My Morning Routine

Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you’ll start to see a big difference in your life.

Yoko Ono.

My relationship with routine has been, paradoxically, unpredictable.

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But the older I get the more I crave the nourishment that comes along with having a reliable beginning and ending to each day. A good morning routine helps me deal with the stress, depression, moodiness, or boredom that may arise at home, on my commute, or at work.

With inspiration from blogs, articles, and my own intuition, here are the things that I’m trying in order to create a happy, positive morning!

+ 6:30-7:00: Wake up!

Step one: get out of bed, turn on the electric kettle, and head to the bathroom. I get back into bed for some extra cozy time while I wait for my water to boil, drink a glass of water and take a probiotic. I’ve recently committed to writing in my new Five Minute Journal before doing anything too complicated.

+ 7:30: Seated meditation

I make my coffee (lately that is Philz Philharmonic blend w/ Califia toasted coconut almondmilk) and head to the living room for morning meditation. I’ve begun incorporating Metta (also called Lovingkindness) in the final minutes of my usual 20-30 minute concentration practice, which is supposed to cultivate increased empathy and patience but for the moment hasn’t gone past the stage of just feeling a little goofy.

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+ 8:00: Exercise

This summer I’ve consciously been less regimented about my workouts. Anything from a good old fashioned 6 mile run to a half hour of intuitive, DIY living room yoga works. If I’m feeling especially low-energy or uninspired I might just do 15 minutes of simple, light stretching. I’m working on listening to what my body wants here! Sometimes it’s something more intense, and other times it’s enough to just get the blood moving a bit.

+ 8:45: Shower and breakfast

Almost nothing beats a post-run hot shower (in my opinion it’s like half of the reason to even do a morning run in the first place). To up the self-care ante I’ve been using a few drops of eucalyptus oil and a fun natural scrub (right now I’m using the delicious Fresh Cocoa Body Exfoliant) to give my morning shower a spa-like quality.

For breakfast at home I usually like to make toasted Ezekiel bread with avocado and a fried egg, or some similar version of this. But I have to admit that lately I’ve been grabbing a green juice or smoothie on my way to work (my current fave is a spirulina-spinach thing from Native Juice here in San Francisco) and sipping at my desk throughout the morning.

That’s it! These few small things are actually likely to put me in a better mood, if only temporarily. 🙂 There is so much advice out there on creating a “perfect” morning routine, and while a lot of these tips are helpful and inspiring, there is no one-size-fits-all. The best version of your morning is of course that one that allows you to feel strong and ready to go after the day. And for me, I feel more grounded when I start my day with some meditation, movement, a steamy shower and a little food! I’ve especially learned I need some extra chill time because I get really stressed and out of whack if I leap out of bed and start rushing around. However, I have a good friend who is completely the opposite. His body and brain just doesn’t work right before 10am and he needs way more stimulation to get going. So my morning routine would be totally counterproductive and leave him feeling sluggish for hours!

I’m interested to hear about your own morning routine. What things do you like to do to begin your day? And what about the self-described “non-morning” folks?

 

“Perhaps the earth can teach us, as when everything seems dead in winter and later proves to be alive.”

Pablo Neruda.

What’s going on? Not much blogging, it seems. So, if you will, bear with me for a post about the blog.

Although the name and “About” section of the WAWT blog suggests a more wide-ranging exploration of wellness in general, it’s obvious that the main focus up to now has been running. When my interest in the sport led me to races and wanting to discover more sophisticated training methods, run-centric blogs fulfilled a desire to learn and engage with athletes of all levels. And reading these blogs inspired me to share my own experience and insights not least because, as I’m sure many of you have learned, while family and friends are generally supportive, not everyone wants to hear the daily details of your marathon nutrition plan or splits from your morning tempo run. 🙂 In addition to serving as an outlet for my health pursuits, this blog began as a way for me reconnect with the joy of writing, which has always been a passion.

I began 2017 excited about some longer-term, lofty-but-probably-doable goals. But throughout the year, these ambitions have naturally fallen by the wayside and I haven’t forced myself back on the track because, honestly, they just feel too narrow. Running seems to be settling into my life in a way that is more integrated, balanced, and deeper. I’m less focused on quantitative goals, like running a particular race or making sure I get in a certain amount of miles so that I don’t “lose fitness.” Less concerned about what I “should” do and less fearful of what will “happen” if I don’t. Now, running is just THERE. I just trust it so much more… so generous and available whenever I need it!

So how am I filling all of this spare time now that I’m not eating, sleeping and exercising like a marathoner? Well, lots of yoga, vipassana meditation, reading, moisturizing my dry hands, discovering podcasts, cooking vegetables, finishing rounds of golf with IPAs, buying jigsaw puzzles, listening to music and I mean like REALLY trying to LISTEN. I’ve also gone on some beautiful, soul-nourishing runs. Basically, I am trying to, as much as I can, live with some fucking ease here, guys.

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So all of this preamble just to lock in an intention to use this platform to share, expand, and deepen my passion for physical and mental wellness, using this term as broadly as possible.

Finally, as you might know, “Well and Warm Together” is a line pulled from one of my favorite books, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway:

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” 

I chose to name the blog after this quote because it reminds me about the small things that make living life more bearable, sometimes even exquisite and joyful. This is sort of the thesis of what I want this blog to be about, so I hope that some of you will continue to join me in this conversation!

Ok. That’s it. Oh jeez – I really didn’t mean to make this sound like some kind of eulogy for my running career… it’s not! ANYWAY I hope you’ll forgive some of the earnestness in this post too. I promise to try to infuse my natural proclivity for dry wit and sarcasm in to my future blog posts as I’ve attempted in the past. But goddamn all of this oneness with the universe is making me soft! 😛 Ok I’m really going to stop writing now.

xo

 

 

Training Diary 6.22.14 — Speed Phase Week Four & See Jane Run Race Week!

Kathryn and the Bad Luck Mondays. A good band name, right? Like Iggy’s Stooges, Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, Richard Hell’s Voidoids, the Mondays surround me with their music: the cold cough of a struggling Volkswagen against a midnight ocean drone. The 8-inch blade of a Wustof slipping off a new sponge like a record player needle. Is it Mercury’s retrograde? Or maybe a the result of a summer workday, the worst one of all.

Anyway, poetry aside, I have 3 loose stitches and a mess of gauze interfering with the use of my right hand. So blogging was a little delayed this week. This also means that this coming Saturday I will need to bow out of Jason Crandell’s yoga workshop at Yoga Flow that I registered for ages ago. Sad times. But downward facing dog is a no-go until these fuckers come out on July 3.

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At least last week (minus the car issue) was productive (spoiler — I PR’ed the 5k! BOOM!)

Monday — Vinyasa Yoga / 60 minutes

Tuesday — Strength Training  It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned how much I hate doing this. Thank god it’s only 20 minutes and that I get a shoulder massage right after. Gaaahhh why does strength training have to be so important?

Wednesday — Tempo Run / 5 miles / 8’43” pace  After last week’s debacle, I made sure to come up with a decent plan. I needed a good workout, and I needed to finish encouraged. No more sad sack tempo face. Mile 1 warmup (8’26” – a bit fast obviously), mile 2 -3 tempo pace (8’29”/8’22”), mile 4 cooldown (9’38”), mile 5 strides/fartleks (8’32”). Challenging but not over the top, although I think as I become more comfortable with these kinds of runs the top speeds need to increase and/or roll out more progressively. But look at this steady pacing! A major improvement from last week, I’m ashamed to say that I even had a little bit of fun. I’ll crack you yet, devil run!

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Thursday — Rest

Friday — Easy Run / 3.7 miles / 9’00” pace

Saturday — Yoga from Hell / 90 minutes  Well not really yoga from Hell, but class was more intense than expected, and left me slightly worried that lingering soreness would impact Sunday’s race. BUT I had that great buzzy post-shavasana glow as I left the studio — always the sign of a great class.

Sunday — Race! See Jane Run San Francisco / 3.1 miles / 7’27” pace  Crushed my sub-25 goal with a 23:07 finish time! Yay for speedwork! Hell, yay for tempo runs! Yay for beginner-friendly women’s races that allow me to place first in my age group! Stay tuned for the recap in a few days…

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Despite a dull lingering hum from the hammond organ and salty dogs at the Royal Cuckoo, last Saturday morning I emerged from my front door at a quarter-to-eight to take a very dirty dog for a very necessary haircut. A strawberry smoothie, a stroll around Precita Park, a trek up and down the hill to the Noe Valley farmer’s market (bounty: kale, parsley, summer squash, rapini, lavender, sunflowers), and a very strong cup of Philz later (Greater Alarm blend) — I felt it. Summer. Arrived.

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Here are a few to-dos for my summer vacation (note: summer is always a vacation, even if we’re still nine-to-fiving):

Finish FIVE Books Since purchasing an iPad, reading has become a rare event. When I do select from the bookshelf or Kindle, it’s usually nutrition, running, or cooking-related, so I’m focusing on fiction. Novels and short stories kind of exercise the brain creatively in a way that nonfiction doesn’t, as corroborated by this article from the Boston Globe:

“The emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.”

Hoping the “magnetic forces” not only feed my soul but also improve my sleep (by doing away with the evil blue light of the device screen). I’m only almost finished with book #1 (The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham), so I need to get cracking. What can I say? I was derailed by OITNB.

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Write 3x/week “Writing” is a common excerpt from my Gratitude Journal. I’m attempting two blog posts and one free-writing or exercise. Maybe a few creative nonfiction prompts from Poets and Writers?

One getaway / month (June-August) With Tahoe in June, and a planned vacation mid-August, that leaves a July excursion. I’m itching for a campout, but if it must be an overnight at a B&B in Marin, well then, I guess that’s life. 😉

Foam roll & Yoga Forming healthy habits for increased speed sessions and mileage building later this summer/fall by developing a short home yoga practice (once/week in addition to my twice weekly classes), using my “Stick” after every run, and epsom salt bath and foam rolling sessions on Monday nights.

Meditation Just 15 minutes several times a week. Psychology Today discourages meditation before bedtime, which would actually be my preferred window. But after work or running sound nice too. This goal also involves exploring various mindfulness and meditation apps.

Practice happiness Continue writing in my gratitude journal. Take deep breaths. Smile. Don’t hold onto things too tightly. Take myself less seriously. Wake up early and enjoy the quiet times.

Happy Summer 2014!

(Photo by Max Wanger)

Training Diary 6.8.14 — Speed Phase Week Two

Not the most productive week for running, but a bunch of fun times. On Saturday, my boyfriend surprised me with a birthday getaway to Lake Tahoe! Lots of relaxation for us, and lots of swimming for Mr. Darwin!

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Anyway, my priority these 4 weeks is to get up to do my speedwork, so in that respect training was still meaningful, if truncated. Oh well.

Monday — Dynamic Flow Yoga (90 minute class).  Whenever I walk into a yoga studio and see a teacher under 25(ish), I prepare myself for a gut-buster. Still, class was delicious after the previous no-yoga week.

Tuesday — Strength and commute by bicycle (~ 8 miles)

Wednesday — 5×400 / 4 miles / 9’39” pace.  Effort-wise, the 400s seemed faster this week, although I don’t have splits to compare. I was truly exhausted after each one though, which accounts for the slower average pace, as I did more walking during the recovery intervals. 7’14″/ 6’44″/ 6’42″/ 6’52″/ 7’00”. I added a few 100 meter sprints after my initial warm up laps. All in all, I’m enjoying the early mornings at the track!

Thursday — Rest.  Had planned a 5 mile easy run to recover from the track. I even brought my run commute kit to work, but I bagged it following a late night at work. Instead, I met a friend at 20 Spot in SF and chatted the night away.

Friday — Rest.  Had planned 30 minute tempo, derailed by staying out too late the night before. Lame. 😦

Saturday — Easy run / 3 miles / 9’25” pace.  Holy heat! At 6000+ feet above sea level, my 85º run around Homewood was a beast, but not entirely terrible. I kept it short, made a leisurely (and totally necessary) pit stop for water at mile 2, and finished a bit wilted but in good spirits. So no tempo this week but does one run in the mountains count as altitude training?

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Sunday — Rest.  I really considered doing 6 miles, but in the end decided to stay in bed on the morning of my mini-vacation. Miles could wait till Monday.

It pains me to say, but yoga boot camp is looking less and less likely. I’ve not completely settled against it, but 6am M-F for six weeks is a commitment. I need to determine my goals and priorities with Santa Rosa coming up in August. Need a moment of truth! What to do?

“Don’t Dream it. Be it.”

Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

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I’ve been dreaming. Mostly I’m running. I dreamed I fell into the ocean off of Highway One while racing in Big Sur. I also dreamed that I completed the miraculous transition from Bakasana (Crow Pose) to Chaturanga, over and over and over.

The following morning, when Roy took requests at his 7:30am All Levels class, I asked for crow. And lo and behold, you know what happened? I floated from bakasana to chaturanga. And then I went home and did it again.

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Kathryn Budig says:

This is a transition that can be extremely mental for most of us. We get stuck in our heads or tell ourselves that we can’t do it. So, the first step is to tell yourself you can.

I admit, on first read this ”power of positive thinking” stuff can sound, to my ears, corny at best and pseudo-scientific at worst. But how can you possibly disassociate the body from the mind? I think about the times when I’m struggling to hold a challenging yoga pose, or in the last tough push of a race, and what forcing a big smile can do for a bit of pain relief. This New York Times article from February describes how Olympians use imagery as part of training.

So I’m trying to carry through the experience of dreaming (ie – visualization and mental preparation) in the lead up to Sunday’s marathon in Big Sur. Not only to rehearse my plan and calm my nerves, but also to perform optimally. So I’ve been reading this great course description from the Clif Bar Pace Team blog, and trying to internalize the terrain, scenery, and recommended strategies. I’m beginning to meditate on how I’ll feel, what I’ll do, and ways I’ll focus.

I’m becoming a little obsessive about everything but I suppose it’s natural at this stage in the game. While the nerves are prevalent, the excitement is also kicking in. I’m reminding myself to focus, relax, and enjoy the build up. It’ll be over before I know it.

“I have a lot of fun doing this but I don’t necessarily think that it’s good for you.”

Josh Spector. Ultrarunner.

“The benefits of running decrease after a certain amount of time…I do it because I love it…”

Talking about exercise with a friend last week, he warned: “Don’t make me run and don’t make me do crossfit.”

I don’t know much about crossfit, but I wouldn’t be recommending it to anybody based on what I do know. At the same time, while you’d expect that my enthusiasm might make me an evangelist, I don’t recommend running either.

There’s no shortage of conflicting evidence concerning the benefits and dangers of running, but recent research suggests that those running more than 20 miles per week (or frequently run faster 8 min/mile) may have shorter life spans.

In other words, when “increasing mileage and pace, the benefits of running seem to disappear,” cardiologist Martin Matsumara told The Huffington Post over the phone this week.

Interestingly, this closely echoes some of Josh’s musings during his 135 miles in the above video and the quotes I’ve referenced. But:

Matsumara says that people should absolutely not stop running. “Runners in general enjoy longer and better health,” he said.

You can see in that little documentary that while Josh is clearly under physical and mental distress, these kinds of experiences are not only enjoyable, they practically define him. He describes running as an integral, non-negotiable part of his existence. The majority of us are less fanatical of course, but I think that many runners understand the kernel of this passion.

I’m learning that overall fitness is a holistic effort that is largely personal. For me this means strength training for the body, yoga for the mind, and running for the soul.

At the end of the day, it’s what works for your body, mind, and soul.

“The waiting is the hardest part.”

Tom Petty.

Another running post, naturally, as I near the big day: April 27 and the Big Sur International Marathon. This will be my second crack at the 26.2 distance. So what’s cooking for April? Well, of course there is a chunk of running involved, but I’m also trying hard to focus on some of the peripheral but crucial components of training:

1. Nutrition

breakfast toast egg kale avocado

breakfast must include tabasco sauce.

Balanced Eating. What a nice thought. This is by far the most difficult ambition, as I’m prone to intense bouts of marathon munchies and cookie cravings and lust for pizza.

I’ve approached this this from so many angles. Eat a bigger breakfast/eat a smaller breakfast. Several small meals/3 square and no snacking. Count calories/eat intuitively. The fact is that healthy eating requires a kind of extra discipline that simply put is just not fun. But keeping a true pencil-and-paper food diary seems to be most reliable for me, along with some periodic myfitnesspal calculations to make sure that my macros are in check. 

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healthy days but sadly devoid of pizza.

2. #yogaeverydamnday

Consistent practice has been so beneficial in this training cycle. As a result of yoga and weight-lifting I’m stronger, faster, and more focused than ever before. My fitness regimen feels wonderfully holistic — intensive endeavors like running and regular vinayasa classes balanced with casual activities like commuting by bike and taking extra long, hilly walks with Darwin.

But even so, I’m sadly not very religious about an old-fashioned post-run stretch. With increasing weekend mileage, followed by eight-plus hours sitting on my ass at work, even just 15 minutes of daily yoga does wonders to keep things loosey-goosey. I love yogaglo.com for making it super easy to find a sequence that suits my needs — from an invigorating morning practice to a simple hamstring/hip stretch before bed.

3. Soak

I firmly believe that a classic warm bath will cure most common ailments. Including and especially sore legs. Epsom salts + essential oils = boom. That said…

4. More Ice

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they love me at the local corner store.

A hot, bubbly soak is delicious, but there are days when a bathtub full of ice is the responsible choice. I pretty much have this down to a science. Base layer, sweatshirt, down vest, fleece beanie, bikini bottoms, hot tea, and an ipad — but I still need a pair of these:

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feet freeze sucks.

Finally…

5. Massage

A double-edge sword.

Christine at Deep Massage = good ($10 off for marathoners and triathletes this month!)

Foam roller = bad

pure terror.

I can’t believe it’s almost time to taper, but I guess that’s what happens when you begin training a month late. I’m getting squirrely already. Will my minimalist approach to be enough to keep me smiling to Carmel?

Apart from submitting to the will of your prescribed mileage, what do you do to prepare in the weeks before a big race? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

“This is dedicated to the one I love.”

The Mama and Papas

After six months of regular practice, I’m experiencing the real joy of yoga.

Okay. Wow. It’s hard for me to write a sentence like that like without irony, but it’s not excruciating as it once would have been. As the person whose eyes would roll with every “om,” who after more than 10 years of attending classes still can’t finish with a “namaste” (I just…no) — let’s consider this a small breakthrough.

I’ve been taking a long time to think about this post because in some ways it actually gets to the meat of the blog’s purpose. As an exercise in being positive and pure and not so damn judgemental all the time. Stop being afraid that gentleness will loosen my grip on reality. I want to catch myself starting to give in to impulses that limit my ability to experience or feel something new and say, “I defy you impulses!” And then write something like: “I’m experiencing the real joy of yoga.” Okay then.

Although cynicisms persists, and my tolerance for yoga teachers as spiritual gurus and pop-psychologists remains fairly low, as some of the physical components have demystified I find myself becoming more curious and thoughtful of certain esoteric aspects of yoga. I feel powerful and light in crow pose. I achieve quiet moments in a long-held Virabhadrasana III. Continue to understand and move beyond my fear of upsidedownness. At the moment, what eludes me is dedication.

“Sometimes at the beginning of class, the teacher invites us to dedicate our practice. It’s a powerful invitation because it can essentially means that every asana, every breath, is in reverence to this person or thing for which we feel a deep sense of gratitude.”

Tania Ketenjian / Bernal Yoga Blog

Unclear how else to handle it, I’ve traditionally dedicated my practice to myself (like: be gentle to myself! I’m worth it!), or more often to the opportunity to cultivate a particular quality like forgiveness or determination or patience. But I think of the latter more as an “intention”(setting one at the beginning of class is also something that teachers routinely encourage). Intentions are very helpful for me as a destination to return to when the body and mind start to slide apart. It’s the idea of dedicating my own experience of yoga to another living thing that gives me the “hmmm”s.

I have attempted it in the past, without any clear motivation or understanding of how or why. In the year and a half that my dog Goose was sick with congestive heart failure, I’d occasionally dedicate a practice to him. More recently, I’ve thought of a friend who’s trapped in a toxic situation at work. But again, I wasn’t quite sure of the purpose or maybe more importantly, whether I could buy into the idea at all. It struck me as some self-important yoga bullshit at worst, and at best, hopelessly new-agey. But then why the impulse “dedicate” a practice to a sick poodle who I loved so much? Or an upset friend? Or an associate who has been giving me difficulty? What gives this meaning? Softening to the idea of dedication, the question repeats and repeats through my mind.

Finding an “answer” seems wrong — but I find myself inspired in the search of opinions and understanding through random streams of consciousness. Lately I’ve been thinking about this idea that maybe dedicating a practice is similar to dedicating a piece of art. I’ll ask myself — what’s the difference between dedicating a song or a painting or a story and dedicating a 30 or 60 or 90 minutes of yoga? Well, there’s a physical component to art that makes the idea more tangible to me: an artist makes a physical contribution to the world. What exactly are we dedicating in yoga? What is that contribution? Does it come back around to some intention? Or is this all a bunch of garbage after all?

I’m learning how challenging yoga really can be for both body and mind. Now again with the joy. When I say joy I don’t mean that it’s some kind of pure happiness, although pure and happy is part of it, but I mean that feeling of feeling all the feelings. This stirs something in me. I feel different, but it’s also familiar. Some kind of innocence and freedom that I used to know.

Nama….Eh. Still no.

“Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously.”

Jean-Pierre Barral.

This quote was tweeted earlier today by Danielle Omar.

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the problem with inversions.

Speaking of deep breathing and harmonious movement, last weekend I participated in a “detox yoga workshop” with Kimberly Hu at Yoga Mayu in the Mission. We began with breathing exercises, moved into flow sequences and standing postures, and finished with about 45 minutes of restorative work.  

It really was a lovely way to spend a few hours doing something just for me. But it confirmed a suspicion that I’ve had for a while: that I think I might be terrified of inversions. I was unsuccessful and both attempting a headstand from a wide-legged position and once again couldn’t manage to kick up into a handstand against the wall.

We’re instructed to remain gentle and patient with our yogic abilities and efforts and allow the poses come naturally. I believe that this is a crucial part of the practice. But how to balance determination with self-kindness? How to mindfully assess the root of our stumbling blocks while resisting the impulse to become too competitive or scold yourself or misinterpret a journey as a series failures?

What is it about going upside down that has me incapacitated?

I’ve selected a few classes on yogaglo.com that I’m hoping will help me move forward.  First, I’m concentrating on understanding the physical components of inversions, focusing on strength and good alignment.

Getting into Handstand with Stephanie Snyder

“The main obstacles to lifting and balancing in this pose are tight hamstrings and a loosy goosy core. …we will open the hamstrings and charge the core up while investigating the energetic alignment of the core architecture to give us the best chance of lifting up and balancing in this pose. Good luck and re-visit this practice over and over – eventually the pose will come through!”

Find your Inner Strength with Noah Mazé

“Accessing Inner Strength: What habits and patterns govern your practice and your life, and how do you find the strength to work beyond them? Through challenging arm balances and inversions, this class invites you to explore your reactions on the mat so you can take skillful action off the mat and into the world.”

Of no lesser importance, of course, is the mind.

Pranayama and Seated Meditation with Jason Crandell

“This practice will invoke deep relaxation and ground your nerves.”

Explore and Release Fear to Find your Greatness with Tiffany Cruikshank 

“Most of us don’t realize how much of an impact fear has on our daily lives, the power it has to limit us and our capacity for greatness…”

Like other breakthroughs in yoga (I’ve had a few…), sometimes they arrive as lightbulb moments that completely change your perspective and open up a new world.  Other things do just take time. Either way, sooner or later I’ll be standing on my hands.

Tonight, I’ll go with a brief and mellow flow to loosen up and calm some nerves, as  tomorrow I’ll be running my first 5k since July.  It’s also my first race since Portland!

Have a happy and healthy Friday!