Friday, July 2, 2010

Prana Flow

Last night I went to a Prana Flow Class with Karendayal. Prana means breath and my style of yoga, vinyasa, is a flow yoga…so I thought they would be similar. Man was I wrong. They were similar in that there was downward dog, and low lunge, and tree … but that’s about it. There was a sense of freedom in the movement that made me uncomfortable the way laughter yoga did. I thought a lot about why that is and I have decided that I excel where there is structure. Bill is always making fun of me because I am such a rule follower – but it is so true! I like vinyasa because there are rules. One breath up, one breath down, align your hips, tuck your tail, find a focal point, go through your sun salutation, repeat. Rules.

Prana Yoga had a lack of rules. I was still supposed to be matching my breath to my movements, but this was more organic somehow. I’ve attached a link to Shiva Rea, Karendayal’s teacher, to give you an idea what I am talking about. But seriously, I looked NOTHING like this. I looked like an inflexible, breath-holding oaf. And that’s being nice.

The class was a little under 2 hours, which gave me a lot of time to notice and reflect on my discomfort. It wasn’t Karendayal or the asanas – both were great and relatively familiar. The swaying? Yeesh. That involved me having a comfort and rhythm with my breath. I have no rhythm and this week I have felt really disconnected from my body. I have been complaining to Bill all week that my rest week from lifting has left me feeling frumpy and kind of ugly. I think that this is due to feeling unproductive but I am not totally sure. Karendayal was essentially asking me to be completely comfortable in my skin and to let my body relax and flow naturally. She may as well have asked me to walk on water.

My discomfort aside, I loved the class. I loved the heat of the room, the calm of the practice, the physical work and the chanting. I felt great when I left despite all the discomfort. I have alluded to it in the past, but discomfort is necessary to grow - you gain nothing from being complacent, stagnant. I am hoping to make it to this class more, to move beyond my own discomfort, to get out of my own way and to be more comfortable in my own skin.

On a related note, Karendayal asked us at the end of practice to find something from the class to take away with us. I found forgiveness for being so hard on myself this week. More importantly, she asked us to leave something behind that we don’t need – I left ugly behind. Who needs that in their life?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Recipe Day!

So I made a great smoothie featuring a great new-to-me supplement that I want to share with you all ... and that got me thinking.  Are any of you interested in me posting a recipe every week or two?  I am thinking pasta sauce, salads, appetizers etc.  Just easy stuff I make fairly regularly that fit into a healthy diet.  Oh, and I'll try to include pictures when I remember.  What do you think?

Ready for the smoothie recipe?!?!  Lets call this ... .... excited?


1/2-1 cup coffee unsweetened (mine was luke warm and hazelnut flavor)
1 handful spinach
some soy milk/almond milk
handful frozen blueberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 scoops Amazing Grass Chocolate Drink Powder, Green Superfood, 8.5-Ounce Container
1 tablespoon dark chocolate almond butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds (I was out of gel)

This thing was intense!  Very, very chocolaty.  In fact, I think next time I am only going to use 1 scoop Amazing Grass.  But if you are a chocolate lover, go for it man.  I also want to note that you can, of course, use chocolate or unflavored protein powder or use chocolate milk or soy milk or whatever floats your boat.  This is what I used though and it was delicious!

Here is the nutritional profile.  This is based on the generic ingredients in My Pyramid Tracker and not on the actual ingredients I used.  If you are not a breakfast eater or you are afraid of calories and fat, these may come as a shocker ... but I like a dense, healthy breakfast and these stats are my norm.

~400 Calories
~20 Grams Fat (2.5 Saturated)
~41 Grams Carbs
~22 Grams Protein
~13 Grams Fiber

A word about Amazing Grass.  I started buying it because I'd read a lot about it and it was on sale at Amazon.  This stuff can be pricey but it is really good.  Here is the product description from their website:

"Our Chocolate Green SuperFood is a delicious chocolate drink powder to help you achieve your 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

A full spectrum of alkalizing green superfoods, antioxidant rich fruits, and support herbs unite with organic Acai, Maca and Cacao to provide a powerful dose of whole food nutrition with a delicious dark chocolate taste. Complete with pre & probiotics and digestive enzymes to ensure rapid nutrient absorption and healthy digestion.

Chocolate Green SuperFood: All natural and organic ingredients include organic wheat grass, organic barley grass, organic alfalfa, organic spirulina, organic spinach, organic chlorella (cracked cell-wall), organic broccoli, organic dutch cocoa, organic redwood cocoa, organic cacao, natural chocolate flavoring, organic acai from Sambazon, organic maca, organic carrot, organic beet, raspberry, organic rose hips, pineapple, green tea, acerola cherry, organic flax seed powder, organic oat fiber, apple pectin fiber, F.O.S. (from chicory root), L. acidophilus, alpha and beta amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, cellulase, siberian eleuthero root, peppermint and organic sea salt.

100% Vegan."

I've found that this stuff is tasty and packs a serious energy punch if you are interested in giving it a try.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Remember the other day when I was talking about Time and fitting exercise into your day. I want to make clear that not all of my workouts are stellar.

The Good.   A Good workout is one that I have planned, that feels great during, and that feels great after. These are somewhat regular in my life and I am thankful for many Good workouts. Please note that when I say” planned” I mean planned for that day – my break time is basically out of my control so you will find me at the gym or running generally anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Usually if I make it to yoga class, it is a Good workout. If I am able to get in a New Rules workout as planned, then that is a Good workout. If I have a run which is not totally dreadful – which is rare – then that is a Good workout. I would say that on an average week I can pull off maybe 3-4 Good workouts…the rest are Bad or Ugly.

The Bad.  These are workouts that are so off schedule it is ridiculous. Or workouts for which I have zero energy. Or workouts during which my legs are made of led. Or my tummy hates me. Or its too hot. Or its too cold. Or I only have 20 minutes to squeeze it in. Or I forget my ipod…or my sports bra…or my socks…or my water. A prime example of a Bad workout is a day where the only time I can run is 3 p.m. (my sleepy time), I haven’t had lunch yet, I don’t have my ipod and the only clothes I have are wet and smelly from the day before. This is me a couple days a week. It ain’t pretty…but it ain’t ugly. Yet.

The Ugly.   The Ugly workout isn’t based on smelly clothes and lacking ipods…granted, you probably don’t want to stand next to me or talk to me on those days, but at least I am pulling off a somewhat decent workout … just under bad conditions. An Ugly workout is where, no matter how hard I try, I just cannot get my head in the game. One day I remember vividly…I was all set for an ugly workout ( 6:00pm, dirty clothes, no ipod, treadmill) … I lasted 6 minutes. 6 Minutes! I had the energy. I had the time. I just did not have the heart or the head to see it through. These mental blocks to a good or even bad workout kill me. Usually if I can sense this disaster coming I’ll admit defeat and grab my book and hit the stationary bike for 45 minutes or so. Other days I walk right out of the gym admitting defeat.

I had an Ugly run this past Sunday. It started out as just bad – too hot, middle of the day nonsense – and after 2 miles of running, I just gave up. The giving up is very, very Ugly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yoga Love

Sunday (after book club, a beyond-awful 2-mile-that-was-supposed-to-be-5-mile-run, gardening and grocery shopping) I giddily packed up my Intention Notebook and hit the road for Sandskirt* class.  I was mentally beat and physically tired, but I am so intrigued by this whole yoga exploration that I was totally excited ... and nervous.  I think I have mentioned previously that I am pretty new to this whole yoga thing and at Sanskrit class, generally, I am pretty sure that I am the only non-instructor there.  But I do my best to keep up.  This class went better than the last one - the last class I had no idea what was going on. The actual words and concepts that were being discussed and taught were incredibly beyond me.  But, being the good student I am, I wrote down all the words I didn't know, went home and looked them up in Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga..., did my 'homework' of practicing Sanskrit vowels (among other things) and went to my second class feeling much more confident.  Still clueless but at least not utterly clueless.  I did not suddenly rock the Sanskrit lesson but I was comfortable and had a great experience.

 After my first class Bill asked me why I was taking Sanskrit.  I was frustrated with myself because I could not articulate why I was going or why it was important or what my ultimate goal was.  I am a goal kind of girl so this was odd ... and uncomfortable.  I was sacrificing part of a day off - a SUNDAY - and I had no idea why.  But it was important to me.  Why?

I have always had a plan.  Always.  I've set a goal, made a plan, and achieved that goal.   This is how I have lived my life.  Yoga is different.  I feel yoga not plan it.  There is no goal except to learn more, experience more.  Achieve more? I suppose that is a side effect.

Yoga is many things beyond the physical practice.  I will not pretend to know all that it is ... but it is spiritual and it is physical and it is mental.  If you are practicing the physical aspect, I think that is great.  If you have been practicing long enough that you have started to wonder what else there is, then that is fantastic.  That is where I am at - the fantastic yoga point.  Yoga Journal this month has a great article about how discovering yoga is like falling in love.  At first you are skeptical, taking it slow.  But then you are in head first.  You can't think about anything else.  You are seeking more, trying to analyze and define your relationship... it is all exciting and outlined in bright, bold colors.  That, for me right now, is the fantastic yoga point.  I am having a love affair with the entire practice and need more all the time.  Eventually this will wane into a comfort zone where yoga is a happy, comfy facet of my everyday life.  But right now, it is all-consuming.  And that is why I go to Sanskrit class.  I'm not sure why I am there but Yoga is there and so I go ... to be with my Yoga.