Cramming for Fitness

Once again, I find myself cramming for my upcoming fitness events!

After laying low and not doing too much in the line of running or yoga for the past month or so I have signed up for a bunch of events in March.  On Sunday, March 2 I am participating in my 3rd annual Yoga Mala — 3 hours, 108 sun salutations, basically a yoga marathon!  Thn on Friday, Mar 5 I signed up for my yoga studio’s Rock of Ages Groove class.  An hour an a half class to the music of Def Leopard, AC/DC — you name it!  Also in March, I have two 5K races one on March 8 and the other on March 29 as part of the Smuttynose, Will Run for Beer series.  These should be doable on my minimal training as they are only 3.1 miles.  And lastly on March 16 is the annual St. Paddy’s Day 5 miler.  Last year this was a tough race for me as once again I hadn’t been training through the winter!  (You would think I’d learn).

So what have I done to train?  Besides shoveling?  Well I have been eating well and I do get enough sleep, but as far as fitness…

Thus far in February, I’ve been skiing, I’ve run 3-4 miles once each week (4x so far this month), and I’ve been to 2 yoga classes this week and I plan to make 2-3 more before the yoga mala.

I ran a very messy 4 miles on Thursday and hope to run tomorrow and at least once or twice during the upcoming week, and then again once or twice the week prior to the first 5K

As you can see, I’m not too hard on myself!  I should really write a post on how NOT to train.  Wish me luck!

Back Bends

An important part of yoga is the back-bend.  It can be a bit scary at first bending back wards as we don’t often put our body in this position in our day to day activities.  There are a lot of back-bending yoga poses: standing back-bends, bridge, sphinx, cat, upward facing dog, bow pose, cobra just to name a few.   See some photos here

In class when it comes time to do a back-bend can you sense your anxiety rising?   These are positions that we avoid in our daily lives, and so they feel unnatural and even somewhat scary.  Back-bends are important to counteract our typical daily movements — sitting at a table, working at a desk, hunching over a laptop, slouching on the couch, even driving!

All that forward bending stretches and weakens our back muscles and compresses the front of the spinal vertebrae leading to poor posture which can cause back and neck pain, constrict the heart muscle and other vital organs and even lead to negative self esteem and moods.  For more information see this article and this one.

 

Back-bending has many benefits, “they energize, refresh and invigorate the body- opening the chest, encouraging inhalation, an action associated with embracing life” (yoga.net), and “they are poses that open the heart chakra, build courage and stamina, and give us the sort of energy that propels us to reach out toward others.” (Yoga Journal).

So next time you are in yoga class, embrace the back-bend for your physical and emotional well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Back to It!

After a bit of an exercise hiatus, I am getting back on track with getting to yoga, the gym and out for a run at least once each per week.   Not that once a week is good, but combined exercising 3x a week is OK.  I prefer to do something 4-5 times a week, but at least I’m moving in the right direction!

This morning the weather was unseasonably warm and I went out for a short (3 mile) run.  It felt great.  I have found that while it is tough to get up, get dressed and get out the door, once I start running I really do enjoy it!  And afterwards I am very, very glad I went!  The same holds true for yoga and weight training too.  The hardest part is getting out the door!

 

Things that keep me going are to remember why I exercise:running infographic

  • I exercise for my overall health
  • I exercise to keep my bones strong
  • I exercise to keep my heart strong
  • I exercise to prevent disease
  • Exercise makes me happy (maybe it’s the endorphins)
  • I exercise to shape my body
  • And yes, I exercise so I can eat a lot and still maintain my weight

I find it motivational to remember that:

I never regret when I make time for exercise, but I always regret when I don’t!

And I find that keeping an exercise log helps motivate me to stay on track.  The actual recording of my workouts keeps me accountable, even if it is only to myself!

Yoga, Splits and Love

This summer, I was in such a nice routine getting to yoga classes 3 times a week.  Then September rolled around and I got very, very busy.  Busy with work and busy with family.  So naturally (and unfortunately),  I ended up not going to yoga regularly.  I  went from 3 times a week,  down to once a week, then weeks and weeks of not going at all!  And, here’s a big surprise, I was feeling so stressed and pressed for time than I was even  having trouble sleeping.  When I truly needed yoga, I wasn’t going!  (It really is bad when you know what you should do and don’t do it)

So, today I made time to get myself to the yoga studio.  I was a little apprehensive as it had been a good six weeks since my last class.  I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to keep my mind focused, wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my breathing and wouldn’t be able to get into all the poses.

Well the class started and the instructor started by talking about fear!  She said, we all come to class with fears, and fears about poses.  She shared her fear of Hanumanasana — Splits Pose.  She told us the meaning behind the pose; the legend of Hanuman

HP_212_Hanumanasana_248

The story is about Hanuman, the monkey son of the wind.  His best and most devoted friend King Ram had a beautiful wife, Sita.  King Ram and Sita were deeply in love.  One day a demon kidnapped Sita.  Ram asked Hanuman to rescue Sida.  Hanuman discovered that Sida was being held on the island of Lanka and  leaped from India to Lanka, one foot stretched out in front of him and the other behind (splits).

Our instructor concluded that it was Hanuman’s desire to do the impossible out of his love for Ram and Sita that enabled him to leap across the ocean.  Out of love, he took a leap of faith.  She went on to say that we can overcome our fear by taking a leap of faith out of love.

I thought that was a wonderful message and I went on to have a very good class.  I always find it amazing that whenever I go to yoga I receive a message that is perfect for where I am in my life.  Here’s to a leap of faith!

Have you tried Bikram Yoga?

Following is a guest post written by Kelsey Duke (my daughter) who is a Bikram yoga proponent.  Her experience makes me strongly consider going back to Bikram yoga!

I find myself in the hot room for the first time in over six months, after half a year of inconsistent workouts and trips to the gym. I recently started a new job that requires long hours, happy hours, and fancy dinners that drag on for hours. When I walk in, the heat hits me as soon as I walk in but my brain has been here before, instantly it seeks to shut off the panic mechanism, “you’re okay, this is what you need.”

I lay my mat down strategically in the middle of the room since I’m not new but I’m not entirely ready for this. When class begins with breathing exercises I notice that my breath has become more shallow, my stomach looser and my knees wobbly. “Oh no,” I think to myself. Then “just breathe, you made it to class just do what you can,” a mantra echoed by the yoga teacher.

backbend_lorenza

Then an amazing thing happens, muscle memory. My postures come back, with more balance than before and almost the same depth. My mind is already trained to focus on breathing, listen to the teacher’s constant stream of instruction, and focus my attention and thus all my energy on myself.

When I started this class I thought it would be a good supplement to my workouts, a nice stretch, another way to burn calories. But as I leave with my wet towel and heavy mat, I’m reminded why I need to practice Bikram Yoga more. My mind is clear, my face is radiant, my energy is new and positive thoughts come easily.

For the first time in months my entire being is calm. The worrisome cycle of thoughts, the restless legs, the rash decisions are gone, replaced with a natural, easy peace. “This is why I love it,” I think to myself, “this is how I come to know peace.”