First Solo Against-The-Wall Headstand

I’ve been practicing the against-the-wall headstand for about a month now, and aside from the time a professor helped me do a headstand, I hadn’t been able to get my hips over my head.

Suddenly yesterday, during an at-home-practice, my feet were magically up. I was a little surprised because I had zero expectations of making any progress during my 15-minute yoga session. I also hadn’t gone to a class in over a week due to scheduling issues. But for whatever reason, yesterday was the day.

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Walls are handy-dandy when learning headstand!

To prepare myself for the asana, I’d been doing a few different things. First, I was putting my head and forearms on the floor and doing a sort of down dog as I walked my feet closer and closer to my head (I believe the teacher called this prepping for a bound headstand).

I was also working on making an L shape against the wall – I’d put my forearms and head down about three feet from the wall, with my face toward the wall. Then I’d walk my feet up the wall until my body was in an L shape.

Although I know these poses helped me build strength, I think much of learning to do a headstand was just eliminating fear. Fear that I would fall over, fear that I wasn’t strong enough, fear that I would hurt myself. When I stopped being afraid my legs just kicked over and I realized it wasn’t even difficult.

Sometimes all you need to brighten your day is a little unexpected yoga progress!

Anyone else had any progress lately?

An Econ Prof Taught Me Headstand

When I started this blog, the topics of yoga and my MBA seemed mutually exclusive. I thought – I’ll write about yoga one day, then business a few days later. After all, charts, graphs, and data dumps are basically polar opposites of meditation and breath. Yet, every now and then, worlds collide!

This is how I look when I do a headstand.

I started at my current yoga studio in August, and at one of my first classes I recognized an economics professor from my school. I’d never taken his economics class, but I remembered him as a sponsor of an undergraduate team at a university case competition.

Over the weeks we began chatting, and we often frequented the same Ashtanga class. As many of you know, sirsasana (headstand) is part of the finishing sequence of the primary series. After a few weeks of watching me flounder in my sirsasana attempts, I think the prof’s teacher instincts took over, and he came over and helped me get my hips over my head! He also gave me some tips about how to adjust my form and how to strengthen my shoulders.

Unfortunately, I am still not doing headstand on my own, but I can tell it’s not far away! Also, my mind is blown over the whole experience. How many MBA students can say their b-school prof taught them a tricky asana?

Has anyone else found a random acquaintance in your yoga class?

My First Yoga Doubleheader

In the spirit of the baseball postseason (just kidding, the timing was coincidental), I had my very first yoga doubleheader yesterday!

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This might be a new life goal: a handstand on a rock by a lake in front of a mountain.

I didn’t head to class intending to stay for two, but class number one didn’t hit the spot. I was super energized, and my first class was too mellow – I needed a way to channel my energy into something more active. Thus, I stayed for class numero dos.

And am I glad I did, because the teacher did a handstand workshop! I have yet to do a handstand, but before yesterday I’d never tried. In fact, I didn’t even know what types of prep moves I needed to do to start building confidence and strength.

We started with several arm strengthening poses (downward facing dog, chaturangas, etc.), then we did some wall work (L-handstand), and wrapped up with some partner work.

I can’t recall the last time I left class feeling so refreshed and excited about my practice. I have to admit, that part of my yogic lull is tied to the fact that my current studio is a bummer. Although there are tons of class names (meditative yoga, radiant yoga, expressionist yoga), every single one seems the same to me. Sometimes I need a good old vinyasa flow class, and this place just doesn’t have that. Anyhoo, I have eight or so more classes there till I will likely be moving on once again.

Anyone else enjoyed doubleheaders in the past? Or maybe regularly?

Anyone have any tips for learning handstand?

Affordable Yoga Pants Review: Which Brand Wins?

When I started yoga way back in January, I knew I needed to buy my first pair of leggings/spandex. I had avoided these revealing pants in the past A) because I had no real use for them and B) they are a bit more scandalous that I’m used to.

Since January I have become a leggings enthusiast. Although I don’t wear them in the general public, they are my go-to yoga wear.

I didn’t invest in expensive brands largely because I’m a poor graduate student, but also because at the time I didn’t know of many yoga brands (aside from Lululemon, but I choose not to buy clothes there for other reasons).

For the last eight months I’ve been practicing yoga with these pants in my arsenal:

Old Navy: Compression Leggings
Old Navy: Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops 
Target: C9 Champion Women’s Legging 

Fabletics: Salar Legging
 

Read on for detailed descriptions of how each pant has worked for me. 

IMG_8071Old Navy: Compression Leggings
Five/Five Stars
Best Uses: Ashtanga/Power/Hot Yoga

These are my absolute favorite. I got them for $20 in the after-Christmas sale, and they are my go-to for any sweaty yoga class. First, they are very lightweight and they don’t show any sweat. They are breathable so I don’t feel like I’m suffocating even in a heated class. Although they are compression pants, they don’t feel restricting. I’m curious if this line is now called “Go-Dry”, but it was just traditional compression when I purchased them.

IMG_8072Old Navy: Go-Dry Cool Compression Crops
Four/Five Stars
Best Uses: Vinyasa/Hatha Yoga

These pants are pretty darn solid. Even though they are called “Go-Dry Cool” the material is slightly heavier than the plain Old Navy Compression leggings. They also don’t show sweat, but they do feel a little swampy in a hot yoga class. I like these for mid-level sweatiness.

IMG_8069Target: C9 Champion Women’s Legging
Four/Five Stars
Best Uses: Restorative/Yin Yoga

If I had to recommend these for a hot yoga class they would probably get two/five stars, but for the restorative/yin classes I attend they are perfect. They are extraordinarily soft and stretchy. I have these in a dark color, but I’m positive that if they were a lighter color they would show sweat. These pants are perfect for non-sweaty days.

IMG_8070Fabletics: Salar Legging
Three/Five Stars
Best Uses: Running/Jumping

These are without a doubt the most compression-y of all of my pants which makes it a little more difficult to get into poses while wearing them. Also, I have them in a purple color that shows sweat (which makes me less likely to wear them running). If I were to repurchase in black, I think the rating would go up to four/five, but I would most likely still not wear them during yoga, and wear them during activities such as interval training.

Anyone tried any of these pants? Did you have similar or different experiences?

Are there some other affordable pants I should try?

Are there any “fancy pants” that are so amazing it would be worth spending more money?

Yoga at the Studio vs. Yoga at Home

As long as I have a good teacher, I am a big proponent of yoga at the studio – especially for new yogis. But I have to admit, there are benefits to both. Read on to determine which type of practice fits you best:

Benefits of Yoga at Home:

  • It’s free. Let’s be honest, studios are not cheap.
  • You can go at your own pace, press pause when you need to, and rewind when something feels so good you want to do it twice.
  • No judgment. Although if you are attending a studio where there is judgment, you should start looking for a new one, because that’s lame.
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Home yoga, studio yoga, how about some backyard yoga?

Benefits of Yoga at a Studio

  • An instructor. As long as you have a good one, this is super valuable. He/she can verbally or physically adjust you to make sure you are maximizing each position and not doing anything dangerous.
  • A community. Meeting your fellow yogis can help keep you motivated to work hard and inspire you to try new things.
  • Accountability. If you’re like me, paying for something helps you commit to going. When I have no official commitment, it’s easier to put off until tomorrow/never.

 Is there anything I left out?

Where do you like to practice, and why?

Morning Yoga

Throughout my youth and into college I was very obviously a night person. I suffered from insomnia, so mornings were always a challenge. This issue followed me into my first teaching gig, and I relied on coffee to put on my peppy face for when the students arrived.

My last year in the classroom, this all changed. I became ill for several months during the winter, and suddenly my body changed. It needed sleep, and lots of it. I went from a six-hour-a-night lady to an eight-hour lady, and I haven’t struggled to fall asleep since.

This summer I’ve come to realize that as a result, I’m slowly becoming a morning person. I said that out loud for the first time yesterday, and it felt awkward yet strangely liberating.

For example, this morning before my roommate even changed out of her pajamas, I had worked on my intern project for five hours. It was delightful!

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Watching the sun rise is definitely a benefit of a morning practice!

This has also led to me practicing yoga in the morning. I often wake up before 5:30 so I can get my asana on. I’ve noticed some benefits as well as drawbacks to a morning practice.

Benefits

  • I am not as tired as when I practice in the afternoon, so every chaturanga feels like it’s filling me with power rather than drawing it out of me
  • I start my day on a more uplifting, positive note – which helps me stay in a better mood
  • I feel more energized when I get to work

Drawbacks

  • I am stiffer in the morning – even by the end of my practice my heels aren’t as close to the ground in downward dog as they can be
  • I have to shower at work, and I always inevitably forget something I need (the time I left my bra at home was a highly un-enjoyable experience)

Since I have the opportunity, and my schedule permits, I’m going to keep it up for the rest of the summer.

Does anyone else choose a morning practice? Why or why not?

How do you overcome the drawbacks?

Full Wheel and Fire Ants

Remember how excited I was to get back onto the mat? After weeks off of my foot, I’ve recently hit the studio like a madwoman.

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Who’da thunk that such a small creature would put me off my feet for so long?

Then, on Saturday, my happy yogi world came crashing down. A fire ant bit me, and I’ve had a horrible allergic reaction. My foot looks like a slab of spam and my toes look like Vienna sausages. The swelling goes up my whole leg and is pretty painful.

I finally went to a clinic today (when I resigned to the fact that it was getting worse rather than better), and they sent me to urgent care. Now I’m on orders to stay off of my foot while taking meds for the allergic reaction as well as an infection.

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Vienna sausages? Or my toes?

But really, everything hasn’t been doom and gloom. This weekend I got to visit with my goddaughter who is six years old and suddenly very in to gymnastics. I pretty much blew her mind when I got down in the grass and did a full wheel with her! I honestly blew my own mind, too, because I had only done a couple before my initial foot injury, and I hadn’t done one since I’d started practicing yoga again.

Nothing like a spritely six year old to help me up my yoga game!

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