Losing your yoga practice

I’ve been a yoga instructor for about five years now. I try to maintain my own practice as best as I can. However, one thing that I heard while I was in my yoga teacher training is that it’s difficult to maintain your own practice. At first I thought, Well if I plan in advance that won’t happen to me…

Well, it did happen to me. When I was teaching I was so focused on planning out my classes that I didn’t make time for my own practice. And being honest, I was so tired of it that I didn’t really put forth the effort. It got to a point where I was just burned out and didn’t want to do my own practice. So I stopped. And guess what? When you stop and aren’t really focused on your flexibility, what you had you lose. My little hamstrings became tight again, my back began to stiffen, and my muscles felt tight all over. It sucked!

And I only had myself to blame. I’m still trying to get back into the swing of my own practice. I’ve had to show myself some grace and start planning some yoga classes to take. I don’t have any yoga studios by me, so I use my Peloton app. I have one instructor in particular that I love and try to do all her classes, Kierra Michelle. I love her little accent and she is just adorable. I usually take her beginners classes because I’m building up my stamina and flexibility. But slowly I am making progress. I didn’t get to this stage overnight. It happened over a lot of months, but I’ll get there.

If I could redo this, I would make sure that I do at least 1 or 2 yoga classes a week. And not focus so much on vinyasa or power, I felt like I had to sweat. Instead I would do 1 vinyasa class and then a yin or restorative to balance it out. We all need a good chill stretch like you would find in a yin or a restorative class. And I would probably limit the number of classes I taught. When I was teaching on a regular basis I would teach 2 yoga classes a week and then maybe 1-2 spin classes. That was a little much, as I was trying to juggle my full time job and also try to get my own workouts in. OVERWHELMED much?! Yes, yes I was.

If you are a yoga instructor or in the middle of your yoga teacher training how are you going to overcome this?

Upper Back Sequence – Supported Fish

This upper back stretch also helps stretch-out part of your chest as well. I love it when you get a 2 for 1 in your stretch. And Supported fish pose does just that and it allows me to zone out. Give your back some love with this yoga pose.

  • Lay completely flat on your back
  • Have a block and place it between your shoulder blades and lay back down. If it feels awkward feel free to place the block a little higher or lower and see what works.
  • Arms are down at your side. If you feel a little too much discomfort because of tightness in your chest, bend your arms for a 90 degree bend at the elbow.

Did any of you have any discomfort in your chest? Could you feel it pulling at all?

Theo – Chocolate

Everyone has a favorite place they love to visit. You know the place where you feel the most relaxed. For me that is Seattle. I don’t know what it is, but that’s my safe place. Maybe it’s the air, weather, and the ocean. But this is the place where I can go to get away and recuperate. And I always feel refreshed when I go back home. I was able to visit Seattle earlier this summer and had a blast. There were a few things that we had to schedule in advance, but it made the trip that much more exciting. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting what we were able to do while in Seattle. 

My sister and I love dark chocolate. But not just any dark chocolate. I guess you could say I am a chocolate snob because if its not the best, then I don’t want to waste my money and more importantly my calories on it. One of our absolute favorites is Theo. Theo is an organic, fair-trade certified chocolate maker located in the Seattle area. You can find their chocolate bars within Krogers and Whole Foods. 

The first time I tried Theo, my sister and I were trying to find an organic dark chocolate bar with clear labels regarding the ingredients. I remember rummaging through all the chocolate bars and finding a sea salt dark chocolate bar. We looked at the labeling and ingredients and thought, Let’s give it a shot. Well, two years later and I’m still eating their dark chocolate bars when I am craving something sweet and chocolaty. So we said the next time we are in the Seattle area we need to do a tour.

It was pretty easy, we just signed up for a tour online. It was reasonably priced for three of us to go. And we were driving from Anacortes and worried about getting there on time and they moved us to a later time. They were so sweet! As we drove down the various streets to get there, the scent of chocolate hung in the air. My mouth watered as I waited to get in. When we got there we were shown a video that gave us the history of the company and learn how Theo gets their cacoa. I’ve never seen how chocolate is made so I was impressed with how they broke everything down for us. The employee was extremely knowledgeable and answered everyone’s questions. 

After that we then headed into the sampling room. Yes, THE sampling room. There, they talked to us about the different types of chocolate they made. Theo makes a variety of chocolate and we were able to taste quite a few different variations. We even got to try cocoa nibs. And no I didn’t like them. It was gritty and extremely bitter. To me the best chocolate is 70% dark chocolate with some type of subtle flavoring to it. This part lasted about 20 minutes and then we ended the tour in their gift shop. 

The gift shop was awesome. They had chocolates that I’d never seen at Whole Foods or Krogers before. Apparently there are some chocolate bars that are only sold in the Seattle area or their store (aka online). Of course, if you are in a chocolate store you have to buy some to take home! So needless to say I bought a variety of chocolates before I left. And no I didn’t eat them all in a sitting. I actually have a video of us trying some of the chocolates that we bought. So look for that within the next week or so. 

If you are in the Seattle area, go check out Theo. You will not be disappointed. 

What brand of chocolate is your favorite? And what particular type of their chocolate is your go to fix?

Upper Back Sequence – Supine Twist

There is nothing like a nice spinal twist to make your back feel so good! When I’m feeling achey, this is one of my favorite moves. And the plus is that you can do this while lying down on the floor or even better your bed.

Supine Spinal Twist:

  • Lay on your back and bend your knees.
  • Feet are together. 
  • Allow your bent legs to fall over to the right side, and draw your arms straight out to the sides, so they are like a T.
  • Breath. Hold for a few breaths here, 5 to 10.
  • Bring legs back to center
  • Allow knees to fall onto the left side and draw your arms straight out to the sides, so they are like a T.
  • Breath. Hold for a few breaths here, 5 to 10.

Upper Back Sequence – Eagle Arms

Sometimes our upper back needs to be released and one way to do that is by performing a yoga pose known as eagle arms. You can do this by either sitting or standing, it’s your preference.

Eagle Arms

  • Sit on your mat with your knees bent and out to the sides. 
  • Bring left foot in towards your pelvis and take your right foot slightly in front of your left foot so that they’re not touching.
  • Inhale and lengthen through your spine sitting nice and tall
  • Hands in prayer position or loosely on your knees
  • Relax the forehead and the space between the eyebrows
  • Tilt the chin so it’s parallel to the floor
  • Relax the shoulders away from the ears
  • Keep your back and torso long.
  • Tilt the pelvis slightly forward
  • Bring your right hand out in front of you and bend at the elbow, your palm facing your face/head. 
  • Take your left arm and bring the crook of it right under the right elbow, wrapping your left arm around the right. If you can press your palms together, and gently lift your elbows to shoulder height or draw it towards your chin.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Toolkit Review

If you ever ask a writer about writing, they will tell you it’s a never ending learning process. I’ve been writing for a few years now and honestly I feel like there is so much to learn. One of my friends told me about a website where writers can take writing classes from authors/editors that can help build your writing muscles. The site is called LitReactor. 

Since she’s told me about this site, I’ve been taking a few classes a year. I’ve taken mainly classes geared toward short stories. The main author that taught these classes was Richard Thomas (I’ll be doing reviews) and I really enjoyed them. But this year I saw one geared towards fantasy and science fiction. I typically don’t read that much fantasy, but I did read LightLark and Under the Oak Tree and really loved both books. Last year, I saw The Science Fiction and Fantasy Toolkit class with Bradley Beaulieu, being offered, but forgot to register. This time when I saw it I jumped and signed up. I was excited to take the class, but halfway through I realized this was a must take class.

Bradley Beaulieu is the author of the fantasy series The Song of the Shattered Sands. The class was 4 weeks long with a lecture and assignment each week. Bradley had great writing topics each week and demonstrated each one with examples that everyone would be familiar with. I appreciated this because for the longest time I only read the vampire genre, but he chose fantasy best sellers. His topics helped me realize what was missing in my own in-progress novel. Each one of the topics that he discusses in detail, I’ve wondered about but didn’t know how or where to go to understand it. Well, he took care of it for me. He broke down each of his topics in easy to understand chunks with lots of examples. I learn best with examples, it helps me know if I’m doing my own homework assignment correctly and know if I’m on the right track. What I really appreciated was the fact he also linked a few writing books that had helped him along his own journey to crafting better stories. And yes I did buy a few of the books (actual books, not kindle form). 

When I turned in my homework each week, Bradley took his time and gave his full attention to the assignment I submitted. His feedback was invaluable. He took the time to get to know my characters/plot, and gave constructive criticism while also giving examples of what I could do with my work. I get in my head a lot, so it was nice to have someone help me see what my other options were/are. 

Thanks to his expertise he was able to tell me what my genre is based on what I like to read and where my novel seemed to be going. Urban Fantasy. I kept thinking mine was just paranormal. I didn’t know. He even named some authors in that particular genre that he thought I might like to read to know what was in that field and how I might be compared to them. This advice was really worth while. 

Based on all of the topics that were covered, I now know what needs to be added to my story. I no longer feel like I’m spinning my wheels, I have more ideas to run with. This class made me excited to write again!

If you want to learn how to write or increase the tools in your writing toolbox, then look into taking his class. I’m currently in the middle of taking his second class which is a continuation of the first one. I’ll review it once I’ve completed it, but I’m really enjoying it as well. 

Happy Writing! But comment below if you’ve taken any writing classes, if so what what it and where did you find it?

For more information on the classes litreactor has to offer, check out litreactor.com

Upper back Sequence – Puppy

Another pose that can help stretch part of your back is Puppy pose. This one feels so good! The portion of the back that is stretched out is your lats. And I don’t know about you, but my lats are usually tight so feel free to try out this pose.

  • Come onto your hands and knees into a table top position. Hands directly underneath your shoulders and knees are under your hips.
  • Walk your hands out in front of you until you can’t go anymore
  • Bring your butt back towards your heels and allow your torso to rest the space between your your wide legged position.
  • Feel the stretch in your shoulders. If this is uncomfortable breath through the discomfort.

Favorite buy of the year

Over the last few years I’ve been trying to become more selective in what I buy. I usually ask myself, “Do you need it? Or do you want it?” Asking those questions can help you figure out what are must buys. One item that I absolutely had to have was the Peloton Bike +.

The thing is, I’ve always wanted a spin bike, but not just any bike. I wanted a Peloton. I’d been thinking about it for quite some time and after the pandemic, I figured that the time was now. My sister and I went to a small Peloton store in our mall and spoke to some of the employees. There we were able to try the bike and also try out the shoes to make sure we knew what size we were. The Peloton employee was fantastic and answered all of our questions. We ended up going with the Bike + because the screen rotated so we could do yoga or boxing workouts in our living room.

The best part was that Peloton came in on the exact date we set our delivery for and they brought it in already put together. All they had to do was attach the screen. They also reviewed how to put in our logins and helped us get situated on the bike, writing down our measurements. A+ customer service.

It’s been about a year and I don’t regret this purchase at all, in fact best thing ever! We’ve been able to maintain our fitness regiment because of the convenience of having it in our home. I can work out first thing in the morning, midday, or late evening, all without having to leave my home. Sometimes I’ll be sitting on the couch watching tv and then I’d glance over at the bike and sigh, “If I can sit on the couch and watch tv, I can bike.” Then I’d hop on.

Initially when we first got the bike, the hardest thing was finding an instructor you meshed with. After about 2-3 weeks I found my favorites- Emma Lovewell, Kendal Toole, Ben, Olivia, and Jen. Their music is awesome and so does their personality. Another great aspect about the bike is the programming. They have a variety of different classes with varying times. If I have time for a long ride I’ll search for a 45-60 minute one, but if I’m crunched for time I may pick a 20 or 30 minute one. It has everything you need.

Now sometimes, I do travel and I still like to be active. So I made sure to download the Peloton App so I can still get in a workout or two. Since I don’t have my bike, I usually do a weight, yoga, or core workout. And they always deliver.

So if you were on the fence about getting a Peloton, all I can say is, “Best piece of workout equipment I’ve ever bought!”

If you have a peloton, who is your favorite instructor?