Archive for November, 2012


Day 25 – Moonlight Asana

The structure of today was very similar to yesterday.  Long day of work, late night yoga.  Tonight would be some hot Yin.

Showed up at the studio, Gigi was going to teach tonight’s Yin.

Gigi and Katherine!

That’s Katherine to Gigi’s left, she was working front desk.

60 min stretchy class, not very full, I think the rush has died down.  This class, Gigi was playing a lot of music, a lot of classical piano.  Is it bad I can only guess who composed those pieces?  The tunes are instantly recognizable, but I’m like…”ehhhh, Beethoven?  Mozart?  Handel?  beats the shit out of me”

The music was very calming, most tranquil, classy even.  That’s why I thought it was kind of funny that we were going through all these hip openers, which can be very stressful for people.  So while the piano tinkles softly in the background, two dozen people are going through mild agony in their hips, sweating and cursing to themselves 🙂  It made me think of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, busting out some Moonlight Sonata while he eats your face off, hahaha!  That duality of the beautiful and the horrible.

time for Dragon pose on the other leg, Officer Pembry

On another note, I think my new favorite combo is doing seated Butterfly while Claire de Lune plays in the background.  I mean, I have always liked that piece anyways, so getting to bust out some restorative spine decompression to it is just nothing but icing 🙂

So we did Child’s pose (not the restorative kind), then Dragon, then seated Butterfly, then Pigeon, then some prone spinal twists, then we did wall-assisted Waterfall (legs up against the wall).  And then it was over, just like that.

Overall, I found the class pretty relaxing and pleasant!  I was in the Yin zone… just semi-meditative and stressfree.  A nice end to my day 🙂

Day 25 down!  Gettin closer!

Day 24 – be patient

I have to type this quick because I got home at 11 pm and I have to be up at 5 am, lol.

Some days, life conspires against you.  It wants you to fail, it takes all your plans and squeezes them hard.  That sounds way more dramatic than it is, but thats what it feels like when you are in the middle of it and getting frustrated.  You just have to be patient, and do what you can.  Some days it rains, and you just have to weather it until the sun comes back.

For the next few days at work, my bosses decided it was time for our annual meeting, where we all get together and everyone makes a presentation, every workgroup gets their turn.  This works out to 2 or 3 days of pure talking.  Death by Powerpoint!  They also decided we needed to have this meeting out in the middle of nowhere.  Plus not catered.  Well, not REAL food, just cookies and coffee.  Bleh.  You cant live off cookies and coffee all day, that sucks.

So when you factor in the commuting there and back, today (and tomorrow) turn out to be 12 hour days… I leave around 6:30 am and get home around 6 pm, starving.  (I should have brought lunch, when we got our lunch hour, I walked for 15 min to find somewhere to eat, each way, haha)  So yeah, lesson learned, bring something, ANYTHING with me to eat tomorrow.

So, I got home at 6, ate something.  I need 2 hours to digest so I can go to yoga on an empty stomach (all that twisting, full tummy would be a bad idea).  Add up the need to hit the hay in good time… and it means I literally have no time to lift.  No time for weights.  Once I realized this on the way home, I got really irritated.

I just feel the need to lift, I had done so well next week, and now I am getting shut out.  I took 2 days off from lifting because I needed the rest, and now it looks like shut out for 2 more days.  I have just enough time to either lift or yoga.  And I dont want to quit the 30 day hot yoga challenge, so I need to pick yoga.  Which is a hard lesson for me, because right now all I want to do is push some iron.  Its addicting 🙂

But maybe this is the lesson, be patient – be patient even with less than you want or need.

So I napped, digested, headed out to a 9:30 pm hot vinyasa flow.  Gigi was teaching.  No pic tonight, but there are MANY pixx of Gigi on this blog, just look around 🙂  60 min vinyasa style, room barely half full (so darn late!)  It was hard of course, but it was also very shoulder-heavy, lots of 3 legged dogs and 2 legged dogs!  My shoulder is still building itself up, so I had to sit about half of those out, but I gave them a try a few times 🙂

Gigi was SOOOO enthusiastic this class!  It almost bordered on self-parody.  If I didnt know her better I would think she was mocking us with her enthusiasm, but I know she was just in good spirits.  Just lots of glee in her voice, (one more breath!  hold onnnnn!  hooooold onnnn!! lift your knee highurr!  one more second!  aaaand, downward dog!)

Dont take it as a criticism, Gigi is awesome, and I love her classes.  I was just amused by her unbridled glee.  It almost broke the tension on my crappy day and I chuckled to myself a few times during class.  So you can say that, yeah, yoga was the best part of my day.  Every other part was irritating and stressful, but yoga was my warm little moment of silliness 🙂

 

Day 24 down!  a lesson in patience and laughing at yourself!  bye!

Day 23 – recovery

Finally!  A recovery day!  Not a day off per se, but no resistance training, just a yin class, just some stretching.  I needed a low tempo day.

Slept in, did a day of work, came home, and napped for a good long while.  Woke up, headed to the studio for some late-night stretchy.

festive Katie

Katie was teaching this Yin, and posed by the Xmas tree for a shot or two.  Get it?  Tree pose.  Xmas tree.  Decoration hanging from her hand.  Decorations hang from Xmas trees.  Christmas.  Tree.  Plus her top says Roots.  Trees have roots.

 

Got changed out, stood by the hot room waiting for it to get cleaned.  Dude leaning against the wall, looks like Joss Whedon.  Stares at me.  I stare back at him.  nonverbal dude communication ensues.

me – “No, you don’t know me, what now Chief?”

him – “Just now waiting to see who will look away first”

me – “Underneath my pleasant public demeanor lies a lot of unresolved anger issues.  So don’t push it.”

 

As a guy, I both accept these male dynamics and am amused by them.  Are women aware of how many staredowns the average man goes through as he walks down the street?  It would blow your mind, you get sized up multiple times a day.

But I digress.  Back to Yin.

60 min class, lots of free space, I’m in luck!  We did child’s pose for a while (the deep kind, where you stretch out your hips, not recover), then we did cat/cow, then pigeon then a seated twist then a half shoelace then supported fish then wind relieving pose then a prone spinal twist.  I think that was it, time flies!

I was much happier with my pigeon tonight, much more serene.  This I took as the barometer of my recovery, I am closer to feeling better.  Now, shoelace… shoelace I find quite hard, but half-shoelace?  I felt nothing…  Katie came over and made some suggestions, but I still felt nothing.  Maybe half shoelace isn’t where my edge lies.  Next time I might do some monkey splits instead (not full ones, that is beyond me currently).  Just like how double pigeon is more restorative for me than stressful, I feel pretty much nothing.  Like how now instead of doing “thread the needle”, I do dead pigeon instead.  Your practice is your own, it won’t look like everyone else’s, and it is a sign of your experience that you don’t feel the need to conform.

Day 23 down!  Looks like it’s back to the weight training!  The break is over!

Brrr, it was cold last night!  I was shivering.  Had to throw the longjohns on.    When I woke up this morning, I realized why – a fresh layer of snow had blanketed the ground outside.  I think it might be our first serious snowfall of the year, not flurries that melt a few hours later.

The plan for today was get as much rest as I could, and head out to some Monday night hot yoga.  I knew I was beat up from the weekend madness, so I lay in the cut as long as I could.  I lazed around the morning, watched Dexter, headed into work, work was a mix of rushing around all morning and then sitting in on a 3 hour meeting in the afternoon.  Went to the grocery store after work, picked up some fresh eats, came home, cooked a steak, ate some beets tossed with a little olive oil and balsamic.  then buried myself under the blankets for a power nap 🙂  Slept for 45 min, woke up felt great!  Headed out to hot yoga (I made sure to reserve a spot, haha).

It was going to be a 90 min class, and once again, TOTALLY packed to the brim, waiting list, people stacked like firewood, pure pandemonium!

me, Tracy!

This is Tracy!  She wasn’t teaching the class, but I never see her around the studio any more, so I needed a pic!  So happy!  Tracy co-owns this studio and another one on the other side of town (Stittsville), and she usually holds down the fort there.  Tracy is great.  Another reason I was thrilled to see her for the first time in months, she is expecting again!  She is about 4 months along now, just starting to show, and seemed rather glowy to me 🙂

I caught up for a bit, then rushed into class, found a spot near the front (coincidence, I wasn’t making a statement, haha), and then we were underway.

I admit, this class was VERY tough on me.  I don’t know if it is the low carb diet, the sore shoulders from the workout yesterday, or a combo of both, but this class kicked my butt so hard I wanted to run for the door.  It wasn’t any pose specifically, but the time the heat and pose after pose got to me.

It was a 90 min Moksha sequence, basically the foundation of the whole studio, I knew the whole sequence quite well.  We were packed so close, there wasn’t a lot of room to move.  When we went into seated prayer twist and also into the twist on the crescent lunge, I kept my arms bound around me.  I could have propped them up into a prayer mudra (barely, I have big arms and a big stomach, it ain’t easy), but I quickly realized doing that would be causing sweat to roll off my arms onto my neighbour’s mat, so out of courtesy, I kept the bind around my torso, which makes the pose a little easier.

Yeah, it was probably my tired shoulders making me cranky, that has happened before.  I could barely hold pigeon, and I am usually able to fall asleep in that pose.  I wanted to beat my head against the ground, I was getting so frustrated.  A lot of negative emotions were welling up.

After pigeon we went into more seated twists, and I was getting all huffy, breathing angry and exasperated, frustrated, rolling my eyes.  Just being cranky!  When we went into final savasana, I couldn’t even lay still or close my eyes, I squeezed my face in my hands and started up at the sky for a while.  Just worn out and raw.  I think maybe I needed more rest, maybe even a day off.

This 30 day challenge, hot yoga every single day, 4-6 hours of pure weight training every week, plus another 2-3 hours of extra cardio every week, this has been one of the hardest training months of my life, no joke.  I have been training really hard for a man who is essentially 35% dough, ROFL.  This schedule would be appropriate for a UFC fighter or perhaps Batman, not for little ‘ole me.  I knew I was signing up for hell month, and I can make it, but I admit my feet are dragging every day now, and I look forward to taking a wee break real soon 😛

When I left the hot room, my yoga mat was saturated soaked drowned dead wet game over.  This is rather gross, but by the end of class I could slip & slide on it.  When I rolled it up to leave class, I had to turn it sideways or it would dribble all over the hot room floor.  I’m talkin shamwow levels of perspiration here, people!

My feet dragged hard in the change room, when I walked past the front desk staff, I shambled like a zombie, I shuffled home half dead, am typing this up, then I am going to go sleep for as long as life lets me 😛

 

Day 22 down!  pray for me!

Spin, shoulders, hot yin, that was the plan for Sunday.

Me neighbour was eager to do another Spin class, and who could blame him?  Spin is great 🙂

I was given a sample of a new preworkout recently, Rivalus Powder Burn.

I have tried Rivalus’ Complx5 before, their stim free pwo, and I like it.  I like it before yoga, it keeps my head clear and me alert.  So I popped the powder burn sample.  I had heard it tasted harsh, but I didn’t notice it.  Felt an immediate spring to my step, ran to the gym!  Powered by tiger nuts!

I made it a point to show up early to the gym, and sign my friend and I up as soon as the list was opened up.  I was going to make sure we got spots.

Andrea was teaching, and she continues to prove why she is my fav, just intense spin work, all business.  A really strong Song 7, it went on forever and ever!  I also noticed no awkward jerks on the pedal strokes like yesterday, maybe some of the bikes are better than others.  But I sweat like a demon, worked it out hard.

Andrea & I after class

Bid my neighbour adieu, then headed to the weight room, deja vu!

shoulders:

superset (2 min rest) dumbbell shoulder press & alternating dumbbell front raise w/2-2-2 cadence:  50/20  8/8, 8/8, 8/8, 8/5

dumbbell lat raise w/drop sets (no rest!):  25×10, 22.5×6, 20×5, 17.5×7, 15×5, 12.5×6

superset upright row & shrugs w/1-4-2 cadence:  65 x 8/8, 8/8, 8/8, 8/8

notes:  this was a pretty quick workout by design.  my rehabbing shoulder can’t handle a lot of volume, and I do a lot of down dogs in yoga, so I wanted a quick blast, not a long haul.  But I wanted the workout to be hard, so I tried to maximize the time under tension, supersets, slow tempo and drop sets.  Trust me, it burns!

The 2-2-2 speed front raises were quite hard on my left shoulder.  I felt the burn especially when I lowered it.  If you weren’t clear, 2-2-2 means I take 2 seconds to raise it, hold it up for 2 seconds, 2 seconds to lower it.  All the while I try to keep my torso squared off, try not to put my back into it and lean forward or start to shrug with my traps.  Traps get their fun later 🙂  Slow proper front raises burn like crazy with little weight, try them out!

It gets harder to bring the dumbbells up for the shoulder presses.  I find it is easiest to clean them up while I stand, and then keep them up as I squat down to the chair.

I think the front raises tested my sprain the hardest.  I was worried the lat raises would hit the sprain, but when I did them, they were just normal hard 🙂  Yeah, drop sets all the way down to hell!  The dumbbells weren’t busy, so I lined up all of them, and just went to town.  When I dropped down to 17.5 DBs, it got suddenly easier, then quickly got hard again.  6 drop sets is no joke!

The traps I supersetted, using the same weight for the rows and the shrugs, just switched up the grip on the bar and kept going without lowering it.  They were actually somewhat easy, but I was testing out the routine, so I can go heavier next time.  1-4-2 cadence means I lift it up, hold it for 4 seconds, lower it slowly, then right back up.  For my purposes, what I found worked best was when I brought it up, I kept my shoulders forward for 2 seconds, then rolled them back (“packed them”) for 2 seconds, then lowered them for 2 seconds.  The shrugs were light, but doing them slow and right after the upright rows made them burn pretty good 🙂  I will go heavier next time and test the sets harder.

Had just enough time after the workout to grab a bite, then headed out to the movies to catch an early afternoon flick with my friend (Looper).

Then I had just enough time to head home and grab my yoga stuff so I could head out to Yin!  Ran to the bus stop, the bus was 5 min late.  This was going to cut it close, I got very worried.  I hadn’t presigned up either, there had just been no time today.  When I got to the studio, my worst nightmare:  the class was full.  5 min before class, they start to give away spots to the wait list, so I asked, but the wait list was already 8 people long!  Crazy!

I guess I deserved that for my trolling of the spin class yesterday 😛  I had been cutting it close and just winging it with the fitness classes for a while.  When November hits, fitness classes get packed to capacity, people want to slim down before xmas.  November is busy, December it gets sort of empty, then January it gets super busy all over again!  It tends to fade Feb and March timeframe, but January is bananas in every gym all over town.  So a word to the wise, always sign up in advance and reserve a spot.  and don’t be late or they will give it away.

So no yoga class for me 😦  Karma bit me!  But I didn’t want to lose the 30 day challenge, so I headed home and loaded up a yoga app on my iPhone, haha.  It offered me a 40 min “Shakti” stretching sequence.  I didn’t like it!  The thing about fitness routines is I like just shutting my brain off and doing what the teacher tells me, all the blood flows to my muscles, not to my brain.  Doing it in my home, and waiting for the robot voice to tell me what to do next is just too distracting, I couldn’t really get into it.  But in theory there was nothing wrong with the yoga app, I just prefer the human touch in a devoted setting 🙂

But oh well!  Day 21 down!  This was a crazy weekend 🙂  I loved it, but I hated it… but I LOVED it.  It was a real test.  I think Monday I will do the bare minimum and try to recover a bit 🙂  Normally Sunday is recovery day, but this Sunday… recovery?  What recovery??!?  Monday better be a sweet recovery day 😉

Spin, back, biceps, hot yoga.  That was the plan for Saturday, and it felt ambitious, by my best guess somewhere between 3 and 4 hours of exercise.

I showed up for some morning Spin.  I saw a guy who has been the instructor in the past sitting on the bench in the changeroom.  I can’t remember his name.  So I pick a name – I walk up to him (headphones in my ears, music playing), and say, “Hey Mike! You teaching this one?”  He looks at me, mutters “yeah” as he looks down.  I heard him, but keep staring at him, widen my eyes, cock my head, smile, as if waiting for something.  He looks back at me, raises his voice, “Yes.” and drops his chin as he says it, to see if I am paying attention.  I smile and wander away.  (Reminder, his actual name is not Mike)

It was awkward, but I was curious to see what fitness class instructors are like out of class, before they turn the dial to “HAPPY” so they can motivate a group of strangers to do something difficult.  That I was kind of trolling him was just a bonus for me 🙂  (evil smile)

My neighbour showed up, and it looked like the class was filling up really early!  We were 10 minutes out and I couldn’t see two empty bikes side by side any more.  My neighbour ran to the signup sheet, and I went to scout out some bikes.  When he showed up, I asked nonverbally if he signed me up, he said no.  I shrugged and decided possession was 9/10 of the law, and stayed on my bike 😛

When the teacher showed up, he announced that the signup sheet was full, so if someone had not signed up, they should get off their bike.  I kept my mouth shut and kept rolling.  A few minutes later the teacher was chatting to the gym front desk staff, and my neighbour and I looked at each other and we smiled and I went back to rolling on the bike.  I was interested to see where this was going…

Teacher came back, and said if they have to, they will do roll call off the list and single the squatter(s) out and make them apologize to the class for the delay.  Spider-sense tingling!!

Front staff came back and said some of the waiters had left but one person was determined to get a bike (they HAD earned it after all).  Teacher had the list in front of him, was JUST about to read it off, when someone pointed out there was an unused bike stuck in the middle of the pack (I bet a squatter had run away).  So everyone who stuck around now had a bike and we could begin.

Yeah, I cut it close on that one!  I think I will sign up from now on 🙂

Class was good, I didn’t want to go all out on the tension, I knew I had a long day ahead of me.  Even still, I was sweating like CRAZY.  My body just wanted to sweat it all out.  I was working hard, maybe 80% the whole 60 min class, but that was enough.  I actually felt bad that the stranger to my right had inherited my puddle of sweat by about 6 songs in, it was now under my bike and under his bike too.  Crazy!  I was wondering if he would try and do stretches after and wipe out on my sweat.  Spoiler:  he did not wipe out in the end.

I also am not happy with the new bikes, there is an awkward transition from the downpedal to the uppedal, it is jerky.  I only notice it when I stand, but it makes standing climbs kinda suck.  I hope there are lots of races and power climbs in my future, so I can avoid that.

On to the weightlifting! I left Spin, bid farewell to the neighbour, and hit the weight room right away.

Back & Biceps:

100 reps close grip rows (machine):  100 lbs X 35 /65s rest/ x30 / 35s rest/ x20 / 15s rest/ x15

superset underhand grip cable rows & neutral grip pulldowns (90s rest):  120/105 X20/20, 20/20, 20/20

superset reverse cable flys & straight arm pulldowns w/rope (90s rest):  55/40 x 14/10, 12/9, 14/11

curl machine (90s rest):  80 x10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

seated alternating DB curls (90s rest):  40 x8, 8, 8, 7, 6, 8

notes:  I was nervous about my energy levels after spin, but the machine rows held up pretty well.  I felt a nice pump already in my back after those.  Then when I went to the supersets of the rows and pulldowns (easily the hardest part), I had a hard time corralling the 2 machines at once.  I set up the bars I wanted, then when I was over with the cable rows, I noticed a girl staring at the pulldowns.  I went over to apologize, saying we could switch in and out, and she said, “no, I just don’t know how to use it”.  I explained that with the neutral-grip bar, you hold the ends with a neutral grip (ie. palms neither down nor up, but to the inside, like holding a hammer) and pull it down to the front of your chest.  She nodded, and we agreed to switch in and out.

With my 90s rest and her apparent 20s rest, she went about 5 times with her weight for 2 of my supersets, then was gone by the 3rd.  Not to judge, but it seemed like she was experimenting rather than picking a challenging weight 🙂  It kind of looked like she was trying stuff out while her boyfriend did stuff about 40 feet away.  BOO, ladies! Hit the weights with intensity!

Anyways, that superset is intense, I was shaking after every superset, my face twisted up in major discomfort.  But I did it!

I saw my friend the trainer working on a Saturday, which is rare (hi Terry!), so I went up and asked him if I could get to the pec deck in the roped off area with the free moving bars, so I could do reverse flys.  He said not needed, and took me to a machine in the corner which I mostly ignore, where I could easily do it with cables.  Since he was there, he also showed me some ways to work the exercises a little better:  for the reverse flys, alternate back and forth from standing up straight to leaning forward about 45 degrees.  Go back and forth, one standing up, one leaning forward, keeping the same angle of the pull.  And for the straight pulldowns, use a rope and bring it just to your hips.

Both of those were hard!  It made the exercises harder, I tried 60 pounds with the rope, and immediately NOPE, so I dropped the weight to 40 and kept going.  As you can see, I could not hit 20 reps with either of those exercises, so it was just difficult enough.  I think I found my new favorite variation, thanks Terry!

Then I came home, and fell into a deep sleep.  For like 90 minutes.  No foolin.  I must have been tired!

I was debating what yoga class to go to, and dreading having to go again really soon, because Saturday night does not have many choices, it was either Sat afternoon or bust.  But then I saw a last minute ad for a Saturday night class being run by my friend Megan!  90 minutes, warm room (not hot), live dj… hmmm…

I admit, I shy away from the live dj yoga classes.  I like tranquility, I don’t crave a party atmosphere.  BUT, it was my friend running it for one.  All the proceeds were going to charity for another.  It was also in the evening!  AND, maybe switching it up for its own sake will be a good shock for my body.  Now, this class had been sold out for a while (it’s very popular).  But 2 tickets had suddenly opened up!  I decided it wasn’t a coincidence.  I messaged Megan and asked if I could buy a ticket.  She said yes, and I was in!

Showed up for the 7 pm class.  It was going to be 90 min long, 40 people, dj with a turntable, 2 teachers taking turns teaching.  Megan was one of the teachers, and Nigel was the other teacher, never had a class with Nigel before.

me, Megan, Nigel!

When I showed up, I was given a glowy tube thing, told to put it around my wrist or ankle or something, sounds like a “club” thing, haha.  I tried, it was too small for my big wrists, which meant no point even looking at my ankle.  Too big for your reindeer games, Megan! (For the record, as the pic clearly shows, I looped the glowy through my belt loops on the yoga shorts.  So I had a glow in the dark groin.)

Based on the glowy tube thing, I was guessing that the dj wouldn’t be spinning AC/DC, haha.

The class would be a “prana flow” class, and Nigel would teach for 45, Megan for the other 45.  A demo mat was set up at the front of the room, and in the middle of the room, to make it easier for people to see.  A warm room meant it was only about 25 degrees, but with all the people, bound to hit at least 30 degrees.  I had no idea what they meant by prana flow, although I had gotten tastes of it from Megan’s classes before.

It was very different!  We moved with our breath quite a bit (which I guessed from the name, prana being breath), and were always moving around on our mat, rotating evenly through facing all 4 sides of our mat.  Lots of moving around, changing directions, lots of side planks.  Did I say lots of side planks?  LOTS of side planks.  Variations on the side plank, including normal side p’s, one where your bottom leg swings out in front of you, and the one where your top leg extends out behind you, in all cases either on the floor or held up in the air, depending on your ability.  This can be very tiring, and most of our energy was devoted towards that.

We did chaturanga here and there for the first 45 min, but for the back half, we were told to merely “wink” at chaturanga, meaning don’t do it, just recognize that is the place where it would go, AKA stay in extended plank for a second before heading back to downward dog.  I think they recognized 90 min of chaturanga and side planks was pretty rigorous, so they trimmed the chaturanga out, to show us mercy 🙂

We also “pulsed” a lot, in various poses, experimenting with using our breath to make our torso and spine move through “waves”, playing with our trunk positioning in extended plank, and in garland pose, and in down dog, and in up dog and cobra.  The pulses were interesting!  I might want to add that on the regular to my deep squats, it felt quite good there.

NOW, in all fairness, on the down side!  The music was quite loud, and I couldn’t hear Nigel when he spoke.  Megan cut through the buzz a little bit with her commands, but you shouldn’t have to fight the music to be heard.  I don’t know if a noisy hot room is my thing.  Also, with all the spinning around, my yoga towel that covered the mat was getting all twisted up into piles all the time, so I yanked it off.  But now with just my trusty rubber yoga mat getting sweaty, I kept losing my grip and slipping.  I am just too heavy and sweaty for all that spinning around while keeping your balance.  I would need some way to keep my towel pinned down to my mat for me to keep traction.

Don’t take it the wrong way, I was really glad I went to that class!  I always appreciate new challenges.  That it all was for charity was just gravy.  I came home, exhausted and happy.  That’s why this blog is so late, I had to go sleep, haha.

What a great Saturday!  Hard work all day long!  Day 20 down!

Megan’s main business web page:  http://www.journeyoftheyogini.com/

Nigel’s web page:  http://www.yogawithnigel.com/

learn more about Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow:  http://shivarea.com/about-prana-flow

Day 19 – Stepping Up

The plan was to do some back & biceps, and then some Friday night hot yoga.  And then Thursday night I had a massive bout of insomnia.  that giant post yesterday, Day 18?  Yeah, that was me staying up past 1 am.  Hard to wake up at 5 am when you went to sleep around 2, haha!

So I slept in pretty hard, then rushed to work, all unshowered and bummy.  I just hid out in the cube at work, preparing work and emailing it out, I was not ready to jump to the front stage and be an office hero today.  I felt sooo tired, I didn’t even want coffee, I was past that.  I have gone hard on the coffee this month, but I am feeling this growing sensation inside that I want to cold turkey for a bit, detox all that mess out.  Must be the yoga side of me getting assertive 🙂

After work, I headed home and napped for a bit.  I decided that if yoga went well, maybe I could find a late night gym and lift after.  That might have been a pipe dream, but w/e.

It was Friday night hot yoga, meaning all proceeds go to charity, and the class fills up with a more casual crowd.  Not to say they aren’t good, lots of great looking practice in this group, but they aren’t as formal, they have to be shushed occasionally, they leave their phones on, that sort of thing.

A funny thing happened to me tonight.  For most of the month I have stayed at the back of the class.  I don’t feel like my practice is any good, I feel rusty and OUT of practice, I don’t feel like I have “earned” a spot up front, don’t want people to see me, etc etc.  I just wanted to sweat and toil in the back for the most part.

And then tonight, I walked in early, I had the whole room to choose from, and I felt like moving up.  I wanted to be in the lights, with everyone looking at me, I wanted a strong and proud practice.  I found a spot to the right side but in the middle.

I wasn’t breathtaking or anything, but I was controlled and confident the whole class.  Sure there was a guy to my right popping up into a full back bridge when I was merely lifting my pelvis up, and there was a woman to my left popping out headstands while I was doing wide leg forward folds, but that didn’t matter.  I just wanted to be at the front of the pack tonight 🙂

As it turns out, I think the class was maybe a little TOO confident.  When we were in Warrior 2, and the teacher told us to flip our palms over, half the class was already leaning back into reverse warrior.  And when she said “trikonasana” (aka triangle pose, aka bend forward, not backward), the majority of the people leaning back kept leaning back!

Class grinded to a brief pause as she gently reiterated she wanted them to bend their torsos forward… “you guys are on yoga autopilot tonight”.  That might have been part of it, they might have done the same sequence so many times they were just going through the motions.  Meaning they weren’t moving mindfully.  It could also be that they were agitated and anticipating moving into reverse warrior because warrior 2 was unpleasant, or they wanted to speed through the practice.

At any rate, it can be hard to wait for the verbal direction.  I know sometimes in yoga class it seems like the teacher is just… talking… so… darn… slow!  We have all cursed under our breath, “hurry up!”  But in this case, the teacher was not prolonging the agony, the class was just being a little sloppy.  Not me of course! *pats self on back*  I waited for the verbal cue, went into triangle, and cocked my head quizzically as everyone around me did something totally different.

Inspired by this turn of events, the teacher threw a few different wrinkles into the practice, to keep us on our toes, so to speak.  Breaking up the pigeon on each side with some wide leg forward folds, for example.

And the best part about this practice?  I came out of it feeling strong, like I was ready to do more!  I haven’t felt that in a while, and this was a fairly forgiving sequence tonight, but still!  For once I walked out feeling energized 🙂  I hope I have more challenge days like this!

I was ready to go to the gym to do some late night lifting, but as if on cue, my neighbour texted me, asking if I wanted to go to an early morning spin class tomorrow 🙂  So I put back and biceps on the backburner, and came home to get some sleep!

Plan for tomorrow is spin, back, biceps, hot yoga!  Eek!  Full day!  See you then!

The plan for today was do chest and triceps in the morning, go to work, come home after work, nap, do an evening yin.  ‘Twas a fair plan 🙂

My butt was really dragging this morning, I almost psyched myself out of going to the gym, but I finally made it at about 06:40.

chest & triceps:

warmup presses for a few sets with the 30s

flat DB presses (2 min rest b/w sets):  110×20, 130×12, 150×9, 170×5, 150×8, 130×11, 110×11

machine press (90s rest):  150×12, 12, 12

incline DB flys (90s rest):  80×12, x6, x7

DB skullcrushers:  70×3, x3; 50 x10, 9, 9, 7, 7, 7

seated 2 hand tricep extension:  65 x7, x5; 50 x8, 8, 7, 7

 

notes:  I wasn’t entirely happy with this workout as a whole.

I was cruising along with the flat presses, and my left shoulder gave out 5 reps into the 85 lb DBs, so I climbed back down the ladder, each time my left shoulder stayed tired.  I couldn’t really get anywhere on my 7th set with the 55s either.  I like doing all those sets at all those different weights with the dumbbell presses, it helps me build up strength in my shoulder, which right now is clearly lagging behind my chest.  It is less stressful than pushups on the joint, and I can obviously tinker with the resistance much more easily than I can with pushups.

I wanted to give my chest more work to do, but I also wanted to see how done my shoulder was, so I went to the machine press, but I went fairly light, and just did a few sets of slow reps.  My shoulder felt fine and my chest was able to get some more good squeeze in (would have been better with free moving handles), so I felt confident going on to the flys.

Flys went sort of poorly, unfortunately.  I got through the first set, but either my shoulder was really tired, or I was psyching myself out, and I kept failing out of the next few sets.  The weight isn’t THAT much diffrerent from what I do with Leslie, only slightly more.  HOWEVER, when I do incline flys with Leslie, they are my working sets 4-6.  These flys today were working sets 11-13, LOL.  So maybe I should have gone lighter and respected the volume.

Next up triceps!  Lately I have been giving arms their own day, but I wanted to experiment with the split, and see how I liked it.  Long story short?  I didn’t!!  I was doing 30s last time for the skullcrushers, and it went really well, so this time I moved up to the 35s… I failed out right from the start!  So I took a few breaths, composed myself, went again, failed right away again!  So I gave up and went down to the 25s.  They started out fine, but by the second set with the 25s, my arms were not able to go the distance, they started to fail out around rep 7 every time.  This made me sad.

Again, there are a few factors at play.  I was doing triceps first, and now they are second in the rotation, energy not peak.  Also, triceps get work doing the chest presses, so they weren’t fresh when it was time for the skullcrushers.  My shoulder was also getting tired, so more of the pressure was getting transferred to the elbow, just less helpers available to assist the tricep when it fatigues.

Once you fail out of a few sets, you also start to psyche yourself out, which was happening to me because I kept losing my focus.  There was an old guy right next to me doing dumbbell presses while fluttering his legs in the air like he was riding a bicycle… WTF??!?  DON’T DO THAT.  You make me think you are losing control of the weight and panicking, and now I’m forced to keep an eye on you to keep you from killing yourself.  If you want to work your core, do presses on a stability ball, don’t flail your goddamn legs around like a drowning man.

If I see you combine these 2 moves, I will seriously consider taking the weights away from you.

So, THAT was genuinely distracting.

I moved on to the seated extensions, and the weakness in the triceps continued, I got some mediocre sets in with the 65s, and dropped down to the 50s, and still couldn’t bust out full sets.  My arms were just torched.

In retrospect, given what I have observed, chest work wears out my shoulder, and I have nothing left for arms.  Back work doesn’t seem affected, I have done massive chest/back days and been none the worse for wear.  So I think I will keep up a chest/back & legs & arms & shoulders split, it seems to accomodate my situation the most, aka building my shoulders back up.

I was worried my triceps got a raw deal today, but as I sit here typing this, they feel pretty sore, so maybe I worry too much 🙂

 

Also!  It has been a few days since my legs workout, and it usually takes a little while to see what the DOMS were like, kind of like an autopsy of the workout.  Normally when I get railed by Leslie, my DOMS center around the rectus femoris, which is a direct antagonist to the hamstrings.  This is probably reflective of all the heavy lunges we do (as a consequence of me being heavy).  Basically I feel DOMS in the middle of my thigh and the back of my leg, making walking difficult.

As for these particular DOMS this week, I felt it yesterday much deeper than the rectus femoris, possibly even the vastus intermedius, although I couldn’t be sure, and that isn’t a muscle you can really isolate anyways.  However today, the soreness settled squarely into the outside of my thighs, the vastus lateralis.  I didn’t feel the soreness when I walked, but I felt it when I straightened out my legs.  This means it was the FST-7 sets of the leg extensions that did the microtrauma, which is fine with me.  Possibly also the one leg presses followed by the extensions, both likely suspects.

It could also well be affected by the yoga.  You can hit the vastus lateralis with leg work on closely placed feet, and while I was recovering from the leg training, I was still doing chair pose and eagle squat and flexing my quads in mountain pose, and all those asanas that require you to keep your feet closer than hip width.  So they all came together in a really beautiful way to make my legs sore 🙂

 

Can you tell I have been really inward focused today?  LOL  As the yoga challenge goes on, my attention is squarely set on how I feel inside.  How does my shoulder feel?  How does my elbow feel?  Where do I feel the DOMS in my legs?  Did I hit the triceps on those sets?

My awareness has become very very inward, very introspective.

So when I headed out to Yin tonight, that introspection continues.  I felt detached from everyone else on the bus, like they were moving slowly and clumsily and they all felt like they were getting way too close to me when they walked by.  None of them seemed to be moving mindfully.  At the same time I felt deeply the space caused by the detachment from them.  It reminded me of a passage from the Dao De Jing (translation D C Lau)

Everyone is joyous,
as though feasting at a great sacrifice
or climbing a terrace in springtime.
But I am quiet, not giving any sign,
like an infant who has yet to smile;
aimless, as though I had nowhere to go.

Everyone has more than enough,
I alone seem to be lacking.
I have the mind of a fool, vacant and dull.

Most people see clearly;
I alone am in the dark.

Most people make fine distinctions;
I alone am muddled and confused.
As vague as the ocean,
As unsettled as the wind.

People have their intentions,
I alone am as dull as a yokel.

Everyone else seemed amused, distracted, clumsy, purposeful.  I was just sort of… observing and drifting.  My attention was still focused inwardly.

 

When I got to Yin, Gigi was teaching!  A 60 min late night stretchy session 🙂

ahhh, so fuzzy!

We went through some hip work followed by restorative work.  wind-relieving pose then dragon then twisted dragon then seal then double pigeon then waterfall.

I don’t mind dragon, as I have said before.  But the twisted dragon was rough!  I really felt it on the inside of my thigh, at the hip.

this is the version of twisted dragon we did

Conversely, I LOVVVE winged dragon, aka gecko.  But we didn’t do that 😛

I was also really glad we got to do waterfall, it helped me flush a lot of fresh blood into my sore legs.

 

Day 18 over!  This was a really long entry, but I had a lot to say 🙂  See you tomorrow!

Day 17 – working through tired

So the plan was to do chest and triceps in the morning, then work, then do some Forrest yoga at night.

Then I decided to stay up to watch Sons of Anarchy, haha.  Then I slept in the next morning.

So now the plan was to do yoga after work, then do some late night lifting.

All day at work, I felt a creeping fatigue setting in in my legs.  Looks like the workout yesterday might pay off some microtrauma dividends after all.  But it also sapped my energy further, and I never felt like I got that full night’s sleep.

Work went over by about 15 minutes, so I was rushing out the door and onto the bus to make it to the 5:30 class with Lisa.  I decided that since for weeks now I had been doing the 90 min Forrest class at 7:30, why not this week do a 75 min power flow class at 5:30?  You have to mix it up, can’t let myself get too comfortable.  Plus, I thought an earlier class afforded me the best shot to do some lifting later.

Class was pretty packed.  I settled in between two guys – one of which just placed his mat wherever he felt and not within the handy tape markings, and another guy who got all offended when I squeezed in between them.  Maybe he assumed he would be getting more personal space in a November hot yoga class?  Suck it up, buttercup!

Anyways, offended guy squeezed to the right so now his mat was out of whack.  Even before the class, I noticed that both of them had very aggressive breathing.  They were NOT relaxed.  I wondered if either they were both genuinely stressed out, or both just being affected greatly by the heat.  They both looked to be in decent shape, so why so serious?  I decided that this class I would make an extra effort to make it look effortless, I would be a calm moment of zen in this heavy breathing corner of the hot room.  If I felt I was getting sloppy and panting, I would back off, even if that means I wouldn’t look like an athlete.

As the class got underway, we were doing a series of planks, and I felt a pinch in my wrist.  So I backed off for a few minutes and did some wrist-stretching exercises on my own.  I missed a few side planks in the process, but oh well.  After that, my wrist felt better for the rest of class, so I was glad I did it 🙂

Even with the occasional break, the class was hard.  It was hot, sweaty, taxing.  Very quickly into class I realized that my energy levels were not very high, and I also guessed that if this class drains my battery any further, I would be headed to the gym to lift while I was totally worn out.  I don’t want that, I want to lift while my energy is high, I want to overload the muscle, not just go through the motions and burn calories.  So by about 40 min in to class, I resolved this would be my only workout for the day and chest gets pushed to Thursday.  so make the most out of this hot yoga class!

And the class was pretty challenging.  I rather enjoyed though when we were told to flip our dogs, which means you gotta step onto someone else’s mat… normally I don’t do it if the person beside me doesn’t do it, I don’t want to get all up in their bubble.  But then Lisa said, “maybe just do it tonight and introduce yourself to your neighbour”, or words to that effect.  I had a twinge of caprice, and decided that NOW was the perfect time to get into the space of huffy guy who got offended before class; so even though he wasn’t flipping his dog, I flipped over like a crab, planting one foot on his mat, arching my back and stretching my hand out.  hahaha, consider his world ROCKED.  I’m such a rebel 🙂

(I am probably imagining it, he is probably very nice and I am inventing drama, don’t take me seriously)

As the class wore on, and I was getting my butt kicked, I wondered, “wow this grind is getting to me.  I can’t remember the last time I came to a yoga class and just rocked it out, like it was no big deal.  every class feels greater than me.  my energy never feels like it has time to recover.  I haven’t been a yoga superstar in maybe over a week.  I am sitting out of stuff way too much, these moves are just wearing me down.  this 30 day challenge is just pulverizing me.”

And the class kept going, more cues, more poses, more stuff.  And then a funny thing happened, I started to just let it go.  I started to shed my attachment to looking pro, or sticking crow, or a perfect vinyasa flow.  I just did every pose I could because I just liked doing them.  And I started to feel really HAPPY.  It almost became joyous.  I was sweating my guts out, but enjoying the moment.  For the next half hour or so of class that was left, I just enjoyed the moment, like there was nowhere else to be.  I had finally worn out my stubbornness and ego through hard grinding practice, and suddenly felt REALLY GOOD about myself.

I think this 30 day challenge might be starting to work its magic on me!

After class I grabbed a quick shot of Lisa, and thanked her for the great class.  Lisa gave me a great shot, she tried to recreate her Lululemon poster, haha!

pretty close Lisa!

My tank was still pretty depleted, so I left the chest and triceps for another day, and came home to just relax, eat some good food, listen to music, type up this blog, and get to bed as early as I could!  I was dead tired today, but worked through it, and found some joy in the process.  Great Day 17!  See you tomorrow!

The plan for today was to do a leg workout in the morning, then a yin class in the evening.

No workouts with Leslie this week, so I thought it would be fun to try something new.  You have to vary it up every once in a while, keep your body guessing.  First you adapt to what you are doing, build the mind-muscle connection, then when you get comfortable, switch it up.

So this would be my week for trying out my backup workouts, and for legs I locked into a brand new one.  Sneak preview:  no lunges! HAHAHAAAAA

I got to the gym at 6 am-ish.  This was also novel for me, I hadn’t done a 6 am workout in a long time.  time to get busy.  Squats at 6 am, say whaaaaaatttt???

bodyweight sissy squats x12, x12, x12, x12 (90s rest b/w sets)

squats:  155 x12, x12, x12, x12, x12 (90s rest)

one-leg leg press machine:  195 x12, x12, x12, x12 (back and forth leg to leg, no rest)

leg extensions:  135 x12, x12, x12, x12, x12, x12, x12 (30 s rest!)

seated leg curls:  135 x12, 150 x12, 165 x12, 180 x12 (90s rest)

stiff-legged dead lifts:  95 x12, x12, x12  (90s rest)

seated leg curls:  90 x12, 105 x12, 120 x12, 135 x12, x12, x12, x12 (30 s rest)

bodyweight straight leg standing calf raise:  80, 80, 80, 80 (90s rest)

notes:  Your eyes don’t deceive you, that is a workout with some pretty beefy volume.  No time for chit-chat, just go after it.  The whole thing took about 80-90 min.  The sissy squats served as my warmup, and the calf raises served as my cooldown.  20 working sets for quads, 14 sets for hams, and 4 sets for calves.  Beefy.

5 sets of squats.  the weight isn’t high, but I wanted to practice my form, go at least as deep as parallel, get used to the feeling of dropping to that depth.  by the end I was dripping sweat.  Some stiffness in the right knee during leg press, it went away quickly.

Yes, your eyes read that right, I did 7 sets of extensions and leg curls with only 30 s rest in between sets!   Basically, I was trying out the FST-7 system.  I haven’t watched the dvd, but my rough understanding is you do a compound exercise, then an isolation, then a compound, then an isolation for 7 sets with 30s rest.  I didn’t do it in quite that order, mine was more like iso, compound, iso, iso.  But the sissy squats warmed me up, the squats were the taxing work, and the leg presses were me reducing the rest time to ramp up into the extensions for the climax.  And let me tell you, the weight was low on the extensions, but they burned!!  I was really feeling it by the end.

I didn’t know what shape the hamstrings would be in by this point, but they felt pretty solid, so I was playing with the weight a lot on the leg curls, finding something that was challenging but I could go the distance with.  I will say this, 90 is WAY too light, I think the pad was dropping just from the weight of my legs, ROFL.  Do my legs weigh 90 pounds?  Holy crap!  Next time I do this workout, I will be able to zero in on the perfect resistance.

SLDL’s remain really awkward for me, so I picked a light weight and worked on form.  They still felt awkward, but I took my time and hopefully built some of that mind-muscle connection.

Calf raises I like high rep bodyweight sets since my calves are big and stubborn, and respond better to massive pump sets.  If I load the weight on the calf machines, I either feel nothing or get a massive cramp, so w/e.

In the evening I headed out to hot yoga for a stretching session.  I walked into the hot room feeling like I was on autopilot, just drift in and set up my spot.  We did some straight wide leg forward folds, cobblers pose, half happy baby (AKA the most miserable pose on Earth, haha).  My mood became grumpy during half happy baby, I am just learning to really hate that pose!  While I dealt with all the negative stuff it dragged up, I noticed I started to fidget more and more during poses.  My mind became busy, I couldn’t hold my focus or maintain my steady breath.  Honestly, most of my yin class was spent just sorting through all the grump.

It was a 60 min class, so luckily the suffering came to an end quite quickly, ha.  But all that pain and discomfort and challenge is exactly what I need.

You have to throw yourself into discomfort and strain if you hope to get healthy.  It seems like it shouldn’t be that way, we fool ourselves into thinking that we get healthy by avoiding pressure, but it is the opposite – health flows from adversity.

On a basic level, you have my resistance training.  I push the muscles as much as I can both heavy and for a long time, to push them to suffer microtrauma, the muscles rebuild themselves bigger and stronger, tada! improvement.

Next you have yin.  You stress out the connective tissues, gently push it to a soft edge, cause microtrauma, little tears, then the tissues rebuild you more flexible than you were before.

But take it even further.  I read an article today on the medical benefits of infecting someone with an intestinal parasite.  No, seriously.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/whipworm-immune-regulation/

How’s this for a tagline:  “Scientists run tests on a lab full of monkeys with chronic diarrhea”   hee hee hee!

Sorry, back to my point.  Scientists are wondering if maybe our sterile healthy environment has made us more susceptible to certain conditions.  Humans as a species grew up on Planet Earth alongside a raft of weird microbes and parasites.  And they made us tougher.  That’s why companies are starting to advertise “probiotic” foods, because we are suspiciously lacking these days in sufficient friendly stomach microbes, that help us digest.

So the thought is that the intestinal parasites gave our immune systems something to do.  But in the western world we have largely eradicated such parasites, and we have also seen the growth of conditions where our immune system is attacking itself, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, inflamed bowels, ulcerative collitis, and other autoimmune-related conditions.

Testing is going on, but it looks like they might be on to something.  Some sort of controlled infestation has certainly cured the monkeys of their chronic diarrhea, they started putting on weight, etc etc.

You know that old adage about avoiding germs all the time makes you weak?  That might be true.  Just like weight training and yin, our immune systems need the occasional workout.  I wouldn’t suggest swallowing some whipworm eggs 😛  But these patterns just keep popping up in Nature, iron sharpens iron, strength through adversity.  You must go out and test yourself, push yourself, try new things, if you expect to get better, to improve.

Food for thought!  Day 16 down!