Ann on September 16th, 2014

Life is a balancing act … believe in yourself …

Leap and the net will appear.

Happy wife … happy life.

sdga

My mom insisted I have a drink on my last day of work to celebrate. So I did it because she said so.

Today is the first day of what I am referring to as FUNemployment.

I quit my job of nine years and yesterday was my last day in the corporate world.

(The top two lines come from cards I have recently received from loved ones. The third line I probably stole from, oh dear god do I dare say, Dr. Phil.)

Today I started a new chapter and I am “undoing.”

In my yoga class last night our theme was about undoing. It seemed so appropriate for me and this new … adventure I am taking on.

Baxter has his students set an intention at the beginning of each yoga class. I love setting an intention. (I have written about it a few times. Here’s one of my past posts.)

Last night I set it for myself and reminded myself of the undoing I need to do for myself and be OK with it and to embark on this new chapter.

I’ve been called brave, gutsy, courageous … I’ve been told I am doing the right thing. I haven’t had one friend, co-worker, family member tell me I shouldn’t do it. I have had so much support it’s been amazing.

Starting tomorrow I am getting myself into a routine. I have many things I want to do on the blog, my computer, attacking my e-mail inbox (UGH!), getting stuff done around the house, hustling some more yoga subbing gigs, etc.

But really, I want to take care of me. I feel best when I am in a healthy routine. I can keep up with my yoga classes, hit the gym much more often, reestablish my home yoga practice, carry so much less stress and start back with the healthy eating and less drinking.

I want to get back to a healthier Ann. I need and want that so badly right now.

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Ann on September 7th, 2014
AAC sub

One of my many mats, a yoga block and my written out sequence, partially covered as you gotta pay for that stuff now. :)

At the end of October I will be taking over yoga classes at a gym in Alameda where the regular teacher will be going on maternity leave.

She recently went on vacation, which gave me an opportunity to be the yoga sub for four classes at Alameda Athletic Club.

I taught a Thursday evening, a Sunday late morning, a Tuesday evening and another Thursday evening while the regular teacher was on vacation.

My first class I felt a little unprepared for things that were out of my control. But I reminded myself to breathe and it would be OK. I felt the class went well and the students were responsive.

Sunday late morning I had about 10 students. I had time to chat with a few of them before class and after class as well.

Two students who were there for my first class came back on Sunday. My Sunday students were very receptive and complimented me. Many told me that they really enjoyed the class. Some told me they planned to tell the front desk and general manager about me.

Someone else said I was one of the best teachers they have ever had. I’m flattered. They were impressed with my alignment explanations and taking the time to talk through the poses. And I credit a lot of that to the amazing teachers I study under and many of those same teachers were part of my yoga teacher training.

One woman complimented me on me mirroring them. That’s a tough thing for me to do as I have trouble with my left and right normally. So reversing it is even crazier for me. But something important my teachers impressed upon us in the teacher training.

I was much more relaxed teaching my Sunday class than the first Thursday class. Part of it was I just felt more comfortable. But I also wasn’t as rushed as there was 15 minutes between classes and it was not nearly as warm as the first night. I wrote about my first class here.

Tuesday night I felt even more comfortable and confident (even after the Zumba class ran 5 minutes over into my class time). One student was there three classes in a row and said, See you Thursday. Two students checked in with me after class. One had some constructive feedback along with compliments. Another student said, I really like your style. Where else do you teach?

On Thursday evening I had seven students. (From a friend and former teacher at that gym I understand 10 is a big class. And according to the general manager Thursdays are the smallest class as it is getting closer to the weekend.) All of my students had been to at least one of my previous classes. We tried some different things and they all seemed receptive to it.

Before class one of my students told me about her shoulder and she knew how to modify. At the last minute I decided to change my class up a bit as I had a lot of planks and Downward Facing Dogs, and I knew she likely couldn’t do them. After class I asked her how she felt and I told her I changed things up. I also thanked her for the challenge.

Many times a yoga teacher will have a class planned and you have to throw it out of the window for a variety of reasons. The basic rule is teach to the class that is there, which may not be the class you planned.

The last Thursday class I taught I let them know the regular teacher would be back for the next class. And that I would be back once she was on leave and I hoped to see them then. I received a positive response to the fact that I would be coming back. And the regular teacher e-mailed me saying she only heard good things about me.

Yea! Looking forward to teaching more classes in October. And once I am not working my regular job I plan to visit a few more gyms and talk to them about subbing. I am also working on getting a space for one-on-one privates.

Thanks for all support students, friends, teachers and family have given me on this adventure and quest.

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Ann on September 3rd, 2014
necklace

My friend and co-worker gave me this beautiful necklace. I work with some amazing and caring people and I will miss seeing them on a daily basis.

Near the end of my yoga teacher training we did a fantasy exercise. We pretended that we were at a reunion together a year later and we talked about what we had done over the past year since graduation.

Baxter said if you said it out loud and as if you had actually done it it would make it more real. He also advised us to write a letter to ourselves to read in a year, which I did.

One of the things I said at “the reunion” was that I had quit my job.

I have done a lot of thinking and have made a big decision in my life.

I recently gave notice of resignation and my last day is mid-month.

I need some time for me. For my own self-care. My goal is to take care of me right now.

And to explore this new gig I have as a yoga teacher. I have taken on yoga classes as a sub at a gym and am working on a few more options. (I would also love to spend more time working on this blog.)

I will also work with friends and family on one-on-one private yoga sessions. And if you’re a friend or family member you can get the Friends and Family discount. Send e-mails to ann@gofitgirl.com.

I recently had breakfast with my friend Dan, who was in town from Oregon. I have known Dan for about 15 years. Dan attended the yoga class I taught with my friend Sandra at Piedmont at the end of July.

As Dan and I were sipping our coffee and eating breakfast he told me that he remembered when I wanted to be a teacher. And that I am a natural when teaching yoga. Thanks, Dan.

I had forgotten about that passion I had at one point to be a teacher. I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. But with how the world has become I lost that passion as I knew it would be too hard and very unfulfilling for me with all the complications of life, budgets, different ways kids learn, too many kids in one class, not being fully prepared, not having enough support …

I want to find passion in what I do and enjoy it. I am a people person and enjoy helping others. And I think I am pretty good at teaching and teaching yoga.

I looked back at the post I wrote a little more than a year ago, Do you want to be happy?

A year ago I said: Basically I am happy. But I continue to work and strive for more. I am working to make myself content and happy and to be fulfilled.

This was right before a lot of changes happened in my life and right before I started my yoga teacher training. Wow, a year later and my life has changed so much.

I do believe everything happens for a reason.

I will miss my friends and co-workers at work. But this is my time to get back to being a better and happier me.

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Ann on September 1st, 2014
lunge

Lunges are great for the glutes, which is our exercise challenge this month.

OK, it’s Labor Day and the first day of September, which means it is time for a new Monthly Challenge.

August’s Monthly Challenge was about slowing down. How did that go? I think it a great practice to continue in life moving forward.

OK, onto September’s challenges …

Nutrition: We all know that processed foods, which typically come in a can or box, aren’t great for you. They have lots of ingredients we can’t pronounce.

We are all busy in life and know that sometimes opening a can or box and throwing dinner in the microwave is easy.

We all probably can’t commit to completely eliminating processed foods for the whole month. So maybe for one meal a day, or once a week or just once this month. Try to replace it with something fresh, like fruits and or vegetables.

Exercise: The other day in a yoga class I taught we did some exercises for the glutes.  So I decided to make that the exercise challenge for this month. When you exercise try to dedicate some time to your glutes every time.

If you need more direction then just me telling you to do some exercises, how about each week try the following for 5-10 minutes at least three times a week.

Week 1: Do basic squats. You can do this while watching TV or even while doing the dishes or making dinner, which is not coming out of a box.

Week 2: Clamshell exercise (15 reps each side); side-lying kickback (15 reps each side) while firming your foot that is kicking back; and the side-lying dog hydrant, which is just like the clamshell but you also lift your foot, so like this, but lying on your side, which I couldn’t seem to find the right pic (15 reps each side).

While doing these reps you want to keep that glute muscle isolated. Put your hand on your butt to make sure you are not rolling back.

Week 3: Do basic lunges. You can also do this while watching TV. Might be a little harder to do while making dinner.

Week 4: Standing kick backs and standing side kicks. (Do 20 reps each side.) You can do these exercises with or without support. The pictures show using a wall or a chair for support, which works. But not required.

Week 5: The last week of September just has 2-3 days (depending on if you count the week starting on Sunday or a Monday). Decide if you want to repeat any of the weekly exercises above or do your own thing.

Feel free to comment here on your progress or on the Go Fit Girl! Monthly Challenge Facebook page.

By the way, my computer kept changing glutes to flutes, so in case I missed one, we aren’t working our flutes this month, unless you want to play your flute while doing squats …

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Ann on August 28th, 2014
CPR

My friend who let me practice CPR and AED administration.  And he let me work out that lodged piece of food he was choking on.

In order to be able to sub/teach classes at the gym where I am a member they require you be CPR certified.

I recently took a CPR class with Safety Training Seminars (American Heart Association).

I am now CPR/AED certified.

I learned how to administer CPR to an adult, child and infant. I also learned how to use an AED (automated external defibrillation).

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

I also learned how to help an adult, child, pregnant woman and infant if they are choking.

I took this certification class because it was a requirement for me to start subbing at my gym (and possibly other places I may teach).

But I also think this is good knowledge to have just in case. I would rather no one I know stop breathing or start choking. But if you do, I have the skills to help you.

Is the scene safe? …

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Ann on August 24th, 2014
emergency kit

Some of the items in Curt’s and my emergency disaster kit.

Early this morning a 6.1 earthquake struck the Napa area. Napa is about 40 miles from where I live.

The 6.1 temblor did not wake me (or The Husband) up, which is surprising because of the size and that people living much more south of me felt it. And I usually wake up.

We had no damage whatsoever at our place.

We can’t predict when an earthquake is going to strike next. Being prepared is important.

After Hurricane Katrina, Curt and I were living in the Bay Area and decided to put an emergency disaster kit together.

We have bottled water, canned food, a chemical toilet, hand crank radio, glow sticks, etc. One of our newest items is the Emergency Power Station, which has four functions: flashlight, radio, siren and cell phone charger.

Years ago Curt was out of town and in one night we had two earthquakes. The pictures above our bed are in “fake” frames. No glass. But the other walls in the room have glass frames. I grabbed my Uggs and kept them by the bed.

Someone mentioned to me that they keep a plastic bag under their bed with a few items. So I now have a plastic bag under the bed with tennis shoes, flashlight, extra batteries and a glow stick.

We also have glow sticks around different parts of the house in case we need to grab one immediately.

In the car I have a kit with all the necessary supplies and a pair of tennis shoes. At work, I also have a pair of tennis shoes … just in case I have to walk home and am wearing stupid shoes to work (the stupid shoes part is about 100% likely).

In November every year I go through our canned food in the emergency kit (and in our pantry). If it is close to expiration (within the next couple of months to a year later) I donate it to the food bank. If it is expired I toss it. And if it will be good until a little more than a year away it stays in the kit.

If you live in an area where natural disasters do occur, it’s a good idea to have a kit put together. You can easily purchase one from the Red Cross or Ready America or you can even put one together yourself.

The Red Cross has a great checklist for you to follow. And even some much more extensive information here.

Be ready and be prepared because we never know.

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Ann on August 22nd, 2014
SP

Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose) is one of the poses I taught last night.

Last night I taught my third yoga class, but my first gym yoga sub gig.

A friend of mine who I work with and lives in Alameda helped me get this sub gig. (She is also a yoga teacher.) She knew Alameda Athletic Club was going to need a yoga sub when the regular yoga teacher went on maternity leave.

A few weeks ago I attended the regular yoga teacher’s Thursday night class to get an idea of her style and meet her. After class she mentioned to me that she was going on vacation at the end of August and thought maybe I could sub those classes.

So she’s on vacation and I have three more classes of hers to teach.

In preparation for my four classes I have worked on four sequences to teach knowing that there are limited props at the gym.

Last night was a little chaotic as I had trouble finding someone who could tell me where the key was for the props locker and I started to feel unprepared for my class.

But I started the class in a seated meditation and I took the time to breathe and find my own calm to teach the class.

It was really warm last night, which meant I cut a few things out of my sequence, which meant I had extra time at the end of class. Eeeekkk! I had to improvise. But I had my list of “back pocket” poses to throw in at the end and all was fine.

I had eight students with one leaving about 45 minutes in. Who knows why he left. Maybe he had somewhere to be, he was tired or he just didn’t like the class. This is something I will have to get used to.

My students seemed to respond well to me and many told me they enjoyed the class. One even told me I would likely see her Tuesday night.

Once the regular yoga teacher goes on maternity leave I will be teaching her Sunday morning, and Tuesday and Thursday night classes for two to three months.

To keep up with where I am teaching/subbing I have a My Yoga Classes tab on Go Fit Girl! for easy access to information on yoga classes taught by me. I update this regularly. Check it out.

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Ann on August 16th, 2014
Triangle Transformation

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

A little more than a year ago I applied to the Piedmont Yoga teacher training program, which I graduated from at the end of June.

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 corner, taken last May/June.

The bottom left photo is from an anatomy long-term homework assignment where we were instructed to pick three poses we could do but found challenging and do a write-up.

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

The bottom left photo was taken in mid-December 2013.

We took our first set of photos and did a write-up and turned in.

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.

The photo on the right is also from the anatomy long-term homework assignment. That photo was taken in early May 2014.

Over this past year I have learned how to work with my hyperextension in my front leg and eliminate it. (I can clearly see hyperextension in the first photo, but not in the second two.)

I have learned that the best position for my head is looking forward–it’s better for my head, neck and spine. I have found the extension of this pose in the side body on both sides.

My hand over the year has gotten lower on the block, and in the last picture the block went down one height. I have kept my shoulder from pushing toward my head and neck.

(In case any of my readers are wondering … no, it’s NOT cheating to use props. Props keep us safe, able to do things we couldn’t do without them and can get you deeper into poses. You can’t do a heart opener over blocks without blocks. See my teacher Vickie in a Yoga Journal article doing a supported chester opener in preparation for Salamba Sarvangasana [Shoulderstand].)

I am pretty excited about the transformation I have made in this pose. Being a perfectionist, my top left arm in the third photo not being completely perpendicular to the floor bugs me. But the transformation for me has been an amazing one over this year. My Triangle has a ways to go, but it is on a good and safe path. And I am OK where I am right now with that pose.

Extended Triangle isn’t the only pose I have transformed over the past year or so.

My practice in general has changed over the past year as I learned more about anatomy, alignment and my own body.

The longer one practices yoga the stronger the practice gets with what can be an amazing transformation. I have had fellow practitioners tell my that my practice has gotten stronger and my alignment has changed for the better in poses. A teacher and friend I highly respect recently told me that since I started taking classes with her (three to four years ago) my practice has really changed and grown.

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Ann on August 13th, 2014
MAB

When I traveled to Tucson in June/July I packed my yoga travel mat, strap, Make-A-Bolster, eye pillow (made by my mother-in-law) and yoga blocks (which don’t always make it in the suitcase if there is not enough room).

When I travel I usually pack exercise clothes and tennis shoes to make sure I keep up with my regular exercise routine. Sometimes hitting the gym at the hotel is successful and other times not at all.

Once I started my teacher training last year I developed a home yoga practice. The more I did it the easier it got.

I have a travel yoga mat, which makes practicing at a hotel a lot easier and easy to shove into a suitcase or even a carry on. Towels and blankets can help with other needed props.

In one of my last classes of my teacher training we had a class on props. We all presented different ways to use various props, some typical you would find in a studio or possibly a gym. A few presented props that were quite unique.

One of my fellow teachers in training brought in her Make-A-Bolster.

According to the website, Make-A-Bolster is portable, compact, and flat. A blanket from your hotel room or home is folded to approximate the bolster width, tightly rolled incorporating a sleep pillow, placed in the center and zipped to form the round bolster.

What a brilliant idea! I ordered one for myself and my mom. Soon after I submitted my order I got a personal e-mail from Lerna, who created and invented this cool item. (Because part of my job is looking up patents I had to look hers up.)

Lerna thanked me for my order and wanted to know what colors I wanted. I let her know how I heard about her bolsters. Her return e-mail told me she was happy to hear that her yoga travel bolster was becoming more well-known. She also said the she hoped I found it useful and would recommend it.

Yes, I love it! My mom loves hers! And I do recommend it.

I was recently at Restorative Yoga teacher training in Berkeley and I brought it to class one day to show my fellow students. There were a lot of ooohhhs and aaahhhs.

I have traveled twice since I got the Make-A-Bolster. It stores flat and pretty much takes up no room in your suitcase–it’s like packing a skirt.

My mom can happily and easily practice Queen’s Pose now that she has a bolster.

My only complaint is that it is a little short. But that is so minor. And when looking at Lerna’s site again I realize she has different-sized “bolsters.”

4half

The Make-A-Bolster is a great travel accessory for any yoga practitioner. I give it 4 1/2 dumbbells.

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Ann on August 10th, 2014
half.moon

Holding my balance in a modified version of Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). Photo by Alabaster Crowley, my awesomely talented cousin.

Yoga poses are good for physical health, mental health, emotional health and also have an anatomical focus and therapeutic benefits.

Recently I took part in a 20-hour Restorative Yoga teacher training with one of my favorite teachers and people, Vickie.

Every day we focused on different issues. One day the class was dedicated to women’s issues.

According to  a study done by Yoga Journal in 2012, 82.2 percent of yoga practitioners are women.

Since the majority of my yoga students will be women I will encounter women in various stages of their life: menstruation; pregnancy; and menopause.

When I was still in my Deep Yoga teacher training I wrote about the day we learned about women’s issues and we practiced while being “pregnant.”

The benefits of Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose, which is pictured), according to Yoga Journal, are that the pose strengthens the abdomen, ankles, thighs, buttocks, and spine; stretches the groins, hamstrings and calves, shoulders, chest, and spine; improves coordination and sense of balance; helps relieve stress; and improves digestion.

Some of the anatomical focuses are: groins, spine, abdomen among many others.

According to an article Geeta S. Iyengar wrote on the Iyengar Yoga website, Ardha Chandrasana helps with the heavy bleeding, backache and abdominal cramps caused by menstruation.

The therapeutic applications of this pose, according to Yoga Journal, are: anxiety; backache; osteoporosis; sciatica; fatigue; constipation; gastritis; indigestion; and menstrual pain.

According to The Woman’s Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle by Bobby Clennell, Ardha Chandrasana helps to reduce a heavy menstrual flow and relieves menstrual cramps.

According to Alternative Medicine, Half Moon Pose tones the pelvic floor, helps slow heavy bleeding, relieves backaches and increases circulation to chest, pelvis and legs.

Self says, the pose helps to open your pelvic region, help stop heavy bleeding and relieves cramps.

According to Yoga Wiz, performing yoga poses like Ardha Chandrasana can help ease the pain of menstrual cramps and make it more bearable.

Obviously, Ardha Chandrasana is not the only pose recommended to ease symptoms of menstruation. In fact, between the tips from one of my yoga teachers and my own research I wrote a sequence to practice during menstruation. Ardha Chandrasana is just one of many poses in my sequence.

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