Thursday, April 28, 2011

To be a kid again

Hello everyone! It's been almost a month since my last post, I have just been so busy! I seems I have had tests upon tests with papers and presentations in spatterings throughout. Things won't let up for a few more weeks, but I think I can manage a little time to share a few thoughts...

I am still just as obsessed with yoga as I was last time you heard from me. Maybe even more so! I would like to talk a little bit about inversions with you today. Handstands, tripod headstands, shoulderstands that sort of thing. I read an article on MindBodyGreen today about just this topic. You can find the article here. The author was slightly critical of the way handstands have been made mainstream in yoga classes. Her argument is that you have to build from the ground up. Without proper alignment and breathing with two feet on the ground, you risk maintaing the proper form which is so crucial to an inversion that does your body good rather than harm it. You have to be grounded before you can fly. And she does add at the end that she loves the handstand, not saying that we shouldn't do it, but that you need to create a foundation first.

I agree with what this author is saying. However, this article really got me to thinking about why it is I love my yoga practice these days so much. And one of these things is inversions. They are one of the most exciting parts of my practice. And if you ask my family members, they will probably tell you that in the past few weeks I often spontaneously flip upside down. And while the author argues that you need to be grounded before you can fly, I think it is exactly the fact that I get to be ungrounded that is so appealing. I feel like such a kid again when I fling my legs into the air (and yes, I think sometimes in handstands it is definitely a fling rather than a graceful lift). I spend the greater part of my day being grounded. I am serious about my studies and spend a great deal of time preparing for my future. So when it comes to yoga, I spend time on poses such as chair and warrior, but if a class doesn't have some sort of inversion in it you will find me seriously disappointed (which is one of the reasons why I didn't like inversions!). Sometimes it feels good to not be so serious, and when you are falling on your face 50 times for one successful attempt its hard to not laugh!

So go and try out an inversion tonight. It will bring out your playful side and you will realize that your childhood dream of flying really can be had! (and its just as spectacular as you always imagined it would be)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Healthy Italian

When we think of Italian food, we don't usually think healthy right? Well, maybe Giada's Italian could be, but not your typical Americanized Italian food. You know what I'm talking about...Spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, etc. Basically what you get is lots of pasta or breadcrumbs, meat, and tomatoes. Of course, these tomatoes are usually boiled and look a large amount of their nutrients. Not to mention the sugar that is added to tomato sauces! Now, I do love the comfort of Italian food, but sometimes I am just looking for something that is healthier and won't weigh me down!

That is where Sarma comes in. I decided to make Sarma's healthy lasagna for dinner tonight, and it was not a disappointment!  Layers of fresh zucchini and juicy tomatoes with basil-walnut pesto, tomato sauce, and pignoli ricotta. And yes, all raw! Take a look:

On another note, I am working on my crow (or crane) pose. Ideally, your arms should be almost straight. But I am pleased with the progress I am making so far. Notice I am wearing a new shirt in the picture! It is one of four in the same style that I bought from American Apparel specifically for yoga. I love them!

Have a great night!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blooming Lotus

Hello all, 

I did a 90 minute yoga practice today, that in all honesty was one of the roughest practices I have. I am convinced that Bikram yoga messed with me yesterday. I am going to give it another shot still and try to not be close-minded, but Bikram yoga and I are not friends right now. But we are not enemies yet and I will explain why.

The first...oh maybe 50 minutes of my practice my mind felt weird. I am going to put it into words as best I can. During forward bends my mind felt frazzled. It felt overwhelmed like it had something to shake but just couldn't. My poses weren't painful, but for some reason my mind was all jumbled up. I finally seemed to calm down with the beginning of hip openers, and I was able to find serenity in my practice. Is it possible that Bikram yoga had pulled up all sorts of toxins that were leaving me feeling edgy and mumble-jumbled? And it took a little extra twisting and exhaling to rid myself of these conflicts and unstable emotions? This is why I say Bikram yoga and I are not quite friends yet, nor are we enemies. I may give it another shot.

The second half of my practice I had a very exciting achievement: full lotus! It was a very exciting moment for me, and I would like to share a little background on the symbolic meaning behind the pose. The lotus pose is named for its resemblance to the petal of the lotus blossom. The lotus blossom is a symbol of breaking from the physical body to the spiritual world. It rises up from the mud, and lifts towards the sky and the heavens, as it seeks the light of the sun. It blossoms into a pure white flower, and symbolizes the four virtues: true self, eternity, contentment, and purity. Through the achievement of these virtues it overcomes selflessness, impermanence, suffering, and impurity. I hope that I can one day achieve the virtues associated with yoga.

On that note, have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not My Cup of Tea

Well, I tried Bikram yoga for the first time today. I had bought an awesome month unlimited earlier this year from groupon, and finally decided to put it to use. Here is my experience:

The building is shared with and Endoscopy office, and I was walking into this door when someone spotted me with my yoga mat and told me I would be surprised if I was hoping for yoga if I went into that office! I redirected, and was pleased with the friendliness of the the Bikram yogis. They were very welcoming, which is definitely important. Now, to the yoga part.

I walked into the room and hit a wall of humid heat. Think about the hottest day in the summer when it is just about the storm. That is what it felt like. The poses were not foreign to me, having experienced many of them in my Vinyasa practice. However, I did not like the lack of a smooth flow between poses. I also greatly missed the sun salutations that I am growing to become so fond of. My second peeve was a big one: the girl who was leading the class kept telling us that if it doesn't hurt we aren't pushing hard enough! And if we reach the point where it hurts, then it is time to give one final push further into the pose. I was a bit taken aback when I heard this to say the least. From what yoga has taught me so far, a pose should never hurt. Yes, you want to feel an intense stretch, but pushing so it hurts just screams to me MUSCLE TEAR.

My conclusion: I will never pay for a Bikram class again. However, I am going to utilize my month because despite the disapproval I just expressed, I still feel that the heat was helpful in increasing my flexibility. I just know that I will ignore the instructor's commands if they leave me cringing at the thought.

And on a side note, I had a very stinky woman next to me! Talk about body odor, it certainly did not help the deep breathing that I was supposed to be doing. Not to mention she was tooting the entire class! And she didn't seem bothered by it at all! Haha ooo well...I will just make sure I stay clear from her if we show up to the same class again.

xoxo Steph

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spicy, Fresh, and Tangy

Hello all!

Hope your week is going well so far, my busiest part is over and today I had a mostly relaxing day...feels good sometimes. I got a couple of hours of yoga in, and wanted to build on the energy that was still flowing from my yoga practice with this delicious salad:

Boy did it his the spot! The recipe was adapted from Kathryn Budig's recipe here. Kathryn is a yogi and health foodie. You will hear me mention her quite a few times from here on out as she is one of my favorite newly discovered yoga teachers, but for now I will just say that she certainly delivered with this recipe.

Arugula/Spinach Mix
Two fried eggs (this was delicious, I may try hard-boiled for a bring to work variety)
Half an avocado (I had already had one avocado and about a 1/4 cup guacamole earlier today...I hope there's no such thing as too much avocado!)

The dressing (not adapted at all):
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 T mayo (I used krafts olive oil mayo)
1/2 T dijon mustard
1 t dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste (I didn't have any pepper on hand...oh well!)

The fried eggs were really nice in this because they wilted the greens underneath a bit. While I love my eggs sandwiched between two slices of toast, this is a great option to get more greens in the diet while spicing them up! I am telling you, go make this now!

Have a great night :)

xoxo Steph

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fitness Contest

Hello everyone,

So my post today is on the fitness contest I am entering! I found out about it a couple weeks ago from my older sister, Ceara. I have always thought it would be a lot of fun to be on the cover of fitness, so I am excited that I get the opportunity!

I had a photo shoot over spring break with my mom as the wonderful photographer, and these are the pictures that we have decided on. I can submit 6 in my album, and I am hoping to take one more of myself running. So here are the 5 finalists:

And yes, these pictures were chilly! We had about 6 inches of snow on the ground only the day before! Luckily the sun came out for us :) And we wasted no time getting into poses and snapping shots. If I make it to the final 5 I will be asking all of you to vote for me! Stay tuned :)

xoxo  Steph

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm back!

Hello everyone! It's been almost a month since my last blog post, let me tell you why....

I have a new obsession in my life--yoga! My last post was about the Shiva Rae's DVDs that I rented, which I loved. I started becoming more intrigued in yoga after doing those. Yoga is not completely new to me, but for some reason this time a light seemed to go off in my head. There was a spark and there I have a burning desire to do yoga just about every waking minute. I haven't even been wanting to blog because this takes away from time I could otherwise be doing yoga.

After doing those DVDs for about a week, I came across an online site called yogaglo. I signed up for the 15 day trial, and absolutely loved it. I am now paying $18 a month to keep up my subscription. It is well worth it. I did it every day for those 15 days, sometimes two times a day. I am keeping up with it, and loving yoga more and more every day. I am always trying new fitness adventures, because I think its really important to spice up fitness if you are going to stick with it. But I think I now have two activities that I will never give up: running and yoga.

In some ways it is the same feelings that draws me to these activities. I will focus on running another day, but their are many similarities between the two. Yoga is something that I can't wait for every day. I think its because it allows me to be in the moment. I am a very goal-driven person, often thinking about what I have to do next to get everything that I want to get done. This can often be a positive thing because I am productive, but can also be not so good at times. It's important for our stress levels and health to be able to just breath sometimes. And that is what yoga does for me. It allows me to stay in downward dog if I want and focus on nothing other than the present. Feeling a breath fill my lungs and chest fully and that moment when ever cell is completely energized with oxygen. And then letting it out and sinking into the ground, rooting myself. I can feel the lengthening of my hamstrings, and the opening of my chest. That is why I love yoga.

I think the next days, weeks, maybe months, will be full of short posts. They will be shorter tidbits on my life, so that I can keep sharing while maintaining my growing yoga practice.

I hope you all had a great weekend, and I shall see you soon.