Category Archives: RELAXATION

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I woke up this morning and realized I’m at 225 days without a flare so this is a great start to the new year. We don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to make changes in our lives or set goals but it seems easier to do so when it seems the slate has been cleaned and the new year ahead is full of opportunities. I started my day by teaching a yoga class and I started by saying I think we should ease into the new year and what I heard back was no bring it. Most people are tired New Year’s Day, most people haven’t been sleeping enough, eating out of the ordinary, drinking more than they normally would and we should probably all let our bodies rest but instead we wake up on the first day of the new year and want to be challenged. Whether in a spin class, a new facebook challenge, or even a yoga class. We want that push to get us started in the new year right. We all look for this, but what is the drive? I don’t have the answer to this question as I’m still trying to figure out what drives me to do all I do, and try all the things I try. The people around me wonder where my energy comes from, where my drive comes from and what my boundary is. The only thing I know for certain is that I do as much as I can on days that I feel good because it isn’t every day that my body is running at 85% and never at 100% these days, but I do what I do because I can. If you have been with me since the beginning there was a time when I couldn’t walk and with therapy walking 2000 steps a day was a chore and took all day, now I hit 10,000 steps usually by noon, because my legs work, because my body functions. I do hours of yoga because I have the strength in my arms, elbows and wrists. I do what I do because I have worked to get here and part of me is afraid it could be taken away at any moment. I live in the now as best as I can, but there is a lingering fear that my body could and probably will some day long from now not do what it does today. I believe I will always be able to walk and I will always be able to do yoga. That is where I put my focus, but I’m crazy about spinning. I’m crazy about trying new things, and I’m crazy about succeeding.

I don’t know what this New Year will bring, but I am open to all the events that come my way. I know I will not like everything that I’m faced with this year, but I will face anything with calm, peace and grace. I will continue to encourage all of my yoga students to do the same and challenge them as they need and let them rest when they must without judgment. Happy New Year to you all and hope your year brings you health, happiness, and peace and may this year bring you everything you need.

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HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND, HAPPY HOLIDAYS

I haven’t written in a while but have not had a lot to write about. This is a good thing actually because it means that things in my life are relativity in balance. The point of this blog is to tell my story about MCTD but that story is very much the same day after day. I’m at 217 days without a flare which is wonderful and I’m very grateful that my body is feeling good. I am still working out every single day whether it means walking, spinning, or weight training. My yoga practice is a daily adventure whether it is my own practice, preparing for yoga classes, or teaching. My body is strong and most days I feel like my mind is strong. However, this time of year the days are short and it is dark when I go to work and it is dark when I get home. This time of year can be stressful for some people and even bring on depression. We are rushing from place to place, trying to prepare for events, eating and drinking more than we might normally, sleeping less than our bodies need and feeling the stress throughout our bodies and minds. Many people are rushing around so much that their immune systems wear out and illness takes over. I live with MCTD therefore I have a “super-immune system” I don’t worry about the common cold or flu. I don’t worry about picking up germs from the places I go. I enter a gym atmosphere nearly every day, which other than an airport might be one of the germiest places on earth. What I worry about is running my body too hard and putting myself into flare.

This time of year we must make choices, and they won’t all be easy. I thought I would write about some of the things I do in order to stay flare-up free during the holidays and winter months. I am not saying I don’t or won’t flare during the holidays or winter months but I try to keep things quiet in order to stay flare-up free for as long as possible. In Maine our winter started several weeks ago and will take us into April. It is long, it is cold, it is hard to endure sometimes. The way I get through this time is simply one day at a day time. Each day when I wake I take inventory of how I am feeling and then decide what my body needs. I will do something every day even on days I wake up a with some fatigue. I can always walk, as long as my legs will move, I can walk. I find some days it is actually easier to walk than to do yoga. Even if I choose restorative yoga because my body doesn’t always want to bend and move in certain postures.

This time of year we are invited to many events as most of you are, until I was diagnosed with MCTD I rarely said no to things even when I should have. For the last 13 years I say yes to the things that most important to me and my husband. Our families will always be high on the list and if I can help it we do not turn down family events. I also choose 1 evening event a week, this way I’m not out late 2 nights a week. We may do something Friday night and something Sunday during the day but not two late nights. This ensures that my body receives the adequate rest and sleep that it needs. I’m not hyper vigilante about what I eat this time of year except that I make stuff I really want. On Dec 26th that is when I go back to being hyper vigilante with my eating and drinking and let my body fully recover. By New Year’s I am not looking to go out or make resolutions I’m looking to start my new year fresh, clean and re-offer my body everything it needs. Think of it as a back to body basics cleanse.

I meditate a lot this time year. I take minutes in the morning to reflect on the day ahead and things I might have done differently yesterday. Not with anger, or regret, but as ways to learn and do better today. I take minutes to watch my thoughts, make my thoughts cleaner, and notice days when I really don’t have a lot of thoughts. I take this time for me, the time in my life that truly belongs to me, not my family, not my work, not my yoga, not my trainer, not my spin instructor, truly just me, only me. Minutes, not several minutes or an hour, minutes in my day.

This holiday season is going to look different to each and every person, but my goal in this holiday season is to capture the joy, love, peace and calm that it brings. Happy Holidays to all.

LISTENING TO MY BODY

My body was giving me all kinds of signs to slow down and rest, but dealing with life stuff was making it hard to take the time needed to actually listen and do something.  This past weekend I didn’t flare but my body was very stiff and my hands were so sore and swollen that when my husband asked if we could go golfing on Saturday, I literally couldn’t hold my golf club.  I walked beside him in the sunshine and fresh air stretching out my sore hips and knees but a golf course on Saturday doesn’t lead to power walking, more a stroll around the course hitting the ball and waiting for the team up ahead.  I actually enjoy walking golf courses more than I enjoy playing golf courses.  If only early mornings they would allow people to walk them for exercise, that would be great.

The following day we decided to go hiking which is a great way to be outside and together and I didn’t need my hands at all.  Some hikes require walking poles but this one was just a leisurely walk in the woods and very relaxing.  After a weekend of just taking it easy, no moving boxes or stressing about what happens next my body was able to find that calm zone again.  I do feel that there might be a flare right around the corner so this is where I really have to listen, take notice and try to be as kind to myself as possible.

I’m teaching a lot of yoga classes the next few months but that doesn’t mean I have to do all the classes and my plan is to just use verbal cues for half the classes each week and then practice the other half.  I’m in a studio where it is preferred that we do the poses with our students, but each studio, each principal, each instructor is very different and some teacher trainings prefer to not have their instructors practice.  Although some students feel it puts the instructor at a power level and there is no power struggles in yoga, at least not for me.

I will explain to the practitioners before each class if I’m not practicing and why as to make sure that there are no triggers for anyone. Yoga is very personal and people come to their mats and our studio for all kinds of reasons.  As an instructor my soul purpose is to guide them and allow them a place to explore their own space.  I’m brought to my mat each day for different reasons as well and every time I climb on my mat I am deciding if I’m restoring, powering or finding a balance between the two. My favorite class that I’m teaching right now is restorative yoga and although many people come to their mats to sweat, work and release stress, sometimes people need to be reminded that rest and restoring is very important too.  I’m finding that my class is growing in numbers since the word is out that people should slow down and the let body heal between their more intense sessions.

I’m in rest mode and trying to keep a flare out of my way but also know that if I do have a flare I can come out of them quickly as well.  Life is about balance and even when you think you have found it, it is time to look again.

MY FIRST FLOAT

I did my first float last night and wanted to describe in detail what that experience was like for me.  First, let me start by discussing what floating is and how I got interested in the first place.  I have been listening to a lot of podcasts over the years and the term floating comes up quite a bit.  Float tanks are sensory reduction tanks in which you climb into a pod (or something similar) that has 12 inches of water and 1200 lbs. of Epsom salt.  The idea is that you float on your back and feel completely weightless as though you are floating in space. It is typically dark and quiet to let your mind and body completely relax.  I will back up a little bit more for a moment.  Years ago my doctor had mentioned that when my joints and body were really stiff, sore and swollen that taking baths with Epsom salt would be beneficial since Epsom is so good for arthritic pain.  The caveat is that all that salt is not necessarily great for septic systems so I used this technique when my body really needed.  The idea that these tanks have 1200 lbs. of Epsom salt make them wonderful for pain in general, back pain, neck pain, joint pain, muscle soreness and other types of pain.

I did some research and found a place near my home to try out a tank.  They have pods or a room. Last night was my first visit but won’t be my last.  I was in a pod and will try a room next time.  My experience starts with a lovely couple at the front desk that are more than welcoming and really take time with me since this is my first visit.  There is a short video you watch and waiver to sign.  They explain to me that I can choose a light color and music track.  I have also thought that you enter these things in the pitch black and complete silence. They explain that I can turn this all off but for the first visit I may want light, music, or both. They take me to my room and inside the room is a shower, pod and filtration system.  They explain that I will need to shower first to ensure that I do not have any makeup, location, perfume or anything else on my body or hair and the I climb into the pod.

There is a huge lid that I closed when I climb in and the pod is big enough to sit up in so it is not like a tanning bed which I originally had thought.  I pull the lid down and lie back. I instantly start to float and try to relax. My body did not relax at first and felt my neck and back tighten up as though I had to keep myself a float instead of just letting go and letting the water hold me.  If you have ever tried to totally relax in a savanssana yoga pose it is very difficult and this was too.  I turned off the light and music and realize it was pitch black and completely silent.  I got a little un-easy so I turned on the music but left the light off.  You are in there for 90 minutes but obviously you have no idea how long you have been in there until the voice tells you that your float is complete. I did eventually start to relax and even dosed off for a brief moment but I don’t think I could actually sleep in the pod.  At some moment in my float my body felt cold and I got distracted so I tried to warm back up but instead decided to cut my float short and jump in the hot shower.  I turned back on my light and sat up in the pod. I did some stretches then climbed out to a hot shower. As it turns out I only cut my float short by 5 minutes so for 85 minutes things were comfortable and relaxing.

I explained to the couple that I got cold and they said they would make a note on my account for a little warmer water and also suggested that I try the room next time since it stays a little warmer naturally.  Also, I’ll be careful next time to not take a warm shower but try and endure a cold shower so the water will feel warmer as well.  My body runs cold and with my Raynaud’s I really don’t like feeling cold, but I did like the experience enough to try it again and see how I do.

When I went in my hips and lower back were very sore. I have been limping just slightly due to hip pain I have encountered since our move. I think hauling heavy boxes, walking lots of stairs and not being able to really rest and relax have caused my body pain and fatigue.  When I left the float place my body felt great and I slept really well.  I woke up this morning feeling really good as well, and then headed out for my walk. By the time I had finished my walk, my hips were hurting again and I had that slight limp.  I need to watch this and try and fix it and just perhaps floating, massage, yoga and general rest are just what I need.

 

THIS THING CALLED LIFE

I realized last night that it has been an entire month since I sent out a blog post and honestly last night was the first time I even thought about it.  This crazy thing called life has gotten in the way.  I don’t mean this in a negative way because even when things are good, life can get in the way.  My husband and I are making a move after 17 years and you just realize how much work is involved.  My body and mind are not able to rest even for a minute these days but because there is always so much to think about, to do, to discuss and to re-evaluate.

This morning was my first time back to weight training in over a month and half.  I figured I was getting my weight training from packing boxes and moving them to storage, but this morning I was reminded that when you don’t use your muscles they will fatigue incredibly quickly.  It won’t take long for the muscle memory to return and I feel strong again and honestly I haven’t run into any boxes I couldn’t lift and haul so I think my strength is there I’m just using it differently.  I also decreased my prednisone to 4.5mg about 3 weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if with the extra fatigue and stress my body would allow the switch from 5 to 4.5 but I can say that things are going pretty well with.  My doctor wanted me to start to ween off since I have been on the Cellcept now for 3 months.  He is hurrying me to get off of it but I figured I would try a small dose reduction and try another one after we move if my body feels ready.

I did some meditating this morning for the first time since we started this whole life change back in April.  Everyone says that this is the time to meditate the most but I was feeling like things had to give, I had to give up many things and that was one of them. I also started walking every morning to conserve some energy to get me through my work days and do yoga whenever I’m teaching but I don’t have my own practice right now. We are about 2 weeks from moving in our new home, starting our new life and making new memories in a new place and I’m hoping that once we get moved in and settled we will find that tranquility life I crave.  I wouldn’t change what is happening right now in our lives I just wish we were at the end of this journey.  Every journey has its struggles and challenges and also its joyous events but all these things cause stress and as we know stress is my biggest trigger and usually the biggest trigger for most of us with autoimmune diseases.  I am at 62 days without a flare today and feeling really good about that.  My husband is constantly reminding me to breath and rest but my hope is to finally find some real sleep in my very near future.

I am too close to the situation to see when I really need to take a breath and relax . I give people advice all the time but it is very hard to take my own advice.  My plan for the next couple of weeks is to get back to my regular routine, walking, my personal yoga practice, weight training and meditation so this morning I was able to get my weight training session and meditation session in. That felt really good.

WEEKLY STATS

As you can see by my stats I have increased my walking activity to 10k steps a day.  I am having a hard time balancing the hours of yoga needed for teaching with the activity that my body and mind desire in the form of walking, spinning and weight training.  I have started my mornings a little early in order to fit in some cardio or weight training before my yoga.  As I make this change I still need to be very conscience of the time I need for real sleep and rest.  Life is a balancing act and sometimes I have it dialed and sometimes life shifts and I get a little unbalanced. I am honestly feeling a little unbalanced right now but I love teaching yoga so much and not willing to give up that part.  As winter gets here and things slow down in my real career I will find those moments of enjoying life in a balanced manner.  Good news is that I’m still weight training and actually had my session first thing this morning so that is out of the way and able to teach yoga this afternoon so both are getting accomplished today.

 

Weekly – 76, 741

Daily – 10,963

Miles – 29.82

Floors – 193

 

Hope you are all continuing to survive the holiday season and find your own balance in life.

MAKING IT THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS

I made it through the first of several eating holidays.  At this point I pretty much have the gluten free plate figured out at Thanksgiving and splurge on the gluten rich pie.  Since I don’t over indulge in the dinner festivities and I don’t participate in any of the wine or alcohol festivities I can splurge where I really want to which is the delicious plate featuring small slivers of several different pie flavors.  Smothered in whipped cream which is gluten free so the more the merrier.

My Thanksgiving day included a 60 min spin, 90 min Vinyassa yoga and 90 Bikram class all before noon when it was time to re-fuel my body with moisture white turkey meat, mashed cauliflower, a beautiful assortment of roasted root vegetables and small taste of the ever so sweet potato mash.  My husband stays home doing the cooking while I’m out burning those calories making room to replenish them.  It works out well and has been a tradition now for 12 years since we have been married.

The next Holiday is our Christmas season which isn’t just 1 or 2 days like the calendar states but instead 5 weeks of fun filled eating, drinking, fire side chats, family gatherings and company holiday parties.  Again I have this pretty well figured out and I do not commit to every single occasion that is offered between now and Jan 3rd.  I have my limits of what my body is capable of.  I try and do all the right things most of the time so I can enjoy some later than normal evenings with holiday cheer and chats.

I have been doing a lot of yoga teaching which is truly so fulfilling. I knew I loved yoga and knew I wanted to teach but I didn’t know exactly how much my soul would be filled by teaching.  I’m taking care of myself while taking care of others during our yoga classes and taking time when I need to rest and recoup.  Which means that my activity level is still pretty low outside yoga but that is ok for now and I don’t want to over do it.

 

Weekly stats

Total 79,645

Daily Average – 11,378

Miles – 31.12

Floors – 156