Ann on July 24th, 2015
baking soda and vinegar

My shampoo and conditioner bottles have been replaced with a bottle of apple cider vinegar and a box  of baking soda.

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.

clean hair

My hair looking clean and flowy after a month of “washing” my hair with only baking soda and water and “conditioning” with apple cider vinegar.

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.

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Ann on July 21st, 2015
closet yoga

My yoga mat set up in my closet for my home yoga practice.

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.

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Ann on July 18th, 2015

My bag of snacks earlier this week.

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.

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Ann on July 15th, 2015
super kegels

Maybe I am doing Super Kegels while enjoying my glass of wine. You never know. Kegel exercises can be done sitting, standing, lying down and done discreetly. No one will ever know … unless you tell them, of course.

After posting my Kegel post last week (which I had written some time ago and had on hand in case I wanted to post and didn’t have anything ready) I was talking with some fellow yoga teachers about it.

They agreed that Kegels are important. But as we were discussing I also found out that Kegel exercises have been updated and there is a better way to do them.

So I decided to look more into this.

Regular Kegel exercises have you squeeze and release the muscles around your pelvic floor quickly. But I found out this can over exhaust the muscles.

Super Kegels are about squeezing and holding for 5-10 seconds initially and then releasing, working toward holding for 20 seconds.

Allina Health provides a drawing, which illustrates the pelvic floor muscles, the anus, vagina and urethra. The site also gives step-by-step instructions on performing Super Kegels.

Allina Health recommends you work up to the Super Kegel.

You can do Kegel exercises standing, sitting or even lying down.

Kegel exercises can help with urinary incontinence, reverse a prolapsed uterus and improve your sex life.

The Kegel Queen, who is a registered nurse, and maintains the site, Kegel Queen Connection, says Kegels show you how to identify and use the pelvic floor muscles directly. Kegels show you how to isolate the pelvic floor.

If  you are consciously contracting the pelvic floor itself, your Kegels will be far more effective if you understand how to focus your efforts on only the pelvic floor muscles, leaving all those extra muscles relaxed, the Kegel Queen explains. … There’s a lot of mystery, cultural baggage, and emotion attached to this part of the body. The organs and muscles you use for sex, birth, and elimination are amazing, miraculous, and necessary parts of you. But we tend to view this area with shame, and most women know little about it.

So maybe we need to start talking about this important issue more. We as women need to understand our bodies and how they work. (Men should as well.)  We need to start or do more talking, researching, looking, knowing and understanding our bodies.

These things are all important to stay healthy and knowledgeable about ourselves.

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Ann on July 10th, 2015
I am doing my Kegels in this photo. Can you tell?

I am doing my Kegels in this photo. Can you tell?

One of my long-time friends and readers mentioned that jumping rope or jumping in a moon bouncer is difficult … post child birth without … err … umm … peeing your pants.

Since I don’t plan to have children luckily for me I won’t experience this.

But she brought up Kegel exercises.

And what the hell, I decided to do a post about it.

And the stuff I found online, uh, wow!

Wait, does everyone know what Kegel exercises are?

If you get embarrassed easily, you should stop reading now.

OK, you were warned.

According to Wikipedia, in 1948 Arnold Kegel published information on pelvic floor exercise (Kegel exercise), which consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, now sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Kegel muscles.”

Did you know you can buy an exercise device for this? Check out the Super Kegel’s Exerciser.

I don’t need no stinkin’ exerciser. I can do them myself, in fact I am doing them as I write this right now.

Many women joke about Kegels (the way they are usually referred). But sometimes they can be important for some serious issues.

The Mayo Clinic has a how-to guide for your reading pleasure and says, Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. You can do Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, discreetly just about anytime. Try them at every stop light.

According to WebMD, doctors often prescribe Kegel exercises for people who have bladder control problems (urinary incontinence). Kegel exercises are also called pelvic floor exercises because they treat and prevent pelvic floor weakness.

In yoga practice there are times when we focus on the pelvic floor muscles with Asvini Mudra and Mula Bandha. According to Yoga Journal article titled Mula Bandha in Action, the bandhas are mechanisms by which a yogi can direct the flow of prana, the universal life-force energy that animates and unites us all.

Another reader of GFG! asked for a Kegel challenge, because as she stated: Since it is a major component of female health (and male, actually), I’d like to see a Kegel challenge. Uterine prolapse and other unpleasant complications can result from not working this muscle enough, and yet it’s a hard one to think about/find time for. There are various exercises that really help a lot!

Maybe when I start up the Monthly Challenges again we can try Kegels?

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Ann on July 5th, 2015
sun screen

Armed with water, sun screen in lots of varieties and entertainment while lounging at the pool and working on my tan.

It’s summer!

In Portland (and Oregon) we are in a heat wave. (It’s been much longer than the average heat waves. And we are at about 10 degrees warmer than normal. When you don’t have air conditioning that can be uncomfortable and downright miserable at times.)

In the townhouse community Curt and I live in there is a pool. I spend some of my free time at the pool. I love hanging out at the pool and working on my tan.

Yup, I love having a nice tan. But I do it smartly. I drink lots of water and I keep my skin protected with sunscreen. I wear sun glasses and a hat.

One of my favorite sunscreen brands is Neutrogena. I also buy Coppertone and Banana Boat.

I have heard from numerous people that their dermatologists recommend Neutrogena-brand products. (I did a Review Wednesday last year on Neutrogena sun screen.)

I use a body spray, a stick for my face and ears and lip balm with SPF.

A friend recently posted an article on Facebook titled, Neutrogena is the number one sunscreen to avoid, says EWG.

This conflicts with what experts have told many people I know.

I found another article asking, Is sunscreen really toxic? And what I read there, the simple answer is no.

I had never heard of EWG (Environmental Working Group). So I decided to do some research on this organization and research on sunscreen in general.

Here’s what I found.

  • An article on Forbes, states that EWG was the leader of the whole “cell phones cause cancer” scare. The EWG has also brought on the supposed danger of pesticides on produce. The pesticide alarmism was debunked by an independent, peer-reviewed study by researchers at the University of California Davis.
  •  Cancer Research UK says, sunscreens can be useful for protecting our skin from the sun’s rays. … The sun protection factor or SPF tells you the amount of protection the sunscreen gives against UVB radiation. … National guidelines recommend you use at least SPF 15 (the higher the better).
  • The Chemists Corner says EWG has an online ingredient resource database. … It is full of misleading information and many things that are just wrong.
  • EWG lists many sunscreens that should be avoided. Yet if you go to their Amazon affiliate store you can find sunscreens they say not to use available in their store to purchase.
  • From the article, Is sunscreen toxic? (Spoiler alert: The science doesn’t stick with the theories/arguments below.)
    • One argument against sunscreen revolves around the zinc and titanium dioxide nanoparticles entering into the body and crossing into the bloodstream, where they then release“skin-damaging free radicals.”
    • Other theories posit that sunscreen stops us from getting enough vitamin D.
    • Another says that putting sunscreen on actually increases the chance of getting skin cancer.

The article that posted about EWG’s list of the worst sunscreens says, but remember, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen right before they share the list. Huh? What’s that about? Conflicting information?

Here’s the thing. We can’t believe everything we read. I do my best with my research and try to find multiple resources to back something I am stating. You need to do research as well. I know we can’t possibly read everything on everything.

But hey, if you want to know something, ask me. I’ll research it for you and post about it for all of us to learn a little something.

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Ann on July 3rd, 2015

Our “wedding wall” with lots of beautiful pictures from our wedding almost 12 years ago. Memories I will always cherish. Most photos taken by our wedding photographer Chris Richards and a few in there taken by my mom.

A week ago today the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on marriage equality.

The Constitution grants … (all) equal dignity in the eyes of the law. It is so ordered.

In light of the great news, my Facebook post read: Love is love. Marriage equality for all! As it should be.

Some people are against gay marriage. For reasons of religion, morals, procreation, etc.

Here’s the deal: Marriage is about two consenting adults making a commitment.

Merriam-Webster defines marriage as: (1): the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2): the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage.

Marriage is a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law, not by religion or the bible. And actually, there is nothing in there stating love.

Though I personally think love is an important factor when you get married. But it is not required to be legal.

Facebook profile rainbow filter

Facebook created a rainbow filter you could add to your profile picture after last Friday’s ruling. A rather brilliant way to show support.

But people get married for a variety of reasons. And their reasons are none of my business even if I disagree.

If you want to get married in a church and/or have a religious wedding ceremony then you should do that.

But my wedding with an officiant at the Arizona Inn outside among the sky, trees and grass with friends and family present is just as legit as your church wedding.

I was raised Catholic and brought up to be open-minded and loving.

Some claim that gay marriage affects their marriage. If someone else’s marriage and/or relationship is affecting your marriage or relationship then it sounds like you are the one with the problem. Someone else’s marriage/relationship should have no affect on yours.

We’ve all heard: About 50% of marriages end in divorce. I decided to research that. And the math doesn’t add up. There are 2.4 million marriages a year in the United States and 1.2 million divorces a year. But the 1.2 million divorces aren’t from the same marriages that year.

I can’t find a definitive number or percentage of marriages ending in divorce. But a million divorces a year is still a lot. And that number was BEFORE marriage equality was the law of the land.

So who do we blame for all those divorces? Britney Spears, Sean Penn, Kim Kardashian, Larry King, Jennifer Lopez, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elizabeth Taylor, Kenny Rogers, Liza Minnelli, Billy Bob Thorton, Christie Brinkley, Geraldo Rivera, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra?

Did any of their crazy marriages, multiple marriages/divorces affect your marriage/relationship? I am gonna take a BIG guess and say, NO!

When Curt and I got married I assumed we would have kids. Because that’s what you do, right? Get married, buy a house, have kids. Well, at some point we realized we didn’t want kids and are self-proclaimed child free by choice.

We got married because we love each other and wanted to spend our life together. And almost 12 years later …

Years ago The West Wing’s President Jed Bartlet made a pretty strong statement here while quoting scripture. It’s pretty awesome and powerful.

When gay marriage in California was ruled in favor of by SCOTUS a friend/co-worker told me she had gained more than 1,000 rights. Wowza! (The U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality in California on June 26, 2013.)

Can you imagine being in the hospital with the person you have loved for 5, 10, 15, … 50 … years and they are dying and you aren’t considered next of kin? And maybe they have a bad relationship or no relationship with their parents/kids/family and those are the people who are going to decide what happens to the love of your life, even if it is something against their wishes.

I believe in separation of church and state. I also believe everyone should be treated equally.

Love is love.

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Ann on June 29th, 2015
Turtles Yoga & Wellness

Turtles Yoga & Wellness is offering $99 unlimited monthly membership. It’s a great deal. It includes yoga, mat pilates and Zumba classes and eventually access to the pool when it opens next month. You can sign up for a membership here.

My first two weeks at Turtles have been great.

My very first class (on June 15) was a Monday night Gentle Yoga class. And I had 13 students. (The max is 15.) My students seemed receptive. And I heard from the front desk that I got lots of great feedback.

My first Thursday night class was a little smaller. Some of my Monday night students came to my Thursday night class.

I also added a third class to my Turtles schedule: Saturday mornings at 10:15. It’s Yoga Align to Restorative. I am so happy to be taking a little more Restorative Yoga teaching on. I love practicing Restorative Yoga and sharing it with my students.

In Week 2 I am already starting to have regulars, which I really love. I want to get to know my students and make their yoga experience the best that I can.

And I am having some amazing connections with students.

I worked a front desk shift the past two Friday afternoons/evenings. I am learning a few things along the way. And I am able to help out with signing students in, getting their info into the system, etc.

And today is the start of Week 3.

My full Turtles schedule is:

  • Mondays Gentle Yoga 5:45-7 p.m.
  • Thursdays Hatha Alignment 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays Yoga Align to Restorative 10:15-11:30 a.m.

You can find my Turtles schedule and my full class schedule here.

Did you know that Turtles are known to have a connection with our ancestors? They are known to be wise, hard working and all about going with the flow “being in present time.” At Turtles, we strive to follow the wisdom of the Turtle.

You are always welcome to come to Turtles for a tour. It’s a beautiful space. I am really happy and grateful to be part of the Turtles family.

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Ann on June 26th, 2015
yoga teacher training

After my graduation, one year ago, I posed with Baxter, my mentor, and my certificate proving that it was official!

A year ago today I graduated from my yoga teacher training at Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, Calif. Wow, it’s already been a year? Wow, it’s only been a year?

Marilyn, my mother-in-law, asked if there would be video of my graduation. I told her no, but there would be photos. Curt did end up taking video. You can watch it here.

I had some idea of what I would use my new knowledge and skills toward. But I had no idea I would be where I am today.

It’s better than I ever imagined.

Two days after I graduated I headed to Tucson for some R&R and some time with my family.

I taught my very first yoga class at Mindful Yoga Studio as a donation class on that trip. It was a scary, but great experience. I appreciated that Hilda let me teach the class at her beautiful studio and all of the students and friends (and family) who came to support me (and Tucson’s food bank).

I started subbing at Alameda Athletic Club in August and September for the regular teacher. She went on maternity leave in October and I took over her classes while she was on leave.

Since I had been taking indoor cycling classes for years I decided to get certified to teach these classes as well. I took the certification class and exam in December.

Once Curt and I were settled in Portland I started contacting gyms and studios near where we live at the end of January.

But the end of February I was teaching a few classes a week.

I am now teaching five cycle classes and eight yoga classes each week with a few sub classes sprinkled in. Also in the temporary I am working a front-desk shift at Turtles Yoga & Wellness to learn a few things and help out.

My updated class schedule can be found here, where my yoga classes and cycle classes are listed along with any classes I am subbing.

I really do love teaching and I think I found my true calling. I love connecting with my students and having fun.

The relationships I have already developed in such a short time is so gratifying. I want my students to trust me and come to me when they need.

I want to share what I know and learn about yoga, the body, the mind, the breath, alignment, etc. with my students in both yoga and cycle.

I want to help them find a deeper place in themselves and with their relationships.

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Ann on June 21st, 2015

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) is one of the poses typically in a Sun Salutes practice. It’s in my sequence for this coming week.

Today is the Summer Solstice. June 21. The first day of summer.

Many yoga practitioners celebrate by practicing Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutes.

The tradition is to practice 108. There are many things I found giving significance to the number 108, from it being a sacred number in yoga and Hinduism to mathematical to many other things I read.

This coming week I will be teaching (and practicing in my home practice) a few versions of sun salutes to celebrate the Summer Solstice. (My students don’t need to worry, we won’t be practicing 108.)

According to one of my yoga teachers, Richard Rosen, when practicing Sun Salutes “you are saluting the outside sun for providing life to the planet, and you internal sun for providing consciousness.” (This quote came from Good Sunshine Day linked below.)

I’ve written about Sun Salutes before when I was in my teacher training.

The sun is the bestower of life. The Sun Salute is is a circular Vinyasa flow. Sun Salutes are about flow, methodical thinking, building and deliberate Vinyasa sequence.

I got some ideas for my sequence this week from an article in Yoga Journal titled Good Sunshine Day.

Today is also the first International Day of Yoga. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quoted in a Yoga Journal article saying, “Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.”

If you want to celebrate Summer Solstice and/or International Day of Yoga and you don’t know where to begin, this Sun Salutation is a simple flow you can follow. You can do it once or 10 times, or maybe even 108. But I only recommend that if you are an experienced practitioner.

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