Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

WTH, Toys R Us? October 28, 2013

Filed under: Miscellaneous,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 8:31 pm
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So there I was on Sunday evening, relaxing and watching a little TV with my husband, when this commercial comes on:

At the beginning of the commercial, there’s no indication of what exactly this is an ad for. Based on the setup, I thought this guy was taking a busful of children to a forest someplace, where, although they didn’t know it yet, they would learn about how wonderful nature is and it would be the best field trip ever. I believed him. I got a little excited for the heartwarming goodness that was sure to follow.

And then they went to Toys R Us. Cue scenes of running up and down the aisles in a frenzy of joyous commercialism. I was furious and horrified, and I obviously still can’t stop thinking about it.

Raz Godelnik, who wrote about this commercial for, agrees with me:

I find this ad irritating because it tries to communicate a message that is inherently unsustainable to both children and their parents. To children it says that true happiness lies in buying new toys and the subtext is that their wishes should be focused on asking their parents for new toys. To parents, it says that if they want to make their children happy they should buy them toys because this is what they wish for. This ad perpetuates everything that is wrong with the current unsustainable economy – from the notion that more stuff means more happiness to the idea that the holidays are about shopping to the idea that learning about and interacting with the environment is tedious and unimportant. I was even more irritated that this ad portrays a field trip to the forest as a boring experience for children that has nothing to do with fun or joy.

Here’s the thing, Toys R Us. Forests are way, way more fun than whatever you’ve got. Forests are fun for everyone, and if kids start liking forests when they’re kids, they can keep on liking forests for their whole lives, unlike Barbies and Elmos and whatever else you’re showing in this commercial that I refuse to rewatch and break my heart over again. Forests are not just about “what kind of leaf is this, oh it’s not an oak it’s a maple”. Forests are about growing and listening and being quiet, and forests let you learn about something much larger than yourself. My one-year-old knows that outside is way better than inside, and I’m going to do everything I can to help her keep that worldview.


Body Image, Body Love, Part 2 October 22, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 5:06 pm
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I recently saw some articles responding to this photo by Maria Kang. If you google “Maria Kang What’s Your Excuse” you’ll see quite a few articles on the subject, but here are the two I read:

I really like the first article by Jule Ann because she doesn’t lecture Maria Kang and finds a way to turn off blaming and really think about how she views her body, and she comes to some positive conclusions. And I like the second article because the writer looks at the issue from several different angles. I like her application of the “no excuses” concept to other things like tuba playing and her analysis of how the body image issue is different, is internalized, is something we are made to feel guilty about. And I like her recognition that Kang’s photo was posted for a specific community and has been taken out of context and applied to a wider audience.

Overall, I think the dust-up over this photo points to a lot of different issues, but here’s what I want to highlight: Maria Kang is a mom and is beautiful and she makes fitness a priority in her life, and that’s fine. Jule Ann is a mom and is beautiful and doesn’t make fitness a priority right now, and that’s also fine. Different things work for different people, and no one way is applicable to every person.


Ashtanga time! October 1, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:22 pm
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Saturday was supposed to be the first of the series of three workshops on hands-on adjustments that I signed up for. Unfortunately, the workshop was postponed indefinitely due to lack of enrollment. The instructor, Amy Nobles Dolan, offered me a complimentary ashtanga class as a consolation, and I’m so glad I went.

My first yoga class in NC, over ten years ago, was a power yoga class, and after moving to Boston I took a hatha class, but the first yoga class that stuck with me in a long-term way was ashtanga vinyasa with Gene. I took Gene’s class Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunchtime at the Harvard athletic center for two years, and often it’s still Gene’s voice I hear in my head cuing poses. Gene was fascinating – a wiry little Italian guy, 63 years old when I knew him, and a great teacher on both a physical and a spiritual level. I was one student in a room of 25 or more, so while he knew my name as one of his regulars, I doubt he’d remember me now, but I’ve always remembered him fondly. He’s the one who introduced me to the concept that yoga can improve wellness for older people, for one thing – he also taught at retirement communities. That idea really stuck with me and is one of the reasons why I wanted to become a yoga teacher myself.

Gene had been teaching yoga for years and was incredibly knowledgeable, and he liked to mix up his classes with different poses and exercises, always challenging us. Later on, I learned more about different types of yoga and found out that ashtanga has a set series of postures, and I wondered how close my experience with Gene was to the usual ashtanga class. As it turns out, my yoga practice actually has a strong solid ashtanga foundation because of Gene. I haven’t had a real ashtanga class since leaving Boston in 2006, and this class on Saturday felt fantastic, like an old friend – the sequencing of poses and emphasis in each pose were all familiar. I think Gene and Amy would get along well! In that sense alone, it was awesome to go to an ashtanga class, change up my usual practice, and challenge myself.

As a learning experience, the class was so great. Amy is an RYT-500 and it shows, she really knows her stuff. At EEY, N & J don’t choose to emphasize hands-on adjustments, so it’s been a while since I’ve had much adjustment. It’s Amy’s philosophy to make hands-on adjustments a part of her class, and with only two other students, I really benefited. Her adjustments were strong, supportive, and helpful, and gave me new perspective on poses I’ve been practicing for years. Even more, knowing my interest in adjustments, Amy always explained what she was doing so I could understand the action of the pose and why the adjustment helped that action, and she also gave me tips on how to apply the adjustment as a teacher to my own students. It was a LOT to digest, and I think I’m going to be thinking about this for a while. I can’t wait until we can reschedule the workshop, and until then, I’ll look forward to getting back to Amy’s class sometime soon!

In other news, while playing with YB last night I wanted to stretch out and took a downward dog. She loved it and crawled underneath me, and when I chaturanga’ed down to her, she laughed and crawled out and climbed on my back. I never think to practice yoga around her because I take it so seriously, but moments like this remind me that yoga can be playful and fun. I need to do this more often!

And in OTHER other news, I have my first class at Wellness on Park tonight! 7:30 pm, all-levels vinyasa. Wish me luck!


Link Round-up: Body Image, Body Love September 12, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:59 pm
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I’ve read some really excellent articles this week, all somehow revolving around the concept of body image, and the recognition that there’s a human person living in that body you’re looking at:

  • What People Really Look Like: A look at bodies from the perspective of a massage therapist. I love this because I don’t get to see what my body looks like on a massage table. I love this writer’s sense of reverence and joy in his work.
  • These Are the Lines of a Story: This piece about a woman’s body after giving birth brought me close to tears twice (the part with the hair, and then the story she tells to her son). For the first time, instead of feeling thankful and proud that I have no stretch marks, I feel a little sad that I have no visible marks to share with my daughter when she’s older.
  • To Me, Mean Pictures Aren’t Funny (Even the Really Funny Ones): A nice reflection on kindness and compassion to reflect on the next time you get one of those email forwards with photos of people at Walmart in horrible outfits.

Here’s another one  that I didn’t read this week, but that I’ve been thinking about all week as the other articles above came across my screen:

  • When Your Mother Says She’s Fat: I love, love, love this piece and I think about it often. I remember how beautiful my mom was when I was little – I mean to say, she’s still beautiful, but I remember sitting on her bed and watching her and just knowing with little-kid certainty that she was the most beautiful mom there ever was. My heart breaks for the little girl this writer was, seeing her beautiful mom in that suddenly  harsh light; my heart breaks to think about YB having a realization like this. I am consciously trying, even now while YB is so little, to be careful about what I say to her about my appearance. If I practice now, it will come more naturally later on when she starts to understand more. When I’m feeling particularly down, I tell her, “Doesn’t Mama look so pretty today?” It makes me feel better, because it reminds me that to her, I am what beautiful is.

Notes from YogaMomLand June 20, 2013

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:02 pm
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So I’ve been trying to get up early to squeeze in a short yoga practice first thing in the morning, and it’s been going surprisingly well. One day last week, though, F had to provide assistance to get me out of bed, so he invented the Yoga Gnome, a tiny friend who waits for me on my mat in the morning, brimming with anticipation. Imagine Yoga Gnome’s excitement when he hears my footsteps on the stairs! I kind of love this idea, and at least it got me moving. I’m pretty sure Yoga Gnome could visit your house, too, if you needed him.

This week, it’s been easy to get up on time because YB has been waking up unnaturally early. She’ll wake up hungry and then her cough will keep her up (or she’ll cough herself awake and then realize she’s hungry, I’m not sure which), and then it’s light outside, and since it’s within an hour or so of her usual wake-up time, she’s just up then. On Monday morning I tried to get her back down with no luck, but she was mellow and happy, so I did some sun salutations there in her room so I wouldn’t miss my practice entirely. She watched from her crib and laughed. Then she pooped, which I’m taking as a sign of approval.

I did notice one nice new thing about my yoga practice these days. My hips and calves are still tight, but suddenly I have a lot more arm strength than I used to, and my plank pose and chaturanga are possibly the easiest they’ve ever been. Relatedly, YB’s up to around 23 pounds. Who needs to lift weights when there’s a toddler around?

In other news, today is my and F’s third wedding anniversary. It’s been a busy three years: yoga teacher training, homeownership, parenthood, promotions and new jobs. Through it all, he’s been the best partner I could possibly imagine. Happy anniversary, sweetie.


Starting Over Again, Again June 11, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga — R. H. Ward @ 3:20 pm
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A few items of interest today:

  • At a church picnic this weekend, a friend asked me about my yoga practice, and I had to admit it’s been nonexistent. We didn’t get to continue the conversation because we were both holding squirming babies (one of whom was desperately trying to hug the other, who was kind of uncertain about the whole thing – guess which one was YB? My child is aggressively snuggly!), but it made me think that that’s not what I want to have to say at parties.
  • My husband F has made a new resolution to get up early to write first thing in the morning – not just “if YB sleeps well, then I’ll get up early”, but “I’ll always get up early unless YB has a terrible night.” It’s a key distinction for him – the first has him getting up early only when it feels convenient (which is never), while the second has him getting up early by default. This morning YB helped out with the new resolution by needing a bottle at 4:30, so once she went back down F got a lot done.
  • Last night after dinner I was waving my arms around to make YB laugh and ended up doing some half sun salutes, which she totally loved. It worked best when, after reaching up, I brought my arms down in front of me instead of out to the side and wiggled my fingers in her face. She also liked the peekaboo aspect of the halfway up between the forward bends.

I’m taking each of these as a sign that it’s time to start rebuilding my yoga practice (yet again!). I can get up early with F in the mornings and show some spousal solidarity, and YB may be at a point where she’s receptive to sharing my practice. It’s past time to make that happen – I’ve always wanted yoga to be a natural part of her life. So today I got 15 minutes of asana practice in before breakfast. I felt great afterwards and was dancing in the kitchen as we got breakfast ready (much to the annoyance of poor F, who’d been up since 4:30), and I’ve been feeling good all day. It’s a start!


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.