The Downward Dog

I have been trying to get into yoga for a couple of years now. I am finally in a place where I am committed to giving it a real shot and I want to document my journey into yogihood.

April 13, 2011: It all started with livingsocial.com…… 5 yoga classes for $25!

http://yinyangyoga.perfectmind.com

April 19, 2011: Then another one……. 15 yoga classes for $15!

http://www.buddhabyoga.com/

April 20, 2011: I am very interested in yoga, not only as a form of exercise, but as a philosophy. So I bought this book by Tara Fraser to help me understand the metaphysics of yoga:

Total Yoga: A Step-By-Step Guide to Yoga at Home for Everybody

And this book by Paramahansa Yogananda to help me better understand the mind of a yogi:

Autobiography of a Yogi

I’m trying to get my boyfriend into yoga with me, so I recommended this article to him, http://yoga.about.com/b/2011/04/14/yoga-for-men.htm

April 27, 2011: So far my at home yoga practice has consisted of the P90x DVD. It is a hard core workout and I have yet to get through the whole hour and a half, but I’m working up to it.  A fellow blogger shares my sentiments on this DVD, http://www.amandakjones.com/p90x-yoga-stop-whining-and-just-do-it.php.

Or as Tony says, “Do your best and forget the rest!”

Thumbnail http://youtu.be/aCJpG92TQW0

May 1, 2011: I took a  90min yoga class at my local gym over the weekend. It was a ‘restorative yoga’ class. I had taken 2 or 3 classes with this woman before last year and I didn’t get into it at all. I am starting to believe that your connection to yoga has a lot to do with your teacher. She isn’t mean or rude, but I don’t find her overly friendly or welcoming either. She is bland. Monotone. Sounds a little uninterested.

One of the reasons I wanted to get into yoga is for the meditative aspects of yoga and the internal strength that people find in the practice of yoga. I think you really need to relate to and connect with your teacher in order to trust that they will help guide you into that place.  I will probably continue to take classes here periodically (Primarily because I’m already paying the gym membership and it’s close to home) because I can work on my technique in this class.  To give her some credit, even though I felt like she was talking too much, I did get some help in my downward dog position and my palms don’t hurt as much now when I do it.

May 6, 2011: I saw this article on yahoo.com today. I am going to try to start the day with a cup of tea or hot water with lemon as the yogi suggests. I’m a little conflicted about the “not sweating” suggestion. This is in direct contradiction with my marathon training.

Healthy Hollywood: Fab Food Friday – Feed Into An Ayurvedic Lifestyle!Story photo: Healthy Hollywood: Fab Food Friday - Feed Into An Ayurvedic Lifestyle!
Yogi Cameron Alborzian – “The Guru In You”–Access Hollywood

By Terri MacLeod

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Ayurveda is a word that keeps popping up in the wellness world. So, what is it?

Well, according to experts, it’s an ancient Indian healing practice, which treats the whole body and relies on herbs, diet, massage, and yoga to achieve optimal health.

This very old tradition is getting a modern makeover – thanks to celebs, like Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, and Kylie Minogue, who have all tried an Ayurvedic-approach to eating.

Who better to educate Healthy Hollywood on putting Ayurvedic foods on your plate than former supermodel turned guru Yogi Cameron, who wrote the book “The Guru in You.” He’s also a favorite of celebs, like Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres and Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos.

“The Ayurvedic way of eating teaches us to eat food at restaurants and everywhere else not as a way to fulfill expectations, but as a way to live presently to exactly what our body needs,” reveals Yogi Cameron. “When we eat food that nourishes our body and mind, not only will we not feel gassy and bloated, but we’ll be far less likely to suffer from other discomfort and ailments as well. With an Ayurvedic diet, we will become healthier, stronger, and feel more content.”

Like that!

The Ayurvedic diet is based on the concept every person has one of three dominant character types called ‘dosha.’ Our dosha determines our body shape (among other things) and hence what we should eat. “An Ayurvedic lifestyle teaches us that we don’t need to wait until we’re sick to decide to live better, that illness is preventable, and that discomfort is unnecessary,” adds Yogi Cameron.

If you’re interested in finding out your particular dosha – Cameron recently released an app at the iTunes store, called “The Guru With You.” For now, this healthy living expert has a few Ayurvedic tips everyone can use – no matter their dosha.

Tip #1: Start the day with a cup of hot water. When we wake up from a night of sleep, our digestion is sluggish and won’t respond well to food. Drinking hot water first thing enkindles our digestive fire and prevents gastrointestinal discomfort when we eventually do eat. It also acts as a cleanse and will help clear out the body of toxins.

Tip #2: Use ghee. Ghee is known in the West as clarified butter. It is made by boiling off the moisture in the butter, and doing this converts its long-chain fatty acids to short-chain fatty acids. In this altered form, ghee is totally digestible and won’t clog up the arteries like butter does. It will help make you regular if you’re constipated, and will nourish all aspects of your body–especially your bones and muscles.

Tip #3: Drink tulsi tea. Tulsi is an herb that offers tremendous benefit to all people, regardless of what their specific nature or constitution is. Drinking this tea will help to promote longevity of the body’s organs as well as resolve specific ailments like the common cold.

Tip #4: Avoid activities that cause you to sweat excessively. When the body sweats continuously for more than fifteen minutes, it suffers from dehydration and dry skin issues. Activities that may cause this to happen include visits to saunas and steam rooms, power yoga, working out at the gym, excessive running, or any other physical exertion. The abundance with which these people sweat in response to these activities demonstrates how they create a lot of heat in their body. This heat not only throws the body out of balance, but it sends intense amounts of heat to the head. Too much movement and heat in the system will also create more irritated, emotional thoughts. This leads to anger and depression.

Tip #5: Breathe. As simple as it sounds, it’s also amazing how few people embrace this advice and breathe full enough so that they use the entire capacity of the lungs. Throughout our day, we hold our breath when we’re stressed about something, become short of breath when we pant after tasty food, and shortchange our well-being by breathing shallow, rapid breaths throughout the day when we try to multitask. At the beginning, set several moments aside from your day to breathe slower, longer, and with greater mindfulness. Then start monitoring how deep or shallow your breathing is in each moment. From this practice, you will eat less, react less, and generally feel an inner sense of peace that you will take into your life and share with others.

For more information on Yogi Cameron or Ayurveda, head to http://yogicameron.com/index.php

May 23, 2011: I decided to give up red meat. I will have my last hamburger this Memorial Day. I really think this will be the only thing I’ll miss.  I’m not much of a red meat eater anyway. Perhaps my lack of taste for red meat could be a result of my blood type.  From what I read, ‘A’ blood typers don’t have the proper chemistry to digest animal protein. So if not eating red meat will get me one step closer to living a healthier lifestyle, so be it.

I haven’t really begun a home yoga practice yet. I’ve just gotten to the chapter of Total Yoga that discusses home practice. I do a lot of stretching after each of my runs and kind of thought I would be more flexible by now. But my muscles still feel really tight. I have decided to go see a chiropractor for an adjustment, and will schedule a massage. Hopefully, after both I will be loosened up enough to be able to finish the P90x yoga dvd.

May 29, 2011: Yesterday I attended another yoga class at the ymca. This time there was a different teacher, Dana. I REALLY enjoyed this class. She was so friendly and encouraging. We even did handstands! For many of us this was our first time, but she walked each of us individually through the step to help us get there. The only problem is, she said they may be cancelling the class until September! What is a girl to do? I don’t want to go that long without taking her class again. She did take our names and email addresses down to let us know where else she may be teaching this summer (*fingers crossed*).

I think I’m ready to begin my home practice. I’m going to create a special place at home where I can feel at peace and work on my poses.  I am all for getting to a new level now. It must be that handstand pushing all the blood to my head that has me so motivated!

July 4, 2011:  I have attended a few more classes and have begun a somewhat sporadic home practice. The one constant is that I have incorporated some of my yoga poses into my post run stretching session. Whether its the fact that I’m getting better at running, my new shoes are working out, I took a vacation, or the yoga stretches I have noticed that I don’t have as much pain post workout. It’s probably a combination of all of the above. In the next month, I hope to increase my at home practice and try to get through the entire P90x yoga dvd.

This week starts the Buddhist festival of Kalachakra. The Dali Lama will be in D.C. and I plan to attend. For more info on this check out the wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalachakra.

I am also planning on attending a ‘Yoga for Runners’ workshop. I am hoping that I will learn how to keep myself healthy and free from injury so that I can make it through my Marathon in October.

My biggest takeaway over the past month is that I am now more interested on perfecting and holding the strength poses (i.e. Upward dog, warrior,lotus etc…). Before I thought I was mostly interested in the athleticism of yoga, making sure I get a good sweat, but I don’t think that is my main focus anymore. There is a lot of mental reward in knowing that I can hold the half lotus position on both legs for equal amounts of time(which I currently am unable to do, but fingers crossed that I have good news to report next month).

July 18, 2011: I have done very little in the way of traditional yoga in the last week or so, except that I have incorporated it into my post running stretching session.  I have also been doing a lot of deep breathing to help me get through some very stressful moments in the last two weeks.

Recently I have been reading up on Deepak Chopra. He was on an episode of Dr.Oz the other day and I found him to be very intriguing because he connected the spiritual side of meditation and yoga to scientific research and its physical/medical benefits. I think he is a wonderful link of East to West philosophies and look forward to reading some of his books.  I also hope to be able to attend one of his workshops one day, http://www.chopra.com/

This was on yahoo.com today. I don’t own any video games, but this one looks worth my money http://news.yahoo.com/chopra-hopes-connect-minds-bodies-leela-132653206.html

August 12, 2011: I suck! I have completely fallen off my yoga wagon. I haven’t done much of anything in the last month besides adding some yoga stretches after my runs. Maybe that’s all yoga will be for me……i don’t know yet. I haven’t given up on it though. I kind of think I can’t concentrate on it right now because my focus is on the marathon. I will try to go easy on myself about my lack of participation until after the marathon in October. I tend to do too many things at one time and then don’t do any one of them exceptionally well, instead its all just okay. If i’ve learned anything about myself this year its just that. Slow down grasshopper!

December 5, 2011: This morning I woke up in my newly decorated bedroom, after a good night’s sleep, and did my sun salutations! It felt really good and I think I’ve reignited my desire to practice yoga. There is a lot to be said about redecorating and making a space of your own. My new bedroom is now tranquil and thoughtful. I’ve removed clutter from the room and now I will remove it from my brain. It’s time for all of the negative and ambiguous thoughts that have been floating in my head over the last few weeks to be swept away.

Today I feel grateful, hopeful, and am looking forward to exciting things in the new year. I’m going to find some yoga classes that I will attend weekly as part of my new outlook. Becoming part of a community of practitioners will keep me involved, and be a good way of getting to know new people in my neighborhood. The city has changed some since I’ve been away and I don’t want to be the old me in a new city, I want to evolve into a new me. Namaste!

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