Downward Facing Ow

My wrists have been really bugging me lately, and in looking for a yoga practice that takes weight off my hands/wrists, I found this article about why downward facing dog is bad.

Disclaimer: I am not a yoga teacher, nor do I think that my yoga teachers are wrong.  I’m not critiquing them (or any of my past instructors) in any way, and I’m certainly not trying to tell them what to do.  I’m just saying that downward facing dog is my least favorite pose, and the one that I’ve never felt comfortable in. It ALWAYS makes me feel like my wrists are about to break and that circulation is getting cut off in my hands.  My increased upper body strength has helped me shift my weight during this pose, but some days DFD just doesn’t happen for me.  This article about why my wrists hurt during DFD helped me focus on a few things to begin correcting it, but spending more than a few moments each day in this pose is not something I look forward to.  (Which is funny, considering that pigeon pose is one of my favorite ways to open up.)

In a recent class focusing on healthy backs, I learned about the joy of getting hauled up by your hips using two straps, and the immediate relief of stress in my hands, wrists, and lower back was epic.  For a brief moment it reminded me of how someday I will do aerial yoga, but then I sunk back into the relaxation of my hands not hurting.
 
The thing with downward facing dog (DFD), sometimes called Adho Mukha Svanasana, sometimes called down dog, sometimes called ugh, is that there are many tiny adjustments you can make to build strength and gain comfort, but also to learn the pose better.  I can’t find the reference right now, but I once read that when you feel totally comfortable in DFD, you’re able to begin practicing it.

I want to have a better time in DFD – it’s a major part of a sequence for so many other enjoyable poses, and it makes me feel strong.  But man, it is ROUGH.  (I almost said ‘ruff’. You’re welcome.)

There’s an interesting comment on the article I mentioned earlier that has a type of checklist to prepare you for downward facing dog.  To summarize in what appears to be order of difficulty:
– Can you hold a forearm plank for 50 seconds?
– In pushup position, can you lift a hand from the floor without twisting or flexing your trunk?
– Can you do 3 pushups with your feet on a higher surface than your hands?
– While standing, can you lift a knee toward your belly without flexing your lower back?

 

So many poses, so little time.  I’m curious as to how others feel about this pose, and how they’ve adjusted their practice to accommodate or remove it.

Meanwhile, the animal kingdom continues to kick our butts.

Photo Credit: Ben Grantham/Thinkstock

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Thoughts on the State of Things

I skipped yoga class today to give my body a bit of a break.  My body was asking nicely but persistently, like a polite six-year-old wanting ice cream, so I took the path of least resistance and opted for a day off from the studio.

I’m instead spending the morning doing domestic things and sipping chamomile tea to calm my anxiety so that I can have coffee and remind myself of the difference between caffeinated energy and a panic attack.

My anxiety has been growing since I read an article about Donald Trump’s ghostwriter.  I don’t make a habit of reading the New York/er/Times/Post, but I started because of this astoundingly hipster marriage announcement that was just … a delight to read.  A true delight.  I am at a loss for words, but not at a loss for ALL the available side eye to provide to that couple.

But the article about the ghostwriter …it’s given me nightmares.  Actual nightmares.  I want to inform myself by looking up the platforms of both candidates, but I cannot do it.  I feel this awful loathing toward informing myself on The Real State of Things, because if I see something that I don’t like, I alone do not have the power to change it immediately.  For those of you who have an irrational fear of something like…checking voicemails, or your bank account, it’s that same feeling.

Everyone I’ve talked to, or read (their tweets / posts / etc) are in some state of mixed terror-ennui, with a healthy dose of WTF.  I thought about Pokemon Go (and its inane fun to collect small things that remind me of how much I loved Tamagotchi), and then thought about how people are disgruntled and saying it’s a distraction from what’s really going on.  I thought about #BLM and #ALM and how people of any color are just killing people for no reason other than hating the color of the other person’s skin.  I thought about how things like this have happened for so long but only recently (in the scope of humanity’s timeline) that it’s been so widely publicized.  I thought of how I may only hear the same sentiment because I – like so many others – am friends with, or follow, people with similar interests.  It makes sense in some scale: you don’t associate with people who are adamantly not like you, or against things that you enjoy.  Excuse the broad brush, but if you’re a recovering alcoholic, you aren’t going to hang with your college buddies that only play beer pong or do bar crawls.

I started wondering… how can we mix everyone’s ideas?  How can someone Uber-Right talk with someone Uber-Left, and keep it to an intelligent roar?   How can someone, trained from childhood that the right thing to do is kill someone with different religious beliefs, have a discussion with someone who has different religious beliefs?  How can someone of one color who hates someone of another color have a discussion about why they feel that way?  Not a fight, not a riot, a discussion.  I’m not saying change the beliefs, I’m saying let’s change the approach.  Ask questions.  Why do you feel like this?  It’s not everyone …who feels this way, against your beliefs.  I just want to help.  I just want it to not be so awful.

I thought about starting a thing of just talking to people with vastly different opinions of mine, with a goal of having a discussion.  It might change their perspective, it might change mine, but we’d both come away with different points of view.  We could agree to disagree, if we really couldn’t find anything in common.  I think I’m open to that.  If one person, for example, a person of one race that really hates people of another race, wanted to talk about why they felt that way, I’d be interested in talking with them as long as they attempted to have a discussion and not a shouting match.  One by one.  We can do this.

I thought of the lifestyle changes I’ve made recently and how they’ve helped me, and then I read an article about how wellness and self-care are bullshit to help us not pay attention to large-scale issues.  Which might be true, and which did not a single bit of good for my anxiety, but I’m trying to think of it this way:  I know how I feel when I take time for myself, and that INCLUDES reading cheesy motivational stuff.  I tell people about it because I feel great, and I want them to experience the same feelings.  And I know how I felt before, which was not great.  My new positive-ish outlook then gives me more energy and more motivation to help others, and if I can put just ONE person in a positive mood, maybe they’ll help or motivate someone else.  Maybe that ONE person will be nicer, and someone else will notice.  Maybe someone will be in a good enough mood to discuss tough issues and change someone else’s ideas on bad things.  It might start a chain.  It might not, but you never know.  All I know for certain is how I feel.

Here, have some background music.  And hopefully a good day.

 

 

 

Oh Five Hundred

It’s o-dark-thirty, I have my morning tea, and the cats are pleading for my attention.

Today’s 0600 yoga class is one of my favorites, and so despite very little sleep last night (due to terrifying thoughts of The Election, which is akin to thinking cantsleepclownswilleatme in terms of lulling yourself to dreamland), I find myself up at 0500.  I think I may have actually created… a habit?

It seems completely wrong to be doing anything else right now other than getting ready for class, though when my brain discovers (halfway through some forearm work) that we are no longer in bed, I’m sure things will feel much less pleasant.

Here’s my current background noise.  Call me Stuart Smalley.

 

Mostly Harmless

I skipped yoga class this past Sunday and Monday in favor of nurturing my muscles – apparently my hammies didn’t get the notice about my new schedule – and caught up on some domestic items. There is this growing inner guilt about skipping a day at the studio, because if I’m not going every day then clearly I am not trying hard enough, but there’s a fine line between hobby and obsession.

Part of my therapy is remembering, actively, the differences between “need to do” and “want to do”. Do you need to go to the studio every day? No. Do you want to do yoga every day? Yes. Do you need to? No. But there’s no reason a day of meditation can’t be found throughout cleaning your home and grocery shopping. (Thank you, Apartment Therapy and Pinterest.) Add in a few conscious stretches and it’ll be okay. You don’t need to watch a half-hour long video. You don’t need to do a 28-day challenge.  Moving furniture around and vacuuming will certainly burn off some calories, as will taking a walk. (This is not where we talk about Pokemon Go.) Lighter days like that will also probably help that deep-seated ache in your glutes, which was self-inflicted by taking a 2-hour bheemashakti class on Monday, then a 1-hour vinyasa level 1-2 class on Tuesday, followed a few hours later by a 75-minute healing class. So, that’s my gentle reminder to myself to take it a little easy today, so that I don’t spend the rest of this week in a sedentary fashion.

Speaking of vinyasa, I finally got to take a class from Miss Heather Stants, whom I’ve always found to be inspiring. Considering how long she’s been in the dance-and-bodywork game, it wasn’t surprising to find that she’s a good yoga teacher as well.

I am even enjoying – yes, really and truly enjoying – the 6AM start time. For real.

But the reason for this post today is because COCONUTS.

Oil, water, chopped, shredded, om nom nom.

I hate the taste (mouthfeel? texture?) of coconut in solid form, but I love the smell. And then I discovered Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil.

This was after using what I did not realise was inferior refined oil from Vons.  The oil was inferior because I say so, but also because I’ve done research that I am too lazy to link back to right this moment.. A bit further along there came a day I was out on Errands and got thirsty, as you do. Stopped by Trader Joe’s for a little produce and noticed Harmless Coconut Water.

The coconut water was cold, delicious, and …pink. So I did some research and after several tests, ice-cold Harmless Harvest is my favorite and makes me feel the best.

In closing, a non-haiku:

I tried it, it was delicious, I was hooked
Then found out about Dr. Bronner’s
Now it is in all the things
Please try it
Because yum.

That’s all. Have a nice day.

Let Us Take A Moment To Raise Our Glasses

Hi!  Hey, how’s it going?  Good?  Great.  I’d like to take a moment to talk about something fun (to switch it up), and do a shout-out.  A birthday shoutout, even.  You see, my friend has deactivated her Facebook BUT I’m still going to write a post and then link it on my Facebook because there are quite a few of our mutual friends there, and I still want to share the love with the Internets.  🙂

ANYWAY.  Story time!

Once upon a time there was this girl who liked to dance.  She was like…five, or some such crap.  [Look, it’s what you do in PA. You go to dance class. You wear the feathers.]

That girl’s name was Maria.

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I too enjoy dancing (and had to wear an equally horrendous spangled outfit), but that’s not why we met.  We met because we grew up in a town of like sixty people, and our moms went to high school together.  (This is not a Your Mom joke, so shut up.)  Anyway, we met when we were in ….first grade, I think.  I distinctly recall being in sixth grade together but it gets kind of fuzzy then and I’m about three feet tall in the photo below so let’s just call it first grade.

We met, and she was awesome, and we went to places like Sea World together.

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We did other stuff together that kids do.  Painting and such.  Here we are being very serious about painting pumpkins.  The focus! The intensity! The …..fashion.  Don’t fight the fashion. Don’t act like you don’t want both a jean jacket and an Aliquippa sweatshirt because you know you do.

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So, me and this Maria chick got along pretty well.  We went on a crapload of adventures. Some of them involved stuff like pony riding and being very serious about petting zoos.


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I didn’t enjoy all the parts of the petting zoo, but it was still pretty fun.

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Time passed, grades passed, and oh yeah we were in the same homeroom for all four years of high school (not to mention we were in the BEST homeroom).  I’m third from the left and she’s second from the right, and again, please pay attention to ALL the glorious 90’s attire.

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School continued, and we kept going on adventures – we went to Cedar Point! We got sunburned! It was awesome! We all wore scrunchies and some of us opted to look like a crackhead in the photos.

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We graduated in 1999, because that was a great year, and I’d also like to take a moment to send love to my other ’99 Band Crew.  🙂

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Maria and I kept in touch, and time passed.

Fast forward to when she came out to San Diego to visit me (in 2006ish?).  I introduced her to a friend of mine, and then a couple years later introduced her to another friend of mine who would be taking their engagement photos.

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Her wedding was at the Bellagio in Vegas in 2009, and it was awesome.  I did the wedding makeup for her and her maid of honor – not like they even needed any, but it’s a weddin’. You get dolled up. 🙂

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The event was amazing.

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We partied a whole freaking lot.
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All of us partied, even Jason.

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More time passed, and she got all glammed up and came to my wedding in 2011.

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She’s always super classy, in case you didn’t know.

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We generally are always really freaking fabulous, also in case you didn’t know.

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Her mom made little candies as favors for my wedding, which was both thoughtful and delicious.

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We still have adventures!  She partied with me in Phoenix, one of my favorite cities during the months of November to February, and introduced me to a whole crew of people who (like her) are extra fabulous.

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So, the short version is that this chick is SUPER EPIC ULTRA MEGA FANTASTIC, and I am happy that we are still friends, and need the whole internet to wish her a happy birthday.  We may not have a ton of photos together, but that’s because it’s hard to take them and be in them at the same time.  😉

Happy birthday to one of my favorite yinzers.  Here’s to many more shenanigans, you crazy broad.  Muahahaha!

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time For Titles

Every time I clean the house, I want to tell the internet.  HEY!  Hey, my house is clean! Okay, it’s not pristine but… but I’ve done things.  Adult things.  It’s cool.

Last night I reactivated my Pinterest account, and that was kind of fun.  Everybody likes bookmarking, right?  This gives you pictures as well.  That’s nice.  Browsing boards and updating my own stuff got me remembering how much I enjoy healthy eating (veggies om nom nom), so looking through the pictures inspired me to make a big list of groceries to buy.

Today I went and bought the groceries, am working on meal plans for the week (because you can’t eat good food if you don’t buy it first), cleaned the kitchen (!!!), reorganized the utility area by the washer-dryer (!!!!!!!!!!), updated the cats’ litter area (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and put things in the shed (NO PUNCTUATION AVAILABLE).  [FYI, I am terrified of our shed.]

Uh, then I actually put all my groceries away, threw out the old crap in the fridge, cleaned off my desk, and am now getting ready to crochet another cup cozy for J’s coworker.

Woot, I crocheted it! Crotch-et-ed. That’s how we pronounce it because we’re classy. Heyyy it’s a thing I made and it’s functional. Aw yeah.

We don’t have a pantry but I’m planning on reorganizing our storage areas (which are um, not really much of any storage areas).  On top of the fridge, in the hutch, one big drawer, and the shelves on the microwave stand.  I guess that will help me keep on top of what’s available to make and also make it easier to make.

That might not have made sense, but whatever.

In other news, I’m trying to cope with the mental madhouse my brain has become. It feels like lots of little birds are trying to build nests, take flight, and kill each other. And they’re all telling me how awful I am.  I’m not coping really well with all the stress lately.

Anyway, at least my kitchen is clean.

NO SERIOUSLY CATS WHY ARE YOU PLAYING IN THE LITTER KNOCK IT OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have a great night.