Friday, February 28, 2014

Sending Strength

This picture is of the Northern Lights, off my back porch, in Columbia Missouri. February 5th 2014. 11 pm. Strength from the source.

You ever have one of those nights that you think is going to be a normal type of thing and it ends up being full of transformational drama.  Well I had one recently.  I was getting together with some lady friends, as I tend to do about once a week.  I had not seen any of these particular ladies in a while, some for weeks and some for months.  We were excited to hang out and enjoy each other's stories and lives.  

By the end of the evening one would reveal a major health trauma, one get faint, one would get drama dropped in her life unannounced and one would reveal a secrete so painful it would trump the lot.  Was it exhausting and draining and traumatic? Was it wonderful and bonding and revealing?  Yes and yes.  

For privacy and sense of kinship to my sisters of another mother, I will not go into the details but for the following tails:  

There was a bird that was strong and lean and muscular. She had strength and youth and joy.  She liked to jump and fly.  One time she jumped a little too high and flew a little too close to other birds and she clipped her wing. She did not think it serious and discounted the injury. She saw the marks on her body.  Knew there were concerns.  This was her body to take on her journey.  She wondered how her body would progress and wondered if she could keep flying so high and jumping for the sky. 

There once was a flower.  A flower with a passion and a dream.  A flower that worked so hard to build her world. She wanted grow strong, always facing the sun, planting strong roots.  She turned towards the sun.  Breathed deep of the soil. Drank of the wind.  Her very survival required her to pull the bees and bugs to her.  She worked so hard she did not have time to focus in and take care of her stem and roots.  After a time she bowed under the pressure of the wind and wondered if she had the strength to achieve her goals.  

There was one dog.  A dog that loved it's pack often beyond what she should.  She would make sure all the families had water and food.  Some times the dog would care too much, maybe even work too hard to keep everyone safe and happy and close.  She would get drawn into drama through habit and loyalty to those she had known through time, always seeing the good in them even when it was questionable. Yet, some times, some times the most generous of dogs can get bitten by circumstance when they are caught unaware.

There was one star.  She could look through space at time as it changed.  Watching bright stars as they changed, exploding into galaxies.  She could see a star close to her.  One she had known a long time.  The star was moving towards explosion and she knew that the explosion would surely rock her foundation and world.  She could not stop the hands of time, or the progress of the heavens.  She watched into space as time unfolded.  

As you can imagine I was rather blown away by the experience. So the following day I did yoga and thought how to help the star, and dog, and flower and bird.  I had talked to some family and friends about some of the tails and what stuck was to visualize the situations in their possible good conclusion and send that out to the people.  However, for some of these stories there was no clear good answer.  No fairy god mother or magic wand that would fix these situations.  

So as I did yoga what came to me was the concept of strength. What ever comes for the star, or dog, or flower or bird they will all need strength.  Strength to go through what they must and to make it to the other side of their challenges.  If they all send strength to each other the chances are much better together then apart, and maybe they will all make their way through the labyrinth.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

The End is only the Beginning

I made it through my first forty day challenge.  I did 30 hot yoga classes in 38 days with two days to spare.  I also kept to my 5 day miracle diet with no extras for that full 40 days.  So no sugars, alcohol or chocolate etc. have passed these lips since that day back in January when I started my push.  I even went to a dinner with my husbands company and stayed away from fantastic desserts and goodies. I have stopped craving sugar.  I can't remember a time that I did not crave sugar.

I have definitely lost weight and feel stronger each day.  I know that my clothing is fitting better and I am fitting into some older clothing that had not fit for a while. I tried on a jacket this morning that has not fit since before I got pregnant with Joel and it is still a little snug but on it's way.

So the end of one challenge necessitates the next.  I am going to take this week to figure out where to go next.  I plan to keep with the 5 day miracle diet but change it in some ways to help my process.  I also plan to do another yoga challenge to go with this next 40 day diet challenge.  I have been researching Gluten and may choose to do a forty day gluten free.  I will keep you posted on this.

The challenge will start next week when my husband is back from his business trip. There are many people that have helped me on this continuing journey.  Some are at Sumits Hot Yoga Columbia, and some are closer to home, in this case my husband.  I want to thank him for all the help he gives me in making it to my mat and in encouraging my efforts towards a healthy life.   This process takes time and Money and he has not begrudged me either.

Now on the yoga side, here is the scoop I have been working on during my practices for the last while.  The question is "Is balance internal or external?"  For over a year I have been doing yoga mostly with a view of a mirror that allows me to focus on something, albeit myself or a certain point on the wall.  However, how does this work when the focal point becomes internal instead of external.  Instead of relying on that outer point of focus I am trying to bring the focus inside.

This is never more prevalent then during standing poses when you need your balance to keep upright.  I have to really work at turning it inside and keeping balanced within my space.   It is extremely rewarding when it works well, yet it is quite challenging to do.  Controlling the breath helps as well as that is an inherently internal process.  Yet achieving balance while focusing internally is difficult. Often thoughts or motions invade the peace of balance once achieved.

I think that this inner strength and focus is a necessary step towards feeling at one during the practice.  While my internal focus increase so does my feeling of comfort with the practice.  I have less of a urge to get through it and feel more like I am purposeful moving into each position and through each transition.  I feel less like moving through the motions and more like optimizing each movement.  I wonder what a focus like this would do in other areas of my life....

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So Far So Good ... almost.

As of today, day 24 days out of 40 from the official start of the 30/40 day challenge, I have done 18 hot yoga classes as Sumit Hot Yoga, Columbia.   I am feeling strong and am taking names.   However a little thing called Mother Nature is getting in my way, that and about 10 inch's of snow.  I only have to do another 12 in 16, if this snow will end I still can make this happen.

The diet has also been going strong.  I have officially been in good blood sugar for 23 days.  I have not had even a cookie since I turned my mind to doing this.  While this has left good, I do believe that a filo brownie from Addison is in my future. This diet requires you to have extras, however so far nothing has been worth it. Thus no alcohol or chocolate have passed these lips. Somehow having a short time frame has given me strength to say no to a lot of sugar.  I know, that someday, I will be able to have it again, just not now.

So to get back to Mother Natures imposed hot yoga hiatus. Saturday I could not get there as we got 1/4 inch of ice on everything.  So did not go anywhere that day.  Was able to go Sunday and Monday so kicked some yoga tushy.   Tuesday the snow started and have not been able to go for two days. This is the longest break I have taken since starting this challenge.  I wanted to do my best to do more then necessary now I am just worried about getting to 30.

To make matters a little more tentative I fell on my drive way and jammed my arm by landing on my wrist.  The compression landed in my elbow.  This is an elbow I dislocated as a child so really happy it held up and there seems to be no major injury.  The joint is sore with a little internal bruising.  So doing the flows might be a little challenging for a few days, assuming I can get back to class.

So the question of how this is affecting my body must be addressed. As you may know I don't weight in.  I find the numbers make me nuts and frankly I have too much of a monthly flow of up and down, due to cycle changes, that the number only serve to confuse the situation.  I can say that my clothing fit much better and my face looks much smaller in the mirror.  I may have even lost a chin... still at least one more to go however.

My energy level is up and I feel more in control of my flow of energy and emotions, the result of the blood sugar balance.  The normal swelling I get my feet is down substantially as well.  I am on the way to getting in charge of this situation.

I am recording my food intake and my workout's on my IPhone with My Fitness Pal and using my Fitbit to track my steps.  So far this is keeping me honest and on track.  I need to keep doing this or would be easy to go off the course and sneak snacks other then the ones I am having with my diet.  So I will keep myself honest with this system.

As for Yoga revelations, I have had a couple rather good over the last few weeks.  The first one has to do with breathing and the second one is about focus.  I will save the second one for my next post.  Just to build some suspense.  Hehe

So, I was laying on the mat taking a break, as I like to do, just relaxing and catching my breath.  I was working on a yogic breath where you slightly block your exhales to elongate them and make the breathing purposeful.   All of this breathing is done through the nose by the way.  I am sure there an official name for this.  Anyway, I was thinking on it and decided to let my body dictate the speed of that exhale by concentrating on letting my body control the rise and fall of my chest not my mind.  So by letting my body control this action I was able to substantially elongate my breathing especially the exhales.

This breathing, when done well, has a little snore sound that goes along with. This may make others wonder if you have a cold or are OK, so be aware of that. Over the last couple weeks I have gotten to the point where my exhales go for about a slow count of 14 and my inhales are ranging around 9.  These lengths are over double what I was doing before.  This also has had the most relaxing effect on the body and mind.  By cutting the mind out of it and allowing the body to do the work the mind down sifts and chills out.

While this breathing is great for the breaks, I have a long way to go to be able to sustain this in full positions.
Will report back as this progresses in my practice.