Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New mat, new me!

Falling backwards in Padangustasana
I love my Jade yoga mat.* Or at least I did until it began to decompose. At first I was in denial of this process. I purchased it seven months ago (on the heels of a Jade Travel mat that's still in great shape) and have noticed signs of stretching and wear as of late. Boo and hoo. This mat was the perfect union of stickiness, thickness and I even loved the rubber smell. It overpowered the scent of any nearby neighbors who had eaten too many tator tots or hushpuppies before class.

Mat hygiene: I rinse my mat every day after practicing and leave it in the shade to dry overnight. I live in Miami so this location is outside most of the year. The rest of the time, it's slung over the tub in my bathroom (sleek bathroom + drippy yoga mat = unhappy OCD husband). 

I was content to blame the staining on detergent from my towel until I switched and used less detergent. Then I was determined to blame the studio for cleaning their floors with something funky. Not so. They use essential oils and rainbow juice to clean.*

My instructor said it was sweat and wear and tear. Gross. I'll revise this diagnosis because I know that I sweat rose petal and gardenia-scented water. My mat was ruined because of the salt air which has slowly deposited into the ultra-ecologically friendly rubber core. I was talked easily into a Manduka mat by my studio owner. I gladly paid him full retail for his help... and for not telling me that I have poor mat hygiene.

I toppled backwards onto my bottom during toestand on my new mat. Something I've never done. It made me giggle. Kudos to the new mat for opening the door to the giggles.

If you have a Manduka mat, tell me how long he's been your best friend! I'm hoping mine lasts five years.

*I love Jade's corporate Web site. They support so many causes, manufacture their mats in the USA and even plant a tree when you purchase a mat. I can safely say that if this Manduka thing turns sour, I'll be back!
**I practice at Bikram Yoga Falls and I cannot say enough positive things about them. The rainbow juice comment was purely in jest. This place is a Bodhi tree!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rascally Rabbit - At my wit's end again

Four funny little rabbits rebelling.
I must have lost a purple pen. I never use blue.
Let me give you a quick background on the matter, in case you don't know me personally.

I am a yoga practitioner who loves the challenge of Bikram Yoga class. I repeatedly torture myself with one posture in particular. Sasangasana. Rabbit pose. 

Unless you're outside my window, you missed it.  I just cringed a bit as I typed the name of the posture, yet was relieved that it flowed rather quickly from under my fingers so as to move onto another word. Yes, I'm that neurotic. 

My entire practice changes as the class moves from savasana to Rabbit Pose - Sasangasana. What was previously an effortless flow turns into a labored, intense moment. I TRY SO HARD! Then I hate that I try so hard. Then I try to relax, but realize that I'm trying hard to do that as well (arms thrown up in exasperation). Needless to say, this is the worst moment of my class. What is supposed to be simple, becomes anything but.

I've heard some people say they do not like Bikram Yoga because of the predictability of the routine. Day in and day out. I find every class completely unique. Except for this posture. In Sasangasana, I only find variations to my torture. Again and again.

The teacher announces the posture, and I take a deep breath. Then the inner dialogue begins:

Calm me: Stay calm. Listen and follow the instructions. 

Crazypants: You stay calm. And stay out of this! I am not a potato bug! I cannot roll into a tiny ball. This posture is not natural. 

Calm me: Missy, you were perfectly relaxed through twenty-two postures. I find it hard to believe you can't breathe through this and get over yourself.

Crazypants: Well, believe it, sister! I'm going to listen to the instructions precisely. Follow as closely as I can. And pant like a dog while trying to do it. 

Calm me: No! No panting here! You are not going to breathe out of your mouth. There's no need for that. This posture is not as demanding as any in the standing series. Be reasonable. You can do this. Just relax.

Crazypants: Shhhh, I'm in the middle of of my pose. Don't talk to me now, else I might put more than 10% of my body weight on my head. You don't want to be responsible for that, do you?

Calm me: (Exasperated) I give up for today. Do as you wish. I'm going to secretly sneak-a-peek at my neighbor who has executed a perfect posture and has been praised by the instructor for doing so. 

Crazypants: So much for being the voice of reason and self control. Thanks a lot! And EFF-WHY-EYE; we'll be eating some chocolate later to make up for your lack of confidence in me.

The End

(I'm reading a lot of books these days with that definitive ending. I'd like to adopt it into my personal inner dialogue for effect. My inner toddler will be grateful.)


I've been here before. Previous tirades on Rabbit Posture include:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bikram Yoga - Is it a mental game?

I was chatting with a yoga friend at the studio. She's a mom like me and when our schedules get crazy, the first thing to go is a regular routine that includes a Bikram yoga class. She saw me the other day and said, "Are you finding it harder to get here since school let out?"

I said, "Absolutely. And when I get to a Bikram yoga class infrequently, I find it more a physical game than the mental game I'm used to." (As soon as I uttered the words, I knew it rang true, but wasn't aware the extent to which I would later analyze it.)

She said class was always physical for her. Which made me wonder, hmmm... is this a physical or mental challenge? The answer is both, but which is more apparent?

Once I grew past the initial "WTF-is-this-torture" phase, in which you want to sit out every other posture and swear the instructor was sent straight from hell for some kind of early karmic debt repayment program, I moved into a nice rhythm of challenge/achievements. These were physical challenge checkpoints that allowed me to see progress without being too judgmental about it.

Can I stand perfectly still and not wipe sweat? Yes. Check. Can I go ninety minutes without water? Yes. Check. Can I go to class for seven days straight? Yes.

So what's the mental challenge? Hmmm. Can I be pleasantly surprised by the achievements I make today? Am I unaffected when no progress is apparent?

I guess the mental game is this... that I'm still mentally spinning any physical achievements. I'm able to stay focused, but secretly hoping a super-bendy body with zero body fat will spring forth and grant that my chocolate addiction be metabolized as spirulina and wheat grass.

My biggest achievement to date?

I smiled at the unlovely creature before me in the mirror yesterday. I saw her trying her best and thought she might need a lift. Now THERE'S some mental progress!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to make dirty green juice

Green machine
I love my juicer. I loved the juicer before it that died a slow juicer death. My juicing days began about five years ago when I thought extracting liquid from an apple and a few grapes would be the beginning of a brand new me.

You see, I love quick fixes and gimmicks. I'm every marketers dream girl! The "As Seen on TV" section of the drugstore is MY domain.

I'm slow to enter juicing convos with fellow yogis because I've learned there are several levels to this addiction, each with its own revelations and pitfalls.

Stage 1: Apples and carrots. Someone gives you a juicer as a wedding gift and you think it's cool to throw  apples and carrots into it for a sweet treat. Occasionally you get crazy and try celery. Whoa. Dream big!

Stage 2: Ginger crazy... with a shot of wheatgrass. You find the local juice bar that offers seriously over-gingered juice. They toss in a shot of wheatgrass for free when you get the 10th punch in your frequent-juicing card. You carefully watch these masters at work, then vow to save a few bucks by juicing on your own. After all, that wedding juicer is in the appliance garage... somewhere!

Stage 3: Green machine. You're a serious yogi now and your friend with the most radiant skin you've ever seen, hands you a mason jar full of the "good stuff." It is some seriously foul green goo. But you can't argue with her perfect skin. So you steal the recipe and become a devoted follower of the real-deal green juice.

Stage 4: Juice fasting. Inspired by the documentary, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead," and various compliments about your glowing skin, you embark on a juice-only fast. You scour every resource possible for recipes and learn the difference between dandelion greens and watercress leaves in what was previously deemed "that green mystery wall" at Whole Foods.

Stage 5: Masticating what?!? I was at this stage for about six minutes when my first juicer died. I had all the ingredients for green juice washed, chopped and ready to go... and decided that I should just blend it, rather than let it go to waste. I'll save you the trouble. It was bad. Don't go there. If your juice takes ten minutes to process in a masticating juicer... please tell me how you got to this sad place in your life. I don't think I'll ever be ready to chew my juice.

WAIT a minute. I forgot that I was going to share my recipe for dirty green juice. My favorite recipe is not for public consumption. You can email me to get info on that. Here's an easy one to get you started...

Dirty Green Juice
1 bunch of baby spinach
2 stalks of celery
2 medium cucumbers
2 small green apples

Doesn't sound too dirty, does it? Here's where I went wrong with this. In such a hurry and in a state of upset over a broken piece of juicer (I love you dear juicer, but why do your instructions say dishwasher safe, when you are clearly not safe there?), I forgot to rinse my fresh-from-the-garden baby spinach. I downed the entire juice without realizing my mistake. There was sediment left in the bottom of my glass. That means DIRT, people. I ate dirt.

I invite you to share your favorite juice recipes with me. I love trying new concoctions. Give me your best shot.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Indiana Jones and the Yogini

I've been doing a lot of at-home yoga . While finding a peaceful moment as a stay-at-home mom is tough, I've found a great partner in my unlikely hero, Indiana Jones.

Arguably one of the best film heroes of all time, Indiana Jones is a man of substance. A scholar. An archaeologist, A lover of ancient civilizations. A patriot. A cynical romantic (it exists!). And best of all, a hero who needs no superpowers to overcome evil. He's even got a weakness that I can relate to... a terrible fear of snakes!

Oh and why am I so slow to relate to this less-than current superhero? It was my five year old son's wish to have an Indiana Jones-themed birthday party. He knows the character from a Nintendo Wii video game which makes Dr. Jones a new household name in the form of a temple-raiding LEGO action figure.

Last week, as I prepared for the party with my perfect yogic state of peace, I found a similar duality with Indy. He is a scholar and a professor, yet finds himself driven to the drama and satisfaction of being an adventurer. Don't we all live on the sidelines in some way or another, but find ourselves drawn into drama of a "better self?" Content with the day-to-day but easily lured into gossip, an adrenaline-filled hobby, or maybe just the double shot of espresso with our Greek yogurt? I won't presume to know where your duality lies. Mine is all over the map. Literally. Nat Geo maps I folded into four dozen origami balloons for party decor. And the cartoon above? It's a 24x30" painting on canvas I made for my son. Just for his party. Dee-eye-why gone crazy!

Sigh. I love my kids. Now back to the business of yoga!