Two Songs that are Special to Me

Hi kids!  Today seemed like a good day to pop in and almost finish that 10-day (or 10-thousand day, for me) Challenge.

20140613-125311-46391806.jpg

 

This edition is two songs.  The two that popped into my head are a little lovey-dovey, so sorry in advance for the cavity you may incur from the sweetness.

1. “Don’t Stop” Slightly Stoopid

This song is admittedly not my general type of music.  But it is “our song.”  Here’s why:

One day, we were in the car, and this song came on.  Danny said,

“Oh!  This song came on the other day and made me think of you.  It’s Slightly Stoopid.”

I had never heard of this band and so took his words more like “This song made me think of you, it’s slightly stupid.”  To which, of course, my jaw dropped, and he surely got the look.  He was legit confused, until it finally hit him how I must have taken that, and he clarified that Slightly Stoopid is the name of the band.  We still laugh about that.

When I finally got the chance to actually listen to the words, it was so sweet!  For our anniversary, we actually ordered a canvas of it with the lyrics that hangs in our bedroom.  I found it here on Etsy.

2. “I Don’t Dance” Lee Brice

This song is just so sweet.  My fiance typically isn’t one to dance when we go out.  I can usually get him out there for a slow dance or two, and he will be a little more active at a wedding.  But he surely needs some help, from me or liquid courage (or probably both), haha, to really get out there.  This song makes me think of him.

Had to have fun from the chair at this wedding, haha

Had to have fun from the chair at this wedding, haha

Plus, if you didn’t watch the video up above, watch it.  And have some tissues nearby.  Ugh, awesome.

What songs are you loving right now?

Any great music videos? 

Finding the Illusive Balance

Hey guys…whoa, long time, no see.  This is officially the longest I’ve gone between posts since I started my blog!  Sorry for going MIA.

I have been busy lately.  But oh so happy.  :)

So, I thought this post would be a good time to talk about balance.  Even if only a reminder for myself.

Balance...get it?  Yay, yoga jokes! Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Balance…get it? Yay, yoga jokes!
Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Here is what I know I have to do to keep my balance in life:

1. Be willing to say no.

Starting out in this new line of work, I feel like I have to say yes to everything.  I realize, though, that I have to set some boundaries and be willing to stick to them.  For example, Tuesday is “date night” for Danny and me.  We always make it a priority to set aside time together for dinner and conversation, whether we go out or stay in, on this evening.  I have been offered a Tuesday night class more than once, and each time I have turned it down.  I will sub on occasion, but we really love our Tuesdays, and they are important for us and our relationship.  Which leads me to…

2. Set priorities.

I have been trying to do this for a long time, and it was really the thing that made me decide to take the leap and leave my school teaching job.

Danny and I talked a long time ago about our number one priority to be building a happy marriage together.  So, theoretically, all I do should feed into that goal.  Now, of course, I don’t get ridiculous and still hold responsibilities.  Those responsibilities, however, can’t bring negative to our upcoming marriage.

My job teaching school is a perfect example of this priority being damaged.  I was under so much stress and was so unhappy in my work situation, I would be in tears three or four nights a week.  I would, admittedly, pick fights about little things and, for some reason, would be hurt by the littlest things.  This resulted in a lot of fighting and emotional exhaustion for the both of us.

Summer rolled around, and I was a new woman.  We knew right away it was time for me to leave teaching and pursue what makes me happy.

01dd8c988741babd04fde182758ab60c92eca11a02

I’m not saying that everything is all sunshine and butterflies, of course, but there is way more happy in Danny-and-Amy land.

3. Be realistic.

Sure, after Yoga Teacher Training finished, I would have loved to continue my practice 6 days a week.  However, with working an eight hour day, teaching a class or two on top of that, commuting, and working toward other goals, all while trying to have a life and time with my family, a 1.5-hour yoga practice is just not sustainable.  I am surely getting my workouts in with some of the classes I teach, which leads me to…

4. Take care of your body.

This one probably applies more to the fitness professional area of my life, but doing my own yoga practice is sometimes just plain more than my body can handle right now.

During Yoga Teacher Training, we would do our own practice for about an hour and a half and, later, do a more informal practice while we worked on teaching and adjusting.  Then, I would go on later that day to teach a class or two nearly every evening of the week, including on my only day of from YTT.  While I saw amazing changes in my body, I was so sore most of the time that working out stopped feeling good.  Not the goal when you are trying to motivate others to work out.

5. Plan ahead

Last, but not least, I am going to work harder on planning ahead.  Read: write some blog posts ahead of time so I don’t disappear from blog land for another almost-week.  :)

How do you find and keep balance in your life?

What Makes a Great Gym/Studio?

Happy Friday everyone!

This week, I said goodbye for good to my previous job teaching middle school and started full time as the assistant manager at a yoga studio/medspa.

4 Person Pushup

Part of my job is to manage the studio end of the business, doing the scheduling, talking with clients, teaching classes, etc.

I’ve had ideas swirling around my head for ways I can enhance the studio, so I thought this would be a good place to share them and get some of your thoughts.

What makes a great yoga studio or gym?

1. Welcoming Atmosphere

There is nothing worse than walking in to a workout class and feeling like an intruder.  I am very conscious of new clients or beginners in my class, and I work hard to make sure they feel welcome and a part of the class.

2. Enthusiastic Teachers

This one isn’t a problem for a second in my studio.  We have excited, friendly teachers who love what they do!

3. Variety

I had an interesting conversation with a client last night that really made me think.  We are having difficulty finding a new teacher for a class in which the original teacher moved away.  This class is dance-based and quite popular.  In order to get some of the other teachers to take it over, we are looking in to changing the format.  However, this is tricky, because we don’t want to turn away the clients who loved it the way it was.

She mentioned to me that what she really values about that class is the cardio, as we don’t have many other cardio classes on the schedule.  This was kind of eye-opening as far as structuring the new class, and as I look at the schedule as a whole.  Which leads me to…

4. Connects with clients

It took me quite awhile to compile a list of email address for the members at my studio today, but I did it.  In my opinion, it is really important to communicate and build a community in order to get people to keep coming back and building a healthy lifestyle and a successful studio.

5. Fun!

This one has got to be the most important.  If you don’t enjoy going somewhere, you’re not going to go back, am I right?

What do you think makes a great gym or yoga studio?

Wedding Excitement Part 2: Decisions, Decisions

Happy Humpday, kids!  Our wedding is quickly approaching, so I thought it would be a good time to check in for another wedding fun post!

After getting engaged, as every couple probably gets to experience, we had a ton of fun.

There were lots of Facebook posts (I will probably always remember how many times Danny’s phone went off that day, haha),…

IMG_0683

…and we came home to discover there was some cleaning needed in our house!

Thanks Mom, Ashley, and Matt

Thanks Mom, Ashley, and Matt

When the dust settled, it was time to start making some decisions.

First up, the venue.  This was probably the most stressful decision I’ve made so far.  We looked at several places, and they just didn’t feel right.  Any of the places I saw online that did feel right were much too expensive.

Then, Danny remembered a golf course a little off the beaten path (wow, apparently I am in to idioms today) that he thought we should check out.

IMG_0699

We loved it, booked it, and brought the family to see.  It has the perfect charm, it’s not too big, and I adore the stone inside.  Danny loves the patio.

IMG_0696

After the venue, the Pinterest addiction started, as all brides these days probably have as well, haha.

Not long after, I got the dress!  Obviously, I can’t show it just yet, but it was a great day with the moms and bridal party.

IMG_0724

 

Read Part 1 of my wedding excitement, which tells the story of our engagement!

Do you have a Pinterest addiction?  What are you in to pinning these days?

Brides, what do you love about your wedding venue?

How Yoga has Transformed Me

Guess what, guys?  I’m officially a yoga teacher!

Now that my teacher training is complete, I thought it would be an appropriate time to take a moment to reflect on how this month has changed me.

For the title of this post, I originally wrote “My Body.”  Then, I realized that yoga has changed more than that for me.

I am more flexible than I probably have ever been in my entire life.

Now, by yoga standards, I am still not very flexible.  My past as a runner has blessed me with some wicked tight hamstrings and hips.  However, I am truly amazed by how much daily practice can do in a relatively short about of time.  I went from barely getting my leg into half lotus, to a full lotus in less than a month.  In a forward fold or down dog, I sometimes almost fall into it because I expected my body to start resisting sooner.  :)  It’s pretty cool.

My posture and standing position have improved.

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Nearly from the start, I was much more conscious of my posture.  This has continued, and I definitely feel it has improved.

The more interesting part to me is my standing position.  I have been pretty sore throughout the training process, but this past week became downright uncomfortable.  I has continued into the past couple of days (which makes since, because I haven’t rested much).  Yesterday, I was really uncomfortable just standing for a relatively short time.  I was in comfortable shoes and just couldn’t figure out the problem.  Then, I glanced in the mirror and noticed that I had all my weight shifted into one hip (my choir teacher in high school used to call it “pissy girl hip,” haha).  Not very yoga.  So, I evened out the weight in both feet, and, BAM, discomfort went away.  Pretty wild.

I’m stronger.

I remember on one of the first days of training, we went through warrior sequence, in which we have to hold warrior one and two on each side of five full breaths.  I couldn’t do it in the beginning.  Now, I do it regularly, and I could definitely do it longer.  My chataranga is a huge improvement as well.

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

This part is probably my biggest thing I want to promote.  So many people (me included at one point) view yoga as “less” than a workout, as it is supposed to be relaxing and connect you to yourself.  Sure, it does that, but you also get super sweaty and toned in the process, with a method of yoga that is built for those results.

I’m more poised and take better care of myself.

I don’t know if I can completely attribute this to yoga, or if it is just the result of what I have learned recently with my life changes.  Regardless, I truly feel like a better version of me.  I take the time to think about what I need and how to achieve it.  There was a time, not so long ago, when if something didn’t work for me, I would just deal with it, because that is what I was supposed to do.  Now, I am not afraid to speak up or act if I need a change.

Small example:  On Friday, Danny and I went out to dinner to celebrate.  It was a bit of a rainy afternoon, so, although I wanted to sit outside, we opted for an indoor table since the patio was still pretty wet.  We got our table in the second level, and it was freezing.  Not comfortable at all.  Plus, the atmosphere was weird.

Not so long ago, I would have dealt with it and probably got pretty annoyed and cranky.  Instead, we pretty much immediately decided to leave and check out the patio to see if we could deal with the water.  It ended up being perfect!

I have more clarity.

This one is kind of hard to explain, but I feel like I am waaaay better at clearing my mind because of yoga.  I will say that meditation is still quite the challenge for me, but I am getting there.

I am really able to clear my mind while I am practicing, which is a great feeling.  I do notice this feeling stretching into my daily life as well, which is so refreshing.  I am the kind of girl whose mind can be swarmed with thoughts to the point that it makes me want to freak out, but I have really been able to quiet many of those things, due to yoga and some practice.

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

So, that’s the Marvelous in My Monday!  (I’m linking up with Katie).

What benefits have you gotten from yoga?

Is there another type of fitness that has given you similar benefits?  Let’s hear about it!

Three Films

My progress through the 10-day You Challenge is winding down!

20140613-125311-46391806.jpg

 

Today’s topic of discussion is three films.

I will just start off by saying that I am NOT a movie person.  My fiance, on the other hand, loves movies, and could watch them over and over…and over…and over.  Which brings me to my first movie…

1. Rocky

This movie is on TV all the time lately!  And my fiance will watch it every time.  I’m still OK with the stairs scene though, and I rarely pay attention to it anyway.  :)

I guess I should be positive and point out that this movie has a good message.  I’m just sick of it, haha.

2. Up

I just love this movie!  When I saw it in the theater, I cried like a little girl.  Twice.

It has such a great message, it’s fun, and it makes you smile.  What more could you ask for in a movie?

3. The Hunger Games

Given my former middle school language arts teacher background, I’m a sucker for young adult books-turned-movies.  It is a rarity for me to find a movie that measures up to its book inspiration.  This movie was one of the few I thought measured up (as well as the movie could).  I also think Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect Katniss.  It’s also not often that I approve of a director’s choice of actor/actress to replace the character I built in my head.  :)

When I do watch a movie, it typically has some criteria in order for me to approve…

  • It must be something both myself and my watching partner (typically my fiance) is at least slightly interested in.
  • If it is based on a book, I must have read the book first.  Seriously essential.
  • It can’t be scary or overly violent.  Those movies just aren’t fun for me.

What are some of your favorite movies?

Do you have criteria when it comes to approving of the movie choice?  What are they?

How Do You TRULY Listen to Your Body?

I’m in a bit of a predicament.

As you probably know if you have read any recent posts, you know that I am going through a Yoga Teacher Training program right now.  Each morning (except Saturday), we complete the entire Ashtanga Primary Series, which is pretty intense.

This process has truly transformed my body.  So much so, I am planning to post about it next week when the training is finished.  However, this transformation has come with a LOT of soreness for me.

Running through shin soreness was not a good idea, and nearly took this moment away from me before I had the chance!

Running through shin soreness was not a good idea, and nearly took this moment away from me before I had the chance!

We talk often at YTT about how dull pain is a good thing, as it is the micro-fissures being created in your muscles that help you get stronger and more flexible.  We also talk about the difference between that dull pain and a sharp, shooting pain, which is your body telling you to stop.

My question today is, what happens when you find yourself between the two?

Literally every morning since the training started, I have stepped out of bed to some shocking stiffness and soreness.  I am getting it in the usual spots, but even in strange places like my hands and feet.  It typically eases rather quickly as I get moving, but it is a new feeling for me.

Today, I am having a dull, but constant, pain in the outside of my ankle/foot that radiates all the way up to my  hip.  It isn’t a sharp, shooting pain, but it is definitely uncomfortable and doesn’t feel like your typical soreness.  I’m also noticing a dull, deep-looking bruise in the spot that I am feeling discomfort on my ankle.

I am not one to make excuses.  Excuses are one of my biggest pet peeves.  I try to always remember the great things that my body is capable, and honor my body and how fortunate I am by not selling myself short of a workout because “I don’t feel like it.”  So, as soon as the thought occurs to me that I should sit out the next day, I start to dig deeper.

Is my pain just a result of spending a lot of time in high heels over the weekend?

Isn't he handsome?

Isn’t he handsome?

Did I get to crazy with my awesome wedding reception dancing?

Or, did I push it too hard in my practice today?

At training today, our leader, Caroline Klebl, came to town.  She talked to us for awhile about the importance of maintaining a consistent yoga practice.  Traditionally, this is 6 days a week.  However, she emphasized that importance of recognizing the negative impact over-exercising can have on your body and explained that 3-4 days a week works better for some people.

This was great for me to hear, as I am looking forward to getting back into running and other workouts after the training is over, but I don’t want to lose the benefits I have seen yoga have on my body.

So, now comes the big question.  Am I too sore/tired/injured to practice tomorrow, or am I just burnt out?  How do I know what my body is truly telling me?

What do you think?  Any and all suggestions are welcome (and wanted)!

Life Lessons from Maya Angelou

Awhile back when Maya Angelou passed away, I saved an article called “21 Life Lessons from Maya Angelou.”  Today, as I was looking through some post ideas, I stumbled upon it.  July has been quite the transitional month for me, so a little reminder of some life lessons should be excellent.

It is Marvelous Monday, after all.  I’m linking up with Katie.

I picked out some of the lessons that most strongly resonated with me.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

Holy cow, do I need to remember this one!  I have been working hard to follow this idea.  I try not to complain too much (although, I admit, I do spill it out on my fiance and sister in law every once in awhile).  The real effort for me is also underlined.  When something is bothering me, I really try to take a step back and ask myself if there is anything I can do to make a change.  If there is, I try to do it.  If not, I need to reframe my thinking and find a way to let it go (or at least deal with it).

“I did what I knew…. When I knew better, I did better.”

This quote is so simple, yet it speaks volumes.  I have encountered this in soooooo many stages of my life.

  • Running my first 5K, and improving from there.

5K finish

  • Choosing friends that may not have appreciated or accepted me, and learning to move away from those people later’
  • Allowing my fear of flying to keep me away from amazing views like this, and then deciding to bite the bullet and travel!
  • 01ce48fc8a26c648b7898917661f3889639c9ed243
  • Running too hard in marathon training until I injured myself, then having to lay off much more than I wanted to.
  • Teaching my first yoga class and trying to be someone else.  Now, I have to be myself!

 

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

Yes, even my messy hair is enough. Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Yes, even my messy hair is enough.
Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

This is something I am constantly trying to remember in my big career change.

I know that people, even those closest to me, have judged my decision and even maybe bashed it behind my back.  At first, it bugged me a little.  Now, I see it totally differently.  I know that what I am doing is the right thing for me.  Whatever people may think about it doesn’t matter.  I am working hard to be successful and do what makes me happy, I have a fiance who backs me 100% in this, and that is all I need.

Do any of these lessons resonate with you?  Tell me your story!

Wedding Excitement Part 1: The Proposal

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

As you may have seen in my past posts, I am engaged.  Invitations are in the mail, and this thing is getting real!  Our wedding is only 2 months away!

So, I thought it might be fun to take some time every once in awhile to give a little insight into the wedding prep and all that good stuff.  I figured I would start at the very beginning–the proposal.

Ring

Last November, we went on a little weekend trip with Danny’s brother and his wife, Danny’s parents, and some friends of theirs.  We went to Starved Rock State Park and stayed at the lodge there.  We got in a little late Friday night, spent some time with the family, and headed back to our rooms to prepare for the next day.

IMG_0654

I was completely oblivious, but he told the whole family that night that he was going to pop the question.

In the morning, we ate some breakfast and prepared to go for a little bit of a hike.  In retrospect, it made sense that Danny’s sister-in-law was distracting me with arm wrestling contests, since Danny was talking to the front desk people about the best place to propose on the trails.

IMG_0658

We headed out to the trails and did some hiking.  We ended up making a little bit of a loop, so Danny asked if I wanted to try to take a picture out on this cool ledge.

IMG_0662

I thought my sister-in-law would be joining us, but she was hanging back.  This confused me a little, as she would typically be the first one to jump out on that ledge.  But, I shrugged it off, took the picture, and turned to head back to the steps.  Then, Danny grabbed my hand.

IMG_0664

We were so lucky to have his family with us, so we got this amazing picture that his brother took on his phone.

IMG_0666

The funniest part was, when I realized what was about to happen, I half-shouted, “Are you seriously doing this right now?!?”  We laugh now, but it made Danny nervous.  I really was just in disbelief, but it totally sounded like he didn’t pick a good time, haha.

For the rest of the day, we did a little more hiking, went out to lunch and dinner, and did a lot of nice celebrating with family and friends.  It was a super special day that I will never forget!

Have you ever been to Starved Rock?

Engaged/married people: Where did you get engaged?

Fitness Classes I Teach

Happy Friday kids!  I can’t believe we are already looking at the end of July.  Next week is my LAST WEEK of Yoga Teacher Training!  Time sure has flown.

Now that I’ve truly gotten my feet wet in this new career of mine, I thought it would be nice to give a little insight into the classes I teach and how I prepare for them.

HIIT Core + Core Strength

This is the first class I taught, and it is definitely fun.  The ladies I get in the class so far are “regulars” and are super sweet!

Typically, I run this class like so:

  • Warm up- about 10 minutes, starting with cardio and working into abs
  • Abs section- either a timed HIIT set/tabata, or a more traditional strength set for about 10-15 minutes
  • Cardio/full body section- timed intervals for about 10 minutes
  • Cool down- yoga-inspired stretching for a little less than 10 minutes

Ashtanga Intermediate

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

Photo Credit: Mel Koossy, Shala Plus

The Ashtanga system is the focus of my Yoga Teacher Training.  My instructor is great, and she has a lot of faith in me.  I started teaching this class in my first week of training!

I follow the Ashtanga primary sequence for this class, but I skip some postures based on the group I get that evening and time constraints.  It is fun in a totally different way from HIIT, as it is much more quiet and mellow, but I find it extremely rewarding.

Yoga Sculpt

0122740d8d34c2a3a82652c11adbe34db582e5e31b

Earlier this week (or maybe it was over the weekend?  It’s all starting to blend together these days), I shared some ideas for fusing yoga and strength training.  This is really the focus of this class.  I take traditional yoga poses and modify them to include weights or a little more intense strengthening moves.

For last week’s class, I followed the Ashtanga sequence but modified postures.  This week, I am working with some of my own designs of flows.  Here is one that I put together today:

  • Samisthiti
  • Arms up
  • Fold forward
  • Look up and lengthen deadlift
  • Chataranga hold
  • Up Dog
  • Down Dog
  • High lunge, torso forward, grab weights
    • Lateral raise x5
    • Front raise x5
    • Rows x5
    • Bent-arm lateral raise x5
  • Up into full high/crescent lunge, tricep kickbacks x10
  • Windmill down to pushup, drop weights, hold chataranga
  • Up Dog
  • Down Dog
  • Repeat High Lunge with other leg
  • Jump through to stand
  • Look up and lengthen deadlift
  • Fold forward
  • All the way up, hands to sky
  • Samisthiti

Looked nearly identical to this yesterday…

Virtual high-five to the person who can guess which one in the Ashtanga photo is me!  (Little sisters need not guess, haha)

What is your favorite fitness class?