Category Archives: Yoga

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Oct. 7-13)

Last week was characterized by two things:

1. Not much running.
2. A return to yang yoga.

Both of these were good things.  As I’ve said before, I tend to use the post-long-race week as both a physical and mental break from training.  I take a step back from my intense Sunday afternoon workout scheduling session, and just do whatever workouts I feel like – or don’t feel like – doing.  I put zero pressure on myself to do anything, and if I want to lounge around and read a book instead, or sleep in for an extra hour, I let myself.  So after last weekend’s 50K, my workout week looked like this:

Monday: Yin yoga.

Basically, I fell asleep in a candle lit room while ostensibly stretching my hips.  Glorious.

Tuesday: Yoga by the River

I also used a hair dryer on Tuesday.  I did not, however, carry a flower pot on my head...

I also used a hair dryer on Tuesday. I did not, however, carry a flower pot on my head…

A new East Coast Lululemon showroom opened last week in Singapore.  In preparation/celebration, the owners organized a series of free Tuesdays by the River Community Yoga classes during September and October.  This was my first time in attendance.  There were over 100 of us – probably closer to 200 (?) with our yoga mats spread out on a pedestrian bridge at Clarke Quay.  The guest instructor demonstrated and led from the broad concrete railing.

This was an interesting experience, and I’ll admit that I left with conflicting emotions.  First of all, doing open air yoga with like-minded folks after sunset was REALLY COOL.  But Clarke Quay is a pretty popular evening hang-out for expats, professional locals, and tourists.  Our group occupied most of the bridge (leaving just a narrow space for people to pass by), so we were impossible to miss.  As my mat was located next to this walkway, I heard lots of comments as people went by – and a fair share of them were from groups of men, to the effect of, “Whoa, it’s our lucky day!”  Then, they pulled out their phones and started snapping pictures.

A week later, and I’m still not sure what I think about this.  On one hand, we are opting to practice yoga in tight clothing in a very public setting.  And there were plenty of groups, women, and couples staring (and photographing) too.  I mean, we were quite a sight:

Yoga on the BridgeOn the other hand, such blatant discussion and admission of oogling makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable.  But, I think I’m filing this one under “Live and Let Live,” though – and I’ll probably go back this week.  [Tonight, actually – locals, come join us – BYOM (bring your own mat)!]

Plus, this yoga session reminded me of how much I’ve abandoned my “other” yogas (Hatha, Flow, Vinyasa) in lieu of Yin.  Although Yin is great for stretching and relaxing, I do enjoy the challenge and strength required by yang yogas, and want to ensure I fit in a class or two each week in the coming months.

Wednesday's dinner: Dahl and homemade Naan.  Maybe not much to look at, but soooo good!

Wednesday’s dinner: Dahl and homemade Naan. Maybe not much to look at, but soooo good!

Wednesday: RPM

I have lots of team-teaching to do in the next two months, so you’ll be seeing a lot of spinning going on.  This was just a little test/warm-up.  While I didn’t kill myself with resistance, I was quite pleased with how good my legs felt – generally quite strong, just a touch of residual fatigue when I pushed the hills or sprints hard.  Three cheers for speedy recoveries!

Thursday: Short run/walk & Yoga

This was the Grand Opening of the Lululemon store I mentioned above.  The owners and managers of this store are an energetic, passionate bunch, eager to share their love of fitness.  In fact, I’m working with them to dream up some joint Lulu-RWH programming, so locals, stay tuned!

Anyway, they invited me out for the opening, so I joined an excited, chatty group of 30-40 athletes for a 2-3K run/walk to and through some of East Coast Park.  There, we enjoyed half an hour of waterfront yoga.  Delicious!

Our instructor kept saying, "Reach to the ceiling/mirror/back wall," then catching herself when we all laughed.  I think she needs to lead MORE waterfront yoga!

Our instructor kept saying, “Reach to the ceiling/mirror/back wall,” then catching herself when we all laughed. I think she needs to lead MORE waterfront yoga!

Next, we headed out for a ride around the East Coast area and tour of some local yoga and pilates studios…on a Hippo tour bus (don’t ask me why it’s called a Hippo bus; it doesn’t look like a Hippo):

Hippo BusMy job rocks.  I spent the morning working out, then sitting on the sunshiny, breezy upper deck while riding around Singapore (and ducking the occasional low-hanging branch), talking to yogis and runners, people for whom fitness is a passion – and in many cases, a profession.  The morning ended with mini cupcakes and Chinese treats back at the showroom.  Overall, a very fun morning.  Good luck with this new adventure, ladies!

I also left with my very first Lulu apparel to "test drive" - the blue & white striped tank.  We'll see how it fares after a few weeks with me!

I also left with my very first Lulu apparel to “test drive” – the blue & white striped tank. We’ll see how it fares after a few weeks with me!

Friday: Good intentions, zero execution

Saturday: Communication Fail

I was supposed to shadow an RPM class on this afternoon; but some miscommunication meant that I got to the gym…but didn’t end up shadowing.  Unfortunately, I was wearing my flip flops, and carrying my cycling shoes, but was absolutely without sneakers – so an alternative workout would’ve been hard.  I did some stretching, then came home and finished up my book (Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell – total brain candy).

Sunday: Long Run (9 mi)

GCA has been hankering to try out a new park connector, so I met her, and another of her friends (A), for an early morning run from Buona Vista MRT out to Pandan Reservoir.  This was super fun for me – Pandan Reservoir is near to my in-law’s place, so this is where KMN and I used to run when we would come to Singapore to visit.  This run was made possible by the construction of a new, shiny, loopy bridge over the AYE (freeway) that just opened.  The bridge is really quite impressive; I should have taken a picture – but I’m a bad blogger, and failed to take ANY photos of this group adventure.

We took the pace nice and easy, and the miles passed quickly with company.  My knee did just fine until about Mile 8, when it started to twinge a bit.  After a few twinges, I dialed back to a walk to the finish.  Walking, bending, squatting, and all other activities were fine for the rest of the day.  For now, I’ll continue to treat with rest (or at least, stick to short runs), and add in a bit of quad/hamstring strengthening.  The beauty of being post-key-race is that I have the time and freedom to let this run its course, without being anxious about training that I’m missing.

Anyway – I thoroughly enjoyed getting out for miles with friends – and meeting a potential new running partner *A*ahem*A*!  AND, the run ended with a trip to Ghim Moh market, where I was reunited with my first (and still favorite) tau huay (soybean pudding):

There's nothing like your first time.  Especially when it's as good as this one: smooth, creamy, just the right amount sweet...

There’s nothing like your first time. Especially when it’s as good as this one: smooth, creamy, just the right amount sweet…

I only wish I had thought to bring another five containers home, to eat this week.  Instead, I’m just going to need another excuse to go join GCA for a run in her neighborhood. 🙂

And that, my friends, brings us to the end of post-ultra-week.  Total Workout Time (including stretching & rolling): 6 hr, 19 min.

Coming up this week?  Lots of spinning, and some more non-yin yoga (and, who am I kidding, some yin yoga, too!), and probably some short runs.

Public group yoga: Awesome, or uncomfortable?

Beach yoga: Yay or Nay?
[I hate getting sand everywhere, but have to admit that the views were spectacular!]

2013 Weekly Workout Round-Up (May 27 – June 1)

Thankfully, after the mucus debacle of two weeks ago, last week was a somewhat better week of training.  Things started slowly:

Monday: Easy Run
Tuesday: Yoga

On the urging of a friend, I tried out a yoga class with a new instructor.  The diversity of yoga – and yoga teaching styles – still amazes me.  This particular class started with lots of breathing exercises, including things like, “Breathe in through your left nostril, and out through your right. This is good for cleansing the right side of the body.” or something to that effect.  I know that breath is important, but I’ll admit this was a bit weird for me – particularly since the residue of the previous week’s cold left me unable to breathe through one nostril, so I kept having to “cheat” through my mouth.  I felt very self-conscious about this – especially when the instructor stuck his ear in my face to listen to my breathing.  Whoops.

We then proceeded into a very energetic class, with lots of jumping from pose to pose. However, there was very little instruction on proper body position, pose alignment, or how to sync the breathing and postures.  As of late, I find myself getting annoyed when I take a class where the instructor fails to…well, fails to instruct, on proper execution.  This is true in classes from BodyPump to Spin to yoga.  I wish I could chillax, but even if I know what I’m doing, I feel like all participants deserve proper instruction, to maximize their workout and keep them safe.  So I get peevish when I feel that isn’t provided.

The instructor did come off the stage several times to help students individually – but when he moved me (and others, as far as I could see once I started watching) I found him to be a bit too rough. He didn’t hesitate to push, tug, and twist people’s bodies in not-so-gentle ways, and without even communicating with them (“How is this?” Where do you feel the stretch?”).  Hmmmm.  When I’m already stretching to my limit, roughly pushing my leg further down isn’t going to win me over to your method of instruction.

Perhaps there is a method to his madness – and I know plenty of students enjoy so class.  I just wasn’t my favorite. I think I tend to prefer classes that provide a greater aerobic workout (a flow class), or a workout that I leave feeling like I’ve been very well stretched.  This provided neither.  In fact, the next day I was sore in one spot: The back of my neck.  Weird.

Still, I have a tendency to get into a workout rut – so big thanks to my friend for pulling into something new.  Although it wasn’t quite the right class for me, I’m glad I went.  Thanks, C! 🙂

Wednesday: Spin
Thursday: Run & BodyPump

I ran quite early in the morning, and headed directly out for BodyPump.  By the time class was over, I was ravenous.  So I grabbed a peanut pancake (not quite like an American pancake) to tide me over until lunch.

Crispy outside and soft inside, stuffed with peanut paste.  Carbs and protein, what more could I want?

Crispy outside and soft inside, stuffed with peanut paste. Carbs and protein, what more could I want?

This is completely random, but as I was walking to the bus, I saw this sign.  I won’t lie: It made me sad and distracted enough that I missed my bus.

It just feels...hopeless, you know?

It just feels…hopeless, you know? 🙁

Friday: Rest/Cheer Squad

Very late on Friday night, I headed out to cheer for the participants in this year’s Sundown Half-Marathon.  I staked out a spot just before the bridge to Marina Barrage and set up camp.  The race flagged off at 11:30 PM, so the lead runners came through at around 12:30 AM.  I got to cheer the leaders through, and then the trickle of runners quickly turned into a tidal wave.  I jumped, clapped, yelled, danced, and did whatever else I could think of to make people smile and keep them moving.  [I did not, however, tell them that they were “Almost there!”.  I was far more explicit, “Just over 5K!”] I have no photos from the cheer session (as it was, you know, DARK), but here are a few pre-cheer photos.

Around 3 AM, I finally called it a night and went on a hunt for a taxi.  Unfortunately, I was downtown and in Drunk Tourists Central.  Fortunately, I was totally sober, hyped up from a cheer session, and wearing sensible shoes.  This allowed me to walk far enough to avoid taxi-hailing competition, and I was home in about 15 minutes and asleep 5 minutes after that (4.75 minutes to guzzle some more water and grab a shower, 0.25 minutes to fall asleep).  I slept in until 10 AM (super late for me!), thus missing the cool of the morning for a run.  But one of our favorite spin instructors was teaching the New Release Les Mills Spin Launch on Saturday afternoon, so KMN and I splurged on the extra travel time to get down to the One Raffles Quay gym.

Saturday: Spin
Sunday: Long run

I will diligently be spending more time in my hip stretching poses this week.  Pinky swear!

I will diligently be spending more time in my hip stretching poses this week. Pinky swear!

On Sunday morning, I set out early for 7 solo miles on the roads, then looped back home for a dry shirt, trail sneakers, and my husband.  We headed out for a 7 mile loop around McRitchie Reservoir.  Unfortunately, I had been rather lazy in the stretching and foam rolling department during the week, and my IT band decided to get some revenge.  I was able to keep any serious problems at bay with frequent stretch-stops (and possibly fervent promises to do better next week!!!), and KMN stuck with me and was a good sport about the whole situation.  These stops made the run part seem really easy, though – my legs didn’t feel too fatigued, and despite some lingering lung-ickies, my aerobic stamina was quite good.  14 miles in the books.  Last week’s formula of 1 Nuun + 1 salt tab per hour seemed to do me well again this week.  There were no post-run electrolyte-loss headaches to be found. Yes!!!

The best part of the run was when KMN spotted a huge spider working on her web, right over the trail.  The web stretched across the whole path!  The spider was enormous, too – probably 3-4 inches in diameter (including legs).  She had already anchored the ‘spokes’ of her web, and we watched her unravel silk from her spinnerets and fasten it to form the circular part of the web.  Nature is SO COOL.

After a busy Sunday morning, a lazy Sunday afternoon, and a quick buy-a-toaster-but-don’t-because-the-one-you-want-is-out-of-stock trip, my legs were craving an inversion.  I was tired, so used the wall:

Legs up the wall!

Legs up the wall!

Relaxing while the wall does the work.

Relaxing while the wall does the work.

Total Workout Time for the Week: 8 hrs, 14 min

Plan for this week (already in action, obviously) is extra TLC for my IT bands, and a return to daily aerobic work, now that I’ve kicked the cold completely to the curb.  Bring it on!!

What was your best workout last week?

When was the last time nature made you stop and think, “WOW. That is SO COOL!”?

This Week’s Workouts, and Life Lessons From Yoga

Ever since Sunday’s race, things have been pretty quiet over here, folks.  Mostly just workin’ and workin’ out.  As I consider the latter, it strikes me that yoga this week has been conspiring to try to teach me a thing or two.

On Monday, I went for an easy 2 km swim and took a Hot Yoga class.

Lesson #1 (Monday): Just try, and have fun with it.

I’ve been doing different kinds of yoga in various studios and at home for many years.  I find yoga to be many things: Centering? Yes. Calming? Usually. Challenging? Absolutely. Rewarding?  Mostly.  It’s also been a pretty serious face activity, for me.  The instructors are serious, the participants are serious – everyone is dedicated and intentional – and very, very serious.

Enter Sherlin.  She’s an instructor at the gym I attend, and about a month ago, I started going to a Hot Flow Yoga class she teaches.  Honestly, it’s really more of a Yin Yoga style class – lots of stretching, long holds, relaxing deeply into poses, etc. We don’t really flow that much.  But I appreciate the stretching, the timing is convenient (right after BodyPump), and Sherlin doesn’t take herself too seriously.  If you want a deeply meditative class, this isn’t the right one for you.  Sherlin passes the time in the long holds by helping us steady our breathing, by reminding us to stay strong…and by telling stories and jokes.  I must laugh out loud at least three times every class.  This is so different from most other yoga classes I’ve attended, where even cracking my knee too loudly, or clearing my throat, seemed to draw unnecessary attention to myself.

So in class on Monday, we were working on a complicated balancing pose.  She was talking us through the steps to get into it, and just before the release to balancing, lots of people were hesitating.  She kept talking us through it, encouraging, prodding – and eventually she said, “Guys! It’s OK!  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  You might fall forward (safely).  But try!  Just have fun with it, and try!!!!!”

Fun?  Yoga?  To be honest, this was a new idea me.  The thought has stuck with me throughout the week: Treat your practice seriously, but don’t get carried away.  Enjoy moderation, take a few risks, and have a little fun!  Not a bad life lesson, either, eh?

Mud on the hat increase my trail runner cred, right?

Mud on the hat increase my trail runner cred, right?

On Tuesday morning, KMN and I did one round of MacRitchie Reservoir (7.2 miles, to-and-from our front door).  We got out pretty early for our run, and I really enjoyed it – legs felt pretty good, despite Sunday’s race.  We were stalled briefly by a tree that had fallen on top of a swamp-surrounded “boardwalk” section of the path.  Eventually, we got down on our hands and knees and slithered under the trunk, getting cozy with some of the branches.  In the evening, I went to BodyPump, which was a pretty standard class.  However, I do think it’s about time to bump up some of my weights (chest, back, biceps)…  Encouraging, but a little scary!  I thought about tacking on a yoga class, but had some work to finish – and didn’t want to have a bad practice, just because I went in already wiped out from run/Pump.  One thing I wasn’t too wiped out for?  Cooking up some delicious shrimp for dinner, as an accompaniment to my quinoa salad:

The recipe is simple: Heat oil.  Saute garlic ~ 1 min. Add shrimp, cook ~2 min. Flip shrimp and pour in ~2 glugs of white wine. Cover and let reduce for ~2 min. CHeck color to make sure shrimp are fully cooked. Enjoy!

The recipe is simple: Rinse and dry shrimp. Heat oil. Saute chopped garlic ~ 1 min. Add shrimp, cook ~2 min. Flip shrimp and pour in ~2 glugs of white wine. Cover and let reduce for ~2 min. Check for done-ness. DEVOUR.

On Wednesday evening, I did a “real” Hot Flow class (not with Sherlin) and followed it up with a spin class.  Man, Hot Yoga + Spin is a ridiculously sweaty combination.  Extra training for running in the tropics, I guess!

Lesson #2 (Wednesday): Be flexible, in all aspects of your practice.

Our instructor began by reminding us that yoga is about flexibility – of the body and the mind.  It’s also about the element of surprise – and being ready and able to adapt to whatever poses the instructor chooses on a given day.  This was an important reminder for me, too: Don’t get ahead of yourself (or the instructor).  Relax, open your ears, and work through whatever is asked of you.  True in yoga, true in life.

KMN was stuck working late that night…so I enjoyed an egg salad sandwich on homemade (bread maker) bread, and a tangy coleslaw salad, with Mr. Lenovo:

Between the dressing on the closeslaw, and the pickles on the sandwich - I certainly got my vinegar hit for the night!

Between the dressing on the coleslaw, and the pickles on the sandwich – I certainly got my vinegar hit for the night! And yes, those are Wednesday’s leftover shrimp making a second appearance on the coleslaw!

I’d planned for a run today (Thursday), but my heel was feeling a bit sore this morning (Jeano, if you gave me your Foot Thing, then mine had better fix itself just as fast as yours did…).  So instead, I spent some time with ice and my tennis ball, and by tonight, it felt well enough to handle Body Pump and Sherlin-Style Hot Flow.  So, I headed for the gym.

Lesson #3 (Thursday): You thought you got the hang of Lessons #1 & #2?  HAHAHAHA!!  Try again!!!

Based on my experience on Tuesday, I increased some of my upper body weights for BodyPump, and thoroughly lifted my muscles to jello.  Sweet!  Then, I walked into yoga…and Sherlin wasn’t there.  We had a substitute instructor.  And he really wanted to flow.  We planked, and chaturanga-ed, and upward/downward dogged, and lunged…all while my exhausted muscled protested.  I didn’t want this challenging practice.  I wanted a nice, simple, hip/hamstring stretch session.  I was tired.  And although he seemed like a pretty nice guy, I got mad at the instructor (in my head).

Then, I remembered Wednesday’s lesson: Be flexible.  And I remembered Monday’s lesson:  Just try, and have a little fun.

So I worked on relaxing.  I tried to embrace my shaking legs, to breath through the tiredness, and to accept my practice where it was on this particular evening.  I tried to give the poses my best, to not be afraid, and to have fun.  I did the first two, although the third may have been a stretch (ha, ha) tonight.  But as class closed, I realized that my body was feeling good – tired, but light, limber, and stretched.  That’s some yoga magic right there, folks.

And finally…I love this shirt.  Thank you, Rozzy!

Please ignore the serious face.  A self-portrait this good requires lots of concentration, apparently.

Please ignore the serious face. A self-portrait this good requires lots of concentration, apparently.

Have your workouts taught you anything important lately?

Do you eat approximately 75% of your meals out of a bowl??
[I do, apparently.]

Gadget Drama Continues, and Doing Yoga Without The Zen

So….President’s Day, huh?  Not exactly a celebrated holiday out here.

I briefly thought about using the holiday as an excuse to provide some background on Singapore’s government and politics – but honestly, that’s a rather weighty, controversial topic.  Furthermore, if I’m not careful, I could get myself in trouble discussing it.  So we’ll come back to it eventually (perhaps on another patriotic holiday), but for now, we’ll confine our holiday discussions to Chinese New Year celebrations.  Although, in the interest of not falling any further behind, I’m actually going to start with a recap of yesterday (which still involves some Chinese New Year, I promise!)

The excitement began even before lunch on Monday, I got to witness a Lion Dance happening across the street!  Lion Dances are a phenomenon specific to the Chinese New Year period.  During this time, troupes of dancers and drummers travel around the island in decorated lorries, to homes or business where they’ve been booked to perform.

Lion Dance troupe sighting!

Lion Dance troupe sighting!

Yesterday morning, one of the stores across from our apartment had a Lion Dance visit.  Basically, the dancers don a large lion costume and perform traditional Chinese dances, while other troupe members keep the beat with drums and cymbals.  The Lion Dance is thought to bring – yep, you guessed it – good luck and fortune for the coming year!

Zooming in across the street.  Those dressed in red are the drummers, and you can spy glimpses of the golden yellow dragon costume under the awning.  I'm determined to secure a better lion dance picture before the end of the season!

Zooming in across the street. Those dressed in purple are the drummers, and the golden yellow squiggles under the awning are part of the dragon costume. This photo isn’t awesome, but never fear – I’m determined to secure a better Lion Dance picture before the end of the week!

Dancers are thanked with a traditional “red packet” (red envelope with money), then they return to their lorry and move on to the next dance site.  Even while driving, the troupe’s percussionists often continue drumming, so Lion Dance songs are heard everywhere during the Chinese New Year period.

Perhaps I should have had them perform a dance for me – or more specifically, my electronic devices.  This week brings a continuation of my bad skill/luck with phones…my new iPhone (see that story here) has been wonky for about a week now (which is approximately 5 days less than I’ve owned it), and has been temporarily banished to a container of rice (in case it’s a moisture problem, although that’s debatable).  I’m using one of KMN’s old phones – which is a blessing to have, but I don’t get along with it very well.  I thought we were reaching a detente, then yesterday it refused to charge in its normal spot.  Almost simultaneously, the iPad developed the exact same problem at another charging station/outlet.  I was minutes from leaving the apartment when I realized that neither device had any appreciable charge, despite having been plugged in for hours.

To say I was displeased would be an understatement. I love technology, but only when it’s working properly. Not fair, but true.  So I wiggled cords, switched outlets on/off, unplugged/replugged, whined to KMN over gchat, and finally – in an act of desperation, switched the USB-to-outlet adapters for the two pieces of equipment.  Lo and behold, “do DOOO!”: both began charging.  I don’t even know.  Don’t even ask.  I think we might have device charging Gremlins around here.  Either that, or these two are causing mischief….

Meet Rhino and Ellie.  [Creativity in naming isn't our strong suit.  Any potential future children we have my very well be called "Child #1" and "Child #2".]

Meet Rhino and Ellie. [Creativity in naming isn’t our strong suit. Any potential future children we have my very well be called “Child #1” and “Child #2”.]

In the evening, I headed over to the Fusionopolis gym for BodyPump class.  My first introduction to BodyPump occurred when we joined the gym here – and I have to say, I’m already a BodyPump convert!  The class is a weight-training and light cardio workout.  Using a bar with adjustable weights, we work each of the major muscle groups (quads/glutes, chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders, all other leg muscles, and abs) for the length of one song.  The instructor leads “lifting choreography” – basically, a few different exercises done at different speeds – for each muscle group.  Don’t let my use of the word “choreography” deter you – the moves are very easy, and the instructor is always lifting too – so following along is simple.

The workout is comprehensive, varied, and fun – at least for me!  Plus, the emphasis is on the upper body, and I can easily use less weight during the two leg tracks, to keep my legs fresh for a run or spin workout, if necessary.  I try to Pump twice a week, and I’m definitely all-around stronger than I’ve ever been.  I’m likin’ the definition in my arms, too. 😉

One final word – if you’re new to BodyPump, you must give yourself a few classes to figure out the right weights for you. This is very individual, and although the instructor provides some guidance, everyone is different.  In the beginning, err on the side of “too light”, then go up a bit in your next class, if necessary.  You’ll get the hang of it soon enough!

I stayed on at the gym for a Yin Yoga class with my favorite yin instructor.  Last night’s class was a bit unusual, as we focused a lot on the hamstrings and back, rather than hips.  These are areas where I’m generally more flexible, so I was able to move through the poses a bit more comfortably than in the hip-focused yin classes.  Yesterday I was thankful for this, because although my body responded well to the movements, I was so far away from “quieting my mind” that I couldn’t even keep my eyes closed.

My brain was just running too fast to get quiet (and BodyPump might be a bit too stimulating for a pre-yin class!), and try as I might, it would. not. shut. up.  But I breathed, tried to relax, moved through the poses with good physical success, and left a little bit calmer than I went in – although I was still about a thousand miles from ‘zen’.  But sometimes, that’s how life (or a workout) is – every day is different, and I left the best I had last night on the mat.  That’s the most I can ask of myself.

I headed home for a late dinner with KMN – I’d set the breadmaker up before going to the gym, so we had fresh French bread, pasta with thawed sauce (I make it in large batches and freeze), and a salad:

A little light on the protein tonight.  That's what the cheese was for, of course!

A little light on the protein tonight. That’s what the cheese was for, of course!

This morning (Tuesday), I’m on a writing binge.  And, because the little things matter, I’m wearing these:

 

A much-loved pair of pants were "ruined" by bleach splashes at the cuffs, until Mom turned them into capris. Yay Mom!!!!
A much-loved pair of pants were “ruined” by bleach splashes at the cuffs (yay biochemistry!!!), until Mom turned them into capris. Mom ROCKS! 

Happy Tuesday, everybody!!
Any other BodyPumpers out there?  Which muscle group set is hardest for you?
[Triceps!!!!!]

Ever modify (or…err…have your mother modify) a favorite piece of clothing so you could extend its wearable life??

Good Mornings for a Wednesday (January 30)

*Just a few things from last week/this past weekend that I haven’t had a chance to share.

Some smiles and chuckles for the middle of the week…

Smeared entry stamp

My science centre entry stamp after a hand-washing…

Houston, I think we have a (solubility) problem...

Rice & Milk Breakfast

Leftover Rice + Milk or Plain Yogurt + Dried Fruit, Honey, & Nuts = Delicious

My husband can hardly watch me consume this combination.
He thinks it is an insult to rice.
I think it is scrumptious.

Holly & Stonehenge

On Friday morning, Stonehenge and I went for a run.

Actually, KMN and I went for a run.
But he disappeared before the photo shoot.
I wonder if he doesn’t like sweaty pictures of himself all over the interwebs…
[Actually, he’s quite OK with it.  I asked.]

PomegranateBowl of antioxidants, anyone?

I love pomegranates, and a friend recently shared this video with me.
Using this technique, I can get a bowl of seeds in about 90 seconds.
My form needs some work, but I’m improving…

Novara topThis Novara cycling jersey is basically the softest thing ever.

Cycling jerseys are a little longer in the back.
Wearing one to yoga gives me extra back coverage during forward bending.
Plus, I get some extra use out of the jerseys.
Since I haven’t yet busted out my bike in Singapore….
[Note to self: Get on that!]

Raindrops

Raindrops out our kitchen window.

The official “rainy season” is drawing to a close.
So I’m thankful for every afternoon storm that we get!

P1060223

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen at Santouka.

Friday Date Night was going to be Italian.
But when we got to the restaurant, we learned they were hosting a private party.
Good thing I like ramen ANY time!

After ramen, we came home and watched “Up”.
And cried. And cried. And cried.
That’s a kid’s movie?!?!

 

What are your thoughts on rice + milk???

Any suggestions for cute animated movies that won’t turn me into a sniveling mess??

*Also, for anyone who might be interested – I recently shared a little bit about my personal evolution as a runner with Tyler over at The Running Ginger.  See his post on fitness journeys here.  He’s on one of his own – so go ahead over and give him a cheer or two.  After all, we’re all in this together!!

You Want Me To Hold This Pose For HOW LONG? (Intro to Yin Yoga)

I’ve practiced different kinds of yoga in many venues over the past 10 years.  But I had never heard of yin yoga until we joined Fitness First (our gym) here.  Early in our membership term, I saw “Yin Yoga” on the class schedule and decided to give it a try.  I didn’t know what it was, but figured I had enough yoga experience to handle whatever the class threw at me.  And while that was (sort of) true, yin yoga turned out to be a unique and captivating yoga experience.

Before we go any further, let me try to oversimplify the Chinese philosophy of yin/yang duality.  Broadly speaking, yang is characterized as hot, dry, solid, and fast (associated with fire, sky, sun), and yin is characterized as soft, yielding, passive, and cold (associated with water, earth, moon).  The two work together and complement each other – two parts of a greater whole.  In the same way, the practice of yin yoga is intended to complement the practice of other types of yoga (vinyasa, ashtanga, and bikram are all be considered “yang”).

As you (now realize) the name implies, yin yoga is a slower, sustained, more passive flavor of yoga.  The roots of yin yoga are ancient, based in Taoism, and grounded in ideas of energy, energy flow, and meridians – although I won’t delve into this (particularly as it is seldom discussed in the classes I take, and my understanding is rudimentary at best).  The modern day yin practice has only recently become codified and marketed, and is currently growing in popularity (see this article in the LA Times).

There are only ~30-35 postures in yin yoga, and most are seated or lying down poses.  Many will be familiar to practitioners of yang yoga, although the names of the yin postures are different, a conscious choice made to help differentiate between the two practices.  In execution, the primary difference is that each yin yoga posture is held for 3-5 minutes, or more. The goal is to relax into the posture and soften the muscles to target the stretch deep into the connective tissue and joints.  Hips are the primary area of focus, although time is also spend on the shoulders, back, and legs.

There are many acceptable variations and depths for each posture, and as students, we are encouraged to “find our edge”: where we feel sensation and mild discomfort, but at a level that is sustainable for minutes at a time.  We use towels, blankets, and blocks to support our body and allow us to relax and stretch more deeply.  The lengthy holds provide adequate time to test, investigate, adjust, and ease into a posture.  These long holds also allow the instructor time to assist and guide each student achieve proper alignment, full relaxation, and deep stretching.

For me, yin yoga requires a different kind of focus than most other yoga.  In yang yogas, I focus on alignment and strength – keeping my muscle groups active and engaged to stabilize and energize my movements.  At times, I even feel overwhelmed trying to remember everything: planting my feet, splaying my toes, keeping my thigh parallel to the floor, not letting my knee collapse inward, tucking my pelvis, powering my core, relaxing my shoulders, elongating my neck, sending power into my arms, and on, and on, and on.

In yin yoga, however, I concentrate on relaxing, releasing, letting go, and moving deeper in response to tension in one specific area.  The many variations of each posture allow me to explore and discover my body’s preferences and limits.  Physically, I find that yin yoga further increases my awareness of my body and its weaknesses, stiffness, and asymmetries.  Mentally, yin yoga allows me to relax and focus on just one thing: finding my edge.

Would I recommend yin yoga? In short, yes.  The benefits have been great enough to convince me to add one – and two if possible – yin yoga classes to my weekly workout schedule.  I think that those new to yoga would find a yin class in some ways simpler (fewer postures and less movement), and in others more challenging (greater single-focus concentration, and tolerance of mild to moderate discomfort).  But as with all yoga, I truly, truly believe that the quality of the class depends on the quality of the instructor.  Find yourself a good instructor, and any student, of any level, will have a great class.  [Singapore Fitness First members, Joyce is my favorite yin yoga instructor!]

Ever done yin yoga? What are your thoughts?

[And now, you can head back to my original Tuesday post by clicking HERE.]