Read All About ME!

My Bikram Yoga life invited me to be a guest blogger for this week! Check out the entry and peruse the rest of the site–she has some amazing stuff there!

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Activating Alignment

For the longest time I thought only this body lacked proper alignment. I figured other people, skinnier people, had better alignment. My ego loves this thought pattern. It liked it, well it still likes it, for as long as I set myself apart from others in a negative manner I keep myself from progressing. For more time than I care to recount I’d look around the yoga room and see spines that lined up perfectly in triangle, knees that aligned with hips in awkward, but not with this body.

I’m going to let all of you in on a BIG secret that no one really talks about when one carries and loses a fair amount of weight. The bones and muscles find it painful. Think about it. Bones and muscles, that have been carrying the burden of extra weight for years, suddenly find release. They rejoice in their newfound healthy freedom, yet they also find themselves in a state of confusion. What do they do? Where do they go? How do they adjust?

I have the solution. Yoga. Yoga more than any other form of activity works on alignment. That’s my perspective anyways. And, yes, I’ve tried pilates. I’ve tried so much. As a larger person, I’ve always been cognizant of the way I walk. Before I ever started yoga I never felt like I walked. I felt like I waddled. Sound harsh? Well that’s the best way I can describe it.

I might be digressing here, so let me return to yoga. I used to think it important for my feet to touch in certain poses, but with the help of my instructor I’ve come to realize that these feet aren’t meant to touch yet. These feet want to stay in alignment with these hips, so when I look in the mirror I look for that alignment. I look to see that these knees don’t torque to the side. They’ve had that tendency to do that to accommodate for the size of my stomach.

I’d like to point out that I can’t see the proper alignment of my body with these eyes. I’m learning from my instructor, Loren. I kid you not. I have trouble seeing my body in proper form. It helps to have other eyes. This body has been so out of alignment for years that it has to relearn proper alignment. Also, as I continue on this journey my alignment will continue to evolve.

I’m learning also to see the mirror as my friend. It helps me to bear witness to the changes Loren tells me to work on. He does his part to help me, but I have to do my part too. And I’m willing to do it because I’m worth it.

As I progressively work on alignment, I’m learning that alignment of the physical body leads to alignment of the mental body and alignment of the spiritual body. I tend to overthink, over-analyze, over emotionalize so much, and the more I work on proper physical alignment the more I’m able to stabilize my reactions to situations outside myself, the more I’m willing to work on finding balance. Balance? What’s that? Probably material for another blog.

In the meantime, make the mirror your friend. In a yoga class, in a workout setting, while getting dressed. Notice. Observe. See your alignment. See you without judgment. See where you want to go. Then go work on it. Activate your alignment and activate your life.

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Working on Proper Alignment in Triangle

Working on Proper Alignment in Triangle

Posted in Bikram Yoga, Body Image, Transformation, Weight Loss | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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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:

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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):

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

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