Ann on March 1st, 2015
obamacare

My healthcare is pretty basic, with a few extras thrown in, such as osteoarthritis of the jaw and exercise-induced asthma.

I have always believed that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare. I praise countries that provide healthcare to all of their citizens and visitors.

Healthcare should not be a privilege to those who can afford it. I believe it is a human right and should be accessible to everyone.

With that being said, today Curt and I become recipients of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

This doesn’t mean we are getting free healthcare. We still have to pay. But it is much more reasonable than paying out of pocket without the ACA option.

It was easy to sign up. And we had many options for our medical and dental.

I have been a tax paying citizen since I was 15. My first “real” job (besides babysitting) was scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins for 2 bucks an hour. Yup, you still pay taxes even when you make that little.

I don’t really want to get into the whole argument about whether or not the ACA should exist. I believe it should. AND there are many things my tax money goes toward that I don’t agree with. But that is part of being a citizen of the United States.

And the ACA isn’t perfect. But as time goes on adjustments will be made to make it better.

I am at ease knowing Curt and I are both covered. Thanks a lot, Obama!

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Ann on February 27th, 2015
cycling

This was from my last indoor cycling class at InShape City right before I moved to Portland.

After returning from a visit with the family in Tucson I jumped into my teaching gig at LA Fitness.

On Wednesday night I taught a yoga class.

Usually right before I teach a new class I get a little nervous. My students were kind and welcoming and the nerves went away rather quickly.

I felt good about the sequence I taught them and how the class went.

Afterward three students came up to chat with me and tell me they enjoyed the class. I received comments such as: I am going to sleep really well tonight; I liked the class because it wasn’t too gentle and it wasn’t too aggressive (I’m gonna take that as a Goldilocks and say it was just right).

I also gave them some tips on a pose to help with insomnia. So many women I know have problems with their sleep.

Yesterday morning I taught a cycle class. I wasn’t sure how that class was gonna go because I was using a playlist I wasn’t 100% sure of. But I know I will get in the groove with the music and playlists. As I do I will feel more

One of my yoga teachers told me that I am bossy and will make a great yoga teacher. Thanks, Richard!

One of my yoga teachers told me that I am bossy and will make a great yoga teacher. Thanks, Richard!

comfortable and confident.

No one stormed out so I take that as a good sign.

I got some thank yous and smiles at the end. One woman chatted me up after and told me she liked the class and was glad I was taking it over.

I was also told by her and another student that my volume on the mike was perfect. They could clearly hear me and I wasn’t too loud. (Some cycle teachers scream into the microphone.)

Next week I will be on my current full class schedule at LA Fitness. A total of five classes. Wowza!

I am working to get in at other gyms/places as well. So keep checking My classes page for updates.

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Ann on February 17th, 2015
chatarunga with strap

Make sure your yoga strap is in a shoulder-width loop (top photo). Chatarunga Dhandasana with strap (bottom photo).

One of the things I learned while in my yoga teacher training was to learn to “steal good.” And I do this pretty regularly.

As a teacher myself I take things my teachers do and make them my own. It’s a great way to learn to teach and to share awesome things I learn along the way with my students.

Near the end of my teaching stint at Alameda Athletic Club I asked my students and GFG! readers what their favorite and least favorite yoga poses were.

With that information I created a sequence for my second to last week teaching favorite poses and my last week of teaching least favorite poses.

One of my students told me that Chatarunga Dhandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) was one of her least favorite poses.

This is a pose where many people hurt themselves. It’s a difficult pose and many people don’t and can’t do it correctly, myself included.

From an article on the Yoga Journal website,  the writer mentioned being at a meeting with other yoga teachers and “almost all of us had a Chaturanga injury to relate: elbow tendonitis or strained muscles in the upper arm, shoulder, or chest. … Since then, Chaturanga has become even more common in yoga classes around the country because of the popularity of vinyasa practice (flowing from pose to pose without pause). As a result, many students are ‘blowing out’ their shoulders.”

Because I know how to “steal good” I taught my students how to do this pose with a strap, which I learned from my teacher Baxter.

I told a friend about this and she asked for a post. So here it is.

First you take a strap. I don’t recommend using anything but a strap designed for yoga. The strap won’t loosen if it is strapped together correctly.

Loop the strap into a loop about shoulder-width. The strap goes above your elbow creases and right below your breasts. (Make sure the metal or plastic clasp is up front for comfort.) The strap should be tight enough that your arms can’t go wider than shoulder-width. (See top photo.)

With the strap in place get down on your mat into plank pose with knees on mat or off mat (your choice). Shoulders right above wrists, shoulder blades wide, heels pressing away from torso, arms strong, hands even on the mat.

While in plank press your torso forward toward the top of the mat, moving heels forward an inch or two. (Normally in plank you press your heels away from your torso.) This will put your shoulders slightly forward of your hands/wrists.

Bend your elbows and bring your chest down to the strap, resting on the strap while pressing your elbows behind you and keeping them close to your side. Bring your shoulder blades down your back.

Your gaze is slightly in front of your mat keeping your neck long.

Yes, you do have a strap digging into your arms and chest. It isn’t exactly comfortable. But it makes the pose doable.

Try the pose a few times with the strap. Then if you want, try it without. It takes a lot of strength and is much more difficult.

If you are in a class that is more of a flow you won’t have time to get the strap on. So what I have learned is you don’t have to go down as far as the teacher tells you. I only slightly bend my elbows and go down until right before my back starts to sway.

You can also work with the strap in your home practice and work to get stronger in this pose.

You also have the option to not do Chatarunga when requested in a class and come down to your belly and come into Low Bhujangasana (Low Cobra Pose) and then push back to Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog).

I am hoping my description of how to do this pose with a prop was helpful. If it isn’t making sense, please let me know. It may not be clicking with you or maybe my description needs work.

I always want feedback from my readers.

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Ann on February 13th, 2015
momentum

If you have to use momentum to lift your weights they are likely too heavy. 

This is gonna be a smorgasbord of a post …

First, I am now an LA Fitness employee, a yoga and cycle group fitness instructor. Starting soon I will be teaching three cycle classes and one yoga class with the hopes of adding some more yoga classes.

I’ve been taking yoga classes at the town house community fitness center. And I have had the opportunity to sub three of those classes already. I subbed a yoga class at another gym near me.

I took a body conditioning/body sculpting class on Wednesday. I have the possibility to teach this class as well after some training.

I haven’t taken a class like that in more than a year. Wow, two days later and I am still sore.

As we were working our weights the teacher reminded us that momentum is not a muscle. That really stuck with me.

Sometime back I wrote a post about how it is important to use form and not momentum when weight training.

I just might have to steal that phrase and remind my students one day that momentum is not a muscle.

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Ann on February 10th, 2015
reading and knitting

Two of my basics that I just love: reading and knitting.

As I type this post it’s raining outside and I am sipping my coffee. I just finished my home yoga practice. (I started working on this post yesterday morning.)

I won’t type long and will finish this post later as I really want to get to reading my book.

When I was a little girl I read all the time. I read so much that my vocabulary was quite advanced (much more than it is now) and I was three reading levels ahead of my grade.

In 7th grade we got to pick a book of our choice to read and write a report on it. I read Jane Eyre. I wouldn’t read that book again until college in one of my literature classes.

I still enjoy reading. It just doesn’t happen as often. But every once in a while I get into a kick and read like crazy.

I feel like I am back in that. Sometime last week after I had unloaded our books onto our book shelf I realized there were so many books I hadn’t yet read.

I grabbed a Beverly Cleary book. She wrote the Ramona books and (Ralph) The Mouse and the Motorcycle books among many others.

Beverly Clearly is from Portland and went to college for two years at Cal.

The book I am currently reading is about her adventures in college. I am not even half way done. So I assume it will be more than just her time in college. But likely also her time as establishing herself as a writer.

Sometime last week I also grabbed the knitting needles and some yarn and am knitting again. My knitting is pretty basic. But I do love doing it, especially if I am not on any sort of deadline.

Because I am not working regularly and the weather can be quite depressing in Portland at this time of year I am trying to get into a routine and make sure I leave the house at least once a day. (I am also trying to make sure the TV doesn’t stay on all day. I limit myself.)

I go to the gym regularly, there are errands to run and Curt and I venture out to explore our new area we live in. We also have friends in town and try to regularly see people.

I have also found that getting back to the basics of reading, knitting and establishing a routine fills me with joy.

I am going to the gym quite regularly and my home yoga practice is back to being a regular thing, which means I am ready to teach a class if called upon.

I have some things in the works for potential teaching opportunities (for yoga and cycle).

The move to Portland was a good choice and I am glad Curt and I made it. (That doesn’t mean I don’t miss all of my friends in the Bay Area. You know who you are.)

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Ann on February 7th, 2015
During my yoga teacher training we had a long-term anatomy project where we had to pick three poses we found challenging but were able to do. We had our partners take pictures at all angles. I thought it would be fun to show my tight pants in a compromising position in light of the subject at hand. Here you can see that my sit bones are slightly uneven.

During my yoga teacher training we had a long-term anatomy project where we had to pick three poses we found challenging but were able to do. We had our partners take pictures at all angles. For the assignment I purposely picked tight clothing so I could observe my body more easily.

Last month a woman wrote a blog post about why she decided to stop wearing tight yoga pants in public, which Yoganonymous reposted.

Now she has clearly stated that this is just about herself and she is not telling anyone else that they shouldn’t wear tight yoga pants in public.

During a conversation with her friends they talked about “leggings and how when women wear them it creates a stronger attraction for a man to look at a woman’s body and may cause them to think lustful thoughts.”

Yes, tight yoga pants can entice men. But so can a woman’s voice. And a woman’s laugh. Her boots. Her glasses. Should we stop speaking, laughing, wearing shoes, seeing …

Yes, all of my yoga pants are tight. They were designed that way. And I believe the main reason was so you can see your body. It enables you to be able to check appropriate alignment of yourself. Knees are a big concern and must be in proper alignment so you don’t hurt yourself.

Tight pants also helps your teacher be able to easily check your alignment and make sure you are safe in poses.

(There was even one day in a yoga class that I had a long-sleeve shirt on and my teacher moved the sleeve so she could check the alignment of my wrist.)

I remember in high school while taking ballet the teacher mentioned it was best for us to wear tight clothing because it made it easier to see what our bodies were doing.

And, here’s the other thing … ALL of my pants are tight on my ass. I have a big butt, thighs and hips and a tiny waist. So no matter if I am wearing yoga pants, jeans or even nice slacks they are all tight (and apparently enticing).

I pretty much live in my yoga pants. They are comfortable and functional. I am ready for a yoga home practice, lounging around the house, running errands, taking a cycle class, a yoga class, etc.

But I believe what this really comes down to is what you feel comfortable in. We all should feel comfortable in what we wear and with our bodies. And we can’t control what other people think.

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Ann on February 4th, 2015
dry shampoo part drie

Here are the four dry shampoos I am reviewing in today’s Review Wednesday.

I have done two reviews in the past on dry shampoos, which you can read here and here.

Today I am posting No. 3 (drie in Dutch) review.

If you have been a reader of GFG! even for a short period of time you probably know that I have a smell sensitivity. I get what I call mini migraines when I come into contact with certain smells.

Anything perfumey or sweet or unnatural will trigger my ragging headaches and nausea.

If a product I am reviewing has a perfumey and/or sweet and/or unnatural smell it won’t get a high score.

What I wonder is why would someone want some smelly thing lingering in their hair when they could also possibly be wearing perfume and smelly lotion?

Anyway, yea, smells, unless fresh and/or natural are bad news for me.

Today I am reviewing four dry shampoos.

Like in the past I will review least favorite to favorite.

TWO

Dove Hair Therapy dry shampoo gets two dumbbells.

The Dove Hair Therapy dry shampoo has a super sweet smell.

The spray has a white residue, which can be brushed out or slept on if using the night before. The dry shampoo works. But that smell. Wow, it is sickly super sweet.

If you can handle the smell and won’t offend co-workers, fellow train riders, friends, yoga neighbors, etc. I say this dry shampoo could be for you.

I think I got this at Target or Walgreens. I did a search online and found it at Amazon for about 12 bucks and free shipping. Oh, Walmart, about 4 bucks.

If you are gonna try this one don’t spend $12. That is way too much to spend.

TWO

Orlando Pita dry shampoo gets two dumbbells.

A friend of mine gave me a bottle of Orlando Pita dry shampoo she bought at Costco, which according to this link is no longer available.

I found a two-pack on Amazon for $49.99. That’s kinda spendy. (From a little research I did it sounds like the two-pack at Costco was $17, which is a much more reasonable price.)

Apparently Orlando Pita is a celebrity stylist. I just found that interesting. Doesn’t change how I fell about the lingering perfumey sweet smell of his dry shampoo.

The spray comes onto the hair white, which most do. I couldn’t leave it on for long so I am not sure of the long-term effects. It appeared to absorb my oily crown.

Again if the smell doesn’t offend you or anyone else I say go for it.

FOUR

Batiste dry shampoo gets four dumbbells.

Batiste dry shampoo can be purchased at many retailers. I got mine at Walgreens. According to the Walgreens site, Batiste is $7.99.

Batiste also has a white residue when sprayed on dark hair. It is cheap and can be easily purchased at Walgreens or many other retailers.

The smell … it is a fresh clean smell, which doesn’t bother me. You just smell clean, not perfumey or like candy or a sweet fruit.

I like the one and will keep in my circulation of dry shampoos. Like with my regular shampoo I like to have variety with dry as well.

FOUR AND A HALF

Klorane oat milk dry shampoo gets gets 4 1/2 dumbbells.

I got a sample of the Klorane oat milk dry shampoo in one of my Birchbox shipments. (Read a review of Birchbox here.)

According to the Klorane website, the product contains no parabens, silicones, sulfates or sodium chloride.

I tried the Klorane as a sample I received in a monthly Birchbox shipment. I loved my little sample, which is now with my travel toiletries, so I bought a full-sized bottle of Klorane from Birchbox.

The full-sized bottle is only 3.2 oz. The other shampoos I reviewed today were 5 oz. (Dove and Orlando Pita) or 6.73 oz (Batiste).

And the full-sized bottle of 3.2 oz. is quite spendy at $19.50.

But it works well, has no harsh smell (a light clean smell) or white powdery residue. So if I need a pick me up on my crown before leaving the house this is a great one to grab as I don’t have to worry about white residue or a lingering smell.

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Ann on February 2nd, 2015
restorative props

Planning a well-rounded Restorative Yoga sequence with limited props can be challenging but possible.

For the past week and a half or so I have been making contacts at gyms and yoga studios.

I joined LA Fitness and have chatted it up with a couple of cycle teachers and a yoga teacher. I have been applying at gyms in the area where an application is accessible. I have found smaller gyms and studios near me and contacted them.

Surprisingly I have had a good response.

So I have some possibilities coming up for my teaching. I am just trying to be patient.

At the town house community Curt and I live in there is a fitness center. Three times a week there are free yoga classes for residents.

I went to one of the free classes on Thursday night. It was pretty good.

After class was over I introduced myself to the teacher and asked if she taught all three classes. She told me that she does.

I told her about my trainings. I also told her that if she ever needs a sub I can sub for her.

Sunday nights are Restorative Yoga. I told her I did a separate 20-hour teacher training specifically for Restorative Yoga.

She didn’t teach last night because she had Super Bowl plans.

So guess who taught the class last night?

I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up because of that football game.

But I had one student show up.

My challenge was that I had to bring my own props. I have two bolsters, a travel bolster, two blocks, some blankets and a few eye pillows.

My other challenge was that I had to plan a sequence with limited props.

I planned my sequence with the idea that each student would maybe have one bolster and one blanket. There are ways to make a homemade bolster and I was prepared to do that if need be.

Because there was only one student she was able to take advantage and use many blankets.

Once class was over my student told me she felt relaxed.

Great, that was my intention.

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Ann on January 28th, 2015
photo by sarah jenness piedmont yoga studio

 Studio 2 at Piedmont Yoga Studio. Photo by Sarah Jenness.

There are so many great things about taking yoga classes, especially at a studio. Establishing a yoga community is such an important part of the practice.

While in Oakland I regularly took classes from two yoga studios.

Piedmont Yoga Studio is where I did my yoga teacher training and also took classes from teachers who were also teaching me how to be a yoga teacher.

On Saturday Piedmont Yoga Studio will close its physical doors.

In 1987 Piedmont Yoga Studio was founded by Rodney Yee, Richard Rosen and Claire Finn.

Until recently I regularly took classes from Richard. In November I took a master yoga class with Rodney Yee and his wife Colleen Saidman when they were in town. And earlier this month I took a class with Claire Finn. I told her after class that I had to make sure I took yoga classes with all three of the original Piedmont founders.

Piedmont will become “a studio beyond walls that is open and accessible to all.” You can read more about that here.

Even though I was only part of the Piedmont community for a little more than a year I have an attachment to it, what it represents and the people I met and the friends I made.

I decided to do my teacher training at Piedmont for a variety for reasons. Because of the history and reputation of the studio I wanted to study there. Two of my regular yoga teachers studied there years ago and taught at Piedmont and at the other studio where I regularly practiced. One of the three founders, Richard Rosen, still taught at Piedmont and was part of the teacher training.

I had no idea how difficult and amazing the program would be. I learned so much about my practice and myself over the 10-month program. And I continue to grow as a yoga practitioner, yoga teacher and a human being.

My experience helped me realize it was time to leave my corporate job and pursue other things.

I am so grateful for the chance to teach at a gym in Alameda for an extended period of time while the regular teacher was on maternity leave. And I also decided to get my SPINNING® certification and was able to teach five indoor cycling classes at my gym before the move.

And here I am sitting in my living room in Portland, Oregon …

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Ann on January 26th, 2015
GFG is back!

GFG! is back to blogging.

I’m baaaack!

Years ago Curt and I were in the Philly area visiting his brother and family along with Curt’s parents and grandma. Some of the family went on a canoe outing. Our nephew James was about 4 at the time. As we got closer to the canoe spot James started to recognize it as he had been there with his dad before. We walked into the place to rent our canoes and James slams the screen door open and says, I’m baaaack!

And so is GFG!

What a whirlwind the move has been. All went well. Movers packed the truck up in three hours and were gone sooner than I had planned. Curt and I took off soon after the truck left and got a few hours on the road.

The following day, which was a Friday, we made the rest of trek to Portland.

For a few days it was like we were on a mini vacation.

The movers arrived last Tuesday. They unloaded our stuff in about three hours. Right after they left the unpacking frenzy began.

Except for pictures hanging on the walls and the books on the bookshelf we are pretty much moved in.

I love our new place. It’s so roomy and new with lots of storage space.

Late last week I started looking at gyms/recreational centers in the area and started applying for yoga and cycling gigs. The online applications are quite time consuming so I am trying to apply to one place each day.

I’ve decided to become a member of LA Fitness. They have lots of yoga and cycling classes and are close to our place and are reasonably priced.  I will head over there to sign up in the next day or two. And hopefully I can start subbing classes soon.

I have also been scoping about yoga studios in my area. There are a few I may see if I can get on the sub list. Though it’s harder to get on at a studio as a new teacher. Usually you gotta pay your dues and start teaching at a gym first. But no reason I can’t at least contact them and maybe take classes there as well.

I plan to head to one of the yoga studios this week and get in on their great new student intro membership.

I’m looking forward to developing a healthy routine again.

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