Monday, February 13, 2012

“With a sheepish smile, she took herself out”

Say that three times in a row...
Ready? sheepish smile, sheepish schmile, smeepish schmile!
Not too long ago, I was subbing for a fellow teacher who had come down with mono. I don’t mind subbing for other teachers, especially if I am already familiar with the facility and know some of the students. I have become more comfortable with subbing over the years, but still, the students have their reservations about a sub! I totally get it, I was the same way not too long ago. 
The students began to file into class wearing those ‘deer in the headlights’ expressions, and I quickly began to explain that the teacher was out ill, and that hopefully she would be back next week. One student replied, “Did you say she was sick?”  There were some surprised and puzzled looks in the crowd, “Yes, unfortunately, the teacher has mono”, I responded, “Please keep her in your thoughts and maybe send some healing energy her way”.  “Wow, I thought if you do all this yoga then you don’t get sick”, someone said. Somewhat surprised, I replied, “Well... it happens sometimes”.  I thought to myself, “We are all organic, we are all human, and we become ill once in a while”.
The pranayama practice was flowing along and we began to transition into some Asanas. The students were moving through half vinyasas as I walked the floor, I stopped for a moment and realized that I was not able to take them through any Sun Salutes. Earlier that day, I was working on handstands and tweaked my wrist. Plank and down dog would not be possible because I couldn’t do one fourth of my Pilates reformer class that afternoon. My wrist flat out hurt and I wasn’t going to push it for Pilates or for Asanas. As the students came to Samasthiti (equal standing), I addressed the class that  any new students should feel free to follow along with others through the sequence as I would continue to verbally cue. I explained a minor wrist setback would allow me to do only standing and non weight bearing floor postures in class that night. As you may have guessed, there were more surprised and puzzled looks.
I began to cue Sun Salute A and then interjected into my dialogue, “ We teachers, we become sick and we do get hurt... even injured by more advanced yoga postures” I kinda shrugged my shoulders and sheepishly smiled when saying this, I knocked myself off of any pedestal I may have been perched on and the response was heartwarming. By their expressions, smiles and giggles, I believe that the students who showed up that night were at peace with the idea that teachers are students also. We are one in community and in practice, and that there isn’t a need for teachers to be on a pedestal (at least that is my opinion). I do understand there is some yoga drama and politics; desiring to be upheld, idolized and popular, I personally don’t think it’s healthy or necessary, at times it may be dangerous. 
Hmmm, Samasthiti...equal standing indeed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Missing the Puppy Bowl Already?

Get your furry fix with Pansy, the February Poster Puppy! Pansy is demonstrating a variation of Bitilasana (cow pose) and I must point out she has graceful form and a serene expression. Admire the extension of her limbs, energy radiating out of her blooming toes and a table-top pelvis, what a dedicated practice this young yogini has.
Puppy Notes about Bitilasana:
*Stretches the front torso and neck
*Provides a gentle massage to spine and belly organs
*Strengthens core muscles
*Improves balance
Be careful when practicing this pose at home, your own precious pooch may give you a big smack on the lips!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Details on the Detox

Notes from my 21 day detox:
Hot dang, I made it! I was really doubting that I would be able to stick out the Whole Living Magazine’s 21 day detox plan, but I am really proud of myself for getting through the first obstacle--you know, the  ‘withdrawals’. I had several friends and family check in with me to see how I was holding up, they were interested in hearing my observations and thoughts on what food groups or ‘vices’ I thought really were not good for all of us.  Below are some thoughts that I jotted down throughout the journey:
* A little weakness day 2 and really alert and really, really hungry
*Monster headache day three, like my skull is being crushed
*Monster headache when I woke up on day 4, had to take Advil. then much better...hmmm eyes don’t look so puffy
*Feeling like I am focusing better day 5 -- still weak but my mind wants my body to workout hard, and the bod just won’t respond 
*Day 6 Feel like I have lost power- but noticing something else that I wont’t comment on just yet
* Day 7 OMG its here, I know tomorrow I can eat fish and some scrambled tofu (never eaten scrambled tofu before). Lentils and beans are on the menu as well

During week two I am low on endurance for cardio work, so I scale back, but have to continue Pilates reformer work because the sessions are already paid for. In a word, I am chapped by this turn of events; I have been working since November to increase cardio endurance in order to enjoy more intense weekend recreational activities with biking and hiking.  By Friday, I decide not to extend any more energy on workouts(recreational or otherwise), I feel that I will likely injure myself or become sick. I spend the weekend performing a different kind of detox:  cleaning out and reorganizing bookshelves and closets. I am disappointed to report that I did not get to every closet in the house, but I’m glad that I made the effort. I am flat out whining for dark chocolate... every     single    day.
Week three really is taking a a positive turn, laying off for three days allowed my body to regain some power once again. I am able to go out to a “healthy” restaurant with my husband and devour an organic vegan salad without having to prepare it. Additionally, The Cosmic Coconut and Whole Foods were able to help me out a couple of times during this week for pressed juices and a lunch that fit my detox guidelines. I can only think of chocolate, it is the one thing my body still craves...I think it is fair to say  that I could possibly commit a capital crime if I were not able to eat chocolate for the rest of my life. 
Interesting happenings post detox:
I went to Starbucks to get a hot chocolate with hazelnut and my body basically showed that treat the door. Introducing coconut milk, Almond milk, and Soy milk into my eating plan has made me realize that I can find nutritious alternatives and use less cow’s milk. I tend to be lactose intolerant at this stage of my life, and the organic cow’s milk doesn’t seem to appease my body chemistry. Yep, I snuck into Baskin Robbins too, and also treated myself to Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve had about 5 ounces of chicken (no other meat) since I started the detox, and I am not really missing it too much on a day to day basis. I really don’t miss breads, but I miss organic crackers. 
Finally, the thing I wouldn’t comment on during week one: I saw a difference in the texture and shine of my did my husband, who rarely notices stuff like that. My eyes are a lot brighter and skin is really even-toned. I attribute these changes to raw juicing and killing the added sugars, and I also believe that there isn’t really anything (potion or procedure short of botox or facelift) on the market to match the cosmetic results from juicing. Yes, the start up cost is expensive to juice, your grocery bill will likely go up 20-30%, but you will be healthier and look better. In my opinion, the elevated costs are a wash when you don’t have to buy as many cosmetics products, hair products and probably not be as sick- reducing medical costs.
I have two suggestions for anyone considering a detox plan:

1. Don’t start a detox if you are just recovering from an illness; I felt this situation may have made it harder  on my body.
2. Don’t do heavy workouts your first week on detox, take it easy and knit, read, draw or paint. 
The first week after the detox I gave in to a few of the indulgences, but the second week of post detox had me looking back to the healthier substitutions like Coconut milk, Almond mild, soy products, Cacao, kale and other less popular vegetables that tend to be super foods. It looks like I am giving up green tea, and will opt for teas with no caffeine. I didn’t realize how much I was consuming until I got on the detox plan.  I can’t go caffeine free every day of the month, gotta have that cacao or dark chocolate- I will be managing it better now that I realize how much my cognitive memory has improved. I think processed food, added sugars and caffeine could be the culprits in robbing our memory and critical thinking. 
We yogis are blessed with enhanced body awareness and pick up on subtle actions within us, this insight is such a valuable tool when taking on detoxes and food elimination diets. Take notes if you need to in order to identify any changes that may be related to the ingesting of particular foods. Take a chance and take the plunge! (but...maybe wait until after Valentine’s Day).