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Frequency vs. Duration

Bharmari Pranayama

Another semester has started at Cleveland State University and once again I am blessed with the opportunity to teach yoga to students, faculty and staff. This may well be my most prolific semester yet, as I will be teaching four yoga courses and an additional two staff and faculty yoga sessions.  By the the end of the semester I will have played a part in lowering the physical, mental and emotional stress of more than 120 students, faculty and staff, theoretically making the university a more peaceful and happy place to be. Good  karma for all!

At the beginning of every semester I encourage the student to practice as much as possible outside of class, but I remind them that  it doesn’t mean, “as long as possible.” When it comes to taking on home yoga practice or any kind of physical practice or exercise, it is best to aim for frequency over duration.

How many times have you started out an exercise program with the intent to workout 5 days a week for 1-2 hours at a time? Sure, an hour on the elliptical, followed by 45 minutes of lifting and 15 minutes of core work sounds good on January 2, but is it sustainable? Most of us have already experienced something similar and know that it certainly is not. It always amazes me how I can be so motivated and committed in the beginning, just to completely get thwarted shortly thereafter!

My yoga teacher, Swami Atmarupa Saraswati, tells a story about a student of hers who was frustrated on not being able to practice regularly and develop a “home practice” outside of class. After finding out what a busy and full life her student lead my teacher told her to choose the same time each day and practice 10 repetitions of “toe bending.”Toe Bending Anyone reading this who is familiar with this style of yoga knows that we often start with this simple practice as it is a part of the Pawanmuktasana (anti-rhuematics/joint mobility) movements in the Bihar School of Yoga.

As you can probably guess by the name as well as the picture above, the practice is quite easy to execute.

Upon hearing this the  student immediately said “Toe bending, that’s it? I can do more than that.”

But my teacher told her, “No, just practice 10 repetitions of toe bending every day.”

Not quite convinced this simple directive was the answer, but willing to give it a try, the student rolled up her mat and went on her way.

A few weeks later, the student was back at the yoga studio for class. Before the start of class the student came up to my teacher with a big smile on her face. My teacher asked ”So, how did the “toe bending” go for you?”

The student, continuing to smile, said something like this:

“I decided to practice yoga before bed. The first day I did toe bending like you said and then got into bed to read a book.

The second day, I practiced toe bending again, but this time I figured since I am sitting here on my mat that I might as well throw in a few repetitions of ankle bending. By the end of the second week I was up to 15-20 minutes almost everyday!

What I realized is that by setting the bar relatively low in relation to what I thought I “should” do for a yoga practice I wasn’t overwhelmed with how much time it would take and was able to be consistent.  Which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish.”The moral of the story is threefold; frequency is more important than duration when trying to establish a routine, getting start is often half the battle, and it is quite possible that you just might surprise yourself by reaching your goal.So if you are thinking that you would like to get some kind of exercise routine or home yoga practice going set yourself up for success.  Start by picking a time of day when you know you will be at the same place at the same time. Immediately after waking or before bed are generally good suggestions for most people.

Depending on your individual goal consider beginning with a short walk around the neighborhood, maybe three rounds of sun salutation, 10 push-ups, one round of toe bending, 20 sit ups, etc.   Be honest with yourself from the very beginning. While you most likely CAN do more of this, that, or the other, doesn’t mean you WILL be able to keep it up.

Next week is the starts of the third week of Fall semester.  Knowing that I have to hold the energy of the multiple classes full of beginner students, it is important for me to keep up with my own practice to be authentic in my teaching and to facilitate a positive experience.  So far, a 20-minute practice upon waking seems to be working with a bonus meditation in the evening if the stars align. Setting myself up for success by keeping it simple.

After all these years it is really sinking in that frequency is really more important than duration when it comes to yoga.

Of course, until I am thwarted….

Thunderbolt Lake

 

 
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2016 Spring/Summer Travel Journal

For the last 8 weeks I have spent more time in planes and abroad then ever!  Here is a quick run down of my recent travels:

8 May-Trevisio, Italy

No sooner did I finish classes at Cleveland State University at the beginning of May, I was off to the Rollerblade annual sales meeting in Treviso, Italy. Sales meetings are always exciting as we get a preview of the product line and  brand initiatives for the coming year while having the opportunity to meet with people from around the world who are committed to growing the sport as well as the Rollerblade market share.

Presenting at 2017 Sales Meeting

Presenting at 2017 Sales Meeting

RB 2017 Sales meeting Rico Indo

Met Rico from Indonesia and is lovely wife and skating son!

Authentic and delicious pizza dinner varous RB team members

Authentic and delicious pizza dinner with various RB team members

13 May-Portoroz, Slovenia

How could I go to Italy and be so close to my skating friend Frank Pirc and his wife Wilma without a stop in Portoroz, Slovenia?  Portoroz was just a short roll away (about 2 hours by car) so I couldn’t pass up the chance to spend some time with my friends by their beautiful seaside home as well as go for a skate to the old Venetian city of Piran with Frank.  The ICP did its first certification in Slovenia in 2000 and I reconnected with my long, lost, love and husband Greg in Portoroz in 2003, so this place certainly holds a place in my heart.

May 2016 Piran

Favorite Place to Skate in Slovenia

Frank Piran May 2016

Skating with Frank in Piran

 

17 May-Dubai, United Arab Emirates

With a horrible infection caught on my way to Europe ramping up during my stay by the time I made it home to Cleveland I was so very sick! However, with no rest for the weary in sight, I had  one night in my own bed and quick trip to the doctor before I was off and flying again. This time to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Armed with A LOT of meds and a “positive attitude” (attitude really is everything) I would hopefully be ready to conduct a Level 1 Certification Program there within 2 days time.  Well thanks to the meds, my attitude, a great UAE host (Certified Instructor Andreja Marolt) and my new friend “Tylenol PM” I was just about fully recovered and ready to roll by the start of the program!

We had a very diverse group made up of participants from Oman, Philippines, Slovenia, Syria, and Venezuela!  So much fun working with everyone there and as well as helping program host Andreja Marolt with ways to best promote skating and the Rollerblade brand in the country and Middle East region.

 

Dubai Theory

Dubai Level 1 Theory

Lunch in Dubai

Program lunch break

Skating with Joy!

Skating with Joy!  Dubia, UAE

26 May Chicago Illinois

Landed, slept, and off to Chicago the next day for a poster presentation at the Association Psychological Science Convention.  My colleague from Cleveland State and I presented our latest yoga study.  It was an honor to be at the convention and to have the opportunity to continue to be involved with on the science side of yoga.  Taking into account all the travel, sickness, etc. I was reminded of the importance of spending more time on the practical side of yoga.  Lots of Yoga Nidras being done to keep my slept deficit due to all the time changing, to a minimal.

Yoga Study Presentation

Yoga Study Presentation

Balcony View

Balcony View

28 May-27 June  Ohio USA

Home for a whole month!

Taught a lot of ice hockey lessons and spent time helping my daughter finish up the school year and get organized for summer activities-summer reading, swimming, softball, etc.

Celebrated Memorial Day with my favorite US Coast Guard veteran, went up to the Lake Erie Islands for a last minute visit that included going to a party on the famous “Ship House”-The Benson Ford , cheered on the Cleveland Cavaliers for their last game ( I have deep seeded issues with being let down by Cleveland Sports–this is a topic for another blog post!) and joined in the 1.3 million people celebration parade-Wow, what a season for the Cavs!  Was thankful for the abundance in my life, enjoyed the emerging summer warmer and generally rested up for upcoming back to back trips.

Memorial Day 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Watching "Balanced" daughter

“Well-Balanced” daughter

 

Go Cavs!

Go Cavs!

Enjoying Island Life

Enjoying Island Life on South Bass Put in Bay

Impromptu Deck Yoga Session

Impromptu Deck Yoga Session

South Bass Ship House

South Bass Ship House

1 in over a million Celebrating

1 in over a million Celebrating

Who knew she was good at softball?!

First Year on Softball-Who knew she’d be good at this sport too!

27 June-July 7 Singapore 

Concluded my daughters weekend birthday celebration and was off on an evening flight through San Fransisco and on to a 16 hour flight to Singapore (one of the longest flights in the world!)  for certifications and  related programing.

Although I like to think of myself as a person who has a balanced life, apparently  the  universe is telling me otherwise  because 4 hours into my flight to Singapore (my 15th trip there since 2000!) I came down with conjunctivitis-not only in one, but in both eyes!  Landed at 6:00am,  in line at a doctors office by 8:00am and by 9:00am and only with $67 USD spent (Can the uS learn from Singapore’s medical pricing structure??) I was off with multiple meds to tackle the eye goop and the day!

Professional development workshops, Sled Dogs Snowskates Ambassador program as well as two certifications and a fitness workshop, not to mention my birthday and man, many late nights with a great international group of friends rounded out my 9 days in Singapore.

2016-06-29 09.17.19

Masked the minute I walked into the clinic!

SG friends daughter helping with Candles

SG friends daughter helping blow out birthday candles

International Birthday!

International Birthday Party!  Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain  and the USA in the house!

Happy B-day to Kris

Happy B-day to Kris

 

With a Few Level 2 Candidates!

With a Few Level 2 Candidates!

 

SG July 2016 Group

SG July 2016 Group

 

July 7-July 11 Ohio, USA

Home in just enough time for a swim meet, to re-pack, get the house in order and to get my daughter ready  and off for a one week sleep away camp!  Not one photo taken to capture these days!  Other than the aforementioned, I was pretty much dead to the world and breaking all “rules of travel” as I slept mostly all day thus wide awake by 2am on most. Which as ridiculous as that was it was really perfect because 2am in Cleveland is 8am in Spain! Spain here I come!

July 12-July 21 Spain

Off and skating in Burgos!  From a ICP Level 2 program, “Working with Children” workshop,  a visit to Madrid’s SnowZone to promote Sled Dogs Snowskates and a local Burgos night skate, Spain was all about skating.

This is the first certification related trip EVER where I was joined by my husband Greg. He was a great sport throughout all the skating programming and became an expert navigating the streets and highlights of the city of Burgos when he was on his own.  He even joined in and skated a 1.5 hour night skate! For someone, who in 14 years of marriage has been out on inline skates for about 15 minutes, to skate unscatheed through the streets of Burgos, Spain with Backfliphouse skate club for over 1.5 hours, was truly impressive!

A huge thanks to ICP Examiner and ICP Country director for Spain, Natalia Santamaria, for making the long weekend of programming such a great success and for the wonderful hospitality. Muchos gracias also to her husband ICP Instructor Antonio Rico for shuttling us to skating venues and for keeping us well fed with wonderful homemade Spanish meals!

At the end of the skating programming we made two short trips to Natalia’s family’s village where we attended a village celebration in honor of the Virgin Mary and had dinner at the family’s “bodega”.  There we were treated to authentic Spanish fare and drank homemade red wine. Experiencing local life like this was very unique and not something that an average visitor to Spain experiences. Very fortunate to have this opportunity.

The trip was bookended by two lovely days in Madrid that included lots of sun, many kms of walking and great local food.

Another amazing trip in the books. Can’t believe this is my life!

Beautiful Burgos

Beautiful Burgos, Spain

Great Level 2 Groupo!

Great Level 2 Groupo!

Children's Workshop

Children’s Workshop

 

View from a Village

View from a Village

Natlaia's Families Bodaga

Natlaia’s Families Bodaga

 

Ritero Park Madrid

Ritero Park, Madrid

paella

Paella y Sangria

 July 21st Cleveland, OH USA

Home. Always in awe of air travel and feeling blessed to arrive home safe and sound.

Until the next travel adventure….

 
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Calmness of Mind, Restful Sleep and More With Regular Yoga Practice

Swami Words of Wisdom

By Swami Sivanananda Saraswati

You can have calmness of mind at all times by the practice of yoga.

You can have restful sleep.
You can have increased energy,
vigor, vitality, longevity, and
a high standard of health.
You can turn out efficient work
within a short period of time.
You can have success
in every walk of life.

Asana, Pranayama, Meditation

Medical research is beginning to catch up to what the ancient yogis have known for years: the mind and body are connected. Once thought of as separate entities, it is becoming increasing apparent that when the health of one is down, the other is affected.

How many of us have not experienced a bad cold during a time when we were under a tremendous amount of mental stress?  Or heard a story of recovery against all odds linked to a positive outlook?  The connection may be intellectually easy to understand, but the cause and effect in our personal experience is usually where the “disconnect” occurs. Unfortunately, it is only after we are suffering the physical effects of chronic stress and anxiety such as hypertension, digestive issues or respiratory disorders that we begin to wonder “how did I get here?”

Yoga masters like Swami Sivananada believe, however, that through a regular yoga practice that the mind and body can be synchronized. Yoga provides the tools and platform to promote and develop the mind/body connection and the result is a balanced and creative life, full of good health and happiness.

   5 Ways Yoga Can Facilitate the Mind/Body Connection

1.    Stress Reduction – Yoga poses bring us into our body by bring awareness to the posture, relaxing or stretching the muscles and connecting us to our breath which inducing a variety of stress releasing benefits.  Lower heart rate and blood pressure and improved digestive function are just a few stress-reducing benefits of a regular yoga practice.

2.    More Energy - When we move our body through various yoga postures we stimulate blood flow, increase respiration, and release energy blockages in the body, thus improving our energy level.  An object in motion likes to stay in motion and yoga can stimulate our physical energy levels long after class is over.

3.    Induces Sleep – It may seem counterintuitive given the previous entry, but a regular yoga practice can actually improve sleep. While certain practices like Sun Salutation are inherently energizing, Child’s Pose, Standing Forward Bend, Plow Pose and Shavasana, coupled with slow deep breathing, can relax the body and turn the mind inward, setting the tone for a blissful night’s rest.

4.    Alters Mood – Feeling sad or a little depressed?  Need to focus before a big test or presentation?  There is a yoga posture for that!  Backward bending postures and extensions are stimulating as they usually open both the chest and heart and increase our receptivity to others, as well as our communication skills.  On the flip side, forward bending postures tend to be more introverting, bringing us inward and quieting the mind.  Balance postures, like tree pose, not only improve our physical balance, but can balance our energy as well. So if you are feeling “off balance,” get back in balance with a few yoga postures.

5.  Increases both Physical & Mental Flexibility – Every mental tension has a corresponding physical tension. The physical manifestation of mental or emotional stress can show up as a disturbance in sleep patterns, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, muscular aches or pains among other disorders.  The initial object of yoga postures therefore is to release these tensions.  Yoga postures act to release mental tensions on a somatic or physical level. Depending on the physical symptoms, a well-chosen set of yoga postures can help to lessen the effects of mental stress and strain eliminating the physical manifestation of the mental stressor, at least temporarily. As the body relaxes, so does the mind.

With hundreds of yoga postures and movements, breathing practices and meditations to choose from there is something for EVERY BODY.  Give the power of yoga a chance to be the conduit between your mind and body. A more calm, rested, energized you is all you have to lose.

 
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