Perks of the Move

Moving is stressful.

Let me repeat that, moving is stressful.

Ok, got it? Good.

When you fill out those life stress forms, moving is high on the list. And because moving usually entails other life stress, those forms generally predict you’re going to die in a week. That’s not good. Seriously, I just took the stupid test, and I feel into the highest category.

But we’re not going to focus on that. We’re going to focus on the positive.

When you’re going into a new job, you’re supposed to look into the benefits. I did no such thing. I looked at the job. I looked at the people. And that was it. After I accepted the job, then I started worrying about benefits.

Not how they recommend doing things.

But sometimes you dumb your way into a good situation. In my (until yesterday) current job, I basically got no real health benefits beyond normal insurance. I was able to see a doctor on campus (did I mention I’m a faculty member?), and that was about the max I got on the convenience scale. At my last job, mostly the same, though because there was an attached medical school, my health insurance was all basically in-house and comprehensive. But mostly just normal stuff.

The new job? It’s got some perks. The one I did know about from my interview was that the rec center on campus was free to use. Due to injury issues, I knew I couldn’t get the most out of a gym membership, so I hadn’t been going. This means I can do my PT exercises and whatever else my body allows. It also means I get free yoga classes, albeit probably not the type of classes I want to take. But they’re there (I’ll still give a real yoga studio a try in town).

That’s pretty nice. No gym fees, and it’ll be half a mile from my office. But that’s not all.

Wait for it.

They have massage therapy on campus.

I cannot adequately convey how happy that makes me. I had to convey it in gif form.

One of the things I am not looking forward to is having to find a new MT. If this works out, I’ll have one that is a 10-minute walk from my office. And it’s cheaper than what I pay now.

So they’ll be closer, which will cost me less time (about an hour just for travel) and gas (3 gallons of gas, so $6, give or take), and it will literally cost less (about $20 less for the same time). Please return to the above gif. I’m still in that state.

If it works out. It might not. But then again it just might.

I might start getting massages more than once a month. I always said if time and money weren’t an issue, I’d get them weekly. Maybe the universe is testing how much money counts as “not an issue.”

So free gym. Free yoga. And massage 10 minutes away from my desk. I think this could work out alright.

I’m Hungry and My Pants Don’t Fit

That seemed like a good place to start.

I just ate supper. I’m still hungry. And I spent most of the day trying to keep my shirt and pants in place, even with a belt on.

In the process of trying to maintain some semblance of healthy decisions, my body has been changing and adapting. I’ve dropped a few pounds, but I’ve also had some weight shifting around.

And now my pants don’t fit right.

This should be cause for celebration, but I’ve explained my weight fluctuations before. I’m not going to start gloating now. I’ve put on 15 pounds in 6 weeks before without knowing it, so I can’t rest on 5 pounds lost or pants fitting a little loose. No, I have to keep plugging away because I’m prone to decisions like this:

@rendrags, mistakes were made

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And this (same day, BTW):

Bad decisions

So right now my pants don’t fit, but I’m not throwing them out yet, and I’m not buying out Old Navy’s slightly slimmer pants.

Instead, I have to keep plugging away. I keep doing vinyasas. And I keep leaving myself just a little hungry. It’s all about the process.

I don’t like to celebrate my accomplishments because I think celebration makes it feel like you’re done. You’re never done. Maybe when I can go from crow to handstand, I’ll say I’m done.

dsc02678-animation-1

But that is not this day. On this day, my pants are just a little loose. And we’ll live with that for now.

Adios.

-Q

Pizza for 29 Vinyasas

Today was not a day for good decisions. It started with a late awakening, which was chased with Chick-fil-A for breakfast. Then I chased that with a 20-ounce Coke.

Not the best part of waking up.

Between the late start and then some packing I was doing at home, I missed my normal lunch hour. At this point, I realized I wanted pizza. Not like a slice or two. I wanted A pizza, not SOME pizza.

That’s also a bad idea. If you’re keeping score at home, I currently have diabetes. I don’t actually have diabetes, but at this rate, I’m not sure how I don’t have diabetes.

I made a deal with myself. Yoga for pizza.

I’ve been having trouble making it through full sessions since I returned from a trip a couple of weeks ago, so I was going for it as best I could. No pizza unless I was sweat-slicked.

Once I was covered it sweat, the deal was the rest of the workout was for me. Every little thing I could squeeze out of the workout, I was doing for me.

Of course, I was exhausted at this point. I’d eaten a decent breakfast, but that was about 4 hours prior, and I had a lot of caffeine in my system (for me) to spike my hunger. I’m dripping sweat, and I’m shaking as I did what I could.

And so it goes. I took a cold shower to help cool me down more quickly, and then I ordered my pizza (medium, thin crust, ham, spinach, and tomato).

Protect your loved ones

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Usually, I’ll split this into two meals. Not today.

Pizza never stood a chance

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I devoured that sucker. And I’m honestly still a little hungry. But Chick-fil-A and pizza were plenty, so just the two meals for me today. Let’s talk about why.

A relatively conservative calorie estimate still has me over the 2,000 calorie threshold. And most of it was crap.

For the yoga, 350 calories would be a generous estimate of calories burned, and that’s probably more than what actually occurred.

So did the hour of yoga justify the pizza? Nope. Not even close. That’s not how this works. Even if I did the yoga, it doesn’t entitle me to anything. The pizza just negated the work I put in. A good decision doesn’t negate a bad one. This isn’t a balancing scale.

But that wasn’t really the point. I was going to make a bad decision. I could feel it. I didn’t really do yoga to earn the pizza. I did yoga because I was going to eat something awful anyway, so I might as well do some damage control.

So 29 vinyasas for more than a thousand calories on that pizza.

29 vinyasas to leave me exhausted. 29 vinyasas to leave me covered in sweat. 29 vinyasas to feel in my shoulders tomorrow.

It’s the repetition. The pizza was going to happen because I’m stressed and I was going to make a bad decision. Yoga at least grounded me a little so that I wouldn’t feel like an entire sack of crap, just half a sack of crap. Because I know what I’m going to do with ashtanga every time, I can soak it in. There’s no intellectual load. It’s just movement. And breathing. Lots of breathing.

And hopefully I’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Productive Unproductivity

I’m going to try to make this quick because I’m running on 20% battery, and this is an impromptu post.

I mentioned this a couple of posts ago, but I want to go a little deeper, mostly because I ran across this on the Reddit, which was linked to from an AskReddit thread today. I have no idea if I’ve seen this before. What I do know is that it gels with a philosophy I’ve been trying to get better at living.

My job is mentally taxing. And emotionally taxing. And I sit at a desk almost all day, so let’s go ahead and add physically taxing.

But that’s ok. I chose this. My career has meaning.

That said, sometimes my energy is gone. If I’m not physically, mentally, and emotionally ready, I can’t do my job that well. And during the course of the day, sometimes you lose your spark. It happens. Nothing to be ashamed of.

But I still need to get stuff done.

Enter productive unproductivity. The basic premise is that when I’m not all there, I can do something that’s going to help me out when I am all there.

At work, this often amounts to me updating my CV. It’s a dumb task, but when you have to complete an annual evaluation, an up-to-date CV makes life easier. I also map out articles, lessons, etc. Not the mental work of building, just sketching. Then when I get back to it later, I already have a frame built.

At home, it’s trickier because I have a comfy couch. But I try to put a load in the wash, empty the dishwasher, etc. I’m terrible about these things, but I’m not as far behind as I could be.

But here’s where it gets even better: I made the decision to leave my job and current town a couple of months ago. I leave in a couple of weeks. Terrifying. Stressful. Etc.

And then a curveball happened: Turns out without something sitting right in front of me, I have zero motivation. I wanted to do nothing.

Then the summer came, and my yoga teacher went on vacation. And so did my backup yoga teacher. And so did my backup-backup yoga teacher. I’m officially out of yoga teachers. F#$%.

Nothing at work for me to be excited about. No yoga class to even give me after-hours plans. Also, I still can’t run. And no, I’m not going for a walk.

With some life stress, I basically lost 5 days to unproductivity, granted this was while I still had a yoga class to attend. I couldn’t concentrate at work. I couldn’t really read or watch shows I enjoyed. I just sort of vegged out, killing time.

And it pissed me off. My brain was running past capacity and nothing was getting done. I was sinking into other bad habits that could easily become problematic. I was done. That crap had to stop, and I was going to force good decisions down its throat if it killed me.

There’s a line from a Mountain Goats song: “I’m gonna make it through this year if it kills me.”

That was the point I hit. I was officially done with my own BS.

What did I do?

Yoga.

I did a lot of yoga. Excepting the Super Awesome Month of Yoga, I haven’t been this active in yoga since I first started 8 years ago. With all the constraints that work and graduate school had, I just couldn’t maintain. I did a better job where I’m living now because I started going to a studio, but even that maxed out at twice a week most of the time and often only once a week.

I’ve been attacking yoga with a vengeance. I’m sure there’s some crap about loving kindness I’m supposed to follow, but I’ve been doing yoga out of spite. I’ve been doing my best to pour out sweat. I keep the AC set in the 80s while I’m at work, so I’ve been leaving it alone when I get home so I could enjoy a good sweaty yoga session.

I made a Quisto-shaped puddle. #yoga (#ashtanga) for the win.

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I’ve pushed myself hard enough to leave my shoulders barely functioning. But I’m getting better. I’m getting more flexible, stronger, and more mobile. And my brain’s better about shutting up on days I do yoga.

Salads.

So many salads. One of the things I can never quite forgive myself is knowing that I don’t need to try that hard to lose weight. And yet I’m not.

‘Cause I’m lazy.

Another spiteful, good decision. For the past month or so, I’ve eaten salad at lunch most days. There’s always meat on them, and I get things like mac and cheese with them sometimes to ruin the effect, but I’m still eating salads. So many salads.

I’m almost hoping I can trick myself into thinking this is what lunch is supposed to be, and to a certain extent I have. When I deviate, I pay for it because my stomach is accustomed to the nothingness of salads, so things like the nachos I had yesterday weigh me down.

Reading.

This one is a little trickier. I’m not reading as much as I’d like still, but I’m reading more than I did in my funk.

If nothing else, I’m getting consistent again, so you take your wins where you can get them.

Music.

This includes listening and playing.

For listening, I’m letting myself dwell on songs and I’m being active about finding new songs for playlists. It lets that anxious part of my brain that needs something to do act out in a productive way. Some of the gems I’ve found recently have been Cory Branan, Charly Bliss, and The Low Anthem.

When I’m in a bad mood, I’ve been letting music be a way for me to feel it without throwing a brick at someone.

For playing, I’m just playing. And playing.

I’m going after songs. I’m trying to be loud. I’m trying to be delicate. Mostly, I’m just trying to push every emotion I have sitting in my body out through a song. I’m sure my neighbors have appreciated me alternating covers of Against Me! and The Avett Brothers. My fingers haven’t stopped being callused since I was a teenager, but I think I might be finally trying to draw blood now.

Writing.

You’ll notice an uptick in my writing around the Puddles of Sweat post. Without races, I wasn’t writing on this blog regularly. I was keeping my book review blog more active, but even that one had taken a temporary dive.

I keep up this blog. I keep up the book review blog. And I also keep up my own personal writing that I don’t share quite as readily.

But in all three, I’m trying to find the words to convey what I’m feeling. I’m trying to put absolute sincerity into it, whether it’s in telling you I made a Q-shaped sweat pile on my yoga towel, telling you how amazing the Ms. Marvel series is, or writing a short story based on a random encounter that one time.

So I let emotion out as I sweat. So I let emotion out as I play music. So I let emotion out as I write.

Summing it all up

I’m down to 11% on a laptop that likes to die at 8%, so where is this all heading?

Stress is pushing me to do something. I had the option to make good decisions or bad ones. I made good ones. I feel like I made good decisions for bad reasons, but they’re still good decisions. In six months, I’ll be able to look back and see the work I put in even when I wasn’t feeling it.

You can’t get time back. So if you can’t quite be yourself, why not make good decisions anyway so that when you’re yourself again, you won’t be set back?

Ok, that’s it for me. Keep it real, weirdos.

Finding Your Inner Brogi: A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga

The original title of this was Broga: A Bro’s Guide to Yoga, but after learning Broga is trademarked (turns out Brogi is also trademarked, so I may get a cease and desist after all).

Oh well.

At some point, I may write the brogi satirical post you all desire, but for now, this is a serious attempt. If you would like some, MaxNoSleeves has you covered.

I, on the other hand, am going to do what I can to help my fellow bros.

First, my credentials: I have no credentials.

Well, that’s no true. I’m a doctor. I’m just not the kind that helps people. I’m the kind that teaches and does research so that other people can help people. I help the people who help people.

So how do I establish credibility? Well, I’m still a bit of a bro. I’m actually typing this in a tank top from my time at UF. I also grew up your typical kid playing sports. I wasn’t any good, but I did play. That’s how I picked up my back and knee problems. I started doing yoga 8 years ago to mitigate the back pain. I was fairly intermittent the first 5 years, but I’ve been fairly consistent the past 3. No, I’m not qualified to teach yoga, but I can help a bro out.

Second, goal of this tutorial (of sorts): To help the novice brogi navigate yoga in a way that gives you many of the benefits of yoga without losing strength in those larger muscles. This means I want to make sure we hit the upper body, core, and legs. Posture is going to be a big focus. If vanity is your thing, posture matters, so I’ll note what I can in this. You basically can’t do yoga without working on flexibility, so that wasn’t as much of a concern. And we can’t forget the novice. My frame of reference was me 8 years ago. If I could do it then, then I consider it ok now.

Disclaimer: Not a yoga teacher. Not a medical doctor. I’m in no way, shape, or form qualified to diagnose or prescribe anything. I’m telling you what I think will work. You’re taking your own chances. If you’re not sure, don’t do it. Really, stop. Go to a yoga studio. Go to a doctor. Go to a physical therapist. Literally, anyone but me.

Ok, let’s do this. This is going to be a doozy of a post, so roll with it.

I’m going to talk about the pose, give a pic, and then tell you things to watch out for if I have something useful to say. You need a mat. You can get by with a pretty cheap mat. It wouldn’t hurt to have a strap, but you don’t need it.

Last, you can go to any class and get something from it. Ashtanga is actually a great way to go if you want strength work, but it’s light on leg strength, so I tried to incorporate that a bit more.

The Flow (I’m financially obligated to call it that; sorry, bros)

A note before we get rolling. Everything in here is timed by breaths. This means you can get as much or as little as you want out of this. We’re talking about a slow, deep breath in, followed by a slow breath out. You’re looking at about 6 seconds to cycle through a breath.

There are three sections: the warmup, the standing poses, and mat work.

Warmup

I like the ashtanga warmup, which consists of two series of sun salutations. You’ll do 5 rounds of each. If you only do the two sun salutation series, you’re still going to get some decent work in. Good way to wake up (the name seems like a giveaway there).

Sun Salutation A

You’re going to work your way through 10 poses, stopping where you started.

The first pose looks a lot like standing up straight with your arms out to the side. It’s called mountain pose. Everything you do should be active. In this case, you’re trying to stand up as straight as possible. You want your shoulders square (the cheat is to raise your shoulders up and then drop them down toward the back) and your palms facing forward.

You don’t have to smile if you don’t want to. You trying to keep your core engaged, so feel it in your abs as they keep you tall.

Next, you’re going to breathe in a raise your arms to the sky. You can put your palms together or keep them separate. The real point is that your stretching upward. You’re going from standing tall to stretching up (I usually feel the stretch in my abs). Basically, do what you would do as a kid when you’d try to see who was taller among your friends. You’re getting tall while keeping your feet flat.

As you breathe out, you’re going into a forward fold. It looks a lot like stretching your hamstrings. The difference that you want to give here is have a slight bend in your knee (think about an inch that your knee moves forward, though you bend more if you want to get your hands closer to the ground) and you want to let your head relax. Outside of this flow, practice it. You’re trying to let tension go, so you’re letting your neck relax, and you’ll feel the weight of your head stretching out your neck. Not a bad way to decompress during a long day. For the flow, we’re only hanging out as long as the breath lasts.

You’re going to breathe in and halfway lift (basically, straighten out your back). This gets your abs and it gets your hamstrings.

As you breathe out, in a perfect world, you’ll go straight to chaturanga (we’ll get to that), but I want you to take an extra step to help some hip mobility. Get your hands on the ground and step your right leg back (you’ll be in a runner’s lunge) and then step your left leg back to end up in a plank. You can do this in one breath. The reason for stepping back is that it’s going to stretch out your hips. Hopping back will put more upper body work, but you’ll get plenty of that later.

You want your plank to be a straight line from your legs to your head, but you’re a bro, so you already know how to do a plank. Focus on pushing your shoulders down so you don’t have a dip in your back (Basically, could you balance a ball in between your shoulder blades? If so, then push so that you can’t). You should feel pretty much every muscle in your body engaged.

You’ll breathe in and tilt forward a little so your hands are no longer under your shoulders (have your fingertips below your shoulder). Then you’ll breathe out and go down into a chaturanga. It’s a low plank. Keep your elbows in. Your upper arms will be parallel with your torso and your forearms will be perpendicular to the floor. Same as the plank, straight line head to toe. Everything is still engaged.

Next, you’ll breathe in and move to upward facing dog. As you breathe in, you’re going to move forward and then press yourself up. I did this one wrong for 5 years. Tops of the feet are on the mat. Legs are off the mat (this is where I messed up). And you want to pull your shoulders down and back (also where I messed up). All that crappy time you spend at a desk? This is where you go the opposite direction. Your shoulders are getting work and your getting to bend backwards to (hopefully) give your back some relief.

For every up dog, there’s a down dog. Breathe out. While you breathe out, you’re going to flip your feet so they are down (you probably will be on your toes, but the goal is for them to be flat. I’ll let you know the day I pull that off). You’re raising your hips and sending them backward and letting your core do the work. The purpose is to lengthen your back. Then you worry about getting your legs straighter over time. You’re going to hang out in this pose for 5 breaths (in and out).

Next, you’ll step forward into that runner’s lunge again as you breathe in. The leg you sent back first? Let that be the one that goes forward. Then the other leg until you’re in a forward fold. Breathe out. Breathe in and go into halfway lift. Then breathe out into forward fold. Breathe in to rise up to standing with your hands over your head. Breathe out and let your arms drop to your side in mountain.

You’ll go through this sequence 5 rounds. The way I keep count and keep balanced is to alternate which leg is leading the sequence. So round 1, right leg goes back first. Round 2, left leg. And so on. This lets both lets get some mobility work. You have the option to jump forward and back, which does more upper body work, but I would recommend stepping. We can get you more upper body work later.

If you’re keeping score, you’ll realize one leg led more than the other. Good thing there’s a second sun salutation series.

sun-salutation-surya-namaskar

Sun Salutation B

This round will incorporate almost everything from the A series, but it adds two new poses and just more work in general. For this round, send your left leg back first when you’re going back into plank. This is how you make up the difference from the first series. You’re going to do this series 5 rounds also.

You’ll start in mountain. You go this. But then you’ll breathe in and move to chair. There are a few things to watch here. One, you’re keeping you weight in your heels. Wiggle your toes; it helps. Two, you’re trying to make sure your knees aren’t going way in front of you toes. Try to keep your knees above your feet. Three, as you’re sticking your back end out (almost like you’re sitting in a chair), you need to watch your core. Easy to let it dip. Keep your abs engaged so your back and stomach stay straight. You don’t have to go too far down. You can pretend your chair’s a barstool instead if you want. Over time, you’ll get farther down.

After that, we’re the same until we hit the down dog (chair, fold, halfway lift, step back to plank, chaturanga, up dog, down dog). Instead of hanging out for 5 breaths, you’re going to do one breath, and then step your right leg forward in between your hands. If you can’t get it in one smooth motion, no worries. That’s where you’re heading (again, we’re working on hip mobility). Go as far as you can in one smooth motion, and then get the bastard the rest of the way bit by bit.

You’re moving into Warrior I. The foot that stayed back will turn 45 degrees to the left (think front-left corner of the room). Foot in front faces forward. You’re trying to keep your hips square to the front of the room. Left leg straight. Right knee approaching 90 degree angle if you can manage it (watch the knee; it stays above the ankle, not in front or to the side; back is ok). You’re going to reach your arms up like you did standing earlier, except now you’re in a lunge. This is all supposed to happen during one breath in. To make your life easier, take a breath in to hit the lunge, breathe out to get your legs and feet correct, and then breathe in get your arms up. Legs obviously getting work, but your abs should feel something too.

When you breathe out, you’re moving back to a chaturanga. You’ll frame your foot with your hands and send that right leg back. You can either let it return to the ground and have a four-legged chaturanga like you have before, or you can let that right leg stay in the air for the three-legged variety. Either is fine. I like the three because it’s easier for me to get into the next pose and I like the extra little bit of balance work.

You’re going to breathe in to up dog. Out to down dog. And then you’re going to repeat the warrior I pose for the left leg. Then to chaturanga, up dog, and down dog. For this down dog, you’re hanging out for 5 breaths again. Then you’ll step forward into a forward fold, halfway lift, chair, mountain.

You’ll run through this 5 rounds. At this point, you’ve had a decent little warmup. You might even be sweating. This is a good time to stop if you just want a warm up. Or it’s a good time for a sip of water before you proceed to the route.

The Standing Poses

These next poses, we’re going to get more work into your legs. Not as much as we could, but I think we’ll do alright.

The first pose will be the crescent lunge. Basically the same as warrior I, except your back foot changes. You’re on your toes/ball of your foot. Hold for 5 breaths. After one leg, we’ll do a vinyasa, so down to plank, chaturanga, up dog, down dog (one breath for each pose in vinyasa), and then bring the other leg to the front to do crescent on the other side for 5 breaths and repeat the vinyasa. Your legs are engaged, so let them do their thing.

From down dog, bring your right foot between your legs. We’re going to do the warrior sequence (I, II, & III) all with the right leg in front. Come up into warrior I for 5 breaths. Then we’re going to warrior II for 5 breaths. There are a couple of changes to make. Your back foot will go from 45 degrees to 90 facing away from you. Your hips will move from facing forward to facing the side. And the easiest is your arms will come out parallel to the ground. You’re standing tall, so you should feel it in your core.

After 5 breaths in warrior II, we’ll go to warrior III. This one might be the one to skip, but I think it’s worth a go. You’ll try to push forward without stepping that back leg. If you can’t now, that’s something you work toward. You’re basically pretending your Superman. You want a straight line from arms through your legs. The things I have to watch are that my hips stay level with the floor (I like to tilt the hip of the back leg up) and that you’re keeping your torso straight. You’ll probably need to bend your front leg some if you’re not fairly flexible. Hold for 5 breaths. Core and hammies are going to feel this one (not to mention some balance work)

After warrior III, vinyasa again, bringing your left leg forward after the down dog. You’ll go through the warrior sequence again with the left leg in front, followed by a vinyasa.

After this vinyasa, you’ll find your way to standing and then step your right leg out about 4 feet.

We’re doing triangle now. Right foot is parallel to the long end of the mat. Left foot is parallel to the short end of the mat. Arms come out to a T. Breathe in and lean forward over your right leg. Breath out, keeping your arms level with each other, and drop your right hand down in the direction of the ground. The point of this pose is moving that direction without twisting or letting your core collapse down, so if you need to put your hand on your leg (shin or quad), that’s fine.

Pretend you’re being squeezed in between two panes of glass so that every part of your body is in one vertical line if you were looking from the short end of the mat. I feel the stretch in my hips (and usually a satisfying pop when I go into it) and some work on my core to keep my torso straight.

After 5 breaths, bend the front leg a little and bring yourself back to standing with your arms at a T. Switch foot positions so you can do this on the left side. Same as above. 5 breaths and then come back up with your feet returning to how they were with the right foot pointing forward.

We’re now moving to extended side angle. You’ll bend your right knee, aiming for 90 degrees. As your bending down, your right arm goes on top of your leg (but not directly on top of you knee) and your left arm swings down to the floor and then up above your head. You’re aiming to have a straight line from your leg through your arm. Watch your torso so it’s not just dipping down. 5 breaths. You’ll probably feel the stretch around your hips again.

Then you come up, switch your feet and you’ll do extended side angle on the left side for 5 breaths.

Now we’ll go through the warrior sequence again. So right leg is forward, and you’ll do warrior I, II, and III for 5 breaths each. Vinyasa again. Then the warriors again on the left side. Vinyasa.

Now for the revolved side angle pose or revolved crescent lunge (or any other number of names). Basically, back to your crescent lunge with your right leg forward and bring your hands together at your chest in prayer position. Then you’ll twist to the left leaning down so that your left elbow is on the outside of your right leg. Keep your torso up. You can let your arm help keep you up. Hold for 5 breaths. Swap sides. 5 breaths. Vinyasa.

You’re done standing up. Congratulations.

Mat Work

From the last vinyasa’s down dog, make your way to plank. We’re not going to hang out here long. We’re moving to side plank, so turn keeping your left hand under your left shoulder and right arm goes to the sky. You’re going to hang out here for 10 breaths. You’re trying to keep that straight line from feet through the torso. Don’t let you hips dip down or let them fly up.

After your 10, return to plank and vinyasa. You’ll go through the side plank again on the other side for 10 breaths and then vinyasa.

Now to boat pose. I hate even writing boat pose, but it does what it does. Ideally, legs and torso are straight. Real world, torso needs to stay straight. You can bend your legs if you need to. You’ll hold this for 5 breaths. Hips get work holding up your legs, core gets work keeping your lazy body up straight.

After 5, bring you legs in and raise yourself up with your hands on the mat and let yourself back down. You cross your feet but not your legs. I’m having trouble find a picture, so think combo of the following.

When you come back down, you’re going into boat again. You’ll do 5 rounds of 5 breaths, raising yourself up after each one. Chase all that with another vinyasa.

Now we’re at the last strength pose. We’re going after crow. From the down dog, step forward so your shins are at your arms. You’re trying to get your knees as close to your armpits as you can manage and then you’re going to raise yourself up by leaning forward and lifting your feet off the floor. This is about balance. Strength in your upper body isn’t as important as balance and being steady. Basically, you don’t want to fall forward. It hurts. Hold the pose for 5 breaths.

Hard part is over. Put your butt on the ground with your legs out in front of you, Keep your feet up like you’re standing (basically, imagine your feet are flat against the wall). You’re going a seated forward fold. Hinge at the hips as far as you can, and then let your chest fall down. You’ll hang out here for 5 breaths. I like to use a strap here for extra leverage because I’m not even vaguely flexible, so my muscle will actually pull me back up. This is for your hammies of course, but when you bend forward and relax your back, you might feel that release some tension too.

Bring your right foot into your left thigh. Now hinge forward and bend over the left leg for 5 breaths. Then switch your legs up. After both legs, vinyasa.

Now take your legs out wide. You’re going to do a wide-legged forward fold. Hinge at the hips and then let your chest fall down. 5 breaths. Hammies and hips are where you should expect to feel this.

Then take it to the left for 5 breaths. Then the right for 5 breaths. Be careful to keep your torso long. Don’t just hunch over. Last vinyasa, I promise.

Now lie down. Doesn’t that feel good? If you have a strap, this is when it comes in really handy. Raise your right leg up, keeping your left leg out straight. The goal is to grab your foot with your hand. Again, strap. Hang out here for 5 breaths. Hammies are in love here.

Next, you’re going to let your leg fall open to the right. Keep your hips level on the ground. Hang out for 5 breaths. You’ll feel it on the inside of your hips.

Now we take it the other way. Bring your leg back up, then let it fall over to the left. Your right hip will raise up. You’ll fill this in your glutes, and the twist will feel nice on your back. 5 breaths. Then switch legs and do it all again.

Now to bridge. Lying on your back, bring your feet back until they reach your butt keeping your knees up. Put your arms down at your sides. Then lift up with your hips. Your trying to do this work with your quads, not your glutes. 5 breaths, then lower down. Hang out for a breath, then up again. You’ll be up for 5 breaths 3 times with a 1-breath rest in between each of them.

Sit up. One last seated forward fold for 5 breaths.

Now for happy baby. You’re lying back and lift up your legs, bringing your feet up and back above your head. You’re trying to grab the outsides of your feet. You’ll hang out here for 10 breaths. You’ll probably feel this the most in your hips.

Now for corpse pose. Basically, play dead. Lie down. Like a trust fall, except you’re already on the ground. There’s no time limit. Basically, hang out as long as you can stand it. Focus on breathing in and out and just soaking in the yoga session. One thing I’ve noticed is sometimes my back hurts here. What happens for me is that my back is stretching out and it evidently hadn’t been for the day. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but know it’s a possibility. Just ride it out, and you’ll be ok.

And you’re done. If you have any questions, I would recommend asking someone (literally, anyone but me) with some level of expertise. I have none. I’m just a dude that does yoga. Keep it real, brogis.

58 Vinyasas

58 vinyasas. That’s the best count I could get out of the ashtanga book I use. If I did the full primary series, I would hit 58 vinyasas.

5 for the first round of sun salutations. 15 for the second round of sun salutations. 3 for the standing sequence. 31 for the primary series. And 4 for the road in the finishing sequence.

58 vinyasas.

58 chaturangas. 58 up dogs. 58 down dogs.

My shoulders are achy just thinking about that. And that’s exactly what I want.

Yesterday, I tried a new class with a new teacher. It was a slow, deliberate pace. I worked up a sweat. And somehow, I was still a bit dissatisfied. It wasn’t a bad class. I plan to go back, but I was still dissatisfied.

But why?

I had excess energy when I left. I’d gotten used to creating puddles of sweat that I could collapse into for shavasana. This class didn’t do that for me.

Oh how far we’ve come.

3 years ago when I started at this studio, this would have been a perfect class for me. In fact, it was. My Goldilocks teacher stressed a slow, deliberate practice, and I loved it. Last night was very reminiscent of that teacher’s class. They even shared the same first name.

The stars all lined up, but it turns out I’d moved somewhere along the way. I’ve become a new version of me.

This had me thinking about the changes that had occurred. 18 months ago, this was still a pretty ideal class for me. And then I started ashtanga.

Did ashtanga ruin slower classes for me? Maybe.

There’s no getting around the fact that I think of ashtanga as my core practice. It’s what I do at home now. When I think about what yoga is, I think of ashtanga. I think of 58 vinyasas.

Sort of.

I’ve never done all of them. There’s never time in class to do all the poses and vinyasas in between. And since I’ve gone after ashtanga at home with a bad knee, some poses are just off limits.

But I know what’s out there. 58 vinyasas.

So when I think of yoga, I think of 58 vinyasas. I think of tired shoulders. I think of sweat dripping off my face onto the mat. I think of moving with my breath. I think of the sweet rejoice of hitting shoulder stand and knowing that I’m not far from getting to collapse into my puddle of sweat and just breathe.

If that’s yoga, then what was I doing last night?

It was still yoga, but it was yoga light. I need a new high. As I’ve pushed myself further in yoga and as I lost running as an outlet for the foreseeable future, I started chasing a new high.

There are other highs, but they’re detrimental in the long run. Yoga was my way of dealing with stress in a positive way. And I’ve got a lot of stress right now.

Productive unproductivity.

This isn’t the only place I try to use this philosophy, but this is the only application that’s relevant here. If I’m going to chase a high, then I can at least chase a high that will leave me a little better off at the end of the day.

So 58 vinyasas.

I burned up my body on Tuesday with my ashtanga practice. I warmed it up yesterday in class. I let it coast today with the sun salutations. All for the high of chasing 58 vinyasas.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to find on this quest for 58 vinyasas. Maybe I’m hoping to find a better version of myself. Maybe I’m just trying to make sure I’m just trying to stay present when I’m on the two- by six-foot piece of PVC.

Either way, pretty sure tomorrow I’ll be trying to get a little closer to 58 vinyasas.

Yogis and Academics

They say you should blog to reach a broad audience. I’ll do the opposite. I’m going to talk about the general types of people who exist at yoga AND in academia (and really, the only thing more pretentious than talking about yoga and academia is using the term academia). So for all 12 people this applies to (and the 2 of you who might actually read this), here we go, let’s start with

The one who’s been there forever. The old-timer. They’re still going strong, but they’re using techniques no one’s seen since the Reagan administration. They were there before it was cool (we’re going to pretend at some point that faculty life became cool). They’ve done their time, and they’ve earned your respect. They’ll listen to Joni Mitchell if they want to. And even though they’ve been here forever and been at it longer than the some of their peers have been alive, they’re still not

The know-it-all. Ugh. This is the one you would throw something at if you weren’t so enlightened (in yoga) or afraid of prison (because who wants to be the professor in a sweater vest in San Quentin). If this was the same as the last person, all would be well. But usually it’s not. Usually they have more in common the next person. I should probably admit that I’m this person in the academic community. I can’t help it. And this person makes it worse for

The tentative newbie. These are the fun ones. They did their research before they showed up. But now they’re here and they don’t know what to do. They need guidance. They’re watching others to make sure they have the right supplies and take the right actions. And they’re desperate not to be called out in the group because of a giant case of imposter syndrome. Give them a few weeks and a few Google searches, and they’ll become the know-it-all. Maybe. And when they show up in the group, the newbie can’t help but wonder who is

The smelly one. Why does there always have to be a smelly one? And why do they never seem to know it’s them? And deep down, you know your fear is that you’re the smelly one. But certainly, you know you’re not

The chipper one. Almost as bad as the smelly one. They’re just glad to be here. If they can’t do as well as everyone else, that’s ok. This isn’t a competition. We should all be smiling. Do you want to grab lunch? They’ll just hang out and maybe make friends with

The who’s just better than everyone else. And you don’t even hate them for it. They’re not just trying to show off. They’re just better. The only person who doesn’t like them is

The competitive one. And you do hate them for it. I’m also this one in both settings. It’s caused some problems. Injuries in one place and arguments in another. I’ll let you guess which (though wouldn’t it be great to hear a couple of yogis going at it in the middle of warrior II just heckling the crap out of each other? “You call that front knee 90 degrees, Brian? Watch this.” “Your arms aren’t even level, Kenneth. I don’t want to hear anything from you today.”). And the competitive one means you might not get to keep

The visitor. They might be new. They might be seasoned. Either way, they’re just around temporarily. Maybe they’ll come back for more later on, but that’s not in the cards right now. So they’re a stranger in the group. Sometimes they have their own baggage and do things their own way, but sometimes that’s good for the group to see a new example, just so long as it doesn’t catch the attention of

The blogger. And don’t we all wish there were fewer of these…