My yoga journey is now two months strong. I feel that in just two months I have made some big improvements. My wife has commented that my posture has gotten better. I feel like I have a little less tension in my shoulders. In a bit more than a month, I have learned how to do the “crow” pose. And now I am beginning to do “side crow”. I never thought I would be able to even attempt these poses and now they are becoming within my reach. I still feel like I have such a weak core and a general lack of flexibility but I also don’t expect these things to improve overnight. I also still feel the need to watch the teacher through the class to see if I am in the right position. I find that the audio cues are either not enough for me or too much to comprehend while trying to balance or get into a pose. I am interested to see my progress continue and where the journey will take me.
Thursday is one of two days a week that I have committed by self to do Yoga. A bit more than a month into my Yoga experience I can really say that I am enjoying it. Of course, with yesterday’s snowpocalypse this class was canceled. Although I was bummed I took this as an opportunity to doing my own Yoga session at home. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect but I felt at least I put an effort in to do something. If there is one lesson I learned in 365+ days of running its that the hardest part is just showing up and honoring the commitment. So with my laptop set on the table and my Yoga mat spread on the floor, I opened up Youtube and found a 30-minute beginner Yoga session to follow. It wasn’t the worst experience but it was not without issues.
I had two issues during the practice. The first is that doing Yoga in the apartment you don’t get the calming effect of being in a studio. Yoga studios have very open floor plans, nice ambient lighting, music, and other spiritual objects placed around the room to “get you in the zone”. Doing Yoga at home you are surrounded by all the potential things that can cause the stress in your life you are trying to get away from. And the additional space in a Yoga studio gives you the freedom to move around. I stand about 6′. I need a bit of room to stretch out my arms and legs.
The next thing is that I found it difficult to be able to observe and follow instruction from my computer while actually doing the poses. This is something I still have a bit of trouble in the regular class but Not as much. I think could get better after watching the video over and over again or following the same video for a month until the sequence of the session is learned by rote. The ultimate measure for me for every Yoga experience is how I feel at the end of it. And even with this
The ultimate measure for me for every Yoga experience is how I feel at the end of it. And even with this 30-minute mini home Yoga session, I felt better than when I started.
The other day I posted about Run #400. For run number 400 I also treated myself to a much needed new pair of running sneakers. I have been a fan of New Running sneakers for I think 3-4 year now. I’ve had my eye on this sneaker since the first day they announced it. This is the New York Marathon special edition running sneaker. Lat year Newton designed a handful of special edition sneakers to maker some of the biggest events in running such as the New York Marathon, The Iron Man Championships in Kona, and the Boston Marathon. The shoe for each event is different and features a design that incorporates elements of that area. The NY one is my favorite because it has New York written on one side of the sneaker and the NY times newsprint on the other side of the sneaker. It is a big, bold, awesome shoe that says a great deal about New York. The best part is that original shoe price was $125. New Running sneakers are not cheap. They typically range in price from about $125 to $140. The different models can also be tough to find in every size locally. I was able to score this awesome running show for $62.50 with free shipping included. That is a deal you can not beat. It is very important to not overuse your running sneakers. My previous pair I put on close to 400 miles of only running and did not use them for general use or walking at all. If they were on my feet I was going for a Run. Only use your running sneakers for running and get something like the Milestone Pod to track your mileage. I’ll do another post abut the Milestone pod at a later point. So here are the New York edition Newtons.
Today marks 400 consecutive days of running 1 mile a more every day without fail. What started out as a challenge for 2016 has continued into 2017 and one nice run streak. The winter months are by far the toughest. In 2015 I ran through a snow storm, freezing rain, and many cold windy nights. I don’t have a treadmill handy so it is rare for me to use one. Tonight’s medium paced 1-mile run was no different. Very cold and a chilling wind coming off the Verrazano channel. I’m looking forward to spring and Run No. 500 is on the schedule for May.
Today was Yoga Class No. 7. I can’t believe I have been doing this a month already. A good portion of the initial awkwardness I felt is fading and I am getting more comfortable with the flow of the class. When I find myself not doing the right thing I smile and laugh it off as I peek around to see what the teacher is doing or how others have modified the pose to work within their means. It is athletic and very physical but not competitive.
Last week I began to attempt the crow pose. This week was a continuation of that challenge as well as an hour full of other meditations, stretches, and other postures. I feel improvement. The progress seems small but it is noticeable. No cool Rick Rubin medication postures or head standing photos yet. Once I get the hang of crow may I’ll post a photo for fun. Besides the physical poses and movement, I really enjoy the breathing exercises. My favorite being Alternate Side Nose Breathing or Nadi Shodhan pranayama . I recommend this to everyone. It is simple and you can learn from the Dali Lama himself via the video link below.
The most noticeable difference outside of yoga class, especially after today’s session, was a sense of attention and awareness for my spine. As I was out walking this evening I could feel better alignment in my spine and less tension in my shoulders. More importantly, as I tried to move into my usual hunched over posture I was aware that it did not feel correct or good. Mr chiropractor Dr. Michael Bernstein called this Caveman Dragging The Knuckles or something to that like that. I would like to eventually eliminate this hunched over caveman feeling. I suspect over time it will happen especially taking into account the progress that I feel already.
Went out for a nice 1 mile nor’easter fun run tonight. Not as bad as last night but I’ll still take the snow over rain any day of the week. This is the #ziplocbagfilter I am using on this awesome soaking wet selfie. Run365 year no. 2
As the Yoga journey continues… Last night, which was my fifth yoga class, we were introduced to The Crow Pose. After a bit of instruction, I tried to get into the pose a few times. I was able to get my legs off the ground a support myself a bit. It was fun and the same time very challenging. This is something I can see I will working on for a while. After doing some research online I also learned that this pose is an entryway to many other poses. The pose like everything else in Yoga seems like an even split between strength in various muscles and lining up your physical structure so that it can support itself. Aside from the introductory crow pose experience, I felt during the session I was able to get into a few of the stretches a bit more and also less physical stress on my legs. My hips, lower legs, and torso still are feeling really tight. Progress comes slowly.
On to class no. 6 this week.
Earlier this afternoon I took advantage of the mild weather we have been having in NY. I l tightened up my yellow Newton running sneakers and headed out. My running workouts as of late have been minimal but extremely consistent. (I am currently on day 388 of my daily running streak) A mile at an average pace has been the routine. This past week I got in a really good Speedwork out but other than that I’ve have been reluctant to push too much in the new year as I adjust to the new Yoga workouts I am doing twice a week. Rule no. 1 for me: don’t over do it. (unless your in a race, then go for it) Today I got in a much-needed longer run of 5 miles. It has been a few weeks maybe even two months since I have gotten in a long run. Long runs and short runs are very different. Long runs are much more about exploring your running technique and your own mental space. Longer runs provide a meditative zone that let you clear your mind and take notice of everything going on in a particular moment with your body. It usually takes me 20 minutes or more to settle into a consistent long run pace in which everything begins to settle. I find in important in a long run to give yourself a few minutes to work things out. For me, it is common for muscle problems to appear. Especially early in a run. I might have a pain in my ankle, or strange feeling in my knee for a few moments and then it will disappear. I say this because often issues arise and people put on the brakes and give up immediately. The best distance runners and triathletes have taught themselves how to get through those points of discomfort and keep pushing forward. Whenever you feel something strange while you are running give take a moment to see if your body can work through it or think about your form. Ask if you are doing something different. Where is your foot hitting the ground? How can you work through it? You might need to bring the pace down or even adjust something in the way your foot is striking the ground. But do not give up. I hope this a quick look into how I run helps you. As always I would love to hear your experiences and tips in the comments below.
Wednesday is my exercise day. Everyday since January 1st of 2016 I run at least a mile or more without fail. I also started doing Yoga two days a week and at least one day a week I go for a big workout. For me the one heavy workout of the week is the time to let it go, and look for my physical limits. Recently the Wednesday workout has been a 45 minute extreme conditioning class, a run, a 45 minute spin class, and then a 10 minute swim to cool everything down at the end. The Extreme conditioning class is something I have come to love and hate. It is always a great workout but when you start you are in for it. The classes instructor and fearless leader Dave Graz takes no prisoners. A Typical workout can include running, running stairs, upwards of 100 pushups, maybe 100 kettle bells swings, flipping a giant tire, and usually more. Here is a snippet from Todays “Extreme” workout.
5 min or so run.
20 Pushups, 20 dips, 20 squats, 20 Steps
Tire Flips, Run, Push Ups, Repeat.
Run the Stairs, with pushups every of set stairs.
Tire Flips, Burpees,
Wall sits, Run the Stairs, Wall Sits, Run the stairs.
After this I did my own 2 mile run.
1 Mile @ 8:30 pace
.5 miles @ 6:30 pace
.25 @ 6:15 pace
.25 @ 6:00 pace.
I think you get the idea. I am a firm believer that if you commit to do something that you should always do it at the highest level you can. Don’t just show up. Show up and be competitive. And that doesn’t always mean competitive with the person next to you. You can be competitive with your self and strive to push your personal limits.
Yesterday evening I went to my 3rd Yoga class. It marked a week since this adventure began. Through out the class there times where my muscles felt challenged but not in way that was as strenuous as Thursdays class. I learned about the use of foam “Yoga Blocks” and I also started to learn how to use the stretching strap to make the poses a bit more comfortable. It still feels very awkward to be reaching for the strap or looking around for it when I need it, but it makes holding a stretch much more attainable. Toward the start of the class we also did a meditation and a breathing exercise with the nose. Breathing in one nostril and out the other. I found it very easy to get very deep comfortable breaths and in general very calming. Over the long term I am curious to see how these breathing exercises change my trumpet playing amongst elements of my daily routine.
After the class was finished the one noticeable change I felt was a complete disconnection from technology. Usually I am always looking for my phone, or texting in a social media app of some sort. The need to impulsively connect to the interwebs was gone. That was a great feeling.
The journey continues….