Be stronger

You can count on me to completely lose my shit twice a year; once in September and once in January. I call it, taking a ride on the crazy train. I know I have arrived at Breakdown Station when every little thing starts to piss me off. When my perspective turns bitter because it seems there is always something more to do and it is all my responsibility. When my usually positive and sunny outlook goes dark.

I mention this now because it is nearly September and that means the Crazy Train is approaching the station.

The September freakout occurs when summer exhaustion meets a new school year and then combines with the fact that my company is about to enter the fourth quarter of our fiscal year and I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish all the goals I set for myself by 12/31/–. These three factors converge to create a complete derailment featuring anxiety induced frustration and rage.

The January derailment occurs when holiday exhaustion meets the second half of the school year and then combines with the fact that my company just entered the first quarter of our fiscal year and I only have 12 months to accomplish all the projects we scoped.

Looking at them now, September and January seem to be two very dangerous and obvious kinks in the the railroad track. However, for the first time since embarking on my career and becoming a parent, I see and understand this pattern. More and more, I see that keeping the trains running on time, for me, is about two things:

#1–Recognizing when I need to calm the fuck down

#2–Knowing what it takes to calm the fuck down

During practice this morning, my yoga teacher said

“Notice if every little thing is pissing you off; then get stronger.”–Anna McLawhorn, Three Dog Yoga

Granted, she said this within the context of Warrior 2 (Virabhadra) which we had been holding for what felt like 3 hours, and we were all a little pissed off. But I heard it within the context of my own life and my own mental state.

“Every little thing IS pissing me off and I DO need to get stronger.” I need to get my shit together and take back the things that make my life work, like yoga and writing and sleep. Those are always the first things to go when schedules fall apart and life gets hectic. I need to calm the fuck down. I need to get grounded. I need to stay on track.

 

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

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Daddy’s Handstands

My dad was a competitive swimmer and diver until the early 1970s when he became a coach. This is known. What is not known, not even to him, is that he is the most influential yogi in my life. Unintentionally, he gave me the gift of the mind body connection.

Power yoga, particularly Baptiste power yoga, is full of arm balances and inversions, none of which are possible without sufficient arm and core strength. Hence, the handstand prep, which is designed to build said arm and core strength. If you haven’t seen it (and there are several by the way), it looks like this:

It may not look like much is happening, but that is because you aren’t doing one right now.

In 2010, at my first power yoga class, I did an “official” handstand prep. I say official because I had been doing them my entire life, not because of yoga, but because my dad did them constantly throughout my childhood and I inherited his “quirk”.

His handstand preps showed up in seemingly odd places; conversations in the kitchen with my mom, at the office, out on his job sites (after he retired from coaching he started a construction company).

But years later, looking back at that strange behavior, I finally saw it for what it was; a holdover from the diving platform, a release of negative energy, a clearing out, a centering. Somewhere in his swimming days, he had made the mind body connection. And, I was completely blown away. 

Now, as I exhale my hands to the floor and rock forward onto my toes with my weight in my hands, balancing with my fingertips, I see my dad’s hands, not mine. Tan, veiny, well used hands.

He is nearly 70 now and has a total spinal fusion, so handstand preps are a distant memory for him. I need to ask him if he misses them. He would likely be surprised to know that I consider them his trademark.

I think about this now, as I handstand prep my way through my day. I worry less about the frequent impulse I have always had to put my hands on the ground and get upside down. I understand it now as a completely acceptable need to get grounded and release excess energy rather than some weird compulsive behavior I shouldn’t tell people about.

And I see it in my daughter. She clearly feels better when she is moving and it is my job to make her feel okay with that need rather than bad about her lack of self control. I will not tell her to hold still. I will teach her to use her energy for good instead of evil–to channel it.

We will start with handstand preps.

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Dad

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

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

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).

 

 

 

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.