Practice Update: Yoga, Diet, & Juicing

This week I was still trying to get out of the funk that I was in last week. In terms of yoga practice, I’m still working on Surya Namaskara. I can feel myself getting slightly stronger with Chaturaungas, but I still practice them from my knees. The thought of doing them in a plank position seems light years away!

I find that I get very tired during Sun Salutations. I think I just have to keep building up my endurance. It doesn’t seem like it, but I do think that they require a bit of cardio work as well.

Ashtanga Confession: Sometimes I have to switch out Downward Facing Dog for Child’s Pose just because I’m tired and my arms hurt.

In a not related to yoga note (but kind of related), I think I’m going to do a bit of a clean up with my diet.  I have been a vegetarian for 13 years. I was the type of person that never really liked meat, so this wasn’t much of a transition for me. However, I have certainly gone through long periods in my life of not being a healthy vegetarian. During my teenage and early twenties I definitely relied a lot on cheese pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, and French fries! As I transition to my later twenties, I think in general I do eat a lot better than I used to – but I’m certainly not perfect. Currently I’ve been in a bit of phase of unhealthy eating habits.

Every winter for the past 5-7 years I’ve done some sort of “cleanse” diet. I find that during winter (particularly long Canadian winters) it is so cold and drab and grey out that I get feeling kind of down. Usually for me this translates to a lot of comfort eating. I’m not convinced that these types of diets rid your body of long built up toxins or these other reported benefits. However, I do see them as a useful tool to reset some bad habits and examine relationships with food and myself. This is very yogic in a way, isn’t it?

Last winter I did two juice cleanses – one was 5 days and another at 14 days. I know that there is a lot of controversy about juicing diets*, but I did find them very beneficial and I think I will do one again this time. I don’t have a particular time period in mind, but I know that I’m looking at an extended one – at least 14 days. The one that I’m doing (based on Joe Cross’s Reboot), you do a week of cutting out processed foods and then do a transition week. So really, you have two weeks to acclimate your body before you start juicing. I think that this is the only way to do it. Going cold turkey is too difficult and seems dangerous.

I started the first transition week yesterday.  The focus for this week is cutting out processed foods, wheat, caffeine, and dairy. It is also recommended to work in one juice a day during this phase. Last night I made a green juice. I actually love green juices and haven’t had one in a while, so I really enjoyed it. So far, so good!

I’m not quite sure how this will affect my yoga practice. From experience I know that I’ll be tired in the first couple of days, but it will be interesting to see how things go after that. I debated about posting this because it’s not directly related to Ashtanga. However, this blog is not only about my yoga journey, but my journey towards health as well. I do see the two as being interrelated.  I will try to post everyday on my progress for anyone that’s interested.

*Side note/disclaimer: I think that juice cleanses CAN be done safely if you are properly informed and knowledgeable going into it. I have the unique benefit of having a B.Sc degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, so I am going into this with a thorough understanding of physiology and what my body needs. If you are interested in doing a juice cleanse, PLEASE do your research and be safe about it. Not everything you read on the internet is true, try to find reputable sources and look at them with a critical mind. If you’re interested, please feel free to email me at ashtangabeginner@gmail.com and I can help direct you to the information that you need.

I also do not have any illnesses and am not on any medications. If you have any health conditions, I would seriously recommend that you consult a health professional before undertaking any major dietary change.  

Practice Update: Not Feeling It

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This week I’ve been still been practicing 5 Surya Namskakra A’s and 1-2 B’s. My arms were so sore this week I only ended up practicing twice. The Chaturunga’s are killing me! I was reading this week that the purpose of the Sun Salutations are to build up enough strength and endurance to complete the rest of the series. However, sometimes it feels like I will never progress past them.

This morning was a bit of a dud of a practice. I know technically that there is no such thing, but I was feeling so unmotivated and lazy. I don’t know if it’s just the wintery February weather getting to me or what. This laziness has spilled over into many other areas of my life – the dishes are piling up, I’m ordering take-out, my laundry pile is overflowing. I don’t want to do anything but lay on the couch. I feel grouchy and tired.

I’m trying to combat my laziness by focusing on the positives of my practice. Even though I didn’t too much this morning, I still felt more centered and calm. The stiffness in my back was gone. The reason why my arms are sore is that I’m getting stronger. I just have to keep reminding myself of these things.

Here’s hoping that the next week is a more positive one!

 

 

Practice Update: Know Your Limits

I will post an update on my practice once a week on Sundays. The purpose of these posts is to share my  personal journey and to inspire other beginners in their practice.

This morning I did 5 rounds of Surya Namaskara A and 3 rounds of Surya Namaskara B. My transitions are about as far from graceful that you could get. I had to sub Child’s Pose for Downward Facing Dog a few times. Towards the end I struggled to maintain my breath. I collapsed into Savasana.

It’s easy to get discouraged when  things seem so unattainable. With Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube,  we are flooded with images of yogis doing complex poses in exotic locations. In those moments these things feel so far away from me, but I have to remind myself of how far I have come. Everyone (even these seemingly superhuman beings) started somewhere and were beginners once.

I feel pride that I listened to my body and stopped when I reached my limit. Could I finish Surya Namaskara B and do the first bit of primary series? Probably, but who am I trying to impress?  If I did it would be in a half-assed manner and I would struggle to maintain my form, breath, and focus. Listen to your body and know your limits. The beauty of ashtanga is that there’s always tomorrow!