Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Athleta 2012 Holiday Preview!

Last Thursday the lovely ladies of Athleta kindly invited me to the Aspen Social Club in Midtown to take a sneak peak at what they have coming up in their stores for the fall and winter.  It's always exciting to get invited to these things, especially because all I really do is write a blog on whatever I feel like week to week.

Athleta is a clothing company designed for active women involved in any sport or activity, from yoga to running to surfing to skiing.  They're owned by the Gap and are committed to not only high performance technical fabric but to exploring the latest in eco-friendly fabric.  (My favorite example of the latter:  Java Capri) The clothing is designed and "road-tested" by female athletes and they have an unbeatable return policy - return it any time for any reason.

I really love Athleta's clothes, and especially given my half marathon coming up, I was so excited to see some of their new products and returning (and improved!) items as well.  A lot of it won't be hitting the shelves until October, which is good news because it gives me time to save up - and coincidentally, that half marathon is going to be in late October, right when the weather starts really shifting and I need to change my usual running wardrobe.

Another thing I like about Athleta, aside from their clothing's comfort, cuteness, and oft eco-friendliness is how often the clothing translates from the activity it's designed for (i.e. yoga) to every day life.  As a New Yorker, the clothing I leave the house in is usually the clothing I'll be in until I get in at night, which means I often need to balance the functionality of my clothing with looking like a "normal person" at night.  Athleta has clothes I can run around and get sweaty and silly with kids in, and then turn up to a friend's birthday party or a date with Marc and not look like just a yoga teacher.   In addition, they also do sell clothing specifically for looking like a "normal person."  Their dresses are great and so comfortable, which is a huge plus for me.

Best of all - they offer a HUGE discount to yoga teachers - 30%!!  Insane.  It makes the clothing actually affordable on a yoga teacher's budget.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

For my "trouble" of coming to see their new winter looks they even gave me a free hoodie and healthy breakfast munchies!  How cool is that?

Finally, I wanted to share an article about Athleta and Lululemon that will be in BusinessWeek, hitting stands Friday.  The lovely author of it interviewed me for a yoga teacher's perspective on the similarities and differences between the two businesses, and she found me via - wouldn't you know it - this little blog.  I feel like I should buy my blog a drink or something for all it's been doing for me lately.

Hope everyone has a beautiful week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Moving Meditation

This past Sunday morning, I did something I haven't done in possibly years.  I went for a run with just myself.  No music, no podcasts, and no running buddy.  There was nothing coming in between me and my brain.

Running this way used to be no big deal (certainly not worthy of a blog about it), and the only reason it did seem like such as scary prospect is that I haven't done it in ages so I forgot what it's like.  You'd think that for someone who meditates every morning, being alone with my thoughts would be, again, no big deal.  I had a lot of little fears about it, though.  I was afraid of losing motivation and being overwhelmed by the physical challenge, and potential monotony, of running.  A lot of times when I'm running with music I think I'm about to keel over, and then a song that I just have to run to comes on and keeps me going.

I underestimated myself, though, as we all do too often.  I forgot what a powerful thing it is to just run free.  Being alone with my thoughts helps me to both distract myself on a deeper level (which is what the music or conversation is usually there for) and also to be so much more in the moment.  The nice thing about running as opposed to yoga is that it's completely fine for your mind to go a million miles away - it's often a necessity to get you through.  As my runs increase in length and distance over the next couple of months in preparation for the half marathon, I'm sure I'll understand that on a much deeper level.  Although I'm paying attention to my form, the traffic, and those around me, I'm not always focused on my heart rate and my foot falls.

Running without distraction gives you the freedom to daydream, work out a problem, and contemplate whatever your heart could possibly desire - not to mention the ability to possibly get distracted by something going on in the world around you that you might have otherwise not noticed.  All of this makes the whole experience so much more enriching.

Earlier today, I was bound and determined to do my scheduled 3 mile run.  I had work at Karma Kids in the morning and then a substantial break before I had to be back in the evening to work Pajama Yoga (which is as much fun as it sounds, if you're wondering).  I was a little randomly glum in the morning, which I blamed on the rain, and was really looking forward to the run to boost my mood, as it always does.

At 2:30ish or so when I was all laced up and ready to go, I stepped more pouring, pouring rain.  I still took the F uptown, still got out, and still did 3 miles in the Park (during which I quickly realized I don't know anything about any of the running loops in Central Park...some research will be required for the future!), all in the pouring, relentless, driving, and surprisingly chilly rain.

I love running in the rain.  Sometimes more than others, but in general I love it.  There's always that part of me that winces when my shoes have nowhere to go but a big ol' puddle and can feel the stickiness of the specks of dirt clinging to my calves, and will start to worry if the rain is permeating through my armband into my phone, but even with all that - there's an ultimate surrender to running in the rain.  It's raining.  It's wet.  You are going to get wet no matter what.  So you might as well go with it.

So many times in life all you have to do is stop resisting the inevitable and go with it.  Running in the rain, for me, is the perfect physical manifestation of surrender.  Running without distraction is the ultimate experience of being present with your mind, body, and the world around you.

Who says running and yoga have nothing in common?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New Dress + New Shoes = More Yoga

These last almost-two weeks have been a fantastic whirlwind.  From the truly life changing Teen Teacher Training I wrote about last week, to having a BLAST of a 4th of July celebration with my best friend and her great boyfriend, to a wonderful weekend in Florida with my mom and grandma, and a decision I made with my sister at the end of June, life has gotten very, very exciting.

This past weekend, my mom and grandma took me to a fantastic bridal salon in Melbourne, FL where we got - you guessed it - my wedding dress!

NOT my actual dress.
 I wound up with the first one that I tried on, which is pretty awesome.  I of course tried on all of the dresses that the our fantastic consultants pulled for me, but that first one just set the bar too high!

I also tried on a couple for fun, like the one at right.  When your favorite movie is Gone with the Wind, how many times in life do you get to put on a big, poofy Scarlett O'Hara dress?

Getting the dress just makes my role as a bride, a "wedding planner" (so to speak), and soon enough, a wife that much more real and tangible.  It's really exciting, yet can add lots of stress - both positive and negative.  There's excitement, build up, inevitable let down, diplomatic give-and-take with family members, and dealing with things going not quite as you'd planned.  This role has me thanking my lucky stars every day for all the tools that yoga provides to help me keep an even keel and deal with the stressful moments when they occur.  It's really showing me just HOW loud and crazy and fast-paced my mind can get!  When you're throwing so much energy into either thinking of one big day (the wedding) or thinking about your life changing forever (the marriage!), it's more important than ever to try to find ways to root yourself into the present moment and appreciate the journey.

Speaking of crazy anticipation, I made another big purchase last week.  Certainly small, certainly less expensive, and certainly less pretty, but with a hell of a lot of significance.
PureCadence by Brooks.  Love the color!

On Friday, June 29th, at the end of a long, fantastic day of teacher training, I saw on facebook that my sister had decided to run a half marathon in Myrtle Beach, SC.  My sister has always been gutsy, impulsive, and all-or-nothing, so it shouldn't have surprised me that she decided to just go for it.

I've never thought of myself as a long distance runner.  I've really barely thought of myself as a runner - I didn't start until after college in August of 2007 and was continually shocked when I could run a mile straight without passing out.  I ran a few 5K's - one with my sister, one with friends, one by myself - and a 10K with my sister that was the absolute farthest I'd ever run - and still is.  My running tapered off a bit when I moved to the city.  It seemed more time consuming to get out there and do it especially when I was working my office job and training to be a yoga teacher.  After moving to Ditmars closer to Astoria Park I picked it back up again, and Marc and I have run two 4 Mile races together.

My running probably picked back up when I made the commitment to myself to run at least two days a week.  No specified time, distance, route, anything - just as long as I put on my shoes and got out the door for two days a week, I was doing well.  It felt so good to reconnect and recommit, and to really take charge of my schedule and make sure that I fit it in, no matter how busy I can get.

So all of a sudden, there's this opportunity to challenge myself physically the way I have absolutely never challenged myself before - or even considered challenging myself.  Maybe it's because she's my big sister - I don't know the reason - but something in me just started saying that I can do it, and that I should at least try.  I'm sure a lot of the inspiration I was getting from the Teen Training contributed too.

Last night, we made it official and registered for the race together.

I will be running a half marathon. 13.1 miles, October 21st.

I'm excited, I'm scared, and I think I'm a little bit crazy.  I'll also be depending on yoga a lot to help me through the training process - the asana will be beyond essential to help my body balance out all the extra miles it'll be putting in.  The power of mantra will be key as well to help me keep my inspiration up and my attitude positive.  Just like with the wedding, I'm going to be putting a lot of hours, a lot of work, and a lot of preparation to prepare for this one big day, and there's a lot of excitement and stress with something like that.  I'm going to try to take it slow and steady and enjoy the whole ride!

4 Mile Race for Japan in Central Park!
I also registered Marc and I for a 10K race on September 23rd so that he has something to work toward as well and we can train together.  He's my biggest cheerleader and always, always helps boost my confidence and helps me believe in myself.  Having him by my side when I'm training for these races will be invaluable!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, blogverse, and I'll see you next week!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Karma Kids Yoga's Teen Teacher Training Intensive

This past weekend was absolutely overflowing with awesome.  In addition to the teen training, which I'll gush about in a moment, it was also a time to spend with my beautiful best friend and her boyfriend and a time to cram in as much time as possible with my fiance who is in Lake George for the week.  I'll be headed out of the city myself on Thursday to get a wedding dress in Florida with my mom and my grandma, so I've got another fantastic weekend ahead of me.

The Teen Training is led by Erin Wilson and Shari Vilchez-Blatt.  I already knew these two lovely ladies just through working with them at Karma Kids.  I see Shari practically every day, but I hadn't seen Erin since her move last year to San Francisco where she's continuing to spread the yoga love to teens in partnership with Integral Yoga, who works to get Erin placed in schools that so desperately need her.

The regular Karma Kids Yoga Teacher Training that I took back in the fall of 2010 covers toddlers through teens, so I've already been teaching Teen and Tween classes for a long time, but I've known that this Teen Training was going to be an essential part of my teaching.  I expected to learn some meditations, some new activities, and to get a few new tools in my toolbox.  I got those things in absolute spades, and what I didn't expect to get was an absolute revitalization of my own personal practice and to leave with an absolute fire in my belly to teach so many more teens.

Sadly, my teen and tween classes at Karma Kids are finished for the summer  - right when I have all of this amazing new stuff to share with them! - but what I learned in this training I'll be carrying close to my heart and putting into practice myself a lot.  Erin doesn't just teach you how to teach kids yoga poses or Sanskrit, she uses the yogic philosophy and way of life to teach them how to be people.  There's such a focus on connection, community, strength, anger management, physical and mental health, service...I could truly go on and on and on.

Here is my class!  These training normally run at about 20 people, but for some crazy reason we had a small group this time.  We were small but mighty - and diverse!  Only two Americans, one amazing Irish woman, a stunning Chilean woman, a lovely Austrian woman, and an inspiring Londoner.  It was so wonderful to have so many different perspectives during our discussions - it felt like a huge bonus on top of the already wonderful training.  Everyone was ready to plan and open themselves up and we really bonded.

Thank you so much, Erin & Shari!!!  It makes me happy knowing this training is out there inspiring teachers and that this teaching is out there changing teens' lives every day.

Resurrection of a blog (and a hip)

One year ago today - on a much cloudier, much colder, and quite frankly very hungover morning - I went out to run.  My goal was either 4 mil...