habits · yoga

Moved by Move: Christine H and yoga practice

I know that it wasn’t everyone’s cup of metaphorical tea but I thoroughly enjoyed Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day practice this past month.

The series was called Move and it was exactly what I needed to start off my year.

The sessions were short – the longest was about half an hour – and they felt very do-able for me this time, even though I couldn’t necessarily do all of the movements in any given session.

I did all 30 sessions in the 30 days but I didn’t do one every day. I had a good run but I had a migraine on Saturday night and had to skip that day’s session. So I did Saturday’s session on Sunday and then did two practices on Monday. I didn’t feel any pressure to ‘catch up’ or anything, I just tied up a lot of loose ends on Monday and I thought finishing off the 30 days of yoga would help me put a bow on the month.

A GIF of a person’s hands tying a white ribbon on a present
Obviously, in this scenario, my January is inside that box. ID: a GIF of a person’s hands tying a white bow on a present wrapped in striped paper the present is resting on a light coloured surface and there are lights and Xmas/winter decorations around it.

Meanwhile, it was a bit frustrating to realize, while doing Saturday’s session on Sunday, that it was so gentle that I could have done it the night before after the worst of my migraine had passed. It might have even helped. But don’t think that I am being hard on myself about it, resting also made sense!

I’ve been doing some thinking about why it felt pretty easy* to stick with a daily practice this time and here’s what I came up with:

  1. The sessions were short so, not only could I literally fit them into my evening, I could IMAGINE being able to fit them in. This might be an ADHD thing but around 20 minutes seemed so feasible but 30 minutes might have felt like FAR TOO MUCH TIME.
  2. I started a new level of meds at the end of November and my ability to judge my capacity has really improved so I am not as worn out in the evenings.
  3. Since my kids are older, the shape of my evenings is different so it is easier to fit yoga in.
  4. Something has clicked for me and her language around movement really resonated with me this time. I was able to tune into nuances in my movements that I haven’t noticed before and that was really encouraging for me.
  5. I have gotten a lot more comfortable with choosing to modify a movement. I used to worry that I was somehow cheating or wimping out but now I just do what makes sense in the moment.
  6. I decided to practice on my own terms. I used to try to be all focused and attuned and ‘good’ and not check the time or not interrupt myself. This time I committed to just being my often-distracted self and, shockingly, that made it easier to get on the mat.
  7. I spent all month writing about building habits and I was putting my own advice into practice on the regular.

I have done short term yoga practices lots of times and I can have long stretches (ha!) of doing a few poses every day but this time a daily 15-20 minute practices feels like something I can actually maintain for the long term.

A GIF of a dog stretching on a wooden floor
I think we have to say ‘Oh, good stretch!’ when a dog does this, right? ID: GIF of a large black and brown dog stretching to lean down toward its front paws and the leaning forward to extend its back paws as it moves along on a wooden floor. The word yoga is in white on the bottom right of the image.

But, since I know me, I know that I need to choose those sessions in advance.

I was tempted to just start this series over again but I think I’ll mix things up a bit first.

I’m going to do this morning series from Yoga with Joelle and see how her insights in these practices help me build on the lessons I found in my January practice.

*I really only had one day that I struggled to make myself do the practice. It took me a full ninety minutes of sitting on my mat, reading, drawing, and texting my friend before I could make myself do the session but I did it. It was half-assed but it was done.

yoga

Not too late to start Yoga with Adriene’s January MOVE practice #YWA

Image description: photo of a dark-haired woman (Adriene) doing a reclining yoga pose on a mat on a hardwood floor, with a dog sleeping beside her (Benji), and a large window, trees and a portion of a handrail through the window.

I’m pretty late to the Yoga with Adriene party. After years of hearing about her from lots of different friends, I finally checked out her YouTube channel, replete with hundreds if not more practices of various lengths and various themes and focuses. January 2019 was the first time I did one of her 30-day “yoga journeys,” where she posts new content every day for thirty days. I loved it and am a convert. What a great way to start the year. I have found that the commitment really keeps me grounded in January. Adriene’s attitude is always welcoming and makes me feel good even on not great days. And both times I’ve done it I have found the final session, towards which the month builds, to be an emotionally powerful experience.

Yesterday (January 2) was Day One of the 2022 version: MOVE. It isn’t too late to jump in. If you’d like to do so, you can sign up here. The videos all stream on YouTube, so they are really easy to access.

And if you’d like to see the schedule, here you go!

Image description: 30-day calendar with six columns and five rows, each square stating a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2..), a theme (e.g. HERE, OPEN…), and a length of time in minutes.

I started today and I loved the “HERE” practice for Day One. If you decide to join this year, I wish you all the best with it.

Tracy

cycling · family · fitness · yoga

Lizard Pose with Lizzy!

I confess. I’m partly writing about lizard pose to share photos of a new pet in the house, Lizzy the bearded dragon. My son just moved back home and he was nervous we wouldn’t like her. Luckily, she seems to fit in just fine as part of the working from home crew.

But that’s not the whole story.

In an online cycling group of which I’m a member someone recommended lizard pose as an excellent yoga pose for cyclists.

What’s LIzard Pose? “Lizard Pose is an excellent stretching posture for the hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps. Integrating this pose into your regular yoga practice improves hip flexibility and strengthens the leg muscles.”

I’ve been riding lots lately (207 km this week on Zwift) and feeling in need of some bike speciifc stretching in addition to the Yoga With Adriene I’ve been doing. So Sunday morning, ater taking Cheddar for a walk, Sarah and I spent some time with Adriene and lizard pose. I love how low key silly and goofy Adriene is. I feel much more relaxed and happy on that mat with attitude.

As always, there are even more advanced poses.

Here’s flying lizard.

But for what it’s worth, even Lizzy–an actual lizard–can’t do flying lizard and neither can I. That’s just fine by me.

Happy Monday from Sam and Lizzy!

fitness

What’s your bakasana?

A few months ago, I wrote a post called “what’s your drishti?“, using the yoga concept of focusing on one point while in a balancing posture as a way of grounding ourselves in a time of chaos. Since then, I’ve also been kind of quietly obsessed with a particular asana: bakasana, also known as “crow.”

This is bakasana, beautifully held, on Day 18 of Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day “Breath” series.

She makes it look so effortless.

But for a lot of people, crow is one of “those poses” that can generate a lot of internal self-talk of the “why can’t I do this thing that everyone else can do, what is wrong with me” variety. Where we lose track of the fact that all bodies are different, and that is a good thing.

After we did crow in the Breath series this week, someone posted about in our “221 workouts in 2021” group how crow “had seemed so absurdly hard (and honestly a bit scary to me) that I would resent when it was a part of beginner or “all levels” yoga classes.

I was the same, for literally decades. I’ve been doing yoga since about 1995, in many different modalities. Some years, I practice intermittently, some years, every day, but it’s been a pretty steady part of my life. And for 24 years, every time we got to the crow part of a class, I’d just do some squatting and hop a bit, fruitlessly, on my arms. I thought it was one of those things I “couldn’t do” — and I had a fair bit of negative self regard about that.

But up until about three years ago, I’d thought the same thing about handstand — that it was one of those things that Younger People or More Athletic People or Prettier People (WTF? I KNOW!) did. But there was a moment in a class where the teacher encouraged us to play, and I swallowed my considerable fear and kicked upside down against a wall. And, voila.

Remembering that, I started working harder to really focus on what was actually needed for crow. It became a lockdown project for me, with my mat always unfurled in my living room. I started working on malasana (low squat), doing a lot of springy hand balances. Kept actually trying, feeling my way through the posture, rather than sort of trying to hop onto my elbows and failing. I came at it from the yoga perspective, and in my virtual superhero workouts as a natural companion to a million pushups and pike pushups and handstand pushups. And then suddenly, sometime in the middle of 2020, for a moment or two, I was up and holding, wobble but strong.

I was hooked. I was defying gravity, and I felt stronger than I ever had. At first it was still super sketchy and unpredictable. I set the timer on my camera and took a photo for a yoga teacher friend, and she gave me excellent advice: look ahead, not down, and pull your core up toward the ceiling, almost like an upside down hollow hold.

I’ve set myself a little challenge of doing crow at least once a day during January. Two weeks ago, in a live streamed class with one of my favourite teachers, I successfully held bakasana, transitioned into a headstand, held that and then back to bakasana.

I felt like I’d lifted a car off a baby.

I did this bakasana while listening to the US inauguration ceremonies, breathing metaphorically deeply for the first time in more than four years

I didn’t know I had that in me.

Now that I’ve found my centre of balance, it’s a really powerful pose for me. Some of it is obvious — look what I didn’t know I could do! (Much like my revelation when I made my mother’s tourtière recipe for the first time this Christmas that I know how to make good pie crust).

But it’s not just about untapped strength. Bakasana — like every yoga pose — is different every time. I have to pause and take a deep breath before I start, because it’s beginner’s mind every time, requires deep attention and presence. I still don’t “know” any time I’m on the mat if I’ll be able to achieve it — it’s a very “this moment is only this moment” practice. Which is humbling, in a good way. It distills me to be really clear about intention.

Being able to do bakasana now doesn’t mean I’ve hit “a new level” in yoga — it means that sometimes, now, I can do bakasana. It makes me more aware of the “simpler” practices that I still struggle with, like feeling suffocated in “easy” twists. It puts me deep in the space of “what am I doing, right here, right now? What am I capable of? And what do I need to listen to?

And that, as they say, is the lesson that I want to take off the mat.

If you want to play with bakasana, Alida in our 221 workout group found this terrific video, showing progressions and how you can use the wall for support.

But bakasana is also a metaphor for those things that remind us that we can do more than we thought. And that things that seemed far away can be nearer than they looked.

What’s your version of bakasana, right now? What new things are you working on? How is that going for you?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is really trying to figure out how to breathe deeply and twist at the same time.

221 in 2021 · motivation · yoga

Kicking off 221 workouts in 2021 with 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. Join us!

I’ve invited you already. See Want to join our merry band for 221 workouts in 2021? Here’s how…

But I now want to also suggest an excellent way to get started. Make Yoga with Adriene part of your plan. It’s a great way to kick off January and to get at least 30 workouts in in month 1 of the challenge.

It’s my plan. I think it’s Cate’s plan. And I know other bloggers who are also counting workouts who plan to do that too.

See you there!

Read more about Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day Challenge here.

fitness · monthly check in · season transitions · Seasonal sadness

Sam’s monthly check in: September was busy!

As usual, September is a blur. That’s true in both non pandemic and pandemic times. I’ve been a student, then graduate student, then Professor, now also Dean. September is always a blur for me.

This one was especially busy with lots of time with students, in my role as Dean and Professor, both physically distanced on campus and virtually on Teams/Zoom. The university is a hectic place as we carry on mostly remotely. So many meetings!

We’re also busy navigating our slow and cautious return to campus as a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic begins which will likely mean drawing back, restricting our activities further, and staying at home much more than usual this winter. There’ll be no warm weather biking for me in January. In a recent post Cate asked what we’ve been doing to nourish our soul, given that we are heading into a tough winter.

Well, I spent September working hard, but also riding my bike, visiting with family outdoors, taking care of some basic needs (haircut and dentist) and reading fiction. I’ve been trying to appreciate fall for what it is, rather than worrying about what’s to come. Less anticipatory sadness more now is all we have. Thanks Nicole!

Sarah and I have been spending more time at the farm in Prince Edward County. That means loops around Big Island and racing the Osprey Nest to Osprey Nest Strava segment we created.

I’ve also started working on campus, one day a week. That means I’m bike commuting again, which I’ve missed.

Left; Sam wearing her pink sparkly helmet and her Art Gallery of Guelph Begging Bear mask.
Right: Pink Brompton leaning on rock outside campus building

Here’s my office on campus, my outdoor office hours, and an empty (usually bustling) student plaza.

Despite being busy I’m still riding lots (for me). I might make 5000 km this year.

I’m loving Yoga With Adriene’s PE series for young people. That’s where my yoga attention span is these days. And we’re going to push backyard personal training as far as we can into the winter months.

I’m trying to think like a Norwegian about winter: “ People in Svalbard (at 78 deg north) had a more positive mindset than the people in Tromsø (69 deg north), who took a more optimistic view than people in Oslo (60 deg north). In other words, the positive wintertime mindset is most common where it’s most needed. These positive attitudes were apparent in Leibowitz’s casual conversations; indeed, she says that many of her friends struggled to understand why you would not enjoy winter. They embraced the possibility of skiing or hiking in the mountains, and savoured the chance to practice koselig – a Norwegian version of Denmark’s hygge – which might involve snuggling under blankets with a warm drink in the candlelight. Far from dwindling in the dark, Tromsø’s community flourished in the long polar night. “There is this interaction between the culture that you’re part of, and the mentality or mindset that grows out of it,” says Prof Joar Vittersø, Leibowitz’s collaborator at the Arctic University of Tromsø.”

dogs · yoga

#YogaWithCheddar

Yoga with Cheddar

I’m doing Yoga With Adriene’s June series, COURAGE.

Tonight we did her Power Yoga Break.

Apparently Cheddar is too.

I love how he follows along even doing Savasana with me at the end. Here’s Adriene by the way on Savasana or corpse pose.

With me working at home all the time Cheddar now accompanies me around the house. He’s in the background of all my Zoom calls. We go for walks when I get a break. But I think his favourite thing is yoga.

yoga

Join Sam for June? June is for COURAGE with Adriene

I enjoy yoga when I do it. I rarely regret it. But these days, like Cate, I’m finding it harder than usual to unroll my mat. I started out this strange time of staying at home with Yoga for Adriene. I think for June I’ll try it again.

Cheddar likes it too.

Join me.

June 2020 Yoga Calendar – COURAGE. Yoga With Adriene Free monthly Yoga calendar! If this is your first time joining us for a community theme, welcome! Each month, we come together as a community around a theme that inspires questions and guides intention for a regular and sustainable at home yoga practice.”

June 2020 Yoga Calendar – COURAGE | Yoga With Adriene

dogs · fitness · training · weight lifting

The missing puzzle piece of Sam’s pandemic home workout plan

You know that I left the gym early. I don’t remember when I last went but I posted about my decision to leave on March 9th. It’s been awhile since I’ve set foot inside the gym, the yoga studio, or the Bike Shed.

So I’ve been working out at home for awhile now. Mostly it’s all fit together pretty well.

Piece one of the puzzle is that I’ve been riding and racing my bike virtually. Hello Zwift! Piece two is that I’m back together with Yoga with Adriene, enjoying her Yoga for Uncertain Times series quite a lot. Piece three is everyday exercise walking Cheddar the dog.

Cheddar, napping post walk

But the fourth piece is not working out quite so well. It’s there but it’s a work in progress.

That’s at home strength training. I’ll confess we weren’t as well-prepared. We have a motley, somewhat random collection of tools. The one great thing is Sarah’s TRX which we mounted in the living room which is now combo home office for two and home gym for three. We also pandemic panic purchased a 25 lb kettlebell the day before the shops all closed. Sarah also has a lone 8 lb dumbbell from her injured shoulder physio days. And we own some resistance tubing with handles, one is not very much resistance and the other one a bit too much. You read about that purchase here.

My son is home from university and he’s regular gym goer. He usually lifts pretty serious weights most days of the week. I think at first he thought he’d wait it out but now he’s planning home workouts for us, scouring Instagram for ideas. I’m really glad he’s here.

It feels a bit like the cooking challenge where you’re given random oddball ingredients and asked to construct a meal. But he’s doing a great job.

How to make chest and triceps day out of this?

Sam’s random home gym bits and pieces

We’re making do but I miss the gym. How about you?

Once it warms up we’re going to hang the heavy punching bag in the backyard. Will report back!

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