Monthly Archives: May 2010

Conquering the Anxiety Monster

this monster is harmless, but the anxiety monster is not (click for source)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of adults, suffer from an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders run the gamut from panic disorder to PTSD, OCD, phobias, separation anxiety, etc.

The monster that affects my life is generalized anxiety, which does not disrupt day-to-day life the way that PTSD or panic disorder does, but can still be distracting and upsetting.

I have noticed a significant increase in my ability to deal with anxiety as my yoga practice has grown. Three main things I’ve learned through yoga have helped: deep breathing, staying in the present (mindfulness), and a focus on acceptance. These things can help shove the anxiety monster to the background, instead of letting it stand on my toes and loom over me.

However, thinking about an upcoming travel weekend full of airports and airplanes makes me wonder if I might have the anxiety monster staring me straight in the face for a few hours. I did some googling and found a mindfulness exercise called “5-4-3-2-1” that is aimed to help you take control of the present:

Say “I see” and name something in your line of sight. Continue until you have named five things.

Say “I hear” and name something you hear. Continue until you have named five things.

Say “I feel” and name something you feel.  Continue until you have named five things.

Next, repeat and switch to four statements, then three, then two, and finally one thing you see, hear, and feel.

The idea is that if you focus your mind on current external stimuli, instead of catastrophizing and anticipating the future, you will help your body leave the “fight or flight” state that stress induces.

If any of you also deal with anxiety, try this exercise and let me know what you think. I’m going to try to remember it if I feel like my airplane is going to crash at any point this weekend. : )

Namaste,
Jamie

Advertisements

Leaving on a Jet Plane

On Friday afternoon, I will be here:

That’s right, I am packing my bags and jetting off to California for the weekend to visit a friend from high school who lives 45 minutes outside of San Francisco. This is extremely exciting for me – I am not exactly a world traveler as I have stayed within the Midwest my entire life, traveling a number of times to Florida and once to Mexico and that is all. The farthest west I have been is Des Moines, Iowa…so California will be a culture shock!

Flying, airports, crowds, and all such things make me very anxious, so this will be a good opportunity for me to practice my deep breathing and take my yoga practice off the mat.

Also, I will be waking up somewhere around 2:15 am to start this journey. I am usually strict on my no caffeine rule, but I may have to make an exception on Friday. : )

Any good yoga studio suggestions in the Bay Area?

Namaste,
Jamie

Wanted: Yogi Fashion Police to the Rescue.

Back when I was just a wee blogger, I wrote a post decrying the affordability (or lack thereof) of yoga. Reading it now, I still think I raise some good points, but I regret the smug feeling of satisfaction I got tearing apart lululemon and their sky-high prices. I proudly proclaimed that I practiced in $15 yoga pants from Target and Old Navy and, gosh darnit, that’s all anyone needs anyway.

Well, I take it back. I take it all back. I need fancy yoga clothes.

When I wrote that post, I was going to class once or twice a week. Now, I go to class once a week and teach three or four times a week. And I NEED NEW YOGA CLOTHES. And I need the nice stuff.

I still like my $15 Target and Old Navy pants. It’s just that when you only have two pairs of yoga pants you can stand wearing to get up in front of a group, and you wear them all the time, then you wash them all the time…well, they start looking downright yucky.

Yesterday I went to class in the following: faded black Old Navy yoga pants (fit well but look dingy), a blue Target athletic tank with built-in bra for support, that actually does support and stays down in down dog (I have exactly one of these), and because I’m too modest to wear the tight, bare-it-all tank top alone, a baggy gray t-shirt that says “I <3 boobs” (purchased for $5 on the quad in college during Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

I’m surprised I was allowed into class by the fashion police. And this is not out of the ordinary, unfortunately.

Here’s the thing: I acknowledge that I need new yoga clothes. I even acknowledge that I need the good stuff that can last years and withstand lots of washing. But I still can’t get over the sticker shock. I make money teaching yoga now, but that money either goes into the savings account for the hubs and me, or it goes to pay for yoga trainings. I do not have $50-$100 left over to spend on A SINGLE PAIR OF PANTS. (yes, the caps lock is necessary, because I’m yelling here. $98 for ONE pair of pants!!!! LULU! You’re killin’ me!)

Also, I struggle with ordering yoga clothes online because my body is not shaped like the typical yogini’s. So who knows what will fit? And the idea of spending $50-$100 on one pair of pants goes from unpleasant to downright painful when I consider shipping them back and forth across the country just so I can get the right size to fit my rather sizable @$$ (sorry grandpa, if you’re reading this).

So here is where I stop being philosophical and get shallow and materialistic. Here are the items I am currently looking at. From lucy.com:

Hatha power pant $88

Vital pant $68

From zobha.com

Essential Hi-Rise pant $80

Sophia tank - $58 (babs loves this one, I know)

From athleta.com (where they have the model with such an advanced six pack I thought she was a man for a moment):

Organic Cotton Salamba pant - $69

Chakra tank - $49

So, yogi fashion police, I need you. Are these way-overpriced clothes worth it? Are some of the clothes I’ve picked out better than others? I need the honest truth.

Curvy yoginis, I need your help too. If you have hips and a booty to squeeze into black spandex, I could use your suggestions on what works and what doesn’t.

I would like to stop going to class in baggy t-shirts and gray pants that used to be black.

And if you have any coupons to throw my way, I’d appreciate it ; )

Namaste,
Jamie

What I’m working on

With the cooperation of my hubby, I did a little mini yoga photo shoot yesterday morning. And what good are photos if I don’t share them with you guys? : )

Two of the poses I continue to work on are headstand and crow. In the past month I have noticed a huge improvement with my crow. It’s psychological, not physical, but an improvement just the same. My headstand growth has kind of gotten stagnant. I am moving away from the wall but I still need to to steady my heels on my way up.

Anyway, here are the photos, you can click on them if they’re too small.

Legs up…heels on the wall…they’re almost off…annnnd they are off the wall!

Squat…hands down…one foot up…both feet up…annnnd check out the beautiful space on the mat where my feet should be!

I have also been trying to work on my reverse prayer hands. I thought they were looking good, but when I saw this picture, I realized they’re actually quite crooked!

I am really into this forward bend, called Marichi something. I’m working on using the breath to get my knee closer to my nose. I wasn’t very loose during this mini-session, so I wonder what I look like normally.

And finally, I have been working on my bound extended angle. This is such a great stretch. To me, the challenge is keeping the chest open without losing your sense of gravity and toppling.

Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions? All are welcome. : )

Namaste,
Jamie

Lovely ladies

Hello new friends/visitors! Where did you all come from? Please stay and visit.

(source)

I have nothing to say today except for this: I love my blog friends.

You guys know who you are, and you are seriously the best. I love reading about your lives and hearing your take on mine. I love getting your @replies on twitter and seeing a new item in my Google Reader.

So tonight, I just wanted to post this little post thanking you for being such good listeners, giving such great advice, and being so awesome.

The only way this blogosphere could improve is if we could all get together in person…AND take a yoga class together. EcoYogini could come from Halifax, Suburban Yogini from Cambridge, Namaste_Heather from Ohio, Emma could travel from New York, Babs could come from wherever Babs lives (is it Montana? does anyone know?), The Misanthropic Yogini could come from Texas, and LaGitane will have the farthest to travel, from East Timor (I should probably look that up on the map so I at least know where it is), unless of course we all go to East Timor to meet her.

We could buy each other a beer (*cough* I mean organic tea of course) and it would be grand.

Of course it would be open to all other bloggers, I don’t mean to exclude, it’s just that these are the ladies on my mind these days. I wish I could call them after a particularly good class the way I call my other friends just to chat.

And Kate, you can come too, as long as you don’t mind being around a bunch of bendy yoginis prone to chanting. : )

Anyway, enough rambling, I love you and that is all.

Namaste,
Jamie

Popular Search Terms

One of my favorite things to do while goofing around on the net is to look through Google’s suggested search terms. I love seeing what people are sitting at home googling, because I’m just nosy like that. For a good example, type in “why is there” and see what it suggests. Sometimes the common search terms are alarming (some people should consult a doctor instead of Google!) but for the most part it’s a humorous little insight into the inner workings of the human mind.

Similarly, I’m fascinated by the things people search for, and then wind up on my blog. So I thought I’d share some of the most interesting with you today.

My most popular search term is “grinch”. I have written about the grinch exactly once and I have about 10 grinch-related search terms, including my favorite: “the grinch taking presents”. I guess that means that over 100 disappointed people wound up here, only to find out this blog is not about the grinch.

Anyway, here are my faves:

  • grinch – 104
  • tadasana – 100
  • yogaglo – 18
  • yoga – 6
  • how loud should the music be in a les mi… – 4
  • my stained feet – 4
  • ross and chandler at the gym – 3
  • obese is beautiful – 3
  • half crescent moon lake china photo – 3
  • obesity medication – 2
  • +namas and niyamas non attachment – 2
  • “freshman 15” – 2
  • lycra spandex gym – 1
  • movies with yoga with them – 1
  • blood rushing up neck sound – 1
  • what about les mills work out program? – 1
  • how to paint a porch – 1
  • triangle to handstand to crow – 1
  • overweight vs obese – 1
  • zoo monkey images – 1
  • confessions from the mat – 1
  • what happens when you quit the gym – 1
  • “grossed out by feet” – 1

Namaste,
Jamie

Ups and Downs of YogaFit training

I am a yoga teacher in training.

If you are a yoga teacher reading this, I’m sure you have far more training than I. You probably went somewhere far away for weeks at a time, or else spent every weekend for a few months devoting yourself to your YTT. You probably spent a few thousand dollars and experienced something truly life-changing. You know the intimate details about the doshas, the chakras, the yamas and niyamas, the Bhagavad Gita, all of the many, many poses (in English and Sanskrit), all of the different types of salutations and pranayama, etc, etc, etc and the list goes on.

I do not know all of the details about all of those things. I know the basics. I have chosen a different type of program: YogaFit.

The YogaFit RYT 200 track includes the following classes: Levels 1-5, Level 1 retrain, Level 2 or 3 retrain, Anatomy and Alignment, YogaFit Seniors, and either YogaFit pre/post-natal or YogaFit Kids. So far, I have attended Levels 1 and 2, and I will be attending Anatomy and Alignment in July.

Why did I choose this non-traditional, more mainstream version of Yoga Teacher Training? There are a few answers:

  1. Cost. Other YTT programs I have found cost upwards of $2,000-$3,000. Each YogaFit training costs around $400 plus travel and required materials (with the exception of Level 4, which costs twice as much). As half of a newly-married couple, $400 is hard enough to come up with at one time – something in the four digit spectrum falls into the category of “cost-prohibitive”. Spreading the cost out makes training accessible to me.
  2. Time. The YogaFit program allows you to complete your 200 RYT in one year, five years, or however long it takes you. All of the trainings are two-day weekend trainings, and I can usually find one within three hours of my home (again, Level 4 is the exception – it is only held at certain conferences, is four days long, and will require a lot more travel). This means less time off work and no deadline to get everything done.
  3. Approach. The YogaFit program fits in with my idea of accessibility. They do not require you to show documentation of all the impressive people you have practiced with. A lot of people take Level 1 just to further their own practice, with no intent of continuing. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do a handstand. There is no feeling of being not good enough to teach yoga.
  4. Commitment. The three things I have already described combine to make Level 1 a pretty un-intimidating event. It’s a few hundred dollars and one weekend. If you go and you hate it, or if you go and find out teaching isn’t for you, you aren’t out a month of your life and several thousand dollars. You also don’t have to wait until you feel like a yoga superstar to begin your training. You can grow in your training as you grow in your practice.

Once I went to Level 1 last October, I decided I was interested in continuing on with the program. I went to Level 2 in January, and I have a rough goal of attending a training every six months or so.

However, YogaFit is like anything else in life – it has its advantages and disadvantages. You go to the trainings, you take away the parts you like, and you leave behind the parts that don’t sit well with you.

The only problem I have with the choice of training I made is this: sometimes I feel like a fake. I don’t know as much about the intricacies of yoga, because I am still learning. I didn’t go to India and study in an ashram. I haven’t read the Gita. I haven’t been practicing that long, in the scheme of things. There are questions I don’t know how to answer. Sometimes I wonder if I should be waiting until I take all of my training to start teaching.

But then I remember that the teacher who helped me fall in love with yoga had no formal training. And I think it would be silly to hold myself back from doing something I’m passionate about for some silly reason that stems, deep down, from my own insecurity.

So I don’t have thousands of dollars right now to travel to far and distant lands to learn this stuff – that doesn’t make me less of a yogini.

So I can’t quite master bakasana – that doesn’t mean I can’t teach it.

So it takes me five years to earn my RYT – five years is the blink of an eye anymore.

So I don’t know the answer to a detailed anatomy question a student asks me – I can look up the answer when I get home. That’s what e-mail is for.

Because I am a lifelong student of yoga, and I am a yoga teacher in training.

I am still learning.

Namaste,
Jamie