What to wear to a wedding? And Salabhasana (locust)

I have a wedding to go to in less than three weeks. I already have the perfect red dress to wear. The sleeveless divine design captured my eye, so I bought it, knowing full well it would look best without a bra. It actually has a bit of padding in the front to account for the absence of a bra. I’ve worn this dress a couple of times before and it looks stunning.

What does all this have to do with Salabhasana (locust) or yoga? I’ve always been conscious of back fat. At my heaviest I think my back fat looked bigger than my breasts. I don’t have as much back fat anymore and I appreciate that more than anything as I used to have to buy bras that “smooth” the back.

One of my favorite poses in Bikram, salabhasana/locust, works the back, so I almost always look forward to this posture. A few weeks ago my instructor said something in class that added new dimension to the pose for me. In the first part of the pose each leg is lifted to a 45 degree angle, or as close to that as you can get. On this day, he mentioned engaging the abdomen when lifting the leg. Now, I’m quite sure he’s said this many times before, but that day I HEARD him. He also said to lift from the abdomen.

As I started the pose that day, I followed instructions, and I could tell an immediate effect. I felt more full-body strength when I lifted my leg. I’m not sure I lifted it higher than I normally did, but I could literally feel more muscles working in my core, my legs, and my back. When I lowered my leg(s) the muscles in my back tingled with life, more than ever before. Ever since then I’ve made it a point to lift from my core.

This isn’t about losing weight to fit in a dress. The dress already fits. This is about feeling strong and confident in whatever I wear. It’s about being able to have people take pictures of me and wondering how I’ll look from the back. It’s about walking into a room and owning it. It’s about feeling good being me. Feeling good in this body I have now as I continue working toward my goal.

Loren Helping Me with Proper Hand Placement in Preparation for Salabhasana

Loren Helping Me with Proper Hand Placement in Preparation for Salabhasana

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Posted in Bikram Yoga, Body Image | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Plow Pose (Halasana) for Larger Bodies

Someone requested my thoughts on adaptations for larger bodies. Here is a YouTube video I created showing where I am at now. In its current structure, this body can’t do the full expression of plow pose, but I can work toward it. How I do that and more can be found by watching the YouTube video:

http://youtu.be/uCZNLnOQlDc

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Posted in Bikram Yoga, Yoga for Every Body | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

When a House Becomes a Home

For the past couple of years I have not felt like I’ve had a home, a place to be. I’ve spent so much time running and running and running. I don’t feel like I can find the words to express how I’ve been feeling. I’ve spent very almost no time just being. Running from myself, running from grief, just running, just going.

Several years ago I bought a beautiful red couch from Macy’s. On one end it has a chaise lounge. I’d always wanted a chaise lounge, yet, even after the delivery people brought the red couch I never utilized the chaise portion. I sat mostly on the other end with my feet propped up on the coffee table.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. I just didn’t have a home. A place where I felt I belonged. That means something to me. Belonging.

In my previous apartment it took me months before I put a nail in the wall. In my current apartment, I put nails in right away. Actually, I had all my boxes unpacked and everything put away within twenty-four hours of moving in, but the nails in the walls, the pictures and the Iguanas adorning the apartment never made it feel like home.

Several weeks ago, something inside me shifted. I can’t explain it, but an unmistakable transmutation occurred. I had arranged to have my carpets cleaned, which meant I had to clean and somewhat declutter. In the process of re-arranging my “stuff” I felt it. I felt the transformation. Somehow, in those moments in time, my house, my apartment became my home. Maybe because this time I cleaned for myself and not for others.

I started putting out my Halloween decorations. Many of them still await their placement though. I bought a spider web candelabra and put tea lights in it and spent several hours one night just watching the lights flicker. I put pictures of me and my dad in prominent places by the television, an act love, not one of sadness. I wanted to spend time in my home. Somehow my apartment had become my home. It evolved from a place to live to a place to be. And I want to relish in that state of being.

I wish I could say the following with more sophisticated elegance. It’s not that my apartment has become my home; I have become and I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. More willing to live my life without seeking the approval of others.

I don’t know where all this will lead, but I know this: I have the deepest gratitude for those on this journey with me who support and love me, including those who watch over me from above.

And if you’d like to see pictures of my decorations as they go up, then follow me on facebook. I have some colorful decorations that I’ll post pictures of!

My HallowChristmas Coffee Table: Where Two Holidays Collide!

My HallowChristmas Coffee Table: Where Two Holidays Collide!

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Posted in grief, Transformation | Tagged , | 2 Comments

My Great Groupon Adventure

Not a blog entry about yoga per se; except yoga brings breath and yoga brings life and yoga is so much more than what happens in the yoga room……….

I seek and embrace change. That’s how I’ll grow. I’ve gotten my hair done at the same place for years now, and Jamie has the skills of a true artist, but I’d been thinking about changing things up a bit with my hair.

I saw a Groupon for the hair services I wanted, and I kept thinking about it. I work at creating new grooves in my life, and the way to do that is to conduct life experiments by trying new and different things.

So I checked out the hair stylist’s website and finally decided why not? I called and made an appointment. From the moment I walked into the salon I liked the modern artsy feel of it. The hair stylist had a friendly energy and didn’t seem pushy (she didn’t try to add services on to the Groupon price) and she had the color on my hair fairly quickly.

I digress. This really isn’t about a review. This entry is about the joy and magic of trying new paths, changing patterns. I want more out of life. I’m not going to get it by always doing the same thing.

I tried something new today. It turned out amazing. It might not always be that way, but in the trying, in the doing, the universe will embrace and reward my efforts with the endless joy that comes from continually seeking the unknown.

My New Hairdo

My New Hairdo

My New Hairdo from the Back

My New Hairdo from the Back

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Yoga on the Go!

When I travel, whether I have a chance to go to a yoga class or not, I make time to stretch to keep my body mobile. I also stretch frequently as my job requires a fair amount of sitting in front of the computer. While on a short trip I took the time to video some of my favorite stretching/yoga poses. I made two videos: on in my hotel room (with me giving instructions) and one outside (without me talking). I made two videos as the lighting in the hotel room didn’t make for clear visibility.

Before starting the stretches, I recommend taking the time for at least three deep breaths, where you engage your core while relaxing the body.

Here are the stretches I do (any stretches your body feels like doing will work):

Supported Down Dog:

  • 1) Use the edge of a bed or chair;
  • 2) As you take a deep breath, raise your arms above your head and bend over until your torso is
  •    at or near a 90 degree angle;
  • 3) Actively rest your hands (forearms are okay too) on the bend;
  • 4) Keep the core activated;
  • 5) Keep the arms flexed;
  • 6) Stay in the pose at least 15 seconds or longer

Supported Pigeon:

  • A chair or couch works best for this pose;
  • Stand facing the chair;
  • Lift one leg up at a ninety-degree angle;
  • Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the hips;
  • Keep the foot flexed for maximum hip stretch;
  • Stay in the pose at least 15 seconds or longer

Supported Standing Forehead to Knee:

  • A couch or chair or retaining wall work for this pose;
  • Lift one leg up onto the couch/chair/wall;
  • Keep the foot flexed as you lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch;
  • Stay in the pose for at least 15 seconds or longer

I find that when I do these poses I feel more flexible when I travel or when I spend hours in front of the computer. On days where I’m working I do my best to remember to do some stretches at least once an hour.

In addition to lighting, I did the outdoor video to demonstrate that yoga/stretching can be done anywhere. Always listen to your body when doing these stretches. Just go for a gentle stretch. It’s a good idea not to go too deep when the body hasn’t fully been warmed up. Always Always Always listen to the body!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this yoga stretching interlude. I continue to show you this body doing yoga because I’m proof that EVERY BODY can DO YOGA. NO EXCUSES!!! ANY TIME!!! ANYWHERE!!!! IF YOU WANT IT, GO FOR IT!!!!

Here’s the link to the indoor video (with me talking):

 http://youtu.be/OIWSVkQufV0

Here’s the link to the outdoor video (without me talking but with music):

 http://youtu.be/Apt4qxAQ1lY

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Posted in Bikram Yoga, Yoga for Every Body | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Acccept No Limitations, Not Even Your Own!

A friend of mine texted me today to tell me that people were still talking about what I did two years ago. My actions that day left a lasting positive impression. So, what did I do two years ago that still has tongues wagging?

At a time when I did not have the level of fitness I do now, I climbed FOUR HUNDRED steps within 15 minutes to reach the top of Moro Rock in the Sequoias. Those were STEEP steps too, almost like climbing straight up a hill. I remember that day clearly, I felt a certain determination to make it to the top before everyone else decided to come back down. I wanted more than I can ever describe to be a part of the crowd. I did not want to feel ostracized. I’d gone up to the Sequoias with about twenty other people. None of them really thought I could do it. They didn’t think I’d make it to the top.

Here’s a pic of some of the steps I climbed:

400steps2

I feel quite certain of this because I can recollect the looks on their faces as I rounded the last curve of steps to the top of Moro Rock. Their looks of surprise remain etched in my mind, in the most loving of ways. In that moment, I had defied odds. I had surpassed preconceived notions of activities a big person could do and/or accomplish. I spent just a few moments looking around, basking in the glow of my accomplishment before heading back down.

Here’s the view from the top of Moro Rock:

View from the Top of Moro Rock

View from the Top of Moro Rock

Here’s an article detailing the steps to the top:

http://www.nps.gov/seki/historyculture/gfmoro.htm

As a side note there have been deaths associated with climbing the stairs because of the narrow path. At times only one person can climb sections.

That wasn’t the end of that day though. We went on to see General Sherman. The trail to General Sherman is steep but paved. I remember a sign saying it was a ¼ mile to the base of the tree, so not too long, but I had to hike back up. That day we also hiked around the Giant Forest and a few other places. We also had a bear encounter!

Here’s my friend Mr. Bear:

My Friend Mr. Bear

My Friend Mr. Bear

I did all that with sheer grit and determination. I had the desire and the drive. I didn’t put limitations on myself that day. That’s how I need to live every day! That’s how I want to live! Life without limitations is the only life I want, and the only life worth working for!

Some Sage Advice from Trees:

Sage Advice from Sequoias

Sage Advice from Sequoias

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It’s That Time of Year Again…………

PUMKPIN. It’s pumpkin season! Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin EVERYWHERE!!!! I LOVE ALL THINGS PUMPKIN!!!!!! Pumpkin bath stuff. Pumpkin candles. Pumpkin decorations. Pumpkin food. Fresh pumpkin. Canned pumpkin. Dancing Pumkin. You name it. If it’s got pumpkin in it chances are I’ll love it.

A couple of days ago I went to Trader Joe’s and, much to my delight, I saw they had pumpkin body cream! I bought two containers of it. I missed out on buying some last year because they sold out of it so quickly. I purchased a few other pumpkin items as well, but I somehow managed to resist the allure of the pumpkin sea salt caramels, the iced pumpkin scones, the masses of other pumpkin items with sugar (not pumpkin) listed as the first ingredient. I really really really wanted to buy one package of just about every pumpkin sugary item I saw listed. I resisted that night. Sometimes, heck almost all the time, I feel like a need a chaperone with me when I go to the grocery store.

I had to go back to Trader Joe’s the next day, and in a weakened moment my resolve did not hold out. The pull of the pumpkin became too much for me, and I found myself putting a container of pumpkin biscotti in my cart. I reasoned that they had a low fat content. The first ingredient wasn’t sugar (Sugar was the second ingredient). Reasons. Schmeasons. I didn’t need them. It would be one thing if I could buy them and just have a serving every once in a while, but that’s not how this food addiction works with me. I’d have one serving and then two and then before I know it the whole container is gone. Trust me. I’ve eaten a whole container of meringues from Trader Joe’s in one sitting. It’s not that hard, especially when the body becomes used the high amounts of sugar.

That night I also discovered that Trader Joe’s carries Pumkin Joe’s—the equivalent of pumkin oreos. Immediately I put those in my basket. I had the perfect reason for this purchase—I’d never seen the pumpkin Joe’s before. I had to try them at least once. I’d only have a few before I threw the rest out. “Seriously?” I say to myself. “You know you’ll eat most of the package.” I had a moment of wisdom strength and put those cookies back. I feel beyond grateful that I had that moment of strength.

I didn’t put the biscotti back.

The truth: I can’t have just one of these unhealthy foods. That’s what makes them unhealthy. If I could just have one serving and then walk away and not think about the foods then I’d be okay, but I don’t stop thinking about them. I become obsessed. It’s true what scientists are discovering—sugar is worse than crack. Now, I’ve never tried crack. I’m basing that statement on how I react to sugar and the pull and allure of sugar, once it has a hold, feels almost too strong to break.

I had two servings of the pumpkin biscotti. By the way, they make it with pumpkin puree; however, the pumpkin puree is FIFTH on the ingredient list, so, really, how much pumpkin is in these biscotti? I will give the rest away. Not sure to whom or how, but they will leave my possession.

It’s still the season of the pumpkin though. The challenges won’t go away. Then it’ll be the season of Thanksgiving foods and Christmas food and Trader Joe’s Peppermint JoJo’s and the list goes on. It’ll always be the season of something.

I have to change my thinking. I have been doing that actually, but there’s always a new groove to create. I know that if I eat all the pumpkin foods I want to eat then I will suck at yoga. I won’t want to go hiking. I’ll sit around on my arse doing nothing because I won’t have the energy to do anything. I won’t have the energy to live. By live I mean breathing in the sunshine, the fresh air, smiling. I’ll just want to sit and do NOTHING. Except maybe plan my next eating fest.

I like being active and happy and living. I enjoy movement and sweating and laughing, much more than I enjoy the passive effect of feeling deadened by a food coma. I feel a certain amount of self-satisfaction by working at standing on one leg in standing bow. I feel the endorphin rush following walks or hikes (even short ones) and I bask in that natural high. Waking up in the morning I like bouncing out of bed, feeling ready to roll.

I love pumpkin stuff, especially sugar pumpkin stuff, but I think I like my life more. I’m sitting here writing this while sitting on my balcony, sipping sweet cinnamon pumpkin tea, sweetened only with stevia. I have pumpkin body gel. I made my own pumpkin body scrub for the bath. I can and do enjoy non-addictive forms of pumpkin. I have to choose to carry with me when I go grocery shopping.

I like looking at Halloween and other holiday decorations that have pumpkins. If I chose to over-indulge in pumpkin stuff I wouldn’t enjoy any of that. So, for today I choose life. I choose me.

Now, who wants some pumpkin biscotti? ;-)

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Biscotti

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Biscotti

A healthy way to enjoy the pumpkin holiday–me at Disneyland in 2010!

Me Enjoying Pumpkins at Disneyland in 2010

Me Enjoying Pumpkins at Disneyland in 2010

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Posted in Food Cravings, Healthy Meals/Foods | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment