You can't spell "I HATE IT" without HIIT.
st_emma: (Default)
( Jul. 24th, 2012 06:05 pm)
I'm doing a 40-day sadhana again this summer, which started on the solstice (making this day 35). I do this every now and then, usually to either reestablish a lapsed practice and build a habit, or to reconnect emotionally with my practice and fall in love with yoga all over again. This year it's the latter. I've been consistent in my practice thus far this year, but I have to admit I was starting to sort of go through the motions.

Over the last 35 days, I've noticed some pretty profound and interesting changes. For example, I've been attempting to do two practices a day, starting the day with kundalini yoga, and then doing either a power yoga pick-me-up or a restorative practice in the late afternoon. Since my wrists are finally stable enough for consistent power yoga, this week I'm doing Eoin Finn's Blissology Project. Today's practice was pretty challenging for my balance and for my strength (especially balance) but I found myself not straining at all, even when it was difficult, and actually laughing on those occasions when I completely lost my balance. No striving for perfection, no anger at self for not being able to accomplish the difficult, just compassion and playfulness. This is so weird for me.

Doing yoga or meditation 1-2 times a day has apparently totally mellowed me out. I'm suddenly able to let go of my damaging self-judgment and perfectionism. Negative emotions wash over me and are gone quickly. I've been dealing with some stressful medical issues (the inclusion cyst that wouldn't die), and I would be a basket case without the yoga. Mentally and emotionally, this sadhana is doing amazing things for me. I am so serene that I'm positively tranquilized.

I'm having kinder thoughts about other people. My compassion and empathy are growing. I'm not as easily annoyed by the douchecanoe moves of Boston drivers as I have been in the past, and the last time I saw a centipede, my initial phobic "kill it now" reaction was tempered with the realization that all creatures deserve to live. One of the online communities I frequent has been attacked by levels of misogyny and sexism that are staggering and completely outrage-justifying. And yet when I was pondering it today, all I could think was "What is it about these women that has these people feeling so threatened?"

I am now having compassion for misogynist dirtbags.

This is so weird for me.

I will note that this newfound compassion has its limits. Usually if I practice yoga consistently enough, my diet becomes less carnivorous; that doesn't seem to be happening this time. And my empathy for all creatures has not stopped me from either calling a misogynist dirtbag a misogynist dirtbag, or from putting out a hit on the daddy long legs that is currently parked beside the door to the laundry room. I am a long way from perfection, but I do believe I'm becoming kinder. To myself and to others.

And I kind of think I like it.
You wouldn't know it from reading this, but I have actually been doing at least a little kundalini yoga every day. Some practices are short, some are longer. Yesterday's was almost an hour, and I managed to get into a pose that I hadn't been able to get into before, and hold a pose without modification for much longer than I'd been able to before. Which makes me think I'm getting better at this.

I'm hoping I'll fit in a longer practice tomorrow. While the short practices are beneficial, I find myself really craving the longer ones if I don't do them for a while.
Raviana's Journey Through the Chakras is definitely one worth taking. I could feel the energy rising up my spine, and now I feel refreshed, radiant and ready to take on anything that comes my way.

It's this feeling that keeps me coming back to the mat even on those days when I don't want to do yoga, or much of anything, really. I think it's becoming an addiction.

I suppose there are worse addictions out there.
Tuesday, I did the warmups for Maya's fifth chakra. Today, the warmups for the fourth chakra. Tomorrow, I plan on doing a longer practice that will cover all the chakras.

I've had more energy lately than I've had for a while. Today was supposed to be an active rest day for me, with only a short kundalini yoga practice. In addition to that, I also managed a 20-minute core sequence, just because my body felt like moving.

I've also noticed some appetite suppression. These are all good things.
Not a lot of time today for my yoga, so after my aerobic weight training, I tacked on the warmups for the sixth chakra from Maya's Journey Through the Chakras series. I'd worked myself pretty hard so I was feeling a bit depleted as I started my practice, but by the time I finished, I felt as though my batteries had been completely recharged.

How is it possible to expend energy and gain even more energy?
Today I did the basic spinal series and the five (highly modified) Tibetans. If there's one thing I've learned from this latest (and most likely permanent) bout of wrist problems, it's that there's absolutely nothing wrong with modifying when necessary. It helped when I stopped thinking of it as "dumbing down the workout" and started thinking of it as "customization."

Perspective is everything.
Did my daily yoga after cardio and before breakfast for a change. The set is supposedly to generate bliss. What I feel now is not nearly so active as bliss. I am a perfectly calm sea. No wind, no wave. Just buoyant tranquility.

I wonder how long it will last. I'm sort of betting that it'll be gone by the end of tonight's hockey game.
The "Raise Yourself Up" segment of Raviana's Total Tune-Up has a lot of good thyroid work without being too demanding. It felt a bit weird to do it in isolation, out of context from the surrounding exercises, but I only had time for 15 minutes of yoga today, and something is better than nothing. Especially when it makes me feel like this.
Another day where my practice was not what I expected. I dusted off a DVD that I hadn't done in a while, mostly because the sets on it, while solid, somehow left me feeling less than satisfied. Or so I thought. I pulled it out and did a preset that I'd never done before and had a blast. My energy was high, my focus was keen and my body, mind and spirit were all working together to propel me through this gracefully. I never wanted it to end.

I'm now thinking I may need to revisit some other old "not favourites" of mine to see if I can find creative ways of making them grow on me.
I did the Quick Spirit Lift premix from Raviana's Body Electric. One of the kriyas involved a long arm hold, combined with holding the breath out. Long arm holds tend to make me angsty and jittery. Holding the breath out tends to make me nervous and angry. And yet, somehow, I found this particular kriya soothing. Why? I do not know. Apparently the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Also, I got to chant "Narayan hari," which always makes me feel happy.
I neglected my yoga yesterday - bad me - so I decided to dust off Raviana's Transformer this morning. In spite of my best efforts, my focus was off. My mind kept wandering off to do other things that had nothing to do with yoga. While I was unable to tap into my inner anger during the Born Free segment, I did manage to cobble together something approximating minor peevishness, so it wasn't a complete fiasco. It was a question of keeping my body flowing through the motions until my psyche decided to catch up. When it was over, I felt calm, completely repurposed, and ready to go out and get things done with my day.

I don't normally work out in the mornings. I'm wondering if I should experiment with that.
"Ringing the Bells of Heaven" is rather like having your arms pulled off and being beaten with them. In a serene, yogic way, of course.

Slowly but surely my energy is coming back, but this wretched cold is still lingering enough that cardio hurts my lungs and I have to stop my workouts to take protracted coughing breaks. I was slightly stiff from yesterday's massage, so I decided to do the "Inflammation Relief" set from Raviana's Dr. Yoga DVD. On a whim, I tacked on the warmups, as well, which got the energy flowing purposefully through my body for the first time in days. I felt almost like my old self again.

Maybe tomorrow I'll try something a trifle ambitious.
After a week of fighting with a terrible chest cold, I finally felt well enough to do yoga. You know it's bad when you can't even cobble together enough energy to do a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing. At any rate, I eased back into things with Maya's Detox & Destress practice, which is one of my favourites. It's just challenging enough to give me post-yoga buzz, without ever being intimidating. I desperately needed to not be intimidated by my yoga today. I needed it to feel like the movement equivalent of a warm, fuzzy sweater, and that's what it was to me.

Today, I was in need of restoration. I can do something more strenuous tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.
Sunday involved too little sleep, too much alcohol, and no kundalini yoga whatsoever. It's a work in progress, apparently.

Monday, I was up entirely too early and managed to squeeze in Raviana's Yoga Cleanse before going on with my day. I was deeply in need of some detox and really felt this. My focus wasn't great - in fact, my focus was abysmal - but I managed to get it done.

Today was slightly more focused, but only slightly. I did a quick set to move energy, and it was moderately successful in doing that, but really I think I wanted something longer. And all throughout my "regular" workout, I kept wishing that I was doing yoga instead. I hope I can let go of that soon and just figure out how to be in the moment of whatever it is I happen to be doing, or this could get old quickly.
st_emma: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2011 12:16 pm)
I crawled out of bed barely able to move, as I often do. (It takes my system a while to come online after sleep.) I had just enough coordination to throw myself onto a yoga mat and do the AM set from AM-PM Yoga, with the prosperity and chakra balancing meditations.

It was like the yogic version of a triple espresso. I am raring to go. I do not rare. Ever.

I like this!
I did notice yesterday as I was running around doing errands that I had so much more energy than I normally do. My body was moving faster even as my mind was calmer. Can this be attributed to kundalini yoga? Maybe. Maybe not. I hope it stays. The vibrancy is very enjoyable.

Today I kicked my day off with a warmup for the fourth chakra, from Maya Fiennes' Journey Through the Chakras series. I didn't want anything particularly long or demanding, just something to wake up my body and my mind, and this was perfect. This may become one of my go-to short practices, for that reason
I dropped effortlessly off to sleep last night, which was something, but woke after about four hours, which was less than optimal. I'm not entirely convinced that the "Sleep Easy" set is going to be anything approximating a miracle cure, here, but some improvement does seem better than none at all.

Today I dug out a classic, Raviana's Total Tune-Up, and did it in its entirety. I noticed increased flexibility and endurance, in my hips and thighs especially, but also in my arms, and I only really had to modify once, for my wrist. I also found myself smiling as I was doing this practice. I've been catching myself doing that a lot lately - no matter how difficult or frustrating these practices may be at times, I'm somehow perceiving them as fun.

It's weird to think of exercise as fun. Weird but kind of enjoyable.
For various reasons, I've been a little stressed lately, so I've drastically increased the amount of kundalini yoga I've been doing. For the last few weeks, I've been alternating my regular workouts with kundalini yoga. My stress levels are down. My sleep patterns are slowly renormalizing. And I have never looked forward to working out more than when I have kundalini yoga pencilled in to my schedule.

Thanks to the enabling of one fitness-related support group, I'm going to attempt a daily practice. It won't always be long, but hopefully it will always be something. Thanks to the encouragement of another fitness-related support group, I've decided to blog about my experiences. This is an experiment of sorts; I want detailed notes.

Today I did one of the new Raviana's, Body Electric. It definitely lives up to its name. I had to modify in places and take occasional rest breaks, but I loved every second of what I did do. When I finished the practice, my body was humming with that lovely post-yoga energy and my mind was tranquil.

As much as I hate mornings, there is a lot to be said for doing yoga right when I wake up. I started my day feeling like I'd already accomplished something major, so I could clearly handle anything. Even the sudden appearance of snow could not rattle my equanimity. That's so rare, and powerful. I want it more often.