Weekly Recap

July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Exercise:

  • Monday – 75 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Tuesday – 3.5 mile run, 90 minute vinyasa flow yoga class
  • Wednesday – 1 mile run/walk with shelter dog, 2 mile run
  • Thursday – 1.3 mile run to meet up with running group, 2.2 mile run with running group, 0.66 run home from bus
  • Friday – None
  • Saturday – 2.5 hour yoga workshop
  • Sunday – 5.0 mile run

I tried to add in more yoga this week, including a workshop!  The runs were mostly what was called for in my training plan.

Most memorable event of the week: The yoga workshop I attended on Saturday was great (and is so far the only thing I can cross off my summer bucket list)!  It was called “Hands to Earth” and it focused on arm balances mostly with a bit of inversion practice.  This is where I am looking to evolve my practice the most as it has not been until recently that I have even been very capable of getting off the ground.  The workshop was taught by John Vitarelli of Dhyana Yoga and emphasized proper forms of chaturanga, upward dog, and downward dog as being the basis of any arm balance or inversion.  So of course this workshop was rather intense!  I definitely have never stayed in chaturanga for such a long time in my life.  Aside from the progress in more commonly performed arm balances like crow and firefly, I got to see some progress in others that are less likely to be thrown into the normal vinyasa flow class.  We did eka pada bakasana II and it felt amazing to find that I could actually go up into it and stay!  So amazing that I have just been doing it randomly around my apartment ever since.

Best thing I ate: I have been preparing meals a lot at home, but haven’t had the desire to prepare much so hardly anything seems to stick out.  Boring.

Best thing I drank: I went to a bottle share hosted by Philly Beer Scene and Philly Tap Finder and got to have tastes of many great beers.  I was pretty nervous about going as I really did not know anyone who would be there and I feel at beer events people kind of stick to who they know.  Then again it also tends to be heavy on the male presence, not that there weren’t some females there, but I just always feel a bit odd when I’m so in the minority.  Admittedly, I’m terrible at striking up a conversation with others and as much as I said to myself I would try I felt a little overwhelmed.  I realize this is turning into a story of my social awkwardness rather than a recap of the best thing that I drank.  Ah well.  Anyway, everyone brought some really great stuff, much of which you can’t find here in PA and/or stuff that has been cellared and held onto for a while.  I used to buy far more bottled beer and share it with others in the past, but lately I don’t really know anyone who is into it anymore so it was a great way to get to do something like that again.  There are talks of this being an ongoing even so hopefully I will participate in more in the future.  Here is a photo of some of the aftermath (I really need to get better with this photo thing, and blogging in general):

Letting Go

July 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

The subject of non-attachment has come up in several of the yoga classes I have taken recently and it couldn’t have been more perfect timing for me to hear it.  Non-attachment is precisely what I need to be practicing in my life right now.  If only it weren’t so difficult!  I am at this weird point in my life where I am feeling more confident than ever, looking better than ever, wanting to live life more than ever, yet I am so stuck fixating on things that I need to just let go of.  I say that I don’t want my past to define me, yet I continue to fear that it will.  I say that I don’t want to continue to make the same bad decisions over and over, yet I do.  Instead of just being ok with the moment that I am in regardless of how bad it might feel, I would rather let loneliness and envy take over and set myself up to be hurt (and usually look rather foolish while doing so) yet again.  Instead of taking risks and trying to change my socially phobic ways, I go back to projecting my insecurities about myself onto others.

When I went to google “non-attachment” one of the first things that came up was this post on zenhabits by Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha.  Every word hit home with me.  Every.  Single.  Word.  I’m far too attached to feelings, moments, things, people, my past, silly fantasies, fears of the future, and so on.  And I know this.  Non-attachment is not a new concept to me and I like to think that I try to live in the moment far more lately, but truthfully I know I am not trying nearly as much I should.  Now has to be enough, as now is all there really is.

I have come so far in the past few years and while it is frustrating that still can’t seem to do things like find employment or find a social circle for myself, I know that I cannot let these things or my feelings about them define and control me.  I can’t sit around and think about what I could have done differently, as I will never have the chance to do it differently.  I need to be constantly opening myself up to new experiences, new people, and new ways of life.  Instead of being attached to the false notion that if X happens things will change, I need to constantly remember that change lies within me.  As said in a song by one of my favorite bands and as I have been saying to myself over and over again “They say the past must die for the future to be born.”  And from the end of the article linked above:

Just know you have the power to choose from moment to moment how you experience things you enjoy: with a sense of ownership, anxiety, and fear, or with a sense of freedom, peace and love.

The most important question: what do you choose right now?

(Source)

4 Yoga Poses That Changed My Life

June 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

The other week I saw an article on the Yoga Journal Facebook page titled 4 Yoga Poses That Changed My Life.  It made me start thinking about which ones changed my life at this point in my practice.  Like everything in yoga (and life) this is a constantly evolving and changing thing, but I have had many recent breakthroughs in yoga lately.  My practice has gotten so much stronger in the past year alone.  My body never ceases to amaze me.  All I really do at this point in time as far as physical activity is concerned is yoga and running.  The physical strength I have gained from yoga alone is pretty tremendous and the mental strength is possibly one of the few things keeping me (somewhat) sane.  I never hesitate to tell people to try yoga, though many still find it to be a bit absurd.

Here is my current list of yoga poses that changed my life:

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) – The moment this seemingly simple pose changed my life is when it really began to felt like a resting pose.  For years when I was extremely out-of-shape, overweight, and not practicing consistently I did not understand how this could possibly be a resting pose as it pained me to stay still in it for more than a few seconds.  Now I find that I never want to move once in it.  I can focus on my breath and regroup.  Once I became aware of this shift I really felt like I had become a much stronger yogi both mentally and physically.
  2. Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) – Chaturanga Dandasana was once my mortal enemy.  I could never see the day where I wouldn’t be suffering through each and every one.  Often I would pretend I was actually transitioning into the pose when really I was just sort of plopping down on my stomach.  Other times I couldn’t even pretend.  Sometime earlier this year that all changed for me. I began to notice that I could make it through a full class doing every single one as properly as possible.  Now I actually look forward to flowing through Chaturanga because it makes me feel so strong.  This is one of the poses that truly makes me realize how very far I have come.
  3. Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) – This is on my list for reasons very similar to the author of the original article.  Arm balances are by far the weakest part of my practice, and therefore have always been the ones that I have dreamt of being able to do the most.  One of the first books on yoga that I ever purchased is Baron Baptiste’s Journey Into Power : How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life With Yoga.  On the cover he is in Bakasana (Crane Pose).  This has been one of my main goal poses in yoga and it still somewhat eludes me.  At this point I am not sure if it is more a balance or positioning issue, but I still can’t hold it for more than mere seconds without collapsing.  So the day that I discovered I could do Firefly pose I was extremely surprised.  Now that I know the mechanics of it a bit better I can understand why this arm balance is a better fit for where I currently am, as my flexibility has always been strong and my core strength has vastly improved.  I still have a way to go with this pose, but lifting myself off the ground with my arms gives me such a rush and I feel that same confidence that the author speaks of.  I remember doing this in gymnastics class when much younger and to be able to find that strength again all of these years later is quite amazing.
  4. Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) – This pose came to me sometime last year, but still stands out as one of the poses that changed my practice simply because for years I was much to heavy to get myself into it.  I could never get my legs past a certain point, which always made me feel rather pathetic and defeated.  I know there are various reasons why people struggle with this pose, but I knew that for me it was directly related to my weight.  Therefore, it was another goal pose of mine.  I simply wanted to be light enough and strong enough to lift my lower body into the air with ease.  So for that reason, this pose was a major milestone for me.

Of course I now have new sets of asanas to conquer, while I continue to let all the others evolve.  Maybe I will do a post on my current goal poses, though for now my big thing seems to be having the strength and courage to do headstand, handstand, and forearm stand without assistance from the wall or an instructor.

Yoga at Race Street Pier

June 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tonight I went to an outdoor yoga class for the first time ever.  While I have been practicing yoga on and off for over a decade, I tended to shy away from outdoor yoga classes in the city.  Lately however I feel pretty secure doing something like yoga in public so I decided to give it a shot.  A local studio I practice at, Amrita Yoga & Wellness in Fishtown, is having an outdoor by donation summer series of yoga classes at the lovely Race Street Pier.  All proceeds go to Street Tails Animal Rescue of Northern Liberties.  Since Race Street Pier is within walking distance from my apartment (a little over 1 mile) I decided it would be a nice to check it out.

My main fear was that there wouldn’t really be anyone there.  For some reason this is always a fear of mine because I am much more comfortable being a random face in the crowd rather than have any focus on me.  But given that it was also the first class of this series there was only one other person there for the class other than the instructor, a woman who worked planning events for the waterfront.  The class was one hour from 6:30PM – 7:30PM and while basic, it also was a very energizing and grounding practice.  Doing yoga on the waterfront was highly enjoyable, especially being that I am a person who is naturally drawn to water.  It was pretty neat to see the bridge and New Jersey while standing in various asanas (and the Philadelphia skyline when in downward dog).  It was also a bit disorienting to look up during an asana and seeing nothing but the clear, blue sky.  Definitely quite different than being bound by four walls.  I definitely hope to take more classes in the series and hope that it catches on and more people begin to show up.

After yoga I couldn’t resist grabbing a beer and some tacos at Morgan’s Pier, which is a new spot that just opened on the riverfront in Philadelphia only a few feet away from Race Street Pier.  I was a bit hesitant to do this as I was obviously in my yoga clothes, but it seemed early enough that it wouldn’t really be a big deal.  There were many people there who were headed to the Radiohead show across the river, which made me feel a both nostalgic and a bit old for some reason because the last time I saw Radiohead was at this show in 1997.  But anyway…

I had actually been to Morgan’s Pier once already this past Saturday.  It is a gorgeous spot right near the Ben Franklin Bridge with a great view of the boats on the Delaware River.  The beer selection is fairly decent, though somewhat a standard craft beer selection for Philadelphia and the prices are a bit on the higher side compared to other places.  However the small food menu is also nice and well priced so it kind of balances out.

I got the Avery IPA (replaced the Bell’s Two Hearted, which I like a lot and haven’t had in awhile) and an order of fish tacos.  I have had the Avery IPA before and it is a nice, drinkable IPA.  Definitely refreshing after yoga and in the summer heat.  The fish tacos were also pretty standard and filling enough for me.  The only minor complaint is that I would have probably preferred a corn tortilla.

Morgan’s Pier really is a lovely spot and far more my style than other other bar-type place on the Philadelphia waterfront (haven’t been to any of them because I know better).  However I think it would still be a place that I probably wouldn’t necessarily want to go to on weekend nights and later during the busier weeknights.  But for weekend day drinking and early evening drinks?  Yes, please.  As I said before I am quite drawn to the water, so for someone stuck in the city I will embrace a decent place where I can have drinks and a bite to eat by the water despite it all.  So if anyone would like to do some yoga with me on Race Street Pier and grab a beer at Morgan’s Pier with me afterwards please let me know!

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