Yoga Project: Final Self Assessment

Photo Source:The Resilience Centre

If you have been following along with my yoga journey, I thank you.  It has not been an easy road, honestly.  I want to talk about the goals I had at the beginning of this journey, which goals I achieved and which goals I still need to keep working on.

What were my goals:

  1.  To attempt to increase my energy, focus and positivity (and ability to manage the fast pace and stresses in my life)
  2. To fit in 3 sessions of yoga each week
  3. To find online resources for doing yoga in my own home (and attend some face-to-face yoga classes)
  4. To learn more about the history of yoga
  5. To learn more about the different types of yoga, the purposes of yoga, and which types of yoga were beneficial for what purposes
  6. To learn more about whether or not yoga is cultural appropriation
  7. To talk about the idea of yoga being part of a larger lifestyle and way of being
  8. Although I didn’t think to state it in the beginning, another goal I had in mind was to begin to blog about my experience of being a vegetarian and buying vegan products (also part of a yoga lifestyle)
  9. Another goal that I did not think to state at the start was finding an online community of other yogis

In order to keep track of goals #1 and 2 I kept a self-evaluation and a record of my yoga practice (see below).  I used a 4 point scale for the rubric which you can see here: Google Document of my Rubric and weekly Progress.

I would like to talk about my success first; Goals #3-9.

Goal #3: I believe I was quite thorough in researching the various Online Resources For Yoga .  There are literally millions, if you include all the videos on YouTube.  So obviously it was impossible to review them all.  I came to the realization that it was not necessary for me to pay for an online yoga site (which there are hundreds of).  I am very happy with the site that I have been using: Yoga with Adriene. I will continue to use this site.  I hope my reviews will be beneficial to others who may find my blog online.

I was not successful in attending any face-to-face yoga classes, as the times for nearby yoga studios just didn’t work well into my schedule.  As a busy person, I prefer to do my exercise in the comfort of my own home.  And I believe that is my prerogative.  Of course, I have attended yoga classes in the past and would consider it again, at times when my life is a bit slower paced.

Goal #4: Yoga History: I posted once about Yoga History 101 as well as Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?.  I learned a great deal about the history of yoga during my research for writing these 2 posts.  I developed a greater understanding of the origins of yoga and an even deeper appreciation for it as a result.  I understand that our western view of yoga simply as exercise is not nearly sufficient.  I would love to have the ability to become a yoga teacher and continue to learn from well established and authentic yogis.  However, I don’t see that in my near future, unfortunately.  I also believe my research in this area can be useful to others who may have a similar desire to learn more about these topics.

Goal #5: Purposes and Types of Yoga:  I posted once about this.  I learned a lot from this research  and I hope this will be useful to others.  I would have liked to have spent more time actually trying each type and specific poses within each one.    I also would have liked to have done more research about meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises).  However, I believe both topics are too big for the time allotted in this particular learning project. So overall, I am happy with my research in this area.

Goal #6: I referred to my post on Cultural Appropriation in Goal #4.  I learned a great deal from this research.  I believe it is an important question.  I’m glad I included it in my project.

Photo Source: Pinterest

Goal #7 and 8: Yoga as a Larger Lifestyle:  I repeatedly shared this article about this concept.  For me, it is basically being calm and kind (to all living beings) in all things, at all times.  It includes thinking of our existence in an energetic-spiritual way, not just the physical. It might also include Being a Vegetarian and Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Socially Consicous and Environmental.  It was empowering for me to share my experiences and opinions on these topics. I hope it will be beneficial for others to read these posts also.

Goal #9: Finding an online community of yogis: I have just begun to develop a following and find others who I want to follow.  But I feel like it is a good start.  I know that there are people out there that I can reach out to if I have questions, need support or just want to chat with someone who is similar to myself.  I am glad that I started on this journey and will certainly continue to blog, follow others and research further about these topics.

Ok, so those are the goals that I feel pretty good about.

Now for the ones that didn’t go as I had hoped: Goals #1 and 2:

The primary reason I chose this project was to see if I could keep up my energy and maintain my health and well-being throughout the course of this class, through regular yoga practice.  There are basically 3 parts to that statement: regular yoga practice, energy and overall health & well-being.  How did I do in those 3 categories?  I’m sorry to say I did not achieve any of those goals!

I had planned to practice yoga at least 3 times each week.  Unfortunately, I found that most weeks it was a struggle to fit in even 2 sessions of yoga.  Did I find it beneficial when I practiced yoga?  Yes, absolutely.  I don’t think there is any question that regular exercise of any kind is immensely beneficial for everyone.

As I was unable to fit exercise into my schedule at least 3 times a week, I did not receive the benefits of increased energy or overall well-being.  I was sick with flu and colds frequently.  I was frequently tired, I experienced a great deal of stress around completing all my daily responsibilities.  My overall well-being, I’m sorry to say, is not very good at the current time.

I was very disappointed about this.  I had always been able to fit exercise into my life previously.  I did it as a new teacher, during my pregnancies, after I had tiny babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and new-schoolers.  At this point in my life, I find it the most difficult to maintain a regular exercise practice.  I miss it.  And my health is missing it also.

Are there other factors involved?  Yes, of course.

I have not been getting enough sleep throughout this time, which makes it difficult to exercise, reduces energy, makes one more likely to get sick and also increases the likelihood of emotional and mental stress.

Also, as any teacher can tell you, teaching is a stressful job.  And trying to balance the profession of teaching with raising a family is not easy.  The needs of the teacher/mom always seem to come in last.  And stress affects the body in so many ways.  Many teachers experience  depression, panic attacks, anxiety and other emotional/mental/physical health problems.  It seems to me that teachers are at a higher risk of developing these issues compared to those in other professions, although the data on this may vary somewhat.  Dealing with the many issues regarding youth and the changing education system takes it toll.

I suppose it is unrealistic to expect yoga to fix all of this!  Well, perhaps if everyone in our society began to practice yoga…. But that’s not going to happen anytime soon!

Perhaps I could try harder to squeeze yoga into my life – get up earlier in the morning, be more “forceful” or disciplined with myself, try not to feel guilty about taking time away from my kids to do yoga or involve them in it.  Perhaps I could focus on other types of exercise that I can do with my kids and/or husband (especially now that it is spring): walking, shooting hoops, bike riding, etc.

In any case, I will continue to try to fit yoga and other exercise into my life.  I will also try to maintain everything I have learned about the yoga lifestyle.  I am thankful for all that I have learned through this project and will continue to learn more in the future.  I plan to continue to blog about these topics, as well as others.

Overall, I consider my yoga learning project a success.  It has given me the opportunity to learn more and develop a further appreciation for yoga.

Please see a complete list of my yoga project posts below.  And please share any thoughts you have about my yoga project.  Thanks for following!

Photo Source: Google

Google Document of my Rubric and Record of Weekly Progress

Weekly Self-Evaluation Record

Date (week of): # Yoga Sessions/ Type of Yoga Mental Focus Energy Positivity Comments
JAN23-JAN 30
1 Yoga For Energy 3 2 2
TIRED IN THE EVENINGS, FELT STRESSED ABOUT COMPLETING IIP REPORTS
Feb 6 2 Yoga For Energy 1 1 2
HAD THE FLU ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT  AND THURSDAY.  DIDN’T FEEL BACK TO HEALTH UNTIL SATURDAY.  VERY BUSY WEEKEND.  NOT ENOUGH YOGA!
Feb 13  1 Restorative Yoga  3  3  3
 LEFT FOR PHOENIX ON THURSDAY, RELAXED WITH FAMILY.
Feb 20  1 Restorative Yoga  2  3  2
 CELEBRATED HUBBY AND DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY.  CAME HOME TO FIND OUT MY MOTHER HAD FALLEN AND BROKEN HER LEG, SPENT TIME AT THE HOSPITAL
Feb 27  3Yoga with Adriene  3  2  2
 FOUND AN EXCELLENT SITE AND WAS ABLE TO FIT IN 3 SESSIONS OF YOGA.  FELT SOME STRESS DUE TO THE BUSY-NESS OF LIFE. DEFINITE PROGRESS
Mar 5  2Yoga with Adriende  2  1  2
 IT WAS A BUSY AND STRESSFUL WEEK – JUST ONE OF THOSE WEEKS!
Mar 12  2Yoga with Adriene  2  1  2
 WAS SICK THIS WEEK.  FIT IN 2 SESSIONS OF YOGA.
Mar 19  3Yoga with Adriene  3  2 3
 DEFINITELY FELT STRONGER, MORE ENERGETIC, MORE POSITIVE.  YOGA WAS BENEFICIAL.
Mar 26  2Yoga with Adriene  2  2  2
 VERY BUSY WEEK.  TIRED.

Weekly Self-Evaluations of my Yoga Progress   I Love Yoga!   The How and Why of My Yoga Project   Bikram, You’re a Disgrace   Yoga History 101   On Being a Vegetarian   O   nline Resources For Yoga   Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Socially Consicous and Environmental   Purposes and Types of Yoga   Is Yoga Cultural Appropriation?   Yoga Progress Feb 20   Yoga Progress Feb 23   Yoga Progress March 2   Yoga Progress March 6  Yoga Progress March 19

 

This week’s Yoga Practice: March 19

This week’s Self-Evaluation

This week I was able to fit in three sessions of Yoga with Adriene (Yoga camp, Days 8, 9, 10).  My practice definitely increased my energy, positivity and ability to deal with stress.  I felt calm and relaxed.  Each time, my practice helped my body to loosen up and feel more comfortable.

Please see my post this week on Buying Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Socially Conscious and Environmentally as this relates to a Yoga Lifestyle.

Yoga Progress: March 6, 2016

This was a busy, stressful week!  Don’t we all have them – the weeks that are even crazier than a typical week!?

I was able to fit in 2 sessions, one of which was encouraged by my daughter who is also becoming a young yogi herself.

My energy was low and I was not able to make any progress in my yoga skills.  But the two sessions that I squeezed into my week certainly affected my well-being in a positive way.

See my self evaluation here.

Week Four -Yoga Progress

This week I’m excited to tell you about some of the progress I have made in finding ways to fit my yoga practice into my life, my success in researching online sources for Yoga and how I have learned to accept my current ability level as a yogi.

Previously I had sampled some yoga videos from Sattvayoga and YogaGlo. I tried both of their free trials for two weeks.(SattvaYoga costs $10/month and YogaGlo costs $18/month). In both these sources there was a lot of choice and the instructors of the videos I watched seemed very good. I’m sure these sites would be beneficial for anyone wanting to practice yoga. However, after consideration I decided it is unnecessary to spend money in order to practice yoga.  There are plenty of sources for free on the internet.

In my search for free sites I found an absolutely wonderful resource: Yoga with Adriene: 30 Day Yoga Camp.

Adriene Mishler: Blog

The instructor, Adriene Mishler, created a series of 30 days of yoga vidoes. Adriene’s focus is to help us Find What Feels Good. This is the name and focus of her paid site for all things yoga.  Adriene is quirky, in a great way, fun and easy to follow.  I really appreciate her laid-back, positive, individualized approach to teaching yoga.

Each of the sessions in the 30 Day Yoga Camp series have a specific focus such as “I create”, “I embrace” or “I accept”.  I really like this aspect as well.  It is helping me to be more mindful.

During the first few weeks of my yoga project and practice I was attempting an exercise regime that I would have practiced a few years ago, when I was in better fitness than I am now. It was familiar and I wanted to “push myself”. However, in the spirit of yoga, I have realized that it is important to accept myself as I am: including my current level of fitness and stamina. I may be able to gradually work back to where I used to be. But I need to focus on where I am, here and now. And that’s ok.

Printable Quotes

As a result, Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Camp is just what I needed! It is gentle with an appropriate amount of challenge. She provides tips for different levels. Most importantly she takes the time to remind us to move into poses in our own time, in our own way. She reminds us to take a minute to feel the pose, wiggle or ease left and right, forward and back and pay attention to how it feels and what our body is trying to tell us. The videos tend to be about forty minutes long, which is perfect for my lifestyle.

This week I started the Yoga camp while at the University gym, as you can read in my previous post. On two other occasions, I practiced the yoga camp in my home. I have not been able to practice these lessons on successive days, but I am ok with that, for now. This is the first week that I was able to complete three sessions of yoga. So this is already progress!
On one of the days I practiced with my daughter. I really enjoyed doing yoga with her. It was great to have a partner and I’m happy to involve her in the beneficial practice of yoga also.

My favourite place to practice is in my home. However, I am glad that I have the option of practicing at the University gym while my daughter is at her synchro practice. The idea is to fit yoga into my life in whatever way I can.

I have also been able to spend about 15-20 minutes doing some light walking on my treadmill or in the gym.

I have been dabbling in yoga for about sixteen years. I have gone through times when I have had a regular yoga practice. However, my life has gotten busier over the years as I have added in children and graduate work. It feels good to have made positive progress towards renewing a regular practice. I feel like I will be able to sustain this exercise on a weekly basis. I am confident this will in turn increase my energy and help me in dealing with life as usual in positive ways. You can also see my self-evaluation here.

If you have any tips or advice on fitting yoga into your busy lifestyle I would love to hear from you!

Namaste.Krista

 

Yoga Success!

Finally I had a great yoga session!  There were two reasons my practice was a success;  my instructor and the venue.

I found a series of videos by Yoga with Adriene. She has a blog, website and YouTube channel.  I started her 30 Day Challenge.  Adriene’s focus is on paying attention to your own body and making your yoga practice work for you. I love that!  There are many options because every day and every person is different.  Sometimes your body is tight in one area and then the next day your tightness is in a totally different place.  I really enjoyed day one of the challenge.  It’s great for beginners but also good for more advanced yogis. I highly recommend it!

However,  I did feel a bit like a weirdo…. My daughter has synchronized swimming at the University on Mondays and Fridays.  I live in the north end so it’s not worth it to drive home and back again.  So I decided to use the open gym time tonight to do my yoga practice.  (Actually I really wanted to use the dance studio space,  but there was a class in there.) So I built up my courage, grabbed my mat and my phone and went into the gym.  There were a few people that came in to shoot hoops. I felt a bit embarrassed but kept going anyway.  I walked a few laps around the gym afterwards too. I felt great!  Maybe it should be more normal to see people doing yoga at the gym or park or wherever anyway – just as normal as seeing people shoot hoops. No one gave me any funny looks or seemed bothered in any way.  So I will get over feeling weird about this!  I was able to focus on me and my yoga practice,  with no distractions.  I will try it again.

Shout -out to Vanessa who I saw there before I started my yoga. A little spontaneous moral moral support never hurts!

 

 

Roller Coaster Yoga Life

Over the past two weeks I have had a difficult time fitting yoga into my life as it has been a bit of a roller coaster.

After getting sick I found I didn’t have much energy and so chose to do Restorative/Yin Yoga.  I found this was very relaxing and helped me to recover.

On Thursday, February 11 my family and I went away to Phoenix. We had a wonderful vacation. The weather cooperated so we were able to swim in the pool at our resort, go shopping and go to the zoo. We also celebrated both my daughter and my husband’s birthdays during our vacation.  We were getting a great deal of exercise swimming and walking, I felt fantastic and I was focused on family time. As a result I only attempted yoga on one occasion and, even that attempt was interrupted. Although I was able get some rest and relaxation, there were also the plane rides and hotel beds to consider.  These are not so conducive to proper body alignment!  It was difficult to evaluate my yoga progress due to these factors.

While we were away my generous parents were looking after our cat. Upon returning home from our blissful trip we learned that my poor mother had broken her leg that morning. The fault was my cat’s, who had escaped out the door when my mother opened it to get the mail. My mother chased after her and slipped on the sidewalk. (Freezing rain in February in Regina is rare and dangerous, isn’t it?). I have spent most of the day at the hospital and my dear mother is in surgery as I write this. During our visits today, as usual, my mother was more focused on how all of us were doing. I’m sure she wished she had some food to offer us! She is strong, healthy and spirited. I’m sure she will be up and about in no time. However, it will be a long time before I will forgive my thoughtless cat!

Needless to say, my energy, my focus and my stress level have been a bit of a roller coaster over the past two weeks. It was difficult to self-evaluate such a variation, especially when very little of it is due to yoga. However, I always do my best to practice a yoga lifestyle. For me, this means kindness to myself and all those around me as well as looking for peace, calm and joy in everyday life. Vegetarianism and healthy eating are also part of my yoga lifestyle. While on vacation for seven days I felt it was easier to practice these values.

Photo source: Lifetales Brianna Carrion

See my self-evaluation here.

I will keep you posted on my mother’s progress as well. All prayers and happy thoughts are appreciated!

UPDATE ON MOM:

It is Saturday morning.  My mother is an inspiration!  She got out of recovery at 2:30 in the morning.  By 9:07 this morning my dad texted me that she was up in a chair having her breakfast and was ready to bear weight!  I’m sure she is ready to get back to looking after everyone else!  Her mother (my grandmother) lived to 93.  At 75, I’m sure my mother plans to have another 20 years or more to look after us all!  So she knows she has to look after herself.  She exercises three times each week, eats healthy and always on the go!

Grandma always said “things are never so bad that they couldn’t be worse!”  I guess another way to look at this is that there is always something to be thankful for.  Perhaps this is the answer to a long, happy life. Today I’m thankful for my determined, amazing mom!

Photo source: memions.com

Weekly Self-Evaluations of Yoga to Increase My Energy

Part of my Yoga project is to find out if I can increase my energy with a regular yoga practice.  I will use the rubric below to evaluate whether I am feeling an increase in my energy and whether I would attribute it to my yoga practice.  I will also keep a journal to help understand this. Be sure to check back for my progress.

Rubric to Measure Effects of Regular Exercise on Mental Focus, Energy & Positivity  Krista McMillen          ECI 831

1 2 3 4
Mental Focus

(And Time Management)

– had difficulty focusing on tasks all week – had difficulty focusing on tasks sometimes – had difficulty focusing on tasks occasionally – able to focus on mental tasks any time of day
Energy level – felt tired all week

– unable to complete many necessary tasks  this week

– felt tired 2 or more days this week

– unable to complete some of the tasks this week

– felt tired 1 day this week

– able to complete most of the tasks in my week

– felt energetic throughout the week

– able to complete all of the tasks in my week easily

Positivity & Stress Management – had many negative thoughts and emotions

– felt anxious, worried or stressed much of the time

– had some negative thoughts and emotions occassionally

– felt anxious, worried or stressed some of the time

– had positive thoughts and emotions most of the week

– felt calm and confident most of the week

– had positive thoughts and emotions  almost all week

– felt calm and confident almost all week

Record

Date (week of): # Yoga Sessions/ Type of Yoga Mental Focus Energy Positivity Comments
Jan23-Jan 30
1 Yoga For Energy 3 2 2
tired in the evenings, felt stressed about completing IIP reports
Feb 6 2 Yoga For Energy 1 1 2
Had the flu on Wednesday night  and Thursday.  Didn’t feel back to health until Saturday.  Very busy weekend.  Not enough yoga!
Feb 13  1 Restorative Yoga  3  3  3
 Left for Phoenix on Thursday, relaxed with family.
 

Feb 20

 1 Restorative Yoga  2  3  2
 celebrated hubby and daughter’s birthday.  Came home to find out my mother had fallen and broken her leg, spent time at the hospital
 

Feb 27

 3

Yoga with Adriene

 3  2  2
 found an excellent site and was able to fit in 3 sessions of yoga.  felt some stress due to the busy-ness of life. definite progress
Mar 5  2

Yoga with Adriende

 2  1  2
 It was a busy and stressful week – just one of those weeks!
Mar 12  2

Yoga with Adriene

 2  1  2
 Was sick this week.  Fit in 2 sessions of yoga.
Mar 19  3

Yoga with Adriene

 3  2 3
 Definitely felt stronger, more energetic, more positive.  Yoga was beneficial.
Mar 26  2

Yoga with Adriene

 2  2  2
 Very busy week.  Tired.

 

The How and Why of My Yoga Project

Why did I choose Yoga as my Learning Project? What are my goals and how will I know when I have achieved them?

Why Yoga?

It is not about vanity. The purpose of increasing my activity is to improve my energy, focus and positivity so I can be more effective in every aspect of my life. I will not be measuring weight lost, inches lost, or even gains in muscle tone, although those would be a welcome bonus.
Life is busy. I have two kids and a husband who depend on me. As my kids get older I find that more time is spent running them around to activities. I have a job which requires a lot of emotional, mental and physical energy and many personal hours of work at home. Adding in classes means there is really no free time and I must be highly organized. All of these aspects of my life are conscious choices that I strive to excel at. In order to be most effective, I need to stay healthy.  Stephen Covey’s Seventh Habit of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to sharpen the saw. (I am a big fan of Stephen Covey’s work).
I find that I am often tired and have little desire to exercise. My hope is that a short session of gentle yoga will not seem too daunting and will be easier to commit to than some other forms of exercise. I also did not want to have to purchase a gym membership that I knew would just go to waste. I prefer to exercise at home. Yoga is something that is easy to do from home. There are many YouTube videos to learn from as well (see below).
I believe self-care is a huge problem in our society, especially for working parents. Hopefully others can benefit from my experiences.
The history of yoga has always intrigued me as well. I see this as an opportunity to learn more about this topic as well.

How will I measure my success?

Every great teacher knows that a well-made rubric is an excellent way to measure growth. So I decided to create a rubric to clarify what it is that I wanted to improve (see below). I will complete the rubric every Saturday to evaluate my week and note whether there is progress. Although I will also include running and walking on my treadmill as part of my exercise routine, the rubric will focus on the number of weekly yoga sessions I complete. I decided I would also keep a personal journal on Google Docs to reflect on how I feel and any my thoughts about my yoga practice as I go. I hope to fit in at least three sessions each week.

Rubric to Measure Effects of Regular Exercise on Mental Focus, Energy & Positivity

 

1 2 3 4
Mental Focus

(And Time Management)

– had difficulty focusing on tasks all week – had difficulty focusing on tasks sometimes – had difficulty focusing on tasks occasionally – able to focus on mental tasks any time of day
Energy level – felt tired all week

– unable to complete many necessary tasks  this week

– felt tired 2 or more days this week

– unable to complete some of the tasks this week

– felt tired 1 day this week

– able to complete most of the tasks in my week

– felt energetic throughout the week

– able to complete all of the tasks in my week easily

Positivity & Stress Management – had many negative thoughts and emotions

– felt anxious, worried or stressed much of the time

– had some negative thoughts and emotions occassionally

– felt anxious, worried or stressed some of the time

– had positive thoughts and emotions most of the week

– felt calm and confident most of the week

– had positive thoughts and emotions  almost all week

– felt calm and confident almost all week

 

What did I look for in a YouTube Yoga video?

I decided to use YouTube videos to guide my yoga practice. Luckily, I have a Smart TV in my basement for this purpose. I searched YouTube for Yoga for Energy. Of course, there were over 1 000 000 results!

My personal criteria for a yoga video consists of five parts. First, there must be relaxing music. Secondly the challenge needs to be just right for me. Next, the instructor must have a voice that is easy to listen to and explain the movements in a clear, easy to follow manner. Also I look for differing variations on the poses, so that I will have options for those days when I am feeling more lethargic, more energetic or more flexible than usual. Lastly, the pacing should be just right – not slow and boring, but not too fast either.
Fortunately, the second video I previewed met all these criteria. Yoga for Better Energy with Jason Crandell is the current choice. Of course, if I tire of this one, there is certainly not a lack of other options!

I think this is a great start to my project! After three yoga sessions in eight days I am already feeling more energetic! I gave myself a 3 in Mental Focus, a 2 in Energy level and  a 2 in Positivity on my rubric for the first week.

Stay tuned to see if I can fit in my three sessions of Yoga for Energy, and whether or not it indeed increases my energy for the week.