Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “yoga”

Something New: Anti-Gravity Yoga

I’m not a super adventurous gal, but I enjoy trying something new every now and again. So when I saw that a newly formed local gals group, Rhode Explorers, was getting going with an intro class in anti-gravity yoga, I thought it would be just what I needed to fight some of the winter blues and cabin fever.

So this past Saturday I joined a group of truly fabulous females at Raffa Yoga in Cranston, RI. I was very impressed with the facility, the instructor ( who is a rock star), and how wonderful all the gals were- it was a lot of fun and I felt welcomed, truly enjoying myself.

The class was a lot harder than I thought it would be– in fact, I was surprised at how much my body wasn’t letting me do while I was in the class. I thought my flexibility from my regular yoga practice, cardio work, and strength training I’ve been doing over the past year had made a real difference i my body/health ( which they have), but it definitely made me realize how weak my core is! The practice is definitely more of an ab builder than regular yoga, but I was impressed by how having the stability of the hammock helped extend my flexibility with some poses from yoga like half-moon or triangle. The upside-down hanging was a weird sensation for sure, but it was also really interesting to feel how the body stretches and reacts differently too. Of course, pulling myself back up from hanging to get to seated or floating within the hammocks was some of the most strenuous stuff. A lot of us gals were saying it was a lot harder than we thought it would be!

It was great to challenge myself physically, but I also went out on a limb a bit by going to the class alone, instead of waiting to sign up for when I had a friend to come with me. I’m glad I did it because everyone was so welcoming and warm, with lots of support and laughter from everyone, no matter the abilities or strength of any one person.


Image via here


Exercise…oh wait, there’s a couch to lay on!

I wrote a few months ago about getting back into yoga. It really has become one of the best things in my life, so much that I’m now doing it twice a week. Having a Monday night class is a great way to start the week and doing it again on Saturday mornings makes me feel like I can take on anything the weekend throws my way.

Part of the reason I wanted to get back into doing yoga so much this year was not just to help with calming the frantic mind I have, but really to feel better about my body. I’m still carrying the physical manifestation of my divorce in the form of 20 or so pounds, which I’ve come to terms with, but after my Dad died, I really made a push to be more aware of how I’m feeling and try to be better about long-term health. Five months of yoga later, the scale numbers haven’t changed a whole lot, but my clothes are looser. Most importantly, I’m feeling great.

People talk all the time about how exercising always makes people feel better because it gets the blood/endorphin flowing, but I struggle with the getting going part. There are days that I leave work ready to go home and lift some weights, take a walk/jog, or do a workout DVD in the basement. But after a 45 minute or more drive, I walk in the door, see the couch, and settle in with my book, the news, or mindless iPad Pinterest scrolling. It’s probably my worst habit.

I know I should be doing more yoga and moving outside of the structured classes because on days when I don’t do something, I feel it in every part of me. I have a mostly sedentary job and at the end of the day, those hours of sitting add up. I know what I should be doing, I know how it will make me feel, and yet.

I read somewhere that if you just put your sneakers on, then it will compel you to get going, get out the door, etc. I know it takes 21 days for something to become a habit and this has worked for me before with other things like quitting soda ( back in college) or coffee ( 6 years ago, cold turkey, but since have returned to it!).

I like having that quiet time after work to decompress and walking or doing something that will make me feel better is just as important as sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a book when I get home. I don’t think having a buddy will work for me, though Q and I take walks before or after dinner pretty frequently, and are active on the weekends with small hikes/nature walks as a family when we have his son. I’m trying to use the exercise time in basement with weights or on the treadmill to watch some of my guilty pleasure TV shows, which is a nice incentive, but it doesn’t always get me motivated from that just home, tired feeling.

I’m realizing I have to retrain my brain to think “exercising is an investment in you” instead of “an hour after work can be so productive.” My logic is that after dinner is down time, relaxation on the couch with Q, etc. But that time to invest in my health is actually more important than sifting through the week’s mail or whatever mundane activity I fill my evening with. For example, instead of mindlessly watching one of Q’s shows ( I love him so much, but alien conspiracy theories just make me crazy), I could go downstairs and watch HGTV while lifting some weights.

It’s hard for me to find the balance here between doing things that are good for me/my body/health/life and becoming obsessed with it/letting it take over my thoughts. I don’t want the latter to happen, but I’m feeling like if I don’t hyper focus on this one thing, then I won’t get the results I want ( a change in habit, a desire to WANT to exercise, and hopefully some fewer pounds on the scale). It’s a struggle, and I know that I may never be that person whose hobby is their physical fitness, but I’m wanting really badly to at least get my arse in gear.

I’d love to hear any thoughts/advice/techniques that work for you!


Finding My Om

One of 2014 goals was to do more yoga. I’ve been an infrequent participant of yoga since classes in grad school — most of my practice consisted of random usage of yoga DVD in my basement and stretching on the living room floor watching TV. In my quest for peace in 2014, I wanted to feel stronger, healthier, and more confident about my body. I also realized after my Dad died that I inherited his case of worrying and definitely wanted to get that nipped in the bud ASAP. So when I saw that my town’s recreation department was doing an 8 week class on Monday nights for only $50 this spring, I barely gave it a second thought, which is pretty rare for me who agonizes over where every dollar is spent.

There were many signs I needed this and one of the biggest is that in anticipation of the first class, I did very little of my anxiety/nervous filled thinking that often comes with trying something new/going someplace different. The location is just minutes from my house ( I could walk there) and in a location I know( even so Q and I did a walk- by a couple of times to scope it out because I’m weird). I didn’t have the usual anxiety over where to park ( this is my often go-to freak out of doing/going somewhere new that often means I’m trying to back out before something even begins). All those things made it feel like  a safe, new thing as opposed to something with so many unknowns. But mostly, I think it’s because I knew I needed this. I needed it for health, for life, for sanity. 

Seriously, why haven’t I found a yoga class before now? IT IS AMAZING. I’m seriously not a person who looks forward to exercise. I’m a person who looks forward to weekends with a book. But I cannot imagine NOT doing regular yoga in a formal class now. Because it ROCKS. And doing it on a Monday night is probably the best thing ever because it really just makes me feel better about things and ready to face the week ahead ( especially Tuesday, which I have come to think is worse than Mondays, but I digress). It’s one of the highlights of my week, and frankly, my life right now.

I feel better about myself and I feel better about my body. I don’t even know if I’m losing weight with my healthy initiatives, but I really don’t care because I’m feeling so much better. Am I worrying less? A little bit. I think it might always be in my nature to have concern and question things, but I don’t feel stressed and crazed as much. It’s not so much the stretching and breathing that’s making things change ( though releasing tension and focusing is what I find has improved the most), but it’s more that for an hour and fifteen minutes a week I let everything go and just be— and that’s worth so much more than $50 to me to have that calm and peace.

Whirlwind & Reset

Life has been a whirlwind lately, as it has been for me for the past 6 March/Aprils, as this is the busy time at my job with the opening of a new season and exhibition. Even with the best planning, there are always the last minute things to attend to, the deliveries that come in right under the wire, the media interviews for exhibit marketing, and general prep for the opening of the house for another tourist season. It gets a bit frantic at times, to say the least.

It’s the time of year when I make lists upon lists, write myself post-its to remember mundane things like stopping at the bank, and send texts and leave voicemails for myself so I have a record of something I can’t forget to do ( ps, I almost always forget to do it). This time of year usually has weekends packed with errand running, meal planning, and house cleaning because my work days are usually so jam-packed that when I get home from work, I can barely think straight and plop myself down in an exhausted mess on the couch in my pajamas at 530pm.

This year has- and has not to some extent- been different. It’s still frantic at work and there were more nights than not when nightly walks with Q or chats with my mother were more complaining about work than anything else. But it’s also been better this year because after all these years, I think I’ve finally learned how to manage the pace and stress, as well as come to expect it. The year I’m not stressed or worried about something exhibit related probably means it’s time to throw in the towel. I stress because I care deeply about my work, am passionate about what I do, and work hard to present something fun, interesting, entertaining, and educational to people. I also repeat to myself multiple times of day that it’s temporary ( seriously, my job has very few stressors the other 10 months out of the year, for that I am extremely grateful). And when all that doesn’t work, wine helps.

Ever since my Dad died, I’ve felt a bit like I can’t quite get a grasp on life, probably because the confetti of having life go totally crazy in a split second hasn’t quite settled yet. With the stress and pace of work life the past month or so, it seems to have reached a new level of confetti craziness- the other night I could barely sit still eating dinner — Q actually said: “You just can’t sit down can you?” ( this unfortunately, is something I inherited from my Dad). I’ll have ideas or thoughts on next steps in life or things to do, spend the time writing them down, but never make it around to doing them because I just feel harried.

Monday night I went to a new yoga class, my first “organized” formal class since college ( I’ve long practiced in my basement with a variety of DVDs). It was the actual best thing, in about a million ways. Time to be calm and rest with myself of course is awesome, but I left feeling ten types of amazing and my Tuesday at work was noticeably different ( and even today too!) It’s not lost on me that it seems like some cosmic/karmic gift to have the class start at the end of my frenzied time of year and at the beginning of my slow down time.

Maybe you all have been onto something with this meditative yoga stuff all these years.


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