Yoga school: month three bones and breath

I spent this past weekend at yoga school, the new name for teacher training thanks to one of my yoga sister’s little girlIMG_20150516_121528s.  This month the focus was on anatomy. We got to know Steven this weekend, Julie Maharrey’s sidekick and skeleton.  We listened  to information about bones, joints and muscles but we also worked through poses and identified how joints worked and which muscles were being used.  It was a worthwhile weekend.  While we won’t point out ligaments or joints when we are teaching, it is important to have some understanding about how the body works and functions.

We also revisited breathing practice this month.  This month we discussed breath in relation to anatomy and some of the cues we give to make space in the body.  The practice we did helped the cues and breath make more sense.

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Practice on Friday and Saturday was much easier for me than it has been.  I was able to move through and do most of the poses without much problem.  I still have work to do on core strength vinyassa but I felt much better than I had the first two months.  What I realized is that I am becoming stronger in different ways.  I am not sure I can explain entirely but there is a difference in the strength it takes to repeatedly do sun salutations or downward dog than the strength it takes to lift weights.

On Sunday morning we practiced with guest teacher Pilar Taylor.  Pilar’s classcomfort zone was difficult but I was able to do more than I anticipated.  As I sat and watched a few times I witnessed the beauty of a room full of yogis moving as one.  Pilar’s sequencing is lovely.  She is truly a gifted teacher.

Melissa often tells us we are stronger than we think.  Pilar reminded us to find something new in a pose that felt familar. She also reminded us that we get into patterns and think that is what we can do but really we can do more. All of this went through my mind as I practiced over the weekend and has as I have been home on my mat.  My body is capable of more than I think it is.   I have already noticed subtle shifts and I know as I continue to practice that I will observe more.  It’s an amazing journey.

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Learning more about nutrition: Hearth to Health and more

snows bendLate last year I decided to continue my education in order to keep my CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist) certification.  I had debated since I am currently not working in the field but my dream is not dead yet.  In order to maintain the certification I need to earn 75 credits over 5 years.

I began the year by enrolling in the Plant Based Nutrition Certificate program from eCornell.  The program is offered through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. The three course program focused on plant based eating and the health issues that arise from the standard American diet that most people eat and are used to. This program further changed the way I eat and think about food and nutrition.  Interactions with fellow classmates from around the world as well as with the instructors in the online discussion groups was lively and invigorating.  It was a great way to begin the year and my road to more nutrition focused education.

I continued my education with several courses offered by Amanda Archibald of Field to Plate.  Amanda is an R.D. and teaches functional nutrition in her programs.  I attended two webinars before enrolling in the Hearth to Health program for nutrition and health practitioners.  I simultaneously enrolled in the Culinary Nutrition program.  The courses complimented one another and provided an excellent set of tools.  All of the material in Amanda’s is supported by scientific research and readings.  She provides concrete information for how to work with clients and how to work with different food groups and nutritional needs.  The mapping system she teaches is one that will be easy to teach and apply.  The courses also provide recipes that align with each lesson and the different focuses.  She teaches how to create recipes based on ingredients at hand.  I am hoping to attend the hands-on part of the training in the coming year. In the meantime I am licensed to offer Hearth to Health training and events.

All of the courses that I have completed in my continuing education support what Hippocrates stated so long ago: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  Food can cure what modern medicine often cannot or does not.  Proper nutrition is a key component in living a healthy life.

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Why farmers markets rock

Earlier this week I was caught without lunch, which is unusual for me.  I had to find something I felt I wanted to eat and that was healthy.  I went to one of my go-to places where I knew I could get a decent salad, minus a few ingredients that they usually put on the salad and asked to be left off.  This salad cost me $13.84.

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I enjoyed it as I ate it but I had the thought that I could probably buy a week’s worth of vegentables for about the same amount.  It turned out that I was very close.

Today I ventured to Homegrown Alabama to buy greens.   I bought all of this

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for $13.00.  I will eat for several days from this – strawberries, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, kale, and lea11150674_10155597632290492_6968027026896943998_nf lettuce.  And all of this food is home grown by local farmers.

I also had an amazing cup of lavender honeysuckle tea from Teatown Alabama.  I told him how glad I was to see him back because he was out of town last week.  (Thanks to Jennifer Pate for this photo.)

 

So here are a few reasons why I say farmers markets rock:

  • The food is local and home grown.
  • I get to talk to the people who grew it.  The farmers I am buying from at Homegrown Alabama and at the River Market on Saturday are starting to recognize me. I talked to the man I bought the mustard greens from today and told him about my first experience eating them. (This was something I loved in Grand Rapids.  I watched children grow up over the years that I went to the market there and got to know families who were there every week.)
  • Fresh food tastes better.  These greens and those I have been buying the past few weeks have vibrant tastes and smells (good, by the way) that I don’t experience in most restaurants or from produce bought at the grocery store.
  • It supports the local economy.
  • It’s fun to get outside.
  • I try new foods that I might walk by because I can talk to the people who grow them and who can give me ideas for how I can cook them.

Here is a challenge: if you don’t go to the farmers market then find one near you and go try some fresh vegetables or fruit.  If you already do,  try something new.  I’d love to hear about what you do!

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30 for 30 fitness challenge wrap-up

I participated in Hilary Phelps’ 30 for 30 fitness challenge in April.  I made 27 for 30, which I am just fine with.  I kept track of what I did on a separate page that you can find at the top of the blog.

What did I learn?  I make a choice every day.  Do I get up or do I sleep an extra hour?  If I sleep an extra hour do I find time later in the day to workout?  For the most part I have gotten into the early morning routine and this challenge helped me get back on track.  I was having a hard time getting up for a while.  I also took different style yoga classes and went to classes with different and new teachers.  I am really enjoying my renewed yoga practice quite a bit and it is interesting to practice new styles even if I don’t think they will be my long term practice.

My off days.  I needed a day off mid way through the month.  I also took two days after my week of travel – one to catch up and one because I have a minor injury that I am trying to let heal.  I don’t beat myself up for rest days.  I know my body better than I used to and I know when I absolutely need some down time more than I need a 20 mile bike ride.

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The most fun I had all month was at the Yin Yoga Intensive.  It was a wonderful two days and I am looking forward to the next workshop that I am going to at the end of May.  I am really hoping to teaching Yin Yoga soon.

I am glad I took the challenge.  It re-energized me and helped me get back on track with my daily routine.  I also paid more attention to what I was eating and started prepping better again.   What I love most is the choices that I make to be healthy.  That is ongoing and won’t end with the end of the challenge.

yoga kim

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Yoga homes: A week of Yin Yoga

I am grateful2015-04-24 17.14.54 for all the yoga homes that I have found as I have traveled this past year.   Bala Yoga in Kirkland, Washington is a special place for me; however, because it is the place where I returned to my practice.  I was fortunate enough to both practice at Bala Yoga last week and participate in a Yin Yoga Intensive training over the weekend, led by Pamela Chang.  It was so nice to meet Mike and Gabriela Baiocchi, the owners of the studio.

Yin Yoga emphasizes poses that are held longer than in most styles of yoga.  Poses are held 2-6 minutes (maybe more), depending on the part of the body being stretched.  These long holds stress the deep connective tissues of the body resulting in strengthening joints, ligaments and fascial networks.  Most poses are on the floor.  In Yin Yoga we look for the edge – the place of being uncomfortable but not in pain – and then hold the position for the time.  Bernie Clark says two things that are helpful to remember when thinking about and practicing Yin Yoga:

If you are feeling it, you are doing it. 

and

We don’t use our body to get into a pose, 

we use the pose to get into our body. 

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I feel honored to study with Pam Chang, a sweet and compassionate teacher who has so much knowledge to share.  There were 25 yinsters in the Intensive over the weekend.  We spent time talking about philosophy, meditation, sequencing and doing a posture clinic.  And we practiced several times.  On Friday evening we were fortunate enough to have Richard Grace, one of the other Yin teachers from Bala Yoga, bring his singing bowls for practice.

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I look forward to returning to Bala Yoga the next time I am in Seattle.

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Different practices

I hadn’t realized that it has been almost two weeks since I posted.  I still have a list of topics I want to write about – my continuing ed training with Hearth to Health, a post on DNF’s and the world not ending, and this one about the new yoga classes I have attended this week.

On Sunday I went to a Kundalini yoga class for the first time.  I really was not sure what to expect. I had heard a few things about kundalini yoga but experienced none of them in the class.  What I did experience was a practice that included chanting, meditation, asanas, kriyas,mudras, and rest.  I really enjoyed the experience and I will return to the class. Poses are held for several minutes.  There were some that I was unable to do for various reasons. It is difficult to sit on my knees for a long period of time. I am unable to do head or shoulder stands due to my eyes.  There were modifications, however.

The amazing thing about the kundalini practice was the gong that Chris played for several minutes at the end.  The sound enters the entire body.  It is difficult to explain in words.

This week I have also had the pleasure of returning to Bala Yoga in Kirkland, Washington.  I have been to two Yin Yoga classes with Pam Chang and will spend the next two days with her in an intensive teacher training.  Yin is one of my favorite styles of yoga  The poses are held several minutes in this style as well.The focus is on letting go and softening the body.  When this happens, you can go more deeply into the pose than imagined.  One class focused on shoulders. I learned some lovely poses that I will use at home.

 

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Weaving many colored threads: Breath, Chakras and Yoga in the Park

20150412_223717I left this past weekend of teacher training thinking about the threads of my life that are being drawn together through this process.  It is an amazing and marvelous thing.  The weekend focused on breath, meditation and the chakras.  There were lots of deep discussions, practice teaching, and yoga practice.  I will try to capture the essence of the weekend.

Breath

We all breathe. Of course, we do.  But do you think about breathing?  If you do, it will mess with your mind.  Try it and see.   For most of Saturday we discussed and practiced various breathing  practices, or pranayama. I had been exposed to most of them over the years of my practice but I have not practiced regularly. I found it valuable to concentrate again on how my body reacts to breathing, observing what happens when I inhale and exhale,  what happens when I think about it versus what happens when I just sit and breathe normally.

 Meditation

We moved on to a discussion of several kinds of meditation.  Again, I have practiced or at least been exposed to several of the kinds of mediation techniques we discussed. I am probably most drawn to mindfulness meditation and visualization.  I have read Dr. Jon Kabat- Zinn’s work over several years and have long wanted to study with him but have not yet had that opportunity.  I know he does not teach very often anymore so I hope I have an opportunity at some point soon.  Visualization is a technique that I have made use of in triathlons and racing.  I have found quite a bit of discussion about this in triathlon circles and it has been useful to calm me prior to races.

On Sunday we had an opportunity to teach in pairs.  This is an incredibly supportive group of women and we all helped one another work through teaching breathing techniques to one another.  I am enjoying teaching again and I am looking forward to teaching over the coming months of training.

Chakras chakra lecture

Sunday was also spent discussing the chakra system.  Again, I was already familiar with the chakras but I have much to learn (and a rather hefty book to read about the chakras before the weekend in May).  This was probably one of the first times I was involved in discussions about ways to balance the chakras and yoga poses that specifically align with each chakra. I am looking forward to diving into this study over the coming month.

Playing in the park 

Saturday was a beautiful day and we took advantage of it by going to a nearby park for our yoga practice.  We spread mats on the grass near a playground and Melissa led us through our practice.  Part of the practice was playing using the trees to do supported handstands and other inversions.  I actually did my very first handstand against a tree with Melissa’s help.  It was pretty amazing.

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The practice and play reminded me about my purpose and passion as well.  Look very closely at the photo below:

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Did you just see several women doing backbends and handstands against trees?  Or did you also see what made my heart happy?  Look at the right side of the photo.  There is a father and his daughter (maybe 8ish years old) who joined in and was also doing handstands and backbends right along with us.   It reminded me of my purpose when I had to document why I should be allowed to earn the MA in Health Studies at UA since I was already a faculty member with a Ph.D.

In part, I wrote the following, in my justification:

I am keenly interested in four areas related to health education: advocacy and education, health issues which impact women and girls, prevention of diabetes and obesity, and combining the arts with health education. I believe that over 25 years in education as a teacher, librarian, and administrator and graduate degrees in English, Information & Library Science, and Storytelling provide a solid background for pursuing the degree. I will draw on my strengths and previous graduate work while pursuing the degree and in applying what I learn afterwards.

I have discovered that I have a passion for working with others to improve health and to establish healthy habits. As I have had opportunities to share what I know through classes, workshops, and work with non-profits, I have realized that I desire and need a stronger background in theory and practice. My training thus far has  been informal and has come from my own reading, taking workshops, my own personal training, and several years studying yoga, Reiki, and other Eastern practices. 

So far this blog, teaching classes at my church, and volunteer work have been my main venues for sharing my knowledge and passion for health education.   I do hope to change that and incorporate all that I have learned and continue to learn into something greater that will continue to serve others. In the meantime I will continue on my journey and see how the threads continue to weave together.

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