Rox Does Yoga

Musings on Everything Yoga

My Year in Blogging: 2012 and 2013 January 9, 2014

Filed under: Miscellaneous,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 12:58 pm
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Each year, WordPress sends me a report of my year in blogging. Last year, I meant to post about it but just basically filed it and left it alone, so I thought this year it would be fun to do a bit of a comparison. Here are the links to the full reports: 2012 and 2013.

My blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2013, as compared to 18,000 times in 2012. That’s despite the fact that I added fewer posts in 2012 – I posted 76 times in 2012 versus 90 times in 2013. (I feel like I posted less and less often in 2013, but I’m guessing the volume difference came from the extended blog break I took after having YB in July 2012.) All of the most popular posts were from 2011 and 2012, too – none of the most popular posts were from 2013.

In both 2012 and 2013, the most popular posts were all “pose of the month” posts or sequences of yoga poses (a gentle prenatal sequence I did in 2012 ranked for both years). I think I was doing a lot less actual yoga posting in 2013; I feel like I posted more about spirituality, goals and resolutions, and about my family life in 2013. Those sorts of posts are less likely to get hits from internet searches, and are less likely to be read more than once or referenced regularly. That probably explains the decrease in blog views, since I was producing less of the hard yoga content?

My posts on Thread-The-Needle, Gorilla Pose, and Malasana (Squat) were among the top five posts for both 2012 and 2013. For each of these poses, I seem to remember the posts being difficult to find sources for, so it could be that these are topics not covered as well by the general internets. I’m glad that people are continuing to find my write-ups of these asanas helpful.

People who found my blog by searching online often used these search terms: yoga humor, prenatal yoga sequence, what to say during savasana, thread the needle yoga pose, and upavesasana. (And if you google upavesasana – a less common name for malasana – my post is the second link!)

In the new year, I’d like to come back to the pose-of-the-month concept (although it may be more like “the pose of the semester” or “the quarterly pose” or even just a “Pose Breakdown” – happy to take suggestions on a more accurate name for this!). I enjoyed doing those, and it seems like they’re useful to people. I hope too that at least a few of the people who found me by looking for a specific pose found something else here that they liked as well.

 

Yoga Goals for 2014 December 31, 2013

Filed under: checking in,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:38 am
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Happy New Year! It’s the time of year when we set new goals and make new resolutions, which, if you’re a regular reader, you know is a favorite topic of mine. Right now I’m so busy between work and toddler-chasing that I don’t think I can set any strenuous goals. However, I do need to follow up on my yoga goals and make some plans, since I have some requirements to meet in order to keep my Yoga Alliance registration current.

First, I need to log ten contact hours of training, in a room with a qualified instructor, before December 2014. Back in August I started thinking about this, but unfortunately the workshops Amy had planned to teach for the fall didn’t pan out, so there went a big chunk of the training hours I’d planned on. I’ll need to do some serious investigating, and soon, to get this done by the end of the year. Amy is still hoping to teach the winter workshop series, so I’ll sign up for that if she gets enough students. I’m also going to look into workshops at Maha Yoga downtown (why did I not know about this place? 17th and Sansom isn’t too far to go for a class on my lunch break, and it looks like they have a variety of workshops for continuing ed!), at Dhyana Yoga downtown, and at Artisan Yoga in Wayne, PA (not too far from me, and I like the idea of the “yoga lab” and dissecting a pose – although I know I can’t do the flying split which is the next one they have scheduled, I want to keep an eye on them and see what they offer next time!). I found these options in less than 15 minutes of searching – Maha was actually the first thing that popped up when I searched “yoga workshop near philadelphia” – so there has to be more out there!

One other idea I’d had (which I think I got from Darshana Communications, actually) was to do a CPR training at a local hospital – they run those sorts of trainings often, and while I hope I would never have to use it, it would definitely be a good tool to have under my belt. I need to check and find out for sure if CPR training would count for my training hours (I would think it would, possibly under the “Techniques Training and Practice” or “Anatomy and Physiology” categories). I want to look into meditation classes, too, but I feel like it wouldn’t be right to take meditation classes now when I have so little time for practice at home. On the other hand, maybe taking a class would be a good idea to get me back into actually doing it? We’ll see.

I also have to log 45 teaching hours before December 2014 – the good news is that I’m at 39 hours now, so I just have to teach six more classes in 2014 to make that goal. That shouldn’t be much of a problem, although I do want to get more students into my class at Wellness on Park.

The other change I want to make this year is with regard to my blogging schedule. I love writing here, and the opportunity it affords me to look at yoga and other topics from a new perspective, but with my work schedule and the baby I have to recognize that I just haven’t been posting as often as I used to. I haven’t kept a Tuesday-Thursday schedule in a while. Instead of beating myself up about that, I’m going to acknowledge the limitations I’m currently working with and change my goal. I’m going to aim to post weekly, but will only hold myself to posting twice a month. If I can do better than twice a month, I will, but I think two solid, thoughtful posts in a month should be doable.

Here’s to accomplishing some yoga goals in 2014!

 

Travel and Such, and a New Class! September 26, 2013

Filed under: checking in — R. H. Ward @ 1:57 pm
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The past week has been very, very busy: I had a business trip to Baltimore and then on to Washington, DC for a conference, and after DC, F picked me up at the train station and we headed directly to Cape May for a long weekend at the beach! I had every intention of blogging while I was away, at least while I was on the business trip and had my laptop with me anyway, but it just didn’t happen. A lot of things didn’t happen while I was traveling, which may well be the subject of another post.

But I do want to take a minute and announce that I will be teaching a new yoga class starting October 1! I’ll be at Wellness on Park (100 Park Ave, Suite 1, Swarthmore, PA) teaching all-levels vinyasa, 7:30-8:45 on Tuesday evenings. I’ve added the new class to my schedule page, too. I’m really excited about this opportunity to get into a regular teaching groove! If you’re in the area, come on out and save $5 off the first class!

 

Yoga Plans August 8, 2013

The other day it struck me that I completed my yoga teacher training over a year and a half ago. I’ve been a registered yoga teacher since December 2011! What hit me, though, is a practical concern: yoga teachers have to fulfill certain requirements for teaching and continuing education every three years to keep our registration current with Yoga Alliance. That means I have a year and a half left to meet my requirements to stay registered – that seems like a long time, but with a full-time job and a little one at home, I need to start planning now if I’m going to get there.

The good news is that I have some of the work done already. Specifically, I have to teach 45 hours of classes: I’ve been keeping track and I’m more than halfway there (which is really reassuring, considering I took a huge break from teaching when I had YogaBaby). Clearly, though, I need to get back into a teaching groove somewhere in order to make the remaining hours.

I’m also required to complete 30 hours of continuing education: at least 10 “contact” hours, in a room with an actual instructor, and up to 20 “non-contact” hours, which can be met in a variety of ways like reading books, writing articles, or attending webinars. The good news here is that I’ve got a decent number of non-contact hours already, just from my reading and work on the blog. The bad news is that I have no contact hours yet, so that’s 10 hours of classes I need to find somewhere with an actual instructor. Luckily I really like taking classes.

If I’m going to make all this happen, I’ll need to get my own practice in good shape first. I’ve been pretty solid with staying on top of my daily 15-minute practice, but I feel like I’m losing momentum – doing the same poses every day, not feeling excited about yoga but just checking it off my To Do list. One thing I plan to do to fix this situation is to write some new short sequences that can be done in a 15-minute period. These will be themed (like “Balance”, “Energy Burst”, or “Gentle Wake Up”) and will use different poses so I won’t get into such a rut. I’ll put them all on a card that I’ll keep in my yoga space, so that when I’m sleepy at 5:45 in the morning I can easily hook into a set sequencing, won’t waste time trying to think of what poses to do next, and won’t just go back to the same poses over and over. And, of course, I’ll post each sequence here for you!

I’m really excited about this new project. It makes sense that, if I’d plan in advance for a yoga class to teach, I should also plan in advance when I’m only teaching myself! And writing the sequences is an interesting challenge because I don’t usually think about my yoga practice in such a focused way – it’s fun to brainstorm poses good for specific purposes and then figure out how to make them flow together.

So (if we’re thinking in terms of goals, resolutions, and habits), my overall goal is to maintain myself as a registered yoga teacher. My next major milestone date for this goal is December 10, 2014. That’s the three-year anniversary of my YTT graduation (Yoga Alliance counts by my anniversary date for registering with them, so if I count by my graduation date that will give me a little extra time to get everything into their system). In order to achieve this goal, I’m following my resolutions to cultivate a daily yoga practice, to continue to grow my practice by educating myself, and to explore teaching opportunities. Here’s what I’ve done lately to further those resolutions, and here are my specific plans for forward movement:

  • I’ll write ten short 15-minute asana sequences that I can use to keep my personal practice active and varied. I’m planning to have a few little rules for myself with how I use these sequences (for example, I’m thinking I won’t be allowed to do Gentle Wake Up more than once a week and will require myself to do Energy Burst at least once a week and Strength at least once every other week), but I’m going to see where the actual sequences lead me after they’re all written.
  • To keep myself accountable, I’ll post each sequence here on the blog, starting on Monday August 12. I’ll post ‘em daily, Monday-Friday, for two weeks. This will interrupt the usual Tuesday-Thursday flow of the blog, but I’d rather post each sequence and have them all done than let it trail on. I want to have ten sequences written to choose from for my practice, and I don’t want any excuses for procrastinating on writing them!
  • I’ll be going to the Philly Wanderlust Festival on Saturday September 7 with the lovely Sarah Trout. This will be a great way to connect with the yoga community here in Philadelphia, meet some local teachers, and get my yoga groove going. Maybe we’ll see you there!
  • I’ve sent out email queries to a few local studios that offer continuing education workshops. So far, I’ve decided that I’ll be taking at least one workshop on hands-on adjustments with Amy at Yoga with Spirit, and I’m hoping to take the three-workshop series that she’ll be offering this fall. She’s also considering offering some anatomy workshops in the winter too; winter is not my best time of year, so I’ve put this on the calendar already in hopes that it’ll give me something to look forward to!
  • I’m also going to look into some meditation classes, since that would count for continuing education contact hours as well. I may explore options to travel for a long weekend next summer (maybe at Kripalu or the Himalayan Institute?). That’s pretty far off, but we’ll see what develops!
    • In terms of continuing ed and contact hours, I’m most interested in classes that will help me step up my teaching – learning more about anatomy and hands-on adjustments, for example, which is why Amy’s workshops sound so perfect for me. I’d love to do a real prenatal training, if the right one came my way, but that may be a project to postpone for a few years. Chair yoga and yoga for older people are topics I’d like to explore, but that may need to wait until I can bring more anatomy knowledge to the table.
  • I’ve ordered some new books and I plan to look into webinars offered by Yoga Alliance and other organizations.
  • Finally, I’m going to get serious about finding teaching opportunities. Short-term, I’m going to try to get back on the sub list at Awaken and EEY (where I think I am still on the sub list, actually, but they just don’t need subs very often!). Long-term, after Wanderlust, I’m going to explore options for classes that I can attend downtown on my lunch break or right after work, and I’ll go from there in looking for a an opportunity for a regular class to teach.

In summary: Plans! I have them!

 

Guest Post at 5 Cities 6 Women May 13, 2013

I’m happy to announce that I have a guest post up this week at one of my favorite blogs, 5 Cities 6 Women!

My post is about breastfeeding, pumping, and mom-life balance. It was fun to write a blog post and not feel like I somehow had to bring it around and relate it back to yoga and wellness. I hope you’ll go check it out, and while you’re there, take a look at what Katie and the other ladies are up to. There’s always something interesting happening at 5 Cities 6 Women.

 

Wellness and Work March 26, 2013

Filed under: reflections,wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 12:16 pm
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Nursing for Wellness in Older Adults, by Carol MillerIn my new job, I have the opportunity to think about wellness surprisingly often: I was assigned as editor of the book Nursing for Wellness in Older Adults. It its current edition this book features a photo of a beautiful, relaxed, peaceful older woman doing a yoga pose (the entire editorial team agrees: we wish we knew this lady!). Just imagine how delighted I was to be assigned this book project the week I started my new job. Wellness for older adults is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a yoga teacher in the first place. Working on this book seemed like a cosmic sign that I’d made the right decision in leaving my old job, where my books were typically about surgically managing disease, but rarely about healing more than the physical. This is one reason why I think I’m much happier working on books for nurses rather than books for doctors or surgeons – although both groups work in the medical field, the nature of the work they do is fundamentally different, and the work of the nurse feels closer to my own calling as a yoga teacher and a karma yogini than that of the doctor.

Recently I’ve been pondering what the focus of this blog should be. I started the blog to write about my yoga teacher training experience; without that as an organizing principle, I’ve just been following the lead of the blog title, “Rox Does Yoga”, and writing about things that are related to yoga in some way, even if the relationship is only in my mind: sometimes yoga postures or breathing, sometimes meditation or spirituality, but often things like physical fitness, exercise, happiness, goals and resolutions, motherhood and parenting, vegetarianism, and even fantasy and science fiction every once in a while. But “Rox Does a Lot of Stuff That’s Sort of Tangentially Related to Yoga” just isn’t very catchy. I’d been fiddling with the wording on my About Me page for a while when it finally struck me: “wellness” is a perfect term to describe what I do here. Physically, wellness incorporates yoga, physical fitness, and other health-related topics, but it can also include spirituality, parenting and relationships, and my interest in happiness and, more recently, resolutions, because all of these things contribute to a person’s overall wellness. It took my work at my day job to bring this perfect word to mind. Hooray for cultivating wellness!

 

2012: Year in Review / 2013: Year in Preview January 15, 2013

Filed under: checking in,reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:25 pm
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Last January, I set out a long and detailed list of goals. Looking back on that list, I kind of can’t believe that I even remotely considered all of those things to be possible when I started out 2012 four months pregnant. I wanted to keep up with all my interests and passions, keep moving my yoga career forward. I was so determined not to lose “myself” in having a baby. I had no idea, about so many things. I had no idea how much I would love being pregnant, or how active a state it is: that I could just sit there and be pregnant and I’d be totally busy. I had no idea how much rest I would need while I was pregnant, or how much energy and mobility I would lose. And I had no idea how drastically and irrevocably my life would change on July 8 when YogaBaby entered the world, how my priorities would instantly rearrange themselves around her. I realized last summer than I wasn’t in danger of losing “myself” in motherhood. Losing my free time and the ability to go out at night, sure. But “myself” is deeper and more confident and just MORE because of my love for her.

So, yeah, 2012 was a heck of a year. I gave birth. My child is still breathing, and despite all my fears and worries, I haven’t done anything to drastically harm her yet. In fact, she’s thriving, and smiling, and generally being awesome. And I learn new things about her, and about myself, every day.

But 2012 wasn’t just the year I became a parent. I published my first poetry chapbook! Which is a pretty big milestone – it just didn’t feel like it at the time, since my copies of the book arrived about a week after YB did. I also published three book reviews at good publications and had favorable responses to reviewing queries at others. I got solicited for poems for really the first time; the editor loved the work and one of the poems will be printed this year in a magazine that has probably a lot more readers than anywhere else I’ve ever published. And I managed to make some forward progress on the new poems – not as much as I would have liked, but under the circumstances I’ll take any forward progress as a success.

And 2012 was a good year for yoga. I taught prenatal yoga, which was unexpected and fantastic, and I taught at Awaken, which was a great opportunity at a great studio. I registered with Yoga Alliance, got my yoga Facebook page up and running, and kept this blog going, albeit at a much reduced pace. I didn’t meet my goal of reading one yoga-related book per month, or of following up on yoga book reviewing, but I did still read four books that related to my yoga goals, which isn’t too bad. My personal yoga practice disappeared for a while, which was sad but necessary, and I worked hard to find my yoga in other places and give myself the space to be imperfect.

So now it’s 2013. I’m at risk of setting another bunch of impossible goals for myself, but I do want to make a few resolutions. I want to get back some sort of a physical hatha yoga practice, and I’ve started steps to make that happen (they involve the alarm clock and YB sleeping well, so it’s kind of a shaky plan at best, but initial experiments are promising). I want to keep educating myself about yoga and spirituality, and I want to take some steps towards reestablishing myself as a yoga teacher, even just in my own mind. I want to keep recording my journey here and maybe try to be a bit more regular about it. Most important of all is that I want to be a good mother to YB. And taking care of myself, regaining some of my yoga and meditation practice -and continuing to give myself the space to be imperfect - is a crucial part of doing that.

 

Yoga Baby Debut July 17, 2012

Filed under: checking in — R. H. Ward @ 9:47 am
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My daughter's birthAs many of you know by now or may have guessed, I haven’t been around the blog lately because my daughter Freya was born last week. She’s pretty much awesome.

I may write more about the birth later, but here’s the fast version. I did get my natural childbirth, and compared to childbirths in the history of the world, and compared to childbirths experienced by many of my friends, this one was about as quick and easy as they come: 12 hours total from when I first suspected things might be happening to when my daughter was born. I was only at the Birth Center for about five hours before she was born, and only pushing for about two and a half hours, so it went really well. Compared to everything I’ve personally experienced in my life to date, however, this ranks as the worst night of my life, but around 4 am it was immediately followed by the most amazing morning of my life when I held my daughter for the first time. So I’m going to say it was well worth it.

This blog will be on hiatus for a little while. I don’t doubt that the tiniest yogini has plenty to teach me about yoga, but for now we’re really just spending time in the present moment and not worrying too much about typing it up.

 

2012 goal update February 22, 2012

Filed under: checking in,reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:03 pm
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Back in January, I did some thinking about my plans and expectations for the coming year. I thought it might be useful to check in and see how I’m doing with all the various goals I came up with.

  • Get registered with Yoga Alliance.(Check!)
  • After registering, look into yoga teacher insurance. (Still need to do this.)
  • Turn this blog into an official website with a schedule and more information about me.(I feel good on this one – if you look around and think I’m missing anything, let me know!)
  • Start a Facebook page for RoxDoesYoga separate from my personal FB to make it easier for yoga friends and potential students to find me. (Done!)
  • Keep up my ties with EEY, the yoga center where I completed my training, by attending hatha yoga class there at least once per month. (January and February: check.)
  • I also hope to attend any special events or workshops that come up at EEY, and teach as a sub there as opportunities arise. (See below…)
  • Reach out to new studios and make connections with other local yoga teachers by attending at least one new yoga class per month. I’d love to start building a new yoga community a little closer to home than EEY and look into teaching opportunities with other yoga centers. (This is such a hard one. I’ve gotten it done for January and February, hitting classes at Enso and Awaken respectively, but I’m not sure how much more reaching out I’ll be able to do. The teaching opportunities have been fast and furious, however.)
  • Keep teaching my weekly Front Porch Yoga class for private students at my home, at least for the next few months. This class will continue to be free, since these students are my friends and their interest in yoga and continued dedication to showing up at my house has provided me with invaluable teaching experience. For now, I really want to stay in practice as a teacher and not lose my confidence, and continuing the free Front Porch class will help me do that.(Front Porch Yoga is now canceled so I can focus on my yoga teaching in other venues.)
  • Begin exploring other yoga teaching opportunities. This is a little more vague, since I’m not sure what’s out there. Some ideas include teaching a discounted class for my neighbors at our town community center, or seeing if the dance studio in the next town over might be interested in starting a yoga program. (I think this resolution will need to be postponed to much later this year, if at all – there’s only so much teaching I can do with a day job!)
  • Continue to challenge myself with reading books on yoga and meditation, with a goal of one yoga-related book per month. (I didn’t succeed with this, although I managed to read the current issue of Yoga Journal and I’m almost done a meditation book. This isn’t turning out to be a good time in my life for reading.)
  • Contact Yoga Journal and other related magazines to look into writing book reviews for publication. (Still need to do this.)
  • Maintain my personal yoga practice. My goal is to fit in some sort of practice every day, whether it’s an hour-long class or three sun salutations. I want to work on practicing pranayama and meditation daily. (This is probably the hardest goal on this list. I am really, truly trying. Sometimes I’m too tired, and sometimes I just forget.)
  • Continue this blog by posting 2-3 times per week. I figure all the goals and plans I’ve listed here will give me plenty to write about! (I missed the end of January/beginning of February due to travel, but otherwise I’ve kept up with the 2-3 times per week goal.)
  • Look into and begin researching prenatal yoga.

That last one is taking off a bit, not entirely through my own initiative. It turns out that the person who has been teaching the prenatal yoga class at EEY has moved to Florida; N needed someone to fill in, and of course she thought of her pregnant former student! I’ll be picking up the 10:30 am Sunday morning prenatal class until at least the end of March and possibly for the foreseeable future.

Although I don’t have any formal training in prenatal yoga, I do have some solid experience considering that all the yoga I do right now is prenatal, and I have firsthand knowledge of how pregnant bodies feel and move. I feel pretty solid about teaching this class, mostly because my body has been very up-front and communicative about what I should and shouldn’t be doing in my yoga practice. (My digestive system needs more work on communication, but my muscles and ligaments are quite chatty.) I’m going to continue to research prenatal yoga as best I can, which right now involves watching videos online and will hopefully involve me picking up and reading a few books. I’m looking forward to learning more as I work with my students and continue on my yoga teaching journey.

 

Teaching at Awaken February 15, 2012

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:37 pm
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I’m excited to tell you all that I’m going to be teaching yoga at a real yoga studio! And I’ll be paid, even! Tonight is my first class at Awaken Massage & Yoga in Media, PA. Teaching yoga on my front porch has been incredibly rewarding – I’m so glad that I could provide that class to my friends and so grateful that they kept showing up. Now I’m delighted to gain teaching experience in a professional yoga studio setting, and to get to know everybody at Awaken.

I created a Schedule page with Google Calendar so it’ll be easy to find out when I’m teaching right here on the blog. One more step towards turning this blog into a professional website!

 

 
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