My 40 Days – Week 5

Look alive in week 5! Week 5 went pretty well…here are the stats:

5 (yoga) – got my 5 practices in with no doubles!
4 (runs) – only ran 3 times this week, but some pretty solid, hours of mulching done too!
3 (fruits and veg) – check!
2 (writing for 20 minutes daily) – just one time, but I did write for a lot longer on this particular project – probably more like 90 minutes to an hour so I think that counts!
1 (daily reflection) – check!
0 (no nut butters) – yep, still not butter free…no problem!

So with only 5 days left of my 40 days I’m thinking about my next project. I did sign up to run the 10K at the Cleveland Marathon in a couple of weeks so that should be fun. I also signed up for the Peace Marathon (through Jenny Hadfield) which is totally awesome!!! You still have time to do it! All you need to do is walk, run or crawl 26.2 miles by the end of May. It can be a full marathon, a half or broken up into small pieces (that’s what I’m doing!). All proceeds go to help children affected by the Boston bombings. Very cool. Check it out and register here!!!! It is only $15 (if you don’t want the hat – which I did, of course!!). Such a great cause, fun and motivational to get you out and moving, right!!! A win/win for sure!! Now to find a half marathon to register for this summer or fall…

My 40 Days – Week 4

Okay, so totally catching up tonight!! Here are my stats for my week 4 of my 40 days:

5 (yoga) – I practiced 5 times this week! One counts as double since it was a 90 minute class!
4 (runs) – I ran 4 times…yahoo!
3 (fruits and veggies) – Yes, still had either a fruit or veggie with every meal. This has proven pretty easy once I added it to my breakfast!
2 (writing for 20 minutes) – I only did it for 3 times this week. This has proven to be a struggle area for me, especially since the weather has gotten nicer!
1 (reading reflection daily) – Yep, that is covered! I do it when I am brushing my teeth or drying my hair in the morning.
0 (no nut butters) – Yep, I’m still nut butter free! Every now and then it sounds good, but it feels good not to have a craving for it anymore!

All in all, it was a pretty good week again!

40 Days – Week 3

Well, I completed week 3 of my 40 days yesterday with an awesome restorative yoga class! It is so relaxing and rejuvenating…it is a like a 60 minute vacation for the body and the mind! If you have never done it, I highly recommend it! I have learned that rest days are really important in terms of letting your body get caught up with itself. Some days I have done yoga and running on the same day which feels good, but it is nice to pair that with a rest/restorative day. This was a pretty good week all around. Here are the stats:

5 (yoga) – I did practice 5 times, counting Amy’s Sat class twice again. I also took a Barre class one time which is not yoga, but not running either – it is hard to categorize it, but it is a good strength building workout!
4 (run) – I ran three times this week
3 (fruits and veggies) – check!
2 (20 minutes of writing a day) – I wrote 4 out of the 7 times this week so that was okay
1 (reflection) – I read my reflections daily
0 – still no nut butters – for 21 days!

I’m halfway to 40 days! I don’t necessarily feel any different, but I am more aware of eating better and trying to get all my activity in. I’ve been thinking about my next goal and thinking about registering for a half sometime this summer/fall. I realized today that the Akron Marathon is the same weekend of Homecoming this year so that won’t work. Crud. I could do Columbus or maybe the Towpath half. We shall see. I will do a little more looking and thinking before registering for one. Anyone want to run/train with me?!

40 Days Week 2

So I’m almost done with my 3rd week of my 40 day journey and I’m just getting around to blog about week 2! I guess that tells you how well I’m doing with my writing component, huh? Actually it has not been that bad. I’ve been writing here and there and in the spirit of not being perfect, here is my report on week 2!

5 (yoga) – I did get 5 practices in for this week! I count Amy’s Saturday class as two because it is crazy hard and awesome!
4 (runs) – I only ran twice this week, BUT I did try the barre class for the first time and so that counts for something! It was really different, fun and a great workout! I’ll definitely go again!
3 (fruits and veggies) – It has been relatively easy to get these in three times a day or more.
2 (writing 20 min) – I wrote 5 out of 7 days which is pretty good for me I’d say!
1 (reflection once a day) – I did this definitely. It helps to have the reflections up right next to my toothbrush!
But best of all – still no nut butters of any kind! I don’t miss it too much…just every now and then!

Onward on!

Raising the Barre!

So I finally went to my first Barre class at Yoga Lounge yesterday morning. I was a bit timid to try it thinking that I am not a dancer in any way, shape or form and a bit intimidated about the bars and mirrors and everything. Also, I was resistant to thinking about that beautiful space as anything other than for yoga, as it has become such a sacred and special place for me for yoga. However, I am all about trying something new so I just went for it and went to the 6am class. Hey, it was a Friday, how bad could it be? Little did I know then that it would be the best part of my day yesterday – but that is another story!

So I walked in, and my friend Karie, kindly explained to me how to set up the space. There was lots of equipment involved – ugh…not happy about that. Not only was it 6am, but now I had to grab equipment and set up my space properly with a yoga mat, slide board, another foam mat, two sets of weights and a ball. I’m used to getting in there, flopping my mat down, grabbing a block and assuming my suptabada position to quiet my mind (or sometimes continue sleeping, let’s be honest), until the teacher arrives. No none of that at Barre! Get your stuff all set up and then stand, no child’s pose, no suptabada, no seated meditation…and get ready! I think I was standing in a bit of a pout when Amy walked in. Thankfully we started right in before I could be too cranky, and after some knee lifts went right into arms. I was quickly glad that I wimped out (I thought) and grabbed lighter weights because the arm sequence was intense with no breaks. Awesome. Next came the glideboard thing. So, this explains the reason for slipper/sock things! This is a slippery board bookended by two buffer type foam things. The goal, I discovered, is to glide one foot all the way and hit the buffer and then have the other foot follow it and tap the first foot and then do the same on other other side. At first this felt easy, but the more I did it the more I realized that this is really a great cardio workout! I kept feeling like was a human shuffleboard! This part of the class was a bit boring for me, but Amy started going around the room asking us questions and then pretty soon we were done. It was suggested that we could add arms, but I just stayed with the basis foot movements since it was my first class.

Next was the barre…we did a number of sequences of squats (well, that is why I call it!), and such and it was definitely really hard and an awesome workout! It was fun because Amy used dance terms like “first position”, “second position” and “releve” which at first I would think would make me feel intimidated, but it was actually kinda cool. Yes, one of my fantasies is that in my next life I would be a dancer…or at least be good at it, so this felt really cool! To take a class at a barre, with a mirror, next to a group of amazing women, and a teacher calling out dance terms. And, I could actually do it and keep up, for the most part! Very cool. Yes, the barre has been raised ladies and germs and I’m glad I went for it rather than just doing the limbo!

My 40 Days: Week 1

Wednesday, April 10

Well, I suppose I should report how I am doing so far on my 40 days! I completed my first week on Monday and all things considered I think it went really well. Here is how the numbers came out with the goals listed to remind you:

5 yoga – I got 4 in
4 running – I got 4 runs in!
3 fruits and vegetables per day – I got this in everyday.
20 minutes writing – only got one in of 7 days (need to increase this in the coming week!)
1 reading of a reflection – I got 5 out of the 7 days done
0 nut butters – no nut butters for 7 days!

I unexpectedly needed to go out of town for three days this week (family funeral) so it was a little more difficult to get everything in. My schedule and my mind were a bit disheveled so I just made the best of it. I was just glad to get all the runs in! As I said in my intro to the 40 days I was not shooting for perfect so I’m okay with that. I am enjoying reading the reflection in the morning. It helps me to set a good intention for the day. I also am enjoying NOT eating almond or peanut butter. I have discovered another great to-go breakfast…my English muffin egg-wich which is surprisingly portable as well as rediscovered my steal cut oats. I have cut down significantly on night snacking as well so all is well. So there it is – my tracking of the first week – short and sweet! Let’s see what the next week brings!

My 40 Days and my break up with peanut butter!

April 1, 2013
Day 1

So it is Monday and the first new day of a new month! Perfect time to start a new program, right?! Right! Seriously – this is no April fool! Also Easter Sunday was yesterday so it is a prefect time to start something new. Here is the background info…I had signed up for the 40 Day program sponsored through the Yoga Lounge based on Baron Baptiste’s book, 40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul without too much thought, honestly. I looked at the schedule and figured I could make most of the Tuesday night meetings. I bought the book and figured I could get the 5 times a week yoga practices in – no biggie. I really didn’t actually know what the program was all about before signing up. I could not attend the informational meeting about the program, but didn’t seem to think that was a big deal. I just committed and figured I would figure it out as I went. It is not surprising that I was not successful with the program (aside from practicing yoga regularly!). I didn’t take/make the time to read the book, meditate or even set my own goals for the 40 Days. I also ended up missing about 3 of the Tuesday night meetings and basically felt like I flubbed up the entire thing. Fail – ugh. However, all is not lost! As some of you know, I am pretty determined and I refuse to just let this go as a missed opportunity! So – after thinking about it for the past 2 weeks (yes, I actually thought about it!), I have decided to do my own 40 Day program and I have set my own goals. I don’t expect it to be a perfect journey, but I do expect to show up and do what I say I am going to do – for me!

So here are my weekly goals for the next 40 days:
(I’m adopting an easy way to remember them using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 plan. I mean it can’t get any easier than counting right?!)

5. Practice Yoga 5 times a week
4. Run 4 times a week
3. Eat a veggie or fruit with each of my 3 meals a day.
2. Write for 20 minutes (2×10 – okay, so it is a stretch) a day.
1. Read my daily reflection once a day and meditate on it.
0. Zero peanut butter or almond butter for 40 days. Peanut butter/almond butter and I have developed quite the fond relationship these days, but it is just not working for me anymore! While my mouth and tummy say “yes”, my pants are starting to say, rather loudly I might add, “NO!”. I only buy the all natural stuff now (for the past year or so) with no added sugar, just the nuts, but still it has gotten out of control. I need to be more creative with breakfast and snacks so this will nudge me in a different direction!

So, wish me luck!

Graduation Day!

Sun, Oct 21

Well, it is official! I am a certified yoga teacher! 200 hours and lots, and lots of support from my family, awesome teachers and an amazing teacher training class and it is here!

Today was a really nice final day together. We met at Hudson Springs Park for a hike around the lake. What a beautiful afternoon! It was fun just to spend some time outside of the yoga room with my class. Next we met by the stage area of First and Main and had a final session together. We shared what types of personal breakthroughs we had during the process. I got a lump in the throat right before it was my turn to talk so I just shared that I learned that yoga teachers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. I did learn that, but so much more. I was just overwhelmed by emotion and could not share right then. As I listened to my classmates share I shed some tears right along with them. Such wonderful, giving people – all of them. As I listened I also had my own little aha moment and yet another personal breakthrough. Ever since we learned that Zach has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis not even two weeks ago, I’ve been wondering if maybe this is the reason that I have been led to yoga and eventually the teacher training program. Perhaps there was some way I could help Zach with exercise along the way through yoga!! Sounds good, right?! That is all well and good, but as I was sitting there on this beautiful sunshiny October day I realized that maybe this yoga stuff was actually all to help me be able to handle this diagnosis! I mean it is sort of weird how the timing all worked – I teach my class with the theme “Be Where Your Feet Are” on a Sunday night, using my son as an example, and the very next Wednesday I’m in a doctor’s office hearing that I have to give my son a drug that is given to kids who have cancer? Talk about needing to breathe! Yes, I am putting my yoga into practice and truly living every day at a time, not knowing how the drugs will affect him and what the future will hold. Thinking about all of this makes me even more grateful for my mat, the Yoga Lounge, my wonderful teachers and my new teacher-friends.

Next Kari gave us each little note cards (just like the ones we used so much learning the sequence) with a pose on them that reminded her of us. Mine is wheel and her note said that she is reminded that she can accomplish anything with support around us (referring to me going into wheel from flip the dog). So cool and definitely a keeper! Then I gave everyone the cards I made from my plethora of Creative Memory materials. I used stickers on the front that reminded me of them and on the inside I included the poem I wrote about “My Practice” and wrote a personal note. I just felt I wanted to give some of myself to each and every one.

Here is my poem:
My Practice
It is early and still dark. Chilly air hits my face and I remember the cold is temporary.
Armed with my magic carpet of rubber I quicken my pace to that sacred space.
A sweet smile and sleepy dogs greet me as I hear that familiar “beep”.
My passport to bliss has been cleared. Shedding my keys and ego at the door
Warm air and quiet envelope me as I enter. Just walking in relaxes me.
Quickly I arrange myself in a familiar space, a creature of habit, eyes closed.
My intention is to pay attention.
Body outstretched, beginning to notice my breathing
Amazed again at how most of the time it happens unnoticed.
More enter and prepare
All on a different journey, but yet still all the same.
Soon the breath deepens and grows louder, awakening my body.
The beautiful dance begins.
As the flow continues, sweat comes to cool the body.
Eyes closed, turning inward
Conscious of the room just enough to hear the cues.
The space pulses with a symphony of breath
A community of support all around me.
The movements flow, connecting mind, body and spirit. So amazing.
There is nothing else like it.
Hesitation comes with balancing; my nemesis on the mat and in life.
How will I react today?
Notice and observe. Feel without judging. Breathe.
Finding space is what matters. Space to stretch; Space to grow; Space to be.
Winding down now. Lights low. Practicing not reacting to discomfort.
“You are right where you are supposed to be”.
Breath slowing. Lengthening and twisting.
Body outstretched once again.
Soaking up the stillness. Falling into the earth.
Cells alive. Mind calm. Heart grateful.
And I realize, I am home. This is me.

Amy, Charry and Michelle all shared with us too – it was a really special moment. Finally we headed over to Solaire and had a wonderful, relaxing dinner. We were all presented with our certificates and a copy of Meditations from the Mat with some very nice comments from Amy :-). We then presented the teachers with keepsake books containing our profiles and comments about what we learned in teacher training. Sandee did such a great job of collecting stuff from all of us and getting the books printed. I hope to order my own copy – they turned out really nice! I think all the teachers were really touched. This was what I included as my “comment” (yeah, it is a little long, but I never said I was good at being brief!!)

What teacher training has meant to me?

It is hard to find the words to answer this question…which is saying a lot for me! What has teacher training meant to me? Well, I have never had so much fun in my bare feet that is for sure!! Ha! Seriously, I think the best way for me to share what teacher training has meant to me, without writing a novel that is, is probably in a top ten list format. I mean, why not?!

10. Amazing teachers – I thoroughly enjoyed all three of our teachers. Michelle, Charry and Amy all brought different strengths and varied perspectives that really reflected from their different backgrounds.
9. Awesome class – The group of teacher trainees was great! I loved how different we all were too with a vast array of experiences and ages.
8. Increased my confidence – I had some hesitation starting the training at first, thinking only young, thin, blonds in their twenties could be yoga teachers. But I have learned that even a mom in her 40’s can do this!
7. Asanas – I have enjoyed learning the nuts and bolts of the sequence, the poses, and the modifications to use when teaching.
6. Yamas & Niyamas – I loved learning about the foundation and philosophy that is behind the yoga poses. I also loved the oming and the chanting!!
5. Assisting – I had no idea how much I would enjoy learning how to assist. I absolutely loved the assisting workshop. I was also really surprised how much I liked learning about the massage techniques at Walden. The “me” before teacher training would not have guessed that I would enjoy touching people so much! I just like making people feel good – I think that is what it is!
4. Be authentic – One of the first things we talked about in training was bringing ourselves to our classes; that we needed to be genuine to connect with people. I was so relieved after that because I find it hard in life to be anything else, but me – the good, bad and the ugly!
3. Be present – I have learned how precious it is to experience life right now and enjoy each and every moment.
2. Yoga is a family affair! It has meant so much to me to not only have the support of my family during my training, but to be able to share what I’m learning with them as well. My yoga “off the mat” has spread to my husband (although he was always probably more yogi than me!) and son. Plus my hubby was a good mock student for all my practicing!
1. How much I still have and want to learn! I understand what everyone meant when they said, “200 hours just scrapes the surface”. While I feel like I have learned so much during these ten weeks I also feel there is so much more I want and need to learn. But that is how I look at life anyways – one big classroom!! Bring it on!!

So yeah, that pretty much sums it up. It is an ending of a journey, but yet just the beginning. What is next? Not exactly sure, but chances are I’ll let you know about it!!

Last Class!

Tues, Oct 16
Last class!!

It was hard to believe that it was time for our last class already tonight! Our practice tonight was really, really fun because of a couple of things. First, I was next to Tiffany and we laughed at a few things throughout the class. With Amy’s encouragement we also grabbed on and helped each other during Bird of Paradise pose which was so fun!

Also, I finally got the courage to go from flip dog to wheel tonight for the first time. I wanted to do it on the first side, but didn’t. Then on the other side, Amy was assisting me and it gave me just the amount of support I needed to plant my other hand on the floor and go for it. Amy was just as surprised at this as I was and said, “whoa, I did not not know that was going to happen, did you , Miss Lisa?” I just shook my head and felt on top of the world that I did it!! Here is a video of what I’m talking about.

Our teacher training class tonight started with a review of the weekend workshop with Yiannis. People shared their perspectives about what they liked and didn’t like about the weekend. It was interesting to hear a variety of viewpoints about this. Next we talked about the agenda for graduation day which is this Sunday! We will meet for a hike, if it doesn’t rain, come back to the Yoga Lounge for a special practice and then go to dinner together. I’m looking forward to it!

Lastly we talked about the topic of “getting a job”!! Amy shared that we should create a yoga resume that should include the following:

  • That we have completed a 200 hour program certified by the Yoga Alliance
  • Who we are certified through
  • That we have CPR training (apparently we need this – news to me!)
  • That we have insurance
  • How long we have practiced and where
  • Who we have studied with
  • Other hobbies

She also shared that it is a good idea to actually get officially certified (and get a number) from Yoga Alliance.  It is $80 and gives a little more credibility. We then went over the possible places that employ yoga teachers such as Health Clubs, Summa, Akron General Wellness Center, Corporate locations and yoga studios. We also talked a bit about what to charge. Amy also shared that we should not just call a studio we have never been to asking for a job. It only makes sense to practice somewhere for awhile and become a part of the community before doing that. Lastly (and what I was waiting for), she shared what we need to do if we would like to teach at the Yoga Lounge. They are going to be offering a Mentor Program for our class and will take on 2 people at a time. We need to apply and if selected will work with either Amy or Michelle as mentors (assist 2 classes a week and take 3 classes a week – and I think there was some teaching involved in there too) for a month and then we can audition to teach! I’m definitely interested in this option and have already asked for an application! Whatever will be, will be, however. I will be open to all the possibilities. But first, we have graduation day to look forward to!


Oct 12 – Oct 14
Yiannis Andritsos immersion weekend

So what did you do this weekend? Did you spend 15 hours in practice and workshop in a yoga studio?!!! I did!! Ahhhhhh!!! Although I learned a lot, I’m glad to be done, showered and home. This was our last full weekend of teacher training stuff, but it was jam packed and a lot of it was very deep so I’m mentally and physically exhausted. Yiannis, our leaders for the weekend sessions specializes in Dharma Yoga, which is a Hatha-Raja inspired practice passed in authentic tradition by Sri Dharma Mittra.

Friday evening’s practice was crazy! It was different than what I’m used to so I was a little resistant to that. In other words, Hatha yoga does not have the flow that Baron’s sequence does so that was different. I felt frustrated because he did a lot of work with headstands and handstands without warming up and I’m just not there yet. Plus I was towards the back, which I never usually am. There were some cool challenging poses for us to try and that was cool. We did a lot of different pranayama exercises, some I liked and some were just okay. I also liked the aum’ing and all the chanting, but overall I just was out of sorts on Friday night. He was very hard to hear when he was talking to us so that was difficult and a bit stressful too. Plus, I had my review of my class right before the workshop so I was feeling a bit rushed. The review went fine, but I was just rushed.

Saturday morning was focused a lot on pranayama (breathing exercises) before practicing. I am starting to really like and learn the Mantra for Purification – it is supposed to be passed on verbally and is not written down. So, trying to learn it just takes repetition and practice. This chant is usually done before the practice in order to remove obstacles that would get in the way and it is supposed to cleanse the space. I was still not crazy about Hatha yoga at this point. I just need my power and want to sweat!

The afternoon session was a great session! We practiced and there was a little more sweat and some more challenging poses. I was working on “leg behind the head pose” and was getting close!! Yahoo!

The evening session was a lecture on the Yamas. I enjoyed this a lot after I stationed myself really close to Yiannis at the front of the room so I could hear well! Ahimas is the most important of the Yamas…if you follow this one, the rest will follow. The last thing we did that night was a deep relaxation exercise. It lasted probably 40 minutes all together. It was awesome! So much so that I totally fell asleep during it and my teacher training friends all heard me snoring (well, they called it deep breathing!!!). Too funny!

Then today, Sunday, the first session was the one I had been waiting for! It was challenging, a little bit more of a flow and I was finally sweating!! Woohoo! I probably was less resistant too, which is probably why I enjoyed it more. I had some success in challenging poses which felt good too. I liked how Yiannis encouraged us to concentrate and relax in the poses. For example, rather than going into shoulder stand, holding it for like 10 seconds and getting out of it, Hatha yoga teaches, to hold the poses for a little longer, relax into the pose and concentrate on the space between the eyebrows. At first it seems contradictory to both relax and concentrate at the same time, but it really is possible and cool. I found I could go deeper when I did this, plus it just helps develop concentration.

The afternoon session was a lecture focused on psychic development. This is a technique that involves a number of techniques in a certain order. There is the Mantra for Purification (purity – removing obstacles) and the Mantra for Unification (I am You, You are Me). Then there are 3 techniques for the aura. All three are different pranayamas (breathing technqiues) that were cool involving alternate nostril breathing and other various techniques. Then there is the closed circuit pranayama, chakra breathing technique and then ending in the visualization exercise.

The evening session was a lecture focused mostly on the koshas of yoga. These are the five different layers of the self. This I found facinating. I took some notes from the sesion, but I found a website that described it even better here (plus the words are spelled correctly here!)

In the yoga framework, these levels are referred to as the five sheaths of our being, or the Five Koshas. To understand the Five Koshas and the role they play in yoga, it’s easiest to think of the Koshas as a series of Russian dolls, each embedded within the others. Starting from the outermost layer and moving towards the core, the Five Koshas proceed from outer to inner in greater and greater levels of subtlety:

Annamayakosha-The Physical body. This sheath represents the physical body, the ‘regular’ gross expression of our body that we can see, touch and feel. The Sanskrit word Anna means food, and the word maya means appearance. This is the sheath of food, nourished by and created by our daily intake of food. The Annamayakosha is our physical body, the most familiar aspect of our being. As we practice yoga asanas, the physical body is the starting point of our experience.

Pranamayakosha-The Energy body. According to yoga therapy traditions, this is the second layer of our being. Prana means energy, but not energy in the usual Western meaning of the word. Rather, prana is the life-force, the vital energy which flows through and enlivens all our physical systems. The breath is the most physical expression of prana, and prana is closely related to the breath. Breath awareness and breathing practices, called pranayama, increase and facilitate the flow of prana in the body and balance the flow of the life force to all the physical systems.

Manamayakosha-The Mental-Emotional body. Manas means mind, and the Manamayakosha is the layer of our being expressed as mind, emotions, and feelings. These are the mental faculties with which we absorb, process, and interpret input from our life (presented through the senses of the physical body). It is like a supervisor in a factory, which unfortunately often mistakenly takes on the role as manager.

Vijnanamayakosha-The Wisdom body. The fourth Kosha is considered part of the subtle body. Vijnana means knowing, and this sheath represents the higher mind, the faculty of wisdom, which lies underneath the processing, thinking, reactive mind. This is the level of our being, that has the higher wisdom to guide us through life and lead us to higher and higher levels of truth and integration. It represents the reflective aspects of our consciousness, which allow us to experience a deeper insight into ourselves and the world around us.

Anandamayakosha-The Bliss body. This is the fifth and final sheath of our being. Ananda means bliss, not bliss in the sense of emotions, such as happiness or pleasure, but an expanded, unbounded experience of reality. The ancients viewed the experience of the Bliss body as an experience of the deepest level of our being, an unbounded, blissful state of peace, joy, and love.

The Koshas are viewed as different, beautiful manifestations of our essential universal nature. According to yoga philosophy, this is known as Atman-the unbounded, universal Oneness of all that exists. These koshas do not act separately, but interact with each other, as well.

Yiannis talked a lot about the supreme teacher, relying on the supreme teacher for help and guidance and needing to have faith in your life. I liked all of this and realized this weekend yet again how connected all the religions and philosophies are. Yes, we are indeed all the same – on different journeys, but searching for the same thing.