Calorie Burn

Calorie BurnWhat’s your calorie burn?

If you are interested in weight management and cardiovascular health, try wearing a heart-rate monitor during active times (like housework!) and fitness classes. Here’s some of the data I collected over the last several days and what I observed:

When I lead an active Hatha Flow Yoga class, calories burn!! 270 calories in 75 minutes.

When I take other teachers’ flow classes, I burn 30 – 50% fewer calories. Hmm. I think our styles are different.

Personal Data Collected:

  • Fitness Barre Class, 60 minutes, 248 calories
  • Slow Flow Yoga, 75 minutes, 92 calories
  • Hatha Flow Yoga, 75 minutes, 90 calories
  • Kids Yoga with me, 45 minutes, 148 calories
  • Hatha Flow Yoga with me, 75 minutes, 270 calories
  • Stationary bike, 30 minutes, 130 calories

To lose one pound per week, reduce calories by 500 per day through diet and exercise. To lose two pounds per week, reduce by 1000 calories. Physical fitness is measured in muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and body composition. How much fitness do you need? Click here to learn more>>

What’s with all the Yoga Selfies?

Lately, I’ve noticed an uptick in yoga selfies in social media, especially professional photo shoots of yoga teachers. I turned to JP Sears for some humorous insight.

Overcrowded Yoga Sucks

Crowded Yoga ClassI dislike crowds. I’m sensitive to “personal space.” Arms length away from my neighbor is ideal. Energetically, that’s about the size of our aura. When people are crowding into me, energetically and physically, I feel crushed and agitated. This happens at malls, festivals, restaurants and overcrowded yoga classes. When I find myself in a class like that, in my heart, I know I should just leave, but I always end up staying because I’m there anyway and I don’t want to hurt the teacher. The teacher is beaming, but I’m suffering… claustrophobic and modifying my practice to stay within my “yoga mat island.” I’m practicing yoga in a “glass box” and have to consciously think about every move and what limb might reach into a neighbor’s space, the wall or radio. I dream of big flowing movements I’m not allowed to take, like swan dives and supine twists. I must keep my eyes open instead of dwelling within. Finally class ends, but the irritation continues. I have fitful dreams that night of taking a yoga class and crowds of people arrive and surround me. I run away in frustration, outside, where I can scream and BREATHE! And then I’m dwelling on it the next day. I’m grateful that the yoga classes I teach are moderate in size, with enough space for us all to move freely.

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Out & About: Namaste Yoga

Today I headed 16 miles southeast of Coral Springs into Pompano Beach to experience Namaste Yoga Salon, which is two separate locations in the same shopping plaza. I was told the second location is for “services” and this one is for yoga. I participated in the 10:45 AM Hatha Yoga class with my long-time friend, client and Reiki Master Rina Ishwari. After dispensing with the new student paperwork, I passed through the retail lobby and front desk attendant into a darkened practice room. All windows were covered by drapes. Flickering LED candles gently lit the floorboard perimeter and illuminated a pathway to the bathroom. The wood floors were beautiful, yet firm. Mirrors covered several walls and I could see the word “Namaste” repeated across the top horizon of the gray room in white letters. Ishwari set sacred music on the stereo, some of her own recordings from “Wheel of Khula Bhakti Mantras” and some from Krishna Das, among others. Her guided practice began with seated contemplation, then two types of breath work, followed by a warm-up and sun salutations. From there– standing poses, balancing poses, and finally supine postures and inversions. Sprinkled throughout the practice– plenty of Sanskrit for naming postures, energetic pathways and aspects of our spirit. Ishwari referred to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and offered several mantras throughout class, some which we repeated silently and others we shared out loud. In our long savasana, Ishwari laid a cool damp cloth over our eyes and spoke the whole time about various things to elevate our spirit. When we arose again to finish in easy seated pose, we shared more mantra and Ishwari encouraged us to make eye contact with each person in the room to wish each other “Namaste.” That was a nice touch and I felt a brief connection with everyone I’d just shared a practice with. Ishwari was particularly good at offering hands-on adjustments and maintaining a multi-level class. Some practitioners seemed quite experienced, while others had limited mobility and even one was nine months pregnant but knew how to modify her practice with bolsters and blocks. This was a wonderful old school yoga practice, including traditional ancient music, Sanskrit, energy points, chakras, essential oils, mantra and a little philosophy. It’s a reminder that there’s a depth to yoga, beyond the physical postures and popular music that is often presented as yoga, should one wish to seek and experience it.

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New 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines Just Released

Choose My PlateThe USDA just released new dietary guidelines for Americans. Their suggestions are based on the latest scientific research from top health organizations. The new guidelines promote disease prevention and better health through nutrition. The full report is available online. Or, read the summary below.

Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

For more information, visit Choose My Plate.

Dine out wisely. Check the restaurant web site before you go. If they publish their nutrition information, you can plan ahead to “eat this, not that.” Avoid dishes with excessive calories, saturated fats, trans-fats and sodium. Just because a dish sounds healthy, it may not be. For example, some signature salads are loaded with fat and calories.

Watch Your Neck!

As I’ve grown an interest in Iyengar yoga, I’m paying more attention to alignment. I love Iyengar alignment cues offered in so many postures! However, I don’t suggest following all of the pictures in his book, Light on Yoga. According to Dr. Roger Cole, an Iyengar teacher, “Mr. Iyengar himself demonstrates the pose [Shoulder Stand] without shoulder support in his classic book, Light on Yoga. So why does he insist that most students do it with their shoulders elevated? There are lots of good reasons, but the most important is that it can protect the neck from injury.” Dr. Cole suggests that instead of lifting legs completely vertical in this pose, go for less than vertical and balance on the back of the shoulders, or use the support of blankets. Read his article,”Protect the Neck in Shoulderstand” for more details.


BKS Iyengar in Shoulder Stand

This month’s Yoga Journal magazine takes the same safety approach. Their featured picture sequence includes shoulder stand and plow pose. They demonstrate it supported with blankets. Notice the extra space beneath the neck and how the chin doesn’t press into the chest. Every Iyengar class I’ve experienced so far offers blankets, bolsters and backless chairs to get us into a safe position for shoulderstand. According to the Yoga Journal, headstand should only be practiced under the care of an experienced yoga teacher. It’s true unless you’re well trained in this posture. In my own practice and teachings, I’m now exploring alternative inversions, like Legs up the Wall pose, Forearm Balance, Handstand and even Three-Legged Dog and Standing Split, to enjoy the benefits of inverting without risking injury to the neck.neck_yoga_journal_1215

Out and About: Golden Path Yoga

Yoga with BellaI woke up early this Sunday to experience the 8:15 AM hatha flow yoga class with Bella at Golden Path Yoga in Coral Springs, a relatively new yoga studio that offers Yin, Hatha, Hatha Flow, Broga and Kundalini classes. I met Bella in the small retail lobby which featured mala beads and clothing. She checked me in, then led me through to the practice space, which was adorned with back-lit drapes in yellow, orange and red, lighted fabric circles, two multi-colored lamps, and a smooth dark wood floor. I could feel the good energy in this space and I liked it. Bella taught from an altar featuring a symphonic gong and singing bowl nearby. I was unfamiliar with her pop music selections, but the stereo was excellent, providing a lush soundscape of music, soothing voice and supportive words. Our vinyasa moved at a slow and even pace, which I liked, and she gave us a full-length savasana at the end. She treated us each to some essential oil spray and a few taps of the gong as we rested. Great job, Bella! Thank you. 🙂

Reflections on 45

SILVER SPRING - MAY 20: A meditating frog sculpture at the entrance to the Meditation Museum in Silver Spring, MD on May 20, 2015. The museum displays artifacts and icons from a variety of religions including Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

My birthday came again. Reflections on 45 started with 45 symphonic gong strikes, building luscious vibrations, one after the other, crescendos and reverberations. A wonderful, rich sound that ended too soon. It made me feel like life goes by quickly. Today, I attempted a 45-minute meditation. I planned to guide my mind through each year of my life. I started as a child and moved forward, as well as I could remember, but it felt more like reviewing phases of my life than actual years. With very little internal dialogue, I experienced presence and focus with some hunger distraction. Lunch would come soon. I saw colors, pictures and video clips. I heard a soundtrack as well– an ongoing, personal selection of popular songs meaningful to me at various times in my life. I sang along in my mind as matching pictures and videos played. My meditation concluded at 38 minutes when my family called out to me it was time to leave, but that’s okay. Tomorrow, I’m planning to practice 45 sun salutations. Last year, I performed 44 full sun salutations. It took me over an hour. I expect the same this time. Reflections on 45… and manifestations for the coming year. I should probably write down 45 things I’m grateful for, too.

Injuries Reshape our Practice

Rotator Cuff TearAs we get older, our metabolism slows down. It’s easier to gain weight. Current U.S. Guidelines suggest that healthy adults exercise five or more days a week. I’m trying to stay on top of things by exercising six days a week– a mix of flow yoga, biking and swimming. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 14 years and have grown my physical practice to include all kinds of challenging postures.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten hurt. Once, I received an aggressive hands-on assist in an ashtanga yoga class causing sharp pain in my left knee. I wasn’t able to sit in easy-seated pose for weeks! Luckily, I recovered, but it continues to be a source of weakness. Lotus, Tree, Butterfly and Pigeon poses can all reactivate the pain. Luckily, I’ve come to love yoga props to support me in postures and prevent pain.

I was feeling good lately and had more free time, so I stepped up my game. I practiced or taught flow yoga and biked almost every day. One day after yoga, I felt a twinge in my right shoulder, but nothing serious. The next day after yoga, I developed stiffness, pain and limited range of motion. It hurt so much, I couldn’t sleep well. I was nervous that I’d hurt myself seriously. I halted all exercise. My healing therapy includes resting, reiki, aspirin, ice, heat and hot salt baths. After a few days, the pain is tapering off and my range of motion is coming back. I’m confident I’ll be okay within a few more days, but this is a wake up call. There’s something going on with my shoulder.

I came across this wonderful article in the Yoga Journal, “Wear and Care: Decrease Shoulder Pain and Build Strength.” by Catherine Guthrie, Oct. 2, 2007. She interviews Dr. Roger Cole, an Iyengar teacher I’d met a few years ago while taking his workshop, “The Anatomy of Stretching.” He says, “The best way to stay out of a sling? Be diligent in your quest for proper alignment and build balanced strength around the joint to create stability.

I believe it! So where does this leave me once I heal? I will be modifying my practice. It may be time to eliminate chatturanga jump-backs and reconsider other repetitive or risky movements. And if I’m going to come to the mat every day, I need to mix it up between hard and soft practices.

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Second Visit to Pura Vida Yoga

pura vida yoga logoIt seems that Pura Vida Yoga is the closest Iyengar studio to Coral Springs at 17 miles away, so Kim and I chose this studio for our first re-visit. With rush hour traffic and delays, it took us 45 minutes to arrive at the 9:30 AM class. I wish there were Iyengar teachers closer to home! Nevertheless, today’s experience was wonderful. We received 90 minutes of friendly, articulate instruction and observation from Susie, the studio owner. She was so friendly and approachable, we each decided to buy a 5-class pass. Once again, I was totally humbled. We worked on only a few postures today, but they were so much different than the way I perform them in other classes. I’m used to finding a pose, correcting any major misalignment, holding for a little while, then moving on. In Iyengar, that’s just the beginning. Each pose is refined through a slew of detailed instructions for muscle engagements, internal rotations, external rotations, lifting, pulling, letting out, shifting the weight… making each pose a practice of concentration and effort, but the reward is strength, length and space! I was sweating for sure and sometimes reminding myself to breathe.

Susie stopped the class three times to gather us around one student for demonstration. For the first two, she highlighted their poor alignment, which was educational, but I felt bad for those students called out for their wrongness. When I suddenly became the third person put on display, I was nervous because she’d already corrected me a few times in other postures. To my surprise, she wanted the class to look at my Gate Pose because I was doing it “beautifully,” “without ego” and in my “cute pants” it was easy to see my muscles engaged optimally. Yeah!! Afterwards, I asked her about Gate pose because she instructed the foot of the extended leg perpendicular to the short edge of the mat, not parallel like I have been taught and teach. This was new and challenging for me! But apparently my hips liked it. I’m thinking Iyengar might even solve some of my chronic tightness and occasional aches and pains. We’ll see!

I’m still a little curious why Iyengar teachers push bodies into poses, and don’t offer modifications more often. As the teacher manipulated one student on display who was doing something wrong, she pushed and pulled until the student said, “hey, stop, you know I could break.” Wow. I know that Iyenger is generous with props, but what about postures that can’t use a prop? For example, in Warrior 2, she insisted that we all sink our bent knee to 90 degrees, thigh parallel to the floor, and even told us how her Iyengar teacher would sit on that thigh to make sure it was parallel to the floor. Yipes! We all sunk as far as we could, even the elderly in the room, and she didn’t sit on anyone. In the opening of class, she brought us all into a seated pose with hands in prayer gesture behind our backs. Ouch! I could only grasp my wrist today. Luckily, I told her my right shoulder was in discomfort today so she didn’t insist that I connect my palms back there. Good, because I just couldn’t.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to coming back to Pura Vida Yoga. I really like Susie & Kerry and have enjoyed both of their classes. I like the students, too.

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