fitness · yoga

Life after everything is cancelled or online: the yoga continues

As I write this I’m at the end of Day 8 of self-isolation after coming home early from Mexico. I’d been there since January 1st, enjoying a wonderfully laid back routine and working on a new book… until I lost my concentration completely two and a half weeks ago. As with many, the rapid pace of change that the COVID19 pandemic has brought is hard to wrap my head around.

Image description: Casual head shot of Tracy, smiling, wearing a winter hat and black jacket, outside (in quarantine at her parents house) during the day, snowy background, Haliburton, Ontario.

Just three weeks ago I had breakfast with my parents at our favourite cafe, Chasite, in La Penita, a small Mexican town in the state of Nayarit. We had just come from the market (!!), an absolutely unthinkable outing today.

Image description: left to right, Tracy, her mother, her father, at an outdoor cafe table, all three wearing summer clothing and smiling, breakfast and coffee on the table.

Immediately after that breakfast my father called our travel agent (I will never again doubt the merits of using a travel agent) to ask her to book us an earlier flight home. She changed our April 4 flight out of Puerto Vallarta to March 18. The World Health Organization had declared the COVID19 a global pandemic just the day before we decided we would rather be home. The next day, Friday, March 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that it was time for Canadians to come home. The next five days until we departed on March 18 were agonizingly long and, for me, full of anxiety. I couldn’t enjoy much. The only errands I ran after that were brief outings to get take-out food and some cleaning supplies for the trip home. Though toilet paper was in good supply in all the shops, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were nowhere to be found.

With my ability to concentrate at nil, I maintained one solid routine that I’d established back in early December: daily yoga. At home, I was going to the yoga studio every day until I left for Mexico. But once I got there, I started January with Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day Home Practice (Cate put together a group post about that here).

I like the community of a yoga studio. And in fact there was an outdoor yoga very popular yoga studio right next door to where my parents were living in Mexico, just five minutes away from my place. But this time I decided that I wanted to keep it simple, reserving the mornings for short runs and, twice a week, for Spanish classes that I attended with my mother (so much fun!). Every day in January I did the Home practice. When that ended, I decided to stick with Adriene for February. And then March. And am I ever glad I did. It prepared me for what I didn’t know was coming. It prepared me for this.

By the time I got back to Canada, international travelers were strongly urged (not yet required but very strongly recommended) to self-quarantine for 14 days–the possible length of the COVID19 incubation period. So I went to my parents’ place with them instead of going home. We figured since we’d been traveling together, we could quarantine together. By then, everything in my life back in London, Ontario had been either cancelled or moved to an online format. Everything.

The only thing that has been seamless in my transition to this strange new world of physical distancing is my daily commitment to Yoga with Adriene. I just show up on the mat and do what she says to do. I started March with her Creativity playlist. But my creative spirit died at some point. So when Adriene announced instead a new playlist more responsive to this moment in human history, Yoga for Uncertain Times, I jumped into it. And it has given me some comfort. It’s got practices like “yoga for loneliness” and “yoga for change and drain” and “anchor in hope yoga practice.” These are mostly gentle practices, but not always. When it feels like not quite enough (because some sessions are short), I add something else (my old stand-by is Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Relief).

Many of my friends are lamenting at their lack of productivity right now. We feel as if, with this sudden freeing of the calendar, where everyone is working at home and all the theatre and dinners and coffee dates and gym classes are cancelled, we should be able to do all those things that we never have time to do. I said to someone the other day, “I feel accomplished if I do my daily yoga.” And I do. I’ve not been good for much else — well, maybe cooking.

And talking to friends whom I had so very eagerly looked forward to hugging and meeting for coffee. That will all have to wait. I read a powerful piece today called “A Letter to the UK from Italy: this is what we know about your future.” I feel as if this applies to all of us, not just the UK. Of course we all hope we will not experience what Italy is going through. Maybe we will take notice and succeed in flattening that curve so that our healthcare system is not crushed under the demand that a surge of COVID19 cases brings. In my view, we are at this stage: “You’ll have an unstoppable online social life – on Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom…”

It’s all feeling like a lot right now (I know I’m not alone).

But whatever happens, there will be daily online yoga.

Youtube link to the first session in the Yoga with Adriene “Yoga for Uncertain Times” Playlist: yoga for loneliness.

I’m open to trying to new online yoga, so if you have someone else to recommend besides Adriene, let me know about that in the comments.

Meanwhile, stay safe everyone. Stay home. Wash your hands. And reach out.

Image description: Beach sunset scene, sand, water, clouds at dusk, with two people walking by the water, and a post in the foreground (Guayabitos, Mexico).
fitness · online exercise · yoga

Developing my Zoom identity: new options emerging

This is my first week as a Zoom person. I’ve Zoom’ed to department meetings, chit-chats with friends, one therapy session and two yoga classes. It’s surprising to me how effective it is at creating a platform for interacting with other people fairly authentically; I didn’t feel like I was in the same room with my colleagues, but we were all our full selves. In fact, we were more our full selves than usual, with cats and dogs and snippets of home conversations weaving their way into the meetings. I don’t have pets, but I tried out wearing hats for meetings (well, one per meeting), and I may keep it up. I also showed off my blooming orchids to everyone (they’re actually blooming– that’s not my attempt at old-timey English slang).

Therapy via Zoom went really well, and I hope y’all who are therapists or in therapy (or both) find it useful and satisfying, too.

But I’m really here today to talk about Zoom exercise classes. Friends are doing Zoom spin classes, Zoom strength training, and loads of Zoom yoga classes. I blogged about some things I liked about my first Zoom yoga class here: 5 great things about Zoom online yoga class.

One thing I didn’t mention there was this: in a Zoom class, we have choices about how visible to be. We can choose to listen to the instructor but not see them. A class I’m taking today (Jennifer Reis’ Five Element Yoga plus Yoga Nidra Sunday March 21 at 2:30pm, which you can register for here for free; she’s awesome) is set up so that we can see her, but she can’t see or hear any of us. There will be Q&A afterward, but it’s independent of the class.

On Friday, I did a wonderful Flow and Meditate class with Alex Amorosi, who teaches at my local studio Artemis. There were 50–60 people (he estimated at the time) taking the class via Zoom. It was cacophonous at first (in a good way); everyone had audio on, and people were greeting Alex and others they knew; I joined in the happy shouting with teachers and fellow classmates.

Then we got down to the business of yoga. We were all muted (literally), and it was just Alex’s voice (and image, when we looked up at the computer screen), leading us through meditation and asanas. I found it difficult to stay in some of the poses as long as he indicated, and so I came out of the pose for a moment, then got back in it. I do this in classes, too, when I need it. All of my teachers remind us at each class that we are in charge of our practice (workout), and I enjoy that vibe.

However, in the Zoom class, I felt more free to do a modification, or come out of a pose for a moment and then resume when I needed to. I’m sure this is because I knew the other students couldn’t see me, and even Alex the teacher couldn’t see or focus on individual students much during the online class.

One yoga colleague who took the Friday class told me that they turned off their camera and used audio only, as they wanted to be free to do their own thing during the class. They liked hearing Alex’s voice taking us through the series of asanas, and they joined and made modifications when they wanted. Having no video made it easier to do that.

When I posted on Thursday about Zoom yoga, one commenter wrote that she was going to take a Zoom Vinyasa class(more active and strenuous flow), and she was “worried that I won’t push myself as hard without others around me.”

That makes a lot of sense. I definitely push myself harder in classes with others than when doing yoga at home alone. However, I’m thinking of another opportunity that Zoom yoga offers: the chance to take a demanding class that I might not take in person. I’m definitely going to do this. More advanced Vinyasa classes involve poses or variants my body’s never even dreamed of doing (yes, we’ve all posted about this; see Sam’s most hated yoga pose, and my Yoga poses I simply can’t do). Also, they go at a pace that is sometimes way above my comfort level.

Enter the virtual yoga studio class. This is perfect– I can push myself as much as I like/can/want, take microbreaks if I need them, and do modifications when I want and need them.

I know, I know– yoga teachers everywhere are fretting and crying out, “But you are encouraged to do modifications all the time– everyone’s body is different, and everyone’s body has different functionality from day to day. We welcome you wherever you are in your practice!”

Thank you, yoga teachers everywhere. I know this and appreciate you.

Some wonderful things yoga teachers bring to us.

And yet.

I’m liking the idea of taking whatever class I want and not feeling one iota of self-consciousness (other than between me and me, but that’s another post). I get to practice yoga incognita.

By the way, Yoga Incognita is totally going to be my spiritual name if I ever find myself doing loads of kundalini yoga (you can actually request your own spiritual name here). Or maybe some other occasion that calls for a yogi name will come my way. You never know.

So, dear readers and fellow Zoomers, what are your impressions of Zoom movement classes? Do you like them? Are you finding that they are less motivating? More liberating? Hard to see or hear? A way to sneak into a new type of activity? I’d love to hear from you.

fitness · yoga

5 great things about Zoom online yoga class

Today I just did my first (of probably many) Zoom online yoga classes. It was a fundamentals class, lasting an hour. Here’s a list of things I really liked about it.

5. The commute: I left my zoom department meeting at 11:50am in my dining room, walked to the living room and set up my mat, props and laptop in time for noon class.

Gorgeous open plan living room dining room kitchen-- so not my house!
This is soooo not my house.

4. Easy wardrobe change: I was wearing my yoga clothes in my work meeting with a nice-looking (to me) sweater, which I took off for yoga. Presto, change-o!

A person doing yoga on their desk at work. This person got their work/yoga boundaries confused here.
Unlike me, this person got their work/yoga boundaries confused.

3. Time and money savings on laundry: I wore the same yoga clothes for the zoom class as I had the day before for my video yoga workout. Hey, you’re all doing it too… 🙂

Cartoon in which 4 pairs of pants say to a person, "we love you but we're concerned. You never wear anything but your yoga pants anymore."
Cartoon in which 4 pairs of pants say to a person, “we love you but we’re concerned. You never wear anything but your yoga pants anymore.”

2. Opportunities for cultivating compassion; in my case, for the yoga teacher whose headset kept falling off, so she gave up and just kind of yelled for the rest of the class. No complaints– it worked.

A video shot of person doing yoga with cat's face taking up half the screen. In my case, At least the camera was well-placed to be out of the way of curious cats.
At least the camera was well-placed to be out of the way of curious cats.

And now, number 1:

At least it wasn’t yoga on the deck of a kayak!

A person trying to do a head stand on the deck of a fishing kayak. Who else other than me believes this won't end well?
Who else believes this won’t end well?
A person falling into the water off the deck of a kayak.
Yep. That didn’t end well.

Hey readers: have you tried any zoom fitness/activity classes? How have you liked them? What haven’t you liked? We’d love to hear from you.

cycling · fitness · illness · running · swimming · yoga

Pregnancy and Fitness in the times of Corona

CW: Mentions pregnancy

Throughout my first trimester, I tried to exercise as much as I could despite the fatigue I already mentioned in my post on Saturday. Very early on, I was still able to run really well (so much so that I started doubting I was really pregnant). That changed fast though, by around week 10 I was slowing way down. Right now (17 weeks) I am almost a minute per kilometre slower than I was when I first got pregnant. That might also be due to a nasty cold that knocked me out for two weeks in between, but still. I’m definitely not as fast as I used to be. After yesterday’s run, my Garmin watch kindly informed me I was “overreaching”: doing more in the face of declining fitness. The poor thing doesn’t have a pregnancy mode. Nevertheless, I plod on, especially now that the coronavirus crisis is upon us but the weather is getting nicer. While I can still get out, I do. At the moment, I’m expecting Germany to take lockdown measures similar to France, Italy and Spain before the end of the week, so let’s see how long that lasts. Here’s a picture of the panorama I will be missing once I can no longer run:

A river and a city in the evening light, hills in the background. This is on my “standard” running route when I set off from my house rather than from work. You can probably understand why I’d miss it!

Swimming – as always – worked like a charm during the first trimester. It was actually something that magically made me feel better. I had evening sickness (“morning sickness” is such a misnomer!) and swimming would make that go away. What did happen was that I didn’t go to swim practice a couple of times because I was just too tired. But I could keep going at my usual speed for longer than with running. Only in the past week have I noticed that I’m slower than before, but I can still keep up with the people on my team – I’ve just moved a couple of spots down. (Again, some of that might be due to that pesky cold.) But now, all the pools are closed, so no swimming for me, even though it’s supposedly the best sport for pregnancy, you can do it right up until the end and it works out your entire body. I really hope this passes fast enough so I can get back in the pool quickly. I miss it already.

I also did yoga throughout the first trimester. Towards the end I found I was having to start adapting some poses, like doing child’s pose with my legs spread apart. I was supposed to start a prenatal yoga class on 21 April, let’s see if that happens. I doubt it. Luckily there is a bunch of online prenatal yoga videos on Youtube, so I’ll be working my way through those once I can no longer do non-pregnant people’s yoga (i.e. I’d have to adapt the normal Yoga with Adriene routines so much they stop being fun). Not quite there yet.

I didn’t bike at all during the first trimester, save for a ride to some friends’ house for dinner one night. I was too exhausted to haul my tired butt up the steep hill behind my house for my bike commute. Actually you can see that hill in the picture above. It’s the one in the background, so that gives you an idea of what I’m up against – it’s not all that tall but steep! I started bike commuting again on Monday, and it went surprisingly well. Alas, the campus I work at is shutting down on after today and I won’t be going in anymore, and today I need to drive to haul some things back home from the office for remote work purposes. I’m still hopeful I can get on the bike a few more times before my belly gets in the way…

As you can see, corona is thoroughly thwarting my attempts at getting back into moving more, just like it seems to be impacting everyone’s fitness routines. I’ll need all the pregnancy home workouts I can get! Sam has a 7-point social distancing workout plan, which is pretty awesome. Mine looks simpler: do as much yoga as possible, some TRX workouts, and research home cardio workouts suitable for pregnant people. And: go outside while I can! If you have any advice, I’d be happy to hear it!

fitness · yoga

Last yoga studio class (for the time being)

This week has marked a shift from business as almost-usual to an awareness of the need to shut down our social and work life to reduce transmission of the coronavirus. From school to church to local museums to yoga studios, I’ve gotten a series of emails, culminating in a flurry of Friday afternoon messages:

  • We’re closing for the time being.
  • We care about all of us, which is why we’re closing.
  • Here are some ways to stay in touch with us and what we do together.

It may strike you as odd, but I am warmed by these messages. Businesses large and small, and institutions of all sorts– educational, religious, governmental, etc.– are taking steps to promote the common good. Yes, the reasons for closure vary, and not all motivations are noble. But it is happening, and that is good.

Friday night I went to the last yoga class at Artemis, my local yoga studio, before they closed for awhile. My friend Norah met me there. We brought our own mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets, straps– the works. There were about 8 or so students in a large studio, so there was plenty of room. Liz R, my favorite yoga instructor of all time, helped us get spread out.

The Friday night class is a special one. Liz R greets us gently and cheerfully, inviting us to settle into the transition from the work week to the weekend. Her restorative class begins with gentle movement (partial sun salutations, twists, some balances, some easy stretches), in preparation for a nice, satisfying yoga nidra. We make ourselves comfortable on our mats for the next 20–25 minutes while she takes us through a body scan and mindfulness narrative. I like to put my legs up the wall with my butt on a bolster, which is super-relaxing (to me, YMMV). Invariably, someone falls asleep (it is Friday night, after all), and we’re aware of (hopefully) gentle snoring off in the background.

This Friday, Liz R did not pummel us with information or warnings, or in fact say much at all. She just greeted each person and offered verbal help to get them set up so everyone felt comfortable. And we did. I don’t think I’ve ever relaxed more in a yoga class. It wasn’t that I forgot about my worries and uncertainty. It wasn’t that I become more reassured or confident about the duration or intensity of the outbreak. I just sunk into being there, at that moment, feeling the comfort of others and the sound of Liz’s voice, moving us through postures and then guiding us through yoga nidra. She’s planning on recording it and posting it on the Artemis website. It’s not up yet, but should be sometime this week (I’ll post an update in the comments when it’s there).

When class was over, we quietly rolled up our mats and gathered our things. Liz said, “I won’t see you next Friday night, but hope to see you all some Friday night soon”. Yes, that’s what we know, and that’s how we feel.

I do a lot of yoga at home, but I will really miss that Friday night class. I’ll miss all my group in-person yoga classes and other group physical activities, too. Can I safely take a walk in the woods with another person? Maybe so, we’ll see. What about yoga at my house with one other person (in a good-sized space)? Again, we don’t know.

For now, I’m practicing at home, walking in the woods, being in the moment, and taking it day by day.

Dear readers, what are you doing at home or in your neighborhoods, with gyms and yoga studios and other places closing? I’d love to hear from you. And I’ll post Liz’s yoga nidra in the comments when it comes out.

220 in 2020 · climbing · family · swimming · yoga

Bettina has some news: exercising while pregnant

CW: discusses pregnancy

Last month, I blogged about my February slump. It’s true that I always find it harder to motivate myself towards the end of winter than at the beginning, but this year I had an added difficulty that I didn’t mention in my post because it was still early days: I’m currently 16 weeks pregnant, meaning that in February I was in the middle of first trimester fatigue. I. Have. Never. Been. So. Tired. In. My. Life. (Anyone who is tempted to counter this with an “ooooh, it’s going to get so much worse once the baby is here!”, please refrain in the interest of my sanity.)

Picture of a pregnant woman (not me) holding her belly. She’s much further along than I am, but I am definitely starting to show.

As a result, I’m now so far behind on the 220 in 2020 challenge that even if I kick things up more than a notch, I likely still won’t make it to 220 this year. Because come the end of August (due date: 30 August) and probably even before that, I probably won’t be doing much exercising for quite some time. I’ll keep reassessing what exercise means to me as I get further along and of course after I give birth, and I firmly plan on doing things, but I’m also not going to push myself beyond my limits. If I need a night on the sofa rather than in the pool, I’m going to give myself that.

While exercising has been tough, it also hasn’t been non-existent. I stopped bouldering essentially as soon as I knew I was pregnant. I went once in early January only to find that I was scared of falling the entire time I was on the wall. A lot of people boulder at least through their first trimester and possibly longer, but not me. I don’t want to climb in constant fear. But I am still swimming with my team, albeit a little slower than before. I’ve been running as well (much slower than before), and I’ve been doing yoga. I’ll report a little more on how these have been going in my post next Wednesday! In April, I’m starting a prenatal yoga class. I want to keep all of that up for as long as I possibly can. As I move into the second trimester, I’m hoping to get some of my energy back and also still be able to do most movements. So far, so good!

Also, I’m ridiculously thrilled and terrified in equal measure to become a parent. We are having a son, and we plan to raise a strong, fit feminist.

I would be excited to hear about your experience with working out while pregnant! Feel free to share in the comments.

dogs · fitness · yoga

Yoga Dogs!

Sam and her scrappy cat clawed pink yoga mat with Cheddar!

Like many of the Fit is a Feminist Issue bloggers I’m a fan of Yoga with Adriene.

I like this review of Adriene’s yoga videos because it mentions one of my favourite things about YWA, Benji!

“Adriene Mishler isn’t the only star of Yoga with Adriene. Her fans love her sidekick, Benji the blue heeler, almost as much as they love downward dog. Adriene Mishler exudes plenty of mushy-gushy spiritual thinking, but the yoga evangelist embraces something else, too: self-deprecating humor.”

There’s something about Benji that makes me connect with Adriene and feel like I can do this without getting all self-conscious and serious. We’re two women and our dogs, moving our bodies on our mats. We’re making time for yoga in the middle of our lives, lives that include canine companions.

For me, at home exercise almost always involves Cheddar. All my walking is walking with Cheddar. And getting down on the floor with Cheddar is always a popular move. He likes the company.

Since I’ve decided to stay clear of the gym and the yoga studio in these times of the novel coronavirus, I’m going to be doing more yoga at home with Cheddar in weeks and maybe months to come. Wish us luck!

I’ve blogged about Cheddar and yoga before. See here. And planking with Cheddar too. He’s a very photogenic dog.

So is Benji!

Adriene and Benji
fitness · walking · winter · yoga

One weekend, seven women, some activity, much downtime, no bad news

This weekend I write to y’all from Ogunquit Maine, where my book club getaway is in progress. We’re a group of friends who enjoy books, each others’ company, cooking and eating yummy food, and movement.

I feel deeply connected to these women. We play multiple roles in each others’ lives: work colleagues, co-authors, confidants, cycling buddies, yoga friends, and of course fellow literary critics…

Yes, we are discussing a book this weekend (Good Morning, Midnight, by Lily Brooks-Dalton; IMHO definitely worth a read), but the main business of this retreat is to take time off from the world (no, we’re not talking about the world AT ALL in this post) and eat, sleep, talk, move, laugh, and talk some more.

What have we been up to? Friday it was a brief ride for some and clamber on rocks for most of us near the Nubble lighthouse. It was windy and cold– I mean, it’s March in Maine. Duh. But it was fun, even with a few very cold sprinkles of rain (worse than snow in my view). Then food prep, fireplace attention, puzzle-solving, lazy chat, and eventually, tottering off to bed.

Rachel and me, on rocks at the Nubble lighthouse which was (unfortunately out of the shot).
Rachel and me, on rocks at the Nubble lighthouse which was (unfortunately out of the shot).

Saturday was much more active. A couple of friends had their bikes and trainers in their cars, so did intervals outside in the cold on the deck (perfect), accompanied by rock music (my favorite tune was Rock You Like a Hurricane).

Michele and Rachel, smiling and pedaling on their trainers on the cold but sunny deck.
Michele and Rachel, smiling and pedaling on their trainers on the cold but sunny deck.

I didn’t bring my bike setup, instead opting for the ease of a yoga mat. I had a good view of the cyclists from inside (except when in down dog). Norah joined me for a nice morning stretchy workout.

Me in downward facing dog on my mat inside the house.
Me in downward facing dog on my mat inside the house.

Others decided to do walking meditation in the woods, appropriately bundled up for the weather.

Kathy, coming back from her walking in the woods meditation.
Kathy, coming back from her walking in the woods meditation.

Mid-afternoon we headed to the beach. The wind had died down, and the almost-full-moon was rising.

Almost-full-moon, rising over the ocean in Maine.
Almost-full-moon, rising over the ocean in Maine.

There was some cavorting.

Me, holding a pose by the ocean.
Me, posing by the ocean.

As I finish up this post, I’m wondering if there’s any message here other than “hey, my very nice friends and I are having a very nice weekend in a very nice place.” Hmmm. I think I have one:

Life is tough. Bad things happen all the time, and a big bad thing is happening now. We are hearing a lot about how to deal with this and other big bad things. Let me add one more way: if you have the time and the space and it feels safe to do so, spend some easygoing time with people you care about.

Kathy, me, Michele, Lisa and Rachel in front of the Nubble lighthouse (before Kim and Norah arrived).
Kathy, me, Michele, Lisa and Rachel in front of the Nubble lighthouse (before Kim and Norah arrived).

Readers, what are you doing to deal with big bad news these days other than reading and listening and talking constantly about it and washing your hands? I’d love to hear from you.

Fear · gear · yoga

First Time Ever Surfing

I’ve never boogie boarded. I’ve never really body surfed. I’ve never skateboarded. So, when friends convinced me to take a surf lesson a couple of weeks ago in Costa Rica, I was flat out scared. Surfing felt like going straight to the big time, without any warm up in small venues. It was no help that my friends were proudly showing me scrapes, cuts and bruises on their legs and lips. Yes, they were all big smiles and it’s-so-fun and you-should-try-it. But was it really fun? (If you’re a Bojack Horseman fan, you can read that last sentence with Mr. PB’s voice.)

I wasn’t scared of the inevitable humiliation of being a beginner. I am more proud of being a beginner at my age (53) than I am embarrassed by my total lack of skill trying something I’ve never done. I was scared of injury and in my worst pre-lesson moments a vision of being conked out by a surf board and drowning presented itself as a possibility, alongside all the other theoretically lesser bodily harms. Pain was a factor, yes. But more than that, I didn’t want to be out of commission for all the sports I love (and consider to be my mental health support). Especially, as I’d be getting back from Costa Rica in time for my last weeks of cross-country skiing, likely until 2021.

But … I like to think of myself as a gamely person. Also as someone who doesn’t run away from every fear she has (I’ll sit with my fears in meditation sometimes). I said yes, to prop up that particular aspect of my self-image.

That’s how I found myself prone on a surfboard on the beach, pretending to paddle with my arms and then push up quickly to a standing position. So easy on the beach. Kind of like a quick-quick transition from yoga’s chataranga pose to warrior one, with cupid-like arms.

Oh, and if you’re a surfer, I will also mention that I’m goofy. Yes, my goofiness pre-dates surfing, but now it’s been certified.  For non-surfers, that means that my back foot on the board is my left foot. To determine which foot is your back one in surfing, launch yourself into a sock-slide on a smooth floor and notice the position of your feet. Right foot back is regular. Left foot is goofy.

All this beach practice was one thing. You will not be shocked to learn that it’s a whole different story in the water.

Since there are no pictures of me surfing and I didn’t want a random woman from Unsplash (also–what’s with all the giant breasts and tiny bikinis when one searches “woman surfing” on Unsplash??), this is a picture of Tamara surfing bigger waves than I did (by Cat Slatsinsky). I interviewed Tamara for my book and this picture is in it.

Nosara is supposed to be one of the easiest places to learn how to surf. From my vantage point of absolutely no expertise, that sounds plausible. Over the course of my first hour on the surf board, I stood up and surfed to shore four or five times. When I say “surf”, I’m using that term loosely, to describe what might not be immediately identifiable to the outsider as surfing. Picture everything in frame-by-frame slo-mo on tiny waves and you’ll have an idea of my version of surfing. An exhilarating challenge, yet also just playing. Plus, ocean. Plus, deliciously physically tiring.  

Yes, I fell off the board more than I stood on the board. Yes, I seem to still be discovering bruises I hadn’t noticed and can’t remember exactly which mishap caused them. Not to mention the carpal tunnel syndrome ache in my left wrist from guiding the board through the waves walking out to where I was going to theoretically catch a wave. And yes, I was scared each of the two more days I surfed. But not scared enough not to do it.

Because my friends were right; I reveled in the total liberation of the novice. With no expectations of how things should be, the experience of right now is super charged. Every victory is epic.

I will surf again. Some extra items I’ll acquire before then: a water-worthy hat with a 360 brim and a chin strap; ultra-zinc-y sunscreen for my face and the backs of my hands; water shoes to alleviate fear of sharp shell cuts; maybe even a surf shirt that isn’t too big.

Because I found the surf shirt I wore at my apartment a while back, after so many guests had come through that I claimed it as my own, instead of contacting every different person to see if they’d mislaid a surf shirt (why had they even brought it on an NYC trip? Surf shirt owner—if you are reading this and it’s yours, happy to send it back. I only wore it three times for extremely light surfing).

To offset total novelty, I also did a lot of mat yoga in Costa Rica (I say “mat” because these days I usually I do aerial yoga, easier on my hamstrings). How could I not? Nosara is overflowing with yogis. I took my first class at The Gilded Iguana, where I was staying. The studio was small and gorgeous, reminiscent of a glass-enclosed tree house. Disconcertingly, the class ended up being private, because I was the only person to show up. In this land of yoga, the studio was so new that it hasn’t caught on yet (check it out if you go!). That was an intense class. Then, on the instructor Violeta’s recommendation, I went to two other classes at different places, with teachers she loved. At the first class, packed with 20 and 30-somethings, in full yoga retreat mode, I was initially daunted. They would all be so much better than me. They were all so young. Then I thought, wait, I’ve been doing yoga since before they knew how to walk. The classes were excellent—one with Emily at Bodhi Tree and the other with Zack at Harmony. The studios were beautiful, shaded, open-air, wood-floored oases. The wind was up during one class and we practiced to the soothing clicks of bamboo trees knocking against one another.  

By the time I boarded the plane home, every muscle in my body was exhausted. That’s a good vacation, for me. 

Yesterday, I was out cross-country skiing, one of my absolute faves (no offense surfing). When I got to the top of my most-loved climb, I paused to take in the view and breathe, and once I’d caught my breath, breathe in some gratitude for the gift of the ski.

fitness · yoga

Penguin yoga galore, #TBT

Penguin yoga is trending again in our search terms. I have no idea why. But here’s the post they’ll find. Enjoy!


About two or three people a day find this blog by searching for “nude yoga” or “naked yoga.” (Here is the post they get.)

But this week a new yoga phrase cropped up: “penguin yoga!” Penguin yoga? What on earth could that be? I searched too, couldn’t resist, and now I have to share. Enjoy.

Penguin Yoga, on Deviant Art, Penguin Yoga, on Deviant Art,

mom penguin baby doing yoga? - from Cheezburger (of course) mom penguin baby doing yoga? – from Cheezburger
(of course)

An actual penguin sort of doing yoga An actual penguin sort of doing yoga


Turns out you can take any goofy animal, add yoga, and get lots of cute images. Sloth yoga? Check. Panda bear yoga? Check. Here’s 10 animal yoga poses…by animals.

You all know rule 34? If it exists, there’s a porn of it. See database here and xkcd cartoon here. There’s a new version, if a cute animal exists, there’s a yoga of it.

Sloth in Lotus Pose Sloth in Lotus Pose

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