Monthly Archives: March 2011

New Page at Perusals!

I’m a librarian.  I’m also a yoga student/teacher.  I read a lot.  Mostly, I read a lot of books about yoga.  This all makes for a lethal combination culminating in an intense need to share yoga and the books about yoga that I love and find inspiring.  “What do I read next?” is my #1 favorite question.  Asking me that question is like putting a kid in a candy store.  Thus, Yoga Book Reviews was born.


Hour of {Spinal} POWER!

Here’s a fun little flow I’ve been playing with, moving the twist to the end of the standing sequence to really tap into the belly.

I’ve found in my own practice that twisting too early (before a full compliment of standing poses) can really tweak my low back.  I like this little number because it allows the spine and core to warm up a bit before taking it into the major rinse by following up revolved triangle with a deep, long utkatasana twist.

I’ve been working with my students on keeping hands at heart center in utkatasana twist and working to get elbows stacked one on top of the other and arms perpendicular to the floor.  This keeps the chest and heart open, rather than allowing the shoulders and heart to collapse in on itself.  Open chest = deeper belly rise!

Hour of {Spinal} Power
downward facing dog
child’s pose
three-legged dog
runners lunge
gentle twist

forward fold/rag doll
om – om – om
4 Sun As
3 Sun Bs, opening up to Warrior II on the final B

core plank
runners lunge
lunge with airplane arms
crescent lunge
warrior II
side angle
extended side angle
half moon
prasarita A/B
revolved triangle
forward fold with arm bind
utkatasana twist

core plank hold (15 count – make ’em sweat!)
downward facing dog
jump through
supported bridge
supta baddha konasana
happy baby
rock ‘n roll to down dog
half pigeon
supine spinal twist

Yoga Mat to 5K: RACE DAY!

We’ve come a long way, baby.

November 4th, 2010 was Run #1 in my Yoga Mat to 5K Challenge.  Four months and nine days later I ran my first official 5K.  With a posted time of 33:10 and a 10:41 pace, I feel elated, tired and strangely humbled by the whole experience.

Running in an actual race is everything you hear: the people cheering, clanging cowbells, the incredible energy of the crowd and the cute kids hanging out for “high fives” along the race route, it all contributes to an experience that literally races by.  3.1 miles have never gone so quickly.

While the experience itself, which I’ll get to more of in a moment, was amazing, the days leading up to the race were awful.  My last pre-race run was truncated by both calves seizing up to the point where I couldn’t flex or point my feet without significant pain.   Even the day before the race, they were still really tight and I was worried I’d start running only to have them freeze again and I’d be done.

The issues with my physical body created a vicious negative feedback loop in my brain.  I’ve talked about self-talk here before, and that for 30 years I have believed, with out a doubt in my mind, that I am not fit, not athletic, can’t run and am hopeless at sports. In the past year, I have started dismantle these beliefs. It is a slow, gut-wrenching process with some mild successes and some failures.

When the issue with  my calves came up and I thought that maybe I won’t be able to run on Sunday, it fed right into three decades of negative self-talk. All the “of course you can’t.  You’ve never been able to do this.  Why think you can do it now?  You’re hopeless/worthless/not good at things like this” was right there at the surface.  I was a mess and it just got worse as race day approached.

The night before I got about an hour or two of sleep.  Most of the night was spent tossing and turning and trying to shut off the mental noise. I couldn’t get the voice to zip it. No matter what, though, I had committed to running this race and I was going to give it a try.

In the months to prior, I told people that all I wanted was to cross the finish line with a smile.  Total horseshit.  I wanted to do WELL.  I wanted to run a respectable time (anything less than an 11 minute mile would be disgraceful) and I wanted to finish strong.  Talk about putting pressure on myself!

smiling thru the jitters

Race day came, whether my mind or my calves were ready or not, so I got all dolled up in my little “costume” (hey, it’s a St Patrick’s race!), had a bite to eat (sprouted whole grain raisin toast with raw almond butter, sliced bananas and cinnamon), slugged down as much water as I could handle without having to pee mid-race, and off we went.

Luck was with us for weather: it was cool (COLD if you weren’t running) and it sprinkled just a little, but as I was told, the cool, humid air is perfect for running.  I can see why.  We warmed up quickly, thanks to a hill right off the bat, but my run buddy and I set an even pace and just kept hoofing it.

I was amazed at how quickly the first mile passed.  Mile #2 was less thrilling as my calves started to tighten.  I told them NO WAY IN HELL!  I am not stopping.  So I ran through it and while the tightness remained, the pain stayed away.

The rest was a blur, especially once we came around the final corner and saw the finish line.  I really wish I had a camera but I was way to focused on running to take pictures.  We were somewhat thwarted in our final sprint at the end. About 50′ to the finish line was a traffic jam of people, forcing everyone to stop and slowly walk over the finish line.  Oh well.  No photo finish but I finished.  And with a HUGE smile.  🙂

Thirty years of negative self-talk dismantled in 33:10. Out of the 5112 registered runners, I don’t think anyone could have been happier. There was a LOT to celebrate.  I am so grateful to all the wonderful women I ran with, those who supported and cheered from the sidelines and those we raised glasses with after.

So what does all this mean?  Well, it means I know I’m not useless when it comes to running and that’s a big step in eliminating negative self-talk.  I’ve been told that the “running bug” will bite and next thing I know I’ll be training for a marathon.  Never say never, but right now I’m thrilled with completing 3.1 in a reasonable time. 🙂

(But I did register for the 18th Annual Corrib Classic 5K on June 5th. ::wink::)

Yoga Mat to 5K: At the Starting Line

Getting psyched and trying not to let nerves get to me less than a week out from my first race ever.  Doubts are starting to creep in a bit, even though I’ve run 3.2 miles twice over now.

Last week I ran with my marathon-runner friend and she shared good advice about training this final week: one short run on Monday (check), a 3.2 miler on Wednesday and then no running until Sunday.   Sounded great to me … until about 2.7 miles into my penultimate run.  My previously fractured right big toe just gave out.  It HURT!  I tried to run through it for about a tenth of a mile and then my right calf seized up so that I couldn’t even step. OUCH!  We walked the last half mile back to the gym.

I’m hoping that the run prior to a race is supposed to be crappy: like the last tech rehearsal before the curtain goes up on a new show.  Last night was crazy painful and this morning wasn’t much better as I limped/hopped to the bus station.  The worst part isn’t the pain though, it’s the frustration I feel at my body.  I’ve been working towards this goal for MONTHS.  How DARE  my body get in my way!  {Deep yoga breaths}

Between elevating my foot, massaging my calves, rolling around on a foam roller and popping Advil like it’s my job, I’m resting, breathing and taking it easy until Sunday.  Really looking forward to a gentle home practice tonight and a longer practice tomorrow in the heat.

In the meantime, I’m trying to find things to be grateful for so I don’t end up wallowing in useless self-pity.  I AM grateful that I made it this far and I know that I can run for 30 minutes without feeling totally winded.

I am so grateful for the yoga teachers who let me roll around on my mat in the back of the studio.  After the sun salutations I tend to veer off and do my own thing in an attempt to stretch/strengthen my quads, calves, hamstrings and hips. This usually means skipping some of the standing and balance poses.  Side angle lunge (parsvakonasana) is feeling GREAT these days, stretching side body and opening chest and shoulders, which get so tight when I run!  Other poses I’m loving are triangle, dancer, low lunge, double pigeon and a good loooooooong frog.  I could just MELT in frog. Love love love love it.  Gratitude for frog pose!

Run #18
Time: 39:01
Distance: 3.3
Pace: 10:04 (!!!)
Terrain: Charles River trail
Music: none:  ran outdoors with a girlfriend

Run #19
Time: 19:30
Distance: 1.7 miles (ugh)
Pace: 10:40
Terrain: DREADmill
Music: iPod Run Mix (will post soon!)

Run #20
Time: 34:02
Distance: 2.7
Pace: approx 10 min mile
Terrain: Charles River Trail
Music: none

Will let you all know how the race goes on Sunday!

P.S. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead when you go to bed on Saturday!

A Month in Books: February 2011

Slight title change for this reoccuring post.  “What I Read” was starting to feel a little stale and, well, blah.  Not that there’s much to be done with a monthly round up of book reviews, alas.

ANYWHO – here’s a month of reads.  Some great new series discoveries, a couple series wrap ups and new favorite. (Shockingly, it was non-fiction, too!)

Major reading mojo this month, helped along by the Kindle which is great for filling in the quiet moments in between library pick ups.

Links take you to the full reviews!
Continue reading

Confessions of a Bright Girl

Read this on HuffPo and suddenly I was back into fifth grade, feeling helpless and hopeless in the face of math class, even though I knew I was a Bright Girl.

Article author and psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson writes

How often have you found yourself avoiding challenges and playing it safe, sticking to goals you knew would be easy for you to reach? Are there things you decided long ago that you could never be good at? Skills you believed you would never possess? […] Your belief that you are ‘stuck’ being exactly as you are has done more to determine the course of your life than you probably ever imagined.  This would be fine if your abilities were innate and unchangeable. Only they’re not.

As a Bright Girl, a label I’ve had my entire academic life, I’ve set goals for myself that were simple, achievable and that could not fail.  Rarely did I enter into ANYTHING that might hint at failure.  While I might have worried and fretted and stressed about some things (college acceptance, that A  in science class, a relationship) I never set goals for myself that were stretching my limits.  Failure is not an option when you’re a Bright Girl.

Eventually I realized that living this way wasn’t getting me anywhere and it had wreaked havoc on my personal relationships.  This wasn’t a big “lightbulb” moment of inspiration, rather a series of small moments that were unveiled by yoga.  Just below the the physical practice of yoga is the emotional level.  It’s here when, gradually, you start to ask yourself WHY. Why do I feel this way?  Why do I talk to myself the way I do?  Why do I react the way I do?  Yoga teaches us to ask these questions without judgement.  We ask, we acknowledge and we learn.  There can be no failure when there is no judgement.  A hard concept for the Bright Girl who excels at judging her every thought and action against the label of being a “Bright Girl”.

In my current job, I’ve taken on more responsibilities with statistics and reporting, something that challenges me daily in my abilities with MS Excel and math. Math and numbers in general are something I avoid like the plague (not an understatement). My self-talk in regards to my perceived lack of abilities with math is overwhelmingly negative.  Even though I know this, and I am proving every day that I am better than I think I am, it’s a deep hole to start to dig out of.

Yoga got this Bright Girl to realize that I’m not hopeless at athletics – a firmly held belief until about two years ago. Gym was my most loathed class and I hated team sports due to a perceived lack of physical ability.  Yoga made me feel strong and physically fit and I began to question the long held belief that I was crap at sports.  I didn’t turn into an athletic prodigy, but I can learn to do things I previously thought impossible.   In five days this Bright Girl, who barely survived gym class and never completed a mile run will run a 5K.

Whether or not we Bright Girls learn this way of thinking from our culture or if it’s something we develop on our own, we need to start questioning it.  We are not who we think we are.

So, Bright Girls, what would you do today
if you knew you could not fail?