Tag Archives: yoga

Breathe in freedom.

1 Jun

When your body is challenged in yoga and weight lifting, the natural response is to hold your breath. We need to be reminded to breathe with the movements. Inhale, lift. Exhale, lower. Inhale vitality. Exhale tension. It may not seem like it at the time but breathing actually makes the postures and exercises easier because it gives you something else to concentrate on than just the muscle fatigue and supplies your muscles with oxygen.

I’ve been thinking about this the past couple of days because I realized that this applies to life too. This week, I have felt tired and lazy. And I found myself emotionally gritting my teeth to “just get through” the week – essentially, holding my breath to survive.

But is that really what God wants for me? Are I really reduced to just gritting my teeth to get through life?

The trouble is that I associate the fullest life with being on top of things, things going my way, falling into place, being easy.

The fullest life is still available even when life isn’t that way (which is often). Even on the days, weeks, or months when things are hard, I’m tired and feel overwhelmed, and everything feels like a burden. Instead of holding my breath to survive, I can breathe through life’s challenges with God. 

Just like holding my breath doing a Half Moon, it seems easier and less painful to not think too much and just go through the motions. To not care. To resign myself to life being crap for the next few days.

In reality, I’m making the situation worse. And when I actually think about what I’m doing, it seems ludicrous. Why do I think that hard situations are easier to handle without God?

It’s because I think He’ll make me (wo)man up and deal with the situation. And the last thing I want to do is deal with the situation. I want to escape, withdraw, ignore.

What I forget, though, is that living in dependence on God is where I find joy always. Not just when I feel up to it, or when life is going well, or when I’m naturally happy. Always.

I also forget that living in dependence on God doesn’t require me to feel me up to it, or life to be going well, or me to be naturally happy. In fact, living in dependence on God comes most easily when I am starkly aware of my weaknesses and insufficiency. When I feel too small for something too big. When I’m struggling with the same thing yet again. When I’m having trouble even mustering up the energy to not give up.

I find freedom in acknowledging reality. Instead of shutting down and going through life on autopilot, I can admit that the situations I’m facing are affecting me and that it’s not all coming up roses. Jesus promised us peace in the midst of difficulty – not peaceful circumstances.

I stop trying to change reality. Once I acknowledge the tough circumstance, I stay there. I don’t try to change, fix, or manipulate it. That’s God’s job. My job is trust. This is the challenge I come back to time and time again. Asking me to live with God in the midst of my weaknesses and insufficiency is like asking a dog to walk on its hind legs. It’s not impossible but it takes a lot of work to actually stay there because it’s not my natural inclination.

I focus on the moment and give thanks. In yoga, you breathe with the movements to get your mind focused on the here and now. Stop thinking about all the things you’re going to do later in the day, all the bills and laundry and dishes piling up at home. Live in the now. Jesus told us this too: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). I especially like The Message’s paraphrase:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

And the best way to live in the moment (I’m discovering) is to give thanks, for everything. Specifically. Audibly. Remember God’s blessings. Remember His faithfulness. Remember His grace.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a quote or two from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts:

“Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow.”

“Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.”

…………………..

When I really think about it, the life Jesus bought for us on the cross is STUNNING.

Week 13 Training: 5/14 – 5/20

23 May

It’s official!

I’m registered to run 26.2 miles in Anchorage on June 23. Gulp.

I have to be honest. As the reality of that distance sets in, I’m starting to wonder what made me want to run a marathon in the first place. Why again did I think that sounded like fun? But there’s no turning back now when almost all of the hard training is behind me! After my 20 mile run in 2 weeks, it’ll be taper time.

………………….

My runs this past week were slow but actually felt pretty good, which was a huge change (and blessing!) from last week.

Monday: 4.1 mile easy run (50:18; 12:16/mile)

Tuesday: 9 mile tempo run (1:45:30; 11:43/mile)

I ran the first 3.5 miles easy, the next 4.5 at goal marathon pace (11:30) or faster (whoops), and the last mile easy. Splits (courtesy of my Poor Man’s GPS):

1 – 12:13 (3:46 wu, 8:27 run)
2 – 12:28
3 – 12:03
3.5 – 5:47
4.5 – 11:03
5.5 – 11:30
6.25 – 8:56
7 – 8:16
8 – 11:11
9 – 12:00

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 4.13 mile easy run (48:50; 11:49/mile) + 60 minute CorePower 1 Yoga class

I cut my run short by one mile to make it back to yoga while my free week was still good. I went to a more traditional Vinyasa class this time. Here’s the description:

I enjoyed it. It was relaxing while still being challenging and our instructor, Linda Lou, was really nice and friendly. All the people there are so happy, they make me happy. When I was leaving, I noticed a pure barre sign on the building across the street. That’s what I want to try next.

Friday: Rest, walked an easy mile with husband and pooches

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 18 mile long run (3:47:36; 12:38/mile), walked the dogs for 15 minutes

Total Running Miles = 35.23

Only 2 weeks left and it’s taper time! (If you can’t tell, I’m really looking forward to that. I’m so behind on everything!)

I’m back baby.

13 May

Yesterday morning, I met my friend Cathy for coffee, which is always a great start to the day. Then, I timidly headed out on what I hoped would be a 12 mile run. Together with my successful 5 mile run on Thursday, my weekly mileage would be 17 – which I feel is decent for a week when legs wouldn’t cooperate.

It helped that yesterday was the perfect day for a run – 50 and overcast. It seemed to be on the verge of rain all day but it didn’t actually start until the late afternoon.

I got going on my run around 10:00. I decided to run a 3.7 mile loop with the pooches, then drop them off at the house and run the last 8.3 alone. Right away, I could tell a huge difference in how my legs felt from earlier in the week. They actually felt normal instead of running-through-mud exhausted! I was so thankful and the entire run, I kept reminding myself to be grateful for being able to run, regardless of pace.

I think my incredible soreness + exhaustion was partly caused by some tough long runs and by doing a long run at night – instead of moving around like I normally do after morning long runs, I went to bed and then sat around all the next day (camping). Probably didn’t help things.

To help prevent that from happening again, I ran yesterday’s run at a very easy, comfortable pace. Whenever my legs felt good and I was tempted to pick up the pace, I humbled my pride (I didn’t need to prove myself!) and ran slower. All that said, I still ended up averaging an 12 min/mile pace, which I am very pleased with. Not only do I know that I have it in me to run faster than that, I am running smart and not trying to prove myself during training. Whatever gets me to the start line sans injury and ready to tackle the 26.2 beast.

Splits:

I also discovered a fix to my feet blisters: bandaids and first aid tape.

Sorry for the nasty foot pic. That will be the last, I promise.

I put a bandaid on with the pad over the blister area, then taped them around once (the tape is clear). It wasn’t completely comfortable and I was aware of them the whole time I was running but it really wasn’t that bad and I didn’t have any painful blisters after my run (and the ones that are there from before didn’t get any worse). I consider it a success and will be doing this for my long runs from now on.

I wore my new Brooks for the first 3.7 miles of this run and definitely think that them bothering my calves earlier in the week was a fluke. The problem was my legs, not the shoes. I think I will really like these! But I’m going to break them in with lower mileage runs to get my legs used to them, just in case running 16 miles in them straight out of the box added to the legs fiasco.

Following my ideas for long run recovery, I also elevated my legs after both of my runs this week. I can’t say whether or not it helps but I can definitely feel the blood flowing so it must be doing something. I also drank a protein shake after my long run yesterday.

It was delicious but it has 44 g of sugar. Can’t say I’ll be buying it again – I’ll probably just stick with Athlete’s HoneyMilk or look into Muscle Milk.

………………………

Now that I’ve detailed all the ways I’m trying to be smart and giving my legs some help in staying rested and refreshed, I’ll tell you about how I trashed my legs by going to my first hot yoga class this afternoon.

One of my 2012 goals was to try hot/Bikram yoga and I had penciled it into my schedule to go today. I’ve seen a lot of Corepower Yoga locations around Denver and they seemed to be pretty much the only yoga studio near my house that offered hot yoga. So it was the logical place.

Conveniently, they also are offering a free week of yoga to newcomers so I got to take the class today for free! I would love to check out another class or two this week – we’ll see if it works out!

The class I went to was Hot Power Fusion. This is the description that they have online:

The woman who checked me in, Laura, was also the instructor and she was great. So friendly and happy. She explained all about hot yoga as I was filling out my information form and during the class, she encouraged us all to listen to our bodies and do whatever we were comfortable with. She also explained that since the room is heated to 100 degrees with 30% humidity (making it feel like 150 degrees), I might feel faint or light-headed. If I did, I could just rest, take a drink of water, and start again when I was ready.

I walked into the room and it was HOT. I laughed silently as the class started because Laura apologized for the room being on the cooler side. It was definitely hot enough for me. I was a little nervous about it before the class started because I don’t like saunas – it feels so hard to breathe.

Surprisingly, I got more used to the heat as we started moving. Pretty soon though, the sweat was pouring off me. My arms, legs, face, neck, hands – everything was just drenched by the time the class was over.

I enjoyed the class – there were a lot of “yogi” names for poses that I didn’t know. I call them by their layman’s terms, I guess. There were only a few times during the class that I was lost or confused about what Laura was asking us to do – though if I didn’t have a basic knowledge of yoga, I would’ve been lost. (If I had told Laura that it was my first time practicing – she did ask when I was registering – maybe she would’ve explained things more.)

Anyway, it was very enjoyable (and challenging!) and I definitely wouldn’t be opposed to doing hot yoga again. I do, however, think that the copious amounts of sweat that I had to mop off my body will deter me from making this my yoga class of choice. I mean, I don’t mind sweating during a workout but this was ridiculous. I had heard stories about how much you sweat, and now I know firsthand.

My body feels like jello now, which it always does after a good, hard yoga session. I’m just hoping that it doesn’t feel like jello tomorrow (or at least that my legs don’t!)

Do you enjoy hot yoga?

Back on the Workout Wagon.

27 Sep

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I run across this bridge almost every run I go on (they do allow bikes on the bridge, just not in the river).

Last night, I had been planning on doing yoga when I got home from work but since it was my only free night this week (tonight I have book study, tomorrow is care group and Thursday I fly to MN), I decided to do my “long run” of 5 miles.

It was low 80s and sunny but since it’s not humid out here in CO, it actually felt really nice outside. I took the pooches out for the first 1.5 miles, then dropped them at home, and ran another 3.5 (crossing the bridge above). My legs felt great – strong, stable. I felt like I was cruising! My first mile of the last 3.5 was at a 10:50 pace and I swear there was another 10:30 mile in there somewhere (according to my math-while-running) but my pace came out at 11:23/mile for the whole run (58:39 for 5.15 miles).

I have to admit, I was more than slightly disappointed. I think even shooting for an 11:00/mile pace for this half marathon relay is going to be a stretch. Has my 10:00/mile pace vanished forever? What once seemed slow now seems so fast that it’s out of reach. Hmph. I am not a fan of getting older. Hopefully once I start doing speed work again, my pace will pick back up.

But anyway, with the exception of my disappointing pace, it was actually an excellent run. So there’s that.

I think one of the reason I was so slow last year (consistently running 12:30-12:45 pace) was that I didn’t engage many of my leg muscles when running – like I wasn’t using muscle to propel myself forward but just inertia. Sometimes it seriously felt like I was running in place. Last night, I concentrated on using my muscles to push me forward, even when my legs got tired. It’s kind of hard to explain but you know how when you sprint, you kind of sink down into your legs and don’t do as much vertical movement? It’s like that, only not as intense. Anyway, it makes my legs feel stronger and less achy. My injury last year has made me very distrustful of my legs and knee joints. I just keep thinking that any run, the pain could return. I’m going to try really hard to not let that happen this year!

After my run, I vacuumed, washed laundry (still have to put it away), and did the dishes. We ate the Zesty Black Bean Chili from the crockpot for dinner. While the soup was delicious and I really liked the consistency of the wheat berries, man, that soup was spicy! The recipe called for a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – they definitely cranked up the heat. It was borderline too spicy for me but Travis really enjoyed it. I froze the rest of the soup, so that Travis will have something to eat over the weekend while I’m gone. (Because even though he can cook and grocery shop, he refuses to.)

This morning, I finally got up when my alarm went off at 5:30, instead of hitting the snooze or resetting it for a later time. I did 60 minutes of Yoga X (the video that made me so sore last week) and was pleasantly surprised that after 45 minutes of pretty intense Vinyasa yoga, they go into doing balance poses – which although still challenging, don’t make me sweat like a man. I think I could do all 90 minutes if I ever have the time. But don’t worry – I still got my butt kicked today. I am so pathetically inflexible right now! In future triathlon seasons, I must find a way to fit yoga into my routine. It sucks having to gain back all the flexibility I lost since April.

I was nervous about being incredibly sore again tomorrow, so after I showered, I put Biofreeze on the parts that had been sore before – my hamstrings and biceps. I got several free samples from races this summer but had yet to try it. Holy cow that stuff is intense! It felt like I had sat in the snow for 10 minutes, then gone into a hot tub. Not painful, just…well, for lack of a better word, freezing. I put my clothes on and it felt like the back of my pants and sleeves were wet. So weird. Luckily, the feeling went away after 25 minutes or so. We’ll see if it was worth it tomorrow morning!

On the docket for tonight:

  • Finish laundry
  • Make banana bread while Travis grills dinner (brats, potatoes, and zucchini)
  • Book study
  • Pack for MN
  • Clean bathrooms (if I have time/energy)

Sickness + Sore Muscles = Suck

23 Sep

Yesterday, after typing up my marathon training plan, I was all gung-ho to get back on the exercise horse. So I ran to the Rec (3.15 miles round trip) and did 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical while I was there. I kept an eye on my heart rate but I was so tired and sluggish that my problem wasn’t keeping my heart rate low enough, but getting it high enough. My run was at a 11:50/mile pace but it felt a lot slower.

I did the first 30 minutes of Yoga X (from P90X) on Tuesday morning and I am just now getting over the soreness. And it was weird soreness – the front of my biceps and my hamstrings. Weird. My arms were still so sore yesterday that they hurt while I was running. It always amazes me how the human body adapts to exercises. I can do an Olympic triathlon and hardly be sore at all but I do 30 measly minutes of yoga and I can barely walk. What’s up with that? Anyway, I also had high aspirations to do strength training last night but after 15 lunges on each leg, discovered that my legs were completely shot.

Then during the night, Charlie woke up at 3 am and started whining and banging around in her crate. I either have the world’s best hearing or have a mother’s sixth sense because I can hear Charlie over a fan and through a closed door. Grrrrr… I got up once and told her to stop whining. She kept doing it. Travis was moving around a little then so I asked him if he thought she had to poop and if I should let her out. He said “Maybe” and “Probably” and then very chivalrously offered to let her out himself. As he stumbled over to the closet to find some shorts and rummaged around for 30 seconds, I told him I might as well do it since I was already wide awake and was fully clothed. So he went back to bed.

Charlie did have to go. As I put her back in her crate and went back to bed, I thought about how our relationship with Katy is so different from ours with Charlie. Katy is very predictable and always has been. So if she pooped or puked inside the house, you knew there was something wrong – it was so out of character for her. But Charlie has seriously been (to use Winston Churchill’s description of Christopher Columbus that I learned in college) “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” We have not been able to figure her out. There is no predicting what she will or will not do.

But I feel like we’re making very slow progress with this. This morning, when I sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast, Charlie went over and sniffed at the laundry room door (the way they get outside). I let her out and she went and did her thing. Yay! She didn’t poop inside! Progress!

The downside of getting up to let her out was that I couldn’t get back to sleep for the life of me. I think I finally fell back asleep around 4:30. I don’t know why but when I go to bed, I don’t have any trouble falling asleep. But when I try to fall back asleep in the wee hours of the morning, I always have tons of thoughts running through my head – about work, what I’m going to wear, what I’m going to have for breakfast, if I should work out in the morning or wait until after work, what I’m going to bring for lunch, etc. This stuff does NOT need to be decided at 4 am!

"Yeah, I'm a lot of work."

Needless to say, working out this morning did not happen. I actually didn’t get up until 7:30! Katy started doing her low groaning thing in our bedroom around 6:30 because she wanted to be fed. So I got up, fed them, put Charlie back in her crate and went back to bed. But I just laid there, psyching myself out, paranoid that they were whining. Bah! So I got back up at 7, put them in the backyard (with Charlie on a cable so she couldn’t jump over the fence like she does all the time now), and went back to bed for another 30 minutes. Again, no sleep. Just too lazy to actually stay out of bed. I think I’m understanding my husband more these days…

And on top of everything, I woke up feeling more sick than I did yesterday. This cold is tougher to kick than I thought! So I guess I should ease off and do some more yoga and easy cardio.

I’m feeling very relieved that I only have to run 5 miles in the half marathon relay! And that today is Friday! Our weekend is pretty open so far – I’m having coffee with my friend Cathy tomorrow and then we’re having a “last of the summer” care group BBQ on Sunday afternoon. My only goal is to get our office cleaned up. That has been my dumping ground for the last 4 months and it shows!

Do you have any plans for the weekend?

Fashionistas Sweat Too…

26 Jul

Hi friends!  While Kathy’s away in Minnesota (which I am so excited about because it means I get to see her in person!), I am stopping by to say hi from B. in the Know.

Now, I am a huge fan of fashion.  Hence the whole writing about fashion daily.  But just because one enjoys fashion, does not mean giving up being active.  And with that, being active does not mean having to give up looking stylish.  We mustn’t be afraid of the sweat – that extra glow can add to the look.  Plus, doesn’t every fashionista want to stay healthy?!  Well, that means it is time to break a sweat.

I am personally a huge fan of yoga.  I like to include Sculpt (yoga with weights), Vinyasa, and then a little dance mixed in (have you tried Zumba yet? It is one of my favorite classes – an hour to shake your hips and dance?!  Yes, please).  It is a good combination that works well for my body since I do not have the world’s greatest knees (thank you stunting and tumbling…aka competitive cheerleading) for running, and let’s be completely honest – I’ve never loved to run.  It was not an instant discovery of what was best for me, but I am so glad that I kept looking for that form of working out that was great for me – because now I go because I want to be there, not out of obligation. I get the workout my body needs, but also leave feeling oddly rested and refueled because it is something I love.

One thing that has also been a bonus to doing yoga is discovering all of these wonderful yoga clothes – workout clothes that are cute – who knew?!  There is the obvious brand that sticks out (Lululemon), but my personal favorite would have to be Prana.  A couple other great places I always look for clothes are REI, Midwest Mountaineering (a local Minneapolis store), Victoria’s Secret (love their yoga pants – and they’re way better priced than some alternatives), Lucy, and even GAP.  I have found that having cute clothes to wear while working out helps me enjoy it more.  I used to do the whole baggy t-shirt look but it made me feel frumpy, and honestly, it got in the way of the poses.  So, slowly (which was important, in order to not blow the budget), I started weeding out t-shirts and replacing them with cute workout tops – and now, I would never go back.  The movement is easier, better, and all around more enjoyable.

Do you invest in any of your workout clothes?  What sport or activity do you like to do?  Is there a specific style for that?

Thanks for letting me say hi!  You’re welcome anytime over at my normal home!

Much love,

B

Photo credits 1, 2, & 3

The busyness of leisure.

7 Feb

When I first entertained thoughts of being unemployed or working part-time (which I am currently), I thought “Imagine all the free time I’ll have! I will be able to get so much accomplished, have full days of relaxation, and still have extra time to boot!”

Hmmm… not so much.

It appears that the more free time you have, the more things you find to fill up that time. All those things that you never think about doing because you “don’t have the time,” you end up doing because well, frankly, you do have the time. But add up enough of those things and your free days are gone.

That’s where I am right now. Some people don’t know what to do with themselves when they don’t have a job. I am not one of them. I have lists and lists of stuff I want to do and my only problem is that I don’t have the time to do it all.

So what have I been doing, you might ask?

Reading. Writing. Sleeping in – glorious! Reading. Coffee dates. Laundry. Dishes. Writing. Painting. Crafts. Reading. Cleaning. Cooking.

And my new favorite thing… Yoga.

I love yoga. Back in high school, I got turned on to Pilates. And since yoga is similar to Pilates, I bought a yoga video about 3 years ago. Then about a year ago, I went to a class at a yoga studio and it kicked my butt. I also learned that I had been doing some of the poses wrong. But yoga is expensive, the studio wasn’t very close, and the class schedule didn’t jive with a 9-to-5.

So imagine my joy when I discovered that the Wheat Ridge Rec Center is now offering yoga. It’s on Mondays and Thursdays in the morning/afternoon, the class is free with a Rec membership, and the Rec is only 3 minutes from my house. It works out well for me, since I work at the church on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Obviously, if/when I get a full-time job again, the yoga classes won’t work with my schedule but I’m really enjoying it right now!

The thing I love the most about yoga is that it gives me a feeling of taking care of my body. Instead of trying to push my body beyond its limits as in endurance sports, ignoring it when it tells me to stop, I learn to listen to my body, respond to it, and appreciate it. I’m not into the whole spiritual stuff like “Become one with yourself” or “Bring in the energy” but I do believe that God calls us to be good stewards of our bodies and yoga helps me do that.

I’m still planning on getting back into triathlon training starting in March but I hope to keep going to the yoga classes. They’re great for flexibility, calming me down, and I love getting stronger without lifting weights. It’s a win-win.