Aerial yoga

For Christmas, a friend gave me a gift certificate for an aerial yoga class. I’m also her son’s teacher, so it was my teacher gift as well. It’s the first time I ever recieve a present from a parent that has the words “pole dancing” on it! There wasn’t any actual pole dancing involved, but the class was at a pole dancing studio.

In January, just before school started up again after the holidays, four of us braved the snow and made our way to the studio. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect. I’ve tried aerial silks before, but I wasn’t sure if it would be the same thing or not.

Turns out, it was a good work out, a lot of fun and a great challenge! Our instructor made it look easy, but it really wasn’t. We started of kind of flying back and forth, which was nice, when you got used to the ribbon cutting into your stomach. I thought it would slice me in half, but that was just because it wasn’t placed right. Oh. My bad.

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We did some handstands too. Correction. The other girls did handstands. I developed a sudden fear of the floor coming too close to my face. Must get over it, as I would like to do an actual, unsupported handstand one day.

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Then we tried some sort of flying flip thing. Ha! That did not work. Not even a little. Not even at all. (See how I snuck part of that poem from 10 things I hate about you in there? yeah, I know. Awesome!) One of the girls did it. She must have been taking something to boost her performance, because it was impossible.

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We did a few upside down poses. That was kind of the point of this whole thing. At first, it was too much of a head rush and I felt like I was going to explode, so I didn’t stay flipped around for very long. But after a while, I got used to it, and could get into a few poses instead of just hanging there like a Christmas decorations.

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They made us keep our socks on, so I look like some sort of lumberjack aerialist. Those socks were never supposed to be in the pictures.

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Aerial yoga is on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, so I’m pretty happy I got to do it. I would definitely recommend trying it if you like yoga, being upside down, flying and having sore hipbones and arms the next day. Because we also pulled ourselves up using upper body strength. I don’t have very much of that, so my arms felt like noodles the next day. But it was worth it!

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At the very end, we got to stretch out and relax inside the ribbon. It’s actually very wide. We hung there in our cocoons for a while, then emerged as beautiful butterflies. Ha! Just kidding. We emerged as sweaty messes, but smiling sweaty messes.

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99 red balloons

I am very happy with myself right now. Yesterday, I planned out my yoga classes for the week. The first one was a power class today, and I did it. Success!

It was one of the most unusual yoga classes I’ve been too. Why, you ask? Well, maybe because Todd, the teacher, threw each person a red, rubbery, bouncy, ball. A little smaller than a volleyball. Kind of like a dodge ball. Actually, scratch that. I haven’t played dodge ball in 20 years, so I’m in no position to compare my red ball to a dodge ball.

It was kind of like this. Well, I’m not sure what size these are.

Everyone was so calm and adult about the whole thing. They just put their ball to the side and waited. Not me. I bounced my ball as high as I could. Then my ball ran away from me and hit the girl in front of me. She didn’t mind. Well, she smiled, so I think it was all good.

At first it was a regular class, but then we started working with the ball. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but red balls are happy and bouncy and it was not like that at all. No, that happy little red ball was for core work! Core! If you’re thinking, obviously, you know more about core stuff than me. Most people do.

I held that ball between my knees, pushed against it with my abs and also fell of it quite often. Good times, good times.

Actually, even if I felt like I had the core of the Pillsbury dough boy, it was great. I know I need to work on my core, and this was a fun new way to do it.

How to play volleyball in 30 easy steps

1. Play volleyball in high school. Only in gym class and only because you have to.

2. Don’t play for 15 years.

3. Wait until someone is very desperate and posts on facebook “Looking for a girl volleyball player or our team forfeits.”

4. Volunteer your services.

5. Warn team that your technique consists of ducking when the ball comes close to your head.

6. Warn them again when they say it’s all good.

7. Watch the women’s olympic volleyball for tips on how to be awesome.

8. Try not to be terrified at how intense they are.

9. Wear yoga clothes because you don’t own any volleyball clothes.

10. When it starts to rain, wonder if you can back out.

11. Breathe a sigh of relief when rain stops and you see a rainbow.

12. Tell the guys to look at the rainbow.

13. LOOK at the RAINBOW guys!

14. Meet other team members.

15. Try to look confident.

16. Take off flip-flops and step onto the court.

17. Resist the urge to build a sand castle.

18. Stand in one spot for the first 10 minutes.

19. Wave your arms around like a fly is bothering you.

20. Hit the ball by accident.

22. Serve something awesome.

23. Win the game.

24. Feel like a superstar.

25. Go out for drinks.

26. Discover fried pickles.

27. Drink half a pitcher of beer.

28. Wonder if people can tell you’re tipsy.

29. Go home and de-sand.

30. Pass out.

Positive motivation, from me to you!

Yesterday I came across some very disturbing pictures and messages online. I’d heard of thinspo, short for thinspiration, but I had no idea how awful it really was. Girls are posting and liking pictures of emaciated young women as their inspiration. This is what they aim to look like. I refuse to post any of the pictures I saw, but some of them had messages like “I only feel beautiful when I’m hungry”, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” and “Your stomach is not growling, it’s applauding”.

When I started this blog, I decided it would be my happy place. I could go on about how horrible and dangerous these thinspo photos are, and how damaging they are to young and not so young girls everywhere, but I won’t. Instead of adding to the negativity, I decided to create my own form of inspiration. Let’s call it Blisspo. I know that word makes no sense. That’s not the point.

What is the point? I think it’s about balance. I try to eat right and excercise, but I also like brownies and watching tv. Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a little slimmer, usually when I wear a bathing suit, but I work out to be healthy, not to be skinny.

So here is the first ever collection of Blisspo photos I created just for you. Enjoy and don’t take it too seriously!

Aerial adventures

Today was the last field trip of the school year with my students. We went to an “aerial adventutre park”. There were zip lines, ladders, ropes, wires and all kinds of looks-like-fun-but-also-really-scary-stuff.

We were the last class to go up, so first we went on a nature walk. I was so happy to get these city kids out into the woods, because this is what they were saying:

I think I have poison ivy.

Do you think we’ll get attacked by a beaver?

The mud is all dirty.

I think that’s a bear. Oh no, it’s a rock.

They should really clean it up here. There are rocks and leaves everywhere.

What’s the green stuff on the rocks?

Are we there yet? (We weren’t going anywhere. It was a nature walk.)

But then we got to a place with frogs and tadpoles, so they were amazed and stopped asking why the path was muddy.

After lunch, we played soccer, volleyball and practiced our handstands.

Finally, it was our turn to go up. I have never been zip lining or any of that crazy stuff up in trees. Don’t get me wrong, I like climbing trees, but this involved a harness, those clip things and heights. Since it was the kids park, it wasn’t super high, but I’d say it was at least 8 or 9 feet up, sometimes higher. I told myself that if 6 to 9 year olds were doing this, then so could I!

Once I got used to clipping myself to trees and got over the fact that I was up in the air, I had a great time! It was all kid-size, so sometimes I had to crouch and this tube thing was a little tight.

Yes, that’s my butt hanging out between the tubes. I wasn’t stuck. I was resting.

I loved all of it until I got to the ziplines. Then, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to do it. I actually considered climbing back down. Actually, I could have jumped off the platform, that’s how close to the ground I was. I figured I might as well suck it up and do it, otherwise my students might tease me.

I love how they’re following my progress. They were cheering too.

It was a great day. I’m exhausted. One little girl fell asleep on the bus on the way back to school.

I think I am now ready for the “grown-up” aerial park. I can’t wait until summer!

Walk, don’t run!

I have a nasty cold. So bad, that I just spent all weekend complaining. It was a really nice day out on Saturday, but I spent most of it on the couch. At one point, I opened the door, stepped out onto the porch to confirm that, yes, in fact, it was a beautiful day. Then I went back to bed. Yesterday was a little better and I spent the afternoon with family, sitting on my grandma’s porch.

Today, I decided I was sick of being sick. It was another amazing day and I could not spend one more minute inside. Well, after work, anyways. I stopped at the park on my way home, because the word for my photo a day challenge was grass. Since I live in an appartment, I don’t have any grass. I sat around, took some pictures and enjoyed the sun. This is my picture of the day.

Then I decided that what I really wanted wasn’t just to sit outside, but to run. I went home and started getting ready. That’s when the inner dialogue started.

Sick me: – You know, you’re still sick.

Sick of being sick me: – Whatever, I need to move!

– I’m just saying, walk, don’t run.

– We’ll see. I really want to run.

I know, but you keep having coughing fits.

– I can stop running to cough, it’s all good.

– Ok, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Obviously, 5 minutes in, I started to run. I felt amazing, free, like I was a gazelle….and my lungs were on fire. Actually, I started coughing so I slowed down, and that’s when my lungs felt like they were about to explode. So much for running while being sick. I did run for longer than I thought I would though (a total of about 5 minutes).

Since I couldn’t run, I decided to go back to the park. There were beautiful lilac bushes. Some kids gave me some lilacs today. It was very sweet, even if the flowers were a little (a lot) wilted from being held in grubby little hands for who knows how long during recess. I decided I wanted to pick some. Trouble is, the ones I could reach were on the street side and I didn’t want anyone to see me. I don’t think picking flowers is allowed in parks, but there’s no sign or anything. Anyways I went to the other side and jumped around and grabbed at the branches untill I had a few flowers. I sent all kinds of tree bits and leaves and maybe a bug down the front of my shirt, but it was worth it. I also picked some blue flowers.

I like to take before and after pictures. This is before and after my run/walk/flower picking expedition. I still have dark circles under my eyes, but I think I look happier after playing outside.

So this is what I learned today: when you’re sick, walk, don’t run. Or even better, pick flowers!

The princess and the pea

Imagine you’re a princess going to a yoga class. Now imagine a pea a little smaller than a tennis ball. Now, you have to roll around on this kind of hard, rubbery pea. No mattresses between you and the pea. Sound like it’s going to hurt? You’re right. It’s supposed to hurt. Otherwise, you’re not doing it right.

Now, before you think I’m some weird masochistic yoga freak, let me explain.

This morning, I went to a yoga class at lululemon (yay, free class!). Todd was teaching a Tune up class. I’ve done a class with Todd before, at Pure, and I loved it. I had not done his tune up class, but I figured it would be just as awesome. It was, but not in the same way.

He handed us two rubber balls and warned us it was not easy, lazy yoga, but princess and the pea yoga (I didn’t come up with that catchy title on my own). First, he had us take a forward bend and told us to pay attention to what it felt like and how far we could reach without bending our knees. Surprisingly (or not) my hands did not touch the floor. My friend Dominique, who was beside me, had her hands flat on the ground. But whatever. Yoga’s not a competition you know.

After the forward bend, we placed a ball under each heel and rolled it around. We shifted our weight from side to side and back and forth. Then we placed the ball under our arches. Some people did not like this. We ended with the ball under our toes. At the end of all this, we took another forward bend. I did not notice if my hands went down more, but it sure felt better all the way up the back of my legs!

After working on our feet, we worked other parts of our bodies. Arms, legs, back, shoulders, neck. Todd told us that if we found a spot where it really hurt, then we should keep working it, because our body was telling us it needed help. We were also told to make sure that after we stopped, it felt good. If we felt like we had bruised something, well, we did something wrong.

You can’t see the ball too much here, but it’s under my arm. Don’t be fooled by my “I’m at the beach” pose. I was working my tissues something fierce.

Both Dominique and I really liked the neck, shoulder and upper back work. It felt like something was letting go. Of course, that’s after we stopped rolling around on that big giant pea. This is good for runners. It was easy to tell when someone found a good spot because we kept hearing “ugh”, “arghh” and “ahh” noises. Pretty funny stuff for a Sunday morning. I believe I made some of those noises as well, when I was rolling around on my neck.

This class felt like a massage. One of those let-me-find-every-knot-you-have-and-knead-it-like-pizza-dough massages. I went running after class, and I could feel the difference in my upper back. Good stuff.

I had done a little of this tune up stuff before, in Natalie’s beginner class, but I didn’t know what it was called. Now I know, and I’ll definitely do it again!