My Yoga Checklist

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Yoga studios are popping up everywhere, so why is it so hard to find a class that checks all your boxes? In my mind There is a list of requirements that must be met when committing your time and money to a studio. I’m a picky yogi, probably too picky. But here is my excessively long list:
1. A good flow. By this I mean there is a fluid sequence that makes sense. I like to heat up first before stretching deeper. I can’t stand a choppy flow.
2. Sweat. I like to be challenged physically, but I realize that is not everyone’s priority when they step on the mat, and that’s fine!
3. Practice. I love instructors who help your take your practice to the next level. Just a few minutes of free time to ask questions and fix form can go a long way.
4. Length. After heating up its time to stretch. Yoga helps me balance my fitness regimen, and getting a good stretch is crucial for injury prevention.
5. Instruction. There is nothing worse than your favorite class switching instructors on you. Everyone prefers a different style, but when you find someone you love they become the reason you commit to a studio.
6. Space. There is nothing worse than getting whacked in the face during savasana. When studios over schedule I find myself comprising poses to avoid kicking my neighbor, it’s not ideal!
7. Variety. It’s the spice of life! You want to switch up your flow and grow as a yogi. I hate to see a Bikram only studio. Hot is not for everyone or everyday, it deters me from committing to a studio.
8. Ambiance. I once took a yoga class in a UFC gym. Mid Pigeon Pose you couldn’t help but be distracted by the sound of punching bags and sweaty grunting men. The teacher was great, but I couldn’t get into it.

This list combined with my unusual work schedule has me practicing at home most days. I did get a 10 day pass to a new studio this Christmas. I look forward to spending my Sundays afternoons in class.

What are your yoga studio must haves? Pet Peeves?

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Heal Your Whole Body: The 12-day Plan to Flush Toxins & Balance Hormones


Today I started a cleanse alongside many of my clients, friends and family members. The cleanse is not what you may think of when you hear “CLEANSE”. It is not about starving yourself, or overdosing on sugary juices. This is 12 days of clean eating paired with milk thistle supplements and dandelion root tea. The diet is centered around promoting healthy liver function. Our liver is what sifts all the toxins we consume in our diets and all the chemicals we breath in everyday. When our liver is working optimally, we feel more energized and hormonally balanced. This diet has been seen to decrease inflammation, bloating, headaches, help with arthritis, clear skin, improve mood and decrease sugar cravings.  This clease requires you to move. Inorder to feel your best I reccommend you exercise daily.  Your overall daily movement should increase.  You do not have to exercise vigorously.  I reccomend lots of yoga and walking.  Go outside and feel the sunshine on your face.

The cleanse involves lots of vegetables, spices, healthy fats, pre and probiotic foods, sulfur and lemon water.  To be successful you will have to cut out dairy, gluten and all processed foods.

I used the past week to prepare guidelines, sample grocery lists as well as tips to help all participants cleanse with ease! My cleanse is based off of Frances Murchison’s book “Heal Your Whole Body”. Click the below link to read an overview of the cleanse:

http://www.rodalenews.com/foods-your-liver

If you are interested in feeling better you can join my support group on Facebook. Here you can find links to a sample grocery list, a quick guide to the cleanse as well as recipes for other cleansers and myself. If all goes well with this first cleanse, I plan on repeating the same diet post holidays!

Join my Facebook group to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/874533072564308/

The Liebster Award

I don’t know much about blogging, but I do love to do it! So I was excited when Jen from the blog Burpees for Breakfast nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Thanks to Jen, I now know a Liebster Award is…

An award from bloggers to bloggers with smaller followings in order to get his or her name out there.

liebster-award

So here is how it works once you have been nominated:

  1. Answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the blogger who nominated you
  2. Select 10 blogs with a small following to nominate for the award
  3. Create 10 questions for your nominees
  4. Link back to your nominator
  5. Inform each of your nominees of your nomination

So Here are the 10 questions Jen asked me, along with my responses:

1. What are you eating (and watching) right now?

I am eating one of my “yogurt jars” for breakfast. It’s my go to breakfast. I make a few jars in the beginning of the week that I can grab on the go. It consists of: 1 banana, 1 small peach, ¾ cup of plain FAGE yogurt, 1 tbsp of chia seeds and 1 tbsp of raisins. I wish I was watching the latest episode of Ladies of London on my DVR, but unfortunately I am at work.

2. Favorite pre and post workout meal?

I have a sensitive stomach/gut issues so I cannot eat within 2 hours of exercising. So if I work out in the morning I operate on empty. Which is terrible, but it’s my reality. I try and plan my workouts so a meal falls right after I sweat, but on days where I lift weights I have a protein shake. I use Warrior Whey chocolate protein powder. If I have the time I blend the powder with almond milk and a frozen banana.

3. You wake up for a workout and you are NOT motivated. what do you do?

I just roll out of bed and put on my workout clothes. With my busy schedule, it’s crucial for me to follow the workout schedule I planned for the week. If I am unusually sore I will opt for a long yoga session. I use Yoga Download so I can do my workouts last minute at home. If I am really behind on sleep I will pick sleeping over working out the night before so I can sleep soundly without hitting snooze. It’s really important for me to get 7-8 hours of sleep. Otherwise, my workout will suck and it will just be a setback in my fitness routine.

4. What’s your current girl power jam? (i’m DIGGING meghan trainor ‘all about the bass‘)

Dancing On My Own by Robyn.  It’s been my jam since the first episode of GIRLS….

5. What has been the best part of your summer, so far?

All the parts. I kicked off the summer with my best friends in Las Vegas. It was my first time visiting and it was such an amazing weekend. I am also fortunate enough to have a friend in Nantucket and I was able to visit for a long weekend at the end of June followed by an amazing 4th of July weekend at my family beach house.

6.  Because i’m thinking of waffles…favorite type of waffles, pancakes, and ‘dessert’ bread (like banana or zucchini)?

In the morning I like eggs, yogurt, fruit and nuts. I like to have healthy fats and protein to keep me full and satisfied until lunch. I don’t like waffles, pancakes and I have never been a big breakfast bread or muffin person. Again, I am a weirdo. Growing up my mom would always make waffles and pancakes from scratch in the mornings. They made me so nauseous, and I hated breakfast all together. I would spend my bus ride trying not to barf. I think this is because I was unaware of my gluten allergy, and breakfast is typically loaded with the worst kind of gluten.

7.  Favorite type of workout and place to workout?

It all depends on the weather for me. On a cold day (30 to 45 degrees is ideal) I love the long hilly run on my parent’s country roads. I also love to run in new places. I am notorious for getting lost in foreign countries. When I lived in France I ran on the coast of the Mediterranean everyday and it was divine. When it’s too hot to trot outside (or a blizzard) I get my high from an intense HIIT workout with kettlebells or plyometric training. Yoga has really taught me how to balance hard work with healing practice; it has saved me from so many injuries. I love to practice in a studio but my schedule keeps me working individually at home. I don’t love strength training yet. It’s hard for me to enjoy a workout where I don’t have a consistently high heart rate, but I am learning to love the benefits.

8. How many times have you gone into target and walked out without purchasing anything?

Zero

9.  If you could create your own Starbucks drink and name it, what would you create?

I love the classics.  Americanos, Iced Coffee and Green Tea are my go to drinks.  It would be nice to add some protein powder or chia to a light coffee frappe. We could call it the Fit Frappe.

10. Who is your inspiration and why?

Ma! She has taught me so much about being a balanced and healthy individual.   Before I was born up through my toddler years she was placing first in every 10 K and 10 miler she entered. I grew up trying her workouts, entering races alongside her and watching as she evolved into one of the strongest and most well rounded athletes I know. She is strong, fast, fit and hilarious. Plus, she is not afraid to skip dinner and have a hot fudge sundae, my girl.

11.  What would be your Disney ending?

I just want to live a long healthy life and spend as few years in diapers as possible. I also would like to be a mermaid.

Okay enough about me.  Here are the blogs I chose to nominate:

My Liebster Questions:

  1. You are going to be stranded on an deserted island for a year and you are allowed to bring 3 pieces of exercise equipment. What would you bring?
  2. What is your summer cocktail (or mocktial)?
  3. What time did you get up this morning?
  4. Where would you retire?
  5. Sweet or Salty?
  6. What was your dream career growing up?
  7. What is your dream job now?
  8. What is your favorite sport to watch vs play?
  9. If you could invite three people, living or dead over for a party, who would they be?
  10. If someones underwear is showing would you tell them?

🙂

The Best Detox: Exercise

This past weekend I went to Las Vegas to “celebrate life” with my best friends.  After two full days of ongoing alcohol consumption, very little sleep and no exercise (dancing excluded) our bodies were wrecked.  Our raspy voices, under eye bags and off kilter digestive systems proved it.  Today I am feeling a little inspired by our distressed physical state and would like to share how I rid my body of toxins after vacation or in our case a bender…a juice cleanse is not the answer.

detox)Lately cleanses and detoxes are everywhere: “Drink this sugary green juice for three plus days and detoxify your body”.  Everyone who knows me has heard me rant about how pointless and counterproductive juice cleanses can be.  I have advised clients and friends against them.  But all the skinny celebrities do it and they look good, so I am ignored.  This leads them to go through with the cleanse; depriving themselves for a three to fourteen day period followed by a fat and carbohydrate binge.  In the end you are just putting more stress on your body and creating more toxins.

The thing is, your body is naturally designed to detoxify. It is in a constant state of detoxification (or ridding of waste).

  • Ever heard of poop? pee? I don’t mean to be vulgar, but your colon and kidneys do a pretty good job if you let them.
  • Our lungs serve as a  filter.  Debris and toxins are removed before delivering oxygen throughout the body.
  • The lymph system picks up any unwanted substances to filter through your lymph nodes.
  • Our skin rids our body of toxins through perspiration.

Did you know your body detoxes 8 times faster when in motion versus when sedentary? So why does exercise aid in detox?

  • You get your blood flowing, which prompts your organs to do work (liver, lymph nodes, digestive system).
  • You breath deeply and circulate oxygen to through the body, giving off carbon dioxide (a waste product).
  • You sweat, washing out waste and toxins in your perspiration.
  • You move and fire up lymph to circulate through the body.  The lymph system has no pump like the circulatory system, so to activate, you must be in motion.
  • You reduce stress, which has a toxic effect on the body.

In order to be successful in detoxifying you must be drinking plenty of water to help flush out  waste products.  So before you start your exercise, make sure your pee is clear.  When you are looking to rid the body of toxins engage in  aerobic exercise at a low to medium intensity.  This allows you to breath evenly, delivering oxygen to the body.  By getting your heart rate up, blood begins pumping through out the body, activating your detoxifying organs.  You don’t want to be gasping for air, instead you should try the talk test.  If you are able to talk comfortably while exercising, you are at the right intensity for detoxification.  Low Intensity Steady State (also known as LISS) exercise can be performed through briskly walking, running, cycling, swimming and yoga.

Do you exercise with a hang over? It’s sort of my M.O.  I usually roll and of bed, chug water until my pee is clear and get out the door on my run before the worst of it even hits.  It’s usually pretty miserable, but by the time I finish and rehydrate I am ready for my day.

So next time you wake up after a night of drinking or over eating, skip the fad cleanse.  Run long and slow, or engage in a Vinyasa flow.  Drink tons of water before and after to flush toxins.

Below is 30 minute detox flow yoga video. It will help to heat up the body and wring out toxins with twists.  The instructor Clara Roberts-Oss is one of my favorites. I hope enjoy!

For more information on exercise as detox click here.

Yoga Review: Yogadownload.com

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If you fall into any of the below categories, you will LOVE YOGA DOWNLOAD

  • A yogi with a busy schedule
  • A yogi on a budget
  • A yogi who travels
  • A yogi without a worthwhile studio nearby
  • Love to sweat
  • Need a deep stretch
  • A runner
  • A beginner
  • Enjoy Pilates

I discovered Yoga Download through Groupon a little over one month ago and have been practicing through the site 2-4 days/week ever since.  The site is stocked with hundreds of yoga classes and even Pilates, cycling, kick boxing, dance and running classes.  They even have yoga with weights!  My Groupon gave me the “Yearly Elite” package which allows me to stream and download unlimited videos for one year.  The regular price for this pass is $90 annually.  While this sounds steep, it is going to cost you $7.50/month if you break it down.  That is the cost of one [cheap] brunch cocktail per week.  You can also chose to pay for 1, 3 or 6 months at a time, click here.

It’s easy to find the type of class that will serve you on any particular day.  You can search through classes via your objective (detox, sweat, weight loss, recover, etc); focus (yoga for athletes, morning yoga, yoga for seniors, etc); body part; pose type (arm balances, twists, sun salutations, back bends, etc); featured channels and through studios/brand.  You can also locate classes by scrolling through the various yoga styles as well.

Each video comes equip with a description, preview and reviews you can study before deciding to stream/download.  I love having the ability to read customer reviews.  There is nothing worse than getting half way through a class and realizing it is not challenging enough or too advanced for your practice.

The ability to download a class to your own device means you can practice yoga anywhere (with or without WiFi)  as you travel for work or leisure. 

I use the site to sweat, stretch, detox, meditate and wake up.  I have been able to find classes for all my yoga objectives and I have not had the need to repeat a class with so many options to chose from.  With a busy schedule, I am often squeezing classes in between clients and the ability to just open my lap top and step onto my mat allows me to flow much more often.

Yoga studios can be intimidating to beginners, I think this site is great for people who want to try yoga without committing to the prices of a studio they may not even like.  In addition, a site like Yoga Download allows you to hand pick your classes to fit your instructor and style preference.  I absolutely love the experience of visiting my local yoga studio, but I am usually with clients the during the time slots I enjoy.  In addition, studios are expensive. One year of yoga download would not cover the cost of a monthly membership at your average yoga studio.  So if you practice regularly, you cannot go wrong purchasing this service.

In addition to personally using the site, I have had clients and friends purchase the service in the past month after my recommendation.  The site is a value and worth every penny.

“Prehab”-How to Avoid Running Injuries

Being an injured runner this spring has not been easy on my spirit but it is probably doing wonders for my body.  On the first nice (warm) day of 2014 I decided to go out on my 8 mile loop.  It was a great run followed by a not so great stretch, dinner and bed.  The next day was beautiful so I decided to repeat the same 8  mile run.  Right around mile 6 I felt a twinge in my right knee (that was new), at about mile 7 it was a shooting pain.  As someone who has never had a knee injury, I panicked.  I shunned running for the next two weeks.  I was doing mostly HIIT, plyometrics, kettlebells and some yoga here and there.  My knee pain was almost gone until my friend called me on a gorgeous Monday and asked me to join her on a run.  I had just walked my dog three miles with zero pain so I accepted her offer and headed home to meet her.  About 3 miles in the pain was back. UGH.   Frustrated and desperate I made an appointment with my physical therapist that Wednesday.

Long story short, I have damaged the surface of my meniscus.  Apparently it is not bad, but It was 100% preventable.  I was NOT practicing what I preach to all my clients: RECOVER RECOVER RECOVER.

I have made myself a human experiment and I am using every means I can to rehab my knee.  So I am icing after use and applying heat during the day.  I am not running.  I am doing plyometrics sparingly.  I am having orthotic inserts made.  I am stretching thoroughly and I am participating in PREHAB exercises.

Pre-habilitation is the proactive way to prevent running injuries.  I know how a runner’s brain works.  We want to log miles and improve; not stretch, roll and do leg lifts with the time we allocate to our workouts.  It took me a long time to learn that in order to be a better runner, I have to take care of my body. When I am injured, I feel almost depressed.  Every race posting I see on Facebook has me disgruntled.  I am beyond jealous.

So here is how you can PREHAB your body as a runner

  1. Stretch well after every run:  When your IT band, hamstrings, glutes, hips, calves and quads are tight they are more prone to injury.  Don’t limit yourself, stretch whenever you have a free chance.  You may look like a weirdo in the grocery store line but at least your hamstrings will feel good.
  2. Buy a foam roller and actually use it:  A foam roller is like a massage at home.  Myofascial release is so key in recovery.  I try and dedicate time after almost every workout.  If I don’t have time I bring a lacrosse ball to work and roll it over tight muscles. Roll while you watch TV or during your evening downtime.  If you have time to get on Facebook and Pinterest, you have time to roll.
  3. Strengthen your glutes: Your Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius are often weak in runners which can lead to injuries in other lower extremities (commonly the hamstring).  There are a number of exercises that can be performed to strengthen your Glutes.  This article from Runner’s World has some great exercises to try.
  4. Strengthen your hips: Your hips don’t lie.  They need to be strong and flexible when you are logging miles. See the video below for a 6 minute workout that activates your hips and glutes.  It requires no equipment.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lW6uFHrHbDU
  5. See a specialist:   If you have unusually high arches or flat feet you may benefit from seeing a podiatrist.  They will mold or scan your feet for orthotic inserts to place in your running shoes.  Over time high arches get higher and flat feet get flatter, so this is a great way to prevent any future muscle imbalances that could occur as compensation for your less than ideal foot physique.
  6. Attend a Clinic:  Running clinics are held all over the country to help runners fix their form and prevent injury.  I am yet to attend one myself, but It is my goal to complete one by the end of the summer! Find one near you here!
  7. Recover: Allow time for your body to heal weekly.  Plan to rest on a day that is already busy with errands.  This will give you less free time to think about your lack of exercise on that particular day.  I do gentle yoga on my off day.  Below is a short yoga recovery to try

 

Max Strom Empowerment Workshop

Happy Hump Day! I have been neglecting my blog for the past week but I am really excited to share my yoga workshop experience with you all.  This past Sunday I attended a workshop put on by Ananda Shala in Frederick, Maryland.  The 2.5 hour workshop featured Max Strom and was hosted in the top floor of a historical building in downtown Frederick. The room was full of character with floor to ceiling windows and a sky mural painted above us, it was the perfect place to practice yoga.

Now for all you yogis out there, I am sure you know of his teachings on breath.  His book A Life Worth Breathing is published in six different languages and he has released a second book There is No App for Happiness.  I posted a snippet of a TED Talk he did on his second book if you are interested:

I learned about Max Strom after I signed up for the workshop.  I knew the class would have a strong focus on the breath after proper Google-ing and talking to my mom who has attended his workshops before. Max teaches a deep breathing technique that many of us know, Ujjayi breathing.  He calls it ocean breathing, which I think is much less intimidating to newbies.  Now I did not think my Ujjayi needed much work, but the workshop proved me wrong.  While I know how to correctly breath, I don’t always do it, especially in some of the long holds when I need to be breathing the most.  The class helped me change my focus from accomplishing more high level poses, to accomplishing deep and conscious breath throughout my entire practice.

Max shared with us insight into the importance of breath.  Did you know that deep breathing calms the nervous system and reduces anxiety? So did I, but that does not mean I stop and “breath” every time I am feeling flustered.  He had opinions on the overuse of anti depressants and anti anxiety medications by women, which I found particularly interesting.  He shared statistics (which I cannot remember) proving that deep breathing techniques lower blood pressure and regulate physical pain as well.

A great thing about his class was his approach to teaching an all level class.  He gave a variation for a level I, II & III student.  His approach was very friendly to yoga new comers.  We have all been or will be new to practicing yoga at some point and a class full of yoga enthusiasts can be harrowing to a beginner.  He was humble and even cracked jokes through some of the longer pose holds.  It was a very relaxing and carefree workshop.  I left feeling very relaxed and enlightened.  My major takeaway from the workshop is to not only practice more consistent Ujjayi in hatha, but also in daily life.  So next time someone cuts you off while your driving or rams their shopping cart into yours, just take a few deep ocean breaths and smile.  Namaste.

Yoga Studio Review

logoLast night I tried a new studio in Reston, Virginia called Beloved Yoga.  It is a small studio at the bottom of a commercial office building on Sunrise Valley, but once you walk in you forget you are in commercial office space.  Inside, the decor is everything you want to see in a yoga studio, which for some reason makes the experience more enjoyable.  I was ready for 90 minutes of “me time”, so I put away my parka and purse and got right on my mat.  I looked around and saw everyone had the same blanket so I followed the crowd and grabbed one and some blocked too.

I learned in the first 10  minutes that the block and blanket would be added to our sun salutations.  One sequence involved holding the block between your thighs while you flowed.  This I had never done before.  The Blanket was used in the next flow.  We stepped off of our mats and onto our folded blanket to “slide” through the sun salutations.  I saw this as a way to fire up the core, but the instructor never vocalized her intentions (from what I can remember).  It is always fun and interesting to try new things, but I prefer my smelly mat.yoga meme

I signed up for a $8.00 new member drop in, which I thought was reasonable.  I do like when the first class is free, but who doesn’t? The Vinyasa was vigorous and fun.  We did a creative sequence I have not particularly done before.  It is always interesting to experience new teachers.  The instructor was much louder and bolder than anything I have experience, but it made the flow feel more like a workout as sweat literally rolled off my face.

There was no deep stretch towards the end of class, which I probably could have used.  My hamstrings, butt and upper back are pretty sore today, a positive of course! We did do frog for three minutes, which made me want to cry.  Like so many people, my hips are too tight from sitting at a desk most of the day.I would give the class four out of five stars. It was challenging, outside the box and relaxed my brain for 90 whole minutes!  It was nice to get our of my home studio (my bedroom floor) and really lose myself in the poses, as cheesy as it sounds.  I would love to go back and make it a regular thing.  Unfortunately, yoga is so damn expensive when practiced at a studio.  I feel frivolous when I can do it at home.  The new member fee for the first month is $75, which is reasonable.  I will have to sleep on it and see if it is something I would like to commit to for the next month.

If you are in the Reston or Great Falls area I encourage you to look into their studios.  It definitely has the aesthetic that every aspiring yogi loves.  For me, it is like a mini vacation with sweaty strangers and I absolutely enjoyed it!

Snowed In: A Day of Pampering

Like so many other Americans, I was sent home early from my 9-5 around noon yesterday when the snowfall began to accumulate.  I originally wanted to run in the snow, but after realizing how cold I would be with the windchill, I opted for a day indoors.  I ended up doing 90 minutes of yoga, which was interrupted a few times by my puppy Petey attacking my ponytail.  Nonetheless I felt like a happy noodle afterwards.

I continued on with the spa theme and did some all natural facials with my non romantic lady friend.  All you need is three ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry.

Hot Toddy

Ingredients:

  • Half a Lemon
  • 1/4-1/2 a Tablespoon of Organic RawHoney
  • Coconut Oil

The raw organic honey is preferred because it is gritty and acts as an exfoliator.  All you have to do is put a dab of honey on your lemon half and rub  it all over your face, avoiding your eyes of course.  I stood over the sink and rinsed once or twice in between.  After a couple of minutes rinse completely and apply a little of your daily moisturizer to your face.  Now for the coconut oil. In the winter I get dry spots so first i apply a small amount to my dry spots and rub it in.  Next I apply to my eye lids, under eyes and lips.  A little coconut oil goes a long way.

TIP: Make sure you remove your make up cleanse your face before the facial.

Now it is FREEZING here, so I have been drinking tons of tea.  But it just so happened I had all the ingredients to make a Hot Toddy last night. My grandmother introduced me to this cocktail in november when I spent a cold weekend on her horse farm. I think I had 4 in one sitting. Whoops!

Continuing with the theme, all you need is:

  • 2 Lemon Wedges
  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) of Organic Raw Honey
  • 8 oz of Hot Water
  • a shot of Crown Royal

Last night I did not have Crown, so I used Jack Daniel’s American Honey Whiskey.  It was still delicious and smooth, but i prefer Crown.

If you are not relaxed after all of that, have another Hot Toddy.