Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Friday link roundup 1/13

On Wednesday night, the Senate voted on budget provisions for the Affordable Care Act. This post shares details and makes some important distinctions.

For 25 years, Canada has been building a coast-to-coast trail. Now, it’s almost done.

A list of 20 fitness smartphone apps that might help you get in shape. Most are free. The list includes DownDog, the yoga app I’ve already blogged about. I just downloaded AllTrails, which includes information on around 50,000 hiking and mountain biking trails in North America.

Maybelline just hired their first male spokesperson. In Fall 2016, CoverGirl hired their first male ambassador for their brand.

Some people have drawn parallels between Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and recent current events. It’s timely, then, that Hulu is producing their own version of the story starring Elizabeth Moss. This article includes a trailer of the series.

A new kind of food pantry is sprouting up in yards across America. It’s similar to the concept of little Free Libraries, except with nonperishable food items.

Community Links

I’m encouraging you all to share your blogs, links, etc. You can send them to me here. I’d love this to be a regular section, and to support you!

Grand Lens Photography, a New York City-based photography business, photographs weddings and more. They’re also a great resource; they post regularly on their blog.  Here’s a blog on three reasons photo prints are great.

Looking for more insight and pizazz in your makeup routine? This site,, has tutorials on a range of topics, from choosing the right shade for your skin to makeup application tips. Here’s a link to their tutorial on makeup for brown eyes.


Yoga and the Down Dog app

I first found out about the Down Dog yoga app through Terre Pruitt, Nia and yoga teacher, on her blog. Now, I want to give my own personal recommendation for it.

First, I want to share about my yoga background:

I am the daughter of a yoga teacher. My dad has studied yoga since college (1970s), and when I was six months old, we moved to the Bay Area so he could study and get certified to be an Iyengar Yoga teacher. There are pictures of me as a toddler where it looks like I am holding my dad in a shoulder stand. I say “looks like” because, as my dad tells me, he had to put extra effort to staying up in the pose because I was pushing slightly.


It’s a photo of a photo, but enough to give you an idea.

Since my dad was a yoga teacher, I was resistant to the practice for awhile, unless something hurt and a yoga pose could help it. I took my first yoga class in college and loved it, and sometimes did sun salutations in the early mornings in a study room in my dorm. When I was 26, when I realized that I needed to do something regularly for stress relief. The first week, I got up early each morning and did 15 minutes of yoga, and after a few days, I noticed my anxiety levels had decreased significantly. So I started practicing yoga regularly in the mornings. I took a class about once a week, and took more as I found more yoga teachers and studios I liked.

I continued this pattern until I came back to my hometown, where I dropped my early morning practice. Why? I was depressed, it was hard to get up in the morning, and I didn’t know how much it was helping in my current state. I did get back into the habit of taking classes 2-3 times a week for awhile. Then, Nia took center stage in my movement routine: I liked yoga and its affect on me, but I loved Nia. I went down to taking one yoga class a week, and then when that series of classes ended, I stopped. I missed my regular practice, though.

I learned about the Down Dog app just over a month before my wedding. I wanted to do something in the 30-day lead up to my wedding, and I knew I wanted yoga to be part of it. Also, I knew that it would help my stress level amidst all the busyness. Finding the app was a great solution.

What I like about it:

  1. It allows me to practice yoga without having to create my own practice, and it provides a different sequence every time.
  2. I can choose both the amount of time and type of practice – whether restorative, beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
  3. I sometimes lose patience with yoga videos. I like how the Down Dog app shows photographs of someone doing poses, so I can look at the screen at need, but I’m not dependent on concentrating on the screen in order to see what the instructor is doing.
  4.  The instructor gives great cues and her voice is soothing.
  5. It’s convenient – I can decide to do yoga any time as long as I have my iPad or iPhone and a place to practice. Also, the basic version is free and the member’s version is inexpensive.

The week before my wedding, I did a trial of Down Dog’s membership. The paid membership adds more choices: the ability to choose the pace of a practice as well as an expanded selection of music playlists. I generally prefer practicing yoga to silence or soft music, so this mattered to me less. While I enjoy more active practices, I prefer to do them more slowly than the normal pace setting, so controlling the pace was a great perk. Ultimately, I chose to become a member.

Now, with the help of the Down Dog app, I’m back to practicing regularly. I’m hoping that yoga will continue to be part of my routine as I settle into my new home and city. Perhaps at some point, I will look for another class to take;  in the meantime, I’m content with doing yoga at home.

The app’s website.

More about the team behind Down Dog.

Tracking daily steps.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been doing a “Step-Up” challenge – it’s a program through my health insurance that gives incentives and rewards for doing activities and appointments related to maintaining health. I was sent a basic pedometer that counts my steps. For the first week, the goal was 5,000 steps a day; for the second, 7,500, and for the third, 10,000. The goal is to do that number of steps roughly 6 out of 7 days a week. As a reward, I get points that I can put towards buying items in a catalog.

I’ve been doing some extra exercises and weightlifting (hand weights) in anticipation of my wedding. I figured that it might be a good opportunity to try this challenge to increase my level of overall fitness.

What I’ve found:

  • This particular pedometer isn’t the most sensitive to movement other than basic forward steps. This means that it was erratic when counting steps during a Nia class, where I step forward, back, to the side, etc. Maybe other step-counters and exercise monitors are more accurate. However, they also aren’t free.
  • This challenge gave me more reasons to spend time outside. Since Nia is my primary exercise form, sometimes I don’t get outside much, except for maybe a weekly hike. Also, since it’s summer, I tend to spend more time inside due to the heat. I would sometimes take walks around the neighborhood and in local parks in the cooler mornings or evenings. There are a lot of beautiful flowers around the neighborhood this time of year. When I see another walker, it’s almost like we share a kind of kinship, even if we’re still strangers.
  • I’ve had past experiences where people would say things like, “you need to step up!” when I was struggling. Doing something called a step-up challenge helped soften these past associations.
  • It was easier for me to do the 5,000-7,500 range. I had to be more creative during the week with the 10,000 steps/day goal. That meant some random pacing in the house in addition to other walks and forms of exercise. It was fairly easy to meet that goal on days where I would hike, but less on others.
  • I read here that 10,000 steps is more of an approximation, that at least 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day is the recommendation to receive increased health benefits.
  • The more I move, the more I want to move. I have been feeling a little more restless. I would say that my amount of exercise the past three weeks has increased my stamina and endurance overall. I also subbed three full Nia classes and it was easier to keep my energy up.
  • I would say that the benefits of the Step-Up Challenge outweighed the downsides, although I sometimes noticed myself concentrating more on how many steps I was taking than on the actual activity. I was consistently checking the pedometer. I sometimes had to bring myself back to being mindful and noticing the details of the world around me.

There’s an option to do a nine week challenge. For that one, I’d get to choose in the beginning between three options for my daily step goal. Based on my knowledge from the past weeks, I’d probably chose 7,500 . For now, I’m going to give myself some time without the pedometer. I haven’t worn it today and I keep feeling like I’m missing something. It’s also been a relief not to worry about how many steps I’ve taken today. It’s also gratifying to know that in the course of 3 weeks, I averaged around 8,200 steps per day and gained more strength and endurance.

A Snapshot: Releasing through Movement

Nia quote

A snapshot from this morning: I’m lying down on the floor in my Nia class. I have finally caught my breath after an invigorating practice. I have tears in my eyes. I feel vulnerable.

It is now one month before I begin my training for my White Belt, the first stage of training that will certify me to teach, if I wish. In any case, it will certainly deepen my experience of Nia. It is just over a year since I first walked into a Nia classroom. While I had found my roots in dance before that moment, I immediately felt like Nia was my home for movement. It has become a source of strength, fitness, community, and overall well-being.

When I cry when I dance, I don’t usually know why. I can follow my train of thoughts, but often they just lead me to an explanation based on rumination. Today, tears came with sweeping movements when I bent over, and then a chakra alignment sound exercise on the floor.

Sometimes it is challenging for me to release blocked or stuck emotions. I tend to carry emotions and experiences for quite a while, and it feels like they can build up like debris inside my psyche and my body. Sometimes when I release them, like I did this morning, I don’t realize how much I was holding onto until afterwards.

Instead of asking questions, which can feel like reaching for what I was carrying, I take a deep breath.  And I let go.

Friday link roundup 6/12

Storm Haruki Murakami Quote

On how forcing a child to hug someone might affect them. I appreciate this from a feminist perspective. I also appreciate this because, as a child, I often backed away if people I barely knew tried to hug me. My parents didn’t force the issue. I’m really glad they didn’t.

As the Women’s World Cup goes on: On Marta Neymar, one of the best soccer players in the world, and how she struggles to find a financially solvent team to play on.

I found this perspective on fitness refreshing.

This article explores whether back pain is more of a Western cultural phenomenon, and why people in indigenous cultures may have fewer back problems.

Ever feel like other people (primarily men) are taking up too many seats or too much space on public transportation? A woman reflects on her problem-solving techniques to address this issue.