My Triangle continues to transform

My continuing Triangle Transformation. Top left photo May/June 2013; top middle, December 2013; top right, May 2014; bottom left, December 2015; bottom right, May 2016.

My continuing Triangle Transformation. Top left photo May/June 2013; top middle, December 2013; top right, May 2014; bottom left, December 2015; bottom right, May 2016.

Over the past three years I have been observing Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) in my body.

To the left you can see the variations and changes over the past three years.

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 Triangle Pose.

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 top middle 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.)

In the top right 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 lengthening 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.

My Continuing Triangle Transformation was written in January exploring the first four pictures.

In the bottom left photo, from December 2015, the block went down another height, the lengthening 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.)

In the most recent photo the block is gone. The extension in both arms is even and long. The lengthening in my side body is long, but could extend a little more and my chest and upper belly are open, but have room to open a little more. My neck could be less strained.

My hand has made it to the mat. But I can still get it lower, with the palm down. As my hand gets lower I still need to continue the side extension in my body and keeping the chest and upper belly open.

If your hand can get to the floor but you round into the pose or bend the knee or lose lengthening or opening your body is not gaining anything. It’s about length and extension and strength and maybe or maybe not the hand gets to the floor.

Getting my hand all the way to the mat won’t be my end goal of this pose.

My transformation has been phenomenal. But it also takes time. I have been observing this pose in my body for three years. I have made a lot of progress and change. I practice yoga almost every day.

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

I’m a yoga teacher, not a doctor

yoga certificates

My teacher training certificates proudly displayed on a wall in my home.

In my teacher training, we were reminded that students would ask us all kinds of questions, including us being asked to diagnose something in a student’s body.

I love talking with my students before, during and after class.

Most classes I teach a student tells me it was exactly what they needed. Usually someone tells me they feel so much better after class.

Since I go with themes someone will tell me they are in the service industry and the feet sequence was helpful or they hurt their back earlier in the week and the low back practice made them feel better or the neck sequence felt so good for their strained neck.

Sometimes I have people telling me about an issue in their body that may or may not have anything to do with the sequence I just taught and they want advice.

I can give them advice on poses they can try to help with the issue(s) in the body or poses they might want to avoid. But that’s all I can do. I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.

But if I don’t know I am honest about that. If it’s something I think I can do research on I will and will have information for the student the next time I see them.

Sometimes questions from students can be daunting or overwhelming or out of my league. I try to always remember to ask, what does your doctor say?

And if it is something out of my league I will tell the student that that is something they need to talk to their doctor about as I can’t answer.

I had a woman tell me about an issue in her body and a pose that bothered it. I told her to stop doing that pose and I suggested a modified version of the pose that would be better for her body.

In my teacher training we were told that sometimes a student feels that their yoga teacher is the first person to really listen to them about their issue. This is no slight against doctors, but doctors are busy and pretty much always behind so they need to get you in and out and get to their next patient.

I feel a connection with my students. So surely students feel a connection to their teachers. When a yoga teacher (or any exercise instructor) takes time to talk and listen to their student it could be the first time someone really listened to them and their problems/issues.

In my two years of teaching I have had students divulge all kinds of stuff to me, personal, physical, medical, emotional …

I’m a good listener and myself am not a private person so I appreciate them trusting me.

But again I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.

I’ve been teaching two years now. But I continue to learn and grow and will always as a teacher (and student of yoga).

It is best to tell your yoga teacher ahead of time about any issues in the body, especially something serious. I can give you tips to modify or poses to avoid or poses that are good for the issue.

And if I don’t know I will tell you. I may suggest a more appropriate class/teacher. I may do research and have more information for you the next time I see you.

One of my yoga teachers used to say when a woman becomes pregnant the first person who should know is your doctor, then your partner and third, your yoga teacher.

Even if you are eight months pregnant I can never assume, so please let me know. If you are early in your pregnancy and aren’t ready for the world to know I can be discreet and give you tips/modifications before class.

The more I know about you the more I can help and support you through your practice.

But again I am a yoga teacher, not a doctor.

It’s also your responsibility to talk to your doctor and know as much as you can about your body. We all know our own bodies better than anyone else.

From an article on the Yoga International website: Your teacher’s job is to keep you safe and teach a class that’s appropriate for each individual’s skill level. But as a student, you bear a share of the responsibility, too.

The more information I have, the more questions my students ask, they more answers I get from students the better teacher I can be.

Sometimes a student will ask me a question about a pose. I may or may not have an answer. I may propose that question(s) to my students and ask students for their answers.

Help me help you. I want you to be safe and enjoy your yoga practice.

Starting the conversation …

conversation of love

Drawing by Kortnee Moreland.

I’ve been struggling to get my thoughts together. And make sense of my words. I feel hopeless, sad, angry, my heart hurts …

Last week I was in my regular Wednesday morning yoga class where I get to be a student.

As class started my teacher mentioned the recent ugly, violent events taking place in our world. She talked about how many of us feel at a loss of what we can do.

It was the first time I had cried over the the night club shootings at an Orlando night club, two black men who were shot by police, one in Minnesota and the other in Louisiana, and the sniper Dallas police shootings. (It’s scary how many more ugly, violent things have happened since last Wednesday.)

Class was physically challenging. But in the challenging poses we were encouraged to look and find comfort. The practice was not about getting into the pose but about being in the pose.

With all the ugliness lately, which includes hate speech, I feel like I am losing hope.

THE CONVERSATION

But like my readers, who are also likely wondering, as a good, kind, open-minded, loving, caring person I want to know, what can I do?

Like, my yoga teacher said, we need to start and continue the conversation.

… So this is me, trying to start the conversation.

The big question is, how do we start and keep the conversation going?

I strive to be a good and kind person. I try to be open-minded and warm. I try to listen and be understanding. I practice patience.

I’m not perfect. None of us are.

We all grew up differently. We have different experiences to grow from and share. We need to strive to understand our differences, embrace them and celebrate them.

THE TALK

It breaks my heart to know some parents have to sit their young black sons down and have the talk.

From an article in Time, “If you are stopped by a cop, do what he says, even if he’s harassing you, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. Let him arrest you, memorize his badge number, and call me as soon as you get to the precinct. Keep your hands where he can see them. Do not reach for your wallet. Do not grab your phone. Do not raise your voice. Do not talk back. Do you understand me?”

The lede of the article states: “Certain events have a way of changing everything, reorganizing life into an unforgettable before and after.” That means something to us today.

And it meant something three years ago. This article was written three years ago. THREE years ago tragic events were happening and we were trying to make sense of it. And today we are still trying to make sense of this irrational violence yet again and again and again …

BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE

We are all ignorant. We need to talk, learn, listen, read, understand …

We must be held accountable. All actions–good and bad–have consequences.

Before you say something ugly, first think about it. Is this OK? How would I feel if someone said that to me?

If someone says something ugly, how do you normally react? I know how I usually react.

Maybe instead of your usual reaction you make it a conversation. How did you come to that conclusion? What do you feel that way? Why did you say that? And maybe you let them know that what they said was hurtful.

SHARING LOVE OF YOGA

I love being a yoga teacher and sharing my knowledge with my students. I love helping them find their comfort and challenges while supporting them.

And I feel honored to be there for them when they need someone to talk to, someone to listen, someone to give them a hug.

I love that my students come to yoga for many different things.

Some come for the physical practice, some come for class with me, some come for my various themes, some come to heal physically, some come to heal emotionally, some come for the community, some come for the love, some come for the acceptance …

PRACTICING YOGA OFF THE MAT

I feel like a lot of my kindness comes from patience.

When there is a congestion yet again on the 217 … when someone parks their cart in the middle of the aisle at the grocery and wanders away … when kids are screaming at a restaurant … when the line is long in the refreshment line at the movies …

When I am in every day situations like those mentioned above and many more I could easily get frustrated, upset, angry. But instead I take a moment and breathe. I call it practicing yoga off the mat. I remind myself that it is not that big of a deal.

In most situations we can do this, take a moment, full deep inhales, long release of the exhales.

You can always come back to the breath.

TALK, LISTEN, UNDERSTAND

Be kind to one another. Show your heart, your love.

Violence brings on violence. Love trumps hate. Peace over war.

And we keep having the conversations. Talk, listen, understand.

… Let’s continue this conversation …

Yoga in the Park

Yoga in the Park

Yoga in the Park with Ann in August. Tuesday, August 9 and Tuesday, August 23.

I am excited to announce that next month I will be teaching Yoga in the Park.

I will be teaching two yoga class(es) for all levels.

If adults want to bring their kids along that is welcome. But children must be accompanied by an adult.

Details below:

THE WHAT: Yoga in the Park with Ann
THE WHERE: Evelyn M. Schiffler Memorial Park, SW Erickson Ave., Beaverton, OR
THE TIME: 6-7 p.m.
THE DAY(S): Tuesday, August 9 and Tuesday, August, 23
THE PRICE: Suggested donation of $5 (but no one will be turned away)
WHAT ELSE: Bring your yoga mat. Be dressed for a yoga class. Clothing should be comfortable.

Feel free to bring a picnic to enjoy after class and hang out.

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at ann@gofitgirl.com.

a.m./p.m. yoga

am pm yoga

Over the past week my yoga theme was a.m./p.m. yoga.

One of my yoga students recently asked me if I could teach poses that could be done first thing in the morning and some poses that could be practiced right before bed.

What a great idea!

And a.m./p.m. yoga was created by me.

A morning practice can help to encourage mindful breathing and gentle movement, which can help begin your day with ease and joy.

A practice before bed can ease you into a restful night with a quiet yoga practice focused on deep breathing to calm the mind and release physical tension.

A calm, relaxing and Restorative practice before bed helps the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relax) to kick in.

An evening practice can help calm the mind and relieve tension in they body. A soothing practice can be an effective natural sleep remedy.

I gave my students stick figure drawings of the sequence I taught. Though in true Ann fashion in most of my classes I ran out of time and had to cut some of the poses out.

The stick figures are provided above for your use if you so wish.

If you would like a PDF e-mailed to you of the sequence, please send me an e-mail at ann@gofitgirl.com with the subject line: a.m./p.m. yoga sequence.

A regular yoga practice does the body and mind good.

A celebration of yoga & people

athleta class june 11

I’m teaching students Vrksasana (Tree Pose) at the Athleta Washington Square store on Saturday, June 11, 2016.

June has been a fun month for me partnering with Athleta.

Turtles Yoga & Wellness, the studio where I teach, partnered with Athleta–Washington Square for June Studio of the Month.

Each Saturday in June a different Turtles teacher taught a free yoga or Pilates class.

I taught on June 11.

I had a great group of students. Many were some of my own students and some were new students.

We practiced Sun Salutes in anticipation of Summer Solstice and International Yoga Day Portland.

Yoga Day Portland

On Tuesday, June 21, it was Summer Solstice. There was a big celebration in Portland’s Pioneer Square.

Karen, Mari, Meghan, Kimi, Dena, Lisa and me posing in the Athleta tent right before the Athleta fashion show on Tuesday, June 21.

Karen, Mari, Meghan, Kimi, Dena, Lisa and me posing in the Athleta tent right before the Athleta fashion show on Tuesday, June 21.

There were many free yoga classes, vendors, music, dancing, an Athleta fashion show, where I was a model.

The fashion show ended up being so much fun. We put on a fabulous show and looked amazing while modeling and yoga posing.

Here is a video of a small part of the fashion show.

The group of women (pictured to the right) I rehearsed with and hung out with over many Sunday evenings are amazing people. I am sad I won’t be seeing them regularly.

Yoga Day Portland was a great yoga celebration. It was such an awesome community to spend the day with.

I met new friends, hung out with “old” friends. I ran into numerous students throughout the day.

warrior 2 athleta fashion show

Thanks to friend and yoga student Deb for taking this picture during the Athleta fashion show.

My friend Maui taught one of the free classes, Fully Belly for Digestion, after lunch.

Maui’s girlfriend, Abby, and I demoed the class while my friend Rachel assisted in the crowd of yoga students.

It was such a great and fun day. But man, it was exhausting.

The weather was almost perfect: no rain with some sun and a little warmth by the middle/end of the day.

After the closing circle a small group headed out for Happy Hour. We shared laughs and a good time over appetizers and drinks.

The Oregonian posted a story online, at Oregon Live, about Yoga Day Portland.

Check out the second picture in the slideshow … where (spoiler alert) I am demoing in Maui’s  yoga class.

Here are some more pictures throughout the fun day for you to view.

A lot of amazing people helped to put on Yoga Day Portland. But really, two women, Becky and Reagan, were the main planners on putting on this event day.

The Yoga Day Portland website describes the day as: We are a local group of Oregonians striving to improve our community and world by promoting peace within and without through the many valuable and beneficial forms of yoga practice.

Perfect way to describe a perfect day and a perfect celebration of yoga and people.

Ann’s third newsletter

Athleta June Studio of the MonthMy third newsletter came out Wednesday, June 1.

I am reposting it for my GFG! readers right here.

If you would like to sign up to receive future newsletters in your inbox, you can go right here to enter your e-mail address.

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Friends,

Thank you so much for your interest in my newsletter.

Many have been asking when the next newsletter is coming out. The wait is over and here it is.

This is my third newsletter. I have reposted the first two on my blog, Go Fit Girl! You can read the first here and the second here.

Wow, first day of June. I have some exciting things coming up this month.

Upcoming June yoga class themes:

  • Focusing on the pelvis from Wednesday, June 1-Monday, June 6. A neutral pelvis keeps the low back healthy. Many suffer from pelvic floor disorders, which can cause a lot of issues in the body.
  • Low back is the theme running from Wednesday, June 8-Monday, June 13. In the U.S. lower back pain is one of the most common complaints. The Mayo Clinic states that most people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Some causes of low back pain can be poor posture, tight hamstrings, herniated disc, tight hips, muscle strain, tight posas, etc.
  • Tuesday, June 21 is Summer Solstice. The week leading up to Summer Solstice (Wednesday, June 15-Monday, June 20) I will be teaching sun salutes (Surya Namaskar) to honor the arrival of summer.
  • I’m really excited about the sequence I’m teaching from Wednesday, June 22-Monday, June 27, which I am calling a.m./p.m. yoga. One of my students asked if I could teach some poses that could be done first thing in the morning and poses to do before going to bed. I will provide stick figures of the poses taught to my students.

A lot of friends and students have been asking me about the heart opener over the blocks pose. I decided to write a post on it, practicing heart opener. My post talks about the benefits and teaches you how to get into the pose, be in the pose and come out of the pose whether with blocks or a roll.

I am excited to announce that Turtles Yoga & Wellness (a studio where I teach) will be partnering with Athleta for Athleta’s June Studio of the Month. All the classes are free. I am teaching from 8-9 a.m. on Saturday, June 11 at Athleta, Washington Square, in Portland. The other classes are Saturdays June 4, 18 and 25 from 9-10 a.m. See my Facebook invite here.

After my June 11 Athleta class I am inviting students/friends to join me for a quick coffee at the Starbucks in the mall. I have another class that morning so I can’t hang out too long. Let’s have a quick coffee and a brief chat.

Did you know that June 21 is International Yoga Day Portland? It’s also Summer Solstice, as I stated earlier. There are amazing things planned for celebration that day in Portland’s Pioneer Square, including free yoga classes, vendor booths and an Athleta fashion show at 11:45 a.m., where I will be one of the models. The other models and I have some fun things planned and we’ve been working hard to make sure the show is amazing. If you can take a break and come out, please do. If you have more time, come for a free yoga class, the fashion show, tour the vendor booths, rock out to the DJ, etc.

At LA Fitness I use music by Power Music. They have lots of categories to use, whether for yoga or Pilates or cardio classes. For my yoga classes I stick with the yoga playlists. I played one recently that got a lot of comments and compliments, it was Power Down 9–Classical Reflections. I love Karma Moffett, and use his music at 24 Hour Fitness, The Xtreme Edge and Turtles Yoga & Wellness. Some of my favorites are Golden Bowls of Compassion, Ocean Bowls and Golden Bowls. (There is a lot of great calming music out there. And occasionally I will talk about it in my newsletter.)

Stay tuned for more exciting updates coming soon.

Want to keep up with me?
You can friend me on Facebook
You can like Go Fit Girl! on Facebook
You can follow Go Fit Girl! on Twitter
You can follow TheRealGoFitGirl on Instagram
You can read Go Fit Girl! blog
You can e-mail me at ann@gofitgirl.com

At any time you can unsubscribe to this newsletter. Thank you for your support and time. 

~Ann

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I have some cool and exciting ideas I am working on and hope to share them with my friends, students and readers soon. They will be posted in future newsletters.

Yoga Day Portland

Yoga Day Portland

Tuesday, June 21 is Summer Solstice.

There will be a huge celebration at Pioneer Square, Portland from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Yoga Day Portland is for everyone. Its a great opportunity to try yoga for the first time, restart your practice, get inspired to go deeper while celebrating the first official day of summer.

Everyone is welcome to come and celebrate the benefits of yoga and community coming together for peace-within & peace-without.

The free event will include: all-levels yoga classes, giveaways, workshops, meditation tent, kids yoga and crafts, healthy food and snacks, yoga fashion show, music, dance party, etc.

I will be in the Yoga Athleta Fashion show at 11:45 a.m.

For more information, check out the Yoga Day Portland website.

Partnering with Athleta in June

Athleta June Studio of the Month

Turtles Yoga & Wellness (a studio where I teach) and Athleta Washington Square are partnering as June Studio of the Month.

On Saturday, June 11 from 8-9 a.m. I am teaching a FREE yoga class.

See Facebook invitation here.

After my yoga class I am inviting friends and students to join me for a quick coffee at the Starbucks in the mall.

Come first for some fun and fabulous free yoga. And after for some coffee and a chat (before I head out for my second yoga class that day).

The other Turtles classes are also on Saturdays: June 4, June 18 and June 25 (all those classes will be from 9-10 a.m.)

Athleta Fashion Show

Tuesday, June 21 is Summer Solstice, first day of summer!

It’s also International Yoga Day Portland. It will be a world-wide celebration of International Yoga Day in Portland.

International Yoga Day was inaugurated by the United Nations on December 11, 2014, and signed by 177 countries, including the United States.

The event is in Pioneer Square from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will be free and fun.

Lots of things are planned for that day, including free yoga classes for all levels, vendor booths, DJ Prashant and more, including an Athleta fashion show at 11:45 a.m., where I will be one of the models.

The other models and I have some fun things planned and we’ve been working hard to make sure the show is amazing.

If you are in the Portland area and can take a break and come out, please do. If you have more time, come for a free yoga class, the fashion show and tour the vendor booths.

You can register for the day here.

Come experience the wonderful culture of yoga and meet the awesome community that participates in it year round.

I plan to get there early and get in a free class. And to get some booth touring in before the fashion show. And maybe lunch and a yoga class after.

Practicing heart opener

heart opener

Practicing heart opener over blocks.

Recently my yoga theme was for the desk jockey, a person who sits at a desk.

One of the poses we practiced in the sequence was the heart opener over the blocks, aka supported fish pose (pictured to the left).

So many of my students love this pose. They love how it makes them feel. I love it as well.

This pose reverses the negative effects of our poor posture when we sit at a desk, pound away on a keyboard, sit in the car or on public transportation during our long commutes, look at our smart phone or tablet, etc.

The heart opener is a baby backbend and puts our body into extension (we are usually in flexion–think hunched over computer back).

We open our chest, spread shoulder blades, open the collarbones and take stress out of the low back. Having the block behind our shoulder blades reminds us where backbends should come from, behind our heart center, not the low back or the neck.

The muscles, ligaments, veins, etc. are tight in the neck, chest, shoulders, upper back because of our sitting culture. This pose helps to stretch these tight/overactive muscles, making them longer and more supple.

Many people have asked me how to do the heart opener, whether they can’t be a student of mine because they live elsewhere or they are a student of mine and they want to do it at home or share with a friend/family member.

So here are the details of how to do the heart opener over the blocks or a rolled mat or blanket/towel.

Heart opener over blocks:

blocks set up

Heart opener block set up.

  • Set your blocks up at least 6 inches apart. My blocks set up to the left are about 7 1/2 inches apart. The block that supports the lower tips of my shoulder blades is on its lowest height. The second block to support my head is on the medium height.
  • Locate the lower tips of your shoulder blades. See a drawing of the upper back to give you guidance on where the lower tips of your shoulder blades are. The lower tips of your shoulder blades are a little below your arm pits, where a regular bra strap would go on your back.
  • You will sit in front of the blocks with the knees bent, feet on the mat. You will lie over the first block. The lower edge of the block is where the lower tips of your shoulder blades will rest. The upper part of your shoulder blades will not be on the block. I repeat: The lower edge of the block is where the lower tips of your shoulder blades will rest. The upper part of your shoulder blades will not be on the block. (I have to regularly repeat this as many will have the bottom block too high.) The second block is for your head. You may decide that the block for your head will go up a height or down a height.
  • Once you are set up on the blocks you can decide if you keep the knees bent, feet on the mat or extend your legs out long. If you have any discomfort in the low back bend your knees and keep your feet on the mat.
  • I like to hold this pose for five minutes. If that feels too long, hold it as long as is comfortable for you.
  • To come out of this pose, if the legs are extended out long, bend your knees, bring your feet to the mat. Roll over to your side in the fetal position. Press yourself up to seated, bringing your head up last. Take a few rounds of breath to check in and see how you feel.

Heart opener over rolled mat or blanket/towel:

roll

Blanket roll set up.

  • Roll your mat or a towel or a blanket. If you use your yoga mat, you will roll it up about half way.
  • You will sit in front of the roll with the knees bent, feet on the mat. Lower yourself down to the roll, lower tips of the shoulder blades resting on the roll. The upper part of your shoulder blades will not be on the roll. If you have the roll in the right spot your arms can easily be above the roll. If you feel like your head and neck need some support you can use a towel or blanket to support the head.
  • Again, once you are set up on the roll you can decide if you keep the knees bent, feet on the mat or extend the legs out long. If you feel any discomfort in the low back when extending the legs then bend the knees, feet on the mat.
  • I like to hold this pose for five minutes. If that feels too long, hold it as long as is comfortable for you.
  • To come out of this pose, if the legs are extended out long, bend your knees, bring your feet to the mat. Roll over to your side in the fetal position. Press yourself up to seated, bringing your head up last. Take a few rounds of breath to check in and see how you feel.

There are times where you might not be able to find that spot, the spot where you feel the maximum benefits of this pose. Make slight adjustments (up or down) to find that spot if it doesn’t quite feel right.

As stated above there are many benefits to practicing the heart opener. And it just feels really good, too. After my students practice the heart opener I watch as they come out and take a seat. I like to look at their faces. The majority of them look like they just got up from a nap.

I’ve written about this pose before and the benefits for our bodies.