Whether we toiled away in the kitchen or drove miles for the privilege of sharing a feast with family and friends, we likely earned those calories ingested at the Thanksgiving table. But when the inevitable guilt sets it, it’s easy to overcompensate with a punishing workout just to quiet our inner critic. However, there is a smarter way to stay fit for the holidays. I asked the experts at MSCR to weigh in on the most effective workout, one that uses body weight and items you can find around the house, like a chair and a few feet of free wall space. All it takes is 7 minutes (but 14 or 21 is even better). Read all about it at madison.com. If you’re one of those exercisers who needs a group to stay motivated, sign up for Fit for the Holidays at MSCR to sample a variety of classes to offset holiday indulgences.
MSCR’s Winter & Spring Program guide is out! For those of you who have been wondering, “When can I possibly dance with Jeanne?” — the answer lies in the book. Go to mscr.org to cruise through the listing of classes; registration begins Nov. 18. Starting Jan. 6, Monday nights will offer a Hip Hop Hustle and a Yoga Flow at Emerson Elementary on the East Side. Take one or both to stay fit and flexible in the new year.
Sometimes it’s quite easy to feel as if the act of maintaining a website is a “shout into the void,” to borrow a phrase from Augustus Waters. But shout I must, so welcome to the new space for my ideas to roam free. I would love it if you’d poke around the new site — I hope that you’ll find everything you need to stay in touch with my work as a yoga teacher, counselor and writer. And please let me know what you think of the new design, so that I feel a little less lonely in my new digs.
It’s been a gorgeous summer so far, and my MSCR yoga classes have been absolutely inspirational. While I feel a bit of sadness at seeing the summer session end because of the friendships I’ve formed, I’m very excited about the fall offerings that MSCR has bestowed upon me. Check out the fall program guide at the link here. I’m grateful to have so many fun opportunities — two yoga classes, two cardio dance classes, and a joyful Yoga Mama! I look forward to seeing my fitness friends at either Kennedy Elementary or MSCR Odana starting in September. Registration begins Monday, and if the past is any indication, these classes will fill up pretty fast. So check out the Classes menu to see what might fit into your schedule, and let’s make this autumn our fittest ever!
As part of my yoga therapy journey, I attended YogaFit‘s Mind Body Fitness conference a few weeks ago in Minneapolis. I spent four days with an incredible master trainer who introduced ways that we as yoga teachers can help people heal their physical and emotional trauma. It was a powerful learning experience for me; I was so excited about the material that I promptly ordered 6 books that I want to read. One of the books, “The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process” by Dr. David Berceli, is a self-help manual on how we can help the body release chronic tension that is stored in our muscles.
Here’s where it gets really interesting: When I got back from my training, I had an email from a kind reader of the Wisconsin State Journal who shared with me that she enjoyed a series of stories I wrote about veterans and PTSD. She said that she is a big fan of a doctor who travels the globe and trains traumatized people how to release built-up tension, and in fact she’s going to be at a training that he’s leading in Madison this month.
I followed up with her, and a week later I was on the phone with Dr. David Berceli, who explained to me his Trauma Releasing Exercises, in which the body is allowed to shake out all the tension and trauma stored in the muscles. I’ll be writing a story for the State Journal on what his technique might mean for holistic health care. He was an absolute joy to speak with; his enthusiasm about empowering people to take charge of their own healing process is admirable. I’m beyond excited to witness his training this week!
And if you’re interested in my book order, here are the other five that are in my queue:
“Core Awareness” by Liz Koch
“Meditation as Medicine” by Dharma Singh Khalsa
“Yoga and the Twelve-Step Path” by Kyczy Hawk
“Yoga for Emotional Balance” by Bo Forbes
“In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness” by Peter Levine
There’s been a lot of press lately about a study from the American College of Sports Medicine that posits that we can give our bodies all that they need, exercise-wise, in a mere seven minutes. I’m skeptical. Which is why I’m compelled to give it a whirl for a month to see what all the fuss is about.
My friend Jess (she’s the master of fun over at Madison-School Community Recreation) thinks that this workout has potential, but she says she needs proof. So she and I have recruited some guinea pigs to try it for a month to see if it has any impact on their fitness level. I encourage you to play along with us by doing this circuit twice (fine, it’s a 14-minute workout, you’re already sweaty so stop whining) every day that you don’t already have a workout planned. So, if you’re running three days a week, do the 14-minute workout on three other days, and take a day for rest. There’s even an app to download that leads you through the workout, or you can use this nifty timer.
What have you got to lose?
I’m super excited about “Arrested Development” returning to the TV. While I could never choose a favorite character, I’ve always been quite taken with Lindsay Bluth, mainly because I think Portia de Rossi is hilarious and never had a chance to show off her ability on “Ally McBeal.” Also, I got really creeped out by the rampant anorexia on that show. So I was really jazzed when my hold on de Rossi’s memoir, “Unbearable Lightness,” finally came up at the public library. I devoured her book this weekend, and I was so touched by de Rossi’s honest retelling of her struggle with anorexia and bulimia. She got down to 82 pounds; she had osteoporosis; she showed signs of cirrhosis of the liver; her organs were on the verge of shutting down. She is truly lucky to be alive, and her story is an important cautionary tale about the devastating effects of eating disorders.
She’s happy and healthy now, and some of her words really stuck with me:
If you can accept your natural body weight — the weight that is easy for you to maintain, or your “set point” — and not force it to beneath your body’s natural, healthy weight, then you can live your life free of dieting, or restriction, or feeling guilty every time you eat a slice of your kid’s birthday cake. But the key is to accept your body just as it is. Just as I have had to learn to accept that I have thighs that are a little bigger than I’d like, you may have to accept that your arms are naturally a little thicker or your hips are a little wider. In other words, accept yourself. Love your body the way it is and feel grateful toward it. Most important, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like.
Wise words. To celebrate her journey, I submit this video of Lindsay Bluth (with an awesome assist from Gob) doing her chicken dance. Classic.
I absolutely adore napping. Like, it’s probably my favorite thing in the world, after … no. It’s my favorite. Which is why I was thrilled to see that someone has dedicated their efforts to finding the perfect nap accessory.
The Ostrich Pillow. Yes.
If you ever feel like buying your favorite yoga teacher a gift, this is perfect. Remember, we let go of judgment in our yoga practice, just like we let go of judgment when dealing with narcoleptic fitness instructors.
I have this friend, see. His name is Kevin, and he’s part-dad, part-robot, part-reallycoolguy. And he decided to get healthy. I’m feeling really inspired by him, and I’m excited to walk with him on his journey. On his blog, he asked for some healthy recipes, and since I’m planning on trying a new one today, a coconut curry kale and sweet potato soup I read about in Yoga Journal, I thought I’d share it here and let all of you know how it turns out.
Also, I had to link to his Portlandia clip about pasta addicts because it’s hilarious.
In a bid to understand why people love hot yoga, I picked up Benjamin Lorr’s new book, “Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga.” In the book, Lorr falls in love with Bikram Yoga because it helps him lose a bunch of weight and get into crazy good shape. So he quits his job and commits to spending nine weeks in a shabby hotel so that he can train to be a Bikram teacher, spending $11,000 for the privilege. His journey is a definite must-read for yoga geeks like me, because he makes some excellent points about what it means to practice yoga. Watch Lorr talk about his journey here.
For one, he mentions that “to define yoga is to limit yoga.” The physical extremes that he and his fellow yogis strive for actually look nothing like the yoga that most people experience in class; but knowing that the body can achieve such extremes does illustrate yoga’s unlimited reach.
For me, I can’t help but think about Brahmacharya. That’s the yama, or yogic restraint, of nonexcess. To practice yoga to a point where an arm and shoulder become completely paralyzed, as in Lorr’s case, is to ignore the concept of moderation that is so important for wellness. As Deborah Adele says in her excellent book “The Yamas & Niyamas,”
In yogic thought, there is a moment in time when we reach the perfect limit of what we are engaged in. It is this moment of “just enough” that we need to recognize.
Basically, Brahmacharya just reinforces the common sense approach of “moderation in all things.” Maybe heating a room to 110+ degrees and backbending until you lose control of a limb isn’t the best idea, but it’s important to test your limits once in awhile in order to feel truly alive.