New Ventures!

Things may have been quiet here for the last month but I can assure you that things were not so quiet behind the scenes. There are some exciting new ventures ahead and I look forward to sharing them with you as I can. The last couple of months have been full of transitions and adjustments, and also Yoga Camp! In my previous post, I shared Yoga Camp with you and told you I would be doing it. And I have, as my body would allow me to. In the past I would have been frustrated with myself that I could not stick to doing it every single day without missing any. Thankfully, yoga, and specifically Adriene from Yoga with Adriene, has taught me to listen to my body and to treat it with the care it needs. So, regardless of an ongoing shoulder injury, I have been able to work my way through Yoga Camp, with modifications and rest days along the way as needed.

I will be sharing more about my Yoga Camp experience, among many other things, on my new website Live Simply Truly. You can read about my thoughts on Yoga Camp here: Yoga Camp.

This new website was born in 2014 out of an exciting idea I had about an empowering website that shared stories and encouragement about simplifying life and living it being true to ourselves. The other component of this new website that I am very excited about is the collaboration component. I opened the site up to contributors to be a part of and to share their own stories. It has been fun to read through the various voices already present on this new site.

When I had the idea for Live Simply Truly, I was quite busy and could not give it the attention it deserved. But I could not let the idea go. So I created the site with the hope and faith that one day I would return to the site and grow it into the vision I have for it.

That time has finally come! Going forward I will be writing primarily (maybe completely?) at Live Simply Truly. For a while now, I have had the desire to write about more than food and recipes. And while I love Recipes Redesigned for being my first blog and for all it taught me, I am ready to spread my wings further. I honestly don't know if I will post anymore to this blog or not. I am leaving it up and myself open to the possibilities of the future.

For now though, I will be writing primarily at Live Simply Truly, as well as expanding my writing doing freelance writing and collaborating with other websites that I believe in. I will also be spending more time on developing the children's book that I wrote several years ago. I still love my little characters in the book so much and cannot wait to bring them out into the world. ♥

I thank you all for following along with me here at Recipes Redesigned. Thank you for reading, for your comments, and for trying and sharing my recipes. I invite you to come check out Live Simply Truly. There is an exciting future ahead for this new site and I really think you will enjoy it.

Also, if you want to keep up with all my writings, please 'like' my Writer Facebook page: Sarah Bowman.

For the bottom of my heart, thank you for being a part of something that has helped me grow into the person I am today.

Much love,

Sarah

 

Snowga!!

 

30 Day Yoga Camp with Yoga with Adriene

I don't know about you, but now that Christmas is over I feel like the year has all but wrapped up and I am looking forward to the new year with even greater anticipation! New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are easily my favorite of all the holidays. I enjoy celebrating the past year and relish the feeling of a fresh new year. New Year's Day kind of reminds me of that classic Anne of Green Gables conversation between Anne Shirley and her teacher:

Anne Shirley: Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.

Muriel Stacey: Well, with no mistakes in it yet.

I love to remember this Anne Shirley quote with Miss Stacey's addition too. Miss Stacey reminds Anne, and us, that there will be mistakes tomorrow, and that is okay too.

My husband and I are kicking of the new year with a yoga bootcamp created by Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. This year's 30 days of yoga program is especially created to attend to the mind and soul, as well as the body. I am very excited about it! I can't think of a better way to start off a fresh new year!

The 30 day program is free and will be on YouTube on the YWA channel. In addition, Adriene will be sending out daily email updates starting January 1, 2016. Her email updates are personal notes from her and are always a lovely addition to going through the programs. I have no doubt that these updates with be encouraging, inspiring, and challenging as well.

I hope you join us on this 30 day yoga bootcamp journey! The daily emails will start on January 1st. But in true Adriene-form, the actually 30 days of yoga videos will not start until January 2nd. She gets that we are still in holiday mode on January 1st. :D

Decide to do this for yourself this year and proclaim it so that you can hold yourself accountable for sticking with this intention of spending 30 days tending to your mind, body, and soul. I would love to hear from you that you have decided to join us too!

Sign up here for the FREE 30 Day at home yoga bootcamp for your mind, body, and soul!

Update: There are so many people join the 30 Day Yoga Camp that the YWA site keeps crashing! Here is an alternate link YWA created to signup for the daily updates. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?! YOU have to join us too! :)

Tomorrow is always fresh quote

BIG News!!

I have some wonderful good news that I still can't hardly believe! Instead of just blurting out the news, I want to share some background information for anyone else who may be in a similar situation. img_4316

First some context...

I have had serious disruptive and painful GI issues for as long as I can remember, at least since age 5. That means I have been dealing with it all for 30 years now! My symptoms have progressed and gotten worse over the last 10 years. I had a CT scan and some blood work done two weeks ago. All the results came back completely normal. Basically the tests showed that all of my abdominal organs are perfectly normal and there are no markers of inflammation in my blood, even though I was still having a terrible "flare-up" at the time. This is all good news that I don't have an inflammatory bowel disease or any kind of obstruction. But that Friday night when I got the news of my results, I could not see it for the good news that it was because I had hit my breaking point of dealing with the pain for so long. I was a mess that Friday and felt so discouraged that I would continue to have this pain and there be no way to control it.

After I had my little meltdown that night, I was finally able to see the good and think more clearly. Since I did not have any obstructions or inflammatory bowel disease then I had to accept that all my symptoms must truly be from my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I realized that perhaps I AM more stressed than I realize. After all, I am a Type A personality, a recovering perfectionist, and high energy. Not exactly the recipe for calmness and low stress! :D

A moment of clarity

I pushed and pushed the doctors for answers to my problems because I was afraid that without a proper diagnosis they would think it was all in my head when that could not be further from the truth! But in light of these latest test results, I realized that I have to accept that my symptoms are truly from IBS. That was when it hit me. Although my symptoms are not IN my head, perhaps there are cause BY my head! Ding-ding-ding!!!! I have functioned at such a high-level of stress during numerous times in my life that I have missed the cues when I am moderately stressed. And stress plays a HUGH role in IBS symptoms.

All this got me to thinking that if stress is truly the cause of my increasing symptoms then maybe that is the only cause. About 3 and a half years ago during one of my many visits to my doctor, looking for answers and at the point of exasperation, the question of celiac disease and gluten intolerance came up. I was tested for celiac disease and that came back negative, but at that same time I went on a gluten free diet and began to feel remarkably better! Because of the drastic relief of symptoms that eating gluten free did for me, my doctor said that I probably did have celiac disease even though I had a negative test result, which does happen in a large number of cases he said. Either way, he said it was clear that I should not eat gluten. Since then I have changed family doctors and my current doctor has my diagnosis listed as gluten intolerance. He wasn't as quick about throwing around the celiac diagnosis without the positive test results.

The experiment!

Now back to two weeks ago. In light of my new acceptance that all my problems are probably related to IBS and stress, I began to question if I was truly gluten intolerant too. So two days later I began a gluten experiment on myself. Prior to this I classified myself as being highly sensitive to gluten because my symptoms were so pronounced. All my symptoms, which had improved after eliminating gluten completely in July 2012, were back again even though I was 100% GF. And the symptoms were just as bad as before I went gluten free.

img_4366

So that Sunday morning I ate a small graham cracker and nothing else for 3 hours while I monitored for symptoms and waited. Nothing. No spike in symptoms. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling more brave and ate an entire (amazing!) slice of regular pizza and half of a turkey sub. Oh, yeah! I was going all in at this point of my gluten experiment. :D My local pizza shop is authentic Italian cuisine and they know how to make their rolls! Yum!! I ate all that Sunday evening and was completely fine!! I have challenged myself more since then and I am still fine!!

I cannot hardly believe it but it seems that I'm not gluten intolerant!! This is such good news and life-altering news that I am still having trouble wrapping my head around it. Also, I am a little afraid that I will suddenly get really sick and find out that I can't eat gluten after all. It just seems too good to be true. But it is true and for now I am fine, so I will be happy with the here and now and try to not worry about the future.

But why did it help before?

I believe my symptoms were relieved when I went gluten free in 2012 because at that time my stress was really bad and my symptoms were getting worse. By taking action to try to control my symptoms by going GF, I had control over my life again and was no longer powerless. The sense of control reduced my stress and made my symptoms decrease. That would also explain why my symptoms have gradually come back to the point where they were prior to going gluten free. I've been under a tremendous amount of stress with nursing school, then beginning my career as a nurse, working odd shifts and night shift, and having my children begin school. I think it all just built up again to be too much and that is why I have been so sick again.

Does that make any sense? As my life felt like it was spiraling more and more out of my control, my symptoms increased. Then once I was forced to look at the test results with an open mind, I realized how stressed I am most of the time and had to accept that my symptoms are my body's way of reacting to the stress. I don't think I was ever gluten intolerant. I was just desperate for answers and to solve my symptoms and feel better. And that was why I felt better when I went GF. It wasn't because of the gluten, it was because I felt powerless with my symptoms and pain and I wanted a way to fix it. I am not saying that this is the answer for everyone with gluten intolerance or IBS. I am simply relating my experience and my realization of the amount of stress I was under and what that stress was doing to my body. Maybe your thing is not gluten or IBS, but we all would do well to take stock every now and then and evaluate the stress on us and its affect on our lives.

img_3661

So where do I go from here?

The big thing is I need to do is to work harder on realizing when I am feeling stress, doing things to relieve the stress, and putting structure in place to prevent some of the stress in the first place. For me, the answer lies in consistent yoga practice, practicing mindfulness, living with intention, and creating structure in my life. Also I should really add that I need to cultivate respect from myself for the boundaries and organization I create. Too many times in the past I have organized my time to get the important things done when I have a lot going on then I completely ignore that schedule and run around taking on way too many things and not accomplishing half of what I truly wanted to accomplish. I know I can't be the only person who does this. Why do we do this? Why does the adult side of me recognize the need for a schedule then as soon as the schedule is created, the kid in me tears it up and runs around screaming? :D The key is to practice mindfulness in all areas of my life and to allow what I have learned through my yoga practice to spread even further through my life.

I am excited for the future and all the wonderful possibilities of 2016! There are some exciting things in the works for next year that I will share with you when the time is right. For now, I can't wait to get back into the kitchen and create even more recipes redesigned to be healthier!

 

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 22 (a.k.a. Back on the Mat Again)

IMG_4327Those of you who follow me on Instagram and my Facebook page know that I had a rough last few days with a major flare up of my abdominal pain issues. Due to the pain, nausea and severe bloating, it was difficult to do much of anything. Today I finally was able to get back on my mat and it felt SO good to be back! No RISE or Foundation videos today but at least I was able to get back on the mat. This seemed like the perfect time to try one of Adriene's newer videos, "Gentle Yoga Sequence". Gentle Yoga Sequence

This practice was perfect for moving my still sore belly back into practice again. There were a few movements that put pressure on my abdomen and caused some pain. When that happened, I eased back out of those positions. This practice was all about slow and gentle moment.

This is a very gentle posture. No pulling on the neck. The hands are simply resting on the neck and gravity is pulling gently down on the arms which helps to open up the upper back.

This was another lovely stretch for opening up the upper back. After all the pain of the last few days, I was holding quite a bit of tension there.

Ahh, Puppy Posture. :) Bliss!!

Continuing with the theme of gentleness, I took the Cat-Cow Pose and Downward Facing Dog Pose nice a slow. Stretching into the tight places without pushing myself too far.

IMG_4331IMG_4332

Taking some time to work on squaring my hips with a leg stretched out behind me.

Next, some gentle twists. Only pushing as far as was comfortable for my abdomen.

IMG_4335

IMG_4336

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so grateful to Adriene for introducing me to this mantra. It is one I come back to often when I am dealing with circumstances that are frustrating me and out of my hands. Today I focused this mantra on my abdominal issues that I have. The fact that I have these issues with my GI system is out of my hands. It is a waste of energy to spend time being angry or upset that I deal with this. What is in my hands though is how I deal with it and what actions I take. So today I am embracing my GI struggles and saying "Allow, release, let go." Sending much gratitude to Adriene today for this mantra. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 18

Today it was back to RISE and the Foundation video. I think that RISE Day #6 may be my new favorite. First #3 was my favorite, then #5, now #6. :D I also joined the Yoga with Adriene site today! I am so excited about this!! In addition to the membership option, she will be continuing free videos on YouTube too!! Adriene has impacted my life in such an amazing way since I discovered her videos a year ago. Of course a membership will offer some additional bonus things for members, but ultimately I am so happy to be able to support the continual growth and outreach of Yoga with Adriene.

It is the most positive and affirming thing I have ever come across. It challenges me to grow and encourages me to love myself and others. I have met so many wonderful people through the YWA community and made some amazing friends too! In a world that is too often dark, scary and sad, this YWA community is truly a bright light of love in a harsh world. It is a safe place, a supportive place, and a respectful place. It truly is the best place on the internet. Check out her website for more about the membership.

RISE Day #6

How can you not like a video that begins with this glorious pose? ;) IMG_4270

From start to finish I love the whole feel of this practice. It stretched, strengthens, and nurtures the body in the nicest way possible. The 30 minutes just flew by so quickly!

Of course Black Cat joined me on the mat again today. :) It is so funny that she comes running now whenever she hears Adriene's voice and she stays with me on or near the mat the whole time I am practicing. I can't decided if she does it because she likes Adriene's soothing voice or because she likes that I am down on the floor at her level.

Massaging my forearms. Yoga has me more aware and grateful for my whole body, even the parts we often overlook.

This pose combines balance and stretch. It is great for stretching out the front of the thigh.

I LOVE this pose!! It opens up so many tight places in a really nice way.

Notice my extra furry head in the last picture? Yup! It's Black Cat sitting right next to me. :D

I like seeing how my back has become less hunched in forward fold. I have released so much of the tension that I was holding there at the start of the month.

It is also encouraging to notice how much high my three legged dog has gotten!

Massaging the wrist creases with the toes.

Finally developing the strength to hop up into forward fold and back into plank!

Warrior I reinforces what I am building on in Physical Therapy by drawing the shoulders back and down.

As does this. Yoga is so helpful for drawing attention to the little details we often miss, like hunching our shoulders up and forward.

On to one of my top favorite asanas, pigeon pose. This pose feels SO good on my hips!

Sitting up talk in pigeon really strengths the back muscles.

As this does too.

Renewing my intention for the day that I set at the beginning of my practice.

Foundations of Yoga Day 18

The foundation video for today was "Extended Side Angle Pose" or Utthita Parsvakonasana. Very helpful foundation video on this asana. There are several key points to this asana. After beginning in Warrior II, that lift and extension is maintained as we move into the beginning of extended side angle pose.

Using the hand to smear the ribcage up to encourage the torso to open up, not hunch down.

Next, stretch the arm out long overhead while maintaining that lift in the side body.

Or lift the arm straight up. Always keeping the shoulders down, the chest rotated up, and the knee in line with the ankle.

Here is another variation to try if it can be done without collapsing in the chest. Still maintaining that lift after smearing the chest open is important for proper alignment.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 16

NYC November 15, 2015 So, day 15 did not happen for me. Too busy running around NYC with my husband and kids. :) Then after traveling home last night, the only thing left to do was get showers and crashing into bed with our exhausted but happy bodies.

This morning when I woke up I knew I was paying for all the walking we did over the weekend. My hips had really begun to bother my on Sunday afternoon from all the walking but that was nothing compared to how they felt when I woke up this morning.. To be perfectly honest, I can't hardly walk today with hobbling. In hindsight we should have rode the subway a lot more considering my hips ache after a 12 hour work shift at the hospital. But we wanted to immerse the kids into New York so they could get a feel of the city, not only see the tourist sights. And the best way to get a feel of a place is to spend lots of time walking around. So we walked and walked and walked... ;)

Today's practice was nice and easy with lots of gentle movement to relax all the tight places. Yoga felt amazing to my aching body and although I still really ache, I know I did the best thing I could for my body today by practicing my yoga.

RISE Day 5

Starting off with some breath awareness.

I was so excited to get to do RISE day 5 again! I really enjoyed this practice the first time around and today was no different. Also, the sun was shining brightly on my mat the whole time I practiced and that felt like an extra special treat. :)

Stretching out the tight muscles.

Releasing the tightness in my back.

 

I LOVE drunk cat-cow for open up all my tight joints. It helps nearly every joint!

Heart to earth pose- another great upper back opening asana.

Lots of softly pedaling the feet during Downward Facing dog.

Very gently movements. during side body stretch- finding what feels good.

Foundations of Yoga Days 14, 15 and 16IMG_4236

After my RISE practice I caught up on the Foundation videos from the weekend and today. The first foundation video was "Sun Salutation B" or Surya Namaskara B. This builds on the Sun Salutation A and adds more strengthening to it. It is a lovely flow, made extra nice by practicing in the sunlight. :)

There were forward folds and stretches up to the sky, downward dogs that stepped through and up to warrior and chair poses.

IMG_4235

IMG_4231

IMG_4233

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4230

 

IMG_4240The next foundation video was "Tree Pose" or Vrksasana. This is a strength building and balancing asana. It really helps maintain the balance by picking a focal point and gazing that that while balancing in this pose. And don't forget to tuck the pelvis and tuck the tailbone down. That was a tip I never heard before practicing with Yoga with Adriene.

After Tree Pose, I moved on to the foundation video for "Triangle Pose" or Trikonasana. Adriene has some important and fine points regarding doing this pose correctly.

Preparing to enter the pose.

Angling out and down.

Triangle pose- being mindful to not collapse in my shoulders, neck or side body.

Lastly, I practiced the pranayama, "Lion's Breath" or Simhasana Pranayama. This breath may look silly but I find it to be quite invigorating and powerful feeling. Don't knock it until you try it. ;)

Taking a big breath in through my nose.

Exhaling with eyes opened and looking upward while tongue stretches downward.

 

 

 

A fun variation.

Then finishing everything off with a moment in child's pose being grateful for so many things.

IMG_4249

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 14

What an amazing day today was!! We headed to New York City for the Fearless Fest hosted by the Women You Should Know organization. It was a fun event that included fitness classes and vendors tables for some interesting companies, most of which were founded by women. I'll write more about the Fearless Fest in a couple of days. For now I just want to share my yoga experience before I crash into bed after the miles and miles we walked today around the city. I have no picture of my practice today because I practiced at the yoga class at Fearless Fest. This was my first ever group yoga class. Until know I have always practiced at home on my own or with my kids or my husband joining me. I wasn't sure how I would feel about practicing in a class setting because my home practice is so meaningful and special to me. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how I was able to find my own quiet space in a class and with an event going on in the same room. I enjoyed my first yoga class experience! It was invigorating to feel all that energy in the room around me. I really loved that both my kids jumped at the opportunity to practice and asked me if they could join me. I didn't even thinking about asking  them if they wanted to join me because I thought they would feel too intimidated by the room full of women. But they both were really into it! I was so proud of them both! And they both kept at it for a 30 minute class too. Nice! Pretty cool at 7 and 10 they can already say they attended a yoga class. They got to it a lot sooner than I did. :D 

I felt well prepared for this class thanks to Adriene's amazing teaching. There were no poses that I could not do. I think that was one of the reasons I enjoyed the class. Having the confidence in understanding the poses helped me not be nervous about the practice itself, but to dive into the practice and get everything out of it that I could. I would definitely recommend working through the foundation videos before tackling a class, unless of course you live in Austin and can benefit from the live teaching version from Adriene. ;)

I can't wait to write more about this fun event and this amazing organization, Women You Should Know. But for now, it is time for sleep. It was an amazing day!

  

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 13

Today was a busy day filled with parent teacher conferences, errands, shopping for long sleeves and pants for the kids. Thank goodness it stayed warm for as long as it did because I just recently discovered that my daughter only has 1 long sleeve shirt that fits and my son's pants are all about 3 inches above his ankles! I was all set to do yoga earlier in the day but just as I was queuing up my video, my daughter stopped by and we had a really nice chat. My son was busy playing so we had a chance to talk one on one. But the time we finished catching up, my son joined us and I decided we would go ahead and go get the shopping done.

When we got home, I had lots to do still before bed. In the past, I would have skipped my exercise or yoga because I had so much to do. I would have thought I did not have time to do yoga. But today, I realized that my thinking has changed and yoga has permeated my life. I looked at all I had to do still and thought I need to do yoga first so I can do everything else. Forty-five minutes of grounding and peace from yoga and I felt ready to take on all the rest of my to-do list for the day.

RISE Day 4IMG_3955

The sun was starting to drop as I got started with my practice. It was quite lovely having the late afternoon sun shining in on my practice. :)

I love the balance that is a part of this yoga practice. After doing a move that stretches out far in one direction, the next move draws in into the opposite direction. It is a reminder to me to not drive all my attention in one direction, but to attend to the opposite direction to in order to maintain balance. Definitely something to remember off the mat too.

Stretching out long...

Drawing back in.

 

Finally getting a feel for what Adriene means when she says to hop and "float" it up to the top of the mat. Progress!!

IMG_3960

Here were more reminders to maintain balance on the mat and off...

Stretching it out, radiating the heart forward.

Thinking about tomorrow and can't stop smiling. :)

Now draw it back to stretch the leg out.

 

 

We have a really fun day planned for tomorrow that I am SO excited about!! I could not stop smiling while I was on the mat. I'll share more about that tomorrow... ;)

IMG_3970

IMG_3967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to the Foundation videos for Day 13!

Foundations of Yoga Day 13

Today's foundation videos were "Knees, Chest and Chin Pose" or Ashtanga Namaskar and "Corpse Pose" or Savasana.

For Knees, Chest and Chin Pose I just want to encourage you to keep trying and practicing. The first several times I practiced this pose I was so frustrated that I wasn't anywhere near to what Adriene was doing. Remember, it is a journey. Yoga is not the poses but about the discoveries we make along the way.

Even my first pose of the practice was not nearly as good as the last pose of my practice. It was such a good feeling to put in the effort from repeated effort trying to master this pose to finally today moving in a way that mirrors Adriene's pose more closely.

IMG_3972

And the last pose...

IMG_3974

Then for everyone's favorite pose... ;)

Savasana

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 12

Gentle neck rolls. The kids were off school today and will be tomorrow too for parent teacher conferences. It was nice having them home today and the three of us being together, even though I spent a large portion of the morning working on a data entry project for our school's PTO (parent-teacher organization). After spending the morning deciphering handwriting so I could type names, email addresses and phone numbers, I came to really appreciate anyone who has to read people's handwriting on a regular basis. And I am determined to do better myself when filling out forms. My poor eyes! :D

I'm still taking it easy after the stiffness returned yesterday to my neck and shoulder. I also had physical therapy this afternoon, which was good, but hard too. Physical therapy gives me a deep appreciation for how the body all pulls together to support a weak point(s) and keeping going. Some of my PT moves I can move through the reps with no problem. Then other moves that target a different muscle will completely fatigue my muscle after only a few reps and with such a light weight. Fascinating!

After a full day I decided that instead of squeezing my practice in sometime during the day, I would do it this evening after we got back from the kids' Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. I am really glad I did. I lit a candle and enjoyed a peaceful practice with a few "visits" too.

RISE Day 3

Drawing circles with the knees works tightness out of the hips and lower back.

I continued on with my repeat of the RISE videos in the program today with RISE #3. Lots of careful and mindful stretching as I worked my aching joints and sore muscles.

And this opens up the whole back and the shoulders, as well as stretches the legs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I was joined by a special little guy after he finished his bath. :)

He thought this one felt especially nice> :)

Next, some Cat-Cow.

Some forward folds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then some Downward Facing Dog.

Even Black Cat joined in on the stretching. :D

After this, he ran off to get a snack before bedtime. And it was just me and the cats to finish the practice.

I think my plank is getting straighter and stronger.

Wide-legged Forward Fold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After some core tightening, it was on to a few more gentle stretches.

Foundations of Yoga Day 13

Knitting my ribcage together and tucking my tailbone down- 2 key points.

Today's foundation videos were "Chair Pose" or Utkatasana and "Breath of Fire" orKapalabhati Pranayama. Adriene had some very helpful tips for doing the Chair Pose correctly. There are all these little fine points and when they are all done correctly, the pose is powerful and supportive to the body too. Definitely check out her video before randomly sinking into a Chair Pose.

First chair pose of the video.

Last chair pose of the video.

Don't forget to take a nice stretch in the opposite direction after working one area so intensely as with the chair pose. A forward fold and a tall stretch up feel very yummy after this Chair Pose foundations video.

Stretch up tall.

Forward Fold

 

 

 

 

 

Last, I moved on to the pranayama, or breath practice for today. Don't skip these breath practices if you are tempted to. Breathing is an important element to yoga. The different breathing practices have their own unique elements to them.

Breath of Fire is fun to learn, on top of having a really cool name! Adriene begins by helping us become aware of our breathing. Then she instructs how to do the breathing. It is helpful to put the hands on the belly to feel the belly expand with the inhalation and suck in with the quick exhalation of this breath.

Inhale...

Exhale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I find that I feel very calm and even after completing this breathing practice. I believe that Breath of Fire would be a nice lead up to meditation. I plan on try that before I mediate next time.

Letting go of the busyness and weight of the day.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 11

IMG_3867Soon after I woke up this morning, my neck got a pinch in it and before I knew it my neck was stiff and my shoulder was aching again, almost as bad as when I first injured it. I started getting frustrated about it because I have worked so hard in physical therapy to get myself back to normal again and back to my job as a bedside nurse. I started worrying again about my future as a bedside nurse and about if I was going to be ready to go back in a month or if it was going to take longer now.

RISE Day 11

I started off my RISE practice today with gentle neck rolls to loosen up my tight neck muscles. I did RISE Day #2 practice.

IMG_3868I moved slowly and very carefully, being mindful of the tightness in both my neck and shoulder. I incorporated a lot of movement with the poses too. There was little holding of the poses for me. I think that was helpful in getting the muscles to relax and limber up some. This is probably one of the most valuable things I have learned from Adriene. To "find freedom within the flow/form/practice" and to "find what feels good".

While it is important to do yoga poses correctly and with proper alignment to prevent injury, I am so happy I have found the freedom to listen to what my body needs and not be hung up on following along rigidly. I used to feel like if I did not do a pose exactly as the teacher showed then I might as well not even be doing it. Perfectionism is the biggest hurdle to success because we are so afraid of doing something wrong that we don't do anything at all. 

Shortly after beginning my practice, my intention for the day came to me- Be Present. Such a powerful intention. Worry about the future is not going to take away any of the problems in the future. All worry does is take away my peace today. At this point I set my intention for the day and let the worries go. This moment I have. The future is out of my hands. I will be present. I will live and enjoy today.

She heard Adriene's voice and came running downstairs to join me. :)

I love how she is stretching with me. :D

Drunk Cat-Cow variation is my best friend. So happy to have learned this move. It opens up all my stiff joints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to engage the core!

Three-legged downward dog shifting forward and kissing each elbow with the knee.

Moving on the Yogi Bicycles. Adriene instructs to keep the shins parallel to the floor. I wasn't quite parallel when I first started and look at Black Cat judging me!

There!! Is that better, Black Cat?!?

Look at that eye! She is shocked!! Shocked!!

Great move to feel the burn in the abs.

Now to stretch it out.

Stretching the hammies.

"Happy Baby" :)

IMG_3883

Foundation of Yoga Day 10 and Day 11

The foundations of day 10 and 11 combined nicely today as I finished catching myself up to my November calendar. I did the Yoga Tips video "Engage Your Warrior", the silent video for "Equal Standing" or Samasthiti, "Warrior I Pose" or Virabhadrasana I and "Warrior II Pose" or Virabhadrasana II.

First up, Equal Standing.

Lifting all my toes to ground down through the 4 parts of the soles of my feet.

Applying what I learned to stand tall in Tadasana with Equal Standing.

I love these Silent Videos that Adriene made when she had to rest her voice. Don't misunderstand me; I love hearing Adriene talk too. You never know what she's going to say. I frequently crack up while practicing with her videos. :)

But these Silent Videos are special too. Maybe it is my love of old movies and old black and white films. I don't know; but I do know that these videos are special. They are very short videos, only a couple minutes. Watch the videos through first so you know the cues, then hit the mat and smile while you practice. I guarantee you'll feel amazing after doing one of these special videos.

Now, on to Warrior practice!

Preparing my base to work on my Warrior pose.

Evidentially it helps to make a face while rising up. It give you more energy. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the base is secure, rise up into Warrior I. I have always loved the warrior poses for as long as I have been practicing. I love how strong and powerful I feel in these poses!

Warrior I

Then transition with a strong base into Warrior II.

Warrior II

Stretching between warrior pose practice.

Make sure you take time to stretch out between these foundation videos and even while Adriene is holding the pose still. Listen to your body and if it needs to stretch in the opposite direction to balance things out, go for it! Stretch it out then return to the pose, ready to give it your best again.

I love that at the end of the the Warrior II video Adriene says the mantra of Warrior is "I am strong!" That is exactly how these poses make me feel.

Do these poses today and feel STRONG and POWERFUL. Then show me a picture of your strong arms! :)

Be STRONG!!!!

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 10

IMG_3822I still feel 100% better today after last night's yoga practice! This was a good reminder for me to not be bound by the "should's" but listen to my body and be willing to adjust my plans. After last night's reset, it was back to RISE and Foundations practice for me today.

Rise Day 10

The last RISE practice I remember doing was RISE practice #7 on Day 7. So I decided to start at the beginning again with RISE #1 today. Remember when I wrote about Day 8 and I said I was so disconnected that I couldn't remember which RISE practice I did? Well, when I got into today's practice with RISE  #1 it hit me that this was the RISE practice I just did on Day 8. haha :D Oh well! If I don't remember doing it then it would probably be a good idea to redo it again today.

It was a lovely practice and Gracie joined me today. :)

Gentle neck rolls while petting Gracie.

This still counts as a stretch, right? ;)

Pets add another layer of goodness to yoga!

Lion's Breath!

I love how happy I look in this one. :)

Cat-cow over cat.

Peace

Foundations Days 8 and 9

Because of Plan B yesterday and getting off schedule over the weekend with my foundation videos, today I started catching up by doing the videos for Day 8 and Day 9.

For Day 8, the foundation videos were "Plank Pose" or Phalakasana, "Cobra Pose" or Bhujangasana, and "Locust Pose" or  Salabhasana.

Plank

Locust

I did not get a got shots of myself doing Cobra Pose because I was too far out go the screen and I could not hardly even see what my arms were doing. Suffice it to say that it was a good instruction video on Cobra and I feel like I learned how to do it correctly and in a way that supports and strengthens my lower back.

A much need rest after plank, cobra and locust practice.

For Day 9 I did the "Sun Salutation A" or Surya Namaskara and "Alternate Nostril Breathing" or Shodhan Pranayama.

Shining my heart forward in Runner's Lunge.

Beginning of Sun Salutation A

Forward fold

Downward dog

Upward dog

Smile. Repeat. :)

Of course there are several other poses included in the Su Salutation A practice. I LOVE Sun Salutation A! It has a wonderful flow to it. It is a nice short sequence that can be repeat a few times for a easy to remember practice for beginners. Sun Salutation A was the first practice I did on my own without following a video. So it holds a special place in my heart. It is a beautiful practice to greet the day with too. :)

I chose to include the breathing practices in with the foundation vides in my Building a Yoga Foundation calendar for November because the breath is so integral to the yoga practice. The breath has the power to elevate a practice from solely going through poses to a mind and body connected practice.

Today, I practiced the Alternate Nostril Breathing.

Getting the fingers into position.

Next, I began working through the breathing. I discovered that it is naturally easier for me to breath through my right nostril. Weird, huh?

Right nostril breathing.

Left nostril breathing.

But then after practicing breathing alternating from right to left nostril and then back again, I released that it had become easier to breath through my left nostril. As I sit here typing this the next day, it is once again harder to breath out of my left nostril. I wonder if I continued the Alternate Nostril Breathing practice regularly if it would enable me to be able to breath equally well out of both nostrils?

Now a nice big cleansing breath at the end.

...feels SO good. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another restorative practice is complete. Ahh... :)

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 9

Ah, stress. If there is one constant in life, that would be stress. Stress is just a part of life; there's no way around it. To not have any stress would mean you're dead. :) I was having one of those days. Actually, if you read my previous posts, you'd know that it all started Saturday night for me at bedtime. All day I tried to force myself to get on the mat. I tried to force myself to "snap out of it". I tried to force myself to get the things done I needed to. But I had no focus. I felt so scattered all day. For me, that is a sign of a highly stressed mind, when my mind is darting around, jumping chaotically from thought to thought, and unable to focus. It was a busy day with errands that chopped up the day too. I'm sure that did not help my focus either.

Finally, when I was at physical therapy, slowing working through my exercises with nothing else distracting me, I listened to my body and what it was telling me. I knew frustration was at the root of the funk I had been in since Saturday night. I decide then and there that I would hop on my mat as soon as I got home and practice "Yoga for When You Are Angry". I was not feeling angry but I figured that frustration was a close enough negative emotion that this practice would probably be exactly what I needed.

Yoga for When You Are Angry

IMG_3789IMG_3788IMG_3790After some extended time in Child's Pose and one Downward Facing Dog, we moved to lie flat on the back. Next, Adriene added an element that she was hesitant to add, but then went for it anyways and I am so glad that she did. She said her teacher taught this and she wanted to share it with us but felt silly doing it. She instructed and showed how to laugh out loud for 30 seconds. It's an interesting thing. I started faking laughing, just to do it; and it turned into real life like Adriene said it would. :) How funny! I would not have expected that.

IMG_3791

Next, I tightened up everything super tight and held it for a little before fully relaxing everything. What a therapeutic move that was! It took that frustration I had been feeling and brought it all to the surface as I tensed up and held tightly. Then as I relaxed my whole body at once, I could feel it all melt away.

IMG_3792

IMG_3793

Ah, savasana. :) Compare my expression in the first reclining pose position with this last one. What a difference! And yes, I also added the "therapeutic" glass of wine to aid in my relaxation too. haha :D

After laying there a couple of minutes, I knew I wanted more. So I started a relaxing ocean sounds track on YouTube, grabbed my favorite cozy blanket and laid back down in savasana. I lay there in that meditative state for about 15 minutes. It was exactly what I needed. I got up from my mat feeling refreshed and so much lighter with all my frustrations and negative energy released and left behind.

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 7

See? I really do have 2 cats! It's not just the same cat in all my pics. :) (Sorry for the dark pictures. The lighting wasn't good and I didn't realize until after I reviewed my pictures. Also, long practice = lots of pictures.)

Saturday drove home the point for me that it was time to carve out some time and space for my morning yoga ritual. It was a good day until the end of the evening when it hit me at bedtime how much I did not accomplish of the things I wanted to do.

I did not have time to do my Foundations of Yoga videos but I did do the RISE Day 7 video, albeit I did it at 6 pm not 6 am. My day was full of connections and that I do not regret. I spent the morning with my children and then interacting with the YWA community. Such a lovely group of people. :)

We spent the afternoon visiting at my parents' house with my parents and uncle before he heads back home to Florida. One of my sisters and one of my brothers were also there with their families. It was an afternoon well-spent catching up, laughing, sharing our joys and our worries. And the kids got to play with some of their cousins too.

Yogi toes!

From there I took my kids to the library as promised before it closed for the evening. It was enjoyable to watch my daughter pour over all the books trying to decided on exactly which ones she wanted to get. She reminded me of myself when I was a girl and used to agonize over which books to get, wanting to pick out just the right ones. And it was a joy to watch my son, who had been so resistant to reading, excitedly pick out his books and announcing which one he was going to read to me at bedtime.

Finally we were back home for the night. My husband had been away over night and all day. We were expecting him to come home around 6:30 so we decided to wait to eat supper until he got home. In the meantime, I decided to hop on the mat. I was finishing up the RISE practice when my husband got home and we all decided to play a game of "Clue" before the kids' bedtime.

So while I don't regret anything I did, I could have been more careful with my time management and would have been able to accomplish more of the items I needed to do too.

Always a welcomed interruption. :)

RISE Day 7IMG_3710

This practice is the longest of the RISE videos, running at about 43 minutes. It took lots of elements and poses from the previous 6 days, added new poses and made one energetic and heat-building practice. I started out with a sweatshirt on and had to lose it part way through because I was sweating so much!

This practice had it all. Started with gentle movement to stretch the body and get it moving. Then lots of sun salutations, forward folds, downward dog into high lunge transitions and chaturanga practice. Then the heat really was building as we moved into warrior poses, chair pose, gate pose, tree pose, standing splits and core work. Plus all the other yummy bits with those poses and others and as we transitioned between the poses.

The core work was no joke! My core was burning at the end! My core felt tight and firm at the end of my practice.

I really enjoyed the way Adriene built up to this practice with the previous 6 days. I felt like by the time I was going through this practice that I had the rhythm and flow down. This enabled me to really flow through each pose and direct my attention to connecting my movement with my breath instead of trying to figure out what move came next. By doing the videos in order the first week, I was ready to put it all together and just flow.

 

IMG_3711 IMG_3723

And then the heat started to build as the poses got more intense.

IMG_3725 IMG_3726

Some "distractions". hehe :)

My yogi cat.

Answering some kid questions.

I love how yoga has put me in touch with my body and movement. I feel like I move with more grace and ease now. Sometime, like the picture below, I catch sight of myself mid-movement and am struck by how much little movements look like dancing. I love that! I wanted to be a dancer when I was a little girl and now thanks to yoga I am beginning to move more like a dancer. Maybe it's not too late to learn how to dance... :)

Dancing into gate pose.

Some of the core tightening moves.

IMG_3743 IMG_3747

Next Standing Splits practice. It is not very far yet, but that's okay. It is not about the pose; it is about the journey to the pose.

Standing splits practice.

Followed by some more leg stretching. This will help further my Standing Splits.

IMG_3748 IMG_3749

Finishing my practice as my husband arrives home. You can see my children in the background, excitedly waiting for him to pull into the garage. :)

IMG_3760 IMG_3754

Not a bad way to finish my yoga practice. ;)

IMG_3757

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 6

IMG_3664I am going to admit something. Although the RISE program was created to help us create our own morning rituals, I have not been doing the RISE practices first thing in the morning. Nor have I been waking up earlier to have that quiet practice before the start of the day. As I said a couple of days ago, it is easier for me to dive into my practice once I get the kids off to school. This is for a variety of reasons. For starters, Daylight Savings time ended here in Pennsylvania in the US on Sunday. Which means that my little buddy is now waking up extra early and if I want to wake before the rest of the family, I am going to have to go to sleep when the kids do! Well, maybe not quite, but you know what I mean. Clearly, Daylight Savings time was NOT created by a parent.

Another reason? I am still recovering from my time working night shift! I think it took about 5 days of being off night shift once I went on medical leave until I finally felt rested. Night shift is not easy, folks! I absolutely LOVE my night shift crew at the hospital but my days, or nights rather, on that shift are limited.

I do want to create a rising ritual though. So next week I will be working on crafting my ritual. This week my focus remains on getting rested and reestablishing my regular yoga practice. Don't be afraid to change things up and move into things at your own pace. There are no rules in the FWFG community.

RISE Day 6

This one got the heat going! I was ready to rest in Child's pose by the end. Whew! It is an invigorating start to the day for sure! I noticed some progress during this practice, which was quite exciting.

As I took a moment to get to quiet my mind before getting started, Gracie joined me on the mat. :)

IMG_3666 I really liked this revolving seating movement. It feels like it gets every little kink out of the spine.

IMG_3665

Raising up tall on the knees and then lean back slowly was part of the practice that really engaged the core.

IMG_3671

I felt like my side body stretch went easier today. Six days of practicing every day and I feel like my body is really starting to respond.

IMG_3667

I love, love, LOVE the warrior poses!! Looking forward to getting to all of them in the Foundation videos later this month. I felt that this Gentle Warrior flowed rather nicely today.

IMG_3672

After spending some time in Pigeon pose, we moved on to some deeper stretching. It was not that long ago that all I could do was grab my foot in this position. Today I was excited to see that I could not only hook my foot with my elbow but I could also hook my fingertips together. Yes, it was only literally my fingertips, but this is the first time I have gotten this far into this pose and I was so excited about it!!

IMG_3675

IMG_3677

IMG_3676

RISE Day 6 got me to sweating and it was so energizing too. I love that we are ending these RISE videos in Sukhasana, the Easy Pose. Most of Adriene's videos we end in Savasana, or the Corpse Pose, resting flat on our backs. But in the RISE program we have been ending in Sukhasana each day. I like ending a morning practice in this way. It gives me a chance to be still a moment and reaffirm my intention for the day; and by sitting up in Easy Pose, I feel ready at the end to RISE and greet the day!

IMG_3678

Foundations of Yoga Day 6

The foundations of yoga for today were "Mountain Pose" or Tadasana and "Standing Forward Fold" or Uttanasana. Two key foundation poses used very often in yoga practice. I discovered that spending more than 10 minutes working on solely the Mountain Pose is a great strengthening exercise for the legs!

IMG_3681-0

After finding my proper alignment and positioning in Mountain Pose, it was time to move on to Standing Forward Fold, which also starts in Mountain Pose. Lots of leg engagement with today's foundation videos.

IMG_3682-0

But first a visit from Black Cat before I move into Uttanasana. :)

IMG_3683-0

IMG_3684-0

Now onto the Forward Fold.

IMG_3688-0

And just to see how far I can fold, I challenged myself a little further.

IMG_3687-0

I'm getting there. I can see in all my Standing Forward Fold pictures the tightness in my upper back caused by the knots in my shoulder muscles. I am hoping that as the knots let up and the tightness releases that the roundness of my upper back straightens out again. Like I said before, it's a journey.