR at a feminist philosophy conference called FEMMSS– Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies, Metaphysics, and Science Studies.  The theme this year is Navigating Habitats: feminist explorations of disability, climates, ecosystems, and technologies.  It ends Saturday (for me– I’m taking a dreaded redeye home to Boston, wearing my new travel compression socks!)

The main conference events– talks and panels and workshops and keynote– have been throughly engrossing, informative, provocative and fun. But wait, there’s more.  The conference organizers included some late afternoon activities to help us unwind, relax, and shift gears (in my case, literally). In addition to late afternoon yoga on the grass (which I engaged in on Friday), there was a basics of bike repair workshop. Run by me.

End-of-conference-day bike repair workshop.  Okay, cool, but isn’t that a bit random?

Not entirely.

This idea popped up when a friend posted on Facebook that she had dropped her bike chain and needed help to replace it.  A bunch of people posted, some offering to go to her house to fix it for her.  I posted to say that if I lived in her town (we live in different countries), I’d show her how to replace the chain (which is done in a jiffy). We chatted a bit, and it turned out she was not coming to the FEMMSS conference.

Then it occurred to me:  maybe there are other feminist philosophers in need of some bike maintenance tips, which are hard to explain over the internet but easy-peasy in person. Thus was born the idea of the conference bike repair workshop.

Attending were a small but enthusiastic group of four (and then two hardcore folks).  We went over how and how often to put air in tires (how often? optimally before every ride, but at least once a week).  Then I demonstrated how to change a tire. It requires tire levers (I carry three with me just in case the tire is tough to remove from the rim), a pump (I had a floor pump with me, but a small one will do, or you can use CO2), and some oomph and determination. I’m not linking to any particular youtube video here, as I haven’t screened them, but check them out.  And then find a friend or local bike shop person to show you.  In my view, in person is the best way.

For me, the movements involved in changing a tire are always the same.  When I talked to the local bike shop– Peak Sports in Corvallis— the folks I talked to all agreed that the process is kind of ritualistic.  But of course it’s easily teachable, and practice makes it a routine thing to do.

I want to take a moment here to express my gratitude to Peak Sports for lending me a road bike, floor pump and tire levers FOR FREE to do this workshop.  All just because I called them and asked about borrowing these things.  I didn’t even have to leave a credit card– just ID info.  I love this so much– their friendly, open, happy-to-help attitude.  Thanks Russ and Greg and the others I talked to!

After the demo, feminist philosopher Stephanie offered to try it herself. With a little bit of direction, she got it done.  Of course.

Then feminist philosopher Cate wanted to know about buying a road bike. We talked about price, sizing, saddles (pro tip: throw away the saddle it comes with and buy your own after trying a bunch of them) and fitting (my advice: get a fitting– you’ll be very happy you did).

Here are some pics, mainly of me gesturing about chains, and then trying not mess up the (inexplicably) white saddle with my bike-grease-covered hands.  I wore all black that day with the bike repair workshop in mind.

It was so much fun to share two of my favorite things– feminist philosophy and bikes– with other like-minded folks. Thanks so much to the organizers of the FEMMSS conference (especially you, Shari!).  Next conference:  organized bike ride! You heard it here first…

 

 

 

fitness · holiday fitness

Fitness processes in high summer– a happy jumble

At the beginning of this year I listed a bunch of activity and fitness plans.  I won’t bother linking to the page, as nothing really went as planned.  Life, menopause and fitness– all zigged and zagged in unexpected (to me) ways.  I know you all want to get back to the business of wringing as much as possible out of the remaining days of summer, so let’s get down to business.

What didn’t happen: the plan that my making specific physical activity goals would somehow of its own accord lead to enough training for me to complete them.

I planned some charity rides this summer (including the PWA Friends for Life ride that Sam and Sarah are doing as I type), but I just wasn’t ready for them. I’ve been cycling often since spring, but have found I’m traversing a much slower fitness curve this year. I’m talking really slow. At this point in the summer I can comfortably ride 30–35 miles (up to 60k), and can push it a bit further, but that’s it for right now.

What did happen: many opportunities opened up for varied activities with friends and family, and I rediscovered the joy and utility of daily yoga (for the nth time– someone needs to remind me that this is always a good thing for me).

I’ve been enjoying my new cycling pattern immensely.  My friend Pata and I do weekly Friday coffee rides– ride to coffee shop, sometimes picking up other friends on the way, and then out to the country for a nice ride. I bike commute for errands around town several times a week. I’ve also done lots of slower, shorter-distance riding with friends and family.  My niece Grace told me yesterday that renting beach bikes on our family vacation was the most fun thing she’s done this summer.  Big win!

This summer of fitness has been one of group and friendly activities that I don’t normally do, but love love love, if I can do them at a pace that feels non-life-threatening. Take hiking– I went on a few hikes in the Arizona desert in summer with my friends Don and Kay, and they were satisfying and fun (if rather sweaty).  Norah and I are going to do some new England hiking (hear that, Norah? :-)) this fall. At my pace. This I can sign onto gladly.

My trip to Arizona gave me another fitness present: yin yoga.  I found a cute storefront funky inexpensive yoga place that had yin yoga classes, and I happily sunk into them, stretching and relaxing and releasing. I’m planning to try out some yin yoga in Boston, but for now have found some nice youtube classes.

Finally, my level of fitness and drive has put me in the mood for home organization and projects. I’ve been moving furniture in and out, doing work on my porch, tending to plants, and starting some painting projects. All of this is making me feel good, opening up paths for more happy activity– physical, mental, creative, and domestic.

Which is my idea of a perfect summer– a happy jumble of fun.

How is your summer of activity going?  Any surprises?  I’d love to hear from you.

aging · fitness

Drinking vs. exercise for longer life: check the fine print, please

Popular news outlets just cannot let much time go by without publishing a story about some way to live longer.  For a while now, we’ve been seeing news articles touting the benefits of alcohol consumption to reduce mortality risk for heart disease, cancers and other causes of death. Here’s US News and World Report, in an article from the winter:

Study: drinking alcohol more important than exercise to living past 90. Instead of an apple a day, try a glass of wine.
Study: drinking alcohol more important than exercise to living past 90. Instead of an apple a day, try a glass of wine.

Whoa.  Is this true?

Of course not!
Of course not!

But but but— why did they publish this?

I don’t have a good answer to that question, other than “it was close to the deadline, and someone wanted a catchy headline”. But here is another question: what does the research mentioned in the article actually say?

Ah, that one I can handle. There’s a big study, called The 90+ study,  that is following a cohort of 90-plus year-olds to try to find out what allows people to live to 90 years and beyond. Here are a couple of  things they have found so far:

  • People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol OR COFFEE lived longer than those who abstained.
  • People who were overweight in their 70s lived LONGER THAN normal or underweight people did.

The news article also mentions that the researchers found that taking up a hobby or doing REGULAR EXERCISE contributed to longer life. Hmmm… I thought the headline said that drinking alcohol was more important than exercise.

This is why we gotta read the fine print. Or in this case, just the actual print of the article.

Feel free to stop reading here if you have other things to do.  I feel duty-bound to add a few technical bits — TL:DR version is “science is complicated”.

technical bit one: There is a totes legit controversy in health research over the question of whether light alcohol consumption reduces all-cause mortality. Some recent fancy meta-analyses say yes, and other recent ones say that, when you fix the methodological problems with the studies, no. If you want to dive into this, start here and here and here.

technical bit two: There is totes legit unanimity among everyone even remotely connected to health care and research that engaging in physical activity reduces all-cause mortality.  This is true regardless of, well, anything. No matter who you are, where you live, etc., physical activity confers longevity benefits.

technical bit three: in science, when we find some association between A and B, we feel more comfortable asserting it if we have some underlying theory that helps explain why A and B are associated. For instance, ice cream sales go up in summertime.  This makes sense– it’s warmer outside, people are going out for recreation, and ice cream places tend to be conveniently located near recreation areas (or so it seems to me, as I pass at least 4 yummy ice cream stands on my road rides).  Here is one of them– I love their retro charming facade:

Windows at old-fashioned ice cream  place along the route of one of my road rides. Yes I do stop sometimes.
Windows at old-fashioned ice cream place along the route of one of my road rides. Yes I do stop sometimes.

But as far as I can tell, researchers don’t have a theory for why light alcohol consumption would lengthen life. By the way, this isn’t just wine– the results are for any kind of alcohol.  Even the main researcher for the 90+ study, Dr. Claudia Kawas, was quoted in that news article as saying this:

“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas said in her keynote address.

On the other hand, we have loads and loads of scientific theory explaining the myriad ways in which exercise confers longevity.  Or, as this article puts it:

A plethora of epidemiologic evidence from large studies supports unequivocally an inverse, independent, and graded association between volume of physical activity, health, and cardiovascular and overall mortality.

So where does this leave us?  Well, science will do its thing and we will find out more about aging, activity, eating, disease and mortality risk, etc., in due course. In the meantime, my money’s on physical activity, because it’s fun for me and it seems to make me feel good in the moment (at least a lot of the time), and in general (most of the time). It’s your call.

Two women crouching, preparing to run.  One has white hair, and one has dark hair.
Two women crouching, preparing to run. One has white hair, and one has dark hair.

 

fitness · yoga

A week of more yin, less yang

This week I’ve been in Tucson, Arizona on a work trip.  Two colleagues and I are developing a paper on discriminatory speech and weight concern trolling– e.g. when health care folks urge weight loss, saying “I only care about your health”.  And so on.  This is a prime entry point for fat shaming, and we’ve blogged a lot about it.

But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about today.  I’m here to spread the word on the joys of yin. Yin yoga, to be exact.  Or maybe yin in general.  I’m not sure, but hoping it becomes clear by the end of this post.

Starting at the beginning (of the week): I flew into Tucson from Boston on Monday night late, and woke up early Tuesday, jet lagged and not well slept. I had arranged for delivery of a rental road bike by 7:30am, so I could ride before it got beastly hot. However, the delivery folks had a problem, and I was wide awake and without bike.

Looking around online, I found a cute downtown Tucson storefront studio called Tucson Yoga.  They had a gentle Yin yoga class for 9am.  Perfect!  Even though I don’t really know what yin yoga is, it sounded relaxing and soothing for my jet-lagged self.

What is yin yoga? Here’s what one yoga website has to say about it:

Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, opposite and complementary principles in nature. Yin is the stable, unmoving, hidden aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving, revealing aspect. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues(tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.

A Yin yoga class usually consists of a series of long-held, passive floor poses that mainly work the lower part of the body – the hips, pelvis, inner thighs, lower spine. These areas are especially rich in connective tissues. The poses are held for up to five minutes, sometimes longer.

You might think, hmmm– I wonder if this is for me.  Well, here’s your answer:

Yin yoga is for you if you are tired and craving energy or you’re over-stimulated and have too much energy; if your mind is overactive or your energy levels erratic.

Right.  This means yin yoga is for everyone.  I was certainly in a slow-down mood that morning.  So I headed over to this lovely little studio, and walked in.

The storefront of Tucson Yoga, complete with serene sun and mountain mural.
The storefront of Tucson Yoga, complete with serene sun and mountain mural.

The place consisted of one long room, with a registration desk and IKEA cubbies for storing stuff at one end. We all got our mats, blocks, bolsters and blankets, and set up. I didn’t even realize it until my second yin yoga class this week, but this studio doesn’t have air conditioning!  They left the front and back doors open, and there was a very nice summer breeze.  That, along with ceiling fans, made the temperature perfect, even in July in Arizona.  Amazing.

Back to class: we started with a guided centering meditation, and then moved to various seated or lying-down poses.  We did some twists, some forward folds, some chest opening poses, and other non-demanding moves.  The difference was that we stayed in those positions for several minutes at a time. This deepened the feelings of stretching, and for me, allowed me to sink into the pose and really relax.  This pose below is my new favorite relaxing yoga position:

A person lying down on a mat with a block under their chest, and another under their head.
A person lying down on a mat with a block under their chest, and another under their head.

 

I could lie like that all day. But the class ended at 10:15, so I left, but not before buying a 5-class card. Which cost $28.  That’s less than $6 a class!  Did I step back into 1996 or something?  I had discovered not just yin, but heavily discounted yin. Woo hoo!

My main activity plans for this week were to cycle on the bike loop around Tucson, a more than 120-mile network of protected paths and roads with bike lanes. I did this in March with friends and really enjoyed it. However, there were more logistical snags with getting the bike, so I didn’t actually get around to balancing my yin with some yang-like cycling until Thursday.  And man, was it not fun!  I was miserable in the heat and humidity (the monsoons are here, so it’s in the upper 90s with high humidity and intermittent heavy rainstorms.).  I managed a bit more than an hour and called it quits.

Friday marked my full return to yin. The day started with a visit to a fancy Tucson resort where other friends were staying, so we could all float together down the lazy river pool.

A lazy river pool at a desert hotel, with trees and desert mountains in the background.
A lazy river pool at a desert hotel, with trees and desert mountains in the background.

Okay, maybe that’s technically not a yin activity, but it certainly felt yin-ish. And deliciously relaxing.

After lunch my friend Alice and I went to a restorative yin yoga class at Tucson Yoga.  It was very hot outside, but again breezy and refreshing in the studio.  This class was more intense, as we held poses for up to 5 minutes.  That doesn’t sound like long, but is when you are holding this pose:

A person seated with soles of the feet together, knees out, leaning forward, head on a yoga block, arms forward resting on the mat.
A person seated with soles of the feet together, knees out, leaning forward, head on a yoga block, arms forward resting on the mat.

We were encouraged to play with finding our edge– seeing what level of stress or discomfort we were experiencing, and decide before adjusting to create less or more stress.  I enjoyed having the time to experience changes in physical stress or tension in various parts of my body. I could then back off and create a sense of relaxation. Or, I could stay with a pose and the feeling would morph from tension to release and then relaxation.  Cool, huh?  I thought so.

I gave up on cycling in Tucson this week.  It was too darn hot, I couldn’t seem to get up early enough to manage it, and I was finding myself desiring more yin. So I’ve done some gentle swimming, easy walking, and am going to a yin restorative class Sunday afternoon following my morning hike in Sabino Canyon with Kay.  Even the hiking has felt more yinny, as Kay doesn’t mind going at my pace.

Monday I fly back to Boston to my yangy life of work, responsibilities, and cycling (which I adore). But it’s been nice to slow down the pace and focus inward for a bit. And I am going to incorporate more yin into my yoga and life schedule.  Maybe I can even take some yin bike rides.

What about you, dear readers?  What do you do when you want to slow down the pace of activity, life, self?  I’d love to hear some tips.