Today my mother-in-law and father-in-law, Marilyn and Ed, celebrate 50 years of marriage.
I met Marilyn and Ed a little more than 15 years ago in Missouri (where they live) at a family reunion.
They were warm and kind and made me feel welcome in their home.
Over the years they have continued to make me feel welcome and part of the family. I’m not just their daughter-in-law, I’m their daughter as well.
Marilyn and Ed have two sons, Craig and Curt.
I feel so grateful that they wanted to be in the Pacific Northwest for their anniversary. They are hanging out with Curt and me to celebrate.
Last night was a treat for them as their oldest son, Craig, was in town for work and the four (along with some others) of them went out to dinner. (I was teaching last night.)
Today they head to the coast for a night over in Newport.
On Saturday the four of us will head out to dinner to celebrate (again)!
Lots of celebrating going on. But at 50 years that is definitely something to celebrate over and over.
My stepdad recently mentioned that Marilyn and Ed were of the 6 percent, meaning 6 percent of couples have been married 50 years or longer. So I decided to do some digging on that.
I found various articles quoting the U.S. Census, including this Washington Post article: According to the census statistics, more than half of the nation’s married couples have been together at least 15 years. About a third have marked their 25th anniversaries, and 6 percent have been married more than 50 years.
Happy anniversary, Marilyn and Ed! We love you!
This week the theme in my yoga classes is the IT band (iliotibial band).
According to Prashamana Yoga, the IT band is a layer of connective tissue extending from the iliac crest to the knee and links the gluteus maximus to the tibia. (This is a good picture of the IT band, gluteus maximus and tensor fascia latae.)
We can reduce the pull on the IT band by opening our hips and stretching the quads and hamstrings.
There are many poses we can practice for the IT band, hips, quads and hamstrings.
One pose I discovered while doing research for this week’s sequence is Pigeon Wheel. I can’t find the picture or information on Pigeon Wheel from the other day. As I was scouring the Internets hoping to find what I found the other day I found that this pose can also be called The Z-Sit.
Since I can’t find the information from a few days ago I will refer to Deer Pose (a Yin Yoga pose), which is similar to the Pigeon Wheel I found, which I was able to find a photo portraying what I have been teaching.
Deer and Pigeon Wheel share benefits, such as being a nice counter pose to hip openers or any external rotation of the hips and are a balanced way to rotate hips, both externally (front leg) and internally (back leg).
I think Pigeon Wheel (The Z-Sit) is a great alternative to Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose).
My students have been really receptive to Pigeon Wheel. My knee people have easily been able to practice this pose. Another student who had stopped practicing Pigeon as it was hurting her knees said she would now practice Pigeon Wheel. (Usually the alternative to Pigeon is Figure 4, which is also a great hip opener.)
I love learning new stuff and sharing it with my students.
This week the theme in my yoga classes is twists.
My mama is visiting this week and I asked her what she wanted the theme to be. (I already knew what she wanted. But I asked anyway.)
I have gotten a lot of great feedback from my students on this week’s sequence. They tell me they feel great, relaxed, stretched out, etc.
Twists are awesome for the body and do so many good things for us.
As I have been telling my students this week, twists help us with digestion, to detox, to de-stress, release tension and anxiety and help us keep our spine muscles mobile.
Twists compress and release your abdominal region, which can increase circulation to your organs and stimulate your digestive system, according to an article on Yoga Journal about healthy digestion.
When you twist you compress (squeeze) and when you release (soak) there will be a rush of fresh blood that will flood your digestive organs, according to DoYouYoga’s article 5 health benefits of yoga twists.
When you release, you re-introduce fresh blood, which can help cleanse the cells of any built up waste because with increased circulation comes increased cellular detoxification, also according to the DoYouYoga article linked above.
Twists help to de-stress while you open the chest, shoulders and back, all of which can help to decrease feelings of anxiousness while also releasing stored tension in the body, also according to the article from DoYouYoga.
If you are pregnant, doing deep twists is not a good idea as twists cut off circulation and blood flow. And when there’s a baby growing inside your tummy you want to make sure she or he gets constant blood flow.
An article on Pop Sugar says when pregnant one should avoid deep twists as they decrease circulation, so twists should be done in an open position, such as this modified twist. (I recently wrote a post on types of poses that should be avoided when pregnant.)
Because twists help to detox the body drinking plenty of water after a practice is a good idea.
My mom’s review of this week’s sequence: The best part is you do the twist and release it’s like, ahhhh. It’s so yummy. You don’t realize how tight things are in the body until you start the squeeze and soak method.
I’ll take that as a good review.
At some point in my yoga practice I assumed I had mastered Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).
The great thing about yoga is that we keep practicing and learning and deepening.
When my teacher Richard starting working with me on my Downward Facing Dog in December 2013 he helped me to stop pushing too deep into the pose in an unhealthy way in my upper body. He also helped me to feel more length in my spine.
Richard took the middle photo of me after some adjustments were made in class one evening. The pose started to feel differently in my body.
The bottom photo shows me pushing too far in my arms, pressing my chest toward the floor and my head is hanging. My back is rounded and not as long as it could be.
The top photo I have a long spine, length and space in my back.
I’ve been teaching yoga a little more than a year now. I tell my students that I want them to have a nice long Dog.
It is not necessary to get your heels to the mat, especially if it means you shorten your Dog to get your heels on the mat.
In fact, with a nice long Dog most people won’t get their heels to the mat. I’ve been scouring the Internets to find this fact and I can’t seem to find it. But my teacher Baxter tells his students that only about 25% of people can get their heels to the mat in Downward Facing Dog. It has to do with a tight Achilles tendon.
According to an article on Yoga Journal, … Downward Dog uses the strength of your arms and legs to fully and evenly stretch your spine. It stretches your hips, hamstrings, and calves as it strengthens your quadriceps and ankles. It opens your chest and shoulders and tones your arms and abdominals. It even tones your hands and feet, preparing you for standing poses and arm balances.
The above linked article, Flex your strength in Down Dog, does a really great job of explaining the pose, what you will be working on depending on what is going on in your body and how to work toward the full pose.
About a year ago Richard and Baxter were named by Yoganonymous as two of the top 10 kickass yoga teachers in the Bay Area. (Frankly, I feel that the list isn’t complete without Vickie listed.) I am a good yoga teacher because of my yoga teachers who taught me as a student and they also taught me how to be a teacher, with a few others in the mix.
One of the many benefits of Downward Facing Dog is that it pretty much works the whole body.
Other benefits (listed on Yoga Journal) are that the pose helps to calm the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression; energizes the body; stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands; strengthens the arms and legs; helps relieve the symptoms of menopause; relieves menstrual discomfort when does with head supported; helps prevent osteoporosis; improves digestion; relieves headache, insomnia, back pain and fatigue; therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica and sinusitis.
Wow, all of that in one pose!
I do have a regular home yoga practice. I know for many that is difficult to fit in your day. If you only have a few minutes, you can do Adho Mukha Svanasana. Try it for 10-20 breaths. Slowly work to hold it a little longer each time you practice. A yoga mat is great. But if you don’t have one you can still practice this pose.
My sequence each week includes practicing Adho Mukha Svanasana at least a couple of times.
And I will continue to work to have a nice long Dog and how the pose feels throughout my body.
I am proud of my background and where I come from.
I am grateful to be American and have the freedoms I enjoy.
But I am also saddened and angry by blatant racism we are still plagued with in 2015.
We all should be proud of where we came from. But we should also respect the journeys (good or bad) we encountered to get where we are today.
I am proud to be a native Arizonan and Tucsonan. I am saddened by how my home state has been represented. True Arizonans are not racist. They are loving and open minded. That’s how I was raised.
I know I am late to posting on this subject. But I really wanted to think this out and take my time to really reflect my thoughts on racism, discrimination and the controversial subject of the Confederate flag.
I know what it is like to be a woman and be discriminated against because of that. I know what it is like to be scared and cautious because I am a woman. Girls are taught how to be aware of their surroundings. I know what it is like to catcalled on the street.
(This is a great video about how girls and women are treated, feminism, being pretty, etc. If you are easily offended by the F-bomb, you should NOT watch this.)
I know what it is like to have Mexican heritage (75%) and not look “brown” and be discriminated against. I know what it is like to be Mexican American and be questioned because I don’t speak Spanish. I know what it is like to be mistaken as conservative or a Republican because of my home state.
I don’t know what it is like to be gay. I don’t know what it is like to be a man trapped in a woman’s body or a woman trapped in a man’s body. I don’t know what it is like to be Black. I don’t know what it is like to be driving doing absolutely nothing wrong and be pulled over because of the color of my skin. I don’t know what it is like to walk down the street and have people scared or suspicious of me because of my dark skin. I don’t know what it is like to worry that people will think I am a terrorist when I board a plane.
But because of where I grew up and how I was raised I was taught to love all. And I do. I have friends from all sorts of backgrounds. And I am comfortable asking my friends questions when I don’t understand something.
I think that’s what racism is really about. It first starts with not understanding. And then hatred. We aren’t born to hate.
I have always been proud of who I am, what I am and where I came from. (And a lot of that comes from a family with a sense of pride.) I am 75% Mexican with a little Irish and a little Czech (or Bohemian as my grandpa says) sprinkled in. I have grown up being proud of my multiple backgrounds and from being from Tucson, Ariz.
When you are proud of who you are and where you come from you become a powerful and strong person.
… And I think that is the problem. Some people are afraid of others becoming powerful and strong. So to make sure that doesn’t happen they keep them down.
What is the need to continue to fly the Confederate flag? People claim history and heritage. Not all history is good and something that should be celebrated.
The Confederate flag represents something ugly and hateful.
The swastika also represents something ugly and hateful.
But the swastika used to (and still does in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism) represent something good. It is a Sanskrit word, svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.” … The swastika has become so widely associated with Nazi Germany that contemporary uses frequently incite controversy. (This information came from History of the Swastika, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.)
In Germany, the criminal code outlaws “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations,” such as the swastika, and Nazi symbolism in particular, according to Wikipedia.
If the swastika can be outlawed in Germany when displayed as part of Nazi symbolism why can’t the Confederate flag be banned?
What value is brought on by flying the Confederate flag?
The United States Declaration of Independence states: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (This has become a well-known statement on human rights.) Information is coming from Wikipedia.
Do we want to live in a country where people don’t feel equal? That they feel undervalued for the color of their skin, for loving the same sex, for the fact that they are a woman, etc.?
If flying the Confederate flag makes people feel less than equal then shouldn’t we address that problem?
On Friday June 10, South Carolina took down the Confederate flag at the Capitol grounds after a 54-year run.
A good friend of mine grew up in Indiana, the Midwest. His family still lives there. He is now in California.
He said the Confederate flag had no negative connotation for him growing up. I do realize Indiana is not the South. But from some research I did I found that the flag does fly in Indiana, which was a Union state.
From an article I found in the Indianapolis Recorder, an Indianapolis pastor, Rev. Fitzhugh Lyons, said: “For one thing Indiana is a very conservative state, politically speaking. And some extreme conservative organizations are here and they think the Confederacy was correct.”
Also from the article, titled, Confederate Indiana?, according to the Indiana Historical Society, African Americans were not allowed to become residents of Indiana without paying a fee and proving they were free before the Civil War. During that war Indiana contributed over 200,000 to the Union, but a significant number of Hoosiers, especially those who moved from the South and still had relatives there, were sympathetic to the Confederacy and wanted Indiana to be neutral.
My friend said the first time he ever noticed the Confederate flag flying, the first time he saw it in person, was in Georgia by the courthouse and only just recently. And it didn’t make him angry.
When my friend was 8 or 9 years old he went with his mom to this new store called Kmart. He was walking behind his mom into the store when a car with several White men in the car with one yelling at him: “Go home, N-word.”
He still remembers what that man’s face looked like, more than 40 years later.
He turned to his mom and asked, “Mom, what’s a N …?” Her response was, “All Ns are not alike and all Ns are not Black.”
My friend really started to experience racism once he started driving.
I did lots of reading on the history of the Confederate flag from various sources, blog, websites, etc. It was difficult to find neutral, basic facts on this controversial issue.
Initially the Confederate flag represented the first seven states to secede from the U.S. and band together as the Confederate States of America: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, according to Snopes.com.
Also from Snopes.com, the Confederate battle flag has long since become the pre-eminent symbol of the Confederacy and what it stood for, and across the span of several decades it has been co-opted by segregationist and white supremacist groups such as the Dixiecrats, the KKK, and the Aryan Nation. Certainly one can be a racist or a white supremacist without associating himself with “Southern Pride” or a Confederate battle flag …
I do believe in freedom of speech. I think this is a great quote (and I couldn’t say it better myself.) “It (Confederate flag) is also a really divisive symbol that represents a time when the nation was divided. Freedom of speech should be supported, but not to the extent where it offends and incites people,” Rev. Timothy James, administrative secretary of the National Convocation, said in the Indianapolis Recorder article.
America is a melting pot and that should be celebrated. We should be supportive of each other and our various backgrounds. Being different is good and unique.
Twice this week I headed to Turtles Yoga & Wellness and took yoga classes. I was a student and not the teacher.
I do truly love teaching.
And I have a regular home yoga practice.
But when you get to take a class and let someone else come up with a plan and you get to discover things in your body and learn new things it can be absolutely amazing.
I really tried to let myself go and just be.
Sometimes when I am in a yoga class I think about how I would have done it differently (or dare I say, better).
But this week I let all of that go and I really enjoyed being a student, while also picking up a few things I will use as a teacher in my classes.
I am hoping to take a class or two a week at Turtles regularly.
I took Sefana’s Slow Flow on Tuesday at 10 a.m. I liked the pace of the class. I worked but in a slow and mindful way. I felt so relaxed when class was over.
Last night I was able to take Rachel’s Restorative & Yoga Nidra class. I need more Restorative in my life. (We all do!) Rachel has a beautiful voice and got me totally blissed out. I felt so good. So good, in fact, I fell asleep.
If you are in the Portland area and haven’t checked Turtles out yet, what are you waiting for? Come visit this beautiful space and take a class with me or one of the many other amazing teachers.
At some point at the grocery store I had noticed green bags for sale, which claimed they could keep produce fresher longer.
My grandpa and I even discussed these. He mentioned he had tried them and they worked. But he didn’t know why.
So I decided to experiment with them myself using Brawny’s Produce Protector Reusable Bags.
I used two fresh slightly green bananas that looked pretty much the same. One went into the green produce bag the other sat in the fruit bowl. (Top left photo)
After four days (top right photo) I compared the bananas. The bottom banana had a few spots.
After a week I compared the two bananas (bottom left photo). The bottom banana, the one that stayed in the fruit bowl, had many more spots than the top. The top hardly had any spots.
After two weeks (bottom right photo) the bananas were both gross but were very different looking. The bottom banana was almost completely black. The top one looks OK. But I didn’t want to eat either one of them.
These Brawny Produce Protector Reusable Bags worked. I think a week is the max they should be utilized … for bananas anyway. I haven’t tried other fruit yet.
I definitely want to try some other items in the bags, especially salad. (I read a review raving about how well the bags work with lettuce.)
There are a variety of green reusable bags on the market, such as: Debbie Meyer GreenBags; Peak Fresh Re-Usable Produce Bags; Reusable Green Fresh Bags. I haven’t used these others I listed. But I am going to guess they basically work the same as the Brawny bags.
The back of the packaging for the bags says the bags remove ethylene gas to prolong the life and freshness of the produce. Most fruit and vegetables release ethylene gas after harvest. Exposure to the gas accelerates aging in fruit and vegetables.
I don’t remember how much I paid for the package of 10 bags. But online they are about 10 bucks.
If you buy a lot of fruit and veggies and feel like you are composting too many of them because they go bad before you have a chance to use them I suggest you invest in reusable produce bags. They will save you money.
I have talked in the past about my scalp issues and how I don’t wash my hair on a daily basis. I stopped washing my hair daily about eight years ago.
I wash my hair about twice a week.
A friend, who has similar scalp issues, recently told me that she “washes” her hair with baking soda and water and “conditions” with apple cider vinegar.
So I finally decided to try it.
For the past month I have washed my hair with baking soda/water and conditioned with apple cider vinegar.
The first time I washed my hair with the baking soda and water I could feel my hair squeak as I rinsed it out. Squeak, like when it’s really clean. Wow! I decided to give a second go to my hair and scalp since I have dry scalp issues and a lot of hair.
After that I poured the vinegar over my hair and massaged it into the ends.
You have to get used to the idea of no suds while washing your hair. I just massaged the concoction into my scalp and made sure it made it through all of my hair, which is why I gave it two washings.
I left the baking soda concoction in my hair while I soaped up and shaved my legs. Once done I rinsed out and squeak squeak. Then I poured on the vinegar. I personally like the smell of vinegar. I thought it might be overpowering but it wasn’t. And once I rinsed it out the smell was gone.
My hair is less frizzy, it looks clean, it smells clean. And the best part, my scalp doesn’t feel dry and itchy. I didn’t even use my Aveda Scalp Remedy, which I use regularly to help battle my flaky, itchy, dry scalp. (I haven’t used my Aveda this whole month while experimenting with the no ‘poo method.)
The first round of washing was with 2 tbsp. of baking soda mixed with about a pint of water in a big plastic cup. My second round was the same amount. I started with 2 tbsp. of the apple cider vinegar. I added a little more since I have a lot of hair.
Before I started the experiment I did some research. I did some reading and got some ideas from this article on Tree Hugger.
The first week I washed/conditioned my hair three times. After that I went to twice a week. (I occasionally used my dry shampoo to sop up some of the oil on my crown.)
It takes a little longer in the shower. But the money I am saving is great. But frankly, the best part is that my scalp is much less flaky and no more itch. It’s a miracle!
Occasionally I get a whiff of vinegar. But it is brief and goes away quickly. No one else has mentioned any vinegar smell around me.
Because everything is much more liquidy than traditional shampoo and conditioner it can run all over the place, especially into the eyes. Baking soda and vinegar in the eyes hurts a little, but not as bad as shampoo.
I am not sure if it is the baking soda or vinegar that is drying my hands out a bit. It’s a small price to pay for the results.
After a month of the no ‘poo I washed my hair with shampoo and conditioned with conditioner. My scalp was slightly flaky, but nothing out of control. (My scalp issues tend to be worse in the winter and while seasons are changing.) I did use my Aveda product on my flakes. My scalp was slightly itchy, but again nothing out of control.
Two days after shampooing and conditioning with shampoo and conditioner my crown was greasier than it has been two days after with the baking soda/apple cider vinegar. My scalp also became flakier and itchier a few days after washing. (I used shampoo and conditioner that says it stimulates, conditions and helps with dry, flaking scalp with tea tree oil along with other ingredients.)
After my one shampooing/conditioning I went back to using baking soda/water and apple cider vinegar. Ahh, my scalp feels better already.
Why does the baking soda and apple cider vinegar work? Science. Since science is not my specialty I decided to research this. I found basically the same information in a couple of places:
… The pH (potential hydrogen) scale goes from 0 to 14. Water sits in the middle with a neutral 7; anything below that is acidic and anything above is basic or alkaline. Human skin needs to be slightly acidic to prevent fungus and bacteria from colonizing your life. When you use baking soda, a base, (at about 8) and then apple cider vinegar, an acid, (at about 5), your scalp’s pH remains stable and its oil production stays low. That’s why your hair keeps cleaner longer. (It’s also why you don’t use white vinegar: it’s too acidic.)
I got the above information from The Hairpin, but found similar information on other sites as well.
Many shampoos tend to use sulfates (along with other ingredients), which will strip away oils from your hair, causing the scalp to overproduce oils.
I found many people out there on the Internets hailing the no ‘poo method. But I also found people who felt that the baking soda/apple cider vinegar concoction ruined their hair.
I have tried so many different kinds of shampoos/conditioners that say they are good for dry, flaky, itchy scalps. And they either work in the temporary or not at all. If they work in the temporary they usually need assistance from my Aveda Scalp Remedy. (Before I discovered the Aveda product I would try lotion or even my moisturizer. Neither easy to get on the scalp without making the hair greasy. There really was no good solution.)
I may look into other no ‘poo options out there. But for now I will enjoy my clean, non-itchy, non-flaky scalp with baking soda and apple cider vinegar in my shower.
It’s been years since my scalp looked and felt this good. It really is a miracle for me.
Normally my daily yoga home practice happens in my yoga room, which also happens to be the spare room and the guest bedroom when guests are staying over.
Last week my dad and Hilda were visiting.
While they were visiting my home practice moved to my closet.
Yes, I’m bragging a little that I have a big enough closet to comfortably fit my yoga mat.
But really this post is about how you only need enough space for a yoga mat and you have enough space to practice yoga.
I have been in packed yoga classes where each student’s mat is just an inch or two away from each other. It’s not ideal, but it’s doable.
And at home you really only need the space of a mat and you’re good to go.
In my yoga teacher training we discussed how important a home practice is and how much of a struggle it can be at times.
There was a story we were told of a now teacher who would practice at home with his mat right next to his twin bed where he pretty much only had enough space for a mat in his tiny apartment.
I know creating a home practice can be daunting and sometimes difficult.
First step can be having a mat (and a spot for it). Next step, maybe find three poses you want to practice. Hmm, what three? How about Sukhasana (Easy Pose) in a seated meditation where you focusing on slowing down the breath; Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog); and Vrksasana (Tree Pose). You could do these three poses in five minutes.
I still struggle at times to do a home practice. I always feel good afterward. The practice is for me but also for my students. The sequence I practice is the same one I teach.
We all need to make sure to take care of ourselves.
I find it even more pertinent as a teacher, especially a teacher of yoga.
I teach at multiple places for yoga and cycle, which means I drive from one class to the next multiple times a day.
My eating schedule depends on my teaching schedule for the day. (Sometimes I have an early lunch or a late lunch. I snack multiple times a day. And sometimes my dinner is early or late.)
In the morning I usually wake up and practice yoga (for myself and to work on the sequence I am teaching for the week). After that is my morning coffee and breakfast, which is usually peanut butter (protein) and banana toast. I get myself ready and I am out the door to teach a morning class (cycle, four mornings a week and yoga one morning a week. I usually have two mornings off during the week.)
After I teach a cycle class I need two things: a shower and protein. After four of my five cycle classes I teach a yoga class following soon after.
I take a shower and have a quick snack and then I am out the door again to teach.
This week was a little crazier than the norm for me.
I had my regular classes plus subbing a class along with extra front-desk shifts at Turtles over the past week.
Three days this week I went from teaching to working at the front desk at Turtles to teaching (and sometimes helping with closing duties after a class as well).
Because of my long days I had to make sure to be prepared with my meals. I had to make sure I had lunch ready to quickly eat at home or at the studio depending on my timing. I had many snacks ready to munch on during the day and evening.
With a little planning it all worked out OK and I kept myself from getting hungry and kept myself full of fuel.
But I have to say, I am glad the crazy week is over. It was almost like I was working a regular job again with all of those hours!
When life is crazy we need to make sure to take whatever precautions we can to take care of ourselves, whether that is with food, exercise, time for ourselves, a massage, a nap, a day to do just nothing, watching a movie, a good night of sleep or going out with friends, among many other things.
Make sure to take care of No. 1.