Phone a friend

Back from another enjoyable lunch break. I took a walk, popped a squat under a tree, and called a friend. Again, it was lovely. Rejeuventating, in fact.

I felt so renewed after laughing and reminiscing with my friend that I decided that we should ALL call a friend for a shot of positive energy. Sure, taking a few vinyasas energize us and make us happy. But there’s nothing quite like the immediate jolt of excitement that accompanies calling a good friend for a few minutes. So if you’re looking to ressurect a bad mood or general feeling of blah, just phone a friend.

Regis would be proud.

This feels good-trust me

Ever feel tense, restless, or uncomfortable in your hip area? Well, this college yogi does for sure. In fact, I’m feeling it right now, thanks to long car rides to and from my future grad school residence (Holla Wolfpack!) over the weekend.

Seriously, college kids, flexibility in the hips plays a major role in releasing emotions. Emotions that if ignored and suppressed, manifest themselves in weight gain, poor school performance, fitful sleep, and strained relationships.

Do stuff like this:

To avoid this:

Our hips particularly hold a lot of emotion because they are such major, stablizing parts of our body. When we work with our hips in yoga, we often feel physical sensations that coincide with the emotions stored in that area. The mind/body connection just cannot be denied.

Check out the kinds of emotions that we can physically access with hip-opening poses (Source):

Anger

Unexpressed feelings are stored inside the body, causing obstruction in the circulation of energy, blood and fluids and, in turn, creates a sensation of pain. Anger is an example of one commonly unexpressed emotion that becomes filed away in the hips. Anger and resentment are not socially acceptable emotions in many western cultures, so instead of sharing or channeling their anger, people may push the feeling inside. When this repressed emotion becomes stored in the hips it may cause physical pain or a feeling of tightness. However, finding a method of releasing anger, such as yoga, will bring relief to those holding onto these feelings.

Self Expectation

Setting expectations for yourself is a natural, healthy part of living, but sometimes these expectations can take control of your life. For example, you can store disappointment over unfulfilled expectations in your hips, as well as stress over impossible goals. These disappointments can potentially lead to feelings of self-doubt. The gallbladder meridian used in acupuncture travels along the sides of the body, through the hip; feelings of doubt can weaken this meridian. Self-doubt often serves as a diagnostic tool for gallbladder meridian imbalances.

Sadness

Unexpressed sadness can also enter the hips. A person carrying this emotional burden may not even be aware of the sadness and only feel a climax of emotion when stretching or releasing the hips. People collect sadness when they do not allow themselves to grieve traumatic events such as losing.

Sexuality

The hips are home to the second chakra, or splenic chakra, one of seven that run the length of the torso to the top of the head. The second chakra’s energy is associated with sexuality and creative life force. When the energy of this chakra becomes blocked, a person may experience issues with intimacy, sex or creative blockage.

Frog pose is one of my favorite hip openers. It’s intense, uncomfortable, effective in deeply stretching the hips, and feels so, so good. This pose helps me immediately access any stored, acute emotions I have because  it works precise areas of the hips and thighs.  
 
This video breaks down Frog for you:
 
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a secluded area in my work environment and get into my hips. Yeah, I’m doing yoga at work and I am so not sorry.

Them moves like Jagger

I KNEW my obsession with the Rolling Stones was fueled by some kind of intuitive connection I feel with them.

Jagger does yoga.  He doesn’t just do it today to stay physically and mentally fit as he ages. No. Homeboy did it in the early 70s. Check it:


This image speaks to my soul. It makes me want to jump up and down. OF COURSE the Stones, or at least the lead singer of the Stones, did yoga before their shows. Because they were cool and totally understood connection between the mind and body.

God I love them.

Hot yoga in the summer makes sense, right?

Wowza is this heat oppressive. So…hot yoga-good idea, yes?

I attended a heated vinyasa class this morning, thinking that the cooler morning temperature wouldn’t completely deplete my body’s energy supply during class. Wrong. I experienced many episodes of light-headedness, a general lack of energy, plus a general lack of motivation to power through that lack of energy.

                                                                          Source

While our bodies can feel that way in yoga at any time throughout the year, this morning’s class reminded me how our bodies have to adapt to the summer temperatures as we continue our regular yoga practice. These days, we must be  particularly mindful of how we feel physically when we do yoga (especially in a heated room). We need to treat our bodies gently in class even when our minds and instructors encourage us to challenges ourselves. I do not advocate for doing nothing on the mat, but I do believe that the heat affects us more easily than we think. To that end, let us remember a few tips that will help us enjoy an invigorating, yet SAFE yoga practice during the summer:

1. Hydrate yo body: Have a big bottle of cool (not freezing, as that shocks the body) by your mat and drink throughout class. Also, take several swigs of water right before class starts, as well as when it ends

2. Inhale, exhale, repeat: Breathe loudly. Breathe deeply. Breathe consciously. Doing yoga in heated room, especially during the summer months when we’re sweating profusely anyway, often causes us to feel faint and short of breath. Breathing helps. If we focus on moving our breath throughout our body, we distract ourselves from our feelings of light-headedness. Plus, the whole sending an abundance of oxygen to our brain thing abates those feelings.

3. Relax: Resting poses such as Forward Fold and Child’s Pose are relaxing, gentle, and rejuvenating. Take them often when you do yoga these days. The heat outdoors, especially when combined with heat in a studio, also overwhelms our minds and bodies. We can easily lose ourselves in our whirring thoughts burning through our brains. A resting pose immediately calms us. So take one. Or two or three.

While the thought of doing hot yoga on a hot summer day might completely turn us off, there are ways staying cool and keeping yoga fun.

It happened…almost

Yogis, I have some wonderful news. During a particularly rigorous vinyasa class yesterday, a class during which I had to take Child’s Pose several times and sweat completely through my clothes,  I experienced a yogasm. Remember those?

Source 

While I never fully got there (TMI?), I know I felt the build up. Wowza. I credit this crazy wonderful sensation to the intensity of the class and the instructor’s constant talk of engaging our mula bandha in every single pose. Between the sweat, exertion of breath, and emphasis on the mula bandha, how could my body not react in such a viscerally delicious way?

Must. Achieve. Another. Yogasm.

Family time in Pittsburgh

Cramped car ride aside, I lived it up in Pittsburgh, food and family-wise, that is. Family time included attending my cousin’s graduation, gorging ourselves on unforgettable meals, and doing yoga on the road.

Check it.

Warrior II and Dancer really ease the tension of being stuffed into a sedan for 4.5 hours.

Leinenkugel helps, too.

After my cousin’s campus-wide ceremony, we hit Claddagh’s. I ordered an epic burger topped w/Jameson sauce and onion straws. For the first time, I had the meat cooked medium rare, rather than medium. Raw-ish meat is beautiful and very, very tasty.

For a post-graduation lunch the following day, we chose Mallorca, a fun, hospitable Spanish restaurant. I enjoyed scallops with prosciutto.

A delicious meal, yes. However, I contend that the best way to serve prosciutto is uncooked, for subjecting this delicate meat to high temperatures toughens it and renders it somewhat bland.

More food porn from Mallorca:

We ordered Watermelon sorbet and Creme Brulee for the table. I salivate and start convulsing at the thought of Creme Brulee, my absolute favorite dessert. While Mallorca’s variation of this dish was a bit thicker than others I’ve tried, the chef did not disappoint.

Between dinner and dessert, our waiter served us complimentary shots of almond liqueur. I downed mine and immediately experienced its cleansing effects. My cousin never finished hers, so as we left the restaurant, I hung back for a bit and downed hers, too. Shhhhh.

Pittsburgh rocks. As does my newly graduated cousin.

Attention college girls: Do this!

For us young women in college (have I mentioned that I got into grad school…fully funded!?!?), we often grapple with intense, seemingly true thoughts of self-doubt, inadequacy, and fear.

We compare our minds, bodies, and achievements to those of our classmates, particularly our female classmates.  We berate ourselves for not being productive enough. Rarely do we celebrate our successes without generating another mental “To Do” list. To cope, we might resort to some destructive actions (over-eating/drinking/facebook-ing, etc.).

Or maybe this only applies to me…?

At any rate, I believe that one powerful antidote to any feelings of inadequacy that we college girls may feel is…yoga. But not just any type of yoga. Vinyasa. Seriously, ladies, really hot, fast-paced, sweaty, visceral, intense yoga, imbues you with gut-penetrating feelings of confidence and sexiness.

I experienced this today in a morning vinyasa class. Mostly because I had to shift my attention from my thoughts (negative and manipulative) on actually doing the poses. Rather than obsessing about grad school details and how much fatter I am than girl behind me, I focused on the poses themselves. Because I had to. A vinyasa class calls on the speed, power, and grace of its students, so what other choice did I have but to just ignore my whirring thoughts (which just slow me down) and concentrate on properly taking each pose and following the teacher’s instructions?

By shifting my focus from my mind to my body, I started to feel confident and sexy, feelings that always lie inside of us-we just have to remember that they are in fact there.

So, my fellow female college students, do some vinyasa. Like NOW. It’s a fast way to remember that you’re actually brave, productive, and more than adequate. I speak the truth here.