Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 3

IMG_3566 My day fell apart yesterday late in the afternoon after a very difficult disagreement occurred between a close friend and me. That overshadowed the rest of my night and into this morning. After getting the kids off to school today I decided to call my friend instead of doing my RISE practice first. We talked things through until it was time for me to leave for my physical therapy. I noticed when I was at PT that the exercises were causing a burning sensation across my upper back. By the end of the PT session, it finally occurred to me that I was more than likely carrying the stress of the argument in my body, specifically in my upper back. And sure enough, when the physical therapist began working me through my range of motion after my exercises, he noted I had a knot in my upper back muscle. Stress is not without its consequences, that's for sure!

Love that she joined me on the mat today. :)

As soon as I finished PT, I head back home and rolled out my mat. I knew that before I did anything else today, I needed my yoga practice. RISE Day 3 and Foundations of Yoga Day 3 to the rescue! :)

RISE Day 3

This is my third practice in the RISE program, which actually only officially kicks off on November 5th. So it's not too late to join in the fun! Check out Adriene's website for more details about this morning ritual creating program and practice. I am only on day 3 and it is already so yummy!

It would seem others had the same experience with today's practice too, judging by the comments with the video and in the FWFG (find what feels good) community. One commenter referred to it as "fire and ice". I have to agree that it was rather chill most of the practice but ended by lighting the fire in the core.

One thing that I have noticed since recording myself practicing is that I actually smile a lot while I am practicing. I think it is just wonderful the effects that yoga has on our bodies and minds!


The gentle stretching of RISE Day 3 was perfect for releasing the stress I was holding in my neck and back.

Rounding through the next and upper back is so effective at releasing the tension in the shoulders. I try to take breaks and dow this when I'm sitting at the computer writing.

Now for the fire lighting portion of the practice- Yogi Bicycles. I love this move! The key is to focus on all the energy of the movement out of the core and to keep the face and neck relaxed.

At the end, Adriene encouraged us to set our intention for the day. Immediately the mantra she taught use during her 30 Days of Yoga Program sprang to mind.

"Allow, release, let go."

Reclined Twist

After completing my RISE practice, I moved on to the Foundations of Yoga videos for the day. The first one was "Reclined Twist", or Supta Matsyendrasana. This is a pose that is always changing for me. I swear, some days my knees are only halfway to the ground; other days, they lay on the ground. It all just depends how tight my back and hips are that day. So if you are having one of those days where the knees seem to be so far from the ground in this twist, don't despair. Try it another day and you might just surprise yourself.

Wind-Relieving Pose

Ah, yes! Everyone's favorite pose to giggle at, "Wind-Relieving Pose" or Pawanmuktasana. :) Adriene made me laugh so much during this practice, as is evident by the smirk on my face in this picture. In all seriousness though, it is a helpful pose for aiding in soothing the digestive tract. And that's all I'm going to say about that. ;)

Yogi Cat

At the end of my practice she was still with me. Doesn't she look so peaceful? :)


Building a Yoga Foundation

Yoga seems to be having a very big moment right now. It seems to be cropping up all over the place these days. I have been doing yoga on and off for the last 15 years or so. But it wasn't until the last couple of years that I truly began to understand and appreciate all that yoga has to offer. Because of my deep respect and appreciation of yoga I could not be happier that so many people are now discovering yoga too! I have some concerns though about this widespread pop culture embracing of yoga. While I do think that wherever one starts their journey with yoga is a good starting point, I am concerned that popular culture may be stripping away some of the deeper elements of yoga that make it such an amazing body and mind experience. My hope is for everyone who is discovering yoga now that they are able to come to fully appreciate all that it has to offer, and hopefully at a faster rate than I did myself! :)

My other concern with the widespread popularity of yoga is safety issues. I guess you can take the nurse out of the hospital but can't take the nurse out of the like that. ;) Fortunately for all of today's new practitioners there is an abundance of knowledge available on the subject and right at our fingertips via the internet! No longer does one have to go to a studio for proper instruction; but through careful selection, a knowledgeable yoga teacher can be found online. Nothing wrong with going to a studio either if that is your cup of tea and you have access to one.

My favorite teacher is Adriene from Yoga with Adriene. This kind, gentle, quirky and funny soul hails from Austin, Texas. She teaches in a way that makes yoga accessible to anyone. You can find her videos on her YouTube channel here or via her Yoga with Adriene website. She offers so many high quality and informative yoga videos for free. She has also began creating special yoga programs and offers those classes for a price through her website. I have bought all there of her programs to date: Reboot, Empower and Rise. I think highly of these programs that she has created. One of the great things about Adriene and her producer Chris is that they put the same care and consideration into their free videos as they do for their pay videos. They are two very awesome people!

On Adriene's YouTube channel, she has a wide variety of videos. She has one selection of videos which she calls "Foundations of Yoga". I have done a few of these videos and they are short videos that breakdown one pose at a time and give instruction based on that one pose. I have been meaning to go back to these Foundation videos and work my way through them, taking the time to attend to my own foundation of yoga. However, there always seemed to be something that got in the way of this plan. That is until recently.

I have some ongoing joint issues due to being very hypermobile in most of my joints. This causes some issues with pain and such, and causes injuries from time to time. One such injury occurred at the beginning of October. Initially it required me to go on light duty at work but then as it became evident that my recovery with physical therapy was going to be far slower than expected, it was decided that I needed to go out on medical leave to protect myself, my patients and my employer. My physical therapy revolves around careful movement of the injured areas and rebuilding muscle around those areas to support those joints. My weight lifting restrictions have finally been increased from 5 lbs to 10-15 lbs. Yay, me!

In addition to doing my PT exercises I was given to do at home in between appointments, I have decided to slowly and gently add yoga back into my routine. What better time could there be to take my yoga slow and focus on doing each pose correctly? Yoga is so beneficial for building muscle and strength by using one's own bodyweight. And with the movement, bloodflow is increased to the area being moved which helps the body heal the damage. Also, yoga relieves stress and helps me sleep better too; and by doing so, this helps my body heal too. So many benefits! But no matter how good it is for me I still have to use care and caution with my practice so that I do not injure myself, just like new yoga practitioners need to do.

This is where the Foundation of Yoga comes in. I decided this is the perfect time to work on building my yoga foundation. With that end in mind, I have created a calendar for the month of November utilizing Adriene's Foundation videos, as well as her breathing videos. I arranged the videos in an order of sequence that makes sense to me as a progression of advancing. There will be poses that I won't be able to do with my injury or that a new practitioner may not be ready to try. And that's okay! Adriene is the biggest proponent of modifying, listening to our bodies, and "Find(ing) what feels good."

So if you are nursing an injury like myself, new to yoga, been away from your mat for a while, or just want to focus on your foundation too, please join me this month and build your yoga foundation with me and others from the Yoga with Adriene community. Post your progress and/or pictures on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #ywanovemberchallenge. Look for other YWA community members using this hashtag too and be motivated to continue this journey all month! In addition to this Foundation challenge, I will be following along with YWA's newest program RISE, a morning yoga routine which is kicking off today for 21 days! I am excited about incorporating both of these challenges into my life this month and strengthening my body and mind.

I will be posting full updates with pictures on this website of my own practice and will be posting a picture or two daily on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page was well too. Follow me there, share your own journey and we will keep each other going.

Pic of Novemeber Yoga Calendar


Update: 3 Weeks of Exercise

I was talking with a friend this morning, who told me today that she is exercising along with me and the videos that I'm posting. We were talking about how good it was making us feel. After talking with her, I decided to take a moment to update all of you. Today marks the beginning of my 4th week of my new YouTube fitness routine! I cannot believe that 3 weeks are already gone. This is why, if you haven't already started exercising, you need to start today! Because before you know it, 3 weeks will be gone. You can either feel the same in 3 weeks or you can feel better in 3 weeks.

I can't believe how good I am feeling inside my body. I feel so strong and fit. I feel like my body is moving better, smoother, more agile. It's an amazing feeling! I kinda love my body now. Not in a "I love how I look" kind of way, but in a newfound respect and appreciate kind of way.

I'm even looking at food differently. I'm looking at food as a way to love my body and make it healthier and stronger. It has definitely cranked up my body awareness and intuitive eating. I can't get over how hungry I get! Like real, legitimate hunger- not just "I'm stressed/tired/bored. I think I'll eat something"-kind of hunger. I'm eating so much now, which is crazy considering my history. But it feels so good because I am listening to my body and giving it what it needs without any regard to calories. I've stopped eating snacks before bed, not because I'm trying to lose weight but because it makes my stomach hurt and I can't exercise as well the next day. Instead, I eat my ice cream after supper with my kids. Because, if you know me, then you know that I love ice cream!

I think the reasons that I am feeling so good after only 3 weeks are because I am doing it consistently and I am doing a variety of exercises. I exercise every Monday-Saturday morning. I post all the exercises that I do on my Facebook Page, except for the Saturday's exercises. I've been doing yoga on Saturday, once with a YouTube video and twice on my own. I feel like doing yoga Saturday morning is a great way to ease into the weekend and leave all the stress of the week behind me. Sundays are my day of rest, except for a hike that we take as a family every Sunday, but that's not about exercise. That's about spending time with my husband and kids in the woods, together without any other distractions.

If you've been checking out the videos I post, you'll know that they aren't very long. I just don't have time to exercise for a long time right now. Most of the videos are around 15 minutes. But it's not all-or-nothing! Fifteen minutes has made a huge difference in how I feel. I will probably exercise a little longer when I have more time and when my body is conditioned for that. By exercising in small amounts now, I am not overdoing it and I am able to exercise 6 mornings a week. That's important for creating this healthy habit of exercising every morning.

The variety of exercises that I've been doing by exercising with videos from YouTube as made exercising fun again. I can't wait to get up in the morning and pick out my workout. I pick out whatever strikes my fancy that day or whatever I think my body needs that day. The fun in exercise helps with the consistency too. No one wants to do the same thing over and over. Variety is the spice of life, right?

I wish that I could bottle this wonderful feeling that I have and share it with all of you! But since I can't, I'm going to do the next best thing and ask you to please join me on this journey of fitness, strength and love. The importance of self-care cannot be underestimated. Three weeks ago, I started on a Thursday and I am so thankful that I did. Is today your Thursday to start?

Think Small

This week a familiar struggle raised its ugly head again. I had a lot going on the last few weeks and the pressure has been mounting. I think that I could have taken it all in stride had it not been for one area. And that area is school. I am nearing the end of my second to last semester of nursing school. Yup, next May I will graduate and be eligible to sit for my boards. Woo-hoo, right?! Except that I am doubting how much I have learned. I am filled with doubts- I feel like I could have learned more, studied more, did more, did better, studied better, learned better...and to make matters worse, I still don't know what field I want to work in when I graduate. I'm feeling uninspired. I feel like I am rapidly approaching the end and yet I don't know what the next step is. That is definitely anxiety-inducing alone, but then when I add to it my doubts and self-critical thoughts, it becomes overwhelming. And when I get too overwhelmed, I grasp for control wherever I can reach it, which for me is food. It makes me feel so much better when I control and limit my food. But I know that is a lie; I have learned that it only makes me feel better for a little while and the consequences and price for doing so is very heavy.

I have put in a lot of hard work in the last year and a half to deal with my food control issues. I am not willing to give up the ground that I have gained for some temporary stress relief! I know how this works and the tricks of this insidious little voice. So I know that when I feel like this I can't trust how I feel about what I ate, how I feel about my body or even how I see my body. I know from experience that I cannot trust my thoughts and feelings or even my sight when this controlling and perfectionist voice is speaking loudly. I hear this voice getting louder and louder this week and I start to despair. I start to feel like I am not going to be able to fight it off, like all my hard work will have been for nothing, I even start to think "maybe just for a few days, just until I feel calmer."

But then I STOP! I remember something that my therapist told me. This voice is sneaky and I can't control when it sneaks in, but I can chose how I am going to react to it. I remember that I should be gentle with myself and not beat myself up for having those thoughts. Instead, I should recognize that those thoughts are there, acknowledge how I am feeling, and then decide how I want to act. A big part of the struggle is all-or-nothing thinking. And that comes into play when I get down on myself for having these thoughts. In the all-or-nothing mentality, I think "I can't believe that I am feeling this way again. All my hard work as been for nothing. I'm failing because I'm having these thought." But all-or-nothing thinking is rarely an accurate view. When I chose to reject the all-or-nothing mentality, then I think "There are those thoughts again. I know where they led. That is not what I want. I am choosing to to not listen. I know that having those thoughts does not make me a failure and neither does slipping up and repeating old habits. The moment that I become aware of these thoughts or negative actions, I can make a different choice."

Our emotions and feelings respond quicker than our cognitive thoughts. That quick response is actually what keeps us safe and alive. When you pick up something hot, you don't take the time to think about it being hot and what you should do about it. No, you feel pain and react. The same is with how we respond to emotional stressors. Sometimes our feelings are the quickest at driving our actions. But then when our cognitive thoughts have a chance to catch up and assess the situation, we can look at our reaction and decide if we want to continue that action or chose a different one.

I caught myself judging myself for how I was feeling. When I realized what I was doing, I stopped and decided to chose how I wanted to react. That was when I realized that I need to think small for a while until the voice is quieted again. I decided to spend less time thinking ahead and thinking back; and spend more time thinking about now, this day, this moment. I also took action. The groceries were getting low in the house and there weren't a lot of food options. That makes it way too easy to just skip. So I went to the store and restocked our groceries, consciously getting healthy foods that would easy to grab and eat. No more excuses to not eat!

I took action a day ago and it has already made a big difference. I feel proud of myself for recognizing what I was feeling and for taking steps to stop it and not give in. It would have been so much easier to just give in, but I know that is not what I want for myself or my family. And in the long run, that "easier" choice would have led me back down a very hard road.

So today, I continue to think small. I will make my realistic to do list for today. I will eat when my kids eat so that I don't have a chance to skip. I will think about what I want to accomplish with the this day, the day that I have been given, and will have faith that the future will be revealed when I get to it.