Tag Archives: Yoga

Happy New Year: The Year of Positive Energy

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HAPPY NEW YEAR

I can be a bit superstitious when it comes to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day activities–I tend to believe that what happens on this particular night and this particular day can set the tone for an entire year. Last night, I knew that all I really wanted to do–aside from be with good friends–was dance. When we reached our second bar for the night, still fully clad in my scarf, my jacket, and vest, I began to feel the rhythm. My feet moved, my hips swayed, my head bobbed, and slowly I made my way to the biggest opening on the dance floor, stripping off my vest, my jacket, and my scarf. The Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me song came on and I continued to move losing myself in the music. I forgot there was anyone else even there at the moment. I felt at home in my dancing. A few moments later, a girl who had been dancing in the space earlier jumped in–and began dancing with me. I saw this at first as a challenge, but then it became poetic as we moved off one another’s spins, two steps and plies. I felt the energy as the people around us continued to watch with joy in their eyes. When the song ended, our dance with one another did too, but our smiles lasted long after. And as I stood with my friends, the woman approached me and said “Thank you for that…You have so much energy—positive energy. Your positive energy really got me out there to just let go like that. THAT made my night. So thank you.” I smiled and repeated the words “Positive Energy” back to myself. That’s EXACTLY how I want to set the tone for the new year–full of positive energy.

This morning I woke up hoping to carry that positive energy through my day by heading out to the Polar Bear Swim in Coney Island where I rang in the new year last year. Unfortunately, a nasty head cold kept me from making my way back out there today, but I did make it out to a Trooper Fitness Bootcamp class (for the first time!) in hopes of sweating out this gross fever and working out this cough.

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After leaving the bootcamp class, I felt a natural high from the workout but from also still finding a way to make the most of a day where I may have stayed in bed otherwise.

When I got home, I decided to take a poll to see how others brought in the new year, how they set their own tone. I’ve shared their New Year’s adventures below–check them out and then SHARE YOURS!

Lucas Gold (Second Time)
Polar Bear Swim – Asbury Park, NJ

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Suzanna Cameron and Tony Esper
First time Polar Bear Plungers: Coney Island, NY

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Michelle Pierson Young of Michelle at Play
p90x: “Not to brag but it feels better than a hangover”

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Hannah Brencher & Tammy Tibbetts
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC & Letter Writing
Each year Hannah and Tammy write letters to themselves to open the following year (SO COOL!)

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Jennifer Romanelli & Prince Brathwaite of Trooper Fitness
Emerald Nuts Midnight Run in Central Park, NYC

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Laura Jaxheimer, Yoga Instructor
Brought in the new year doing what she’s passionate about: Yoga.

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I want to hear from you! What’d you do to kick off the New Year just the way you wanted to?

July Roundup

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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken the time to just do a hobby and then focus on it in a blog post. In fact it’s been over a month. So what was the Hobby Hoarder up to all of July that inspired posts about  life lessons and embracing imperfection?

A LOT!

WEEK 1: The Hobby Hoarder kicked off July with a high energy-West African Dance Class that had live drummers! (Alvin Ailey)

WEEK 2: I kept the drum theme alive, as I banged out the second week of July with a class called PoundFIT which utilizes weighted drum sticks and: “is a full-body cardio jam session, combining light resistance with constant simulated drumming. The workout fuses cardio, Pilates, isometric movements, plyometrics and Isometric poses into a 45-minute series. Burn between 600 and 900 calories per hour, strengthen and sculpt infrequently used muscles, and drum your way to a leaner, slimmer physique – all while rocking out to your favorite music!” (PoundFit.com)

WEEK 3: On July 14, I kicked into hobby overload and did a two hobby day: First, I attended my first Improv Everywhere event (the Mp3 Experiment)

Then I attacked my first scavenger hunt which required doing ridiculous poses outside of store fronts!

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WEEK 4: I balanced the high-energy month with a round of Pilates at CorePilates in Union Square where I very quickly learned just how different Pilates and yoga are from one another as my abs (wait I have those?) screaaamed through most of the workout. The result? A better feeling of strength through my core–and pain with laughter. Totally worth it.

WEEK 5: I rounded out July with my 96th hobby: an upbeat, memorable Masala Bhangra class at Crunch gym with  an amazing teacher named Sarina Jain.

August is looking JUST as jam packed with some pretty amazing activities in store including a stab at the sport of Roller Derby in Bethlehem, Pa, a second skydiving experience, and the chance to ride shotgun in a race car! Trust me, I’ve already set aside time to watch Whip It and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby to mentally prepare for the aforementioned.

What are YOUR plans for August? What have you been putting off doing?
Now’s the chance to do it! Don’t wait. Go. Now.

Remember: “Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream-you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you, you can’t do it. You want something. Go get it. Period.” – The Pursuit of Happyness 

 

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

Body, Breath, Balance: Yoga

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Throughout the hobby year, two hobbies were recommended to me on a regular basis: Trapeze and Yoga. Of the two, I followed through and did trapeze. And although I did give laughing yoga a shot–I never went out of my way to throw on a pair of yoga pants and jump into a sun salutation or dive into a downward dog. And there’s two reasons why:

A. Because it’s so accessible in New York City. I knew that if for ANY reason a hobby fell through, I could just go take a yoga class—heck I bet if half of my hobbies fell through, I could find a way to take 25 different types of yoga. It became my “back-up” hobby.

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B.  Because I am as flexible as a stone statue. As an athlete, I constantly struggled with being too tight–straining muscles here and there–and occasionally pulling a hamstring. For a long time, I was convinced that yoga was simply about stretching and how flexible one was–and that I would be far too embarrassed by my non-flexible nature if I ever took a group class.

I don’t think I am alone in this. Why do any of us feel uncomfortable going to any group classes? Because of the unknown—or discomfort in something, that in the end, only we are judging ourselves for. Prior to the hobby year, Zumba classes terrified me just as much as yoga classes because of my own pre-misconceptions about my coordination. Turns out, I can actually bust a move pretty well.

During our travels, I learned that both of David’s parents teach yoga. Knowing that we were going to meet David’s parents when we visited his hometown of Hudson, Ohio, I asked: “David, could we do a yoga class with one of your parents?”

“Probably,” David responded.

So that was that. It was decided. When we’d finally arrive in Hudson, Ohio, we would take a yoga class.

Yesterday was that day. At 9am, on our 42nd day of travel, we each woke up ready to tackle a yoga class. As the only one in our travel trio who hadn’t tried yoga before, my nerves silently buzzed. “I hope no one is appalled by how non-flexible I truly am.”

But before even getting in the car and driving to the gym, I began to feel more comfortable. As we sat down to breakfast with David’s parents, we started to talk about the art of yoga and several different varieties of classes. I soon discovered that yoga goes beyond flexibility and stretching—and that much of the focus is rather on breathing—something I already know I need to concentrate on much more when I return to New York City next week.

Just an hour later, I was taking off my socks, collecting my yoga necessities and getting ready to partake in my first yoga class ever. As the class commenced, I listened carefully to David’s mom’s instructions. And fifteen minutes in,, I could feel the rhythm of my breaths as I crossed one leg over the other. There were anywhere from 10-20 other participants in the class, but for an hour and fifteen minutes—it felt like just me and my breaths—my inhales—my exhales.

I think we forget what it means to breathe—to inhale—to exhale-inhale—exhale; to concentrate on filling the lungs with air and then releasing. In-Out-In-Out. I know I forget far too often. As I reached my right arm over my head and to the left of my torso, I briefly thought of the last time I took a moment to actually feel myself taking a breath. I realized that it was weeks ago, on the side of a mountain, in Southern Utah—when I was experiencing a great deal of fear. But why was that the last time? I had seen so much — that I was clearly forgetting the most basic part of living–breathing.

During our trip, one of my travel mates often stops and spins in a circle—to take it all in—to breathe it all in—whatever “it” is that day. I continued to stretch, and though I couldn’t at the moment spin in  a circle, I took in the moment:

Inhale. Exhale. I can feel pressure as I reach my left arm over the right side of my body. I note a muscle that I haven’t felt in months—and the breaths I know I take but often forget to be grateful for.

It became very clear as class continued that just as focused as I was on my breathing and my own body—everyone else was on their own bodies and their own breathing. My fear of those judging me for my non-flexible nature was diminishing quickly. No one there cared how far I could—or couldn’t–straighten my legs. We were truly in a no judgment zone.

David’s mom instructed us more:  “Good everyone, now bring up your knees, grab your ankles—and roll a bit—even in happy baby pose if you’d like.”

I repeated the phrase Happy Baby to myself, and I giggled. At this point, I felt like a happy baby—conquering something new—without a care in the world—one breath at a time.

Here’s a happy baby video for your enjoyment:

A Laughing Matter: Laughing Yoga

.In my opinion, every mix tape of life should have a laughter track.

Laughter is universal.. It’s not age specific. It’s not ethnically specific. It’s not race specific–and it’s not gender specific. And when we use it to promote good (laughing together — rather than at someone) it is the most beautifully common spoken language in the world. Yes. I said language.

And as a good friend once told me, “95 percent of life should be filled with laughter.”

As a stand up comic, you’d think this would be the first type of yoga people told me about. But it wasn’t. In fact, I only recently discovered laughing yoga while reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project. People kept suggesting hot yoga, hot yoga, hot yoga (and i’ll get there), but as soon as I read about this–I was baffled as to why no one had told me about it sooner! And it was one of my FAVORITE activities yet.

This should be the point in which I jump into why laughter is amazing, beautiful, and wonderful. This should be the point where I tell you that laughter changed my life. This should be the point that I make note of how I became a stand up comic to give people one of the greatest gifts of the world. And this should be the point where I use a metaphor to tell you how life and laughter make the world go round. But for now, I hope you just keep enjoying the laugh track.

Signed,

The Hobby Hoarder

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Special Thanks

Better Laugh Yoga

www.betterlaugh.us

&

Dr. Alex Eingorn

Visit Better Laugh Yoga on Monday evenings @ 730pm
Better Health Chiropractic, PC
825 Seventh Avenue (53rd Street)

dr@betterhealthnyc.com

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