Ann on April 20th, 2014
view

This was the view we had each day we practiced yoga at Prana del Mar.

For the past week I was in Mexico at a yoga retreat at Prana del Mar.

At Prana del Mar there are no phone lines, gas lines, water lines, electric lines. The retreat center is powered by solar panels and the water comes from a well. It is literally off the grid.

There was wifi, but it was slow and limited. I tried getting on (personal, definitely not work) e-mail a few times without success so I gave up and decided that it might be nice to have limited access to the outside world: No Facebook, no e-mail, no blogging, just a few text messages.

We practiced yoga to the sounds of birds; roosters; wood peckers; cows and their cow bells; donkeys; horses; the wind. Our view while practicing was the dessert, the ocean, the mountains.

Most days we had a two-hour practice in the morning and and hour and a half practice in the evening. We meditated 20-40 minutes a day.

Besides the bathroom in our rooms there were no mirrors in the community bathrooms throughout the property. Instead of mirrors there were framed words, such as resplendent; perfect; beautiful; true; sublime; rapturous; ethereal; pure …

nomirror

Instead of mirrors in the community bathrooms there were framed sayings.

We had three delicious, healthy and organic meals made for us each day. The staff was kind, caring and supportive.

There was plenty of time to lounge around the gorgeous pool, where I read two books, chatted, napped and got a tan. (So excited about the tan!)

Prana del Mar is a magical place where I formed some amazing friendships, made deeper ones and spent a week with one of my favorite people, my mom.

I made two retreat “sisters,” who I already miss terribly, but plan to keep in touch with and who I was happy to “share” my mom with during the week.  

I liked the idea of being off the grid for a week. I felt like I was away for two weeks.

My time at Prana del Mar was so what I needed and I hope to come back to the magical place in my mind whenever I need it. (I also hope to make it back to the physical yoga retreat center at some point again.)

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Ann on April 11th, 2014
sdg

Here I am in the yoga studio in Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Pose). My backdrop during my yoga practice while in Mexico will be the beautiful sand and water. 

Tomorrow my mom and I head to Mexico for a week-long yoga retreat called Spring Liberation Retreat at a retreat center called Prana del Mar.

I have been looking forward to this for quite a long time. I seriously need a vacation. I am looking forward to a full week of yoga and meditation practice. I am excited to share this experience with my mom and spend time with her. I am also looking forward to deepening my yoga and meditation practice.

From the pictures everything looks absolutely gorgeous and amazing.

I am not sure what the wifi situation is. I am sure there will be some way for me to post. I hope I can at least update a couple of times and tell you all the amazing things we are doing, learning and the delicious gourmet meals we are eating.

According to Melina’s (one of the teachers) website: Come join us for this uplifting spring yoga adventure at Prana del Mar in Baja, Mexico. Prana del Mar is a deluxe retreat center nestled in the outskirts of Cabo San Lucas, where the Pacific Ocean, Sierra de la Laguna mountains, desert landscape, and blue sky come together to liberate you from any winter challenges you experienced and open you to the flowering possibilities that  spring offers.

According to Baxter’s (another teacher of the retreat and one of my regular yoga teachers and a teacher in my yoga teacher training) website: A typical day on retreat: Morning mediation; asana practice; breakfast; workshops in Ayurveda, Yoga for Healthy Aging topics; lunch; free time; late afternoon asana practice; sunset meditation; dinner; and occasional evening program.

I’m hoping after this week I come back Zen-like, relaxed and a new person. And I am hoping that glow lasts for more than a day after I get back to work.

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sunscreen

I have been using Neutrogena sunscreen products for years. The stick sunscreen is the latest addition to my sunscreen use.

I have written before about sunscreen and growing up under that hot Arizona sun a time or two or three before.

I pretty much never wore sunscreen and made it my mission to have the best tan of the summer as a kid. I even slathered myself with Baby Oil in order to “cook” quicker.

About 10 years ago I realized my skin had changed and sunscreen was a must.

I have tried a variety of sunscreens over the years. And my favorite is Neutrogena brand.

Before my March weekend in Vegas I was at Target stocking up on sunscreen. I got a new bottle of the Body Mist Sunscreen spray, which I have used for the past couple of years and love. I usually use the Age-Shield Face or Ultra-Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock for my face. I noticed a couple of new items for the face: Face & Body Stick Sunscreen and Liquid Daily Sunscreen.

I decided to try the Face & Body Stick. It’s like a stick of deodorant. And it is super easy to apply to the face. It’s for both the face and body. I like the spray for my body and something else for my face. I like to use a higher SPF for my face than for my body.

The Neutrogena website has this to say about the stick: It gives you the powerful, yet lightweight sun protection you love in a convenient, no-mess form. Suitable for both face and body, this unique wide-faced stick glides on easily and invisibly. Formulated with clinically-proven Helioplex® Technology, it offers superior broad-spectrum protection from skin-aging UVA rays and skin-burning UVB rays, so you can have clean, shine-free protection on hand, while on-the-go.

The stick was easy to use and kept my face protected while I was out in the sun over three days. It is also easy to have on the go. And it’s not a liquid, so it is travel safe via plane.

It’s a little bit greasy. But that is my biggest complaint. I like to wear a pretty high SPF on my face. This one comes in 70 SPF. But no other options that I could find.

One friend I was hanging out with at the pool while in Vegas mentioned that her Arizona dermatologist along with her mom’s Arizona dermatologist recommend Neutrogena sunscreen. I think those are two pretty good endorsements.

I plan to use it along with the Body Mist while in Mexico next week.

4

For years I have been using Neutrogena sunscreen products. The latest purchase did not disappoint. The Neutrogena Face & Body Stick sunscreen gets 4 dumbbells.

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Ann on April 6th, 2014
All the Students of the Month at Mansfeld Middle School were displayed on a cork board in the main hall. Mean Girl defaced this photo by putting paint on it and puncturing it.

All the Students of the Month at Mansfeld Middle School were displayed on a cork board in the main hall. Mean Girl defaced this photo by putting paint on it and puncturing it.

As a kid I was never a bully. But I saw other kids get bullied … and I didn’t stand up for those kids.

I still remember in 6th grade when Joe (names have been changed) took a ziggy, a twisted rubber band, and released it in Larry’s hair. I should have stood up for Larry. But I didn’t … I still feel bad about that. I remember watching Larry trying to cut that huge twisted rubber band out of his hair. The next day he came to school with a haircut.

I recently was thinking about my Mean Girl experience and for some reason thought it would be a good post. My guess is many people can probably relate.

Here’s the thing, yea, it sucked. But I am still here. And I am rockin’ my life. And that is the sweetest revenge.

In 7th grade I had a good group of girlfriends. Some were from elementary school and some of the friendships were formed in junior high.

One day in 7th grade on our lunch break, Valerie (remember names have been changed) got all of our friends into a circle, arms around each other. They were laughing and having fun. And I realized I wasn’t included in that circle and there was no room for me.

So I walked away … literally. And my friends were not my friends anymore.

For the rest of that year and the next I never really fit in with the new friendships I tried to form.

One of the Mean Girl followers wrote in my yearbook at the end of 7th grade: Don’t hold a grudge.

Really?

Once in high school I started to find my way and formed some good friendships. And once I hit college it got even better. And then as an adult in the real world …

Sophomore year of high school Valerie and I shared a class. One day she apologized for what she did. Which was very big of her. But the damage was done.

In September 2012 at my 20th high school reunion (I know, I don’t look old enough) one of the Mean Girl followers pulled me aside and asked if she was mean to me when we were kids. I thanked her for bringing it up and apologizing. It really did mean a lot to me.

My Mean Girl experience definitely has had a life-long effect on me. I am still learning about myself and my friendships. Sometimes I question my friendships and my role in them.

I know I can put too much into friendships. I have recently learned that I can no longer do that without feeling hurt in some way.

I have also learned that some people are meant to be in our lives for a period of time. And others are here for our whole life or the rest of our lives.

I know kids have had it much worse than I did. Man, kids can be downright cruel. Their insecurities and lack of confidence is why they try to bring others down. It’s not cool. And sadly, sometimes the consequences of bullying can be damaging or even fatal.

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Ann on April 4th, 2014
sound

A Thursday night of yoga and sound.

Right now at the Asian Art Museum there is an exhibit called Yoga: The Art of Transformation.

It is a Smithsonian exhibition and only being shown in three cities: Washington D.C., San Francisco and Cleveland.

It is the first exhibition to present this leitmotif of Indian visual culture and examines the roles of yogis and yoginis played in Indian society over two thousand years, according to the Smithsonian site.

Normally on Thursday nights I have teacher training class. But the teachers worked it out that if we wanted to attend the Yoga: Sounding Transformation evening lead by Ann Dyer, one of our yoga teacher training teachers, along with her Vak Choir we could.

The exhibit was beautiful along with the chanting and music. I got to hang out with some of my teacher training friends. And I ran into so many people in my yoga world, such as yoga teachers and many fellow yogis and yoginis who I see regularly in a variety of classes.

I feel so lucky that I was able to see this special exhibit along with the night of yoga and sound.

Plus having a night off from school to be surrounded by amazing things and to be around my friends was a really nice break. School is great, but is overwhelming. Work is crazy busy and stressful. And then there is all that regular life stuff going on.

Because of my busy life I am not keeping up with the blog as much as I would like. I didn’t officially announce it, but my goal was to try to post twice a week. And that hasn’t been happening lately.

But stick with me. I have so much to share with my readers and lots of ideas stirring around.

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Ann on March 29th, 2014
nails

Day 2 of my experiment to get my nails stronger.

I believe there are things you can do for yourself and in your life to be and feel healthy.

When we look good we feel good, right? When we feel taken care of we feel good, too.

To help me with my stresses in life (and because I also deserve pampering) I regularly get massages and manicures and pedicures.

About every two to three weeks I hit Galaxy Nail Salon for a mani/pedi and the best arm and leg massages I have ever had at a nail salon.

I have super thin, weak nails. Last year I decided to try gel (shellac) manicure.

My nails looked so pretty. The polish lasted two to three weeks with no chipping. And I felt a little fancy.

One of my friends mentioned that the gel could dry out your nails. Which I had noticed. At some point I decided to give my nails a break. I had the gel removed (which is partially filed off and then soaked in acetone). I had my last gel manicure removed in September.

My nails are still peeling and look terrible. Yup, six months later …

From the American Academy of Dermatology it states: Do not wear artificial nails to cover up nail problems as they may make them worse. Artificial nails are not recommended for people who are prone to fungal infections or have brittle nails. For people with healthy nails, artificial nails can be fine as long as they are not worn continuously.

Ugh, well, I now know that gel is not for me no matter how pretty it looks.

From a BirchBox blog: Gel manicures can also leave your nails extremely soft, thin, and peeling …

Yup, soft, thin and peeling … that pretty much describes the condition of my nails right now.

Beauty and Style says you should avoid nail polish remover. Don’t use nail polish remover more than once or twice a month, if possible. And never use a nail polish remover that contains acetone, which can dry and damage nails. … And, a clear coat of nail polish may also help protect nails.

These two recommendations by Beauty and Style go with what I was told yesterday by the woman giving me my manicure and pedicure. She told me that I should use my Nail Tek II (Intensive Therapy for soft, peeling nails) every day for seven days. So by Day 7 I will have seven coats on my nails. After the first week I will remove the polish and let my nails “rest” and not wear polish for seven days. Then I start over …

She said if I follow this my nails will get healthy again and stronger. So I am going to give it a try. Doesn’t seem unreasonable. The only part that I don’t like is I can’t wear color right now (which hides the ugly dry, peeling nails) and the week I have to go without polish will be quite unattractive.

I hope to keep this up through the end of April. I will report back on my nails then.

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Ann on March 16th, 2014
Virasana on block

Sitting in Virasana on a block is the best meditation position for me. I can sit still without any achy back pain. 

Many people I look up to and trust have been giving me the same message for some time now: Meditate.

One of the “jokes” in the yoga world is that when you don’t have time for yoga is when you need yoga. I believe the same applies for meditation.

Many of my yoga teachers make meditation part of their public classes. And they talk about its importance.

Mary, who is a teacher in my teacher training, is the main teacher focusing on meditation for my classmates and me.

In December for one Saturday class we focused on meditation and Mary had us do a homework project, which involved meditating 20-30 minutes a day for 10 days. I did the practice for the required time and once it was over I stopped meditating.

My therapist at some point asked to to start meditating. My resistance to it was that my yoga home practice time is limited and I don’t want to give half my time to meditation.

But then she told me something that hadn’t even occurred to me: you can meditate for one, two or three minutes. Once your life allows for a longer meditation you can meditate longer.

Huh, why hadn’t that occurred to me? So now before I start my asana (physical yoga poses) home practice I meditate for about 3-4 minutes.

The shorter meditation time I have allotted for myself makes it more doable and I will actually do it.

I saw my primary care provider the other day for my yearly physical. She also told me I should meditate. (We discussed the many stresses and busyness going on in my life right now.) She suggested 10 minutes a day.

I promise, some day I will get to 10 minutes a day. And even longer …

For now I will stick with what I can manage and be content with that.

One thing I remember Mary saying recently in class is that pranayama (breath work) is about a subtle direction. And meditation is just being there.

I am learning that y0u don’t have to clear your mind to be a successful meditator. I mean, the mind is designed to be busy and talk. So listening to it and not judging is what has been working for me.

I like Mary’s description as she was encouraged from teachers to focus on the need to listen from a deep quiet place for her meditation practice.

On Mary’s website, she provides a few guided meditations if you would like to try it out.

Taking time out of your day to sit still and be quiet is what we all need in this busy world. But for some reason we have such a hard time taking a moment for No. 1.

I promise, it is OK to just sit and do nothing for a few precious moments. Try it out and see how you feel.

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Ann on March 8th, 2014
spring forward

On Sunday at 2 a.m. most of us in the United States will Spring Forward.

This post is brought to you by the free wifi from the Starbucks in Harrah’s in Reno.

Twice a year I write about time change. (Read last year’s Spring Forward post here.)

It’s that time again to Spring Forward (tomorrow at 2 a.m.). I am not a fan of time change. I seriously don’t get the point of it. I grew up somewhere (Arizona) that time change doesn’t occur.

So to my Arizona family members who can never quite get the time difference: Starting tomorrow we will be on the same time.

This year’s time change will be interesting for me as Curt and I are out of town with friends.

Yesterday we took the Fun Train to Reno. When we come back tomorrow we will have sprung forward.

fun

We were greeted by car No. 5 on the Reno Fun Train, which I have mistakenly referred to as the Party Train.

This is the advice I like to give (which I am guessing I will pretty much ignore with being out of town) on how to deal with time change:

  • Don’t go to bed too late tonight.
  • Make sure you have breakfast tomorrow morning.
  • Try not to eat a lot of crap. Stick to fruits and veggies as snacks instead of sugary or salty foods.
  • Drinks lots of water today and tomorrow (and every day).
  • Exercise. (Usually I go to my regular yoga class Sunday mornings. I am going to try to do what I call hotel yoga before we head to the morning train out of Reno. Even going for a walk will be helpful.)
  • Keep up the exercise throughout the week, especially on Monday. It will be tough, but well worth it.
  • If you do nap tomorrow (I love my weekend naps), don’t nap too late.
  • If caffeine really affects you, maybe cut back tomorrow and definitely don’t have it too late in the day.
  • Try to start winding your day down an hour before you go to bed tomorrow. 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. Do something relaxing for that hour: read a book, knit, lounge, take a bath, do the next item on the list.
  • Maybe try a cup of warm tea, cider or even hot cocoa to get you warm and cozy before bed.
  • Perhaps take Melatonin (a natural supplement). I wouldn’t take this for the first time tomorrow night. You want to make sure it doesn’t make you groggy the next morning. So maybe try it tonight if this will be a first time for you.

Any of my readers have any other suggestions or things they do?

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Ann on March 6th, 2014
coffee

Yum, coffee tastes good!

I am a regular coffee drinker. At work I usually have one cup in the morning. The days I work from home and weekends I usually have two cups.

A couple of weeks ago I was really tired at work and upped my coffee intake to two cups.

By Wednesday of that week I had a raging headache, which continued for the next three days.

That Saturday morning I skipped the spin class I planned on taking because a throbbing head while spinning just doesn’t work for me.

Pretty much as soon as I had my first cup of coffee my headache was gone.

It was suggested to me recently that there is a  relationship between coffee (caffeine) and our adrenals. From what I understand about exhaustion and adrenal fatigue this makes sense to me. So I did some research.

According to Livestrong, caffeine may trigger the release of adrenaline (a hormone), giving you a quick burst of energy and physical strength followed by a crash marked by fatigue and irritability, in some cases.

Not all doctors agree on how caffeine affects the body’s release of adrenaline or whether it affects it at all.

We all know about adrenaline, right? Fight, flight or freeze? In the caveman days the release of the adrenaline hormone helped escape those raging tigers.

I have talked about adrenals and fatigue (and Restorative Yoga) and exhaustion in the past. But to get a refresher, adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. (The condition is) most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, according to AdrenalFatigue.org.

According to Caffeine Awareness, there are times when certain things, such as caffeine, keep the cortisol (stress hormone) levels high preventing the body from resting when it should and preventing the adrenal glands from operating as they would. … When in the system, caffeine can over stimulate the central nervous system and the adrenal glands to the point that the body is flooded with excess adrenaline and affected by an unnecessarily fast heart rate and blood pressure.

According to The Guide to Adrenal Fatigue, (when drinking caffeine) your brain sends a message to the pituitary gland, which releases a hormone that tells your adrenals to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. In other words, you are triggering exactly the same kind of stress response that your body uses when you are in imminent physical danger. … After long-term and repeated doses of caffeine, your adrenals are simply weakened and less able to respond adequately.

OK, so I am not gonna give up coffee. But watching how much I drink, especially when I feel exhausted would be a good idea. Yes, it can be a vicious cycle … exhausted … caffeine … crash … caffeine … exhausted … you get the idea.

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Ann on March 2nd, 2014
Virasana on block

I am in Virasana (Hero’s Pose) on a block.

Yesterday in my Deep Yoga teacher training program a big focus was the belly.

There are many of us in the program who have back issues, myself included.

I have Kyphosis. The Mayo Clinic describes Kyphosis like this, Kyphosis usually refers to an exaggerated rounding — sometimes called round back or hunchback. While Kyphosis can occur at any age, it’s most common in older women where the deformity is known as a dowager’s hump.

My posture is not good and I believe I have a weak core. These along with the Kyphosis contribute to my lower back pain.

Mary, who taught us yesterday, met with anyone who wanted to talk about their back issues informally an hour before class started. It was a good conversation and gave her ideas of what to focus on for the formal class.

We learned to have a strong belly while keeping it soft. We learned how to work from our bellies instead of our backs, which is really going to help eliminate back pain.

She helped me and many others to work on standing correctly to give lift to our spine with a healthy sacrum while having an even pelvis and tailbone.

I have a long way to go. But I have an idea of how I should be standing and will work to correct it. It feels funny. So that will be the challenge. Learning this “new” way of standing will take time but will eventually feel natural for me. This will make for a much happier back and spine.

As we were working in groups on a sequencing assignment I picked Virasana on a block as my pose to teach. In the picture above I am in Virasana (Hero’s Pose) on a block.

I mentioned to Mary that I sit in this pose when I meditate at home. I feels best for my back. Because sometimes just sitting for a minute or two can cause a lot of back pain for me. I was pleased to find out that this is the best pose for me as it has me sitting slightly forward while keeping my pelvis and tailbone even.

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