Monday, January 28, 2008

"The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men"

January has been a funny month with things expected taking a turn for the worse and things unexpected for the better.

We had planned on being in Mexico for the months of January and February. A vacation that had been planned nearly a year ago and has been the source of much anticipation and joy throughout the year. But, alas, life happens and “best laid plans” get turned upside down. Toward the end of the year some unexpected and unavoidable business problems started rearing their ugly heads and caused us to have to cancel our coveted plans.

My husband does not handle stress well. He is one of those unfortunate types that allows things to weigh heavy on his mind, while creating the worst case scenarios and causing himself much anxiety and many sleepless nights.

So when he came home and told me he wanted to take up yoga I almost fell over. You have to understand that I have had a daily yoga practice for years and have on several occasions tried to get him involved to no avail.

Lucky for me, I was anticipating WoYoPracMo and had planned on trying again to get him to practice with me. So for Christmas I had bought “The Joys of Partner Yoga” which I wrote about here. As it turned out the partner yoga only worked out for the first week or so. With the difference in our sizes and flexibility it was almost impossible to create a comfortable practice together, although it did create some playful and funny poses. He “graduated” to a Baron Baptiste Power Yoga DVD. And I am happy to say that he has been practicing every day with me. AND enjoying it immensely!!

It is amazing and gratifying to hear him talk about how good he feels, how calm and relaxed he is and how much he is enjoying yoga.

I came across this cute cartoon and I think it says it all. Almost 30 days of yoga and I think he is hooked.

Participating in World Yoga Practice Month has contributed greatly to creating tranquility and harmony for him during this chaotic and stressful month. I am hopeful that he enjoys it enough to keep up a regular, if not daily, practice.

Gypsy Girl

Sunday, January 20, 2008

An Inspiration

“Nutrition and exercise should be an important part of everyone’s life. Life should be a happy adventure, and to be happy you need to be healthy. Just take things one step at a time, and remember that everything you do takes energy to achieve. You need to plant the seeds and cultivate them well. Then you will reap the bountiful harvest of health and longevity!” Jack La Lanne

I’ve just been reading some articles about the fitness guru Jack LaLanne, known as the “Godfather of Fitness”. He is approaching his 94th birthday and still exercises for 90 minutes each day followed by a half hour of swimming.

He is an American Icon who has made fitness and nutrition his life’s work and passion and is an inspiration to all who hold fitness and healthy living one of the most important things in their lives.

I remember well, when I was a young stay at home Mom with 3 little ones running around as I tried to do my half hour workout to Jack La Lanne’s TV fitness shows. There were a few other TV exercise shows, Debbie Drake is one that comes to mind, but none have kept up the life work and accomplishments that Jack La Lanne has.
Here are just a few of his amazing feats taken from his biography

1976 Age 62: Commemorating the “Spirit of ‘76”, swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed, shackled and towing 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
1979 Age 65: Towed 65 boats filled with 6,500-pounds of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp while handcuffed and shackled in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan.
1980 Age 66: Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida filled with 77 people for over a mile in less than 1 hour.
1984 Age 70: Handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 ½ miles.

Also of interest to those practicing CRON is the following from the Wall Street Journal article “What’s Your Workout?”

Mr. LaLanne only eats two meals per day: One at 11 a.m. after his workout and one at 7 p.m. at a restaurant with his wife.
His 11 a.m. meal consists of three to four hard-boiled egg whites, a cup of broth-type soup, oatmeal with soy milk, raisins and a plate of seasonal fruit.
"Every restaurant we frequent has the 'Jack LaLanne salad' which is ten raw vegetables and four egg whites hardboiled," he says, "I make them throw the fat and cholesterol in the yolk away and you're left with the best protein known to man. Four egg whites have the same amount of protein as one pound of steak but only 60 calories compared to 1,000 calories." Mr. LaLanne eats fish nearly every night at dinner. The only other meat he eats is roast turkey. He doesn't snack between meals.

So in Jacks words “…plant the seeds and cultivate them well. Then you will reap the bountiful harvest of health and longevity!”

Gypsy Girl

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Health and Nutrition in Yoga Practice

“It’s important to remember the study of yoga is not about anything external to you. It’s about studying yourself and learning tools to reduce the undesirable things in your life, like back pain, and increase the positive things, like happiness. It’s about refining yourself at all levels.” Gary Kraftsow, founder of Viniyoga

I have recently discovered the Longevity Diet or CRON, Calorie Restriction Optimal Nutrition. I first read about it in Arturo’s blog. CRONyogitect. I followed a few links from Arturo’s blog and read a few books he recommended and found myself practicing a new even more refined way of healthy eating.

The basis of the Longevity Diet is that if you eat less you live longer. The key is to eat less, but to get the most nutrition from your food by eating the healthiest foods with the highest nutritional values.

The Calorie Restriction Society is based on the work of UCLA gerontologist researcher Roy Walford. There website is chock full of health and nutrition information. A great book that I read about CRON is The Longevity Diet by Lisa Walford and Brian Delaney

I think yoga plays a big part in practicing healthier eating habits. The first limb of ashtanga yoga is the Yamas. At least 3 of the Yamas apply to healthy eating.

Shaucha: Purity/Clarity-Purity of body, cleanliness, good health habits, a clear and orderly environment.”
Tapas: Austerity-The willingness to do what is necessary to reach a goal with discipline”
Swadhyaya: Self-Education, Study- the practice of self-observation.”

It takes a lot of self study-Swadhyaya to watch your eating habits. It’s not always easy to weed out junk foods from our diets. They almost always come disguised in such delicious forms, don‘t they. You must be mindful all the time and have the discipline-Tapas and desire to become more fit by consciously cultivating good nutritional eating habits-Shaucha.

I am enjoying the benefits of a healthier life style and I probably would have come across CRON sooner or later, as I have always practiced a very healthy nutritious way of eating and I read everything I can get my hands on about health and nutrition. But I am very grateful to Arturo for all his help and for his well written and informative blog about ashtanga yoga and about CRON. Keep up the good work Arturo!!

Gypsy Girl

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Joys of Partner Yoga

I am one of those fortunate people who very rarely misses my daily home yoga practice.

But I have been very excited about World Yoga Practice Month because I have been trying to get my husband involved in yoga for quite some time. He has tried it a few times, but it never went further than that. He is a runner and loves it and he considers his “runner’s high” his form of yoga. He is absolutely right, running is a perfect exercise for him.

However, I never give up on a good thing. So as part of my goal for this month of yoga I have asked him to join me practicing yoga every day and he has agreed. And, much to my surprise and pleasure, he has not only been enjoying it, but has commented on how much more flexible he has become in just this short time.

For Christmas, I bought him the book The Joys of Partner Yoga by Mishabae Edmond.
The photography is gorgeous. The explanations for the poses are very detailed and helpful, guiding you through the poses. There is something for everyone. The asanas range from gentle to advanced, energizing to relaxing, restorative and meditative.

Being a runner, my husband is very tight. He is also a lot taller than I am. These differences make some of the asanas a bit awkward and others down right impossible!

We are not working for perfection of the poses, but more for embracing the connection with each other, the sheer enjoyment of being together, seeking and learning together.

With an open mind and a playful attitude we have created a practice that has been so wonderfully rewarding and has added not only newness and freshness but also intimacy to my yoga practice.
The simple pleasures of touch and togetherness and the ability to laugh at ourselves have made this “experiment” something to treasure.

Gypsy Girl

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Closed For The Season

"When a real, old fashioned winter gets going properly, there is no day without its snow. The northeasters and other big storms that give the New England winter its fame are the stars of the show….”

So begins the first few lines of the 2008 Old Farmers Almanac for the month of January.

This winter season started shaping up early in November and December with record cold weather and record snow falls and it’s turning out to be, just as the Almanac says, one of those famous New England winters.

My yoga space is in a 3 season room of nearly all glass. It is small and cozy, just big enough for one yoga mat, a few loved plants and a few comfortable chairs. When I take off my shoes and close the door behind me I enter into a tranquil, soothing space, with wonderful views of nature from all sides. A perfect spot for yoga and meditation.

But, alas the New England weather has forced me to close the room and move into another space.

It is an open floor plan with kitchen, dining room and living room all open to each other. I love the space…it’s perfect to accommodate my big family when we are all here together.

Buddha looks cozy and content in his new winter home in the corner of my living room surrounded a giant blooming Christmas cactus, some paper whites, and some other plants.

But somehow when I roll out my mat in the middle of this lovely open space; it doesn’t have the intimacy of my own private yoga space. I am so easily distracted during my daily practice. Even when there are no interruptions, I find it hard to focus. My eyes wander, my minds thinks of a hundred things that I should be doing.

But then a look over and see the serene, calm look on Buddha’s face, I relax into the asana, I find my focus and all is good.

Gypsy Girl

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Perfect First Day!!

Happy New Year!! Today is the first day of 2008 and also the first day of World Yoga Practice Month. It was started by Yogamum and the goal is to practice yoga every day for the month of January.

What a perfect “prescription” to start the year off in a positive, healthy, life enhancing way. So check it out and join the every growing community of yogis that are practicing, learning, and sharing their yoga experiences.

My intentions for the month go beyond my regular daily home practice, and will include all eight limbs of yoga. Also, I have been trying to get my husband interested in yoga for quite some time. So now is a good time to try a partner yoga practice….more to come on that subject in the coming days.

Today I had 2 nice surprises to kick off my “Month of Yoga “. First, my husband agreed to try yoga for the month of January. Then my granddaughter Brittany called and asked to come and practice yoga with me. She is home for Christmas vacation after completing her first semester of college at the University of Limerick, Ireland.

So after introducing my husband to a few stretches, Brittany and I practiced to one of Baron Baptiste’s DVDs. Then we had a relaxing pot of Irish Breakfast Tea.

A perfect first day !

I wish you peace, love and laughter
Gypsy Girl