Friday, April 23, 2010

Missing My Wednesday Night Peeps

Dear Wednesday Night Yogis,

I miss you all terribly. And it's only been a week that I've been without your smiles, your warmth and your admirable commitment to our weekly yoga get-together.

In a way, I feel guilty for not being with you right now. Many of you have shared my own personal yoga journey; and several of you were in the first yoga class I ever taught - right there at DNC. You've all come so far in your personal practices, so much, in fact, that I rallied for our first ever "Yoga 2" class last year and gained the necessary approval to take you beyond the basics. I've watched with pride as each of you has grown in the practice; in different, yet very distinct ways.

This year, we experienced a huge surge in attendance on Wednesday nights. You brought your friends to class, you told other members about our class, you shared our "sangha" - our community - and helped us to grow to record numbers. Many yoga instructors, particularly in a city like Sacramento - never have the opportunity to teach groups as large - or as energetic and cohesive - as ours. It has truly been an honor to lead you all on this journey, this path, that we call yoga.

I'm reminded of a time when I walked into a yoga class in San Francisco with another instructor friend. It felt like walking into happy hour. People were laughing, embracing, talking loudly. My friend said, "This place is absolutely buzzing!" I've never forgotten that experience and I'm often reminded of it now, when I'm walking into Wednesday night class and one of you flags me down to tell an interesting story (Sarah!), while someone else grabs me in a hug (Nancy!) and yet another person hands me a plate of goodies (Brianna!).

You are all so very special to me and I promise to return to our space and our practice soon. In the meantime, keep coming, be kind to Judy (she might even bring you goodies!) and know that even though I'm not there on my mat, I'm there in spirit.

Stay with your breathe. Slow down when you can. Lift your heart. Stand a little taller. Bring your hands to your heart in Anjali Mudra. Fill up every space in your body and in your spirit with your inhale. Exhale. Let everything else go.

Warm blessings and hugs to you all. Namaste.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Took The Bar...And I Passed!

I recently took a class at The Bar Method and I survived to tell you about it!

The Bar Method, similar to Physique 57 (which Kelly Ripa attributes for her rockin' body), is only offered in major cities. It's a blend of ballet, yoga and pilates and there are many exercises performed at the ballet barre.

I've wanted to take a class at The Bar Method for months. While visiting my sister in the East Bay, I made a reservation to drop into the San Ramon studio. Classes are 60 minutes in length and the drop-in fee is $24.00, which is definitely on the high side for a group exercise class.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the studio a few minutes early and was greeted by two super toned girls who gave me a tour. The Bar Method is a franchise so any location you visit will be pristine and well appointed. The San Ramon studio did not disappoint. They have on-site child care (provided free which is a great benefit), lockers and showers. The place is absolutely pristine. There are two rooms for classes, each has ballet barres lining the perimeter and both are completely mirrored.

There were nine of us in the class. We started the class with light weights and did a quick sequence of shoulders, triceps and biceps. So much for the age-old theory of working the large muscle groups first. The instructor then had us drop to the floor for push-ups. Throughout the exercises, she walked around giving feedback and making adjustments. I felt like she spent a LOT of time correcting my form.

We then moved on to the bar and did an intense series of legwork with arabesques and plies. This part of the work-out was grueling. I was shaking beyond belief.

After about 20 minutes of legwork, we moved on to abs and spent an ungodly amount of time on crunches. Class finished with bridging and stretching.

I wasn't trashed at the end, but I definitely felt like I had spent a disproportionate amount of time on my belly and my butt, and not so much time on the rest of my body.

A friend of mine talked with me last week about the possibility of opening a Bar Method location in Sacramento so my visit to the San Ramon studio, was, in part for research.

In all honesty, I don't think that Sacramento is quite ready for The Bar Method. For starters, the drop in fee is way too high. I don't know of many people who could or would pay so much for a group exercise class. The whole energy of The Bar Method felt very cold to me. The facility was cold, the instructors were cold, the participants were cold. Cold doesn't bode well in a community oriented place like Sacramento.

Although I don't think The Bar Method is a sustainable business idea for Sacramento, I do think that there is much to be learned from the exercises - particularly the regime on the ballet barre.

The Bar Method is consistently ranked as the number one "butt kicking workout in the Bay." When I got out of bed this morning, I could see why. My gluts were so sore I could hardly stand it. So, butt kicking, yes it is, but I'm not sure that having my butt kicked is the best way to exercise. For the money, I'd rather go to a Reformer class or a yoga class - and at least walk away with a great sense of balance - both physically and emotionally.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Dark Side of Medication

This is not an upbeat post, but I'm feeling compelled to address a very important topic relative to medication. Here goes.

Medication - in the Western sense - can do wonderful things for us. It can lower our blood pressure, prevent insulin problems, prevent unwanted pregnancy, assist in achieving pregnancy, control cholesterol and help us feel better, overall. And these are just the every day benefits of medication, not to mention the incredible advances we've made in the last 50 years in the areas of heart disease, cancer and AIDS. Incredible, really.

But medications can have a very, very dark side; a big umbrella called side effects. Consider the medication that puts your body into a metabolic shut down. You don't want to get out of bed. Once you're out of bed, no amount of caffeine can inspire you to move forward into the day. Getting dressed is totally discouraging because nothing fits. Not even the clothes you bought two weeks ago. Breakfast #1 is with your son. Breakfast #2 is an hour later, because you're starved despite the fact that you ate a seemingly "good" meal the first time around, consisting of complex carbs, protein and good fat. Push through the day but it feels like sleep walking. Have more coffee at regular intervals. Eat, eat, eat and repeat. Can't wait just to sleep. Get on the scale and gasp at the number. 8 pounds in one month? Eat again and go to bed, praying that your body will find its "fire" sometime. Really, really soon. Please. Like now.

Welcome to my March.

My doctor put me on a daily medication at the end of February for migraine prevention. I have horrifying migraines, the type that put me out of commission for a solid day and sometimes require a visit to the ER for a demerol shot. They are wicked beyond explanation.

After missing four days of work in January, we (the doctor and I) decided that a more aggressive approach was warranted. Enter the medication.

When taking a controversial medication, it's always necessary to balance the benefits with the risks. The biggest benefit - in my eyes - was the fact that I went through the entire month of March without even a hint of a migraine. The risk? Missing out on life. Being checked out while I was with clients. Scheduling naps instead of connections with friends. But most important, I felt like Ben wasn't getting 100% of me. And I want him to have that. As much as I can give it to him.

So today, April 1st, I dumped the meds. My doctor wanted me to wait it out, give it another month but I just can't do it. My time in life is way too critical - as a mother, as a daughter, as a friend, as a business owner. It's all I have and while it can't be magical all the time, I want to be present for the magic when it whatever way it manifests.

Not a happy topic, I know. But so necessary to be cognizant of. Don't lose a minute, a day, a week and certainly not a month to a medication that just doesn't work with your body. For me, I'd give anything to get out of a migraine. Anything, that is, except for my spot in life!