Category Archives: Fitness

Half Dome – Yosemite National Park

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June 6, 2019

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

16 Miles Round Trip

4,800 Feet of Elevation Gain.

400 Feet of Steel Cable assistance.

12 Hours up and back from the Valley

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It wasn’t supposed to happen—at least the odds were totally against me.

  • There’s a 2-7 percent chance of receiving a permit to climb the Half Dome Cables (the final 400 feet of the 8-mile-one-way ascent). People apply for years without getting a permit. I applied and received one for the first full day we were set to be in California.
  • The cables generally go up around Memorial Day each year, but the date is approximate—not official, as the set-up of the cables depends on the aftermath of winter. This winter, for Yosemite, was brutal. On April 1 of this year, the park measured at 176% of it’s average snow pack, making it difficult to estimate when the cables would be safely put in place and available to climb. From mid-May through June 3 – there was no estimated date of the cables opening. The hike was likely to be cancelled. My hopes dwindled. But then, by some miracle, Yosemite announced that the cables would official open on June 6, 2019. I don’t know what those odds were compared with receiving a permit, but I know they were small.

I had my permit. The cables went up. The only other thing out of my control was the weather the day of the hike: which fortunately, proved to be beautiful.

From mid-March through June 5, I trained, hiking over 70 miles in preparation for the challenge ahead. I used my days off to go to the Catskills, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and PA – where I could get an elevation gain I couldn’t get from city streets. I worked out at the gym 2-3 times a week and followed the program my trainers provided. We built my lower body strength, my endurance, and my upper body strength so I could pull myself up the cables. I didn’t want to just complete my challenge—I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to reach the top and not dread the 8 mile return. I wanted to reach the top and feel like I could do it all over again—like I’d want to do it all over again, like I could keep going and reach the top of any summit I wanted to reach.

The trek was unlike anything I ever experienced. I woke up at 4:15am, drove to the base of the mountain, met my guide, Maddie, from Lasting Adventures, and we took off. What began as a gentle incline quickly took the form of a steep ascent through the Mist Trail where Vernal Falls crashes from above. With the high snow pack/snow melt the Mist Trail may have more aptly been referred to as the Monsoon Mountain, as the wind and water whipped at us: the climbing steps with deep puddles. Not even an hour into our hike and we were drenched, our boots filled with water. In another scenario—I may have been miserable–but instead, the moment felt magical. This was the mountain’s territory—and it gets to choose the conditions: not us. We wrung out our socks, poured the puddles out of our shoes, and got back to hiking, quickly. We followed the trail up to Nevada Falls where we took a twenty minute break. Two hours in and we still had 4.5 miles to go to the top. The views were amazing, but there was little time to waste: the journey was still long ahead. We continued on, passing Little Yosemite Valley and meeting other hikers. As we gained altitude, my pace slowed, and my breathing became heavier. Every few steps, we took a break. We closed our eyes and listened to the rushing water through the park. We slowed our heart rates. We continued on. The only worry now was the threat of storms. But the clouds were moving – and it was clear, nothing was going to stand in the way of the cables and me. As I grabbed a hold of each cable I began my climb. My arms tired after each big pull, but that did not stop me. As we reached about halfway up the 400 foot incline, I took a few deep breaths. I let some of the people who were going down pass me. I forged on. And then. I was there—the top of Half Dome. I had made it. The emotions began pulsing through me like the creeks and streams and rivers and falls through the mountain.

After six hours of hiking – taking in the views, scrambling up parts of the sub dome and then ascending the cables –I had done it. I had reached the summit. I looked down at the Valley floor below. Tears began to stroll down my face. I imagined this moment. I changed my screensaver at work to Half Dome. I closed my eyes and envisioned it. The hard work – it was all worth it. But it wasn’t just me who had reached this summit.

It was my guide who was next sitting next to me sharing in lemon scones. It was my fiancé who had patiently sat through my stress and anxIMG_2558iety whether the cables would ever go up: who supported me and cheered me on each week as I woke up before dawn to head out to another mountain. It was my trainers at the gym who listened to my goals and pushed me each and every day of my program to exceed expectations. It was my friends and family who knew of the challenge I had set out on—and encouraged me to do it. We were all on the summit in that moment. We were all there breathing it in. It took about 6 hours to return to the base of Half Dome–6 hours of which I was in spectacular awe of the journey I was lucky enough to go on.

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Life is unpredictable. Some things just aren’t meant to be—and other things—well they just are. I truly believe this journey was meant to be and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to climb Half Dome: To see the whole valley with a bird’s eye view; to stand 8,000 feet above sea level and feel the rush of accomplishment in completing a challenge, I set out, so long ago to do. I am forever grateful for this memory, for Half Dome inviting me to experience it–for getting to meet this mountain.

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Top 10 Hobbies

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A lot of people ask me what my FAVORITE hobby has been. I usually answer that piloting a plane was my favorite hobby–and that I’ll be looking to earn my pilot’s license after this year. That’s 100 percent true, but ranking hobbies at all is incredibly difficult, because each one has done an incredible job in helping me to overcome fears, build courage and manage both my mental and physical strength. Additionally–for several of the hobbies, friends joined me–and being able to watch some of them overcome their fears was more often more rewarding than anything else. AND one of my favorite parts of the year outside of the hobbies that I did–was watching a friend complete her own challenge: Tears came to my eyes as Rena completed her 100th Bikram Yoga class in under 100 days. What I can’t drive home any more is that it’s not until we try everything–that we realize just how capable we are of anything. I hope that these posts do nothing more than inspire you.

If I had to answer “the top 10” questions, this is how the activities would play out from 10 to 1 (1 being my absolute favorite):

10. Ziplining 

“At 650 feet in the air going that fast, let me tell you something,  you’re not thinking about falling to your doom–you’re thinking about living. You’re thinking about how free you feel–how amazing of an experience you are having, how you don’t want this 3,200 foot zip to ever end, and how your smile is going to be plastered to your face for the next few days after completing this. No, you aren’t thinking about falling–you aren’t thinking about landing–You are indeed doing nothing but living.”

9. Subway Singing / Dancing

“It’s great to see what makes people really crack a smile.”-Grant Ryan

8. Chess

” The truth is, when a stranger has faith in you—after only moments of knowing you—it is an incredible feeling—and it makes you wonder how you’ve ever doubted yourself.

Checkmate.”

7. Pon De Flo

“Halfway through class, I had a hobby breakthrough: As I began giggling to myself while I messed up another dance move (sorry Heather!), I noticed that I didn’t care if people thought I was America’s next best dancer–I didn’t care if people saw me mess up–and I didn’t care if my right foot accidentally went when my left foot was supposed to. Eventually, I felt tears begin to fill my eyes. I wasn’t in pain–and I wasn’t ready to run out of the room screaming. No, instead the tears had developed because a great amount of pride had come over me. I realized in that moment, that the fears and worries that I had carried with me just 11 months prior had now dissipated completely. While it may sound insignificant when written down, it was one of the highest points of my hobby year, because it had meant that the hobby year was coming full circle–revealing bits and pieces about myself and how far I’d come, without me realizing that it would.”

6. Surfing

“As I surfed closer to shallow waters, I splashed off the board and was congratulated with a nose and mouthful of salt  water. When I surfaced–I fist pumped into the air, and yelled “I did it.” Joel looked at me and smiled from a distance, though I’m not sure he actually heard me with the crashing white waters. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t do this for him–or for anyone else–I did this for myself.”

5. Meditation

I had escaped–I took a quick short vacation, a brief leave from the world. I spent time sitting still in a moment of ultimate calmness. What one could consider a thing of beauty.”

4. Chalking Happiness

“And what I learned most about happiness–aside from where to find it (ahem, again, everywhere): was that much like my chalked out versions of the word: Happiness doesn’t always come in a straight line–in one swoop–or even in one size–but it always, always feels good.”

3. Trapeze

In the end, all that matters is having the courage to jump.”

2. Hang Gliding & Skydiving (tie)

“I open my eyes back up, and I take in the world around me. I don’t want to lose this feeling–this feeling that nothing can knock me down, this feeling of being able to hold the entire world in my arms and hug her tight–this feeling that I am flying–this feeling that I am living. “

I’ve learned this year that the more you let yourself “just do” the less you try to stop yourself–the more you go with your heart’s desires–the more your fears subside–and the more fun you have. And life is supposed to be about having fun.”

1. Piloting a Plane

I enjoyed piloting a plane so much that I just had to do it twice…There is absolutely nothing more freeing than using the plane to paint the canvas of the world down below.

“No fear. No looking back. No hesitation. I was–and still am–on top of the world.”

“I don’t believe that I’ve ever taken on a challenge of such great magnitude before–one that set me off into the world to tackle my fears, overcome my personal issues, and become an all around go-getter. This flight, now, gave me the time to see that.”

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The Hobby Hoarder Ziplines

The Hobby Hoarder Dances her Pants off

The Hobby Hoarder Flies a Plane

Pon De FLO DVD

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Pon De FLO DVD

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies I have stuck with since starting The Hobby Hoarder. The answer is yes and I am proud to say that one of the hobbies I have kept up with is a Caribbean Reggae dance-based fitness class called Pon De FLO. I’ve noted this before, throughout the blog, but I’ll say it again: I didn’t go to group dance classes for years because I never felt comfortable–I never felt at ease–I never felt like I could do it. That all changed with Pon De FLO.

Many of the dance classes I tried throughout the hobby year were stepping stones in getting comfortable with being in a group dance class. But Pon De FLO quickly became more than a stepping stone–it became a ROCK–Just like the way good friends help us find balance and stability in our lives, Pon De FLO did the same for me–and continues to do the same for me.

I recently wrote about how The Hobby Year helped me to find balance in a world that I constantly felt held down in. This class has played a significant role in finding that balance and in surrounding myself with positive people who continue to help me find that balance. And to be honest, FLO has become more than a once in a while class for me–it’s become a routine, a habit–my go to. I’ve even started scheduling a lot of my hobby nights around the Pon De FLO schedule.

This isn’t your average dance class. The non-verbal cued choreography forces you to build endurance, stamina and strength through 60 or 90 minutes of high energy cardio that includes an abundance of burpees, pushups, sit-ups and squats. Additionally, the class challenges you to escape from everything that’s bothering you, from a day that came with more stress than you expected, and from the negative aspects of life that are just holding you down. FLO asks you to step up, look at yourself in the mirror, connect with yourself, and disappear into dance–to let it all go and for a brief time–just FLO.

 There are only two rules in FLO–just stop thinking–and just keeping dancing.

Beyond the workout, Pon De FLO is a community of positive passionate individuals who WANT to be in class– who love the burn they feel after a burpee song, and crave for the feeling the way their body sizzles after an intense set of pushups. And when the burpees, the pushups, the sit-ups, the squats, and the booty shaking is done, those positive, passionate individuals carry on their friendships with one another outside the studio classrooms.

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Because of the upbeat community of friends I have made through the class, the kick ass work outs, and the positive energy and passion for the dance class fueled by founder Heather Fay, I have found myself absolutely addicted to a group fitness based dance class.

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 Currently, Pon De FLO is based in New York City, but it is the hope and goal of their team to begin expanding the niche dance class nationally and globally.

This past week, the team launched their Kickstarter to fund a professional fitness based DVD so that people all over can do Pon De FLO from the comfort of their own home.

If you have a dollar or ten to spare, I hope you’ll consider donating to the cause–and if not, I hope you’ll spread the word.

AND lastly, if you are in the New York City area, I definitely recommend taking a class.
I’ll even treat you.

 

Pon De FLO might just change your life–I know it has definitely changed mine.

Choreographing a Better Life

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If someone had told me two years ago that I’d nearly be spinning in circles on my head, swinging around a pole, getting jazzy with it, or frequenting a fitness based Caribbean reggae dance class three-four times a week by the year 2013, i would have laughed in their face. Two years ago, I was the girl who walked out of Zumba classes because she couldn’t follow the steps of the instructor and felt too embarrassed to go on. Two years ago, I was the girl who judged herself against the professional dancers and professional fitness instructors in infomercials who appeared flawless. Two years ago, I was the girl who didn’t give herself a chance to last through a dance class because she had given up before she had even stepped up.

The truth is that long before those Zumba classes, I had deemed myself incapable of breaking it down to a steady beat. I had thrown in the towel. I was ready to enroll in therapy for the choreographically challenged–to stand up and say–no wait–YELL,  “Hello, my name is Libby and I can’t dance.”

What I didn’t realize two years ago was that by not giving myself a fair shot–or the classes themselves a fair shot, I was holding myself back. And the truth is that too often, that’s what we do: We give up amazing opportunities before we even give them a chance, and in the end we only hold ourselves back. 

So what exactly was I holding myself back from? I was holding myself back from learning to love dance–I was holding myself back from learning to love the way my body moves when I just let it–I was holding myself back from being free and I was holding myself back from…well…put simply–I was holding myself back from learning. And I LOVE learning. I always have. 

I recently had an epiphany, and when I say epiphany, I mean a full-on lightbulb popped over the head, type of epiphany.

As I swung left, and stutter stepped right in a class last week, I realized:

“Oh my goodness. Dance has taught me a lot this year…and by a lot…I mean: Dance could be a life coach.” 

The epiphany itself nearly knocked me off my feet.

So after class I decided to sit and compile the five biggest lessons that dance has taught me not just in terms of dance…But also in terms of the bigger picture: Life.  After reading through, I hope you’ll share some of your favorite life lessons you’ve learned through the activities you’re most passionate about.

Here goes:

1. No one is judging you. Well-Okay maybe one person is. And that’s you. But you shouldn’t be. Getting to the class in the first place is something to be proud of. Getting up and out to do ANYTHING you set your mind to is something to be proud of, especially when the weather–or our moods–or our mind is telling us otherwise.

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2.  There isn’t an exactness to everything you do. In dance, if the teacher is getting her JLO on and you want to get your Beyonce on during a booty shake then by all means get your Beyonce on. Or men if you want to shake it like Michael when the teacher’s getting down like JT–then just do it. Add YOUR flavor. Just whatever you do–own it. Same goes for life: Own EVERYTHING you do–and never–EVER–stop.

3. Do it wrong. So I cheated on this one. I took this lesson from not just dance class but acting class as well. Do it all wrong. We learn from our mistakes. Our muscles learn from our mistakes. And questions are okay – no wait–they are great. Sure, teachers love flash mobs of amazingness but they don’t teach so that perfectionists come in. They teach because they want people to learn, they want people to get excited about being imperfect sometimes, they want people to embrace their passion. Part of the fun of a class –ANY class– is working your way up. Part of the fun of any challenge you take on in life is getting knocked down and feeling the sense of pride in getting back up.

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4. “When you assume. You make an a…” We all know the saying. We can’t judge a class–or a situation in life– before we even step foot in it. Not only does it reinforce any stereotypes or preconceived notions we have about the class/activity/event, but it also holds us back from possibly finding something we are truly passionate about. Prior to the hobby year, not only had I convinced myself that I wasn’t a dancer–but I had convinced myself I wasn’t fit for group  classes at all–that I didn’t fit the “look.” You know the “look” I am talking about–the look it seems that all the people have who participate in infomercials for the latest Zumba videos or aerobics dvds. The men are shirtless and ripped; the women are in sports bras and spandex–chiseled. That belief I concocted from stupid infomercials was wrong. In each and every dance class I’ve participated in this past year, people of all sizes and of all attire are taking part. People of all sizes and all attire are having a really amazing time. I choose to rock my college field hockey shorts and a white T. Cause that’s comfy–and cause that’s me. (And sometimes me –and sometimes comfy is a tiger suit–see last picture on the page).

5. The most important lesson of ALL. Just freaking dance like no one is watching. Please, I beg you. Refer back to number 1: no one is watching. The world is a wide open dance floor just waiting for you to dance on through, to make your art–to make your life.  So go on. Yes YOU…YOU and even YOU.. Dance. Dance. Dance.

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Rugged Maniac

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“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
-Thomas A. Edison

“I didn’t train enough.” “I won’t be able to complete the obstacles.” “What the hell was I thinking?”

It’s a week before my first obstacle course 5k, and I am silently talking myself down.

Just a few months earlier, I excitedly signed up for a race called the “Rugged Maniac” which is “a 3.1-mile course filled with 20+ obstacles designed to push you to your limits!” The obstacles range from crawling underneath wire to jumping barricades, and from dodging swinging tires to swimming through mud pools. When I signed up, I figured it would be much more doable for me than say a 10 mile tough mudder. But suddenly, as I sneak a peek through the full obstacle list, I can feel my optimism sink to pessimism. I turn to a co-worker and tell her, “CRAP. Look at this obstacle. How will I EVER be able to do that?!”

I think about texting my friend Neil and canceling on him. I think about telling him I’d love to still come watch our crew compete, but that I’ll have to sit this one out. At the time, I’m not sure what I’m more concerned about–thinking I haven’t trained enough to tackle a 5k with 20 obstacles–or the thought of possibly holding back my teammates by being unable to complete the course.

Somehow I talk myself out of texting Neil.

“You’ll be okay, Libs. You got this.”

What I’ve learned this past year is that we can often be really good at talking ourselves out of things, but that it takes discipline and strength to remind ourselves that the things we fear doing are often times the most rewarding to tackle.

When the Rugged Maniac rolled around last Saturday, I threw on my race day clothes: black shorts, black tank, yellow glasses and a black bandana. Safe to say, I looked like a bumble bee warrior.

I then laced up my sneakers–an old pair of nikes that I didn’t mind ruining in the mud obstacles–and headed out the door to meet my teammates who had driven up from Pennsylvania. Our team consisted of my good friends and brothers: Neil, Nick, & Ross; and Ross’s girlfriend Martina.

As I climbed in the car, my nerves continued to rumble. I’ve competed in a lot of races–but never have I done one that would test me in such a way as this. Normally, for me, races are a good test of stamina, endurance, and leg power. This race would require more–it would require upper body strength, something I’ve lacked for most of my life. But again, I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates. Each of the brothers and Martina had done a series of tough mudders and longer obstacle courses in the past, so I knew that they were much more prepared for this than me. “I hope I don’t die,” I exaggerated in the car.

Less than an hour later I was standing in line to check our bag for the race. While I patiently awaited my turn to check the bag, I turned to the couple behind me and struck up a conversation. I asked if they had ever done one of these races before. The man looked at me and smiled, “Yep. They are a good challenge. I broke my ankle on the last one I did.”

And that was the end of our conversation.

After I checked our bag, our team of five headed to the start line where we were greeted with our first obstacle–a five foot barricade that needed to be hopped before you could even cross the start line. With the help of Ross, I made it over. “Oh boy. For each of those, I hope you know I’ll need your help.” Ross smiled. “No problem.”

And then it was go-time.

Within moments, we were faced with rolling hills of dirt. Without thinking, I raced up and down the hills. As I reached the last one, I heard a scream and watched as a woman face planted into the concrete below. “Shit. Okay, forget about it and move on,” I sighed to myself.

The five of us continued on through the next series of obstacles which included a military style sprint through tires that were set on the ground. “I can do this,” my confidence grew as I successfully completed the tire challenge without clumsily stumbling. Next up was the flying tires, crawling underneath wire, and more barricades. Ross got down on a knee and helped me climb each of the barricades.

I could feel myself starting to breathe heavier, and I told the team that if they needed to get ahead–they could, and not to feel bad, that I would catch up.

Neil looked at me and laughed. “Libs. Our team name is Libsters > Hipsters. If we leave you behind, the hipsters win. That’s not going to happen.”

I laughed. I was grateful to be with a team for a race like this. I knew that their support would get me through the series of obstacles that we still had yet to complete including a rope climb over a slanted barricade, 100 yards of hurdles, endless ladder like barricades, a balance beam and several mud pools.

In an hour’s time we closed in on one of our final obstacles: crawling tunnels–which required us to slide through a downhill tunnel, crawl through a pool of mud, and then pull ourselves up via rope through an uphill tunnel.

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As I went to climb through the uphill part, I could feel my feet losing their grip in the tunnel. A woman had already started her ascent through the tunnel, and put her hand up out in front of her. “Here, push off of my hand, you got this,” she shouted.

With a little push, I got myself through the tunnel and out into the open. My teammates were patiently awaiting. “You good Libs?” I looked at the woman who had just helped me complete the last obstacle, “Better than good. Let’s do this.”

Within fifteen more minutes, we made it to our final obstacle: “A sui-slide” which was a giant inflated slide into a pool of mud. But before getting to take the plunge, we’d have to climb to the top which included an inclined barricade that would need be to climbed with the help of a rope; an inclined net, and another laddered barricade. My teammates asked me if I would be good. Confidentially, I said yes. As I looked up, I remembered something that my good friend David told me during our road trip. “Do one thing every day that scares you. And then do one thing every day that terrifies you.” I was definitely living out this mantra.

I grabbed a hold of the rope and started my climb. However, unlike the last roped incline I tackled, my feet were now covered in slick  mud. Several steps from the top of the incline, I could feel my feet begin to slip out from underneath me. Holding the rope tight, my body banged against the wall. I managed to pull myself back up to my feet and give it another attempt–again slipping. Nick was waiting at the top. He reached out his hands grabbed me. Ross met him, and grabbed my other hand. “Don’t worry Libs, we aren’t gonna let you fall.” As they started to pull I kicked my legs. And with one more tug, I was over the first part of the uphill obstacle.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I regained my composure.

I really did have the best teammates a girl could ask for.

But before the guys could let me get too sentimental for them helping me, we all climbed the final two parts of the uphill battle before having the chance to  hit the sui-slide.

As we crossed the finish line, I felt a giant burst of pride.  “That was awesome,” I cheered. Neil laughed at me.

It was just another reminder that sometimes the biggest obstacle we will face is “just doing it” in the first place.

Special Thanks, Neil, Nick, Ross & Martina

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POST RACE
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Motivational Soundtrack: Heather Fay

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“I feel so high – Like if I could fly
I feel so free – so free to be me
I wanna go up – I wanna get down
This feeling can’t stop – So put your hands up
I said put your hands up!”
-Machel Montano

A lot of people ask me if there are any hobbies that I have stuck with post-initial hobby year. The answer is, “Yes–a few.” And in fact, the one I’ve returned to the most is the fitness-based Caribbean reggae dance class called Pon De FLO And there are three simple reasons why I keep coming back:

 The freedom to be free and to dance, the kick-ass music, and last but certainly not least–I find myself coming back to the class because of the supportive and upbeat founder and teacher of Pon De FLO: Heather Fay.

But Heather is not just the Pon De FLO founder, instructor, and choreographer–she is a bright and motivational force, inspiring her classes of newbies and pro-floer’s to leave the negative vibes at the door, to stop thinking and to just dance. There is doubt in my mind that her vibrant energy and positive attitude is what keeps not only me but a number of her students coming back for MULTIPLE classes each week.

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Last week, when I asked “hobby coaches” to submit a motivational song for a blog post, I knew I had to ask Heather. But when I asked her–Heather didn’t submit just one song–she submitted a whole album of them.

She told me that her list of motivational songs could go on and on and then added why the songs motivate her:

“These songs motivate me because they all have the underlying motivation of living for today, enjoying life, and being true to yourself.”

She continued:

“The songs are also a reminder that no matter how hard life gets or how bad someone hurts you, you can dig deep within yourself and push forward because right when you feel you want to give up and throw in the towel–is when your story is born.”

What do you think? Are any of these on your motivational soundtrack? I know they’ve definitely been added to mine:

“Waiting for the End” – Linkin Park

“Written in the Stars” – Tinie Tempah ft Eric Turner

“Move Along” – The All-American Rejects

“Just like Heaven” – The Cure

“Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith

“Fly so High” – Machel Montano

“Simple Song” – Konshens

“Advantage” – Machel Montano

Power Vinyasa Yoga

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Before I jump into my power vinyasa yoga experience, I’d like to share an anecdote with you about the first time I tried another type of yoga class–a hot yoga class–just over two months ago.

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It is very hot

I feel like I am dying.

I must be dying

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Five minutes later
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I feel like I am sweating out my organs

I look up. Sweat drips off my forehead.

I’m in the safety position which means I’m on my knees. Not one knee. Too worried I’ll tumble over. Two knees.

I don’t feel safe. I feel like I am dying.

The instructor motions for the class to transition to the next posture of 26.

I look at my hands to see how many fingers I have used to count postures. 

I’ve lost count.

I may vomit.

I’m still on my knees.

I try another posture.

Golden.

We’re asked to repeat. And I retreat to my knees. My water is out of reach. I don’t want to disrupt the peacefulness of the class. My internal dialogue is already disrupting my peace. I don’t want to ruin this moment for these practitioners. 

Somehow I manage to sit in the room for the duration of class. There is a pool of water below me. I wonder if it’s possible to drown in my own sweat.

Dizzy. I whisper to myself, “I should have hydrated more. 

I leave the class.

My instructor smiles at me–no wait, I mean, he grins. “Libby, you did great!” He exclaims jubilantly.

 Inside, I am screaming, “Don’t you lie to me–I was like a fish out of water desperately trying to breathe.”

Instead, I try and chirp a positive, “Thanks.”

“You should do it again tomorrow–and the next day…” He responds.

I smile again. “Okay.”

Inside my head, “No thanks.”

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If I had written about my hot yoga experience in anymore words than that, it may have looked a lot like this guy’s post that circled on MindBodyGreen several years ago. Like him, I bought a pass to attend multiple hot yoga classes after my first. That would be great–if I hadn’t spent the money before even stepping into the heat infused room. That was my first mistake. But my bigger mistake was jumping into hot yoga before I had taken much more than a flexibility and stretch yoga class in Ohio during the road trip.

This wasn’t the first time I actually stepped foot into a hot yoga classroom. Last year, I took the time to video my good friend Rena as she completed her 100th Bikram class in under 100 days. But videoing and actually doing the yoga are two totally different beasts. I was unprepared for the struggle I was about to put my body through. I hadn’t drank enough water. I hadn’t attended any basic flow classes that involved difficult postures. Essentially, I had attempted to jump from being young Simba to the Mufasa of yoga far too quickly. I can tell you that, now after taking a hot yoga class, my respect for those who attend this practice on a regular basis has only exponentially grown. Hot yoga s not easy. Not at all.

But despite my disappointing first attempt at a yoga beyond the most basic kind, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let the experience deter me from giving other types of yoga–like vinyasa–a shot. So in order to keep my promise to myself, I headed to my first power vinyasa yoga class at Yoga to the People at St. Marks Place last week–and I couldn’t be more glad that I did:

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It’s not even five minutes into class and I can feel little sweat droplets moving down my back.

But this time something is different. Something is much different.

I can breathe.

I’m not struggling to find air to in a 100 something degree sweat box.

I find my breath.

My muscles loosen.

I’m transitioning from downward dog to salutations.

I’m bending backwards and stretching forward

And while my body feels the stress of the movements, I find myself enter a rhythm.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

I’m still sweating. 

It’s okay.

I’m flowing.

I try not to loose focus.

These men and women at my sides are much more flexible than I am. 

That’s okay.

This is about me. This is about my body. This is about my breathing.

I take a moment to retreat to my safety position.

“You got this Libs,” I whisper. “Keep breathing.” “Stop thinking.”

Inhale. Exhale. Downward dog.

I find shift my way to my left arm and hand and reach my right hand way up toward the ceiling, opening my entire body.

I can feel my body underneath me–all of it–working together. I feel strong.

I return to downward dog.

I flow.

“Now let yourself relax on your back,” I hear the instructor say.

Class is coming to an end. 

I’m not dizzy.

I inhale. I exhale. I can still breathe.

I feel alive.

I’m ready for my day.

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LibsYoga

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