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

Yoga History 101

 

I love history and am fascinated by the story of Yoga.  Historians are not exactly sure when yoga began. It dates back to between 5 000 and  10 000 years ago, possibly beginning in the Indus-Sarasvati (or Indus Valley) civilization,
(near what is now Islamabad, Pakistan) in Northern India. The Indus Valley is one of the oldest known civilizations and is considered by some as one of the “Cradles of civilization”.  Yoga was first mentioned in the Rigveda and the Upanishads, early sacred Hindu texts, used by spiritual Hindu leaders of that time.

Yoga is thought to have developed over a period of six historical eras: pre-vedic India, the Vedic Period, the Pre-Classical era, the Classical era, the Middle Ages, and Modern History.

I’m always amazed at how one thing leads to another – in life in general, and certainly in a Google Search or any research! Since I began to learn about the history of yoga, one thing has indeed led to another. During my research I also discovered 30 different types of yoga.  Additionally, I was intrigued by the fact that yoga is more than exercise, but can and should be considered a lifestyle.  This wasn’t new information, but simply confirmed for me how important it is to remember this.  I will continue my research and share what I have learned in the future.  Until then, Namaste, my friends.

 

 

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.

 

Bikram, You’re a Disgrace!

Bikram Choudhury, the creator of Bikram Yoga or Hot Yoga, is currently up on charges in a  sexual harrassment case.

When most people think of a Yogi, they think of someone who is tolerant, kind, compassionate and loving.  If these allegations are true, Bikram certainly does not fit the description of what we would hope for in a leader in any area.

With other individuals such as Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshy up on similar charges recently, this topic is a highly relevant and important one.  Discussion about rape culture in our society has become more prevalent.  Historically, there has been a lot of blame placed on women when their bodies are violated. I hope this is beginning to change.

As a parent of one girl and one boy I am always conscious of the messages I send to both my children and about respecting yourself and others.

As I enter into my project on learning about Yoga, I will be closely watching this court case.

 

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.

I love Yoga!

I have decided to my Learning Project on Yoga. My plan is to learn more about the history of yoga and the various types of yoga. I want to improve my yoga practice and my ability to perform the poses and sequences.
I have loved yoga for many years. I have always done yoga with a guide of some sort – an instructor or a video. I have heard terms being tossed around (Ashtangawho? Vinyasawhat?). I have always been curious to learn more about the different types and the history, but never really had a reason to, until now.
I have a basic knowledge of some of the most common poses (cobra, tree, triangles, downward dog) and the sun salutation sequence, and I use them regularly in my exercise routine. I have always found that I feel great when I regularly practice yoga (3-4 times/week). I feel stronger, more energetic, more positive, happy and motivated. I have read some articles about why yoga is beneficial. I know there is a lot of information out there.
Recently, I have heard some discussion around whether yoga is cultural appropriation. So I will also address this as I am on this journey.
This is the current knowledge that I have about yoga. I am excited to begin learning more and, hopefully, becoming a healthier me!