This might be getting by on its looks

I spent the last week or two reviewing the Bellabeat LEAF, a health tracker similar to the Fitbit but much better looking.

The LEAF is designed to do everything a health tracker should do; however, I found that it doesn’t really do any of those things particularly well. But it really is pretty. 

Measures sleep – the LEAF logs sleep quality and quantity and provides charts within the app that let users compare their periods of light sleep and deep sleep. This function was only moderately accurate and did not know that I was up with a toddler in the middle of the night.

Tracks activity – measures daily movement, burned calories and allows users to set daily goals. This function was wildly inaccurate. It had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The app will also let users enter specific sports and activities, giving a detailed overview of their movement throughout the day, which is probably your best bet for tracking on this.

Monitors reproductive health – gives a detailed overview of the user’s menstrual cycle and helps women trying to conceive to identify ovulation days and increase their chances of successful conception. It also works for users trying NOT to conceive;-). This was completely accurate because the user enters the data into the application manually. So no guess work there for the LEAF.

Guided meditations & breathing exercises – the LEAF also encourages users to learn and practice deep breathing techniques through guided meditation exercises built into the LEAF app. These were the best functions offered by the LEAF. It was really nice to have a stash of meditations and breathing exercises right on my phone.

Alarms and reminders– the smart alarm feature within the LEAF app lets the user set reminders. There’s the wake up alarm option and an inactivity alert that warns the users if they’ve been inactive for too long. These would be great if there was a more obvious way to determine what it was buzzing you for because all of the buzzes are the same. Am I not moving enough? Am I supposed to be remembering to do something right now? Did it buzz me at 6AM and I didn’t wake up? Who knows!

And finally, wearability-this thing is beautiful but is a major pain to wear. I spent every moment I had it moving it around to other body parts to see if it would track better or because it needs to be on my waistband for breathing exercises or because it can’t get wet and I need to bathe a baby or I don’t want a huge bracelet on my arm during power yoga so now I need to move it to my tank top, where it won’t register any movement at all and will buzz me to get active halfway through the warrior series. And every time you move it to a different wear position, you have to change the settings in the app so it knows what you are doing. It was just a lot of manual entry and fussing over something that is supposed to be smart and easy.

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No, I Don’t Want To Be A Yoga Teacher

I have worried about posting this article because I don’t want readers or my yoga community to think that I am against teacher training programs, because I’m not.

I just wish there was more available for those of us who want to expand our practice and knowledge with programs on par with teacher trainings, that aren’t you know, teacher trainings.

See, a while back, I registered for a  one-day yoga intensive program at another studio and among the standard-issue registration questions were three designed to gauge my interest in becoming a certified yoga instructor. Immediately, I thought, “Still with the teacher training? Come on now! Aren’t we all trained already? Can’t we come up with something new?”

It would seem that the yoga industry is out of ideas when it comes to developing new revenue streams. I’m sure that in the beginning, offering teacher training programs was a great way to increase profit margin in an increasingly commodified market. But now, in true western yogi fashion, the industry is way overdoing it.

It is no longer a secret that the yoga business model is not exactly rock solid and achieving and maintaining profitability in an extremely saturated industry without losing your mind is nearly impossible. And, this model of discounted sessions and packages to get people in the door only to have to upsell them to teacher training programs is not really sustainable; not to mention what it is doing to the experience of yoga.

In 2014, nearly 15,000 new teachers registered with YogaAlliance, a yoga industry association and the largest yoga teacher registry. Some industry sources believe that just as many yogis completed teacher training but didn’t register to teach.

I choose to assume that the 15,000 who completed a training course but didn’t end up teaching are like me–yoga nerds with non-yoga day jobs just looking for a way to expand their knowledge of yoga and strengthen a practice that may be getting stale. Those people already know that yoga as a business is brutal and requires the right “personality” to attract and maintain a steady stream of clients. They recognize that a great yoga instructor is extremely rare and that the magical combination of spiritualist, nutritionist, therapist, educator, personal trainer and entrepreuneur can’t be mass produced.

So now what? The yoga industry is so deep into this teacher training model that they can’t seem to see past it. Mostly because conducting certified teacher trainings on top of their regular daily yoga business is so labor intensive there isn’t time to formulate and promote anything new to replace the teacher training revenue.

How about this? Let’s modify the teacher training programs into a yoga intensive program instead? You know, give us all the yoga and none of the “you too can be a teacher” priming?

There are plenty of yoga retreats doing that now already and some of the more prominent yoga methodology founders offer them through their affiliate studios (you have to wade through the teacher training programs to find them though). Yoga Journal has a whole host of events and conferences along these lines.

I would much rather go on a retreat led by my personal instructor (I’m looking at you, Three Dog Yoga) than attend an intensive led by a teacher I don’t know, which is risky. And I’d happily pay the $2,000-$5,000 I would otherwise have to pay for a teacher training to take my practice to the next level without hearing about teacher training.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Show those padded bra cups who’s boss.

Currently, my two favorite yoga tops are the Lululemon Power Y Tank and the PrAna Quinn Top. However, they both have the same problem; they feature removable bra cup inserts that don’t stay in place.

So when faced with this situation, I have a few options:

  1. Wear that tank top once and then never again because I can’t deal with sorting out the bra inserts.
  2. Remove the bra inserts forever and think about how cute that tank top looked that one time I wore it with the inserts because I really did like that additional coverage and support.
  3. Spend 10 minutes sorting out the bra inserts each time I put the tank top on and swear off anything with a bra insert in the future.
  4. Sew those things in place and move on. This is a tank top we are talking about here and no one should spend this much time thinking about a tank top. And we certainly don’t need one more thing standing between us and yoga or whatever fitness-related thing it is that we are trying to do.
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This is my new Lululemon Power Y tank top fresh out of the washing machine. Notice the mangled bra inserts. Sigh.
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This is what that tank top looks like when I turn it inside out to address the mangled bra insert issue. Sh*t.
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This is me shoving two fingers through a 1 1/2 space as I try to sort out the inserts. I sure do love this tank top.
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So now that we are done fishing the inserts out. I position the inserts where I want them and pin them in place. Pin on the cotton side of the shelf bra rather than the mesh side. You will want to do your sewing with the cotton side facing up.
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This is the other side of the bra lining with the pins in place. All straightened out!
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Sew around the edge of each cup. I’m using white thread for the purposes of this demo because it shows up better, but use what you like. I also sew using a basting stitch (long stitch) and no back stitching in the event I ever want to take the bra inserts out.
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And there you go. Bra inserts secured and ready for action.Remember to take the pins out:-)

Happy International Yoga Day!

Two years ago, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 21 the International Day of Yoga. So popular was the resolution that it was adopted by all member countries without a formal vote. The aim of the declaration is to:

  • highlight the importance of individual and populations making healthier choices an following lifestyle patters that foster good health
  • stress the fact that global health is a long-term development objective requiring international cooperation and information sharing
  • recognize that yoga provides a holistic approach to health and well being

June 21, on or near the summer solstice, was chosen for the International Day of Yoga, because it has special significance in yoga. It is believed that on the day of the summer solstice, Adiyogi [the first yogi] turned south and first set his eyes on the Saptarishis or Seven Sages, who were his first disciples to carry the science of yoga to many parts of the world. And there you have it, a reason to celebrate (incase you didn’t already have a reason).

 

 

 

Let’s stop talking about gun legislation

I was all set with a BLOG post about how a salad isn’t a salad unless it has at least 7 ingredients when I realized that I was about to write about fucking lettuce rather than about what happened in Orlando last weekend and more than 140 other times already this year (Gun Violence Archive).

I know that I am not the only person out there who would rather think about food than our country’s culture of violence. And before I could write about Orlando, I had to determine why I thought it was that we, as a society, can’t look at this issue. I mean REALLY look.

I believe we can’t look gun violence in the face because we feel impotent and hopeless about our own individual chances of making any improvements in the situation. It isn’t because Americans are apathetic, stupid, selfish or suffering from attention deficit disorder.  We have been conditioned to leave the “fixing of our country” to the government; and for reasons I won’t get into here, the government is not even trying.

So, we need to stop focusing on gun legislation as a solution because it is a distraction from the real work we need to do and it gives our power away. Better gun control would be great; however, it won’t happen in a meaningful way anytime soon and the legal and illegal gun markets are so fragmented, it would be nearly impossible to clean them up in anyone’s lifetime.

Our energies would be better spent addressing the root causes of the mass shootings.

Mental illness is often the scapegoat in mass shootings in the United States.  However, a 2015 article in the American Journal of Public Health entitled ” Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms,” finds that, “Notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics”.

The point is perfectly demonstrated by what happened at the Orlando nightclub. Cultural stereotypes around ethnicity, social class, and politics were the leading ladies in the Orlando shooting.

Cultural stereotypes and the way people feel about themselves and their place in the world boils down to the way that we treat each other in this country, and that is something that we CAN and SHOULD do something about. Right now.

Your acceptance of another person’s differences, inclusion of someone functioning on the fringes of society, support of groups that are marginalized, everyday, is how we fix what is so seriously broken in us. We don’t need the legislators in Washington to do that for us; it is completely within our power to make that cultural change now and model it for future generations.

And in the meantime, politicians and lobbyists can ride around on their high horses, stopping now and again for some good old fashioned political grand standing, procrastination, and can kicking.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.

  • Source: Metzl JM, MacLeish KT. Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(2):240-249. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302242.
  • Source : www.gunviolencearchive.org

Hello Summer, Goodbye Beautiful Routine

It is summer, which means your kids are out of school, and for the next 2 months, your life will likely become a barely manageable hairball of summer camps, family vacations, sporting events, and mild-to-moderate childhood injuries.

And don’t think that because your kids are out of school your company or place of employment will likewise take the summer off and cease to do business. Nope, that train will keep on rolling and you have to be on it.

So no, you probably won’t be making it to your regularly scheduled yoga class or training run, or whatever fitness-related thing you do. Luckily, the internet has more than enough excellent and free fitness programming to keep us healthy until the blessed first day of school.

A personal favorite of mine is the Three Dog Yoga podcast series available on iTunes. There are 10 yoga classes you can download or stream for free. Each podcast ranges in duration from approximately 30 minutes, for a quick workout, to 90 minutes for a fuller practice.

The  audio classes are led by Anna McLawhorn, the studio owner and a registered yoga teacher with Baptist Power Yoga. She is also the director of the studio’s California Power Yoga Teacher Training Program.

Don’t worry that the practice is audio-only. Anna gives great verbal instruction on the podcasts so even someone new to yoga will understand what they should be doing.

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Meditation Monday–at Work [Infographic]

I work for an insurance company in California and while my company is fantastic and offers a host of benefits, it hasn’t quite gotten on board with some of the more new-agy business culture trends like onsite nap rooms and meditation spaces.

So when I saw this infographic outlining some easy ways to bring meditation into your regular workday without making it a time-consuming and “awkward-for-coworkers-to-witness” thing, I was eager to share it.

My personal favorites are #2 and #3, because it is amazing what oxygen and not being an a**hole can do for your entire outlook.

Making time for meditation at work will have a positive impact on productivity and happiness. Learn the benefits of meditation and how to find the time.

Source: How to Find Time to Meditate at Work [Infographic]

Fangirling at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco

I spent the last morning of my San Francisco business trip fangirling again at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco. This time I took the 9:30 Power 60 class taught by Hannah Jenkins.

I showed up on my mat feeling like hell; 3 solid days and nights of “executive retreating” had done their worst. I couldn’t tell if I was hung over or just really f’d up from too many days in a windowless conference room. But that is neither here nor there because I left Hannah’s practice feeling like myself again–NO–better than my regular self.

The Power 60 class is 60 minutes of Baptiste Power Yoga. She started the class right on time even though there were a couple of stragglers coming in a bit late. I really appreciate that. Hannah led a powerful well paced practice. She dedicate a good amount of time to supporting each student in the class and offered several great assists I hadn’t seen before.

Hanna is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher and has completed Levels 1 and 2 with Baptiste Institute.

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Hannah Jenkins Baptiste Yoga SF

And now, back to the office…

Studio Review: Baptiste Yoga San Francisco

I’m in San Francisco this week for a work conference. Since I’m here already, I decided to check out Baptiste Yoga San Francisco, the city’s Baptiste Yoga Partner Studio.

Practicing yoga somewhere other than Three Dog Yoga always feels like I’m cheating on my yoga instructors; however, we may have to agree to have a polyamorous yoga relationship for the purposes of this BLOG so I can review teachers and studios without angst.

Here are my take aways from today’s visit to the studio:

The Practice–
I attended the POWER 75 class at 10AM taught by Eric Tabora. The practice sequencing was classic Baptiste Power Yoga, which is great because that’s what I was there for. It was a fantastic 75 minute practice led by a world class instructor.

There were several out-of-towners in attendance and it took everyone a bit to get a handle on the pacing, because that is different with every yoga teacher. Eric, the instructor, recognized the fact that we were all out of whack and got everyone settled into a steady flow. After that, we were all set.

Practice rooms for Baptiste Power Yoga are heated to 90-95 degrees and this was no exception. The room was good and warm and was heated by infrared heat panels installed in the ceiling. The heat was evenly distributed, steady, and there was no air blowing around to dry out your contact lenses.

I’m always on the look out for the ways studios and yoga teachers use music in the classes they lead. In this particular case, there was not music in the practice room before class began. Music was added for savasana and the track selected consisted of some chanting, bells, and what may or may not have been whatever sound whales make. There was a cool mix of music throughout the rest of the studio space, however.

The Instructor–
The class I attended was taught by Eric Tabora whose extensive experience was very apparent. He is a 500 hour Certified Baptiste Teacher, has completed levels 1, 2 & 3 at the Baptiste Institute, and is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher through an affiliate studio in Cleveland. He is well versed in the asanas, alignment, modifications, and toured the class offering assists and adjustments.

The Studio Space–
Located at 38 Mesa Street, San Francisco, the studio is in the beautiful San Francisco Presidio near The Golden Gate Bridge. It is easy to find and there is plenty of parking.

Inside, the studio lobby is spacious and welcoming with yoga-related retail offerings including shirts and mats.

The practice room is very warm and spacious with lots of light and windows. The walls feature beautiful murals.

They rent shower and sweat towels, and mats in the event you are visiting the city without your yoga gear or you forgot something. They only provide one size of block (that I could see), so if you need a particular prop or a few different block sizes  you may want to bring your own or check with the studio before you arrive.

And finally the spectacular locker room! This studio has a locker room with lockers (obviously), two showers, shampoo, conditioner, and body soap, and hairdryers. Heaven.

 

 

Moby gave us music for when we panic, and other occasions too

In case you missed it, Moby, you know, the singer songwriter, DJ, electronic and techno musician and all-around good guy, posted more than 4 hours of free music to the Internet for download.

The music is of the ambient genre and as he explains, “it’s really really really quite music for when I do yoga, or sleep, or meditate, or panic.”

Each of the 11 tracks is about 20 minutes long and each one is indeed perfect for yoga, sleeping, meditating, or for when you are losing your shit. Believe me, it will calm you right down.

Download this music here Long Ambients1: Calm. Sleep. — Moby or you can stream it in all the places you would expect–Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music, Deezer, and Tidal.

Per Moby, “it’s really quiet: no drums, no vocals, just very slow calm pretty chords and sounds and things for sleeping and yoga and etc. and feel free to share it or give it away or whatever, it’s not protected or anything, or at least it shouldn’t be.”

Enjoy everyone and Thank You, Moby!

This article was originally published on GroundingUp.com