How To “Do” Yoga On The Rocks

I don’t remember how I first heard about Yoga On The Rocks. Maybe my sister, who lives in Denver told me or maybe I read about it in Yoga Journal; that seems like something they would cover.  Regardless, once I learned about the outdoor yoga event, held in the spectacularly beautiful Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, it went directly to the top of my ever-growing “Yoga Bucket List.”

Yoga Bucket List (a sampling)
Start a yoga blog ✅
Write a kids yoga book
Attend international yoga retreat ✅
Yoga at Giants Stadium
. . .

The list goes on, but you get the idea. So this was finally my summer for Yoga On The Rocks. The event is just as amazing as Yoga Journal (or my sister) said it was. And, as a public service to all the yogi’s out there, I’m going to offer you my unsolicited advice (my specialty) for having the best Yoga On The Rocks experience.

Unsolicited Advice Starts Here:

Arrive early

The Red Rocks Amphitheater seats 9,525 people; however, to accommodate space for yoga mats, the venue sells out at about 2,000 yogis for this event. You’ll buy your tickets online but if you want to have the best mat placement, plan to arrive at your seats at least 30 minutes before the instruction starts.

Parking is no problem as the venue is designed for far more people than can be ticketed for this yoga event.

Wear layers

Colorado mornings are chilly, even in the summer. Wear warm layers. The venue seating faces east, so once the sun warms you, you won’t need the extra clothes.

DSC_1506

Pack snacks

There are event sponsors in attendance at the top of the amphitheater; however, don’t plan on much in the way of food vending. Caribou Coffee was there with a cart and Silk was there with a yogurt station for the vegans or the really hungry carnivores. Propel was there with water. And randomly, Chipotle was there with chips and guacamole (this just made me sad I couldn’t get a breakfast burrito).

Remember your sun protection

Like I said earlier, the sun hits you from the east, which happens to be the direction you’ll need to face the stage and the instructor, so sunscreen and sunglasses are highly recommended.

Print your ticket

They were’t set up to check your cellphones for your ticket, so print it out so they can scan it with their scanner guns. Also, I’m not sure what the Will Call situation is, but it is removed from the venue by a decent distance and it seems like a major pain to try to go that route if you even can.

Bring your “festival” yoga mat–

The smell of stale beer that hit me as I approached the amphitheater served as a not so gentle reminder that this is a concert venue at 6:30 AM and that just a few hours before I placed my mat in row 50, an inebriated Widespread Panic fan was dancing and spilling his or her drink, food, and who knows what else in the exact same spot. Actually, a few of those fans were still in the parking lot, grilling their breakfast, nursing their hangovers, and gearing up for another show that night. They had breakfast burritos.

The venue has obviously been cleaned since the concert, but still, bring that old mat you haven’t gotten around to recycling yet instead of your brand new Manduka. This can its practice.

IMG_0410

Prepare for instructor du jour

Ironically, yogis can be extremely inflexible when it comes to accepting different teaching styles and philosophies. It is unlikely that you will have received instruction from the instructor teaching at Red Rocks the day you attend as they rotate through the summer. Our practice was lead by Samy Mattei, who is a teacher at The River yoga studio in Denver.

The sequence was an easy 60 minute vinyasa flow appropriate for all levels. There is a big screen showing demo yogis working their way through the practice, so if you need a point of reference, you can look there.

The River yoga studio seems to subscribe to a “you are beautiful” philosophy and I found the fluffy “we are all just really really beautiful and special on the inside” pep talk a bit much. I know I’m not alone in that and I wish that instructors would consider their audience before they roll out the woo woo.

The other thing I noticed was the fact that we didn’t OM anywhere in the practice. I’m not sure if this was an intentional omission or if the instructor just forgot, but if ever there was a time for an OM it would be with 2000 people on a beautiful summer morning in one of the world’s greatest acoustical venues. I feel robbed. I want my OM dammit.

Plan a post-practice hike or picnic

While finding a parking spot is easy enough, traffic leaving the event venue is a little slow. I recommend taking a hike in the stunning red rocks near the vicinity. There are several great hiking trails and loops that start and end right at Red Rocks. So, take a hike rather than sitting in traffic.

Relax and have fun–

Attending this event is incredibly easy. It is essentially hassle-free. And even if you don’t have a great time, the price of entry is only $14. It’s not like you just paid $500 to see Widespread Panic or something.

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

 

Studio Review–Indigo Yoga

Last Wednesday, I attended the 9AM class at the Indigo Yoga Studio in Davenport, IA.

I moved away from Iowa long before I began practicing yoga and before yoga had hit Iowa’s radar. So obviously, since I was back in the state visiting the family, I was compelled to check out the local yoga scene.

My primary finding was that the Quad Cities, area could benefit from a little more variety in practice styles. In general, if you wanted a yoga studio experience, Hot Yoga was your only option. Gyms, fitness centers, and the YMCA offered a wider selection but then you are missing the studio environment.

I’m not exactly sure why the studios are primarily hot yoga. Maybe there is something about the business model that I’m missing or maybe it appeals to Iowans during the long cold winter. But I suspect hot yoga was the yoga that got there first and that was that.

Since studio yoga is my thing and hot yoga was my only option, I went to hot yoga at Indigo Yoga.

The Facility

The class I attended was located in their studio at 5161 Utica Ridge Road. Indigo Yoga has several studios throughout the Quad Cities Area and offers massage services in addition to yoga classes.

The Davenport studio I visited was clean and tastefully decorated in a modern and minimalist fashion. I was slightly unsettled by the mirrored front wall in the studio as I’m not accustomed to practicing in a mirrored space. The room most likely was a dance studio before yoga came to town and the studio just kept the mirror.

The room can comfortably accommodate 30 yogis.

I rented a mat from the studio since I was traveling and hadn’t brought mine. The mat selection was a little grim.

The Instructor

My class was taught by Shannon Moran, a co-owner/co-founder of the studio. He is a 200 hour RYT with a background in Ashtanga yoga, but is really great and combining different forms of vinyasa together for a creative practice.

Studio Review: This yoga is so hot

I know I’m not alone in liking my yoga warm, hot even by some people’s standards, but believe me when I tell you that some yoga can indeed be too hot. Unfortunately, is seems impossible for the yoga industry to agree on what constitutes “too hot”.

Heat is used in yoga as a tool for creating change, both physically and intellectually.  It also softens tissues and muscles, and is thought to release toxins through sweat. Science says you are really just sweating out water and salt, but if you want to believe that you are sweating out vodka tonics and champagne, that’s fine. I certainly do.

Many modern yoga styles call for practice temperatures between 85 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit with Bikram Yoga being the exception, prescribing a temperature of 105 degrees F and 40% humidity.

So if being warm is the ideal, why in the HELL is it so hot in here??

  • To some extent, yoga instructors are at the mercy of the heating system in place at the studios where they teach. Certain heating systems can be hard to control and ventilation, or a lack of it, can be the difference between an excellent yoga experience and a horrific one.
  • Some teachers seem to forget about the temperature all together once they get rolling and only notice when the bodies start dropping.
  • Some instructors are weirdly competitive about how hot they like their yoga to be; however, there are no trophies in yoga, so cool it.
  • And then there is the personal climate preference of each and every yoga student in the room, which largely must be ignored or the yoga will never happen.

I bring all this up because I recently visited Dancing Dogs Yoga Greensboro for a power vinyasa class. I was in town for a leadership workshop and needed a yoga field trip. Dancing Dogs Yoga Greensboro is one of four Baptiste Affiliate Yoga Studios in the southeast part of the US. The other three are in Savannah, GA, Atlanta, GA, and Bluffton, SC.

But anyway, back to my yoga field trip to the Greensboro studio. Here is my Review.

The Class and Instructor

I consider myself fortunate to have visited Dancing Dogs Yoga on a day when Earl Wheeler was teaching. He is an obvious studio favorite and his class was at maximum capacity. He taught a creative and challenging power vinyasa class in the Baptiste style. Heat seems to be Earl’s “thing”; he likes it hot and humid. So, if that is a concern for you, I recommend checking with the studio before choosing your class.

earlwheelerheadshot_213x319
Earl Wheeler

The Studio Space

This is a beautiful studio featuring two practice rooms, showers, water filtration, and retail (but not too much retail if ya know what I mean). The staff is welcoming, knowledgable, and everyone has a great attitude.

But about the heat. In my opinion, their heating system is overwhelming for the size of the practice room and the number of students in it. I realize that infrared studio heat is popular because it is thought to be healthier and more environmentally friendly, but in this case, it may need some fine tuning.

Baptiste Yoga prescribes a room temperature between 90 and 95 degrees F, but we were easily at 105-110 by the middle of the practice. I was praying for the amazing ceiling fan to come on and stay on, but it never did.

The Savanna, GA Dancing Dogs Yoga studio has a juice bar and I have to suggest that the Greensboro studio add one. A smoothie was all I could think about during the last half of Earl’s class.

The Take Away

I love to visit other yoga studios because variation in your practice is essential and it always feels so good to get back home to your studio.

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

 

Barley-Stuffed Peppers from ThugKitchen

These Barley-stuffed peppers from ThugKitchen have become a staple at our house. I have wanted to get them up on the blog for a while. So here you go.

A note about this recipe: In our humble opinion, it needs cheese. So, we add 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan to the actual stuffing mix and then we sprinkle shaved parmesan as a garnish. Obviously, doing this makes the recipe “non-vegan” but we are cool with that.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup pearled barley
1 tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
4 bell peppers, whatever color you find cool
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney or white beans
1/4 cups chopped fresh parsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

1–In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts turning golden, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, and oregano and cook for another 2 minutes. Throw in the barley, tomato, and vinegar and stir. Add the broth, salt, and pepper and let it come to a low simmer. Cook, uncovered, until all the broth is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 15 minutes.

2–While the barley is simmering, heat your oven to 375° F. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and scrape out the seeds. Place them in an oiled pie place or loaf pan, something where their asses won’t be sliding around once they’re stuffed.

dsc_9144
Grease a baking dish and squeeze them in there.
dsc_9155
More cheese!! Then cover them with aluminum foil for baking.

3–When the barley is done, fold in the beans and turn off the heat. (This filling can even be made a day or two ahead of time, no fucking problem.) Fill the bell peppers up to the top with the filling, cover them tightly with foil, and bake until the peppers are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let them rest for 5 minutes after coming out of the oven, ’cause those fuckers are hot. Top with the parsley and serve.

dsc_9169
More cheese, then eat.

Thanks to ThugKithen for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish their recipe, but those assholes can just fucking get over it.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com.

Ways in which real life is NOT like a yoga retreat

This is my seventh full day in the real world since returning from the Haramara Yoga Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico. I have spent the last week acclimating to my surroundings and reflecting on just how much my actual life is not at all like a yoga retreat.

I did yoga everyday, all day.

DSC_8414.jpg
Because yoga went all day; 8:30 am-9:00pm

I slept through the night, every night.

DSC_8393.jpg
I got a solid 9 hours of sleep every night; no 2:30 am negotiations with a toddler about the circumstances under which he will agree to go back to bed.

I walked.

DSC_8379.jpg
This was the walkway down to the beach from the upper trail and it is a great example of the walking you do at this retreat center. In real life, I spend 2 hours a day commuting by car; not here. Haramara is set on a 12 acre mountainside parcel with a beach at the bottom. Hike uphill you will if you want to eat, get to the pool, or do yoga.

I peed alone.

DSC_8376.jpg
My casita did indeed have a beautiful bathroom just for me as well as some strategically placed restrooms throughout the property. I used those bathrooms without a toddler accompanying me or my 10-year-old chatting me up through the bathroom door.

I ate in peace.

DSC_8571.jpg
I should do a BLOG post solely about the cuisine at Haramara. Not only was it world class, but I ate it without getting up to cut someone’s food in to tinier pieces, clean up spilled milk, or to do the dishes.

I socialized.

group-champagne
In general, if I’m not working, I’m wrangling kids, which doesn’t leave much time for actual adult socialization. Our retreat group consisted of people from the ThreeDogYoga studio in Santa Rosa, CA so we were starting with familiar faces rather than complete strangers. It took me a day or two to remember what people talked about if it wasn’t kid or work related.

I watched an entire sunset.

DSC_8514.jpg
Start to finish.

I thought deep thoughts.

dsc_8748
While not a “silent” retreat, the immersion program included some strategically placed times of noble silence. This is the thing I miss most now that I’m back in the fray–time to process without the background noise or competition for my attention.

I appreciated.

ron-jess-sept-5th-2015-128
Being away from my people made me appreciate my people. For a parent, it is really hard to pursue personal interests or maintain a level of sanity without solid support. I was able to escape to Mexico only because my sweet husband was willing to keep the trains running on time while I was gone. A week without the chaos of everyday life gave me time to reflect on just what an amazing partner he is and how much I truly love the life we have together–but next time, I’m bringing him with me, because I mean, just look at him;-)

Studio Review: Thunderbolt Power Yoga

I have always had huge admiration for well put together southern ladies. Growing up, I spent quite a lot of time in Atlanta with family and friends and never once did the South fail to make me feel like a rough neck Yankee.

As I’ve grown and matured into a professional woman, wife, and mother I have managed to sand off many of my rougher edges; however, I still can’t rally to the idea that I can or even should aspire to the qualities of a true southern lady (no matter how desperately my mother would like me to).

Southern hospitality, cultivation of beauty, strength, grace, and excellent comportment are not in my toolbox and at 40, it is probably time for me to be okay with that. But, how or if these qualities might show up in a southern yoga studio setting didn’t occur to me until I checked in at Thunderbolt Power Yoga in Buckhead, GA.

Thunderbolt Power Yoga was established in 2014 by studio owner and operator Carly Grace Hinchman. I was in Atlanta for a work thing and on the hunt for a good power yoga class. Thunderbolt Power Yoga came highly recommended by actual yogis as well as Yelp and I heard there were several Baptiste trained instructors there, so I thought I would give it a try.

The Studio Space
This studio has a strong feminine vibe. The color palette, decor, retail area, and facilities were most certainly designed with women in mind. I mention this because I found it slightly curious; where do men in the south practice yoga? In Northern California, our studio membership is about 50/50 men and women and most studios are decidedly gender neutral when it comes to design and decor. Overall, Thunderbolt has everything a yogi could ask for including great parking and a huge selection of K Deer Activewear.

The Instructor
I attended the Heated Power Flow class led by Elizabeth Beggs (instagram: @beggsyoga.com). The class was well attended by students at a wide variety of levels. Elizabeth led an organized and creative flow class, which included a fun little flow from shoelace pose (yin yoga) to tripod headstand and back again. She closed the practice with cool essential oil infused towels during savasana (because southern hospitality, duh!) and an OM with a beautiful Tibetan singing bowl.

This is an excellent studio and I can’t wait to go back. Here in Northern California, we take our yoga a little more “earthy.” The feminine niceties and southern hospitality offered at Thunderbolt were what I needed so far away from home.

And yes, Mom, I did get an emergency manicure and  pedicure after I saw how nicely all those yogis were put together.

This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com

Basic Maple Granola Recipe

We like to keep granola on hand, not because we eat it for breakfast, but because it is a great snack and a way to quiet down our sweet tooth without feeling guilty later. So when we came across this granola while cooking our way through the ThugKitchen Cookbook, obviously, we had to try it.

And because this is our little corner of the Internet, we are going to give you our opinion about it, which is that it is way too sweet. Everything else about the recipe is fantastic; but when we make it next time, we will reduce the maple syrup a bit, up the salt, or get crazy and do both.

Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds*
1/2 cup almonds*
1/4 uncooked millet**
1/2 cup maple syrup***
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)****

* Basically, 1 cup of whatever nuts you prefer.
**No millet? Fuck it, just add more oats.
***Legit syrup can get kinda fucking expensive. But so can granola. Save up for the good shit.
****Or use any dried fruit you like.

1  Heat your oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with some parchment paper.

2  Mix together the oats, seeds, nuts, and milled in a large bowl

3  In a medium glass bowl, stir together the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour this all over the oat mixture and stir that shit around until everything looks coated. Add the cinnamon and the salt and stir.

4  Pour all of this evenly over the baking sheet and stick it in the oven for 40 minutes. Stir it every 10 minutes so that it cooks evenly. You’ll know this shit is done when everything looks kinda toasted and the oaks feel crispy instead of damp. Stir in the dried fruit now if you’re using any. Let that all cool on the baking sheet and then store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

5   Want to mix it up? Try these nut and fruit combos; almonds and chopped, dried apricots or strawberries; walnuts and dried pears or figs; pecans and dried cherries; peanuts and dried apples or bananas. Just use whateverthefuck sounds good to you.

Thanks to ThugKitchen for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish their recipe, but those assholes can just fucking get over it.

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

Thug Kitchen Cookbook

Is this racist? Can a vegan cookbook even be racist? I found myself asking that question earlier this week as I thumbed through my latest amazon.com acquisition.

You see, in an effort to shake up our vegetarian cuisine routine in the kitchen, my husband purchased the #1 New York Times Bestselling cookbook, Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give Fuckbecause it came highly recommended and we do indeed give a f%@k about what we eat.

A few years back, an anonymously written BLOG called ThugKitchen, featuring vegan recipes and healthy eating tips, where “you can be verbally abused into a healthier diet,” became poplar, prompting the spin-off of a series of cookbooks. Hence, our new cookbook and this BLOG post.

So what is racist about it? Well, the anonymously written content suggests a black male humorously intimidating the reader into preparing a healthy meal. As it turns out, a young white couple living in Los Angeles is standing behind the counter at Thug Kitchen.

This revelation came to light in 2014 prompting the debate: is this harmless inauthenticity designed to encourage healthier living or is it cyber blackface for profit? Is it wrong for two white people to pretend to be black people writing about food?

I’m not going to take a formal position; people can make up their own damn minds. And, while the concept of the cookbook does raise an eyebrow (unless you Botox), it also serves up some really stellar information and recipes in favor of healthy eating for everyone, no matter who you are.

So while the Internet debates just HOW racist this cookbook is, we have decided to try some of the recipes.

Warning: if foul language offends some of your more delicate sensibilities, this cookbook, including the recipe below, is not for you. Turn back now.

TEMPEH PEANUT NOODLES WITH BLANCHED KALE  

DSC_7779
Our notes: This cookbook offers simple recipes that don’t require obscure ingredients, take forever to prepare, or trash your kitchen.

PEANUT SAUCE
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave syrup
1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste or Asian-style hot sauce (optional**)

NOODLES AND VEGGIES
12 ounces noodles***
6 cups kale, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon grapeseed or refined coconut oil
8 ounces tempeh (Tempeh is not our thing; next time we will use sprouted tofu)
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced green onions

* Don’t buy peanut butter that has anything other than peanuts, a little oil, and salt listed   as ingredients. Anything else is unfuckingnecessary.
** Optional but you should suck it up and do it.
*** Soba, udon, spaghetti, whatthefuckever.

1–First make the peanut sauce. In a medium glass bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and water until it looks creamy. Add all the other ingredients and keep stirring until everything is incorporated. Simple shit.

DSC_7783
Our notes: We used our stick blender to mix this sauce because that is the only way to emulsify anything in a reasonable amount of time.

2–Now cook the noodles according to the package directions, but use a larger soup pot than usual. In the last 30 seconds of cooking the noodles, add the kale to the pot and stir it into the water to make sure it’s all covered. After 30 seconds, drain the pasta and kale and run it under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep the kale green. That’s called lazy-ass blanching. Some people might say to do that shit in separate pots, but those are usually the motherfuckers who don’t wash their own dishes, so fuck them.

DSC_7782
Our notes: This is a picture of lazy-ass blanching and it is our new favorite kitchen hack. This cookbook paid for itself with this one tip. Sorry for the crappy picture; I’m not a photographer, I work for an insurance company, and I don’t know how to photograph steam.

3–Grab a big wok or skillet and heat up the oil. Crumble in the tempeh in bite-size pieces and saute it around until it starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and garlic and cook it for 30 seconds more. Turn off the heat and add the noodles and three-quarters of the peanut sauce. Mix it all up to make sure everything is covered and that the tempeh is blended into the noodles. Taste it and it isn’t saucy enough for you, add the rest of the sauce now. Otherwise, hold on to that shit because the noodles really absorb the sauce as they sit, so it’s nice to have extra for leftovers. Top with the green onions and serve warm or at room temperature.

DSC_7790
Our notes: This is the finished product. We garnished with chopped peanuts and limes in addition to the scallions because they made it prettier.

Overall, we loved this recipe and will work it into our menu rotation; however, the tempeh, which is fermented soy beans, was a little to funky for us (because it is fermented soy beans), so we will make this recipe using firm sprouted tofu next time. Otherwise, enjoy!

Thanks to www.thugkitchen.com for the recipe. We didn’t technically ask them for permission to publish their recipe, but those assholes can just fucking get over it.

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

 

Studio Review & A Crock-Pot

Every year for 45 years, members of my very large and geographically scattered extended family have convened at the family cabin on the shores of Lake Pokegama in the woods of Northern Minnesota. Last week, my little family of four joined the rest of “The Wulf Pack” at that cabin for our 2016 pack gathering.

Before we left, I did some digging to find all the yoga one can do that far North. I love visiting yoga studios and Lutheran churches when I travel. By the way, it is infinitely easier to write a yoga studio review than it is to write a review of a Lutheran Church. But I digress.

My search for Northern Minnesota yoga yielded exactly one studio, CENTER Mind Body Fitness in Grand Rapids, MN.

CENTER is not a yoga-only facility. It offers a range of yoga, pilates, TRX, and spin classes throughout the day. The entire Center facility is fantastic and features not only the studios for exercise programming, but also a spa, salon, and cafe.

I’m a purist, so I was in it for the yoga (and the spa treatment I got later). Unfortunately, there was only one yoga class that wasn’t going to interfere with the sleeping and boozing schedule I had lined up for my week.

So, Gentle Yoga with Jenna Hass on Monday and Friday morning it was. Initially, I felt a little guilty missing a week of power yoga classes and substituting something called “gentle yoga,” but I decided that some yoga was better than no yoga and I was on vacation so maybe I could take a vacation from yoga too.

The Practice and the Crock-pot

So I entered the stunning studio space and that is when I saw the crock-pot. Yep, an old school Rival crock-pot right up at the front of the class. Were crock-pots now a midwest yoga thing? We midwesterners love our crock-pots, but this might have been taking it too far.

The practice began without a mention of the crock-pot, so I had to actually make an effort to put that out of my mind until the universe would reveal to me the reason for its presence. Because that is yoga.

Aside from the arctic temperature in the room, the practice was excellent. The sequencing was creative and appropriate for all levels with clear instruction and good timing. It was very much a moving meditation on happiness, and in my case, the crock-pot.

 
I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot, I will not think about the crock-pot… 
And then, at the end of the practice, while we all lay in savasana, the crock-pot served up hot river rocks lightly coated in essential oils. Two warm rocks appeared on the upper corners of our mats and we were instructed to place them on chakras that may be in need of some healing.

My chakras were far beyond help, but just holding those warm rocks in that chilly room gave me a whole new perspective on savasana and I was finally able to let go of the crock-pot.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_1659