Dear Spam Mail

You would probably get further in life, albeit only slightly, if you amended your salutation to be more inclusive than “Dear Sir.” This is pretty much a red flag that you didn’t even try.

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Quick Note: Light Posting Here, Heavy Posting Elsewhere

It’s election season in Arizona again, which means I’ve rejoined the nefarious underground of citizens in support of candidates who stand for such “extremism” as:

  • Public education that is adequately funded and that values the contributions of education professionals. (Because, you know, we can either fund public schools or private prisons; I see no reason we should give preference to the latter.)
  • Affordable and accessible health care, including sexual and reproductive health care. (Because, you know, people are actually the bosses of their own gonads, after all.)

I’ll link back here when things get published, but if posting volume seems lighter than usual here, that is why.

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Free Yoga Friday: What I Also Didn’t Review

Sorry to bring you a not-so-content-filled post, but I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time either going to class or practicing my own sequences at home. As such, it’s left somewhat less time for finding and trying out practices I want to review. (I need to try each practice at least twice — three times for longer ones — before I feel comfortable writing about it.) So here are some that I’ve elected not to try a second time. As noted before, there are a variety of reasons I might opt not to try a practice a second time, and I’m discovering that one of the most common ones is that I’m simply not the target demographic for a particular sequence.

While I’m not posting anything I noted to be unsafe, of course, I always recommend using your own best judgment.

Beginners Power Yoga For Flexibility

Yoga for Health: Immune Boosting Yoga Flow Sequence

Yoga for Women – Yoga For Cramps and PMS

If you are motivated to consider any of them in more detail than I have, consider this an official invitation to guest post. :)

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More Boob Yoga Fun

I’m at yoga class. It’s been a good class.

We’re toward the end of class, and we’re getting ready to go into wheel. Specifically, we’re getting ready to enter wheel near a wall — which can, for folks who have a solid foundation in wheel, be an excellent way to use the wall as a prop to inform the pose. That is, I can compare where parts of my body are in relation to the wall and can work to move certain parts either toward or away from the wall. (In this case, it’s usually bringing some portion of the upper body — upper arms, shoulders, chest — moving closer to the wall.)

Today, my teacher gives an unfortunate direction.

“See if you can bring your collar bone to touch the wall.”

My collar bone? I can’t. I’ll tell you right now.

I have these things; they are called breasts. They start just below my collar bone and sort of stick out funny — and substantially — from there. Especially when my torso is upside down, and their usual gravitational arrangement is reversed.

I’m pretty comfortable and confident in my wheel pose. I know that sans wall, I can bring my upper chest happily through the base that my arms make. I’m also comfortable and confident in my body; I know what my breasts will and won’t let me do.

So I catch her eye. I smile. And I sort of gesture. Toward my boobs.

She smiles back.

“Some of you may find that moving slightly more away from the wall helps you get the benefits of this pose.”

Front view of woman in black sports bra.

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Free Yoga Friday: Soul Shine

The Practice: “SoulShine,” a 20 minute practice to get your yoga glow

Physical/Instructional Parameters: Despite being short, this practice is fairly active, with a good amount of standing poses and a pace that is definitely on the “flow” end of things. I didn’t have any trouble following the pacing or sequencing, but I wonder if someone brand new to yoga might, at least the first couple times trying this video. That said, the practice is short enough that I expect one would start to memorize it if used regularly.

Props: None mentioned at the beginning of the video. I honestly forget whether they’re offered later on. I do, however, remember some standing poses — namely, side angle and triangle — whether they’re commonly used and where folks might want them.

Run Time: 20 minutes

I’m going to start this with the confession that I don’t really know what a “yoga glow” is.

That said, I expect I will be coming back to this practice a lot on days when I’m harried and cannot think to sequence a practice for myself. While it is a more vigorous practice, it’s also one with very balanced pacing. It has a good warm up, plenty of active standing postures and vinyasas, and a controlled cool down sequence. I never felt rushed or that I wasn’t physically ready for the next stage in the practice.

After a brief seated centering, the practice moves through some cat/cows, then through a nice progression from child’s pose to down dog and back. (Confession #2: This “in and out” version is now my favorite way to ease myself into my first down dogs of the day.) Next, and connected via some vinyasas are:

  • a low lunge to pyramid flow
  • a standing sequence including warrior two, side angle, triangle, wide legged forward fold, and a variation on devotional warrior
  • high lunge
  • pigeon, with the option of a quad stretch/mermaid variation

During the vinyasas, the knees-chest-chin option for lowering is offered at least once but not every time — so if you want to use that modification, it’s up to you to remember it. For backbends, cobra and upward facing dog are most often offered together as options. Additionally, there are some points where the instructor says that the entire vinyasa is optional — and if you want to use this modification more often than she suggests, it would be pretty do-able.

Once through the last vinyasa, the sequence moves back onto the floor for bridge, with the option of moving into wheel pose. Finally, there’s a reclined hamstring stretch, a gentle twist, and a brief savasana.

Like I said before, I really like the overall balance and pacing of this class. While I do feel like I spend a sufficient amount of time in more active postures (which is a style of practice I usually prefer but may not be a good match for everyone), I also don’t feel like I’m rushed while warming up or while winding down. It will be very nice to have a known quantity quick practice to come back to on days when I’m having a hard time feeling that out for myself.

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It’s been a while since we’ve talked about search terms.

Because it’s fun to see what brings people here.

dildo organic — Huh. I have probably made reference to organic foods. I may have made passing reference to dildos. But I do not recall every having made reference to an organic dildo. Given that I expect a great majority of dildos come from not-previously-living material, I imagine that only wood dildos could even be certified organic, no?

uttanasana too difficult — Without knowing specifically why it’s too difficult, I’m going to guess that at least a certain number of searchers are having difficulty due to tightness in the hamstrings or low back (common problems with forward fold). In those cases, common modifications include bending the knees (yes, a lot if necessary; yes, even more if necessary) and possibly using blocks (on whichever height works best) to rest the fingertips on. If it’s a belly issue, it’s sometimes possible to tuck belly flesh up or down so that it’s not interfering with the forward fold. If it’s a boob issue… I don’t even know.

can i read the immortals without having read song of the lioness — Yes. Certain characters and events will have fuller meaning if you’ve also read the Alanna books, but the Immortals series stands on its own.

lentil stuffed acorn squashHere you go. Also, if anyone feels like experimenting with how to make this in a slow cooker or on a grill, I’d love to hear about it. I’m trying not to use my oven again until about November.

how to induce a fart — Really? Are that many people combing Google because they suffer from a disturbing lack of flatulence?

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Free Yoga Friday: Yoga for Upper Back Pain & Yoga for Lower Back Pain

I was going to review an entirely different practice, but I woke up with intense lower back pain. (From what, I do not even know. Aside from endo — random bringer of mysterious lower body pain! — or maybe my dog was stacking bricks on my back in my sleep or something.) I kind of knew this lower back video existed (another chronic pain perk: making a running mental catalog of anything that might help), so I went looking for it. Via its side bar, YouTube then kindly suggested to me the upper back video as well. It seemed appropriate, since I often end up with upper back stiffness (from too much time at the computer as well as stress/tension from lower body pain), as well as a nice complement to the lower back video.

I used both videos together, with Yoga for Upper Back Pain first. They work fairly well this way and create a nice gentle practice for relaxing and restoring the muscles of the back.

The Practice: Yoga for Upper Back Pain at Yoga With Adriene

Physical/Instructional Parameters: Physically, the sequence consists of some seated positions, some kneeling, and some prone. Because of the kneeling work, I probably wouldn’t use it if I had acute knee or wrist issues (or acute back issues, for that matter), but if a couple of minutes on hands and knees is do-able, then this should be fine. In terms of instruction, the poses offered are fairly simple, and Adriene’s verbal cuing is very clear. I would feel comfortable saying that someone brand new to yoga would probably be able to follow this.

Props: Nothing mentioned at the beginning of the video. However, it starts off in a cross-legged seat, and this morning, I definitely wanted a rolled blanket under my bum.

Run Time: 12 minutes

The sequence is pretty basic: some seated cat/cows and other seated stretches, child’s pose, kneeling twists and twisted child’s pose, cobra, and another child’s pose. There’s a lot of emphasis on doing what’s therapeutic for you and only going as far into a movement as feels good. So when I discovered that my low back was not having any of this cobra shit today (which is odd, because I am usually all about the back bends), I felt comfortable doing only a super low cobra. (And, yes, I would have felt comfortable doing that anyway — but this time, I didn’t feel like I was “deviating” from the sequence at all, just following the instructions to find what felt right for me.)

This sequence seems to be offered as something to work in to a longer practice, so child’s pose is the final pose here, and it’s not held long in the video. Though certainly one could hold it longer on its own, I’m glad that I put this video before the low back one.

The Practice: Yoga for Lower Back Pain at Yoga With Adriene

Physical/Instructional Parameters: Physically, it’s much the same as above, with the exception that there’s a standing forward fold in this series — so one standing posture. Instructionally, there is, if anything, even more emphasis on feeling things out slowly and taking care to take care of yourself. Again, I feel comfortable suggesting this to folks brand new to yoga (though also, folks with acute issues should probably get a health care provider’s okay before doing even this).

Props: Blanket mentioned for seated work as well as to place behind the knees in child’s pose. Blocks offered for lizard pose. Aside from these places, I cannot think where I wanted any props.

Run Time: 15 minutes

This video starts with some supine activity: knees to chest, circling around on the lower back, pelvic tilts, optional full spinal rolls. Then a revisit of the seated cat/cows before moving on to the hands and knees. Kneeling work includes lizard pose to stretch and relax the psoas (I was so happy to see this included since it’s a not-obvious but relatively common contributor to lower back pain) and half splits as a counter pose. After that, there’s a longer-held forward fold, followed by a return to reclined poses — a gentle spinal twist on each side and then savasana (with the option to flip over and use child’s pose as a final posture — which I did, because child’s pose is awesome for helping my low back and hips release).

Overall, both of these sequences did help release tension from and increase mobility to both areas of my back. Not that I was magically pain free afterward — because yoga is not magic — but there was moderate noticeable improvement.

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