April Yoga Challenge

My ladies at work and some others thought it would be fun to do a Yoga Challenge in April. Certainly not as difficult as the Burpee Challenge we did last month, but much more relaxing. Some of us just don’t do yoga as much as we would like, some of us hate stretching, some of us have never tried.

Whatever the reason, this will be an excellent way to both stretch and start a consistent yoga practice. We are all going to do the same routine, but will vary the poses depending on our experience and flexibility. I invite you all to play along with us.

The idea is to decide how many times a week we can do it, and how long we will hold each pose for, increasing that time each week. I am going to do the practice 5 times a week, and hold each pose for 3 breaths to start, adding a breath each week so I will be holding poses for 6 breaths on the last week. It’s our challenge, so we can decide individually how we want to run it. But once we decide, the challenge is to DO IT consistently for the month.

First (imagine this in bold flashing letters):
  this is meant to be a stretching routine. Do not try if you have any medical reason not to, and do not push any of the stretches beyond comfort level.

The best way to measure the time of the pose is with breathing.  Breathing is important in yoga, deep full breaths are far more meaningful  than actually touching your toes. Counting your breath is also easier than keeping an eye on the clock, and lets you focus on the movements. Additionally, it makes sure you are not holding your breath!

Traditionally, you should inhale as you start the pose and exhale as you deepen it. So inhale as you start, exhale as you settle in it and then try to take a deep, full breath (in and out) as you hold it. That would be holding the pose for one breath. The following week, try to add a full breath, and another the following week, increasing the duration of each pose. Slower is good, taking the air and holding it for a beat before releasing it instead of sucking in and immediately chuffing it back out.

The routine takes roughly 10 minutes. If you are starting with 1 breath, it might just take 8 minutes, by the time I get to 6 breaths it will probably top 15 minutes.

PS: these pictures are of people who clearly have been doing it forever. As long as you are reaching and breathing, whether you touch your toes or the floor is really immaterial. The practice matters, not the end result.

Yoga I

Mountain Pose
stand with feet together, and palms touching in front of your chest, then sweep arms wide out to side and overhead, touching palms as you stretch up.    Inhale as you go up, exhale on way down. These are continuous, flowing movements (as is the Forward Bend, next) so they don’t need to be held for a count of breath. Do 4 sweeps overhead before starting Forward Bends.

Forward Bend
start in Mountain Pose.  Sweep arms up, then out again as you fold forward from the hips (folding from the hips is important, bending your back at the waist can hurt your back and won’t stretch the back of your legs as well). Reach hands as far towards the floor as you can, then sweep arms up and return to Mountain Pose. Repeat 4 times.

Forward Bend with arm raise
from Mountain Pose, clasp hands behind back, roll shoulders back (inhale) and bend forward (exhale), raising arms as high as possible above your back as you bend. Release arms and sweep forward as you straighten. Do 4 times.

Standing Twist
raise arms half way out to side, drop the shoulder blades down your back (in other words, don’t hunch your shoulders, they should be down and relaxed), inhale and twist to face one side. Try to keep hips straight (ish) and use your middle to twist, not legs.

 

Tree
Start in Mountain Pose, then stand on one leg, foot secure on floor, weight in the heel. Tuck your other heel against your leg, with toe on floor or along your leg. Sweep hands out to sides and above your head, touching your palms. Stretch up as you balance and hold for your number of breaths before changing sides.

Plank
this can be done on knees or toes, your choice. From hands and knees, raise to a push up position for your number of breaths.   Keep thighs tight, core tucked in, shoulder blades together, and back straight.

Cat/Cow
on your hands and knees, inhale as you roll your shoulder blades down your back and sink your lower back, stretching your head and neck forward, chin up. As you exhale, roll your back up towards the ceiling and reach your nose towards your tummy. Repeat 4 times

Child’s Pose
from Cat, push back so arms are outstretched, forehead is on  floor and your seat is on your feet (or as close as you can get).

Staff
sit with legs, straight out and back upright.  Tighten thighs, flex feet and use core to keep upright, place hands lightly behind for balance.

Sitting Forward Bend
lean forward from hips, not waist, stretching hands toward toes (keep toes flexed if possible).

Leg Twist
leaving one leg extended, cross your other leg over, placing foot on outside of knee.  Hook opposite arm over the knee  and place other hand on floor behind hip, twist so that you are looking over the shoulder of the hand on the floor. Try to keep spine straight vertically as you twist.

Sit cross-legged.
wiggle a bit til your sitting bones are on the floor comfortably, with ankles crossed and hands on knees, back straight.

Stretch arms out to side, palms up.
Take a breath, flip palms down, continuing to stretch to side, then reach overhead, touching palms. Interlink your fingers and push palms to ceiling for a breath. Release hands, putting one on floor in line with your hip and stretch the other to ceiling as you lean over towards the hand on floor (bend the arm to lean further, or use to help keep you up). Keep opposite hip on floor to get a good side stretch, then repeat on other side. (Sorry, I couldn’t find a picture for this one!)

Resume cross leg position, hands on knees
Take a deep breath, and enjoy the time and love you just spent on yourself.

 

Weekly Rundown 3/11-3/17

Teases of spring this week 🙂

I was able to walk outside in the afternoons on my breaks without my coat and without freezing! Then, naturally, Thursday morning we got up to 4 inches of snow. Snow showers overnight indeed.

Best thing about March is that snow melts quickly.

Monday: off

Tuesday: a quick mile on the treadmill in the morning. I stretched out with 7 minutes of yoga afterwards, before getting ready to trudge off to work.

Wednesday: I decided to go a little further before work, running 2 miles in 17.44. I really need to start working on my milege. Doing just 2 miles seems so short to me, and I would like to get up to 15-20 miles a week this summer. If my knees cooperate. I don’t foresee doing a 100 mile month, but that would be so cool. Just once. Maybe a good goal for September?

Thursday: I am trying to work weights back into my rotation. I have been kinda ignoring strength training over the winter. But I know it will help my running and keep me balanced, so I did just a bit before work. I love mixing my yoga with the weights. I start in mountain pose and do some stretching of my arms and legs, then do my first set (okay, so I only did one set, but it was 1 x 20!). I break the sets by my “3-way plank”– a regular plank for 5 breaths, then one arm planks on each side for 5 breaths. A set is five moves, three arm moves alternated with two leg moves. I generally do 2 sets, but, as I said, I have been slacking big time. I finish with Down Dog and Warrior before floor stretches.

Friday: I was so tired. Not sure exactly what I did this week, but it hit me on Friday. I get Fridays off, and I had no ambition at all. I wanted a longer run, and even thought about going to the Rail Trail for an outside run. But Mother Nature brought in some rain and sitting in a chair reading sounded so much better. That also put the kabash on walking Daisy. Fortunately she likes the chair too. I managed to drag myself up around mid morning, ran some errands in town with the pups, then came home and read a little more. Finally, in late afternoon, I did get on the treadmill and did 3.6 miles, which was about what I wanted. I finished off with some Burpees (yup, I figured I should still do those occasionally) and stretching before getting around to house cleaning and dinner.

Saturday: we went snowmobiling, probably for the last time this season. There is still a ton of snow up north, off trail was probably two and half feet deep. Since I am only five feet, I tried hard to stay on trail! It was bright and shiny when we got on the sleds, but when we got up into the mountains the clouds came out, the wind gusted and snow flew.  Had a great time! I did do a brisk mile walk on the treadmill, with intervals of carrying weights, before we left. Of course, my Fitbit counts steps as I ride the sled. Since I am fighting to steer and shifting weight for curves, not to mention holding on with my legs–and standing when the trail got quite rough, which was a lot that day–I think I am going to take all those steps. As we were in the mountains, the Fitbit also thought I climbed 408 floors, which is pretty amusing 🙂 And still, after all of that, I wasn’t as tired as I was on Friday!

 

Sunday: Mother Nature ruined my plans once more. The sky was bright but the air was cool and the wind was biting. I managed to take Daisy for a mile walk, but I decided the treadmill was a better place for my run. It was one of those days when I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I got on the treadmill. Once I got past 2 miles, I thought it would be nice to run a 5k. So I did! I had also planned on stripping the horses, and lunging them to get some early spring work in. However, the wind is so brutal, it seemed mean to take their blankets off. Also, I didn’t really want to stand outside while lunging them. They didn’t seem to mind taking the day off.

Weekly Rundown 2/18-2/25

I missed another week’s rundown! But nothing exciting happened that week except it was warm enough to take Daisy for an outside walk. This past week was a little busier, with more and more burpees and a trip north on Saturday. My knees have been a little achy, and I blame the cold!

Monday: Treadmill run for 2.6 miles in 23 minutes. I did a .20 warm up and cool down on either side of the run. I never used to do that, especially if I was active before the run. But I think it helps my knees, so I have been trying to be better about adding it in. I finished off with 18 burpees, a 30 second plank and 6 minutes of stretching.

Tuesday: off! An easy day and only 1 burpee required 🙂

Wednesday: I hopped on the treadmill before work for a brisk walk. I have been trying to get more walks in to save my  knees. I am aiming for fast miles, and I worked my way up to 4.7 MPH for a 13:35 mile. Followed, of course, by 2 burpees.

Thursday: Pretty much off. I had planned for weights and yoga, but life did not comply. I did manage 11 minutes of relaxing yoga (necessary after the long day) after finishing 24 burpees.

Friday: I had to go town for an appointment for my husband, then planned to go back for errands.  I didn’t want to be worrying about getting my exercise in, so I snuck a quick workout first thing. I did pretty much the same as I did on Monday–warmup, 2 miles and a cool down. And, of course, the perpetual burpees–26. But no push up, it felt like I was cheating! I did just “regular” burpees without the push up, although to me burpees with a push up are the regular ones. But my shoulders objected, and I decided it was better to do any burpee than not be able to do them after pushing too hard.

Saturday: We went snowmobiling bit further north in Maine. It was a lovely day. I did walk a quick mile (I’m improving, 13:13 this time) on the treadmill before leaving, just so I felt I got something done. I also broke my burpees into 2 sections to make life easier, with 13 before the walk and 13 after. Still no push up, didn’t want to stress my upper body before fighting with the snowmobile all day. We rode out several hours to a restaurant for lunch and then back. The ride took about 5 hours, then we had to drive home!

Sunshine was gorgeous, and the trail was perfect.

 

Sunday: Fortunately, another 1 burpee day. And a bit of rejuvenating yoga. Followed by a nap!

Weekly Rundown

Another week gone by. I took it easy, not because I was hurting, but because I was lazy! Guess we all gotta do that sometimes.

I did pick up towards the end of the week. I learned (again) the difference between  a treadmill mile and a mile on the hills in my area. Took longer, and was a just a smidge harder. Think I need to do more outside miles. Now, if Mother Nature would only cooperate.

Monday: off

Tuesday: a fast walk to start my day.  I worked my way up from 3.0 MPH to 4.5, and finished the mile in 13:50.

Wednesday: just a five-minute stretch, so pretty much off 😛

Thursday: Ok, I was slacking this week. I did 15 minutes of yoga,  then 1 x 15 weights (I know, big slacker). I did hold my plank for a minute. I got my husband Alexa for Christmas and she is most useful as a timer!

Friday: A run outside! I had to take my car down to the mechanics, so I thought I would drop it off and run home. He is 1.85 miles from me, so I ran a bit extra just to make it an even 2 miles. The forecast was for rain and clouds, but they said once the rain stopped, the sun would come out. What do they know! The rain stopped, so I played around in the driveway for 15 minutes or so, then decided to get ready. Halfway to the mechanic’s it began to rain again. I just love Mother Nature! Then I made the decision to go back and get the car when it was done. The second run (which I also ran a bit extra to make it 2 miles) was much harder. I figure running hills for the first time in months, then letting my legs stiffen before heading out again was probably not the best idea. On the other hand, I did finish both runs without any stops or walking. Oddly enough, the second run was about a minute faster.

Saturday: rest day–kinda. I knew my legs needed to be stretched, so I did 40 minutes of slowish, interval walking, and 20 minutes of yoga. I came up with a new  yoga routine, that is both stretching and strength. My first yoga routine takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on how many breaths you hold the poses for, and is mainly stretching.

Sunday: first, a walk with Daisy, who was most excited to get outside. Then onto the treadmill. I did an easy 30 minute run, which my legs mostly didn’t object to. I finished with the start of my Burpee Challenge. First day was only 2, so easy enough!

 

Weekly Rundown

Can you believe we are so far into January 2019 already?? I guess this year will go as quickly as last year did. So we better stay focused!

Of course, much easier said than done. There is illness floating around everyone I know, and I got hit with the simplest variety two weeks ago. I developed a cold over the weekend that wasn’t too troublesome, but on Monday I lost my voice late in the day. I did go to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, since I felt fine otherwise it seemed silly to call out. But I didn’t register any patients, since I couldn’t talk to them. Felt pretty weird being there and not helping patients, actually. On the other hand, got a lot of the paper work we never get done, done.

I was worn down that week, so I did a lot of walking on the treadmill that week, with a dose or two of yoga. I bounced back this week.

Monday: I had planned on a 3 mile run before work. This was a bit adventurous as I have never done more than 2 in the amount of time I have in the morning. And I didn’t give myself quite a bit time, so I ended up doing 2.25 in 19 minutes. I rushed through the stretching and got ready for  work.

Tuesday:off, planned and grateful!

Wednesday: I did a brisk walk on the treadmill, .95 mile in 15 minutes, first thing in the morning. Next time I wanna get a little brisker, so I can do an actual mile, not just close. I did have time for 5 minutes of stretching after, which is good since my knees were a little achy.

Thursday: almost a day  off, just did 13 minutes of stretchy yoga. Relaxed me when I got home before tackling dinner.

Friday: I decided that maybe my knees were achy because I had tried to go too fast on Monday. I had run the second mile at 7.5 MPH, and it felt fine while I was doing it. But I think that is what happened this summer too, when I couldn’t run much in September. I think I went too hard, too fast, and that my knee just couldn’t take it. But I wanted to run, so I ran at 6.2 MPH for 4 miles.  That speed seemed to work ok.

Saturday: Planned on snowmobiling up north, but it was waaaay too cold, so I got back on the treadmill. I did a 20 minute “interval” walk, alternating speeds with the show I was watching. I fast forward through the commercials, so each I time I fast forwarded I changed the speed until the next commercial set. I finished with 22 minutes of weights mixed with yoga. I did strength poses as well as stretching, and, since I can’t seem to add that extra rep, I did 2 x 20 instead of 15.

Sunday: Back on the treadmill for another long run. I did 5 miles at 6.2-6.5 MPH, keeping it slow to help my knees. I also did a warm up and cool down, which I think probably helps my legs more too. I made sure to stretch fully, doing 20 minutes of yoga to relax all my muscles.

Runner?

My wonderful husband got me Runner’s World  magazine for Christmas. One issue in, and I have learned two things.

One, it’s a great magazine and I am totally enjoying reading people who focus on running even more than I do.  It does seem to be aimed more at long distance runners, which I don’t really aspire to. For one thing, with my knee damage, I would rather run short distances for a longer period of time than long distances for a short time. For another, not sure that UltraMarathoning is truly good for a human body. We weren’t really built for that. Which, of course, is why it is so amazing that runners can do it. But most of the articles apply to all running, and are right on point.

The other thing I learned was that I am a runner. As I read the article by the young lady who ran a marathon (and placed) in a different brand of shoe than she had been in love with for several years and felt oddly like she had betrayed her previous sneakers,  it occurred to me that if I only had time to run or ride the horse, I would be waving to the mare on the way out of the driveway for my run.

Running comes first. And I think that is what defines a runner, not the mileage or the speed, just the intent.

I enjoy yoga, I do weights because it helps with running, kickboxing is a great way to blow off steam, kayaking is pretty and I love my horses. But I would rather run than do any of those. And I hope everyone has that one activity that they would just rather do more than anything else, because running brings me peace. And everyone needs that.

 

Weekly Rundown

Ah, the first rundown of the year. Might be a bit more exciting if I wasn’t so worn out from the holiday season.  I have decided that five days a week is ok right now. Amazing what our bodies can convince us. Of course, it wasn’t able to convince me to just give up on exercising right now–and it did try!

Monday- New Year’s Eve, but I got to work anyway. And I took the day off from exercise, per usual. And went to bed at the same time. Can’t remember the last time I saw the New Year at the start!

Tuesday: New Year’s Day, which I did have off. Took it easy with the exercise, doing one of the presets on the treadmill.  It was a 30 minute run, with intervals between 5.9 and 6.5 MPH, ending with 2.7 miles and a fairly relaxed me. I followed up with 16 minutes of yoga to loosen the muscles and I was ready to face the new year!

Wednesday: another easy day (lets face it, it was an easy week) with only 13 minutes of stretchy yoga after a long day at work.

Thursday: off again, just plain exhausted.

Friday: back on the wagon again–at least, trying to be! There is a 20 minute/1 mile interval walk on the treadmill that I did twice, with 1 lb weights in each hand, altering between overheads, bicep curls and just carrying. I did 25 minutes of free yoga after, mixing in strength poses (plank, reverse plank, scale, warrior) with stretchy moves.

Saturday: still feeling relaxed, I did a 40 minute interval run on the treadmill, with speeds alternating between 5.3 and 6.8 MPH. The run was 3.7 miles and felt really good.

Sunday: I did a “fast” walk for 15 minutes, although my warm up period was a bit too slow to do an entire mile in the 15 minutes. Then I dragged the standing punching bag out for the first time in years and went through my punch/kicking routine.  Took about 20 minutes and it did get me warm. Fun though, love kickboxing!

 

So tired….

Here it is the new year, and we all have these fresh resolutions…..and we are so exhausted!

Or is that just me?

I had a wonderful holiday season. We did something almost every weekend, which was rather unusual for us. But we kept busy from Thanksgiving to Christmas and even beyond, visiting the Garden’s Aglow on New Year’s weekend.

It was fantastic, and if you are ever near Boothbay in the month of December, I highly recommend it. We have been trying to go for a number of years, and this is the first time we got there.

      

Meanwhile, between the family get togethers, friends, dinners and actual holiday celebrations, I seem to be a bit weary. So I gave myself permission to slack off a bit this week.

I mean, I took two whole days off. And just did a bit of yoga stretching on some of the other days.

Why do I mention this? For two reasons.

One, it is quite important to listen to your body and not push when you are worn out. Even if you have a new program that demands it of you. Two, it is also important to be flexible. We all know what happens to the best laid plans. If you can be flexible about which day you are taking off, how many days a week you take off as well as what day you are doing which exercise routine, I can guarantee you will be a happier exercise-er (is that a word? Did I just make it up? 😛 )

Now, that doesn’t mean you give yourself permission to take the majority of days off each week, or do the “easy” workout every day. It just means you cut yourself a break once in a while and listen to your body.

Weekly Rundown

You know, it’s a good thing I make copious notes about everything. These run-downs  are getting further and further away from the week, and I would never remember what I did, much less why I did or didn’t do something.

We went away on Friday and came home late yesterday, so there wasn’t much time for writing, especially since before I was trying to get everything (dogs, horses, luggage) in order before we left. So as I sit here and watch my football team get badly beat, I thought it would a perfect time to do my post.

Monday: off. As usual, although it once more was busy at work so I was happy to rest. Apparently, Monday has become the day to fast and then come in for lab work. Does make the day go by fast.

Tuesday: I made my own workout for the treadmill–it would nice to be able to set it so I didn’t have to pay as much attention to the clock. But not on this treadmill, maybe the next one! I started running 5 minutes at 6 MPH, then alternated 2 minutes at 6 and 2 at 7 MPH. I finished with 1 min at 4 MPH, then down to 3 MPH for another minute; with a total of 15 minutes and 1.46 mile. It would have been great to do more, but there was this thing called work….and Tuesdays are usually busier than Mondays.

Wednesday: I took the night to do yoga while cooking dinner. After a long day, then rushing home (in the dark now) to feed the horses, it is nice to slow down and have a yoga session. It was only 13 minutes, but it was thirteen minutes of deep, relaxing breathing and thinking of nothing but the twist or stretch of my body.

Thursday: I used one of the presets on the treadmill, a 20 minute mile with brisk intervals for walking. And since I am contained to walking in the hospital again-it has been both cold and wet once more-I have started doing stairs again. I went up 8 floors. The hospital only has 4, but I go from bottom floor to roof in one set of 4 flights, then I work my way from the bottom to top with steps scattered throughout the hospital so my legs have a bit of a break in between the stairs. I finished the day with 10 minutes of stretch-y, relaxing yoga when I got home.

Friday: a day off from work, but still soooo many things to do! I took a family member in for a scheduled appointment, and ran all my errands in town for the couple hours it took. I hopped on the treadmill first thing in the morning since I knew how busy the day would be. I did another preset workout, this one running for 30 minutes and a  total of 2.6 miles. It set me up well for the day of running from the car to stores and back again in the rain!

Saturday: I ran again on the treadmill, which was kinda a test for me since I haven’t run two days in a row since the summer. Fortunately it, felt really good! I did a 30 minute run, also 2.6 miles, with different speeds. Then, since the show I was watching still had 10 minutes left, I finished walking those minutes at 3 MPH.

Sunday: the sun came out!
                        Daisy and I had shadows again. And we have never looked so tall!

We did  a brisk 2.13 miles in 36:24. The shadows were a little chilly, but the sun felt wonderful whenever we got back out in it. Afterwards, I put the kids out back while I fixed the fence (someone had broken a middle line, probably by trying to reach just one more bite of grass through the fence). There were thundering hooves and excited kicks, and then those birdbrains tried to follow me back in when I left. It’s nice that they like me that much, but I told them stay out and eat some green grass.  I had to help a bit with stacking wood (otherwise known as weightlifting!), and then I reorganized my library–again. Seems to be an annual occurrence  as I try to squeeze out just a little more space in the same old room.

 

Weekly Rundown

Another week flew by. And a cold week at that.

We went from 70s to 30s with no intermediate temperatures this year. So some are making their (annual dream) plans to move to a warmer clime, while others are pulling the snowmobile logo jackets out!

Monday: off. Thought about yoga when I got home, but no. Some days, even though I know it will make me feel better, I just can’t get up the gumption after work.

Tuesday: Planned on a 2m morning run. But decided to change it since my knees were a bit achy. The fall weather is not being kind to them. So I started with  a 5 minute warm up at 3 -4 MPH, then 1.5 miles at 6 -7 MPH, then a 1 minute cool down. I did a nice yoga stretch session when I got home that night. And the knees survived!

Wednesday: off. I had planned on an evening workout of yoga and weights, but my husband had had a bad day and we ended up talking til it was time to feed the horses– and ourselves.

Thursday: Did a morning treadmill walk preset for 20 minutes, which has several different intensities and equaled out a mile. Short, but I had planned to walk Daisy that night to get a bit more distance. Unfortunately, fall is upon us and it was just too dark. Not that she would have cared, but I did!

Friday: Wanted to do an outside run, but it was windy and cold. So I took Daisy out for a short walk and we ended up doing 2.10 miles  (watching her little ears flapping in the breeze as she trotted along) in 35 minutes . I followed that with 3 miles on the treadmill running at 6 MPH for the first mile, 6.5 for the second and 7.0 for the last. After resting for a bit, I took Charby out in the back field for 26 minutes. But no posting while trotting, as I figured my legs had done enough for the day!

Saturday: Rain. Cold, wet Rain. We finished  our project of covering the boat.  We decided not to shrinkwrap it since we wanted to be able to get in and make improvements over the winter. Ok, my husband wants to get in and play with stuff over the winter. Meanwhile, over the course of Friday and Saturday we built a pole shelter that should be reusable for several years. Although we put so many screws in to make it secure, it may take three days to take down next spring! After all that, I just did an easy 30 minute walk on treadmill. The rain came in shortly after we finished the shelter, so riding was not an option. Somehow, I doubt Christopher Robin was unhappy about that.

Sunday: More rain. Blech.  So it was the treadmill again. I gave Daisy a hair cut and bath–she looks so cute– before getting on to do 32 minutes at 3 to 4 MPH intervals. And then house cleaning. Not exactly a relaxing day, but I felt good about the upcoming week.