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Family Yoga, Couch to 5k, and….. A GIVE-A-WAY?!?!

We just finished week 3 of a 4-week Family Yoga series with Vessels of Clay Yoga, and I just wanted to share with you some of the ADORABLE things we have going on!

Not only are we learning Sun Salutations and cool poses like Lizard on a Rock, Tripod, and Crow, among all sorts of others (flower, bug, Warrior II, and on and on), but we are bonding with our folks, giggling at ourselves, and learning that sometimes the “challenge” is not the pose itself, but being still and calm IN the pose…Just like life!

We are learning how much God loves us, just as we are, and that we can come to Him anytime!!!  He can be our best friend!

One more week, and then a look at the calendar for future series, I hope!  These kids and their parents have been a highlight of my week for the past 3 weeks!  I have been teaching this class on a 2 show day—BETWEEN shows—and it has been a great vitamin before I have to ramp it up again for the audience…I will miss the kiddos!

This week’s message at Vessels of Clay Yoga:

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily. -Thomas S. Szasz

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16

(The Message versions speak of accepting “God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child”…and it is mentioned multiple times….be blessed, little children…and be little children. =-)…)

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W1D1….Cto5K….does this cryptic language mean anything to YOU?

For me, it means I am trying again.  I tried before, but previous injuries flared up and a slight tendency toward asthma made its presence known as well…

W1D1 means Week 1, Day 1, and Cto5K means “Couch to 5k”, meaning “get up off the couch and train for a 5k, why don’t ya?”

The old hip injury (resulting in a bursitis…yes, my right hip acts as if it is many decades older than the rest of me), is hardly ever, if ever, inflamed anymore due to the expertise of my chiropractor, combined with the  body sensing and exercises I have learned as a practitioner of yoga since 2003.  Also, I have been learning about/practicing Chi Walking and Chi Running by reading the book/watching the video, etc, and thought, “why not give this a-go using those principles, now that I am feeling better?”

As for the asthma, first of all, I prefer to say that I am overcoming it, not that I have it.  I don’t own it.  I don’t want it.  I didn’t even know about it until 2002, after a few decades of life had passed!  (I had a sever case of bronchitis and was given an Inhaler at that time.  Once it was spent, I did not get another one.  I prefer not to take in any kinds of steroids, even in my lungs.)  I usually only experience symptoms after exercising in cold weather, or VERY intense cardio, or both…and the symptoms I overcome are mostly coughing later in the day or feeling a little short of breath; sometimes during the exercise I can get a bit tight feeling, but I don’t have asthma attacks, per say.

SO, again I say, why not?

I have just finished my first week, and I am very happy about it!  First, because I actually accomplished it.  Second, because thus far my hip is not bothering me any more than it might normally due to my high activity life as a performer and yoga teacher…and I usually just need to do some specific TLC to take care of it. On the asthma front, I DID feel a little tight in the chest yesterday, later in the day (which was W1D3, by the way, at the end of a long week of teaching and performing, etc), but it was also very hot on our stage which can sometimes make it hard to breathe.  Finally, I don’t get bored because I am using 3 DIFFERENT COUCH-TO-5K-PODCASTS.  Which means, in my aim to train 3 times a week, I get to listen to 3 different programs, alleviating boredom…which for me, is a sure-fire exercise killer.

I downloaded weeks one and two of each of these programs many moons ago when I was trying the first time…ok, it was early spring.  Later today, I will download the rest, since I like them so much!

They can be found at I-tunes (I use my I-pod) and are (in order of how I do them):

The Chubby Jones podcast (Mia Jones)

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-chubby-jones-podcast/id286596177

Podcasts for Running (by Robert Ullrey)

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/podcasts-for-running/id173959170

NHS Couch to 5K

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nhs-couch-to-5k/id394384987

“Are you there, God? It’s me, chubby”(that’s what it says on the I-tunes album cover)

I did the Chubby Jones podcast on Day 1 because, well, it was 5 minutes shorter.  I figured I better ease into it in whatever form possible.  Mia has a mellow DJ vibe going on, and based on her website (http://chubbyjones.libsyn.com/), she has been doing this for awhile.  The music is pretty cool, but a word of caution…in her style of encouragement, she does use a few words that are allowed on TV but maybe not in your own homes…not the worst ones, mind you, and only once or twice,but you may or not be startled.  I k now, I sound like a prude, but for some of you it would be a workout killer.  For me, it wasn’t that major, and I enjoy her spirit of encouraging that comes from a place of experience!

Podcasts for Running

When I first began last spring, this was the first one I tried.  I really enjoyed it!  Occasionally when it is time to begin running, Robert preps you gradually and finishes with “Go!”, which for some reason makes me smile every time.  The music is sort of fitness/dance club sound, not irritating, not overwhelming, good beat…sort of just a good accompaniment that at this moment has nothing remarkable for me to remember other than general good vibes. The website link on I-tunes did not work for me just now, so I won’t post it…if you actually download the podcast, he does mention an e-mail address at the end…but I always think, “I am out here sweating buckets, I can’t go write that down right now!”  One of these days I will make a concentrated effort, so I can e-mail and tell him how much I like the podcast.  It is fairly no-nonsense, not emotional, but very encouraging.  Also, if you have an I-pod that has a picture window, this podcast has a graphic which shows which run you are on (Number 5 out of 8 one-minute runs, for example); I like that.

THIS JUST IN:  As I type out this blog post, I am not able to download the next podcasts from Podcasts for Running.  I have sent a note to I-tunes and hope to have it resolved soon!  I would really like to continue with my 3 different styles!

NHS Couch to 5K

The website link works, first of all, so good news there. 

I really like this one, too.  The female trainer has an accent from the United Kingdom, which for this Scotch/Irish/Welsh on my mother’s side girl who adores BBC America, Masterpiece Classic, All Creatures Great and Small, and a thousand other things UK, is simply wonderful.  The music is kind of club music and actually has some great words and messages!  Reminds me of some soundtracks I love from British movies, in fact…This was the last one I did this week, being the longest, and I certainly felt it in my last one minute run.  Keep in mind, though, I was again at the end of an already very physically and mentally taxing week….

which begs the question, why not do the hardest run first in the week, then?  Well, I thought about that, but in my world, the beginning of the work week is actually more taxing with a 2 show day in which I also teach a class, followed by a day in which I teach in the morning, followed by a show.  In other words, by Tuesday night, I am spent.  Wednesday is currently a glorious day in which my only physical activities are whatever my workout is for that day, plus one show.  I usually try to schedule office stuff that morning and have some kind of date night with my hubby that night.

So, those are my podcasts, which I am currently downloading further…if the Podcasts for Running is no longer available, I am not TOO upset (though a little; I really liked Robert’s instruction!), as both Chubby Jones and NHS have some weeks with additional run options, so I won’t be listening to exactly the same thing.
THIS JUST IN:  Did a search for Robert Ullrey’s podcasts and found this:

http://www.c25k.com/podcasts.htm

It looks as if you can download them to your computer and then add them to your I-tunes library, which I actually like anyway.  I will try it out a little later…

It’s GIVE-A-WAY time!

This week you have TWO ways to be entered into a drawing to be held at the end of next week, and yes!  You can enter both ways, gaining TWO CHANCES!

I am giving away your choice of either a Vessels of Clay Yoga coffee/tea mug or (for the driveable distance) a yoga mat.  The colors of mat to choose from are Buttercup Yellow or Dark Teal.

Yoga mats in Buttercup Yellow and Dark Teal, which would you choose?

Vessels of Clay Yoga mug; on the back it says "Beloved, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." 3 John 1:2

How to enter:

1.  Leave a comment below, relevant to anything in this particular post, and/or

2. Go “like” Vessels of Clay Yoga on Facebook, and leave me a post on the Wall saying that you have!  (and yes, I will be checking. =-)…)  If you have already “like” the page, write THAT on the Wall!  I would love to have 500 followers by the end of today, and 8oo followers by the end of the week! Tell your friends!!!

I will announce the winner on the next blog post, and I will share some yummy recipes!!!

Blessings to all of you in all that you do!

Philippians 3:12-14

The Message (MSG)

12-14I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

 

**Addendum**As of August 22, I want to add another word of caution about the Chubby Jones podcast.  I have now done the Week 2, Day 1 version.  If you are offended easily by coarse language or worldly lyrics, this is not the podcast for you.  I started this one today loving the music and the DJ’s groovy vibe, but sometimes the language is a little off-putting, and one of the songs is NOT something I would listen to…but I was able to tune it out.  Also, some non-healthy beverage options thrown out at the end…was hoping she was being facetious…
This may be a podcast you totally enjoy, and I myself will give it another week (since I only listen once a week)…but I wanted to be sure I let you know…
 
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Yoga Mat Etiquette, Trust, Submission, and a Winner!

Yoga Mat Etiquette and other fun stuff

(this is typically on a handout given to my Vessels of Clay Yoga Students)

1.     Yoga mats are rolled out gently, not plunked. . .=-)

2.     When walking through a yoga room, do not step on another person’s mat without first asking their permission. This is their “sacred” space where they take all of their intention, hard work, and let’s face it, sweaty foreheads. If a teacher comes by to make an adjustment, he or she will (hopefully) ask permission first if they have to step on your mat to make the adjustment.

3.     When finished with your mat, you can wipe them off with “specially made” yoga towelettes, or Clorox wipes designed to kill viruses, etc. Is especially good when the mat you have used is not your own!

4.     Folding of the yoga mat: especially if the yoga mat IS yours—fold the mat in half once, then roll mat up. This will ensure that the space where your own feet have been is enclosed, and the space which has been touching the floor (and all other things that have touched the floor) will not be rubbing against your mat where you have and will be touching your skin!

5.     Yoga mats can be washed in the washing machine and dried in the dryer—to a certain degree. Use woolite or another extremely gentle cleaner designed for delicates. Wash on cold in delicate cycle no longer than 15 minutes. (My delicate cycle is only 6 minutes long, so I go for the extra rinse at the end.) For drying, dry on air fluff or very lowest heat setting for no longer than 15 minutes.

 

Enjoy these little tips and have a wonderful practice!

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A recent bit of inspiration from class to enjoy/meditate upon/marinate in/ponder over the weekend…

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.–Golda Meir

(How, you ask…?)

 7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

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And FINALLY, the winner of this week’s give-a-way is…..cue the trumpet presentation…

Veronica!!!!!

So my darling Veronica, let me know which you prefer: a teal yoga mat, a buttercup yoga mat, or an eggplant neckroll…and Congratulations!

Yoga mats in Buttercup Yellow and Dark Teal, Neckroll in Eggplant; which would you choose?

(Ps…not that anyone is worried over this, but just FYI, I pray over the names just before I draw one, that God’s will be done….thank you to all who entered, and please keep coming back and reading and entering and sharing!!!  Who knows whether or not the next give-a-way will be YOUR WIN?!? ….Well, God does. (=;  And thank Heaven the One-Who-Loves-Us-The-Most is in charge!)

Have a STUPENDOUS weekend everyone!  May God bless you richly!

Things I love, that lift my spirit, Part 2 : Natural Peanut Butter Cups and the Italian picnic

Anyone who knows me knows that I know health is not just what you put in to your body, what you do with your body, or what and how you think….it is ALL of those things….!

So, while the title of this post may seem to be just food-oriented, I assure you, it’s not.

Also, I have been meaning to blog a bit about my experience with the Daniel Fast that I did back in April/May, using The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola as a devotional and guidebook (please read my review of the book here on my blog or at Amazon, under “happy girl”…there is also a link to her website on the right side of this blog).  Funnily enough, what I learned (or should I say, re-learned and confirmed) fits right in with all that I want to share today…

So, here’s the deal:  what did I learn during the Daniel Fast?  Well, I DIDN’T learn a whole new way of eating, as I pretty much eat that way already, most of the time (but I am sure that for others, it is QUITE a change from their normal fare, and I encourage you to give it a try!!!)…THOUGH, I did have some lovely reminders and re-connections with the natural taste of a few foods (whom I had been abusing with extra sweeteners, etc)…and I DID gain some new and wonderful recipes, for sure!!!

I DIDN’T learn that eating well takes planning, since I am fairly used to that, as well…but I DID learn to incorporate that planning time as a Form of My Worship of My Lord, by dedicating that time to Him and offering that sacrifice of time to Him and communing with Him in the process!

(Now I just need to remember to still choose that purpose daily—not just during a Daniel Fast—and not get caught up in the “getting through it” mentality…so easy to do…but so much more an “imitator of Christ” way of doing things to choose the joyous method, amen?  And gosh, I sure do feel happier!)

I also enjoyed (as always happens) the strength and power that come from starting my day with Him at the forefront, and how He gives me the ability to do what needs to be done!  (And, alternatively, experienced, as I do at times, the LACK of power and peace I feel when I do NOT spend time with Him first thing…)

Honestly, for me, The Word and time with my Lord is like the best kind of fuel!  The super-wonderful kind that doesn’t clog up my engine! (More on good, PHYSICAL fuel in just a bit…)

Truly, the MAIN thing I feel I learned (and re-learned and re-confirmed), are two practical things that God spoke to my heart “many moons” ago, and somewhere along the way, I let those good habits go…and whenever I do, it causes problems.

1. Not eating while watching TV (or being distracted in any way, if at all possible). If I don’t give my food focus, I may as well not have eaten at all…and, it can lead to the other issue, depending on the time of day…

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men…Colossians 3:23 (King James Bible)

2. Not eating late at night…when I do that, it’s like all systems go, no holds barred, “what is full?”…as if my stomach sensors are actually turned off.  And then, weird bits of  common sense pop into my head like, “well, you can’t go to sleep after you’ve eaten, or you’ll get acid reflux, so you better stay up longer”, but at that time, I am super-tired because of the hour and because my body is using up all the energy I might have had by eating 4 times as much food as I needed, so what do I do in response? 

Eat more to stay awake.  WHAT?!?!

And usually, these 2 unhealthy choices are made as a result of my NOT choosing to lead a balanced life; resting, savoring, enjoying, and turning anything worrisome over to God…

Did I lose a bunch of weight?  Nope.  Guess what?  I am a fairly fit person at a fairly fit weight already, and so don’t really need to lose “a lot of weight”, but if there is any excess, I fully believe it is there as a result of the above abuses…which, by the way, are of a very spiritual nature.  If I need to lose the little bit of extra, it will only come off as I let go of the spiritual weight…(and yes, I see your hands raised, and yes, I have read “Made to Crave” and yes, I LOVE IT!  So, you can see that these are not new concepts, and like the Word says, no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to (wo)man…so I am know I am not alone here!)

So for me, God used the Daniel fast as a way of reconnecting, with Him, with others, and with myself…I made a list of folks and issues I wanted to pray for specifically throughout the fast, as well as hearing from my Big Papa again about what I needed to focus on most (stillness, intention, not the food itself so much) for change to happen…I think it was Joyce Meyer who said once in a sermon, something about when hearing from God, if it has been awhile since God said anything to you on a particular subject, go back to the last thing He said….well, there ya’ go.

(And thank you again, Kristen, for writing a phenomenal book that is a phenomenal vehicle used of God for many people to have many different kinds of amazing breakthroughs!  May He continue blessing your work, my friend.)

“Intermezzo”

Something you may or may not know about me is that I lived in Italy for a little while over a decade ago, and from that time in my life, I learned in a truly experiential way what it is to SAVOR LIFE.  SAVOR EVERYTHING.  Take it slowly, breathe, chew slowly, sip, love big, laugh loudly, and when in doubt, or just because you can, USE YOUR HANDS IN A LARGE MOTION…=-)  In some ways, Italians are so big….big with their hands, big with their voices, big with their emotions and love, big with their families…but they are “small” in getting wrapped up in the to-do lists, the time-frame, the things that our American society deems most important…at least this was my experience in my family.

Now, I am not saying they are perfect or that there are not those who do NOT match that description.  But overall, that was my experience.  For them, it isn’t considered “procrastination” to realize that something can be put off until tomorrow if trying to get it done today interferes with love and life!  It’s not worth your health or loss of relationships to achieve, achieve, achieve at a cost of sacrificing them…

We have heard for years how the Mediterranean Diet is so healthy for the heart, among other things, and I would agree…but it is definitely NOT just about the food.  It’s the attitude towards everything in our lives, and upon what we place the most importance.

Since the release of both the book and movie, “Eat, Pray, Love”, many more people are now familiar with the Italian phrase Dolce Far Niente:  the sweetness of doing nothing.  It is SO TRUE.  Such an apt phrase to describe both something Italians hold dear, and quite frankly, something Our Lord calls us to do!  There are so many times in the Bible where we are called to just be still, to spend time with our God, to listen, to be quieted by His love…so many times in which we are told of Jesus separating himself from the multitudes or his disciples for a little quiet time…with Himself, and with His Father.  It’s not selfish, people.  It is necessary, it is rewarding, and it is part of our purpose.  I could go on, and on, and on about that subject…one of my favorites, and yes, something I find hard to do as well (typical Type A, right here).

So, let’s slow down and savor.  Let’s find some good fuel, both Spiritual and Physical.

Sunday "in Italia"

One of my favorite things to do with my family is to have picnics; outside or in.  A few Sundays ago there was a chance for thunderstorms, so our plans for a picnic by the “swimmin’ hole” were somewhat thwarted, but we prevailed!  (PLEASE forgive the non-eco-friendly plates!  I don’t know how they ended up in our cabinets, but as soon as they are gone, there will be no  more!!!  It is sooo unlike us!)

Our spread included homemade hummus, veggies, focaccia bread, parmesan cheese, prosciutto, grapes, and a little wine….we broke the bread into pieces onto the table just like my “Mama Guigi” does!  It’s my favorite.

Later that same day, I made a WONDERFUL TREAT:  all natural peanut butter cups!  Low sugar, non-refined sugar, and vegan.

The types of food we eat do matter.  Now, we don’t need to be so restrictive that we end up making food an idol or spending our entire lives yo-yo dieting, but these little temples do house the Holy Spirit, and let’s face it…when you eat better, you feel better.  I have heard numerous times that every 7 years, you have a whole new body (on the cellular level) than the one you had 7 years prior.  So, right now I am building the body I want in one year, 2 years, etc…and in 7 years, I can look back and know that every cell has changed from today!

And, I love sweets.  Or, I should say, I enjoy sweets a lot.  (I love my husband, I love my God, but I need to not “love” sweets…hee hee)  For me to not be a yo-yo dieter or get my self-worth from what I had on my plate today, I better just incorporate some whole-food-sweet-goodness into it…and if your body recognizes the whole food ingredients, it knows what to do with them!  (digest them)…as opposed to all the fake things out there, to which I envision my body saying, “I really don’t know what you expect me to do with this, little chic…so I think I will just leave it here on your thighs if ya don’t mind.”

I do mind.  So here is a better alternative that comes from Kelly Keogh of “The Sweet Truth” on the Veria channel. It is a show geared toward making/baking sugar-free/gluten-free foods in a mostly natural way (liquid stevia is not totally natural, but closer than aspartame or splenda, etc!)

You can find the recipe here:

http://www.veria.com/peanut-butter-cups.html

I made a few substitutions based on what I had on hand:

Instead of the “Stevia Plus Stevia”, I used Truvia (emptied the packets into my teaspoon measure).

Instead of the agave nectar, I used Yakon Syrup…even BETTER for you than agave nectar.  Low glycemic, and not as much (if any?) controversy over whether or not it has been cut with corn syrup like agave had.  However, it is expensive and hard to find, so do not fret over the use of agave, and use whatever brand your store has…unless you already have Yakon. =-)  I believe God honors our best efforts and protects us!

The rest of the ingredients were basically the same. (Ps, don’t forget, everything in moderation…these are a “sometime” food…be self-controlled and alert, knowing that your enemy is prowlin’ around trying to slip you up…but DO enjoy them on occasion, to the FULLEST!!!!! WITH FREEDOM!!!)

Ingredients for Natural, low-glycemic, dairy-free, vegetarian friendly Peanut Butter Cups

So, I followed the instructions for assembling the ‘cups.  I don’t have a mini muffin tray, so I was hoping the paper cups would hold anyway, and they did! This is before I poured the last bit of “chocolate” on top…

Once topped off, I placed them in the freezer for 15 minutes to harden (a good excuse to clean out my freezer, too!)

After freezer, 15 minutes

Ecco le qua! (Here it is!  It’s like saying, “voila!” or “Ta-dah!” in Italian…)

And of course, I had to eat some…

Yum!!!!  It made plenty, so I took some to friends, and still have a few in the freezer to savor one at a time…

Some more spiritual food to savor? the Word of God.  Here is a recent verse we used in the Vessels of Clay Yoga classes:

Acts 17:28 The Message

24-29 “The God who made the world and everything in it, this master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself.  He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him.  Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him.  he doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us.  he’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!

And guess what?  It’s give-a-way time!  Leave a comment and be entered into this week’s give-a-way drawing, where the winner can choose between a yoga mat or a neckroll!  The drawing will be held next Friday or Saturday(July 8th or 9th…gotta’ leave room for life happening…and let’s be like the Italians and be a little more flexible, eh?)

Yoga mats in Buttercup Yellow and Dark Teal, Neckroll in Eggplant; which would you choose?

Allora, Buon Appetito, e Ti Vediamo! (So, enjoy the good food and see ya’ soon!  –loose translation, mine. (=:)

(ps…There will be some folks who are concerned about the saturated fats in Coconut Oil, but if you do the research, you will find that in fact, the way the fatty acids chain together is what makes them healthy or unhealthy, and coconut oil can actually be quite good for you!…in moderation, like everything else.)

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