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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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?
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!
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!