Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Joyful Things March 7, 2013

I’ve been writing a lot lately about making resolutions and overcoming bad feelings like guilt, shame, and fear. I even have another post or two in the queue along these lines. When you think about it one way, you might see these as positive posts, reaffirming our ability to take action and make change – but looked at another way, I’ve been kind of a downer lately. So, in honor of the impending springtime, here are some wonderful things, things to rejoice about and be grateful for.

  • I have a poem published in the current issue of UU World magazine. This is exciting for several reasons: it’s the first time I was solicited for poems. As a Unitarian Universalist, it made me happy to see my work in a magazine that so closely aligns with my values, and which reaches such a wide audience of readers who share those values. And it’s the first time I got fan mail from a reader who liked the poem!
  • I work in a job where my group’s VP and product director care about meeting new hires and getting to know their people. I had lunch with our VP a few weeks ago, and our product director scheduled a group lunch for next month. Overall I feel listened to and supported at my job. And I have the ability to work from home when I need to.
  • I just realized that this January marked ten years since I started practicing yoga. Ten years! I took my first yoga class during my last semester at UNC Greensboro. It was an ashtanga-based power yoga class at lunchtime, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I was really confused at first, but I loved it. I still love it ten years later. How cool that it’s become such a part of my life!
  • F and I celebrated a special anniversary last week: six years since our first kiss. It amazes me to think about how my life has changed as a result of that moment and all the wonderful things that came from it.
  • Speaking of wonderful things that come from kissing, YogaBaby is clapping her hands, waving, and trying to stand up at every opportunity. She’ll hold onto our hands and walk across the room now. When handed a photo and asked “Who’s that?”, she answered “Dada.” (And we were able to repeat this event three times.) She also says “mamamamama” now, but only under duress when she’s upset. Predictably, I come running when I hear it. Overall she’s pretty much a joy to be around.
  • F’s sister came to visit last week. It was wonderful to see her, and she stayed in with the baby one night so F and I could go out for a nice dinner.
  • When our entire family unit was down with a stomach bug a few weeks back, I had reason to be grateful (1) that I did not in fact die lying on the bathroom floor like I thought I would; (2) that F and YB didn’t get it as bad as I did and in fact YB had the mildest case; (3) that YB still felt sick enough that all she wanted to do was nap and cuddle, which was about all we could keep up with; (4) that I have the kind of husband who will go to the store for medicine at 1 am (with a bowl on the seat next to him just in case) and then will change the baby’s jammies and sheets when she throws up at 3 am and I literally cannot move; and (5) that my parents were willing to come over with ginger ale and jello the next morning to take care of us.
  • I’ll be covering the prenatal yoga class at East Eagle Yoga starting next month when Sarah, the current instructor, has her baby. I’m excited for an opportunity to teach again, and I love prenatal. More on this in April!

Getting back in the swing of things February 21, 2013

Filed under: checking in,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:45 pm
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For the past week, I have practiced yoga every day! On the weekend, I got a good half-hour practice in each day during YogaBaby’s naps, but on the weekdays, I’ve been getting up at 5:30 am so I can practice for 15-20 minutes before we start the day. This hasn’t been as horribly as I would have expected. First of all, my husband F has been getting up at 5:30 for a while now to write, so I’m already used to the alarm going off. Also, YB suddenly decided that she only needs one night-feeding instead of two, so getting up early has been much easier now that I’m getting a little more sleep. (I also theorize that, with having a baby, I’ve gotten used to sleeping less in general, so getting up early may be less of a hardship than it would have been for me pre-YB.)

I have to say, I’m feeling so much better than I was. I hadn’t practiced yoga at all between January 14 and February 13 (family illness, out-of-town guests, and then inertia as contributing factors), and it showed. My body felt rusty, sore, and old, and even worse, my emotions were noticeably more negative and less under my control. I hadn’t realized just how much I relied on that yoga time for not just my physical health but my emotional well-being too. Add to that the fact that it’s winter, and February is typically the worst month of the year for me, and you can imagine how I was feeling. It wasn’t good for my family either (YB looked so surprised the day I randomly burst into tears at the dinner table!).

After only a week, and with such short sessions, I’m not back to 100 percent yet. But I feel much better. My body feels pleasantly sore instead of creaky old lady sore, and I find myself yearning to go for a run or a bike ride. My problem areas are still my calves and hips, along with my back, which is suffering from annual hunched-over-freezing-cold achiness. The calves are improving, and I’m much more likely to start stretching them during the day while waiting for coffee or the elevator. Hips are more troublesome – I can’t manage cobbler pose at all – but at least now I know that my left hip is tighter than the right. My back, shoulders, and neck are all delighted to be practicing again too.

And emotionally I’m much happier, less snappish, less easily frustrated, and more patient and responsive to YB. I still have a lot of room for improvement – I had a bit of a breakdown on Sunday, and Tuesday night I got grumpy with F for no reason just because I was tired – but I feel like I’m starting from a calmer, more positive baseline. I really hope to keep it up!


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.


Food Update January 8, 2013

Filed under: checking in,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:45 pm

On Christmas Day, I ate meat for the first time in a year and a half. (We’re not counting that chicken salad sandwich that I thought was egg salad – that was an accident, and I threw it out as soon as I realized – we’re talking about intentional meat consumption only). I had a slice of bacon, just one. It smelled so good and, I figured, nothing you eat really counts on Christmas anyway. My mom was standing next to me nattering about something, and I turned to her and said, “I can’t talk about that right now. I’m eating bacon for the first time in over a year. You need to give me a minute.” And I shut my eyes and savored it. I was sad to discover that bacon still tastes as good as I remembered. I’d been theorizing that after such a prolonged period without meat, my body would have adjusted and meat would taste funny to me now, but nope. It was freakin’ fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a vegetarian. (Or, rather, a lacto-ovo-pescatarian, for you purists.) I have no plans to go back to eating meat any time soon: I still believe in my reasons for not eating meat, and I still like my veg lifestyle. That hasn’t changed. But I think one should check in on things now and then, and also I really wanted some bacon. Damn.

In other news, one challenging thing at my new job has been the sheer availability of junk food. Anybody who gets a gift basket from a vendor puts it in the kitchen. Any food left over after a meeting gets put in the kitchen. People are dropping off leftover cookies and holiday candy. It’s been crazy for over a month now. I have never had willpower where junk is concerned, even less so where free food is concerned, and ever since I got pregnant I haven’t felt much need to because I needed the extra calories. And now I’m breastfeeding: I’m back down not just to my pre-baby weight but to my college weight, and my pre-baby pants are all too big. So the problem is not that I’m eating tons of snacks all day – I need the snacks, my body has plenty of use for the calories – but I do worry about the sodium, sugars, caffeine, and carbs, plus just the effect of dumping so much crap into my system. And the bad habits I’m forming. Hopefully the worst of the freebies are over and I can buy some fruit to try and fill the hole where cookies and truffles and caramel popcorn have been going. (The plus is that I have a place to drop off all the unwanted junk food from my house, which I did yesterday.)

Also a plus, F and I had lunch at a vegan cafe over the holidays! Everything was excellent, especially my falafel wrap, which was the best I think I’ve ever had. Thumbs up to Vge Cafe in Bryn Mawr; we’re looking forward to visiting again.


Back in the saddle September 17, 2012

Filed under: checking in,reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:00 pm
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I haven’t blogged much in recent weeks because I’ve been preparing to go back to work. Last week was my first full week back at the office, and already I feel swamped, overwhelmed, snowed under by the work. My colleagues did their best to watch over my projects all summer, keeping things going and responding to author queries, but I’m now responsible for getting things to the next level. I’ve also had to travel for a business meeting already: just from Philly to DC, and only for a quick day trip and lunch meeting rather than an overnight, but still. All this while I’m still trying to adjust to pumping breast milk and lugging my Medela InStyle everywhere (including to DC); working out transportation/commuting issues now that my husband F, temporarily home with YogaBaby, can’t just run me to the train station; crying every night when I see my sweet little one look up at me and realize I just missed a whole day of her brand-new life. Discovering, in short, what it means to be a working mother.

The main thing on my mind lately is time. Time has separated itself into two distinct categories: time with my daughter, and time doing anything else. The “anything else” is often necessary (like working is necessary for keeping the little one in diapers), but I’m finding that I want to keep anything not involving the baby to a minimum. When we’re talking about shortening my commute time (by getting me a bike so I don’t have to walk to the train station – which by the way is really fun) or taking a 30-minute lunch so I can get home earlier, that’s one thing, but how do I prioritize yoga and meditation? They’re things I need for myself, to be a healthy person and therefore a good mom, but how do I take that time away from my child when I already by necessity have to be away from her so much? And how do I justify healthy social things – meeting a girlfriend for a drink, or going to a lecture at the library or museum – when first of all I feel like I barely see my kid, and secondly I’m not making enough time for yoga and meditation? It all has to fit in somewhere, right? How? (That’s not a rhetorical question. If you have the answer, please tell me!)

I think, in the near future, that I’m going to try to revisit what the yogic scriptures say about time and reflect on what that may mean in my situation. I’ll post here when I can, and only when it won’t drastically interfere with my baby time. (For example, I wrote this post by hand in the “mothers’ room” at the office while I was pumping, and I’m now typing it up six days later with a sleeping sweetie in a milk coma on my lap.) In the meantime, I’ll try to take a lesson from my YogaBaby and keep my focus on the present moment.


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.