Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

15-Minute Sequences: Seated August 15, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:22 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s Seated sequence probably runs 10-12 minutes instead of 15, but consider taking an extra-long hold in each pose to maximize your enjoyment. Begin in a comfortable seated posture (cross-legged if you’re able, but it’s more important to sit comfortably), and keep your tush planted for the entire routine.

My playlist: self-titled album by Lotus

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.

 

15-Minute Sequences: Balance August 14, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:36 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s sequence on Balance presents some fun challenges. Approach this sequence with a flexible attitude and a sense of humor. Try to flow through the standing balance sequence without touching down between poses!

My playlist: “Nataraja” by Ben Leinbach and Jai Uttal, Music for Yoga and Other Joys

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.

 

15-Minute Sequences: Hips August 13, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:30 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. I’m really happy with today’s sequence, Hips. My hips have been a problem area in my yoga practice ever since my daughter was born last year, and this sequence works the hip from every angle. It’s also a lot of fun!

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.

 

15-Minute Sequences: Gentle Wake Up August 12, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 10:00 am
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My current project is to write ten brief yoga sequences. Each sequence can be done in 15-20 minutes, and each sequence follows a different theme. Today’s sequence, Gentle Wake Up, warms up the body gently on those days when you just don’t feel like crawling out of bed.

My playlist: Krishna Das, “Mountain Chalisa” and “Nina Chalisa” from Flow of Grace; or “Govinda” by Ben Leinbach and Jai Uttal, Music for Yoga and Other Joys

To see other posts in this series of short yoga routines, click here.

 

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!

 

Books: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg August 6, 2013

Filed under: books — R. H. Ward @ 1:02 pm
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 The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles DuhiggIn The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg explores what makes a habit – good ones, bad ones, petty little ones we can’t seem to manage to change – and how we humans, as creatures of habit, can examine our smallest actions and why we do what we do. According to Duhigg’s research, our daily habits may seem isolated and small, but making a small change to a daily habit may lead us to life-changing new patterns.

Duhigg analyzes the elements common to any habit, from nail biting to snacking to gambling, and finds the common thread: each “habit loop” begins with a cue, an event that triggers the habit to begin. Once the habit loop is activated, you experience a craving, and then carry out the routine of the habit itself, which results in a reward. Thinking about a habit in this framework allows you to isolate each aspect of the habit, helping you to figure out why you always need a snack at 3:00 or why you can’t stop checking Facebook. After establishing the habit loop pattern and some techniques to change it, Duhigg then looks at the habits of people in groups, at work or in social situations, and examines how these habit theories can be applied to effect change on a larger scale.

The Power of Habit is, from a readability perspective, nearly perfect. Duhigg uses compelling stories to make his points and weaves together multiple narratives to keep the reader engaged. He pulls together many different threads from his exhaustive research and hours of interviews, looking at the question of habits from every angle: neurology, addiction, education, corporate culture, and social change, to name a few. As a result, there’s something here to interest everyone, and because he distills each topic down to the individual level – one person who conquered her addiction, one CEO who changed a company – the reader can stay focused on the story and the prose never gets too dry. Duhigg’s own authorial presence is very light, telling each person’s tale matter-of-factly, without bias, and only rarely interjecting himself. Duhigg comes across as an expert, and as a reader, I trust his expertise and want to learn more.

For this blog in particular, I found this book fascinating because of the way Duhigg’s research fits in with my recent posts on identity-based goals. According to Duhigg, the reason people often fail at achieving their goals is because they’ve failed to change a key habit. By changing the cue-routine-reward habit loop and changing just one habit, people can make much bigger changes and achieve larger goals. This fits in really well with the idea of identity-based goals, which encourages people to not only set a goal but to (1) change the way they think about themselves, and (2) make small progress every day in becoming the sort of person who can achieve what they want to achieve. According to Duhigg, those little successes are key to reprogramming our brains with new habits that will drive us towards the goals we seek.

For myself personally, this book gave me new ways of looking at my own habits: on the negative side, I’d like to change my nail-picking and Facebook habits, and on the positive side, I’d like to strengthen and deepen my yoga practice. I now have some ideas about how I can transform these habits: for example, improving my 5:45am yoga practice to deliver a stronger reward, therefore increasing my motivation to get out of bed early. (More specifics on that plan coming in Thursday’s post!) Overall, I strongly recommend Duhigg’s book. Whether you have bad habits you’d like to change, good habits you’d like to strengthen, or people in your life whose habits drive you nuts, this book will be a fascinating read.

 

Food Update: Life with a Garden August 1, 2013

Filed under: yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:09 pm
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This summer, F and I have been enjoying, and being challenged by, the produce coming out of our garden. We have the same two raised beds we had last year, but F planted them with different things: this time around the raised beds have eggplant, mexi-bell pepper, arugula, basil, strawberries, and three kinds of tomatoes (heirloom, yellow grape, and red grape). We also have an herb bed on one side of the house and a few zucchini and corn plants scattered in the flowerbeds. This arrangement has been working out well for most of the plants. The zucchini has been gleefully happy, and the tomato plants are so huge that three cages can’t contain them. Things haven’t worked out for the arugula, and something keeps eating the strawberries before I get any (next year: fences!), but overall, the garden has done extremely well this year.

Which has brought its own challenge: what to do with all these veggies! We’ve had sauteed zucchini a few ways: mixed in with pasta, in a wrap with hummus and cheese and spinach, and as a side dish by itself. We’ve had zucchini and tomato frittata, zucchini black bean quesadillas (which were such a hit with everyone that we had it twice), zucchini bread, and zucchini muffins. Then we got creative. We had a friend over and made zucchini “crab” cakes (minus the crab) on a recommendation from one of my coworkers, and they were awesome – YB was so excited to eat hers that she burned her mouth. We had a zucchini tomato bake, and I made another loaf of bread. Twice we’ve had caprese salad, and – lest we forget the eggplant – we had an eggplant parmesan that was pretty tasty. My helpful coworker also sent me her caponata recipe, so that’s on the agenda for the next eggplant. And none of this includes all the raw veggies we’ve been munching while we cook or between meals, the leftover grated zucchini that didn’t get used in a recipe being incorporated into the rare non-garden-inspired meal, the fresh-off-the-plant tomatoes YB happily chomps when we’re outside harvesting. (She’s always trying to bite the whole zucchinis but we won’t let her; I’m pretty sure she couldn’t eat the whole thing.) F and I have each taken a load of tomatoes to our offices to share with our colleagues. And there’s still more growing.

I feel grateful for all of this wonderful bounty! It’s the perfect time of year to be a vegetarian. If you had my garden, what would you cook up?