Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Whole30, Day 24 Update

Holy moly.  If last week's lesson was to take me out of constantly thinking about me and food and how it's all affecting me, this week's is a big smack in the face (or in my left arm) to remind me that life is random and no matter how good a handle you may think you have on your health - we are ultimately not in control.

(Ironically, not being in control is also a theme expounded upon during Jurassic World.  Which despite being depressingly non-feminist, was super fun)

So this week's adventure: I got bursitis in my elbow and it got infected.  Lord only knows how on earth this happened.  I didn't even know what bursitis was (it's this), and then suddenly my left ( and dominant, of course) arm was in excruciating pain and I could no longer bend it.

But what?  This diet is supposed to REDUCE inflammation in my body!  WTF!  Also, this apparently happens mainly to elderly people...and I'm 30.

My sister's wise answer:  "Bodies do weird things sometimes."

Why did she get a tumor in her jaw a few years ago that ruptured and became infected?  Why did my mom need knee surgery when she never had a noticeable incident or accident to injure it?  Why do otherwise healthy, vibrant, fabulous people get cancer?

It doesn't mean throw in the towel and don't work hard on your health.  It's actually all the more reason to take an active role in your health and well-being.  That way, the things that diet, sleep, exercise, etc can help, prevent, or control are as taken care of as they can be.  As for the rest?  Bodies just do weird things sometimes.  The better your baseline health, the better shot you have at dealing with the weird curveballs.

It's been a frustrating and humbling few days.  I think Monday evening was one of my strongest moments in terms of temptation - lord, how I wanted tortilla chips, wine, and chocolate.  It was all I could do to keep from polishing off an entire bag of dates when I got home after the weirdness and pain and stress and frustration of the day.  I'm thankful Marc was home yesterday during the worst of it to help dress me and feed me and bathe me and try to give me perspective and to do pretty much everything for me.  I'm thankful to live in a country with access to antibiotics - this would totally have killed me on the Oregon Trail, but instead it's just a temporary injury that will hopefully get knocked the hell out as soon as possible.

Tempted though I've been (and man, being home alone from work is prime breeding ground for boredom-eating for me) during this little curveball, I've stuck to Whole30.  Buying a $5.00 grilled salmon at a grocery store Monday after Urgent Care and awkwardly eating it on the subway - holding it arm's length in my immobilized left arm while stabbing at it with the fork in my nondominant right hand - was worth it to stay on plan and probably hilarious to everyone around me.

I always get very angry and very frustrated when I get sick or injured and my best laid plans get knocked around.  It's good for my control-freak to be shaken up like this, as much as I hate it.  Once I get over it, it always helps when I'm humbled with a bit of perspective.  I don't need to eat through a straw for weeks on end like my sister, I don't need knee surgery like my mom, and I don't have frigging cancer.  Time to suck it up and heal and move on!

To that end...time to end this entry and ice my elbow.  I've got a 5 mile race to run on Sunday (and possibly a woman to help through labor between now and then!) in celebration of my hamstring's PT "graduation."  Though it's totally like me to get totally randomly injured before a race and just keep pressing on like an idiot, I'm going to not push it and just cross my fingers that come race day I'll be healthy and 5-mile ready.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Whole30, Day 18 Update

Just barely squeaking this into Week 3.  It's been a crazy one.  One of my two doula clients for this month had her baby on Tuesday, and it was an extremely intense almost-24 hours.  I stayed on track, Whole30 wise, but the circumstances surrounding the birth and everything else has shot Whole30 firmly into the backseat of my priorities!

I've been a little disoriented and my sleep has gotten off track a bit as a result.  I'm supposed to be in the "Tiger Blood" phase of feeling amazing, and I'm sure I will be once I feel like I'm back to normal.

I also just don't feel right writing about my little Whole30 adventure when just 48 hours ago I was in the midst of a much more intense life event for my wonderful client and her amazing family.  It feels quite small by comparison, but out of respect for her privacy I can't go into any details about the birth or how I've been processing it (let alone how she's been).

For now, I'm just happy to have posted something on the blog, as I'm trying to stay faithful to updating once a week.  I'm also quite proud to have stayed on the plan - never have I wanted a glass of wine more than when I was walking home on Tuesday night!  I will hopefully have something more substantive to say next week, and when my next client goes into labor I plan to be just as well prepared to take care of myself while taking care of her!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Whole30, Day 9 Update

Hello hello!  I'm actually writing a blog post within a week of my last one - will wonders never cease.  I'm hoping to finally jump back on board to consistency with this thing.

Consistency is actually one of the biggest gifts I think I've gotten from the Whole30 so far.  Strangely, I don't feel compelled to blog much about food - although I will obviously mention it!  Maybe that's where I should start:

First of all, I do not feel deprived - generally speaking.  The food I'm eating is so delicious and because I absolutely love to cook, I'm still feeling excited about the program because I'm learning so many new recipes and having to get much more creative than usual.  According to the Whole30 Timeline, I'm encroaching on the point where a lot of people have to really fight temptation to quit.  A big cause is often food boredom.  I'm feeling incredibly grateful that I'm not falling into that category!  The Whole30 book and their awesome recipes are a big part of that.

Now, did I almost dive head-first into the bowl of tortilla chips at my friend Gemma's 30th birthday party this weekend?  Did I want my friend Morgan's insanely amazing fig gin?  Did I cry inside a little because I had to pass up incredible Brooklyn farmer's market cheese my friends Aaron and Lu brought for our Tony Night Extravaganza?  Do I miss chocolate and wine almost as much as I miss my nephews and niece?

Yes.

HOWEVER - my enjoyment of the program, excitement of the benefits I know I will reap, and my desire to really, truly, honestly complete it are all stronger than those things.  It's pretty amazing to acknowledge that there is a force in my willpower stronger than chocolate.  Brave new world.

So what does consistency have to do with this?

Because I've had to be so completely on-top of meal planning, what I'm eating, label-reading, and so consciously in tune with my body (such as nixing eggs - sadface), I've naturally fallen back into good habits that I've tried to maintain for so long.  The Whole30 program is also huge on the importance of sleep - and even if it wasn't, my lack-of-sugar crashes on Wednesday and Thursday were epic enough that sleep just shoved its way to the front of the importance line - and so I've been guarding my sleep even more fiercely than usual. (For those who know me well - I know it's hard to imagine me guarding my sleep more fiercely than usual, yet it has happened)

My body has always naturally been early-to-bed, early-to-rise, but a lot of things will often conspire to get in the way of that.  This past nine days, I have been consistent with that, which has lead to more time in the morning, which has lead to a consistent morning routine, which I always pine for but so often just completely suck at maintaining.  I've blogged/whined about it more times than I can count.

My mornings are now open enough that I can fit in all of the stuff that I both need and want to do for my health:  mobility work (for physical therapy), meditation, journaling, finally becoming consistent in taking my supplements, and dry brushing.  Then by the time my day starts, I actually feel settled instead of rushing around like a maniac and barely getting out the door in time!

Overall, I feel like with Whole30, rather than putting the emphasis on sad, scary deprivation, the emphasis has turned to my overall health.  It's been really awesome so far, even with the crazy brain-fog sugar crashes, and I'm really excited to keep going.  I can already tell it's having a huge, huge impact on my overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Whole30: Day 1

First of all, I can't believe it's been a month since I've written.  For shame!

The good news is, May was a pretty awesome month overall.  I bought a one month unlimited new student special at Y7, a fabulous hot yoga studio just upstairs from Karma Kids Yoga.  (Can't beat that for convenience!)  Extra yoga, more running with my physical therapist and on my own, a race to look forward to at the end of June (my first in over 18 months!!!) and a gloriously long Memorial Day weekend in PA to visit Marc - I can't find much to complain about!

Except...

Like every other person in this country, I have a funny relationship with food.  I was a deeply, deeply picky eater (my poor mother) as a kid.  Although I also had allergy testing as a tween that revealed some strong allergic reactions to corn, wheat, milk - you name it - I never made an effort to cut any of these foods out.  I honestly would have subsisted only on carrots and celery if I had done that because I was just so. damn. picky.

I didn't start making a conscious effort to eat vegetables or connect the dots between not just food and weight but food and health until my early 20's.  Becoming a runner and a yogi at that time got me more into cooking and my sister's forays into the culinary world helped expand my previous palate of cheese-chocolate-noodles. It didn't necessarily help my massive addiction and emotional attachment to chocolate, but you know - baby steps.  I flirted briefly with vegetarianism after moving to New York and starting my vinyasa yoga teacher training...and then I started dating Marc LeVasseur and was reminded that I am a carnivore for life!

I've gone through different phases, like everyone else, when it comes to healthier eating.  Sometimes I'm more in sync with it than others, sometimes I'm more motivated than others.  Pre-wedding or during a yoga teacher training = High motivation.  Laid out by an injury during a polar vortex an unable to do any of the physical activity that makes me feel strong and healthy = Low motivation.

I think it's because May was an overall good month, health-wise, that I'm inspired to take on this dietary experiment with myself.  As I wrote in my last entry, I've struggled with eczema and skin issues my whole life.  While switching over to more homemade products has been helping, it's also made me pay closer attention to it and to how I feel overall.  After a wine-and-chocolate-and-popcorn-and-you-name-it bender of a Memorial Day weekend, I felt pretty crappy and my skin was furious with me.

As fate and Facebook would have it, I noticed a random post from my fantastic former yoga teacher and current CrossFit guru Keith about the less-than-healthiness of legumes.  I've never understood why legumes were "vilified" by some nutritional camps, and when I asked him about it he provided a link that led me to reading about Whole30 - which I recalled my good friend Gemma committing to do for the month of May.

After reading more about it, I was hooked on the idea.  It's not permanent, and it's not exactly a diet.  It's a 30-day nutritional reset.  It's pretty damn intimidating to look at the rules and what not to eat, so let's start with what I will be eating the next 30 days:  Lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices & seasonings.

Now, the list of what I will not be eating:  grains of any kind, legumes (this includes peanuts and soy), dairy (!!), alcohol (!!), and added sugar of any kind, including honey and agave (!!!!).

There's a lot of stuff I love deeply on that list above - which is why this isn't forever!  The purpose of this re-set is to basically learn more about myself and how food affects me - physically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Physically, the factors that the above foods on the "no" list can adversely affect are digestion, skin (big one for me), energy level, sleep, and general inflammation.  Psychologically and emotionally, it forces me to detach from the habit of turning to a glass of wine or a brownie (or as so often happens, two or three or five) to unwind at the end of a long day, or to eat all the mini peanut butter cups in the Karma Kids fridge (sorry, Shari!) during that 3:00 crash because I need/deserve/whatever a mid-day treat.  The habit of chocolate with every meal (yep, even breakfast.  I'm a master of chocolate chip oatmeal variations).

This stuff is honestly a big part of my identity.  I'm passionate about good wine, I love to cook, and it's something Marc and I both love and bond with together (we went to France on our honeymoon specifically for this reason!)  After life as such a picky kid, it's exciting and liberating to be at a point where I'll try almost anything new and like almost anything that's put in front of me.  And when you live in New York City, the culinary possibilities are endless!

But as I said - this is not forever, and it's not a diet.  It's a venture to improve my health, my relationship with food, and to allow me more awareness of how what I eat affects me.  When I reintroduce corn, does that cause my skin to flare up?  When I reintroduce gluten, how will that affect my digestion?  I'm curious to see if my hamstring (which has been healing really well thanks to physical therapy) feels better at the end of the thirty days too.  I've had a couple medical professionals recommend I eliminate one thing or another from my diet but it all sounded like too much deprivation to me and just not worth it.  I guess I'm just at a point now - maybe it's because we recently turned 30, maybe it's because more people in our circle of friends and family have started to have serious health concerns - where having the information is worth it.  Information on my health trumps dessert.  (And I can honestly tell you that is something I never thought I would say!)

So, here we go.  Day #1 of 30.  I'm nervous and excited.  I'm curious how bad the sugar crash/cravings will be.  I'm wondering how I'll do at social events without alcohol.  But I suppose all will be revealed.

More information about the Whole30 can be found here, and I'll be one of those annoying people posting food pictures on Instagram at yoginiannie.  (I sort of already am one of those people, but this month it'll have way less cheese and chocolate!)  Not every meal, because - good lord.  But I'll be there!  Anyone care to join me?


...anyone?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Au Naturel

(No, this post is not about nudity.  Sorry.)

I've had sensitive skin forever and a day.  I still have eczema, though it's less severe than when I was a child, thank god, and growing up I suffered from a tremendous amount of allergies.  A few years ago, when I started falling into the yoga scene and learning what organic meant, I started to get interested in a more natural approach to my skin care, cosmetics, and housecleaning.  This essentially led to me spending an insane amount of money on boutique organic brands of all manner of products, and then years later realizing I couldn't afford it and then going to back to good ol' reliable Dove and Clorox.

Although I knew there was an alternative to that, I think it was a healthy combination of intimidation and laziness that kept me from exploring it - homemade!

Yes, I know DIY is so five-years-ago.  (Or maybe ten)  But sometimes I'm slow to catch on.

My older sister paved the way for me when she started exploring homemade recipes for lotion and household cleaning products a few years ago.  This makes sense, especially considering she used to be a chef so she has no fear of trying a new recipe, whatever it might be for.  With the arrival of the babies, she became even more concerned about the quality of ingredients she uses in essentially everything in her house.

Sadly, I think what finally tipped me over the edge to trying it was money related!  It has to be cheaper to buy your own and make your own stuff then to keep paying $15 every time you need more lotion, right?

Using the power of Google to find good recipes, the power of Amazon.com to buy ingredients in bulk, and essential oils, which I'm also starting to dip my toes into, I have finally, after years of curiosity, jumped on board and have made my first homemade beauty products.  Hooray for me!

I'm excited to see the effects of cleansing my face with the mix of castor and sunflower oil (with a tiny bit of tea tree, Vitamin E, and jojoba), skipping moisturizer, and my homemade lotion on my perpetually dry, pesky skin.  It's super easy and fun to make, and pretty easy to correct if you feel like you've screwed up.

Below is a recipe my sister used that we've both adapted with extra touches here and there from the blog WellnessMama - she calls it her Luxurious Homemade Lotion Recipe.  You can find the full post and more from her here.

Ingredients
  • ½ cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup beeswax
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter or Cocoa Butter
  • Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives or other foods.
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
  3. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
  4. As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (8 ounce) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
  5. Use as you would regular lotion. This has a longer shelf life than some homemade lotion recipes since all ingredients are already shelf stable and not water is added. Use within 6 months for best moisturizing benefits.
Notes
A little goes a long way! This lotion is incredibly nourishing and is also great for diaper rash on baby, for eczema and for preventing stretch marks!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Shoutout (aka - five years!)

I've been mulling over and over in my head what to write about in the four weeks since I've last written.  Actually - make that the last two weeks since I got back from being Annie the Nanny to my sister's twins for a week.  Prior to that, those two chubby faces were all that was on my mind!

My last entry was all about slowly easing back into my own yoga practiced.  That hasn't stopped by any means, and I'm very grateful for it.  My busy schedule doesn't always allow for classes, but when it does I've been much more proactive about where and how I spend my time, and it's really been helping me.

Blogging on the other hand...I've just felt flat-out uninspired lately.  I'm not sure exactly what the reason is or how to climb out of it.  I think part of it has to do with the fact that I have just felt over saturated in general - inundated via my lovely Facebook friends with endless articles that might catch my fancy on yoga, on pregnancy, on parenthood, on health, on fitness, on eating, on relationships - you name it.  We are more in the information age than ever before, and sometimes I think I just have article fatigue.  So maybe I feel weird contributing yet more noise to this over saturated little world of blogs and online articles.  Maybe I'm just waiting until I feel like I have something truly awesome to say.

However - today is the five-year anniversary of my start to this ol' thing, and for most of those five years I have been super devoted to writing once a week, every damn week.  Even on the weeks it was a bit of a cheat - just posting a link to a YouTube video, for instance, or another post written by someone else.

It feels like I should write in the ol' girl on our five year anniversary.  So with that in mind, here is what I wrote in my first entry.  Is it narcissistic to think that it's cute?  It's kind of cute.  Anyway - enjoy!


Greetings, Blogverse!  I am officially joining the ranks of the millions, billions, and/or zillions of self published and self proclaimed gurus of the Internets.  Who am I to do this, you ask?

Well, I'm Annie Foster, first of all.  Most of you reading this probably know me but if not - hello! I'm starting this little ol' yoga blog for various reasons.  I'm a southern girl who moved up to the Big City from beautiful Virginia this past September.  I had no idea how dramatically and positively it would change my life.

I've practiced yoga for about 7 years total.  It started as an off-and-on thing for when I had access to a gym or did a yoga tape (remember tapes?).  I started practicing more consistently during my senior year at beautiful Christopher Newport University, and after graduating in 2007 my practice really began to deepen.  I thought about becoming a teacher, but lack of confidence, scheduling challenges, or lack of money always made it seem impossible. After I decided to finally take the plunge and move to New York, it was clear there would be no better time (or place!) in my life to finally sign up for a training program.

I chose Sonic Yoga in Hell’s Kitchen for my 200-hour training, and it was the best thing I have ever done for myself.  The teachers there are phenomenal, and the program is life changing.

Since the program ended in December, I’ve striven to continue what I view as just the beginning of a lifelong journey in not just teaching yoga but becoming a better student of yoga.  My teachers referred to the 200 hour training as “yoga nursery school.”  Having graduated and subsequently been thrown into the big world of articles, books, classes, styles, workshops, not to mention more clothes, accessories, and various merchandise than anyone could possibly wrap their brains around, I’ve been yearning for some kind of outlet to help me make sense of this big yoga universe I’ve plunged into.

Hence: blog.

As my career as a full time yoga teacher starts taking its first steps and leaps I hope to make this blog an extension of everything I learn through both study and experience.  I plan to share thoughts on books I’ve read, concepts I’ve learned, and start a conversation with all the lovely souls who are kind enough to read it.

The past couple of weeks have been full of first steps for me as a teacher.  I subbed my first studio class and secured my first regular studio class, both at Creative Vibrations.  I'll be teaching there Mondays at 5:00pm and I'm very excited.  I also taught my first private client (or the first private client who wasn't already my friend, I should say!) last week.  I'm nearly finished collaborating with the excellent Billy Griffin to launch my yoga website.  I have my first exposure to the amazing world of Thai Yoga Massage via the Integral Yoga Instituteand will soon have my first 5-day intensive there to become certified.  Lots of stuff is happening and I hope this can be a place where I share all that I learn through my study and practice yoga!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Starting Home

I've been distant lately, not just from the blog but from so much of what it represents in terms of my connection to a spiritual practice, a physical practice, my health - all that beautiful stuff I started this blog to explore and blather on about.

Since last January, after the marathon led to my hamstring, my foot, then my hamstring again being injured, I've been slowly retreating further and further from running, yoga, and any other type of physical activity.  I didn't want to in the least, but I found I had to.  It's been very frustrating, and I've written a lot about it.  I started the amazing journey with my physical therapist back in late September to try to get me all fixed, and while I'm not 100%, I'm so much better.  I haven't done much running aside from some glorious barefoot 5-minutes-at-a-time sessions back in October and November - before the polar vortex came to stay - but those little sessions were amazing and so different from what I'd been used to and so hard.

I've missed the mood and energy boost from working out just as much as the physical effects, and I recently discovered yet another thing I missed about being active - the extra willpower.  I've always had an emotional and contentious relationship with food, and varying degrees of inactivity brought me back to that full swing.

Even after making big strides in physical therapy, I still almost never took a yoga class for myself in these past almost six months.  Either I was afraid of aggravating my hamstring further (after months of recklessly pushing myself last spring and early summer, I'm done taking chances) or just felt like I was too damn busy and the last thing I needed after a full day of teaching was to spend more time in downdog.

And yet.

I remember talking to a beautiful yoga teacher who is, sadly for me but wonderfully for her, moving to Colorado soon after getting married this weekend (which, if I may say, is a pretty awesome weekend to get married) awhile ago about this.  She mentioned that she was taking a class with a teacher we both loved later that day, after just having told me she'd already taught some ridiculously high number of classes already (kids and grown-ups).  When I asked how on earth she could possibly manage to do more yoga after all of that, she just responded very matter-of-factly that she needed to keep time for her own practice too.

That little exchange has come back to me every so often, and it's been a little bug in my ear more and more lately as I've emerged from a truly insane February and the city emerges from a truly brutal winter.

Yesterday, I practiced at Astoria's lovely Yoga Agora with my absolute best friend in the world first thing in the morning.  And just this evening, I practiced at one of my beautiful home studios, The Giving Tree Yoga Studio right down the street for a delicious 90 minute, half flow-half restorative class.

The amount of mental and emotional weight I can feel having melted out of myself is pretty amazing after just those two classes in two days.  Even today, after teaching 5 kids classes in the morning and one adult private in the evening, I am so happy I dragged myself back out into the wind from my warm apartment to take a class.  All of that plus the beautiful feeling of not being physically spent, exactly, but just knowing that I did work for myself.

When I'm teaching, I'm either playing or demonstrating.  I think I've forgotten what a massive difference there is between that and taking - even if I were to take a class of the exact same sequence that I may have taught.  It sounds obvious to be writing it out, but I never quite realized it.  When I'm practicing, it's my breath, I set my pace, I make modifications if I need to, I let myself be led and cared for by a teacher.  Not only that, I get inspired as a teacher to steal whatever wonderful things I'm doing or hearing to bring back to my students.  I can get stuck in ruts from time to time and I can't believe I forgot how necessary it is to shake things up.

So there we go.  I practiced, and I've revisited this neglected, dusty old blog.  Slowly but surely I'm getting back to a place where I'm carving out time for my physical practice, which always puts me on a road to being happier and saner.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Saucha: Next to Godliness

February was a whirlwind.  The first half felt like nonstop teaching, and the second half felt like nonstop struggling to teach nonstop while losing my voice and being on call for my first doula client.  Now that my voice is back, a beautiful baby girl was born last week (in one of the most unbelievably awe-inspiring moments I've ever experienced!)  and I'm more grounded, I feel like I'm coming up for air, and I'm overjoyed to find that it's finally March...despite the layer of snow and ice currently dropping on the ground.

Despite the snow, when I hear "March," my brain says, "SPRING!"  Now that I've had a day off where I've felt up to doing more than laying on the couch binge-watching The Mindy Project and recouping my energy, I've been indulging in one of my favorite nerdy housewife-y things - Spring Cleaning.  It made me smile, knowing this was my plan for today, to get the March newsletter for my wonderful neighborhood yoga studio, The Giving Tree, and see that their theme for the month is, "Fresh Start."  It's exactly what it feels like - and it's usually how I feel at the start of every March.  (And September.  And January.  And a little bit June)

I always feel happier in a cleaner home, and man alive did this place need it.  Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, which I mention a lot on here, identified cleaning/purging as the first thing she needed to do to start her project.  In her chapter on it, she found it interesting that there's very little research on link to happiness/stress levels and clutter!  She does a tremendous amount of research in her book about all manner of things, so it was fascinating - considering our pop culture's obsession with things like Hoarders - that there isn't much "official" information about that.

Yogically speaking, the first niyama, or observance, is saucha - purity or cleanliness.  Literally, clean body, spirit.  Energetically speaking, a place for everything and everything in its place.  Everyday - brushing our teeth, showering, even making the bed.  Some yogis go further with practices like neti potting, oil pulling, and use of particular oils on the skin.

There are all kinds of deep thoughts and analyses I could throw into this entry about saucha - the interesting quotes from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (where yamas/niyamas are first mentioned and discussed) that imply our body can never be clean and is in fact something to be considered "disgusting."  I could talk about parallels to certain religions and other implications of purity, and impurity...but that's for another day.

For me, today - it's much more on the simpler (and yes, metaphorical) side.  Deep cleaning the oven, clearing off the (embarrassing amount of) dust off of my counters and bookshelves, cleaning the bathroom - unbelievably simple stuff that just gets thrown to the wayside when things get busy.  It's unbelievable how grounding and inspiring dealing with it can be.  I joke with my boss that I need one day off a week to "do my laundry," but it really is the truth!  To be a good "housewife" it takes at least a whole damn day...and there always seems to be more that you can do.  Adding to that facing and getting our finances in order, which is never fun at the time but always feels (somewhat) good to be done with - icing on the incredibly nerdy, boring, grown-up cake.

The mundanity of these accomplishments, though, don't seem to lessen the quiet joy they bring me.  We may still be in the "lion" phase of March, but my love of spring cleaning is warming my spirit up already.  Who knows - with this solid foundation, I might be able to blog about more yoga-y elements of yoga soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Lent" for the Yogi

Holy moly - how on planet earth has it been a month since I've written?  I have no other excuse to offer but that most ubiquitous and obnoxious of NYC reasons - I've been crazybusy.  (Is that exclusive to NYC or does pretty much everyone everywhere blame things on that?)

I want to just write a brief entry - sort of about Lent, and sort of not.  I'm not Catholic, or even Christian, but I'm a sucker for anything resembling a resolution, or a finite amount of time in which to try something, give something up, or better yourself.  I certainly don't want to offend anyone who is devout and takes their practice seriously - I am not trying to trivialize your religious practice by any means, merely taking inspiration from it as I go on my own continuing journey.

A few years ago, I started my year off - literally starting January 1st - with a 40-day meditation with my mala beads, chanting the same thing each and every day.  It was pretty fabulous and grounding and I learned a lot.  It wasn't related to Lent, I just wanted to give the practice a go.

I typically don't do anything for Lent (again - not Catholic), but I do remember when I was interning in Sarasota, over 6 years ago now, that I decided to add something to my life for 40 days instead of the traditional practice of giving something up.  I added what I called a "devotional practice."  Every morning for a minimum of 20 minutes, I'd meditate and then do at least one other thing - either practice yoga, write, or go for a run.  It was really phenomenal, and if memory serves I think I managed to make it happen every single day.

This year, I have one thing I want to add and one thing I want to give up - sort of in line with my Inward/Onward theme of this year.

Inward - Adding:
-Devotional practice, just like back in good ol' Sarasota.  Minimum 20 minutes every day.  Meditation is mandatory!  Adding along writing, yoga, or my (also mandatory) physical therapy exercises.  Eventually I'm hoping I can add running to the list!

Onward - Subtracting:
-Complaining!  Not necessarily being a robot who never utters a declarative sentence stating unpleasant things ("It is -10 degrees out today.") or a holier-than-thou beatific martyr, but I don't want to get caught in the very easy cycle of whining, continually directing my energy toward negativity, and most importantly, having the complaining ease myself into a pattern of worrying.  I am a mega-worrier, and I think there's a big link between that and complaining.

The "no complaining" thing has been on my mind for a long time, and it reminded me a little bit of this article, which wasn't focused on complaining or general negativity so much as it was more about gossip or unkind words.  Also a valuable thing to examine further in your own life and habits!

For my perspective, not being tied into the dogma of religion, the 40 days is a bit of a trivial number for me.  There are experts who say it takes 21 or 28 or 100 days to build a habit, and plenty who throw 40 around as being significant either because of the religious/historical significance it holds or because a research study suggested people kept good habits after that amount of time.

Regardless of the length of time or the reason, I'm always in favor of a little more self-study (svadhyaya in yoga-speak) and self-improvement.  Whether you're observing Lent or not, I hope the next 40 days are good ones...and the best part is, by the time it's done, we'll finally be seeing the glorious light of SPRING!

Not that I'm complaining about the winter.  But...it is very cold outside.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Updated & Improved YoginiAnnie.com

Hello hello, kind readers of my blog!

Today is my only day (and it's really a half day) at home to get myself situated before the hubs and I head down south to Costa Rica for a week (!!!).  In between following up on doula to-do's, cleaning the apartment, watching the videos and doing the homework my physical therapist has assigned me, juicing, following up on bills, and making sure we aren't broke - I have a very exciting announcement!

After nearly five years, I finally got my website updated!  My wonderful friend Billy Griffin built this site for me back in March of 2010, and then we both took forever and a day to get it to the point where I could update it myself.  He put me in touch with a fantastic web guy, Kyle Walters who helped me get it to where it is right now.

To get an idea of how badly this website needed updating - I had never even heard of kids yoga, let alone Karma Kids, back in March of 2010.  I had taken only one introductory course of Thai Yoga Massage.  I had just barely gotten my 200 hour!  And I probably had never heard the word doula before.  So, yes - it needed a little sprucing up!

Now here it is, in all its glory.  Enjoy, and THANK YOU, Billy Griffin and Kyle Walters!