Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pure Athleta

I got up bright and early this morning to start my day off with another new class and new fashion preview courtesy of Athleta!  To tell the truth, this is one of those weeks where if anything, I need way more sleep than I need another hour of a workout - between teaching more classes than usual this week, training for the half marathon, and hardly ever seeing my husband due to his rehearsal and work schedule, I feel dangerously close to burnout.

Luckily for me, the class that was offered was low on impact (though still high on challenge!).  Pure Barre, founded in Birmingham, MI, is a Pilates-esque exercise class focusing on spot-training arms, abs, thighs, and glutes.  It doesn't include cardio, though your heart rate naturally escalates during more challenging sequences.  After each concentrated spot-training session, they stretch the muscles they've just worked, citing as their reason that their goal is to create long, lean muscles without bulk.

From my perspective, it seems like a great toning workout for someone who is already physically fit, although it would probably need to be coupled with some cardio for effective weight loss/fat burning.  The instructor was fast but thorough and attentive, and the class moves quickly, which is nice when you're stuck doing a tough move for a minute - you know it'll switch up soon.

I have to admit, though, I'm still a complete devotee of Refine Method when it comes to a complete full-body workout aimed at both weight loss and building muscle.  The bursts of cardiovascular challenge coupled with challenging weight and the fact that each and every class is different and things change on a dime to confuse the body - it's a hell of a workout.  I was introduced to Refine by Athleta back in October and I can't recommend it enough!

What I liked the most about Pure Barre was probably how it reminded me of some Pilates classes I used to take and absolutely adore.  Literally within 5 minutes of the start of class, my abs were shaking!  As a former ballerina, it's also really fun to be back at a barre, even if we're doing completely different exercises than in ballet!

After class, we had some amazing refreshments provided by one of my all time favorite NYC restaurants, Gustorganics, including their fresh pressed juices.  Delicious and heavenly after an early morning workout.  From there it was all about checking out the clothes.  Athleta has some great stuff lined up for fall, and I found myself eyeing their cozy sweaters, cool rain jackets (I don't think I've ever owned one!), and fabulous running gear.

For the class, they generously provided us with outfits - the Tie Dye Tank (mine was in Fiji Green) and the Revelation Pant (in black).  Although they offer petite sizes online and occasionally in store, mine was sadly not petite - but luckily, they offer free hemming in store!

It was an absolute treat to spend the morning celebrating one of my favorite companies and switching up my routine on my tired legs.  It set me up for a great day with the kids and parents at iVillage, where we all played yoga a

t their annual Take Your Child to Work Day.  The kids all left with a Karma Kids Yoga temporary tattoo and great big smiles!

The last little note I wanted to include - I've had some trouble culling things together for a specific charity for my half marathon, and it's likely I'll just continue to promote the One Fund, which is the official charity for the victims of the half marathon.  If you check out GoFundMe.com, you'll also come upon dozens of fundraising pages for specific victims where you can learn more about their stories - it's heartbreaking and inspiring all at once.

Hope everyone has a great weekend - mine will be full of training, theatre (my husband and friends are in Titan's Romeo & Juliet opening tomorrow, my best friend is going on for Kate Monster in Avenue Q on Saturday night!), and of course - LOTS of yoga!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Karma Running

One of the many branches of yoga is Karma Yoga.  Essentially, it is the yoga of selfless service to others.  Volunteering, donating, helping someone else with no reward for yourself - all of these are examples of karma yoga.

After the horrifying attack at the Boston Marathon on Monday, I immediately ceased my previous worries and negative thoughts about my upcoming Brooklyn Half Marathon.  I was very worried about my various aches and pains, disoriented and off my game after coming back from (and down from!) the wedding, worried I had made a mistake by registering for a race with about half the time to train I'd ideally like to have - all kinds of minor things that seem beyond unimportant after the tragic events in Boston.

As a runner, as someone with family in Boston, as someone who works with children, as an American, just as a human, I've been really upset over what happened.  The images, seen and unseen, of so much carnage, of lost lives and limbs instantly put things back into perspective.

This race was supposed to be about me keeping active after the wedding - having another source of motivation to get out there when I'm feeling tired.  And aside from the 10K we ran back in September, almost all of my races are for selfish reasons.  Not that I think that's a bad thing or that I feel terribly guilty about it, because I still think running for my health or my enjoyment are perfectly worthy, but between what happened in NYC around the New York Marathon and now this in Boston, I can't help but feel like I ought to be doing more.  I think runners could use all the support the country can give them as well as give back as much as our able bodies, minds, and hearts can.

I now want to dedicate my upcoming race to raise money for the victims of the bombing who lost their limbs so they can be outfitted with the best prosthetics possible - especially the children.  When I think of the beautiful children I work with every single day through Karma Kids Yoga, The Giving Tree, and the children in my family, I can't imagine any child being robbed of the ability to live as active and free a life as they possible can.  Please consider donating - I'll be working to get in touch with anyone I can in the Boston area who can help me get the funds into the proper hands, and I'll figure out as soon as possible how to set up a forum for online donations.

"If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."
-Kathrine Switzer-

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Walking to Run

Two things have happened this week to confirm that spring is, in fact, finally here - I had my first iced green tea of the year and wore my Be Present pants to class for the first time this year!  I love little rituals or things that only come up at a certain time of year...going to the beach in the summer, busting out the crock pot in the fall.

On Easter Sunday I was able to take my first run without a long sleeved shirt on in 2013, which was also a delicious milestone.  I always love running in the springtime, but sadly for me, my body has been very cranky with me ever since getting back from the mini-moon.  I don't know if I dove right back into my crazy physical routine and did too much too soon, but my left knee and right ankle in particular, along with both of my poor feet, have been giving me all kinds of grief and making running very challenging.

Normally this wouldn't be a huge deal, but with that pesky half marathon coming up really soon, I'm very nervous that my body won't do what I'd like for it to.  I'm in that place where I'm struggling to find the balance between resting enough or resting so much that I lose fitness - running enough to keep up with my training, but not so much that I injure myself.

A compromise presented itself the other day so seemingly obvious that I can't believe it didn't occur to me sooner - integrating walk breaks into my run.  When I first started running, it was very much a given that I wasn't actually going to run the entire time during the 20 or so minutes I'd make it out the door.  The days I ran one mile, two, three without stopping were enormous milestones, and it's really only been in the last two or three years that I've consistently gone on runs without walk breaks.  It's gotten to be a bit of a pride (aka ego) thing with me and I've just taken for granted that not only can I insert walk breaks into my run, but I really should given my absurdly tight calves, history of plantar fasciitis, and these new and exciting aches and pains.  The athletic mindeset that tends to pervade the sport of running is to push through the pain, but that's the opposite of what yoga teaches us.  I have no problem dropping into child's pose whenever I need to or taking the simpler modification of a pose in class - what gives with the ego when I'm running?

So that's my practice - not just for these weeks preceding the half marathon (and by the way, ack!  have I mentioned I'm nervous about it?) but hopefully for the rest of my life.  I want to be albe to run for as long as I can walk!


On a personal note, I absolutely have to post the link to our wedding photographer's blog post containing our wedding slideshow.  The song she chose was perfect and her photographs were absolutely phenomenal.  If you need a photographer for your upcoming wedding, engagement photos, newborn portraits, or family photos, she is your woman!  Absolutely stellar.  Thank you so much, Stacey!!!  We owe you so much!

Annie + Marc ~ Married!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm back!

Hello again!  I'm back from an almost month long hiatus, and it feels like it's been years - in the best possible way, of course.

The wedding was everything I hoped it would be and more.  It's sometimes dangerous to use the word perfect, but it truly was perfect.  Marc and I are incredibly,  incredibly lucky to have such amazing family and friends support us and share their love (and amazing dance moves) on our wedding day.  One of the best elements (and it's a yogic one!) of the wedding day, from start to finish, was how absolutely perfectly present I felt the entire day.  I truly was enjoying every moment.  I didn't feel nervous or anxious, and although I was excited, I wasn't counting down the minutes until 4:00 (ceremony time).  I enjoyed everything from time with my girlfriends in the morning, to getting my hair and makeup done, to traveling with my family to the venue and all the time we spent together leading up to the big moment.  I remember vividly when my friend Caroline was working on my makeup (and man, did she do a genius job - I cried the whole ceremony and you couldn't even tell afterward) and I felt so at peace and so happy, yet my heart rate started to quicken rapidly.  My body knew to be excited and nervous, but I just felt so mentally and emotionally at peace and happy.  It was a really crazy separation of the emotional and the physical.

The time after the wedding and the post-wedding barbecue - our 'mini-moon' - was perfect as well.  We stayed at the Colby Hill Inn after finding a deal they offered through Groupon and are so madly in love.  Whenever we have the time and the money to go back, we are definitely going back.  Our current goal is to find a time once a year to go up - fingers crossed that we can make it happen.  We absolutely can't recommend it highly enough.  The tiny town, the nature, the beautiful rooms, the unbelievable food, the incredibly kind and lovely staff...it was the perfect way to decompress, relax, and recover after a whilrwind weekend (and week!  and year!).

Being back home and being married feels amazing.  There's been an incredible sense of a sigh of relief that the planning is over.  We're nostalgic for the day itself (and probably always will be), but man how I don't miss the planning!  Not one little bit.  First of all, there are still things to do - thank you notes to write, steps to take to make the name change legal, etc.  And of course, when you think about it, there will never not be a to do list!  It feels like there's so much more space, time, and breathing room in our lives right now.  You might say we're in a honeymoon phase of not having to plan a wedding!

I wouldn't be me without a big event to look forward to and prepare for, though, so I'm diving right in to training for my second half marathon.  The Brooklyn Half Marathon, taking us from Grand Army Plaza to Coney Island, is May 18th, an itty bitty 7 weeks away.  Ack!  Last time I had my big sister to hold my hand and train with me (even if we were largely long distance) and this time it's just going to be me out there on the course.  And lord help me, I haven't even checked to see how hilly it is.  Myrtle Beach was flat as flat can be, which makes things miles easier.

This week feels very much about slowly dipping back into normal life.  Things aren't quite back to routine yet - some of my children's classes are still on hiatus for Passover, we have the crazy and fun Yoga Journal Conference this weekend, and this weekend we had my wonderful best friend from England staying with us which felt like a fun prolonging of the party.  So things are still in a bit of a transition mode, it feels like.  But we are back.  And perhaps most importantly, I threw down my yoga mat and practiced a 20 minute sadhana today for the first time in...I'm afraid to even calculate how long it's been.  Months at least.

For ten minutes, I practiced slow, gentle asana.  For the following ten, I sat in a supported virasana pose with a block between my feet to lift my seat (which makes it much easier to have good posture) and used a meditation technique based in pranayama (control of the breath).  I counted my inhalation for a count of 4, the exhalation for a count of 6.  Extending the exhale (a practice called langhana in Sanskrit) is a very calming practice.  It's been absolutely ages since I sat on my own and was able to actually keep my mind focused and stay present, and it felt amazing.  Getting back to running, getting back to Refine classes, and oh that first yoga class back - it feels so wonderful to get the chance to reconnect with my body after two weeks of giving it a break.

I look forward to writing again next week, now that we're home sweet home.  Happy April!