Ann on December 1st, 2015
coffee and oatmeal

A warm cup of coffee and oatmeal with bananas and peanut butter are my usual breakfast routine.

Can you believe it? It’s December! This year flew by.

My morning routine is usually the same. I wake up somewhere between 6:30 and 7 a.m.

I practice my home yoga practice for about an hour. I head downstairs for my coffee and breakfast. Then back upstairs to get ready for my day.

The majority of my days I have a morning class. (Four days a week I have a 9:15 a.m. cycle class, one day a week an 8:30 a.m. yoga class, four days a week a noon yoga class …)

When I head downstairs for my coffee and breakfast I usually sit and enjoy my quiet time. Depending on the day and when I actually get downstairs I have anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to have my breakfast.

My goal is to sit and enjoy my meal and coffee. I open the blinds of the patio doors and watch the rain, the birds, the same guy running for the bus or whatever is going on outside and I sip my coffee.

When I was working 40+ hours a week with a usual 2-hour total a day commute finding 15 minutes to just be was tough. I drank my coffee and had my breakfast at work, at my desk, while working. Not the best way to start off with the most important meal of the day.

I could have gotten up earlier to get that 15 minutes in. But that would mean I would be getting up at 4:30 or 4:45 instead of my usual 5 a.m. Yea, no, thanks.

It’s December. Which means for most people life is nuts, socially, end of the year at work, parties, gatherings, drinking, eating, shopping, travel, family, friends …

When we feel like we don’t have time for that 15 minutes of quiet time is when we really need it.

Last year for the month of December my teacher Vickie challenged her students to practice 15 minutes of Savasana every day. I did it and wrote about it.

Go Fit Girl’s December Monthly Challenge is to take 15 minutes once a day to just be. It could be to sip your coffee or tea, to read, to take bath, to do a 15-minute yoga practice, to look out the window, to meditate, to practice Savasana, take a walk, stare at the ceiling, read a book or magazine, really enjoy your meal.

When you take your 15 minutes be present in what you are doing. If you take a 15-minute walk, don’t also look at your phone. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the scene in front of you.

Your 15 minutes can be whenever you want. First thing in the morning, end of the day, maybe a break at work during slump time.

And if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. There’s always tomorrow.

You can post your Monthly Challenge updates here or on Go Fit Girl’s Monthly Challenge Facebook Group page.

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Ann on November 27th, 2015

go fit girl athleta flier


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Ann on November 26th, 2015
fireplace at turtles yoga

Keeping warm by the “fire” at Turtles Yoga & Wellness.

I have many things to show gratitude for. I am grateful and thankful for so many things.

And I am not just thankful today but every day.

I have amazing people in my life, my family, my friends, my husband and my students (cycle and yoga).

I feel very fortunate that a little more than a year ago I was able to quit my corporate job and dedicate myself to teaching. It doesn’t pay well, but the other benefits are so rewarding.

In my short time of teaching I have developed some amazing connections with my students.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to have someone confide in you or share something very personal. Or tell you how much better they feel after a yoga practice. Or I that’s exactly what I needed (a practice for the low back, shoulders, digestion, etc.). Or thanks for a fun class after a cycle class. Or how I allowed for them to experience and honor their own body. Or how I allowed them to feel whatever emotions they were feeling. … etc.

This morning I taught a special class at Turtles Yoga & Wellness called Celebrate Being Grateful. I had a full and fun class.

We practiced gratitude while recognizing how blessed we are in this life. We practiced a Hatha alignment-based class as we move mindfully while breathing deeply. We explored yoga poses that aid in digestion. We also opened our hearts with some supportive Restorative Yoga poses to end class.

I feel so lucky to teach in a beautiful space. I love Turtles and feel so grateful to teach there. The students and yoga community are so amazing. We are Turtles family.

I love teaching. I can’t describe how amazing I feel while sharing my love of yoga. To see my students progress, or share something with them or them with me, to know I have made them feel better or just OK about something going on with them physically, emotionally, mentally. I make jokes and have fun.

I believe yoga should be accessible to every body and everybody. And as I teacher I will continue to make that a reality for myself and my students.

So thank you to my students for allowing me to be your teacher.

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Ann on November 21st, 2015

Celebrate Being Grateful

Celebrate Being Grateful yoga class at Turtles Yoga & Wellness from 9-10:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Facebook event invite, click here.

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Ann on November 18th, 2015
albany yoga

My yoga journal sequence is with me whenever I teach. Every participant of the workshop received a print out of  the sequence we practiced during the workshop.

Over the weekend Curt and I were in his hometown.

Curt is from a small Missouri town. So small that they don’t have yoga among other things.

I held a yoga workshop for members of the community.

I love finding ways to bring yoga to anyone who wants to experience the practice.

It was my first workshop, which I called Albany Yoga Basics Workshop.

I taught the ladies basic yoga poses while also focusing on alignment and our breath. I also taught them some basic Restorative Yoga poses.

I was able to work on my language and really focus on teaching true beginners, which I feel is my specialty right now as a yoga teacher.

I really do enjoy teaching.

This was extra fun as all the women were familiar with each other and many are close friends.

They laughed and made jokes and enjoyed themselves.

They all got to take home a copy of the sequence we practiced so they can practice at home or even with each other.

I plan to try to get inventive and continue to bring yoga to a community that enjoys it and wants it. Stay tuned Albany, Mo.!

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Ann on November 12th, 2015
celebrate being grateful

Celebrate being grateful with me at Turtles on Thanksgiving morning from 9-10:30 a.m.

I am excited to announce I will be teaching a special yoga class at Turtles Yoga & Wellness on Thanksgiving morning, which is two weeks away.

My class titled: Celebrate Being Grateful is from 9-10:30 a.m.

Join me on Thanksgiving morning for a yoga class where we practice gratitude while recognizing how blessed we are in this life.

We will come together for a Hatha alignment-based practice as we move mindfully while breathing deeply.

We will explore yoga poses that aid in digestion.

We will also open our hearts with some supportive Restorative Yoga poses to end our class.

When I still lived in Oakland I absolutely loved that the yoga studio(s) I regularly attended hosted Thanksgiving morning yoga classes. What a beautiful way to start the day and prepare us for what I call Crazy Time (end of the year and holiday season).

My teaching schedule around the holiday is slightly modified.

On Wednesday, Nov. 25 (day before Thanksgiving) my cycle class is canceled. But my 8 p.m. yoga class is still scheduled.

On Thursday, Nov. 26 (Thanksgiving) I will have a sub for my morning cycle class. I will be teaching my special yoga class at Turtles that morning. My noon yoga class is still on the schedule. An my evening yoga class is canceled.

See My Classes tab for any classes I am subbing, changes, updates, etc. to my teaching schedule.

The Facebook event invite can be found here.

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Ann on November 7th, 2015

Relaxed and enjoying a massage on the Migun.

I practice a lot of yoga. And I cycle (while teaching indoor cycling) five times a week.

I teach 11 yoga classes a week (and sometimes a private session) along with my cycle classes every week.

As a teacher I give to my students physically, emotionally and mentally.

All teachers need to take care of themselves.

On Wednesday night while teaching my evening yoga class I started to notice my low back aching (not an uncommon thing).

Once class was over I noticed it more. And by the time I got home it was quite bothersome.

I had my dinner and got ready for bed. I then practiced a couple of Restorative Yoga backbends: heart opener over a rolled blanket and supported bridge with a bolster.

I have Kyphosis (upper hunch back) and Lordosis (lower sway back). Low back discomfort or pain happens at times for me.

I took it easy the next couple of days while teaching. Cycle I didn’t ride as hard. I was mindful with my modifications with students in yoga. I like to be helpful with props and getting what students need. I made sure to be careful and not bend over as much as I usually do.

I didn’t demonstrate as many yoga poses as normal, which also helped me to work on my language skills. The more I teach the better I get with my language and alignment cues with my students.

I had a student who was concerned about my back and me carrying my bag of blocks. (I take blocks with me to some of my gym classes.) I told her I was fine. But she insisted on helping me and I let her.

I was mindful how I picked things up and how I was turning and twisting my body while teaching and in my everyday activities.

On Thursday afternoon I came home and had lunch. I got comfy and took care of me, which meant taking a nap.

I practice Restorative Yoga on my own 4-5 times a week. So on Thursday I did a nice Restorative practice of some backbends to help me open up heart center while giving ease to the low back.

I got to the studio about an hour before my Thursday evening yoga class. I got to experience the Migun. It’s a type of massage bed. I can’t really describe it. But it was amazing and I felt so good after.

Massage Energy describes the Migun: The Massage Energy Thermal Massage System represents the fusion of acupressure, acupuncture, heat-therapy (moxibustion), chiropractic, and massage. The bed provides electronic heating with Helium-Jade stones; it produces far infrared rays that penetrate the surface of the body, so that the massage heads compress the autonomic nervous system and capillary blood vessels of the neck, thorax, lumbar spine, and sacral region of the pelvis.  The jade “eggs” continually massage along the hamstring muscles of the thighs, which enhances the blood circulation in the lower limbs.

Yea, that for 40 minutes. I felt supported and calm while using it. And it helped to massage my low back. I especially liked the heat.

Yesterday I already happened to have a massage appointment. My massage therapist gave me a little extra attention to my low back. As always, I felt great and blissed out after my massage.

Today my back feels fine.

I made sure to allow it to fully heal before I took on too much where I could be back to where I was Wednesday night or Thursday.

Yoga teachers or not, we all need to take care of ourselves and listen to our bodies.

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Ann on November 1st, 2015

I’ve brushed my teeth with my non-dominant left hand earlier today. It was a challenge.

We all have a comfort zone. Many of us want to stay in it and never stray.

I think it is healthy to get out of our comfort zones. Sometimes we find something out about ourselves, we find something we like or something we are good at by trying something different. We can gain new perspective.

Getting out of our comfort zone is really just about breaking habits.

I used to be really shy and quiet. Yes, I know …

In junior high I was in a drama class and really blossomed when I starred as Baby Mouse in our version of Cinderella.

I’m usually comfortable in groups. Public speaking used to terrify me.

I joined Toastmasters at work (when I was still in the corporate world) to help me get more comfortable with my public speaking.

I decided to take a yoga teacher training and become a yoga teacher. Before my first class I was so nervous. Heart pounding, sweaty, a little freaked out. I thought to myself, why in the hell did I think being a yoga teacher was a good idea? I have to talk in front of a group of people.

Most of my classes start with a seated (or lying down) meditation. I originally started doing that to help myself get calm. For me to find my breath and make sure my inhale and exhale were even and flowing.

I rarely get nervous these days before my class starts. Occasionally before I sub I do.

I decided to quit my corporate job and teach yoga (and cycle). And by taking that leap I realize I am a really good yoga teacher. I got out of my comfort zone and found a new career for myself. (I left the comfort of a stable and well-paying job to try something that I actually love doing.)

A student of mine recently posted this article on my personal Facebook page, At my yoga class, sleepwalking no more.

If you are a regular practitioner of yoga, whether at a gym or studio, you likely have a spot. C’mon, you know you do. (It happens in all kinds of classes, whether Zumba, cycle, body conditioning, etc.)

The yoga teacher in the linked article above switched around the layout of the classroom one day. I have started doing that in a few of my yoga classes. In one of my classes I sometimes have the students pick the set up of the room.

One of my students challenged me to brush my teeth with my left hand instead of right. I’ve done it twice and I absolutely hate it. I feel clumsy and awkward and was constantly finding myself wanting to grab the toothbrush with my right hand and take over.

Sticking with our habits, not getting out of our comfort zone, we start to do things less mindfully. We aren’t present in our own lives. We are in automatic mode.

How many times have you driven to work (because it’s something you do many times a week) and you don’t actually remember driving there?

By changing our habits we can see things differently, see things we’ve never seen before, find a new world or new parts to our world, get a fresh perspective, etc.

Go Fit Girl! Monthly Challenges are back (at least for November and December). For the month of November we are going to get out of our comfort zones, change our habits, continue to be mindful and present in our lives.

Here are some ideas to challenge and maybe break some of this habits:

Drive home from work a different way or go a different way to work, sit in a different spot while eating your breakfast, take a different route in the grocery store, skip “the usual” and try a different dish when dining out, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, sit in a different spot in your exercise or yoga class, sleep on the other side of the bed, take your walk (or walk your dog) on a different path, if your Sunday night dinner is the same every week make something different one Sunday, when you sit down on your yoga mat and cross your legs try going to the non-habitual side first, part your hair differently, roll out of bed differently, put your pants on starting with the left (or right) leg first …

What are some other things that you realize are habitual for you?

You can comment below on what you are doing/changing for the Monthly Challenge. You can also comment on the Go Fit Girl! Monthly Challenge Facebook Group page.

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Ann on October 28th, 2015
On Sunday at 2 a.m. most of us in the U.S. Fall Back.

On Sunday at 2 a.m. most of us in the U.S. Fall Back.

Twice a year I write about time change. And we are upon that time once again.

For most of us in the U.S. we will Fall Back on Sunday at 2 a.m.

Many of my readers are from Arizona, so this post doesn’t apply to you as much. (And note to my family, starting Sunday I will be an hour behind for about four months.) But I think the suggestions I am going to make are great whenever you cross time zones or as we move into the cooler and darker (and in Oregon, wetter) season.

I am not a great sleeper. And time change for me is pretty difficult.

When you Spring Forward, you lose an hour. The light is different. It is more difficult to get to bed on time for your workweek.

When you Fall Back, you “gain” an hour. But that gain can still really mess you up.  If you normally get up at 5 a.m. then you are likely gonna start rousing at 4 a.m. Ugh! And the evenings get darker earlier, which has already been happening lately.

That “gained” hour can throw your day (or even the following week) off.

There are ways to help your body adapt to time change, whether it is an hour (or several hours when traveling over time zones).

I write about the time change when we Spring Forward and when we Fall Back.

fall colors

I love the Fall colors around Portland.

My advice to all who need some extra help Monday morning or all next week:

  • Don’t go to bed too late Sunday night.
  • Make sure you have breakfast Sunday and Monday morning (and every morning).
  • Try not to eat a lot of crap. Stick to fruits and veggies as snacks instead of sugary or salty foods.
  • Drink lots of water Sunday (but also today and tomorrow and always).
  • Exercise. (I will be teaching a cycle class Sunday morning. I will also be teaching yoga classes: one at noon, a private session in the late afternoon and an evening Restorative Yoga class. But I plan to do a home yoga practice before I head out to teach for the day.) Even going for a walk will be helpful.
  • Keep up the exercise throughout the week, especially on Monday. Find that motivation. It will be tough, but well worth it.
  • If you do nap Sunday (I love my weekend naps), don’t nap too late. Maybe instead of a nap, you practice 30 minutes of Restorative Yoga.
  • If caffeine really affects you maybe cut back Sunday and definitely don’t have it too late in the day.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol, especially too late in the day/evening.
  • Melatonin is a natural hormone found in our bodies. You can buy it over the counter to help with sleep. My doctor advised me at one point to try melatonin to help with my sleep issues. It helps me sleep. But I wouldn’t advise trying it for the first time Sunday night, especially the day before you have to go to work. Talk to your doctor about it. Try it a night before you don’t have to go to work.
  • Try to start winding your day down an hour before you go to bed. If you normally go to bed around 10, then at 9 make sure you are done for the day and ready for Monday’s workday. I know it is hard for all of us, myself included, but no screen time an hour before bed. Do something relaxing for that hour: read a book, knit, lounge, take a bath. Even practice a Restorative Yoga pose or two. A few poses I like are: Legs Up the WallInstant Maui; and Savasana are just a few you can do. Hold these poses for at least 10 minutes each or longer. You can also try Supported Child’s PoseSupported Twist. These poses can be held for 5-7 minutes. This video shows some poses.
legs up the wall

I am in Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall).

I wrote up a sequence sometime ago to curb sadness. It would also be great for time change or when you want a slower practice. I feel refreshed and amazing after practicing this sequence.

The sequence I am teaching my students and am practicing in my home practice this week is slower, more mindful and calming.

Some of the poses we are practicing are inversions, which are poses where your head is below your heart, such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), Uttanasana (Forward Fold), Prasarita Uttanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Fold), Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose).

We are also practicing Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose–picture above), which is great for insomnia, jet lag, anxiety, mild depression, etc. To find out more, read here.

Happy sleep and awake next week and always!

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Ann on October 20th, 2015
ultimate savasana

This is what I call Ultimate Savasana.

I love being a teacher. A teacher of yoga. And also teaching indoor cycling classes.

Because of what I do I have a weird schedule. Every day is a little different. Three out of my six teaching days I have a 9:15 a.m. class, a noon class and a class in the evening. Most of my days I have a gap from about 1:30 to 5ish.

This is when I run errands, have my lunch, get things done around the house, work on the blog, work on playlists and yoga sequences, catch up on e-mail, etc.

But I also hit a low in the middle of the day and get sleepy. Because I physically work I know at times my body needs rest.

My norm had been little cat naps. Sometimes they end up being longer. Somedays I feel great after my nap and other days not so much.

About five or six weeks ago I decided to trade my nap time in with a 30-minute Restorative Yoga practice. (I have been doing this about five times a week.)

Mondays are one of my harder days as I have three classes and it is my “Friday.” I don’t normally teach on Tuesdays. So by Monday I am pretty tired, sometimes a little slap happy.

I started Restorative practice instead of nap on a Monday. I felt so great after and felt energized for my Monday evening class. It’s a fun class and I like to be ready for that rowdy bunch.

I usually do about three poses. Depending on how my body is feeling or what is going on will help me dictate what I will practice. If nothing is dictating I will go with some of my favorite Restorative poses.

Yesterday my back was bothering me (because I had been busy cleaning the house) so I first did a Heart Opener over a blanket (I keep my knees bent in this pose), then supported Child’s Pose with a sandbag on my lower back and ended with a Supported Bridge.

I have lots of fancy props: bolsters, wool blankets, foam blocks, eye pillows, straps, sand bags …

But you don’t have to have all of that to practice Restorative Yoga at home. A couple of blankets and pillows will do. My mom and I did a practice together about a year and a half ago at her house with just pillows, blankets and towels. You can read about that practice here.

It’s interesting for me to go back to that post and reflect on the poses I chose for our practice. I have grown so much. I was still in my teacher training and was still learning about sequencing. And while still being a newbie I came up with those poses on the fly. (I would plan it differently if I were planning it today.)

Restorative Yoga is an important part of our yoga practice. It can be difficult to find time to carve out of our days to just “lie around.”

I get it. I used to work 40+ hours a week with a long commute. I hardly had time to eat dinner before I had to go to bed (since I got up at 5 a.m.). But even if you just have 5 minutes to sit and reflect. Take that time for yourself.

We are a society that doesn’t know how to relax. And we have this disease called busy. And it is getting in the way of us being healthy physically, mentally, emotionally …

Restorative Yoga saved me many times … from exhaustion, from feeling like I was completely crazy, from difficult and sad times …

Sometimes my Restorative practice turns into a nap. Sometimes I am really tired. Other times I am so relaxed I fall asleep.

I find that taking this time for me is good for me, my health, my energy level, sometimes gives me the opportunity to experiment with Restorative poses to teach, reviving myself when feeling tired, etc.

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