Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

First Prenatal Yoga Class January 16, 2012

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 11:25 am
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Yesterday I went to my first prenatal yoga class: the Sunday 10:30 class at EEY. Unfortunately, the regular teacher was really sick, so there was a sub. Maureen did a decent job teaching the class, I thought, especially considering that she was kind of on the spot and was picking it up last minute. Since this was my first prenatal yoga class, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it seemed to me that she taught the class more like a “gentle yoga” than a “prenatal yoga”. All the ladies in the room seemed to be in the 3-6 month range, and able to handle a more vigorous class than she gave us. Maureen definitely understood using prenatal yoga to improve emotional balance and calm in the face of all these bodily changes, but for me another important aspect of prenatal yoga is strengthening my body to stay healthy and prepare for the birth. It was still a good yoga class, and I’m glad I attended (and man were my hips and tush sore today!), but I want to go back and try the class again with the regular teacher.

I’ve been looking around for other prenatal yoga classes in my area, and here’s what I’ve found:

What’s with these schedules? I understand that the Creative Living Room, at least, offers a whole lot of stuff other than yoga, so I’m honestly just glad they’re offering prenatal at all, but I’m pregnant, not unemployed. (However, they also offer a post-natal mom-and-baby class, which I really hope to attend as soon as the baby is mobile and I’m back on my feet.) For the studios with Sunday morning classes, I understand that prenatal yoga has a limited audience and a studio might not want to spend their prime evening hours on a class that won’t bring in a ton of people. But I do like to sleep in on Sundays, since it’s one of the few days I have when I can do that, and sleep is pretty important right now. I’m also trying to go to church more often, which is pretty much completely incompatible with a Sunday morning yoga class. I feel a lot more motivated to go to church now that I’m pregnant, because we have a church we like with a good religious education program for my future kid; there are lots of other families with small kids at our church who could be good friends/resources for us; and getting involved now would probably make it easier to stay involved and keep attending once the baby arrives. So that makes Sunday mornings really inconvenient for yoga. It’s just possible I could hit the 9:15 service at my church and then rush out the door to get to a yoga class, but that kind of defeats the purpose of going to church. I’d rather have a class on Sunday at 2pm, honestly: church, lunch, then yoga sounds like a great day.

I did find a few other options that are less ideal:

  • The Yoga Garden in Narberth, PA offers prenatal yoga on Tuesdays at 6pm and Saturdays at 9:30am. However, it’s a good half-hour away, on a road busy enough to easily increase the travel time. It looks like the studio is close to the train station, so for the Tuesday class I could take the train there after work, but then poor F would have to drive out to pick me up after class, and that would eat up an hour of his evening just in the car. Saturday mornings could possibly work, though, so I’ll keep this in mind.
  • Belly Pilates in Bryn Mawr, PA seems to be specifically for expecting and new mothers, which sounds great. However, I don’t do pilates now because it’s prohibitively expensive (I’ll spend $15 or, tops, $17 on one activity class, but not $25, sorry.) They do offer some yoga classes, but they’re priced almost as high as the pilates. The prenatal yoga is Tuesdays at 9:30am, and again, not unemployed. The postpartum yoga is Tuesdays at 1:30pm, which I could possibly do on my maternity leave, but the same teacher does the Creative Living Room post-natal classes, and TCLR is less than ten minutes from my house and much more affordable, so not sure why I’d hike all the way to Bryn Mawr. So Belly Pilates is off the list for now. (Plus I hate to say it but their website is ugly and difficult to navigate, and that turns me off big time.)

That leaves Thursday nights at Enso as my best option for a regular prenatal yoga class, so I’m going to try to check that out this week or next week. I’ll keep you posted!


Yoga guidelines: when to eat? May 13, 2011

Filed under: reflections,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:28 pm
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Let’s talk about food. The yoga guidelines that N & J gave me include #5, “Practice on an empty stomach.” I find this remarkably difficult, partly because I’m always hungry, and partly for practical reasons.

Before starting teacher training, I usually practiced yoga in the morning before work. F and I would get up, make breakfast, eat together, and then I’d do yoga while he took the first shower. Our usual breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a fresh fruit smoothie, so it’s not a heavy meal, but it’s still definitely a meal. Only occasionally did I find that the food was sloshing around in my belly or otherwise making yoga practice uncomfortable. I’m just the kind of person who needs to eat first thing in the morning, period. If I get up early and don’t eat right away, I’m likely to feel ill. It’s just the way I’m built, so for me if I’m going to do yoga in the morning I need to eat something first.

Now that I’m doing the training, I still sometimes practice yoga in the morning, but I also go to hatha yoga class after work at least one day a week. This throws my whole schedule into disarray. Instead of getting up early and doing yoga, I’ll now take the first shower and get to work early, so that I can leave early, so that I can eat something for dinner before going to a 6:15 yoga class. The 6:15 class runs until 7:30, which in reality ends up being closer to 7:45, and by the time I collect my things and drive home it’s after 8:15. Add time to prepare myself a healthy meal and it’d be after 9 PM by the time I was eating. My usual dinner time is around 7:00-7:30, which is smack in the middle of yoga class. I cannot wait to have dinner until after 9 at night. First of all, I would be starving and exhausted, and secondly, it’s not really very healthy to eat a meal before going to bed. Researchers say that it’s best to finish eating before 8 PM. I feel like my only option is to eat at 5:15 or so.

I brought some of these concerns up at the last training weekend. N says that, ideally, we would practice yoga on an empty stomach, but really you just don’t want to have a very full stomach when practicing. I can appreciate that; nobody wants to go out to a nice restaurant and then practice yoga, or practice yoga on Thanksgiving night. You can’t stretch when you’re stuffed, it’d be too uncomfortable. N further said that, ideally, we would all make lunch our main meal of the day. I have to say that, unless sandwiches and pre-packaged frozen meals are one’s idea of a “main meal”, that it’s really hard to make lunch the main meal of the day while working a full-time job. No matter what kind of job it is, if you’re in an office or a hospital or a factory, you just can’t cut out for 2+ hours at midday to go home and cook yourself a healthy lunch. There are many good things to pack for lunch, yes, but it just doesn’t feel like the “main meal” to me if I’m not cooking something. And financially, it’s not feasible to buy a hot meal for lunch every day, and eating out is proven to be less healthy than cooking at home anyway.

This turned out to be a pretty grumpy post, which wasn’t my intention. I just feel frustrated by the constraints of being a yogini in the world, I think. As J says, it would be easy to do yoga if you lived in a cave or an ashram all the time, but it’s hard to do yoga in the world. Living in a cave or an ashram, you could certainly arrange things to have lunch be your main meal of the day and set up your yoga practice to fall conveniently at an appropriate interval of hours after eating. But that’s a lot harder to do in the world, when you have to consider work schedules and commute times and, god forbid, dropping off small people at activities like soccer practice. You eat when you can, is what I’m saying, because we have to eat, and you fit your yoga in when you can, because you deserve to have your yoga. You try to be careful about what you eat before yoga (a salad or a pork chop? let’s go salad), but sometimes you just have to do your best and that’s all you’ve got.

What are your thoughts on this? I’m really interested to hear what you have to say about how you structure your day and fit both healthy eating and yoga into your schedule.


TT starts tonight March 18, 2011

Filed under: teacher training,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 12:50 pm
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My teacher training course starts tonight, 6-10.  I’m excited that after all this time it’s finally going to happen!  I signed up and mailed my check a few weeks ago, and since then it just feels like I’ve been waiting.  And planning.  F and I have had to keep the TT in mind as we make any sort of plans for the rest of the year – everything from our travel plans for his sister’s wedding in May, to whether and when we’re going to buy a house, has to be discussed with an eye to when my yoga weekends are.  Most of the TT dates aren’t even set in stone yet – we’ll be talking about that at the first meeting tonight, which I’m worried about, because F and I planned everything in May around that weekend.  My sis-in-law has booked her wedding reception and we’ve booked our flights, and my fingers are firmly crossed that no one in my TT class has a conflict.  I keep imagining possible scenarios where things don’t work out, which is unlikely and isn’t useful to anyone.  I have to keep telling myself that I don’t have anything to get upset about yet, so there’s no use getting upset.

I guess I’m just nervous.  This is such a big deal for me, and I’ve been wanting to do it and looking forward to it for so long.  I don’t know N & J (the teachers) very well yet; although I do like them, I don’t really know their teaching style well and don’t know what they will expect.  Of course I’m also worried about the other students in the class.  There will be 12 of us all together, only one of whom I know I’ve met and like.  In the regular yoga classes I’ve attended at this studio, it seems like everybody knows everybody else.  Will the other students be cliquey?  Will they be nice or mean, will we have things to talk about, will they like me?  More importantly, are we going to be able to work together for the next ten months?

Plus I need to coordinate all the details of fitting this commitment into my regular life.  What time do I need to leave work to get there on time, and what am I having for dinner, and what will I pack for lunch tomorrow, and what will F do all day on Saturday if he’s stuck at home without the car?  I’m hoping that these things will become more second nature as time passes and we get more comfortable with this additional lump on the calendar.

Today I am reminding myself to breathe, and to be excited, and that all manner of things shall be well.  I’m looking forward to updating next week with what an amazing weekend I had.


Why I chose East Eagle’s program for my teacher training March 15, 2011

Filed under: teacher training,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 9:47 pm
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I’ve been wanting to enroll in a yoga teacher training program for a while now.  When I was laid off from my job and moved to the Philadelphia area in summer 2006, I deposited my severance check into a savings account and mentally reserved it to pay for my teacher training.  I hadn’t looked into programs yet, but I knew that I wanted to do it.  So… what took so long?

Life, mostly.  I moved to Philly; I found a job; I moved into a new apartment.  Then I fell in love with a guy who lived in California and spent the next two years traveling, planning trips, and recovering from jet lag.  At the end of 2008, we got engaged.  Then he moved cross-country; we got a bigger apartment, planned our wedding, then our honeymoon.  It’s amazing how much time all that stuff can take up. I was practicing yoga all along, at home, at the gym, and at studios in the area, but didn’t have the time to invest in another big project.

When my now-husband F started looking for jobs in Philly in fall 2008, I started researching teacher training programs and found some good options in our area, like Yoga on Main in Manayunk, where my friend Lucia did her training.  Then F got here, and having him actually around all the time was a big change, plus we had to find a larger apartment. I started researching again in summer 2009 after we moved to our current home.  That’s when I saw that Jennifer Schelter, a teacher I really admire, was going to be doing a teacher training… in the neighborhood I’d just moved away from.  We’d moved from one side of Philly to the suburbs on the other side, and from our new home, it would take me close to an hour to get to Jennifer’s studio.  I couldn’t commit to a commute like that, not while planning my wedding too.  I knew that when I did my training, I wanted to be truly able to devote my time and energy to it, not just to squeeze it in.  So the timing just wasn’t right.

F and I got married in June 2010 and had an amazing honeymoon in Belize in November.  We came home to all the usual holiday activity, but after Christmas, he encouraged me to start looking at teacher trainings again.  And, as my friend Kristina often accuses me, I don’t seem to be happy without a project.  So I started looking, and about an hour later I clicked on East Eagle’s website.  They were having their teacher training again this year, and in fact would be hosting an information session in one week!  Perfect timing.  I went to the session, practiced at the studio a few times, dragged F along for his expert opinion, and consulted with some other yogis I know in the area.  I heard, observed, and experienced nothing but good things, and East Eagle’s approach to teacher training really clicked with me.

They set up their program over a series of ten months so that students will have time to absorb what they’re learning – different from trainings that take a fast-paced approach, where you drop everything else for a month and just do yoga.  Those programs have many benefits, of course, but I imagine it’d be a challenge to really retain everything you learn.  I had considered finding an intensive program and taking a leave of absence from my job – part of me wanted to just get the teacher training over with!  But East Eagle’s approach really appeals to me, and they’ve structured their program so that it’s reasonable to accomplish it during your normal life. I’ll be there one weekend a month, Friday and Saturday, from March through December.  Once a month is do-able, and I’ll still have Sundays for, you know, life stuff like errands and laundry.  I’ll also have to attend yoga class at least once a week (complimentary yoga? I’m there) and read books (hang around this blog for a little while and you’ll see the great enthusiasm with which I’ll tackle that particular requirement).

I also like East Eagle’s approach to yoga itself. They don’t want to teach me just a series of poses – they’re most interested in where yoga leads us, the spiritual benefits of meditation. And that’s something I want to explore too.  So the timing is right and both the course schedule and content fits with my lifestyle.  This training really seems like the right fit for me. And it starts this weekend, so we’ll soon find out if all my hypotheses are on the mark!