I Got Lucky Today!

When you are on Holiday in another state AND it’s a Holiday week –  you never know what’s going to happen when you go into a yoga studio for a class. Usually there are a lot of subs teaching, people on vacation and cancelled classes. But not today. Today I got very, very LUCKY!

I am on St. Simons Island, Georgia and I went to Omcore Yoga & Body for a Barre class! I’ve never taken a Barre class before although I knew it involved a lot of Ballet-esque poses. Our teacher for the day was Jennifer Mack and BOY did she ROCK the house this morning!

Jennifer started with a little aerobic warm up and then moved quickly into some plies and releves. Jen lights up the room with her big Georgia girl smile and cheerleading to keep us moving. Very quickly I was sweating and felt that old familiar muscle burn! Jen kept saying it’s “Butt by Barre Today” as a way to encourage us!

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I also learned today that I am way more strange than most people! In class today I was moving and grooving to the music, doing the work – eyes closed…ya know…..really feeling it, dancing to the beat, moving my arms around and then I opened my eyes and noticed that everyone around was doing the basic moves – no flair at all! This is when I realized that I am no longer a resident in “normal town”! LOL.

It is a rare thing to find a teacher who is happy, encourages you to play, sing and dance at the same time that she is kicking your butt – literally by making you sweat and work AND makes the whole experience FUN! I haven’t had a class this good in a long while. Thank you Jen and thank you Omcore Yoga.

Old Woman on my Mat!

Who was that old woman on my mat last night? Someone came in and got on my mat replaceing me with a version of myself that was stiffer, tired more easily, wanted the teacher to go slower and had a hard time keeping up! It was awful! I want to blame it on the lateness of the class or the fact that we’ve been having really cold weather. But I have a feeling it was neither of those things.

Please tell me I’m not the only one experiencing this? Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m no spring chicken – 47 in fact. But I’ve never felt this way on my mat before. As a teacher, I have said in class many times, “We have to use the body we bring to the mat today.” And now I know how that feels because yesterday it was not the usual “me” on my mat.

I had the pleasure of practicing at Maya Shakti in Anacortes with Erica who has been teaching for about a month. Erica is super fit and has an easy smile that she used to encourage this old lady to keep moving last night. Erica was trained at 3 Ohms Yoga in Bellingham in the Baptiste tradition. The class was a hot power flow and BOY did we flow! We did about 20 chatturangas and even that was modified because Erica noticed that we were getting tired. That’s a good teacher right there! One who is aware of how her class is handling the practice. The thing I plan to borrow from class last night was Erica’s use of balance postures linked together. She had us do Hand to Big Toe (modified) right into Warrior III followed by Half Moon. Oh my aching Piriformis! It was very challenging but fun too!

I’m not sure what was going on with the old lady last night but it wasn’t fun. I hope she stays hidden for a while longer because I don’t want to live my life feeling achey, slow and tired. So, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to lace up my tennis shoes and take the old lady for a walk and make her sweat to thank her for last night!

Namaste Y’all – The light in me thinks the light in you is freaking awesome!

Five mistakes I made traveling in Italy.

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My Biggest Mistake: Everyone talks about the important of good shoes. I’ve heard it over and over. Did I listen? Of course not. I went to REI the day before my trip and bought some really expensive shoes that looked like thick soled ballet slippers by Nike thinking they would do the trick! They’re make by Nike right? They are black and cute right? They had an elastic band opening and I wouldn’t need to tie or untie laces right?

I was so wrong. They were very comfortable on the plane and for about the first day and half – then I noticed that the elastic opening was digging into my heel and making each and every step uncomfortable. This only got worse as time went on. Bandaid after bandaid did nothing to alter the fact that the elastic was pushing into my flesh making a deep red weal. Finally I gave up and pushed the soft heel of the shoe underneath my foot and began walking in the shoes that way – Like a slipper – toes covered but heel and shoe flapping loosely. NOT good for a 10 day tour through Italy that included at least 10 hours of walking per day.

So Please, do NOT buy new shoes right before a trip. Do not worry about shoes being cute. Bring your most comfy shoes for walking no matter what they look like. Because if your feet aren’t happy it’s going to affect the whole rest of your trip!

Mistake Number Two: Because I’m a yoga instructor, I thought it would be cool to bring my yoga mat with me. I would take time every day to practice, making my journey more meaningful and enjoyable. Having my mat would encourage me to stretch after a long day or do some fun poses out in nature. Plus all the local yogis would know I’m a yogi too – so I’d be in the cool club of yogi kids!

WRONG. I didn’t use my mat at all during the trip. I did use it a little bit at the airport but that doesn’t really count does it? For someone who professes to travel lightly. I could have saved myself the extra weight and bulkiness of my mat being attached to my backpack. AND I should have really researched before the trip a time and place to take a yoga class while in Italy – THAT I really regret not doing!

Mistake Number Three: I got a lot of great advice about what to pack before leaving and I followed most of it. I was told to only bring two pairs of pants – which I did. But my mistake was that the two pair I brought were black knee length yoga pants.

You would think that would be a good choice right? They are black, they go with anything, they are lycra so they wick water away, looking sporty is not a bad thing. The problem is that when I wear yoga pants I do not wear anything underneath them. Yes, that means no underwear – so effectively the pants ARE my underwear which means I have to wash them every day. Which I got REALLY tired of doing. If I had brought regular pants I may not have had to wash them at all – or maybe just once if I spilled some Gelato on them. I can almost hear you chuckling – I know it’s funny but I’m trying to be honest here. Big Smile.

Mistake Number Four: Not bringing more beauty products. I brought the normal stuff toothebrush, toothepaste, a comb, a little makeup, deoderant etc. BUT what I did not bring that I wish I had: hair conditioner and a straightener. I know, I know, a vacation is not supossed to be about how pretty you look while you are hiking through the ruins of Rome or Venice. I wasn’t there looking to meet anyone nor was I really worried about how I looked….I THOUGHT.

BUT, when we had one day off in Florence and I found a hair salon (I really did need a cut) and they washed, conditioned, cut and blow dried my hair……I felt FABULOUS!!!! I walked around Florence flipping my hair, feeling ten times more confident, attractive and accomplished! I must have looked much better because when I met up with our tour leader later my hair was the first thing she noticed!

So from now on I will always bring conditioner and a straightener or curling iron. Because if I can make myself feel that much better by having good hair then it’s worth the room in my bag!

Mistake Number Five: Not being more aware of the level of activity this tour entailed. I found out very quickly that our group spent the ENTIRE day together – walking, seeing the sights, visiting important histroric places and eating fantastic food. Don’t get me wrong, I had a GREAT time in Italy. But what I found out is that I needed more down time. Time to rest each day and relax alone in my room and because of this I spent about half of the evenings seperate from the rest of the group.

I know this is not such a great big mistake as much as a learning experience and alone time is really good. I found that when we got a short break in the mid afternoon I would just excuse myself and retire to my room to bathe, wash my clothes for the next few days, read a bit, text my boyfreind and eventually sleep. It was good for me but I did miss out on some of the evening activities.

I hope you have found my mistakes helpful. I would love to hear from you any mistakes that you have learned from as well! Here’s to Living Simply, Breathing Deeply and Traveling Lightly!

YMCA Houston, TX

I’m in the armpit of Texas!!! Most of you know it as Houston. I probably shouldn’t call Houston an armpit. I’m sure there are plenty of people who think it’s lovely here but I’m staying right downtown and it is gray and flat and boring. There isn’t a whole lot to do in downtown. I’ve spent all week walking all over looking for the fun, kitschy, cool side of downtown and there just isn’t one. I found a book store on the map and all they had were technical manuals! The Aquarium isn’t really and aquarium – it’s a restaurant and half of the parks are being blocked off for restoration! I’m not a happy camper. On top of that everyone looks the same here! There are Stepford Business Men all walking around in their uniform of pastel colored business shirts and dark slacks. It’s a White Collar town for sure full of oil workers, paper pushers and tall shiny imposing buildings.

The one bright spot in my week was my visit to the downtown Tellepson Family YMCA. It’s just a couple of blocks from my hotel and they offer a staggering amount of group classes and Yoga. I dropped in to the Saturday10:30 am yoga class taught by Abby Buchold. Abby was subbing this class for the regular teacher and she did a great job. Abby is a 200 RYT who was trained in the Baptiste fashion. She’s been teaching for about a year and teaches part time at several different locations. She works in the oil industry as her normal job (Big surprise in Houston!) Abby has a very pleasant, calm voice that was audible wherever she was in the room. My favorite moment of the class was near the end as we were seated on our mats for a forward fold. Abby gave us a very “Texas” direction to reach back and move our “Biscuits out of the Bakery” so that we could feel our sit bones in contact with the mat – causing a ripple of chuckles. Abby – I’m totally stealing that!!!! The class was pretty basic for the gym crowd – no sanskrit or chanting which is appropriate for a YMCA class. The Asana was simple yet effective – in fact today I find that my intercostals are sore and I’m not quite sure why. As far as difficulty this class earned three stars. (see ratings below)

My boyfriend has informed me that I have been pretty hard on downtown Houston so in an effort to mitigate my negativity I have come up with the following things that I like about Texas:

1. All things BBQ
2. Texas KNOWS how to build a freeway
3. Big blue sky and sunshine!
4. Common courtesy is yes ma’am!
5. All the locals have been very helpful and friendly.

Class Difficulty Ratings:

* A very gentle class such as meditation, breath work or restorative.
** A light work out such as Yin or Seated Yoga.
*** A full hour of Asana with some flow – light sweat
**** I’m working pretty deeply, need the breath and feeling my muscles working, definite sweat.
***** I’m working very hard, trying to breath, feeling very challenged, sweat flowing!