Mix It Up! event at Athleta

Mix It Up! event at Athleta on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Mix It Up! event at Athleta on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Next weekend I will be partnering up with Athleta.

I will be at Athleta Washington Square next Saturday, Feb. 6 for Mix It Up!

The Mix It Up! event has participants mixing up their workout style in a fitness class mashup — Athleta will be hosting two distinct 30 minute workouts that you might not otherwise put together.

At Athleta Washington Square the mix up with be 30 minutes of yoga with Go Fit Girl! (aka Ann) and 30 minutes of boot camp with Angel from Fit Body Boot Camp.

The fitness mashup begins at 9 a.m.

After the two workouts there will be a styling session while getting some pointers on print-mixing. Attend the event for a chance to win a pair of tights.

Feel free to bring friends along with a mat and water bottle and get ready to have some fun.

Mini yoga retreat

turtles mini retreat

Treat yourself to a mini yoga retreat at Turtles Yoga & Wellness.

On January 31 at Turtles Yoga & Wellness I will be participating in Turtles’ Mini Retreat.

The main retreat will be lead by Annie, a lovely yoga teacher.

I will be teaching the Restorative Yoga portion of the day.

The mini retreat is Sunday, Jan. 31 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost for the wonderful, refreshing day is $80.

More details here and where to sign up as well.

If you can’t afford a full-on yoga retreat or don’t have the time to get away then the mini retreat may just be what you need.

You can give this gift to yourself or someone you love. Or maybe you and someone you love share this day together.

This is what Turtles has to say about the mini retreat: Find the time to realize you are simply amazing. And here at Turtles you are truly able to Love your Body, Discover your Strength, Create Self Expression, Enhance Flexibility and Breathe.

The mini retreat will include:

  • Fresh continental breakfast and hot tea
  • Morning meditation
  • Gentle Vinyasa flow
  • Time in the heated salt water pool, relaxing in the hot cedar sauna or taking some quiet time to read a book in a comfy spot or while looking at the amazing 500-gallon salt water tank.
  • An hour and a half Restorative Yoga practice with ME! The yummy practice I have planned is aimed at melting every cell in your body into relaxation … like caramel.
  • Catered organic, gluten free lunch.

I believe we all deserve good things for ourselves. It’s not selfish to take care of No. 1. Do you know who that is? It’s you.

If a yoga mini retreat isn’t for you. Find what is.

Continuing the triangle transformation

My year-long Triangle Transformation. Top left photo May/June 2013; bottom left December 2013; right May 2014.

My continuing Triangle Transformation. Top left photo May/June 2013; middle left, December 2013; bottom left, May 2014; right, December 2015.

When I applied for Piedmont’s Yoga Teacher Training in May/June 2013 an optional part of the application was to include a picture of myself in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), which is the picture in the top left photo, taken May/June 2013.

Once in the teacher training our long-term anatomy project was to pick three yoga poses that we were able to do but found challenging.

My three poses were Utthita Trikonasa (pictured); Dolphin; and Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby).

The middle left photo is the first photo I submitted for my long-term anatomy project.

We took the first set of photos of our three poses and did a write-up on the poses.

Over several months we explored our three poses and learned about our bodies in the poses in terms of alignment and feeling, whether emotional and/or physical.

There is a vast improvement between the first and second pose. I learned to eliminate hyperextension in the front leg without losing strength in the pose. I found a better spot for my head and neck. And I found more extension in my side body.

(If you want to learn more about eliminating hyperextension in the knees in poses liked Extended Triangle, read a blog post I wrote up a little more than a year ago.)

In the third photo, which was the second photo I submitted for my anatomy project, I worked toward having my hand closer to the floor with the block going down one height. My extension in the side body continued to get longer. I wasn’t super jazzed with the placement of my top arm.

My first Triangle Transformation post was written in August 2014 exploring the first three pictures.

In my most recent picture, from last month, the block has gone down another height, the extension in my side body continues to get longer and more parallel to the mat, my top arm is a nice extension of the bottom arm. My head and neck could be a little more relaxed. (I suspect me taking my own picture this time around didn’t allow for me to get that head where I wanted it as I got into the pose in time for the timer to click away on the camera.)

The transformation is phenomenal. But it also takes time. I have made a lot of progress and change in this pose. This is over a year and a half’s time. I practice yoga almost every day. If my hand makes it to the mat that won’t be my end goal of this pose.

That’s the great thing about yoga. It’s a practice and it continues and changes and evolves over time.

Happy New Year

cycle

I was a student of indoor cycling for years. A little more than a year ago I was certified to teach and have been teaching regularly since February/March.

I joined a gym in June 2007 and have been a regular since.

When I joined Weight Watchers in October 2006 it was advised that exercise didn’t start immediately. First reduce the food portions, make healthier and more filling choices, drink more water, etc.

I can’t remember how long it was recommended that you first work on losing weight with food and then introduce exercise.

I know I took that advisement for longer than was given.

I started exercising in the mini-gym at work in March 2007. And eventually I joined a gym in June 2007. I quickly figured out that classes were better for me to keep me motivated and help me exercise harder and better than on my own.

As a teacher of yoga and cycling in gyms and at a studio I have joked with my students about New Year’s Resolutioners. There may be someone on your bike, in your yoga spot or in your spot at any other class you may take.

I’ve told my students to smile, wave and maybe make new friends with this person. Maybe they will only be around a few months. Maybe they are here for years. But we should make them feel welcome and embrace this change.

I’ve never really been into New Year’s Resolutions … because, at least for me, they don’t work.

And I believe regular exercise, eating healthy, drinking enough water is a lifestyle choice. Every day I have to make the decision to have healthy meals, drink my daily water intake, reduce my alcohol and junk food, practice yoga (at home and occasionally taking a class). Since I teach indoor cycling five times a week that exercise choice is basically made for me–but really, it’s still a choice.

I had my normal numbers in my cycle class this morning. Though many regulars weren’t there and a lot of new faces were. I think those who had the day off from work were in class.

I wasn’t sure if my numbers would be low today as many would likely be sleeping in or if the New Year’s Resolutioners would already be flocking the gym.

I don’t think the Resolutioners were flocking quite yet. The gym was pretty quiet.

So when do those who decide to add exercise into their resolution actually add it? Day 1? The weekend after New Year’s Day? The Monday after New Year’s Day?

From a fitness coach on Quroa, the second week of January (at the gym) is almost always the busiest of the year.

From an article titled, Is the new year the best time to sign up for a gym membership?, Tim Keightley, executive vice president of operations for fitness chain Gold’s Gym, said the two best bargain times for a consumer to make a decision to join a fitness club are the summer and the new year.

One day when I was at the gym over the summer I overheard some of the staff talking about how “today and tomorrow” are the biggest days for people to cancel their memberships. It was July 30.

I’ve searched the World Wide Web to see if I can find anything to back this up. I can’t find anything specific.

From an article, Why your New Year’s Resolutions don’t work, 50 percent of all new health club members quit within the first six months of signing up according to the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association. By March new member attendance has diminished “considerably.”

Gym statistics: members, equipment and cancellations says these are the top three reasons people cancel their gym memberships:

  • It’s too expensive.
  • They could exercise somewhere else for free.
  • They weren’t using their membership.

Here’s my advice for joining a gym, yoga studio, etc.:

  • If you want to join the gym or a yoga studio (or barre, pilates studio, etc.) in January then you should.
  • If you know you don’t have time to really get to the gym until February or March, wait to sign up then.
  • Make sure to set up realistic expectations.
  • Make sure the membership price fits in your budget.
  • Review your own fitness goals.
  • Check the class schedule and/or check out the gym equipment and see if your needs will be met.
  • Check with work and see if your company has a wellness program. You may get all or part of your membership paid.
  • Many times a membership is cheaper if you sign up for a full year in advance. (One year I signed up for a membership. If I paid for two years upfront the third was free. It was a good deal if I actually went to the gym regularly. But I really didn’t at the time.) Sign up for what you think is reasonable for you. Month-to-month or class pass might be the best option for you.
  • Don’t feel pressured to include a personal trainer or private sessions if that’s not something you really want or can afford.
  • If you sign up and you aren’t getting your money’s worth then cancel the membership. You can always rejoin when you are ready. (When you sign up for a membership make sure to read the fine print on canceling the membership.)

Happy New Year! Happy exercise! Happy yogaing! Happy hydrating! Happy moderation! Happy whatever you decide this year should be for you!

Each day is a gift …

FryeWe need to remember how precious each day is and live life to the fullest.

I recently lost a student in cycle class. It was traumatic and scary.

The very first cycle class I taught in the Portland-area I was a little nervous to teach as I was still new at teaching cycle, I was taking over a class where the students were used to their regular teacher (who went on maternity leave) and later I found out the group had been cycling together for years.

But he introduced himself to me and made me feel welcome.

He was a kind man and had a big heart.

His loss is a big one.

I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to know him and have him as a part of my life.

In this tragedy I have gotten to know the family of my student, I have gotten closer with many of my cycle students and staff at the gym and I am reminded about what is really important in life.

Tell those you love that you love them. Tell those that you appreciate that you appreciate them. Tell those that you are grateful to have in your life that you are grateful.

At the service a friend of my student’s daughter came up to me and told me she knew I was the cycle teacher. Then she told me how much the daughter appreciated and was grateful that I reached out to her to talk. I was touched by that.

Many people I met told me how much my student loved my cycle classes and me as a teacher.

That meant so much to me.

I’m still so sad as the world lost a great person last week. But I am also so grateful to have had this kind and loving man in my life while I did.

Each day is a gift …

Christmas Day Yoga

Christmas Day yoga with Ann at Turtles Yoga & Wellness from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign up for class here.

I am teaching a special Christmas Day yoga at Turtles Yoga & Wellness from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sign up for class here. I am honored to offer a yoga practice for you Christmas Day. Maybe you have a quiet day planned for the holiday, whether you celebrate or not. Or maybe your day will be quite busy with many gatherings and visits. Whatever your day looks like, take a little for yourself for a mindful Christmas Day Hatha-alignment based yoga class with me. We will end the class with some yummy Restorative Yoga poses to help you feel supported and at ease. Bring yourself and a friend or family member or both. Come to class to get centered and grounded while connecting with yourself and others.

Reducing screen time, increasing read time

reading

I started with Gap Creek, which I got at a book exchange. Now I am reading Rough Magic. Next will be The Stupidest Angel, my annual Christmas read. Then a classic and many more planned after that.

Last month I had an appointment with my doctor to talk about my sleep issues.

I usually don’t have a problem falling asleep. But I wake up numerous times during the night.

A good night of sleep means I only wake up two to three times a night.

A bad night can be two to three times but I am awake for long periods of time. A bad night can also be me waking up up to 10 times a night.

I pretty much already knew the basics to help get a good night’s sleep.

But my doctor and I reviewed them and she added something to the list.

Some of the habits are:

  • Going to bed about the same time at night I go to bed usually between 10 and 11 p.m.
  • Waking up about the same time in the morning I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7 a.m.
  • Limited caffeine and not too late in the day I usually just have one cup of coffee in the morning; Tea during the day is decaf
  • Napping should be limited: not too long or too late in the day If I nap it is usually not more than 30 minutes and I regularly practice Restorative Yoga in the afternoons
  • Good habits with water and diet Yup!
  • Reducing screen time before bed at least one hour (or even two) before the head hits the pillow UH??!!

Um, what do people do if they aren’t looking at a screen?

My doctor told me to read a book.

So for more than a month I have been taking myself upstairs at least an hour before I plan to go to sleep. I do my nightly routine (washing face, brushing teeth, etc.). And then I get cozy and read for 45 minutes to an hour. Sometimes longer. Sometimes for less time if I am really tired.

The good news is I am breaking bad habits, especially the one where I would lull myself to sleep with the TV on. The even better news is I am reading more. I really do enjoy reading but have gotten out of the habit lately. And I have so many books already on my shelf I haven’t read yet.

My doctor told me any screen time is bad for the eyes and reduces the release of melatonin to the brain.

I told her I usually don’t have a hard time falling asleep. But I wake up a lot. She said the screen time could still be an issue. So this is an experiment. I have to give it at least three months to know if it is working.

From an article on Vox Technology, “… even the non-harmful portion of blue light (coming from a screen) sends a signal to our brains that it is daytime, revving up our heart rate and alertness. It mimics the sun, basically. You do not want to be lying in bed at night, having brushed your teeth and set your alarm, staring into the sun. It’s not a recipe for good sleep.”

From an article in the Washington Post, “blue light is especially good at preventing the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with nighttime.”

Also from the Washington Post article, “ordinarily, the pineal gland, a pea-size organ in the brain, begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before your regular bedtime. The hormone is no sleeping pill, but it does reduce alertness and make sleep more inviting.

However, light — particularly of the blue variety — can keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, thus warding off sleepiness. You don’t have to be staring directly at a television or computer screen: If enough blue light hits the eye, the gland can stop releasing melatonin.”

My doctor told me that the Kindle is also a screen and should be avoided at night. I don’t have a Kindle. But I have an iPhone, iPad with the Kindle app, my trusty laptop and, of course, two nice big screen TVs.

So a regular big ol’ book it is for me before I go to sleep. The jury is still out on whether on not this is helping with my sleep issues (but I still need to give i

Christmas Day Yoga

Christmas Day Yoga

I am teaching a special Christmas Day Yoga class at Turtles Yoga & Wellness. You can sign up for the class here. I am honored to offer a yoga practice for you Christmas Day. Maybe you have a quiet day planned for the holiday, whether you celebrate or not. Or maybe your day will be quite busy with many gatherings and visits. Whatever your day looks like, take a little for yourself for a mindful Christmas Day Hatha-alignment based yoga class with me. We will end the class with some yummy Restorative Yoga poses to help you feel supported and at ease. Bring yourself and a friend or family member or both. Come to class to get centered and grounded while connecting with yourself and others.

Recognizing exhaustion

ultimate savasana

Restorative Yoga is a great way to relax and help to reverse exhaustion and stress.

When I was still living in Oakland I had a therapist. We talked about a lot of things. A big focus was the stress coming from my work life. It was taking over other parts of my life.

My therapist and I discovered that I put too much of myself into my job/career/workplace. It never deserved what I gave it. And at a certain point I didn’t owe it anything.

It took so much out of me … emotionally, mentally, physiologically …

In January 2014 I hit exhaustion (adrenal fatigue). My body was telling me everything was too much and I needed to take care of myself. My yoga teacher training was ramping up, work stress was increasing, getting up at 5 a.m. regularly was taking its toll, long commute, transitioning at work after layoffs …

Currently I teach five cycle classes and nine public yoga classes, two office yoga classes and some private sessions sprinkled in.

I was warned in my yoga teacher training and by friends who are yoga teachers to be careful to not over do it with teaching and to make sure to take care of myself as a teacher.

I am someone who tends to commit to too much. I have a hard time saying no. I don’t always make clear what my boundaries are.

I recently started to recognize the signs of exhaustion starting to form in my life again.

I was teaching too many classes. Some way too early making some days really long. And I knew it was taking a toll on me as a person and as a teacher.

In one of my yoga classes as my students were in Virabhdrasana II (Warrior II) I was giving alignment cues. I told my students to make sure that their hips were above their shoulders. WOOPS!

I took over subbing two 6 a.m. yoga classes until a permanent teacher was found. I was also subbing a Friday night Restorative/Yoga Nidra class until the original teacher took her class back.

Luckily my lovely friend came back and started teaching her class again last week. Which meant I was able to take the class as a student. Just when I really needed Restorative Yoga I got it.

A permanent teacher was found for the 6 a.m. classes.

Someone once told me that they felt yoga teachers don’t have as much stress because they know how to relax.

Here’s the thing, yoga teachers are regular people who happen to love teaching yoga and practicing it. But we all have stress. Yoga teachers don’t make a lot of money. Most of us spend a lot of time driving from one teaching gig to another.

Teaching takes a lot out of you. Full time is not 40 hours a week. But when I break down the time I teach, prepare for my classes and travel to and from it is pretty close to 40 hours.

And when you teach you are on 100%. When I teach cycle I am physically exerting myself with basic cues. When teaching yoga I am exerting myself in a different way–not so much physically. But I am telling students what we are doing, how to check alignment, how to get into and out of a pose, modifications, etc. I give so much to my students.

I knew once I started to feel the early signs of exhaustion I needed to address it. I can’t be a good teacher when I’m exhausted. And I can’t be a good teacher if I am not taking care of myself.

No matter what we do in life we have to take care of No. 1 before we can take care of anyone else.

I’m making sure to really take care of myself this week. Because of the crazy weather this week my office yoga classes were canceled. So that gave me more time yesterday get some stuff done, hang out and take it easy until my evening classes.

Tuesdays are my regular day off from teaching (though I will be subbing over the next few weeks). I took a yoga class Tuesday morning. I spent the rest of the rainy day hanging out at home.

I am taking care of No. 1 so I can be the best yoga (and cycle) teacher I can be.

To shop or not shop …

toy drive

When I still worked in an office I ran the company toy drive (and food drive) annually.

I meant to post this last week. Before the full holiday shopping frenzy began. But I forgot to post it.

So here it is now.

Before Thanksgiving I read some stories about businesses that wouldn’t be open on Thanksgiving for the big start of the crazy shopping season.

Here is a list of the stores that stated they would not be open on Thanksgiving.

REI is among the companies that were not open on Thanksgiving. They are also gave their employees Black Friday off with pay. That’s pretty awesome.

Back in the day when we only had Black Friday I never participated. I am not a fan of crowds. And I refuse to wait in line for hours to get a few bucks off a TV.

When I did buy Christmas presents I made it a goal to get it all done BEFORE Thanksgiving. Then online shopping became a thing and I had a goal to get it done by a certain time (can’t remember my deadline). But enough to mail out stuff I needed to without paying a fortune for shipping.

For years Curt and I haven’t been giving Christmas gifts. At some point we decided with our families that no one needs anything. But there are others who really do. So we do charity giving instead.

Within our own little families we still give. Curt and I just do stocking stuffers.

This time of year is already so stressful and expensive.

Think about charity giving instead. You could pay off someone’s layaway at Toys R Us or Kmart or Walmart, etc. You could give to a food bank or volunteer to serve a meal. You could donate to a toy or food drive.

One of my favorite ways to charity gift is charity gift cards, like Charity Choice. The buyer pays for the gift card, whatever amount you want. And the recipient gets to pick where the money goes. There are more than 200 charities to choose from. So whatever you are passionate about it’s likely there.

If you enjoy shopping during this crazy time, you should do it. And I don’t judge those who go shopping on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday. I personally hate it. I don’t like crowds and would rather avoid all that chaos.

I made an appearance at Athleta on Saturday. And I have to say, there are LOTS of people who like to shop the weekend after Thanksgiving. When I arrived for my gig I parked far away and walked into the mall. It was busy but not insane. I had a quick lunch and headed to the store. When I left about 3:15 I felt like a fish trying to swim upstream. There were so many people walking toward me.

As I left I felt relieved that I don’t have to endure that to get my Christmas shopping done. The stocking stuffers I get for Curt will mostly be purchased online. And I am still figuring out our charity Christmas giving for the year.

Either way, happy shopping in store or online OR happy not shopping!