Yoga 101

If you know me, you know I am currently training to become a yoga teacher!  If you don’t know me… Hi!  I am Heather, thank you for reading!

Now that I am super active in the yoga community the #1 question I get is “I want to do yoga, where do I start?”  Most people I speak to are nervous about going to a class, don’t know anything about yoga, don’t know what gear they need, or even what kind of clothes to wear.

I am too nervous to go to class, what are my options?!

If you want to learn some of the asanas or flows before you go to a class, there are options!  I really love Yoga with Adriene on YouTube.  She is very approachable, and her 30 day challenges are awesome.  You can find her page here.  If you don’t connect with her, that’s ok!  YouTube or Do You Yoga have a ton of teachers and classes.  Just find someone you connect with.  I like that she is quirky and fun, but maybe you want someone that is more peaceful or zen.  You can shop around for teachers, just find someone you like!  There are many different teachers and many different styles of teaching and voices.  It’s almost like dating!  You have to like the person to be able to really get into the practice and have your moving meditation.

I am going to my first class, what should I expect?

I want to say I LOVE seeing new students in class.  There is nothing to be afraid of!  I recommend letting your instructor know that this is your first class.  They will be excited to see you there –I promise!

Don’t be nervous to ask the instructor questions before or after class.  If you didn’t understand a pose, or you are unsure if you are doing it correctly, ask!  That is part of why an instructor is there.  I have been practicing for years and I still often ask the instructor questions after class.

You may not understand everything that happens in the class.  There may be some rituals that may feel unfamiliar to you, and words you have never heard before.  Yoga is a practice, not a perfection.  If you are confused about a pose, take a look around the class.  Maybe you will be able to get some clarification from looking at other students. If you can’t figure it out, don’t worry about it.  Skip it!  Ask the instructor after class!  If there is a ritual that you don’t follow, don’t understand, or don’t feel like doing… skip it!  Ask for clarification, or just try next time if you want.  If you regularly go to class, you will start to understand the structure of the class, and the rituals that are being done.

Yoga is about you, and focusing on your body and breath.  Don’t worry about the namaste or OM if you don’t like it or understand it.  Don’t fret about that confusing or difficult posture.  If you want to sit on the ground, and count your breath the whole time.  That is yoga!  You will build strength in time, you will develop the vocabulary in time.  It’s not a rush to the finish line, it’s a journey that should be enjoyed.

What Studio or form of Yoga should I try?

If you are unsure of what studio to go to, or what kind of classes to take, shop around!  You will find a studio and form of yoga you connect with.

Most studios offer a new student trial.  You can go to the studio and check it out before you even sign up for a class.  Go inside, and ask questions, see if the ambiance is what you are looking for.  If not, don’t feel obligated to go.  Again with the dating, you are dating the instructor AND the studio here.  Make sure you like them .

If you don’t know what type of yoga you may like take a look here and see what resonates with you.  When you find a style you like, Yelp it and find a studio near you that offers that style of class.

There are heated classes, hot classes, and regular temperature classes so check that out when you select a studio.  There are many different opinions on hot yoga practices and I am not trying to sway you in any way.  If you are curious do some research and see what you think.  I just want to give you a heads up so you don’t walk into a 100 degree room your first time and think “uhhhh what?”

What clothes should I wear?

Honestly, it really doesn’t matter, you should just wear something you feel comfortable in!  I would suggest a top you can at least tie in a knot at the bottom (you are upside down a lot,) and high waisted pants (you are bending over.)  You don’t need fancy brands or anything.  I get 99% of my workout gear at Old Navy.

Don’t feel discouraged or distracted by what other yogis wear.  Just wear something that makes you feel good and doesn’t require a lot of fussing or adjusting.

What gear do I need?

Basics: yoga mat, hand towel, water bottle, and possibly mat towel if you’re choosing a hot or heated class.  If you don’t have a mat, sometimes studios offer rentals (but call and ask first!)

You can get a cheap yoga mat from TJ MAXX, Home Goods, Target, or a similar store.  If you are looking for a decent but affordable brand I would suggest Gaiam.

If you are looking to build flexibility you may want to purchase a yoga strap.  I have this one.  If you do buy a strap I would suggest doing some research on how to use it.  Here is a great article to get started.

A block may also be useful to you.  Most studios have blocks to borrow while taking class there.  Feel free to get two and ask the instructor how to use them.  They should cue in the class where a block may be helpful to support your body and help gain access to a pose.

 

 

I hope this article was helpful to you!  If you are interested in doing yoga I would suggest you get out there and do it.  If you have any additional questions.  Please feel free to comment and I will answer them for you!

 

Journey to Positivity

First off. I want this to be a collaborative piece. I want to hear your experiences, thoughts, opinions, etc. Friends, please comment below and let’s get a community conversation going!

Time for some real talk.

I tend to be a negative and cynical person. I have always been inclined to pick out the bad in something over the good, and overthink EVERYTHING.

Recent example: I hosted a dinner party with friends, we all enjoyed our time together and shared great laughs. However, after they left I thought it was a failure because I didn’t have fancy salad tongs. Instead of seeing all the great things that happened, I chose to let that negative energy consume me and assume all my best friends left thinking “Wow, Heather didn’t have salad tongs! This dinner sucked!” That’s the old me. Something changed for me recently and I want to share my experiences with you, friends!

Let me preface this next part by saying I am not knocking what works for you. I think if you have a tool that makes you happy that is great! These are just my honest experiences.

My mom in my adult years has become very spiritual, she is into reiki and she meditates a lot.  She would give advice like “say 3 positive affirmations to yourself each morning.”  I would roll my eyes and think ‘that sounds out there and dumb.’  (Sorry mom!)  She would tell me to let the negative stuff go, that I worry too much, etc etc, and I would say “yeah Mom, I know” but deep down I knew that I was saying these things to pacify her.

Next person who has tried to help me throughout my life is me dear friend Andrew.  He is a master of personality traits, how they interact together, their tendencies, and pros and cons. He is a Myers Briggs guru, we have challenging and interesting conversations all the time. He suggested (or I mentioned and he approved) writing a few positive things that happened that day in a journal at night before I go to sleep. I thought this was a great idea and I did do it for awhile. But, it never made me feel more positive. I was just going through the motions, and actually nitpicking and finding the negative in the event, even when writing the positive thing that happened.

When I reflect there are two monumental things that have changed the way I think completely.  The first thing was a Women’s Day meditation that was led by Sutra Studios owner Rebecca Fritz. I had never done a meditation before, let alone a group meditation, and I was really REALLY scared to go. This event was happening right after a class I took, I was already at the studio and didn’t have a good excuse not to go. I put my fear of looking dumb or not doing it the right way aside and confidently walked right into the room. Yikes!

I can’t remember exactly what was said but one thing really stuck out. Rebecca said ‘think of a young person you love, and if there was one thing you could tell them what would you say’ (She said this a HELL of a lot more eloquent, beautiful, and thought provoking. But, I can’t remember verbatim the words that she said.) She told us to dig deep in our soul and take that one pearl of advice and give it to this young girl. I immediately decided my one piece of wisdom or advice was ‘it’s ok to be happy.’ Rebecca then said “now instead of looking at that young girl and giving her advice, you are now looking at yourself.” Bam that one realization helped change my life!  Thanks Rebecca if you are reading this ;).

The next thing was setting an intent at my yoga practice. I didn’t used to do this and I thought it was a little woo woo and silly. When the yoga instructor was suggest an intent, they never really connected for me.

One random day I decided to start setting an intent for my practice, and my intent has stayed the same since I started. Strength. That’s it. Just that one word. Strength can mean so many different things. Sometimes to me it means ‘Autumn didn’t sleep, I am fucking tired, and I need the strength to just power through this practice.’ Or other days ‘I have the inner strength to be brave and put myself out there for a job. Without making judgements on myself that they won’t like me.’ Or even ‘Things are not going great in my relationship with my husband right now, but I have the strength to stand strong for myself and my daughter. And be happy outside of those issues.’ There are so many more things strength can mean, those are just a few things that have come to my mind at practice throughout the months.

I have always been a cold turkey, rip the bandaid off type of gal. So in reflection, I think the things that were suggested to me by others didn’t work before because they were not ‘all in’ enough. The spark that took me to a different state of mind was realizing ‘that it’s ok to be happy’ and leaping in without looking back.

So that is my journey. What’s yours?

 

Taking your Toddler to Disneyland

Recently my very dear friend Margie and I took our toddlers (under 2 years old) to Disneyland for the day.  We went on separate occasions about a week apart.  We discussed the experience, how to do it the ‘right way,’ and how to get the most out of the day.  Also of course, how to keep us and our little ones sane.  We both drove to Disney from Phoenix, which is about 5.5 hours away.  Here are some of our tips from how to get there, where to stay, and what to do while at the park.

For the drive

Margie: Leave at bedtime and drive through night.  Aspen sleeps so well in the car that is why we drive at her bed time.  If you have a baby that doesn’t I would not suggest it.

Heather:  This is what I was most worried about!  We left right after we got up in the morning and had breakfast.  My husband drove and I sat with Autumn and played with her during the day.  I bought a few new books, downloaded some baby playlists, and bought a new toy to keep her entertained.  We stopped for lunch, changed her diaper, and walked around.  She napped after lunch for a few hours, and then we were there.  We had very little complaining in the car.

For the stay

Margie: Stay at a hotel within walking distance so heading back for a major blowout and nap time is easy.

Heather: Yes, yes, yes.  Can’t agree more!  We both stayed at the Best Western right across from the park.  It’s definitely not a luxury hotel, but it is a place to sleep that is clean.

Margie: Keep nap schedule!

Heather: If you can get you little one to nap, good for you.  Autumn had so much sensory overload she didn’t nap at all, and stayed up way past her bedtime.  We tried hard to get her to nap, but here was 0 chance it was going to happen.

For the Park

Margie: Use stroller in park.  The park has great stroller parking areas and then it’s easy to carry food, extra clothing, water/juice.

Heather:  You can take any food and drink into the park you want as long as it’s not in a glass container, and it’s not alcohol.  We brought carrot sticks, raisins, cliff bars, peanut butter pretzels, rice cakes, and lots of water.

Margie: Stay in magic kingdom. Not worth wasting money on entrance to CA adventure with a baby.

Heather:  I didn’t go to California adventure, so I can’t comment on this.

Understanding the Baby Exchange

The baby exchange is a great way for the adults to ride adult rides while still entertaining your little one.  You walk up to the cast member who is at the front of the ride you want to ride, and let them know you are doing a baby exchange.  They give you a little slip and one parent stays with the child and the other gets to ride the ride.  The second rider gets to go through the fastpass line when the 1st rider is finished.  The baby exchange pass is good for three people.  If you want some good karma for the day, bring along some strangers and make new friends.

***PLEASE NOTE:  You have to show your child to the cast member, they won’t give you a pass without proof that you have a kid.  My husband tried to get an exchange pass while I was changing Autumn and they didn’t let him have it.***
Getting the Most Out of the Park

I followed this guide and found it to be very helpful and accurate (even though it is from 2012.)

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/28/news/la-trb-disneyland-in-a-day-02201228

Here are a few things to highlight from the above article.

  • They are stricter on fast passes since this article was published.  You have to go during the times allotted.  They will turn  you away.
  • If you plan to go first thing in the morning WHICH I HIGHLY SUGGEST plan to be at the park at least 30 minutes before it opens.  There will already a pretty big line to get into the park as well as a line at bag check.
  • Decide which ride you are going to get a fastpass for, and what ride you are going to go on first.  Do this before you get into the park.  Get the fastpass first and go directly to that first ride you want to ride.  For us we got fastpasses for Hyperspace Mountain, and hurried over to Star Tours and got on the ride with no wait.
  • You should get fastpasses for these rides: Space Mountain, Star Tours, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones.
  • When it gets to be around 11am or noon you should leave.  The wait times are just ridiculous.  We went to the hotel room from 12 to around 5.  Had dinner out of the park at 4:30 ish and headed back when we were done.
  • Download the Disney App to check the wait times for rides.  They are very accurate.
  • The Haunted Mansion may be too scary for your child.  Even though there are no height restrictions.  Autumn took a nap during it, but it is a lot scarier than I remember.

Other Randomness

Margie: The Tiki Room,  It’s a Small World and musical performances were Aspen’s favorite.  If your baby loves music hits those for sure.

Heather: Autumn wasn’t really interested in any characters or rides.  She did love the music, watching the rides from afar, and there were bubbles everywhere.  Her favorite thing was playing with the stone ball rotating in water in Tomorrowland.  Autumn was afraid of the Tiki Room which I was really surprised about.

Hopefully this gives you a few tips and tricks that will be useful for your visit.  If you have any other pointers please comment below :D.  Also, many thanks to Margie for contributing to this article!

 

Project 333: Working with a Minimalist Closet

Dave and I have recently made a huge change in our lives.  We have started thinking and living in a more minimalist lifestyle.  Now I know what you are thinking “Heather, does that mean you have a completely empty house, with no sense of personality?!”  The answer is far from that.

If you come into our home you won’t only see a single chair and lamp in our living room.  We have quite a bit of art, a pretty full bookshelf, and a few little chachkies: mostly stone bears and skulls.  We enjoy art, we enjoy books, and we enjoy our coffee gear.  Don’t be fooled, however, we did get rid of a lot of excess crap.

As a person that struggles with anxiety, I have found having less physical clutter in the house has helped me in many ways.  Minimalism means to me keeping things that make me happy, and getting rid of the things that don’t.  I love my Storm Trooper dog treat jar, various coffee gadgets, and potted plants.  Those things serve me and bring me joy, so I keep them.  Where having 3 full sets of kitchen plates does not.

What I am going to focus on in this particular article is our wardrobes.  I get the most questions about my clothing, and how it works for me.  I hear often “I could never live with just 33 items!  That is crazy!”  Tons of friends have asked me how we do it and how we like it, so here we go!   We are using Project 333 (http://bemorewithless.com/project-333/) and we are very happy with the results.  To sum up the article, you have 33 pieces of clothing in your closet, not including undergarments, loungewear, and workout gear.  You switch out or asses the clothing every 3 months and change as needed.  Here is a picture of our closet.  I wish I had a before photo, it was stuffed to the max with stuff.  Every time I opened the closet door I feel like it was going to explode!

Yup, that’s my whole wardrobe 🙂

I have been living with a minimalist wardrobe for around four months now and I love it.  I pretty much know exactly what I am going to wear every day before I even get out of bed.  I really enjoy the outfits I have in my closet, and I still show my personal style through my clothing.  The most amazing part, is that I could remove even more clothing from my wardrobe and be happy.

Here is exactly what I have in my wardrobe:

Winter/Fall (mind you, I am in AZ so I don’t have to have extreme cold weather gear.  If you are in a cold climate you should probably switch out some of these things for warmer stuff.)

  • 2 pairs of boots: one black, one brown
  • 1 pair of fun sneakers
  • 2 pairs of moccasins
  • 1 pair of ‘dressier’ booties
  • 2 basic tanks: black and grey
  • 3 t-shirts (variety of basics and fun prints)
  • 1 wool turtleneck
  • 1 silk shirt for more dress up events
  • 2 long sleeve shirts
  • 1 heavy wool cardigan
  • 1 military style jacket
  • 1 jean jacket
  • 1 pleather jacket
  • 2 flannels
  • 1 heavy jacket
  • 3 pairs of jeans: 1 blue, 1 grey, and 1 funky print
  • 1 hat
  • 1 scarf

*** Jewlrey

Total: 27

Summer/Spring

  • 2 pairs of sneakers: one grey, one fun print
  • 2 pairs of sandals/ flip flops
  • 2 pairs of moccasins
  • 1 pair of Toms slip ons
  • 1 pair of ‘dressier’ booties
  • 2 basic tanks: black and grey
  • 4 t-shirts (variety of basics and fun prints)
  • 1 ‘fancier’ tank
  • 1 silk shirt for more dress up events
  • 2 dresses
  • 2 flannels
  • 2 kimonos
  • 1 weird fringe cover up thing
  • 3 pairs of jeans: 1 blue, 1 grey, and 1 funky print
  • 2 pairs of jean shorts

*** Jewlrey

Total:28

*** Even though you are supposed to count jewelry in this project, I don’t.  It is just my personal preference.  I did, however, assess all my jewelry pieces and got rid of quite a lot.  In total I probably have ~15 pieces of jewelry.

I modified this program to a 336 (~33 pieces, change every 6 months) method because of the climate I live in.  I don’t need a separate wardrobe for each season.  As you can see above, a lot of my pieces exist in both closets.  I put the other seasons wardrobe in our office closet, and rotate when the season calls for it.  I also keep one nice dress for weddings and a pair of pumps in that closet.  That is not counted in my 33 items.

When you start this project, you pack up all the extra clothes and put them somewhere that is out of sight out of mind.  For us we used the storage shed.  If you don’t miss any of the clothing by the end of the 3 months, then you don’t need them!  If you find yourself really missing a certain item, get it out of that box and switch it in your closet with something else.  The biggest tip I have if you are debating what to keep is to use basics as a base.  The you can add layers, fun shoes, or jewelry to add personality!  Some good quality basic tanks and tees will get you far in your wardrobe, since they are so versatile.

My husband and I started in our minimalism journey in our closets, tired of all the clutter and the closet exploding every time we opened it.  This mindset quickly spread to the whole house.  We took spring cleaning to a whole new crazy level.  It feels SO GREAT to have the excess clutter removed from our lives, and I have seen a big difference in my anxiety levels since we started this journey. I encourage all my readers and friends to try it out.  What’s the worst case?  You pack your clothes up, realize this isn’t going to work for you, and put them back!  Or, you may be like us, and find such inspiration in the mindset that you use it in your entire home.  You never know :).

I would love to see any tips or tricks other 333’ers have in the comments!  Tell me what works for you or what doesn’t.

Cheers friends!

Great Games to Play With No Time

As a game fanatic, I found it difficult to play my usual favorites after having my daughter.  I needed to find games I can enjoy playing with a limited amount of time, and that don’t require a major amount of commitment.  I have two favorites right now to share with you.

OVERWATCH

Overwatch is a first person shooter created by Blizzard.  It has been compared with TF2 (which I have never played.)  There are 4 different classes of heroes:offensive, defensive, tank and support. With a total of 23 characters, each character has unique abilities and compelling story line. There’s a good chance that you can find a character any gamer would love to play and connect with.  There are snipers, healers, builders, soldiers, and many more.

Personally, I have never been a big fan of  first person shooters. They have never been something I enjoy very much, and I don’t like traditional “war shooter” games where you are a soldier killing other soldiers.   Overwatch is different than other FPS games I have played in the past due to most of the characters being spell driven versus point and shoot only.

Pros:

  • In Quick Match and Arcade modes there are no penalties if you have to leave a game early
  • Competitive games are around 15-30 minutes total and have a break in between each round.  There is time in between if you need to go give your LO cuddles or a bottle.

 

Cons:

  • If you are going to play competitively, it’s very hard to move up in the rankings unless you have a team of friends that you can communicate with via mic.
  • One teammate can pull the entire game down.
  • Competitive matches, though they have a break, are semi long if you need to tend to a crying baby.
  • Overwatch is not free to play.

 

HEARTHSTONE

Have you ever played Magic the Gathering?  Do you like World of Warcraft?  If so, Hearthstone is definitely for you.  It blends the card game mechanics of Magic and nostalgic WoW characters for the perfect iPhone/iPad/PC game!  Hearthstone is a very intellectual game, you have to predict what the other player is going to do, sort of like chess.

You can play a total of 9 classes – Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock and Warrior.  This game is a solo play game which is great for a person with limited time to play games.  You can play on your iPhone, and is accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.  There has been many a night where I am rocking my infant to sleep, or breast feeding her while playing hearthstone.  Games can last anywhere from 5-15 minutes, which turns out to be almost the perfect amount of time most busy parents have to spare..  You have ~70 seconds to play your turn before the timer runs out, so if you have to set it down for a minute, you can still get a play off.

Pros:

  • Short game time
  • Free to play
  • Deck building help for new players
  • Solo play: no team commitment

 

Cons:

  • There are a lot of cards you have to become familiar with in order to play competitively
  • If you want a great deck fast, you will have to buy cards which costs money
  • You have to buy the expansion to get the specific cards from the expansion
  • If you have never played a card game like this, the learning curve is pretty steep

Those are my two go to games for the moment.  If you have any game you play with limited time please let me know in the comments!

Cheers friends!

 

Get your infant/toddlers vision checked!

Quick PSA about an issue we ran into with my daughter, Autumn, and her vision.

When she was born, until about 8 months old she had a clogged tear duct.  This means there was pooling of tears in her left eye, and an excessive amount of ‘gunk’ in her eye. Especially when using our fingers to unclog the duct.  Our pediatrician sent us to a pediatric ophthalmologist because we had to consider surgery for the tear duct.  The ophthalmologist gave us some tools to try to unclog the duct on our own, like massage and hot compresses and had us come back in a few months to assess the progress.

During the second visit, the pediatric ophthalmologist gave Autumn an eye exam.  He discovered that her left eye (where she had the tear duct clog) was having a more difficult time focusing than the right eye.  At that point the tear duct clog had went away naturally, however the Dr. had us schedule an appointment for 6 months out to test her vision again.

6 months go by, and my husband and I think that our daughter is seeing fine.  She points to things and identifies them, walks around, and seems perfectly content.  Our appointment day comes up, and I consider canceling the appointment because I was under the impression my daughter’s vision was fine!  After the second eye exam I learned that her left eye was twice as bad as it was 6 months ago, and we are given a prescription for glasses.

My pediatrician only suggested I see an eye specialist for the clogged tear duct, not for any vision problems (not knocking my ped he’s great and we love him.)  The problem with infants/toddlers is that they don’t know any better of what they should or should not see, and they can’t tell you they are having issues.

Now looking back there were possibly a few red flags that you can look out for with your own little one.  These ‘red flags’ are also just part of being a kiddo, so it’s hard to know for sure what the cause is.

“RED FLAGS”

  • Late walking
  • Unbalanced and slow walking.  Tripping on raised door frames, ledges, etc.
  • Only interested in books with large pictures
  • Touching/patting her head often (I imagine she was having headaches from the strain on her eye.)

I want all my friends to be aware that your child can possibly have vision problems and you may not be aware of it!  I HIGHLY suggest to go to get your child’s eyes checked, this can also prevent the brain ‘forgetting’ the eye with difficulty causing a lazy eye in the future.

Little Autumn with her new glasses!
Little Autumn with her new glasses!

A Mom with Postpartum Depression

Recently I wrote about the sneaky guilt spiral that I was in.  While most of the feelings in the post are completely normal to have as a new parent, it became too much for me to handle on my own.  I felt like I was in a hole sinking deeper and deeper not being able to get myself out.  I could not get a win, and my world seemed like it was against me.  I was not able to find any joy in my day to day existence, and was really struggling.

My OB had suggested weeks prior to that post that I take an antidepressant for postpartum depression and I turned her down.  I felt that if I took her up on her offer, that I was a failure.  I don’t know why I felt this way. It’s a stigma that taking medication for mental illness always seems to drag along with it. However, after three days of breaking down for no reason I called my OB and ended up getting a prescription for Zoloft.  It was too much for me to handle on my own and I needed some help.

I have been on the medication for well over a month now and I have not told many people about it.  I feel embarrassed, like I lost some sort of battle by asking for help.  I go out with my friends and feel like I have some dirty little secret that I can’t share.  What if they judge me?  What if they think I am not as good of a mom as them?  What if they think I am weak?  What if they think I am crazy?

Then I thought to myself “I am not perfect, I should not expect myself to be perfect, and if I need help that doesn’t make me a failure.  It makes me strong to admit it.”  I want to be open and honest about my journey through motherhood, and I don’t want to hide or feel shame for any bumps along the road.  I want others to feel empowered to get the help they need, and not feel the shame and guilt that I felt.

This interview from Kristen Bell really spoke to me.  This quote in particular

If you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that, but in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin ever! But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy or something.

Motherhood is unbelievably hard, and there are chemical imbalances that happen when you have a child.  SO many hormones are out of whack, and I have suffered many ups and downs over the last 6 months — not to mention how my entire life has changed in the blink of an eye.  I write about my journey because hopefully I can be a cog in the wheel to normalize the need for medication for those who suffer postpartum depression.