March Yoga Experience: Day 2

Keepin’ this post short and sweet as I am tired tonight. In fact, I have been tired for a while.

Animal Medicine Card
Frog (Cleansing)

Breakfast
Starbucks Grande Soy Misto, 1 C. strawberries, and a Fruit and Nut KIND bar

Lunch
Salad with grilled chicken and guacamole

Snack
9 cashews; banana with 1 T. of Heinen’s natural unsalted peanut butter; strawberries

Dinner
Grilled burger pattie; Guacamole made with avocados, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, jalepeno, salt & pepper; Orange La Croix.

Morning Chat
How does my stomach feel – settled, upset, gaseous, calm? Consider and note what I ate in the past 24 hours.
I felt better this morning for sure, but I did notice a lot of gurgling when I went to bed last night. Maybe all the spices and garlic?

How does my body feel, in particular my head (clear, heavy, agitated)? What is my energy level like?
I am still tired–I did get close to 8 hours of sleep, but I have been waking up in the middle of the night, so it’s not that solid 8 hours. I definitely felt Tammy’s class–hello, hips!

Evening Chat
What was my energy level like today?
My energy felt good today. Another busy day, so that tends to zap it. When I got to Tammy’s class, I just wanted to stay in savasana, but I found the strength to practice, and I am glad I did.

Did I eat anything that produced unfavorable results or favorable ones?
I felt hungry this afternoon–I don’t think my breakfast did a good job of keeping me full. I am going to have oats tomorrow and see how I feel.

Overall – how do I FEEL?
Excited…and tired. I keep coming back to this feeling. I get home from yoga, eat dinner, and then feel ready for bed.

So, I am going to listen to my body and get some sleep. No reading tonight, just head to pillow and hopefully a good night’s rest.

March Yoga Experience: Day 1

“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.”–Anonymous

I’m participating in the 21-day yoga Experience at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio (IB) again—I think this is my fourth or fifth time doing it now. Every time I do it, I learn more about myself, my habits and my yoga practice. I am so excited to see what this journey will be about.

I think my body has been craving this lifestlye of eating whole foods, no alcohol, sugar or dairy, lots of water, and practicing yoga 5 days a week. It makes me think: This is how I should live all the time. I always feel amazing after I eat whole foods. My yoga practice is taken to the next level (I often feel so light that I can “fly” into positions). And overall, I feel like I am a better person to everyone around me.

I want to say that this time will be different. That this time, I will actually stay with this way of living. But that’s too many expectations. So I am going to take it one day at a time, and write about my journey as it unfolds. As Morgan, one of the lovely ladies at IB who checks you in for class, said to me, “You are so beautifully human.” So I will be human, and beautifully so.

With that said, I am going to do my best to share what I eat and my answers to the daily journal questions that Tammy provided. I am also going to note the Animal Medicine card that I pulled during my meditation:

Animal Medicine Card
Hummingbird (Joy)

Breakfast
Apple and 2 T. of Heinen’s natural unsalted peanut butter

Lunch
Salad with lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, sunflower seeds, grilled chicken, olive oil and vinegar

Snack
7 almonds and 7 cashews

Dinner
Grilled chicken breast marinated in lime, garlic, cilantro and cumin; Guacamole made with avocados, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt & pepper; half a red pepper; Berry La Croix.

Morning Chat
How does my stomach feel – settled, upset, gaseous, calm? Consider and note what I ate in the past 24 hours.
I felt heavy and tired even though I had 8 hours of sleep. It was definitely the burger and beer I had at brunch yesterday at the Tap House—when I was eating it, it was soooo good, but then I felt sick for the rest of the evening and even into the next morning. Final answer: Not worth it.

How does my body feel, in particular my head (clear, heavy, agitated)? What is my energy level like?
I definitely had low energy and felt weighted down. I was also a bit tender–in a good way–from Lanie’s class on Saturday.

Evening Chat
What was my energy level like today?
My energy definitely got better as I drank more water. I had a busy day at work, but the light salad at lunch gave me the energy to keep going all afternoon.

Did I eat anything that produced unfavorable results or favorable ones?
I think I may have eaten too much at dinner. I had a later lunch, then yoga, then stopped at the store, so by the time I got home, I was really hungry. I had a few nuts, but then ate a big chicken breast and some guac and peppers. Now, I feel sleepy and full as I ate late, too.

Overall – how do I FEEL?
Tammy’s class really rung things out (super hot and sweaty!) and overall I already feel better–perhaps it’s all in my head at this point because I know where this is going. I think it’s time to slow down a bit and enjoy each moment.

I am off to bed to read Max Strom’s book A Life Worth Breathing, which is the perfect book to read right now because it’s all about becoming the person you want to be, the person you are meant to be.

December Yoga Experience: Day 18

If I’m losing balance in a pose, I stretch higher and God reaches down to steady me.  It works every time, and not just in yoga.  ~Terri Guillemets

Balance is a tricky thing. I have to be so aware of myself–from my toes to my nose–to balance well. But once I am energized on all points, I feel like I could balance forever.

The key to balance for me is realizing the yin and yang. As I ground myself in my stance, I must also reach up so the energy has a place to flow. Once I feel really grounded in a pose like half moon, I can feel the lightness in my body, and at times I am able to lift my hand away from the ground and place it on my heart. I absolutely love doing this because I feel so blessed.

Mentally, balance is harmony with my thoughts. If I am trying to lift my leg to the sky, but I’m thinking about what’s for dinner, I usually wobble a bit. The more focused I am on balancing all parts of myself, the more centered and stable I feel.

I will continue to practice balancing, and the teachers at Inner Bliss we’ll see to it, too!


December Yoga Experience: Day 17

When asked what gift he wanted for his birthday, the yogi replied:  “I wish no gifts, only presence.”  ~Author Unknown

How often are you really aware of how present you are? Usually, I am doing two things and thinking about another 50! But when I come to yoga, I just focus on what I am doing in the moment–I try to not get ahead of myself, too, and just feel each moment.

What I love about practicing yoga is that I get so many opportunities to really focus. Some classes I choose to focus on my foundation or my breath, and other times it’s all about opening and creating space. Each time, I try to bring what I have learned from the last practice and grow from that place.

As the quote says, being present is truly a gift. For me, yoga is a present to myself to slow down, unwind, and breathe. It helps me stay focused when I am in half moon, and when I leave the studio, I am more aware and more in tune with the world around me.


December Yoga Experience: Day 16

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.  ~B.K.S. Iyengar

After more than two solid weeks of doing yoga every day, I am really noticing changes in both my body and mind. My body remembers the poses, so I flow easily from one to the next. My mind is better at noticing the thoughts that creep in, and just letting them go.

I have realized that I have an inner strength that I can tap into, and I want to do that beyond the yoga mat. I have learned so many lessons on my mat, and all translate to practices off the mat.

If I can change it, I will; if I can’t, I will just breathe.

December Yoga Experience: Day 15

Tonight, my friend Angelina and I went to Kimberly’s class at Inner Bliss. The studio was buzzing with conversations–a good sign of the friendly atmosphere and shared passions. Kimberly had us begin on our stomachs and asked us to quiet the chatter in our minds. I really enjoy taking some time to meditate before beginning movement. It’s a nice way to transition from the outside world to the inside.

As we flowed, I started to notice the difference in my body. After doing many of the same poses for two weeks, they started to feel easier, stronger, lighter, and brighter. Then, we came into Goddess pose. Ouch! Hips, screaming. Knees, begging. Heart, struggling to see the light. I wanted to back out but I stayed in it, and as we stretched up, folded down and came back into Goddess again, it didn’t feel as bad. And by the third time, it started to feel good. It’s all about the journey…

When Kimberly suggested we move into Frog pose, Angelina and I laughed. I was just telling her how I practiced Frog earlier and it took every ounce of energy to pull myself out of that pose. I am learning to love this pose that takes all my breath and all my inner strength because once I come out of it, my hips feel like they could do the hula!

As tight as my hips may be, I realized tonight that they didn’t get like that overnight, so I can’t expect it to go away after one, two or even 15 yoga classes. But at least I have started the process to slowly melt the stickyness away, one breath at a time.

#funnythingsmyhusbandsays

My husband is a funny man. So much so that I have thought about starting the Twitter hash tag #funnythingsmyhusbandsays to share his one-liners with the rest of the world.

Here’s an example:

My 6’2″ husband gives me (5’4″) a hug and says, “Did you stand on your head?”

Me: Yes. I did a headstand today at yoga. Why do you ask?

Him: Your hair smells like floor.

Me: (Laughing) Does it smell like…rubber?

Him: Yes!

Me: Yeah, that’s from the yoga mat.

I would Tweet this as: Your hair smells like floor. #funnythingsmyhusbandsays

For more hilarity, follow me on Twitter @JessicaMcKeown

December Yoga Experience: Day 14

The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there.  ~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

In practice tonight, Tammy asked us to plant a seed inside of us. We would then cultivate it and watch it grow. My seed was to love and accept myself exactly as I am. Seems like an easy thing for some, but for me, it’s a struggle. Though people tell me I am pretty, even beautiful, I don’t see it. Or rather, I can’t see past so many “ugly” things.

I want to create a positive environment to grow my seed, so out with the negative thoughts. I want to love myself in every yoga pose, in every breath, in every thing I do. I kept coming back to this thought as I flowed from pose to pose, riding the breath like it was the only thing I knew.

Sweat dripped down my forehead as the heat I created inside warmed me up.  My body felt supple and open like never before. I really enjoy the hot classes at Inner Bliss—especially in the winter—because you don’t get many opportunities to really sweat it out.

At the end of class, I had definitely tilled the soil and planted my seed. What a great way to celebrate my two week mark of doing yoga every day. If I can commit to that, I can commit to growing a garden filled with beauty and love.

December Yoga Experience: Day 13

“Fall with awareness and acceptance.” ~ Brian Kest

I braced myself against the cold wind as I walked from my car to the warm Inner Bliss studio. My boots chilled out with the other pairs on the gray mat; my puffy jacket snuggled in to the coat rack. *Sigh* I made it. One of the most wonderful feelings is arriving for yoga.

Now it was time to arrive on the mat. Tammy began her 5:45 class with a nice breathing meditation, which was a great opportunity to go from “unconscious breathing to conscious breathing.” I inhaled for a count of four then exhaled for a count of four, sitting in both the fullness and emptiness. I love feeling “full,” and I notice how I can sneak in just a little more breath; the emptiness, though, is not as pleasant. I am squeezing out the air, there’s a feeling of wanting to inhale, and impatience to get there. I notice this. I see the emptiness for what it is–not good, not bad, just empty.

As we filled ourselves up with warmth, we began to flow beautifully. My fellow yogis were so grounded, solid, and anchored in practice today, even though some of us fell. I toppled left, then right in half moon–swinging my hips open to quickly sent me over. In another pose, I tried too hard to hold one leg up just…a…bit…higher, and I lost my form and, eventually, my balance. And in all of this falling, where was the breath?:)

The breath was definitely with me in pigeon, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s essential for me to focus on the breath in this pose or I will lose. my. mind. The sensations start immediately, and they only grow stronger. The ego talks of escape, the leg begs for freedom, and the tears well up. We took it a step further today: Pigeon on the left side with the left arm and ear down and the right arm stretched up and away and eventually curved down the back to open the shoulder. Try this, and you will feel it right on the side of your left thigh. My body didn’t even know how to react to this; it wanted to cry. Pigeon, I will learn to love you.

After class, I asked Tammy for some assistance with the expanded dancer pose. When I do it, my balancing arm shakes, my shoulder doesn’t want to open, my hips sink, and my feet struggle to offer support. I entered the pose, and Tammy put her hand on my upper back, and said to lift from here. Ahhhh, now I get it. Something for me to try next time.

It feels good to write this post right after the yoga class, too. It’s nice to write my thoughts down and soak up all that this practice has done for me. I am pleased with myself that I have practiced yoga for 13 days in a row, and I am starting to see that practice only leads to more practice. 🙂

December Yoga Experience: Day 12

Corpse pose restores life.  Dead parts of your being fall away, the ghosts are released.  ~Terri Guillemets

I set an alarm this morning to make sure I was up for a morning yoga class. 🙂 Outside, the rain melted the newly fallen snow. Inside, I set the intention for my yoga practice to just melt it all away today. Just let it go, release it into the earth.

Kimberly’s Sunday 11:15 a.m. class is like heaven on earth. She takes you on a journey of self discovery that leaves you feeling light and ready to face the world. And Lori offered her assistance–her hands are like magic. One adjustment from her, and you feel the full expression of the pose…your body wants to linger there and soak it all up.

We flowed into pigeon today, and I felt the resistance immediately, but also the willingness to soften right away. It takes me a few breaths to get into a pose, and I am ok with that because I am being kind to myself, the most wonderful feeling of all. When we revisited the pose later one, I noticed that I could go into the pose a lot easier, settle in, and just breathe. I am in so much discomfort in that pose that the only thing that gets me through it is the breath. Once I break past that plane of “can’t take it,” everything just sinks down, the ego stops, the breath wins out.

We had an extra long rest today, which I appreciated. I was so relaxed that it became difficult to move at all, even if I tried. So many things floated away, on the breath, the breath…