Category Archives: Yoga

Rounding out the summer

Greetings! Is it fall yet? I dream of jeans and sweaters and manageable hair. Meanwhile, some of us take this heat in stride.

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This last part of summer was busy but good. One went to a five night sleep away camp for the first time. I was supportive of her signing up, but when it came time for her to go, I surprised myself with how anxious I was about letting her go. For so many reasons that I won’t share lest you think I’m a complete crazy lady.

All I can think of is The Parent Trap. They also had an Arapahoe cabin.
All I can think of is The Parent Trap. They also had an Arapahoe cabin.

One day when we were all home, I took the girls to a community yoga class early one morning at the lovely East End Market. I loved this morning – sharing my love of yoga with my girls. Also, Two is totally down with crow pose. Like it’s no big deal.

yogis
yogis

I’m a little obsessed with strawberry rhubarb, oh, EVERYTHING. I made a crumble and we devoured it in less than 24 hours. So the girls made another one. On their own. Completely impressed.

the making
the making
ta-da!
ta-da!

One of our most favorite things to do over the summer is to visit my family in Illinois. My parents live about 30 minutes outside of Chicago. We love relaxing at my parents’ house and hanging out with family and friends. I really enjoy not thinking about what to make for dinner every night and taking a cooking break. There is something about Midwest summers that will always make me happy.

The big girls headed up there with my dad a week early, and had the best time getting spoiled by my parents. They loved picking veggies from my mom’s garden, watering pots and pots of flowers, running around their basement (a novel thing for Floridians), swimming and checking out the Lincoln Park Zoo. It really is the little things.

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Love that background!

Meanwhile, Three and I chilled on the porch here at home.

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doll baby

Seriously though, having one child = way harder than having more than one child. I really underestimated how much the girls play together and entertain each other. I’m so grateful for the girls that they have each other, and will have each other for life. I’m also thankful that they have each other for me. Just sayin.’

Bill, Three and I eventually met the rest of the crew for a couple of days with my parents. I loved catching up with family and old friends, and also attending my twentieth high school reunion. I had the best time and I think Bill had a pretty good time too. There is something really cool about reconnecting with friends from high school, middle school and even elementary school. People that knew you before you really even knew yourself. I’ll always feel a special closeness with them.

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Goooooooo Hornets!

The running was also amazing up there. Although it was not as cool as I’d hoped, it felt so nice running without that humidity. Vacation running is one of my favorites. I know that some people look forward to taking time off from running and exercise during vacation, and that is great for them because vacation should be about what you truly find enjoyable and want to do. But I am the opposite. I can’t wait to get out there and run new routes and see new things. Experience different weather and terrain. Explore new areas. I always look forward to running when we travel. It was extra awesome on this trip because I could jump in my parents’ pool after my run. Best cool down ever.

Seen on my run
Seen on my run

A couple things about some of our travel eats. First, the corn on the cob. Fresh from The Farm. I mean, I can’t even. It tastes significantly different than the corn here in Florida. Juicier and way less corny, if that makes sense. Second, Portillo’s chopped salad every day for lunch? Don’t mind if I do. Can we also discuss why Orlando does not have a Standard Market? Overpriced (but so super cute) grocery store, maybe. But the Grill? Just plain good, simple food with tons of healthy options (and amazing pizza). Great place to eat a casual dinner with the whole family or pick up a quick meal. Please. Someone open one soon. I’ll be your best customer.

The day after we arrived back home in Orlando (yes, I realize that home is two places) One and Two started school. Yikes! Three started 4 Day preschool this past week. Back to the old grind here. Yay?

sisters
sisters
celebrating/crying on her last first day of preschool
celebrating/crying on her last first day of preschool

Hope your school year is off to a great start!

What was the best part of your summer?

 

Handstand Challenge: How not to strain your neck and back

My awesome yoga studio offered a 30 day Handstand Challenge this month. For the first ten days of the month you were supposed to do ten handstands a day. The next ten days increased to twenty handstands per day, and the last ten days you are supposed to do thirty handstands each day.

I love this challenge for a couple of reasons. First, there is the physical challenge of working your way up to thirty handstands per day. It takes some upper body strength and a decent sense of balance. Two things that are so important to work on as we age. Then there is the mental aspect of the challenge. Handstands can be intimidating for many adults who don’t do them every day or ever at all. The challenge provides a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. I like the philosophical part of it too, which is that the physical act of doing a couple of handstands each day is a great reminder to shift not only your physical perspective, but your mental one.

Needless to say, I was totally into this challenge and signed up right away. Being the mediocre gymnast that I was during my middle and high school years, I’ve had plenty of handstand practice. Back handsprings, kips and even back walkovers have gone by the wayside, but I’ve been able to hang on to the handstand as I’ve gotten older. I’ve even been known to challenge the occasional dinner guest to a handstand contest.

You know, just handstanding by the lake.
You know, just handstanding by the lake.

I was looking forward to cruising on through this Handstand Challenge easily and posting some cleverly planned handstand pictures on Instagram for good measure (as part of the challenge you are supposed to post at least one picture during each of the three phases to a social media site or on the studio’s bulletin board…old school, I love it).

Surprise! The challenge was much harder than I had anticipated. Doing ten handstands in a row, and then twenty, right after each other really gives your shoulders and arms a good workout. Also, I think I unfortunately strained my neck and back doing them. This is hard for me to admit as I may be the best 37 year old handstander you know. So the fact that I have been in a lot of pain this week (and haven’t been able to do any handstands) is downright embarrassing. Also frustrating because I know exactly how it happened.

It had to do with my head position. When you are upside down in a handstand your head should be in a neutral position and your body pulled into line (in gymnastics we would call this the “hollow position”). I looked to yogajournal.com for a description of the proper body position while you are in a handstand:

If your armpits and groins are tight, your lower back may be deeply arched. To lengthen this area, draw your front ribs into your torso, reach your tailbone toward your heels, and slide your heels higher up the wall. Squeeze the outer legs together and roll the thighs in. Hang your head from a spot between your shoulder blades and gaze out into the center of the room.

In other words, with respect you your head, it should be in between your ears, and your eyes should be looking behind you as opposed to arching your neck and trying to look forward. This is the wrong head position:

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When your head is in a neutral position, your body naturally straightens out and your back is not forced into an arched position. This is a terrible picture (taken by my six year old who tried her best) but it illustrates a better head position which translates into better (and safer) alignment:

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I think handstands are a great way to build strength, balance and courage. Just be sure to maintain correct form to keep that back and neck healthy. Check out the above-referenced link for step-by-step instructions on how to properly do a handstand because, as you know, I’m not a certified yoga teacher or yoga professional in any way whatsoever.* Just a girl who likes to handstand.

* #lawyers

Can you do a handstand? 

What is your favorite yoga pose? 

What do you need today?

I won’t lie. It was a slow morning. We enjoyed a fun Saturday evening at our great friends’ (let’s call them the Foodies) house with several other couples. The Foodies were quite ambitious and made some amazing small dishes for us to eat while we enjoyed some equally delicious beverages. My favorite bite involved smoked salmon and chopped red onion (I think) topped with lemon crème fraîche on… a potato chip! The surprising combination completely worked – salty, savory, lemon zesty – it was delicious. Great food plus great company plus great wine made for a much needed fun night out. Unfortunately, the more fun the Saturday night the less fun the Sunday morning.

In addition to my stomach feeling less than stellar this morning, the arch and heel area in my left foot were feeling a little tight. I think plantar fasciitis is trying to creep in. Bah! I typically do a short run on Sunday morning, but my body was telling me to take a day off. I’m a very scheduled person when it comes to exercise, partially because that is who I am, partially because I think it helps to avoid injuries and burnout, and partially because it’s almost a necessity when your husband also exercises and three children who cannot be left alone are involved. All that said, I do believe in listening to your body.  I also strongly believe in nipping early injuries in the bud before they turn into big injuries that involve a lot of time off from running.

So what did I need this morning? First and foremost, snuggles with Three who thankfully didn’t wake up until 8am. Praise for Two who quietly went downstairs to work at her art table when she got up around…7 (who can be sure? I was sound asleep). And my tried and true remedy for feeling subpar: a Power Yoga class at Warrior One with Kim.

At the beginning of class, Kim asked us to choose a word to think of during class that reflects how we want to be for the week. Strong, focused, bright, calm, etc. My word was energetic. While we were in challenging poses throughout the class, I brought that word to the forefront of my mind and it made me feel, well, energetic.

The class was awesome, as usual. Lots of triangle and side stretching poses which felt terrific on my constantly (and especially currently) tight left side body. Good adductor stretches which I’ve noticed have also been a super tight area recently. I left class feeling stretched out, strong, mentally clear and, you guessed it, energetic.

I think it’s super important to listen to what we actually need to be happy, clear and healthy as opposed to ignoring our own cues and going about our scheduled day on autopilot. In general, I had a pretty cruddy week last week. Sick kid, broken washing machine (a serious drag with a three kids and two exercisers), massive water leakage from said washing machine through our ceiling, lights and onto our wood floor, a bungled appointment that resulted in an hour of waiting room time and no actual doctor visit, etc., etc. But, I did manage to find joy in some little things each day to keep me somewhat sane and happy.

I warmed up and cooled down from Wednesday’s tempo run around the same lake. I love how quickly the sky and light change during my morning runs. These photos were taken from about the same place 45 minutes apart.

Two was finally back in school on Thursday (at least in the morning) so I treated myself to a visit to Track Shack to buy some new shoes (oh the new shoe smell!) and coffee from P is for Pie. Stumptown coffee is seriously where it’s at. Best coffee in town.

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Early Saturday morning I enjoyed a long solo run with these spectacular sunbeams. Despite sporadic pains shooting up through the arch in my foot, twelve miles flew by and felt great. As much as I love my running buddies, it was nice to run where I wanted, at the speed I wanted, at the time I wanted, and in the way I like to run. I even turned off my music halfway into the run just to more consciously enjoy the easy run, beautiful morning and space to just think.

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Saturday afternoon involved some low key one on one time with Two and the good stuff. The reviews on Yelp for this kettle corn were cracking me up- it’s not just me!

I’m looking forward to a healthy week that is filled with positive energy, lots of yoga, stretching and foam rolling for my foot, some cross training and hopefully a little running.

What do you need today?

How do you deal with the exercise related injuries? Ignore for as long as possible or address right away?