clothing · fashion · fun · gadgets · gear

Christine H. Finds Fun in Small Things

Even though I felt ridiculous about it, I bought a winter hat with built-in wireless headphones and it has turned out to be a terrific and useful purchase. (I can listen to my fave podcasts while I shovel snow!)

Owning this item has also spawned three new things that delight me:

1) My son J connected my hat headphones via Bluetooth to my phone under the name ‘hatphones.’ It makes me laugh every time I see it. HATPHONES! HA!

2) I get to say ‘Oh, I have to remember to charge my hat!’

3) I get to say ‘Hang on, I can’t hear you yet, my hat is still talking to me.’

Yes, I find my fun where I can.

Don’t you?

PS – I sometimes wear my hat inside for practicing TKD patterns or doing yoga. Unlike my other wireless (in-ear) earphones, my hatphones are sitting comfortably OVER my ears and while they reduce how well I can hear other sounds they don’t block them entirely. Also, I can easily pause (by pressing on the button over my ear) the video without having to scramble for my phone or for the remote control.

A drawing of black hat with a wire attached that extends to a plug and a drawing of a phone screen with a few icons and the word 'hatphones' displayed next to bluetooth symbol.
Not my greatest sketch ever but you get the point. 😉 Image description: A drawing of black hat with a wire attached that extends to a plug and a drawing of a phone screen with a few icons and the word ‘hatphones’ displayed next to bluetooth symbol.

fitness · fun · habits · new year's resolutions

Go Team! January 19: Have a Bit More Fun

We’ve already talked about how important it is to remember what you like about exercising but we haven’t gotten into how motivating it can be to make fun your movement goal for the day.

Not every workout or meditation session is going to be a party, of course. Sometimes we have to do things that don’t thrill us in order to reach the results we are looking for.

However, staying open to introducing fun whenever possible can help you to keep coming back to your workouts – and that’s what we’re aiming for, right?

So, how can you seek some fun movement today?

Maybe you could switch up your workout and do jump rope, hula-hooping, or spend time balancing on the bosu ball…assuming you find those things fun, of course!

You could choose to dig out some goofy dance or shiny spandex 80s aerobics videos on YouTube.

Perhaps your kid or one of your niblings might be up for some races.

An at-home obstacle course could definitely at some fun to your day.

If meditation is your goal, perhaps choosing a new space, a fuzzier blanket, or a different guided meditation* might increase the fun factor.

Obviously, the choice is yours and it all depends on what *you* enjoy in a workout. The key here is that by adding your own kind of fun, you will look forward to your workout.

You don’t have to make fun your goal every day (although it’s not a bad idea!) but if you make sure to sprinkle fun into your workouts whenever you need it, it will make it easier to keep exercise in your schedule.

Here are your gold star(s) for your efforts. (I picked a fun drawing of mine to go along with today’s theme. )

 Image description: An index card drawing of ​three tiny people holding gold stars almost as large as they are. They are standing on a green field with stereo speakers at either end and there are music notes in the air above them. The index card is resting on a shiny gold surface.
Yes, these people are dancing with the stars. Yes, I do think I’m funny…at least to myself. 😉 Image description: An index card drawing of three tiny people holding gold stars almost as large as they are. They are standing on a green field with stereo speakers at either end and there are music notes in the air above them. The index card is resting on a shiny gold surface.

* If you really want to mix things up, go to YouTube and search ‘cursing meditation.’ Those meditations aren’t for those who object to strong language but if you are ok with it, you’ll probably enjoy the (surprisingly useful) irreverence.

fitness · fun

Even puzzles are at-home exercising now!

One of the few felicitous happenstances of 2020 was the debut of a new puzzle on the New York Times website, called Vertex. It takes connect-the-dots to a whole new level. Here’s what one looks like:

NYT Vertex puzzle called “Are we alone?”, with numbered circles, to be connected in triangular fashion, for fun.

Here’s the way it works (from the NYT):

Draw lines between points to create triangles.

  • Connect vertices to create triangles and assemble an image.
  • The number on a vertex shows its remaining connections.
  • Triangles will fill in if they are correct.
  • Double tap a vertex to clear its connections.

When you first start it, it gives you a tutorial, with easier puzzles, and then more challenging ones. Then you’re on your own, doing the daily puzzle. I love love love it– it’s non-verbal, which is nice, given that we’re processing text a lot of the time. It’s visual and spatial, which I enjoy. And over time, you develop some know-how about the ways the puzzle makers fashion their creations, and can take pleasure in completing the puzzle using the approaches you develop yourself over time.

You might now be thinking:

What if I told you that you were a nerd? Said authoritatively by Morpheus.

On the other hand, you might be thinking:

Richard Simmons says, “Neato! Where do I sign up?”

If you are in the latter camp (or even the former, but have some time to kill), you might enjoy that the NY Times has jumped on the at-home exercise bandwagon. Here’s a recent Vertex puzzle.

Vertex puzzle called Spin Cycle. Of course we all know what it is.

Here’s the after shot:

Ta da! A colorfully rendered spin bike. I wouldn't mind some lime green flat pedals, if I could find some.
Ta da! A colorfully rendered spin bike. I wouldn’t mind some lime green flat pedals.

Who knows what other at-home themes the Vertex folks will come up with? Check it out if you’re curious. It’s a fun break from the world of words, and a nice brain workout.

Readers, are any of you doing more puzzles these days? Have you recently started doing some puzzles? Which ones? Are they a good thing for you? I’d love to hear from you.

camping · canoe · charity · covid19 · cycling · fitness · fun

Plans? Do we even get to have plans? Sam nervously makes some anyway

A friend posted asking about 2021 plans and then said, “Joking. It’s 2021. Do we even get to make plans?”

To do list: Nothing

And I agree plans feel a lot more tentative this year. In the third week of January last year and the year before that, I was riding my bike in the Clermont area of Florida. This January there’ll be no travel.

It’s been a long blurry year of cancelled travel plans starting with, for me, the cancelled Pacific APA in San Francisco and attached vacation. Followed by a big trip to Melbourne cancelled. All of my summer bike holidays and charity rides were likewise cancelled. I did four charity rides, all either solo, with Sarah, or on Zwift. Two weddings, cancelled. You get the idea.

And in light of all the illness, unemployment, loneliness, overwhelmed hospitals, and death it feels a bit off to complain about not being able to make 2021 cycling plans.

I’m grateful for Zwift, don’t get me wrong. But still, I’m making some plans. They’re just more local and much more tentative. What makes them plans and not mere hopes? They involve things like registration forms and reservations, time booked off work.

We know there are vaccines, and that’s good, even if the timeline for things like races, group bike rides, and travel are still uncertain.

In January in addition to TFC team time trials and our Monday and Friday races I’ve agreed to take part in series hosted, on Zwift, by Team Vegan. You don’t need to be a vegan to take part. They’re hosting the series in the same way that TFC hosts a series. They’re the organizers.

Team Vegan racing

I’m also committed to Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day yoga journey Breath.

In February, Sarah and I have booked yurts in a provincial park to go cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and fat biking. Some adult kids might come along and winter camp. We’ll see. I’ve committed to taking vacation even if I can’t travel very far away.

In March and April, in early spring, before it gets busy, I’d like to finish the Guelph to Goderich rail trail.

In later spring, we’ll be back out Snipe racing on Guelph Lake. Whee!

Come summer we’ve also committed to spending more time at Sarah’s farm in Prince Edward County. What’s perfect is that there are two houses on the property, loads of lovely biking nearby, and a swimming pool. Even if close up visits with friends are still restricted we can host people in the other house and socialize outside. BBQ time!

We’ll also book some Algonquin canoe camping trips. Again, they’ll likely go ahead even if travel in general isn’t recommended. We do back country camping and there aren’t too many other people around.

I’m really hoping that the Friends for Life bike rally goes ahead in person this year. You can sponsor me here.

Jeff is also heading east on his new boat Escapade to Nova Scotia and there’s some talk of visiting there once he’s settled with the boat. That crosses the line from “plan” to “hope” for me since it relies on not having to self isolate after traveling east, assuming we’re even allowed into Atlantic Canada’s bubble. You can follow his boating adventures here.

Oh and for added uncertainty that’s not pandemic related, all of this is dependent on the date for my knee surgery. I’ll need recovery time after. I was hoping for December 2020 but that didn’t happen. With the hospital it was to take place in cutting back on non-essential surgeries due to covid, it might be awhile.

I’m trying to be flexible and not too nervous.

Wish me luck!

He he he he he

How about you? Are you making any fitness related plans for 2021? Plans in general still on hold?

covid19 · fitness · fun · Guest Post · hiking · temperature and exercise · winter

So Many Reasons to Hike with Friends this Winter (Guest Post)

By Elan P

As the days of winter get shorter and colder, we begin shifting our thoughts and habits to account for the winter. Tracy I , Nicole P , and Sam B have all blogged on winter exercise and how they love it, have grown to love it, or have chosen to love it (respectively). 

Of course, there is an added layer of challenge this year, as catherine w describes, when we must exercise during a pandemic. Many bloggers in the FIFI community emphasize how maintaining physical health also supports mental health during COVID-19 isolation.

Over the past few years I’ve posted about group exercise in a summer fun run and winter fun run. In her post, Catherine invited FIFI readers to share our winter pandemic plans: mine will be regular winter hiking with friends.

Just starting out on the Elgin Trail. Photo by Elan Paulson (CC-BY SA ND NC)

Using a social media chat channel, each week those available agree on a 2 to 5 hour hiking route in SW Ontario, of easy to moderate difficulty, then on weekend mornings we just get up and go. If we carpool together, we wear masks. We keep track of our journeys with GPS, pictures, and good memories. Only a few times so far have we canceled due to poor weather conditions.

I asked this group how likely they are to continue hiking outdoors together this winter. Here is what some of them said:

  • I’m very likely to continue group hiking this winter. Why? It’s fresh air. It’s exercise. It’s community with amazing, diverse women who inspire and support one another. It clears my mind, works my body, and fills my heart. (Kimi)
  • As a single person during covid, it’s even more important for me to keep contact with my friends doing what we love, which is being outside being active. It’s all about mental health check-ins. (Sarah)
  • Our small hiking group this summer allowed us a sense of normalcy during a mentally and physically challenging pandemic. Hiking provided the perfect outlet for our need to stay safe and stay connected. I look forward to continuing our hikes this winter as COVID cases continue to rise and our fears and anxieties fester. Fresh air, friends and physical fitness are the remedies that will get us through this darker than usual winter. (Sheila)
  • Hiking has become a regular component of our self-care, especially since Covid. Everyone in our hiking group decided that we need to make time for this self-care ritual. For me, when I immerse myself in nature, combined with the methodical pace of hiking, I am soothed. And as a group, we are sharing this experience. Often we find ways to avoid, replace, or distract us from self-care. The hiking group has kept us all accountable and motivated to keep it a priority. We will continue even in tougher weather as part of our commitment. Self-care is non-negotiable. And snow and cold add a layer of physical challenge. (Marnie)
  • I am likely to continue group hiking over the winter because I’ve found a great group of like minded women who have a desire to challenge themselves to get outdoors, stay in shape and enjoy a beer. (Julie)

Exercise. Support. Clarity. Check-ins. Safety. Normalcy. Accountability. Motivation. Challenge. Sharing experiences. Self-care (which for our group usually includes enjoying a beer during or after the hike). I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Friends hike the Elgin Trail. Photo by Elan Paulson (CC-BY SA ND NC)

One person isn’t joining us for an upcoming hike due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak at her workplace. Here’s what she said:

  • I enjoy doing sports that are social. Hiking in this respect is social, and as Sarah said, for our mental well being this is so important! It might also be the laughing that happens is also food for the soul. Hiking is in the outdoors, and you don’t touch things, so the risk of spread is super low as long as people are hiking a bit apart. I feel our group has been smart and conscientious of our social distancing, while being able to enjoy and look forward to outdoor activities. Still, I will continue group hiking after this gets resolved at work. I don’t want to cause anyone stress.

Even when we hike outdoors together, we can’t forget to be vigilant about staying safe.

So, if you’ve been practicing physical distancing and you’re not showing signs of illness, grab a few friends (well, don’t grab them) and head outside for a winter hike. There are so many good reasons to do it. If you’re looking for a new crew, there are meetup.com hiking groups available. Choose a group with clear safety practices that follow local health guidelines.

A woman walks across a small wooden slat bridge in the forest with leaves on the ground
Marnie M. hikes the Elgin Trail. Photo by Elan Paulson (CC-BY SA ND NC)
fitness · fun · play

Physical activity and its many moods: which are you today?

My friend and colleague Lee is the energizer bunny of teaching. She just keeps on going and going, coming up with new ideas and maintaining classic winning strategies year after year after year.

I just saw this post on her FB page, showing a way to invite students to talk about how they are doing this fall using a safe proxy: cat pictures. She asked them, which of Lee’s cats are you feeling most like today?

6 pictures of Lee's cats, in various kitty moods.
6 pictures of Lee’s cats, in various kitty moods.

What a great idea! It’s a way to talk about ourselves, but with a feline shield in case we need it. I love this and plan to implement it immediately.

Except I don’t have cats. Or dogs. I have a bunch of plants, but their moods seem to comprise blooming, being green, wilting, yellowing, and dying.

Well, maybe we’re not in need of much more mood nuance than that. Or are we? I happened to notice (while wandering the internet) this set of 20 cards to aid in identifying our emotional barometers. At first it seemed silly, but maybe we can use some help in unraveling our emotionally snarly selves. Here’s the set, which you can buy here (at the ICA museum store in Boston):

A color wheel of emotions, ranging from happy to envious to stressed and back again.

It doesn’t cost a ton ($21.95 USD), but I’m sufficiently impressed by Lee’s personal approach that I thought I should create my own mood packet. So, in lieu of pets or plants, I decided to do a grouping of various forms of me in motion, labeling each with some mood.

On a bike, in the water, running hard, paddling slow, climbing up or skiing down, we movers experience the full range of human emotions. It’s part of why we move– it both provokes feeling and reveals feelings we’ve kept inside. It’s one of my favorite things about physical activity– it feels… like… living.

So here are some mood collages of me in motion.

Clockwise, from top left: goofing around, happy, irritated, trusting, taking a risk, maintaining.
Clockwise, from top left: goofing around, happy, irritated, trusting, taking a risk, maintaining.

But wait, there’s more.

Clockwise, from top left: hanging on, barely hanging on, loving, done, Look ma, no hands!, and immersion.
Clockwise, from top left: hanging on, barely hanging on, loving, immersion, Look ma, no hands!, and done.

If you read this on the Fit is a Feminist Issue FB page or Twitter or Instagram (or other things I don’t yet know about), how about post a picture of yourself in motion (or stillness), and name the mood? Just for fun. Or for self-investigation. Or grousing. Or joyful exhortation. Hey, you never know.

fun · habits · health · motivation

Christine works out with Wakeout

I’ve been having big fun with the Wakeout app.

Wakeout, which bills itself as ‘Exercise for busy people,’ delivers exactly what it promises – short, fun workouts to do in a variety of settings.  

As you probably know, I find it challenging to decide what exercise to do when and how long to do it for. Wakeout helps me sidestep those issues because I can set a reminder in advance (always useful for me!) and then I only have to choose the location and duration of my exercise. 

The duration choices are short  – one, three, or six 30-sec exercises (although you can do multiple Wakeouts in a row) and the settings are limited – you can choose home, office, travel, or outdoors and then select different categories within each. Even though there is a lot of possibility contained within each category, I find the process of choosing to be quite straightforward in this case. 

A light haired dog sleeps on a partially-made bed. There are bookshelves in the background.
This morning, I had to do my Wakeout on my chair instead of the edge of the bed because Khalee had made other plans.

I really like that the exercises are done in 30 second bursts instead of by reps – I love a timer but I hate counting reps. I appreciate just sinking into the movement and not having to focus on counting.

And I like the types of movements the app gets me to do.  

It’s not just bicep curls or squats, it’s movements on all sorts of different planes. For example, 

In a recent Wakeout, I was holding a pillow and moving sort of sideways figure eight with my arms – as if I were in a pillow fight and had an opponent on either side of me. This exercise had me moving my arms in a whole different way than I would normally do and I felt like my range of movement increased over all. 

I am much too used to working forward, sideways, or up-and-down and I forget about making more circular sorts of movements. Wakeout’s prompt to move different, helped me to engage different muscles or at least to engages the same muscles in different ways and that really really felt great.

One of my favourite exercises that I had to do involved standing in front of the counter in the kitchen and reaching upward into a high cupboard. That specific movement felt great for my arms, my back and my legs and I have repeated it often even when I wasn’t doing the app – sure, sometimes I was just reaching for something in the cupboard but mostly it was for a little extra stretch.

The app keeps track of your workouts and tells you your accumulated minutes and how many minutes it will take to reach the next level. I also enjoy this encouraging feature and it’s rewarding to push a little hard to get that visible (on the screen) result.  One of my ongoing challenges with consistent exercise is how hard it is to SEE the benefits of my efforts. This small visual makes a big difference for me. 

A screen cap of the Wakeout app.  A black background with green text and images. It says 'Awesome' at the top and then shows an image of a green bear with sunglasses surfing through some planets. Below the image are some stats revealing that the user is at Activity level 5 and that they can reach the next level  in 12.5 active minutes.  They have 6 total wakeouts, a 6 day streak, and 9 active minutes. At the bottom is a green button inviting them to wakeout again.
Sure, it’s only a small thing but I love seeing these numbers and knowing exactly what I have to do to get to the next level. Even if the level itself only has meaning inside the app, it coaxes me to keep moving.

Often, I will shy away from short workouts because of the decisions involved – trying to figure out what is ‘enough’ to do is especially tricky for people with ADHD. The Wakeout app removes some of my obstacles to bothering with a short workout – I can just open the app and do what it says and not have to think too much about it. 

Obviously, I would have to either do a lot of Wakeouts to become seriously fit but I find these small bursts of activity encouraging and rewarding and they really feel great.

I haven’t been through all of the workouts yet, of course, but from the ones I have seen so far, I would like to see a greater variety of body types/sizes and abilities represented in the demos. (To be fair, though there may be greater variety than there currently appears to be. I may just not have seen everyone yet.)  

I like that the demo models aren’t all white but not having seen the entire range of workouts yet I cannot comment on whether the diversity of the models is truly representative or just a nod to inclusion. I am hoping that it is the former rather than the latter.

Overall, I really enjoy the workouts and features in this app. I didn’t it like it much when one of the reminders made me feel entirely responsible for our sedentary society but that’s on my overdeveloped guilt reflex, not on the makers of the app!

I don’t know if it would be helpful or frustrating for someone who already spends a large part of their day exercising. It might be enjoyable to try some different movements – especially if any part of their day was spent at desk work – or it might be annoying to do these small exercises that might not work their bodies hard enough for their liking. 

As far as I can tell, Wakeout is only available for Apple products so far. You get a 7 day free trial and then you can purchase a monthly plan for $6.99 which you can share with up to 6 people. I enjoyed it enough to sign up for the monthly plan but I wish I could include my family members who use other non-Apple devices. 

fitness · fun

YouTube passive cross-training exercise videos for you!

Hi readers– sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, the words just flow effortlessly. Inspiration strikes, and I’m off to the races. The perfect photo or metaphor or theme appears, and voila! Blog mission accomplished.

Sad to say, not today.

Just so you know I have tried, here are some topics I thought about writing on for Sunday, but rejected:

  1. a compendium of bad stock photos depicting women playing sports (yeah, that didn’t go anywhere). I was inspired by the twitter hashtag #badstockphotosofmyjob, which is actually at least 2 years old, but hey, I just made it to the party…

2. A compendium of inspiring stock photos of women playing sports, reminding us 1) there was such a thing as women’s sports that spectators could watch, in person even; and 2) sports playing is something we might consider doing, too, albeit safely. I admit I’m sorely in need of motivation to leave my house more often. Inertia’s a tough one…

3. A review of one of the many feminist/sports/activity/self-care books on or near my bedside table, just waiting to be read and summarized by me, for you.

4. Another installment of “cockamamie and likely non-functional exercise devices sold over the internet.” I never tire of looking at them. My current fave (which I haven’t ordered yet) is shoe covers that fit over sneakers, facilitating dancing either on hard floors or carpet. This model purports to make pivots and turns much smoother. I’m sold.

5. A commentary on this article revealing how T. Rex wasn’t (as conventional paleontology would have it) a fast sprinting lone hunter. No. T. Rex was all about the energy conservation, so ambled along at a more leisurely pace. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that for us all. Or not. Which I why I didn’t pursue the topic further.

Instead of any of the above, I’m offering you a chance to do some passive cross training with gymnasts and parkour instructors. I have to say I enjoyed these. They are two YouTube videos in which male athletes in one field try to teach female athletes in another field, and the women kick ass. Then, when the tables are turned, the male athletes don’t do as well. Turns out, in this pair of videos everyone is incredibly talented and also pretty chill and good-natured. Okay, I might as well insert them here.

Women college gymnasts try out parkour and rock.
Male parkour instructors try gymnastics and do okay.

See you all next week, when I expect to be chock-full of inspiration and humor and fluency and sincerity. In writing, as in all things–

Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear gets you.
Some days you get the bear. Some days, the bear gets you.

Hey readers– are you doing or reading or hearing or eating or seeing anything that’s got you excited or inspired or fired-up or out of the house or off the couch or out of bed before noon? I’d love to hear about it… 🙂

fitness · fun · play

Cretaceous fitness options during COVID-19, courtesy of T. rex

(CW: Very silly and irreverent photos and descriptions and gifs of people in T-rex costumes doing physical activities. I hope this makes people smile a little.)

It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’re all yearning to get outside and explore nature in all its forms. However, COVID-19 will be with us for a long time to come. Vaccine development is still in early stages, and our knowledge and resources for treatment are limited. So we’re left with what we can do: prevention. To reduce transmission, we’re social distancing. I blogged about sports and risk recently here. That means limiting or avoiding activities with a high risk of transmission, especially avoiding any sports or activities that involve contact with other people.

Not so for T. rex! Other than keeping a eye out for stray comets, Every T. rex is out and about, enjoying themselves. Boating is one of T. rex’s favorite pastimes:

T. rex driving a motorboat on a river. Note: always wear a lifejacket if you’re not naturally buoyant like T. rex.

T. rex likes non-motorized boating as well, and enjoys launching from the dock:

Pro tip: before somersaulting into the boat, make sure to put the oars in first.

Sometimes, though, we just want to hang out by a river and enjoy the quiet pleasure of fishing. T. rex is no different.

Short arms plus big fish spells trouble for T. rex, but they’re not giving up (neither T. rex nor the fish).

Most people are understandably apprehensive about returning to gym workouts. Not T-rex! Their workouts go on as usual.

T. rex doing a parkour workout, always with safety in mind: a human is spotting them.

Sometimes T. rex just needs to create some aerobic heat, and the rowing/erg machine is a classic way to do just that.

Arm length necessitates modification of the form. In the end, though, watts are watts…

Of course, running is a classic outdoor activity, which T-rex enjoys. It even provides a motivator for other runners to up their own performance:

It’s so nice having friends.

On the other hand, many of us are screaming out for novelty these days; what better way to change up your exercise routine than by combining two favorite pastimes in novel ways?

Without a doubt a novel activity, but the chances of this catching on seem slim.

Back to reality: I hope you found some silly respite in these images. For me, a smattering of jokes fits nicely into my schedule of ranting, gnashing of teeth, hiding, crying, donating, letter/email writing, self-reflection and learning.

Finally, the inspiration for the T. rex post is from my favorite T. rex in real life: here’s my friend Steph and me before the Orchard Cross costume race a few years ago. I’m her second banana. Looking forward to costume cross races, picnics, swimming outings with friends’ kids, beach trips on hot holiday weekends, and all the other lovely things we all do together.

So readers, how are you getting out there this summer? Any plans? Any interesting protection ideas? Feel free to share what you’re up to; I’d love to hear from you.

Me (on left) and Steph, before the Orchard Cross costume race, held every Halloween weekend.
Me (on left) and Steph, before the Orchard Cross costume race, held every Halloween weekend.
fun · play · Sat with Nat · yoga

What I’m learning from “preparing for” poses

Recommended soundtrack for this post: Where is my mind? by the Pixies

Recommended outfit: comfy yet clingy with a high Lycra content

Something I’ve committed to while I’m participating in physical distancing in response to the current pandemic is a daily yoga practice.

I dusted off my copy of Om Yoga by Cyndi Lee, an oldie but a goodie book published in 2002. The style of yoga is Hatha and there is a daily warm up flow as well as different sequences for each day of the week. The time it takes for each day’s practice, including warm up and relaxation/meditation is as short as 20 minutes and as long as half an hour.

My partner and I have laughed a bit as, over the years, postures that used to be easily accessible to us are now a stretch, a challenge and sometimes beyond reach. We both felt that acutely the first Saturday (which is a series of inversions).

***Side note, many studios and practitioners have stopped doing inversions as they can be difficult in a group setting. There is an increased risk of head & neck injury. So. You know, do the things you need to do to determine if inversions are for you!***

We were reviewing the sequence before our practice and noting what we needed to support our attempts at various inversions. We laughed as we muddled through the first Saturday flow. The next day I really felt the strength building in my neck, shoulders and particularly my triceps with only moderate success in even doing the “preparing for” postures.

If you haven’t heard that term, preparing postures are any posture you take in a flow that gets you from one recognized/named posture/asana to the next one. It can also be used to describe modified postures that help support your body and strengthen you as you work towards being ready for a posture you don’t currently find accessible.

Part of what struck me was how much fun we were having try to do headstands, shoulder stands, elbow stands and other stuff with your “feet in the air and your head on the ground.” (See soundtrack recommendation)

I remembered when I was a kid the thrill of that first summersault taken at a run. That first successful cartwheel where I learned to trust my body and the joy of handstand competitions at recess. We were playing then and now, enjoying the thrill of what our bodies can do.

But. I have to say it. My attempts at inversions is not graceful or photogenic but I think that is why they are fun. You can’t take life seriously when you are trying to cajole yourself into being upside down.

My elbows on the ground, rear in the air and my head is not touching the floor. Being near the wall gives me comfort as I prepare for forearm stand. Spoiler, I never get my feet off the ground but work on shifting my weight onto my forearms and walking my feet & back closer to the wall.
Preparing for headstand. Most of my weight is on my elbows. I really feel it in my triceps. About 10% of my weight is on my head. I slowly walk my feet towards my head.
Preparing for handstand. My shoulders are pressed against the wall as I shift my weight onto my hands. One leg kind of up in the air. Where is my mind?

So, as you can see, my preparing for poses are not the same thing as the actual pose. I may not ever be able to do a headstand. That’s not the point. The preparing for pose is the workout. It is what my body can do. It’s fun! It’s silly! It is also a great upper body and core strengthening set of exercises.

What I’m learning from these preparing for poses is that the process matters. What I can do now matters. It’s not a steady state, an end state, or a means to an end.

This resonates so much with my life right now. The physical distancing measures we are all taking in response to the pandemic are like “preparing for” postures. It’s not what life will always be like, it’s what life is like while we get ready for a new normal. We can’t do everything we are used to doing but what we can access right now is good too.

Kneeling at home on my mat after a humbling but fun attempt at inversions. I’m winded and smiling.