Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day 24 February 23, 2012

You do not know what your experience on the mat will be until you step onto it.  Ahhh, the beauty of yoga.  Every day is a chance for a new opportunity to discover. Each day our bodies reflect a new version of itself, based on what it’s been doing in the past. 
Today, during Strength I realized that these sessions are as challenging or gentle as I make them.  The “Ultimate” self-adjusting physical practice.  Today, I worked my edge very strongly and reaped sweet, blissful sweat because of it.
Will do my core and meditation later.
Have been sleeping heavily … and restfully.  Sookie woke us up this morning at 4am with her "clackity clack" footsteps on our cold tile floors.  I took it as an opportunity to leisurely check my email and have a cup of coffee before practice. 
Now, onward towards a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day 23 February 21, 2012

Snow shoed for three hours – 13k on Sunday… so, missed my Ultimate Yogi class.  
Then Monday, work and an unexpected visit from the mother-in-law made the entire day disappear. 
My mistake … I “slept in” because of the holiday and didn’t take that 90 minutes for myself.  I was unable to find time to squeeze it in.  This “missing” workouts didn’t happen for me when I was ok with 20 or 30 minutes of exercise …
I must budget time like I do our finances ... 
I reconciled the day off, but in hindsight I think I need to find a happy medium.  On days I know I am going to have to squeeze in a quickie, I will just have to substitute something else instead of skipping entirely.  I get so rigid when "on a plan."  So much being revealed on this program.  
I have to be easy on myself for not doing this program to a “T.”  Just because I used to practice 90 minutes, 6 days a week does not mean that is my reality now.  Habits take at least three weeks of continuous repetition to stick and I’m getting there with this new habit.  It's all a process.
So happy to finally get to The Ultimate Yogi Cardio class today.  Quietly completed the fast paced flow at 5am and so happy I did – much better start to the day.  Yoga has always been my “moving meditation” and I needed it today!
Finishing another Pineapple Parsley Yummo smoothie now … that combo of the herbaceousness of the parsley with the tang of the pineapple is a winner! 
Mediation tonight ... looking so forward to it!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 21 and 22 February 17 and 18, 2012

Yesterday, I did a 30 minute Tracy Anderson DVD and then attempted to do Mountain Pose/Pranayama /Meditation, but the day got in the way and had to stop about half way through Mountain Pose.  I just felt I needed more than the program demanded yesterday and then I never finished what was on the schedule.  But, it was a great day – so, all is forgiven. 

Today – started with 20 minutes of cardio instead of HardCORE and then rocked the start of my fourth week with the CrossTrain class.  This one’s not getting any easier!  Loving these classes … just wish I had more hours in my day.

Little note on mats … my trustee Manduka has become quite the slip fest since I washed it, so today I used some Wiseways Herbals “Tea-Tree Foot Powder” on my hands and feet to get some grip.  (I have no financial stake in that recommendation - it's just good stuff.)  Worked like a charm!

Off to real life weekend stuff now …  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 20 February 16, 2012

Ok, so you definitely don’t need the gym to get a thorough “workout” from these DVD’s.  I woke up so sore I did not want to get out of bed.  Between meditating right before bed (really good, deep 15 minute guided last night) and major effort during these classes, I’ve been reaping deep slumber.

Just finished Vitality and feel ready for the day.  Bit of an inner monologue during class, thinking about what I would journal today instead of being present in class.  I was thinking about WHY someone who just wrote a blog on gyms being “icky” was feeling the desire to get into one so badly.

A little background on me … I work from home for the bulk of my job. I have an online position that requires me to be logged into a computer five, sometimes eight hours a day.

It’s a bit isolating.

Perhaps I was feeling the need to participate in that part of gym culture that I sometimes detest … the social aspect.

So, to remedy … lunch out with a girlfriend today before work.

Smoothie time now!  Really good one today!

Pineapple Parsley Yummo
Makes 2 servings - use organic when possible!
2 cups water
3 cups organic baby spinach
big bunch Italian parsley
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 frozen banana
1 packet Stevia

Blend and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 19 February 15, 2012

Did 15 minutes of another core focused DVD before diving into Detox.  Detox has become my fave of the series so far, as I build the most heat and really dig the more detailed instruction in a lot of the poses, but especially in triangle, revolved triangle and revolved half moon. 

I love strength challenge of  the yogi “dive bomber” push ups and the full plank knee to shoulder and rotation to opposite shoulder.  Makes me want MORE!  

But, the “hardest” pose of all continues to be savasana.

Also – struggling a bit today with the strident commitment to the program.  Kind of feeling a bit of the “gym bug” and am feeling a bit “trapped” by the time commitment and stridency of the program.

There is just not enough time in my day to accomplish all of the fitness and mind/body activities I want to do!

Looks like I’ve got something to meditate on later …

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 18 February 14, 2012

I had to hit the “pause” button on The Ultimate Yogi program for a few days.

Sometimes, all the planning in the world cannot overcome simple human error or perhaps fate, as it were.  I had carefully etched in where I would do my DVD’s while away from home for a few days, only to find when I arrived at my destination – I had forgotten my classes.

I managed to improvise day one by doing a yin yoga program I found on YouTube, but our schedule was so jammed packed the next two days that I decided to find flexibility (not the muscular kind) outside of my sometimes too rigorous “stick to- itiveness.”  I took the days off. 

Once I overcame the guilt of veering from the program, I forgave myself.  I realized The Ultimate Yogi is not intended to heighten my internal flaws – like perfectionism and not wanting to disappoint anyone.  In fact, it is for the opposite – to aid in becoming more “ultimate.”  And for me, that actually meant skipping a couple days to learn that it is ok to do that.

It’s funny, I was approaching this program as a physical transformation program.  I am feeling the aches, pains and soreness from the rigorous flows as well as the openness and length from the deep releases, but I am becoming very aware of the personal transformation that is taking place – in just a short wisp of time.

So, today I am picking up where I left off – at Day 18 with Yin Yoga and ten minutes of meditation.

What transformations are happening to you?

And ... by the way ... Smooches for Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 17 February 10, 2012

There I was worrying about the repetitive nature of the program when today the purpose revealed itself.

On today’s agenda: HardCORE, Strength and 10 minutes of meditation.

Knowing that HardCORE is a killer right before Strength, I did it about an hour before the Strength class.  And because I knew I had some recovery time, I really went for it and got a thorough core workout.

When I hit the mat for Strength, the monikers of these classes really hit me.  The first two weeks I was really just going through the flows, breathing, experiencing … but, on this third roll – I really am feeling the title of the class.  Yes – yesterday really was a cardio workout and today – definitely pushed my limits of strength – even more than some of the body weight or sandbag workouts I do!

Finishing up a smoothie now and feeling a bit of anxiety about traveling this weekend and being able to do the prescribed classes … I’ll keep you posted on how I deal with a crammed schedule, plane flights, hotel rooms and The Ultimate Yogi!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 16 February 9, 2012

Finally got a restful night’s sleep, but then made the mistake of checking email before practice.  Ended up online for 90 minutes before hitting the mat.  So bad, so unhealthy.  I am going to consciously work to unplug when I do not have to be online, so please do not be alarmed if you do not get an immediate response to an email or text. Need to stick to: wake up, yoga ... then life.

Really went deep into the Cardio class today.  I was able to really meld breath and movement to get my heart rate up quite a bit.

The extended side angle/reverse warrior flow proved to be a doozy for my glutes once again! 

Starting to feel my yoga muscles hugging the bones more snuggly, resulting in a tightening up (in a good way – no relation to flexibility) of the physique.  Ahhhh, the vanity bonus of a power yoga practice.

Smoothie, errands, then work today.

Tip: I store my extra smoothie portions in spaghetti sauce jars!

Very Green Berry Smoothie
Makes 3 servings
Use Organic if possible

2 cups water
3 stalks celery
1 head romaine lettuce
2 huge handfuls raw spinach
1 bunch cilantro
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen “antioxidant” berry mix (cherries, pomegranate, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry)
1 tbsp E3Live
3 tbsp Hemp Protein

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 15 February 8, 2012

Wonderful adventure on our search for a vintage vanity yesterday.  We had traveled two hours each way from our home one day, and 45 minutes each way yesterday, only to readjust our plan and find the perfect piece right in our own town. 
Alas, sometimes you search so far and so hard for something only for it to turn up in your own backyard.  Maybe I shouldn’t be looking so intently.  I should be observing what is happening right here, right now.  Ahhhhh – that “stay present” message once again in my life …
Had a very strong Crosstrain practice today.  (I did 15 minutes of a core focused DVD instead of HardCORE and will meditate tonight.)
Became very aware that the injury I sustained in upavishta konasana three years ago is not perfectly healed, but has certainly allowed for more openness in my left hip.
Makes me wonder … every Ashtanga teacher I have ever had has maintained that injury is merely clearning way for a opening.  I have to admit; every injury I’ve ever sustained has eventually healed and allowed for more flexibility and/or strength in the area injured.
Going to take Sookie for a short hike, then smoothie and work.
What have YOU been searching for that may be resting before your eyes?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 14 February 6, 2012

Woke up before that darn alarm again today! 
Mountain pose, pranayama and meditation on the schedule.
Perfect practice for a full moon!

Traditionally, Ashtanga takes full and new moon days off … so having this pranayama meditation practice sits very well with me today, because man alive – that full moon energy is ROCKIN!

Anticipating an energetic shift … some change coming …

The Mountain Pose class whizzed by and I was perfectly “blissed” afterwards.

I had some difficulty during pranayama today that I have not experienced up to this point.  I couldn’t catch long, full breaths on alternate nostril breathing; on the “holds” I felt like I was suffocating.  I hope this is not a metaphor for something else in my life. 

I literally could not stay the holds, I had to take extra breaths to get air in.

My chest felt tight and almost painful.

I felt great relief once the meditation started and chose to do it lying down, covered with a blanket.  I was able to release, relax and let go and finished refreshed.

Fun day ahead after work today …  picking up a beautiful vintage vanity to organize the “clutter” of beauty products in my life.  (It’s part of my job – don’t judge!)  I’ve wanted a vanity my entire life …  will post pics tomorrow.

Meantime – here’s the salad I’ll be munching on the next few days:

"Eat me, I’m Beautiful Salad"
Makes a lot
Use organic everything if possible

1 head Romaine lettuce
3 cups baby mixed greens
4 stalks celery chopped
1 cup baby heirloom tomatoes
1 cup chopped mini peppers
1 cucumber chopped
½ cup pomegranate seeds
Mix all washed, chopped in a bowl

·       1/4 cup water
·       3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
·       2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice 
·       2 teaspoons olive oil 
·       1/4 teaspoon salt 
·       1/4 teaspoon pepper 
·       2 garlic cloves, minced 
Place all ingredients in blender and blend.  Drizzle over salad.  Also great for dipping artichokes!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 13 February 6, 2012

Wonderful night of sleep after another 15-minute meditation from the “AM & PM Yoga Meditations” by Gael Chiarella, CD.  Did track 4 on CD 2, “The Lullaby of Breath.”

Woke up naturally at 4:11am – before my alarm was set for 4:30am.  The extra minutes allowed me a bit more leisurely cup of coffee before the Vitality class this morning.

Turned the heat up a tad in the house to make up for the early morning chill and had a really nice practice.

I am so much more relaxed and focused practicing at the early hour, knowing that I have time, am not rushed and am setting myself up for a more full day.  I really found depth in the back bends today, more in my upper back and chest than I usually do.

But, the deepest opening came during the reclining twists at the very end of class.  With each inhale my muscles naturally elongated and with my exhales I sunk deeper into these twists than I have in years.  I could just feel myself falling deeper and deeper into the twist.

Then, during savasana, my husbands alarm went off on cell phone (it should have been in the bedroom with him, but alas – it seems it was left in the kitchen.)  I tried to maintain and release into corpse pose, but I was too distracted by the vibrating, pulsating scream of the cell phone.

Oh well, note to self – do a cell phone check before practice – just like at a shala.

Made a delish smoothie for this morning, here’s the recipe:

Mango Cilantro Very Green Smoothie
Makes two servings
Use organic when possible.
2 cups water
1 cup frozen mango
1 frozen banana
1 bunch cilantro
1 head romaine lettuce
3 stalks celery
½ lime – squeezed for juice
½ Meyer Lemon – squeezed for juice
1 tbsp E3 Live algae
3 tbsp Hemp Protein
Place water, lemon juice, lime juice, algae, hemp protein and frozen fruit in Vitamix and blend.  Add romaine, cilantro and celery and blend.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 12 February 5, 2012

Slept amazing last night after a wonderful 15 minute guided meditation.  I used “AM & PM Yoga Meditations” by Gael Chiarella,  CD Two, Meditation 3: Restful and Rejuvenating Sleep.  And did I ever …

Woke up recharged and ready to do Detox and HardCORE (saving my mediation for evening.)

A word on scheduling … husband keeps mentioning to me how LONG these DVD’s take … and yes, this program definitely takes some time and dedication – realistically, two hours per day.

I have resolved to wake up early during the week to get the program and in and not feel rushed or like it is taking over my day in a negative way, but I am realizing that I am going to have to do the same thing on weekends.

During both practices – Saturday and today – I felt like I was taking a huge chunk of my “free days” for this program.  And although Travis mentions in the Detox video that it is imperative to take time for yourself – to be “selfish in order to be selfless,” I think that I will have to sacrifice some sleep in time so that I still get my full days.

I did 15 minutes of another core focused DVD instead of HardCORE – just don’t want to wear that one out … I know myself – I will get bored … and it makes the HardCORE workout more of  a challenge for me doing it once a week.

Then, Detox class.  Love this one.  That triangle/twisting triangle/twisted half moon/standing splits/seated twist series is SWEET.  Realizing that I have very different hips than I had a year and a half ago … so tight, so filled with the grief of losing my brother.  The discomfort I feel physically is an accurate metaphor for what has accumulated in that area of my body … the storehouse for so much human emotion.  But, as Travis says … this program will “chisel away” everything that is not “ultimate.”

Made an awesome pot of veggie soup over the weekend.  Here is the recipe:

Veggie Soup
2           2-tbsp coconut oil
 1- onion chopped1-    bunch green onions chopped
 1 – pound organic baby carrots
2-    bunches organic celery hearts
1-    pound chopped organic kale
12 – cups vegetable stock
 2 – jalapenos chopped
 Sea salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Sauté onion and green onion in coconut oil until almost clear.  Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Add carrots and celery, season to taste.  Reduce to simmer and cover for 30 minutes.  Add Kale and jalapeno.  Turn of heat, cover and let stand for one hour.  Bring to a simmer before serving.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Day 11 February 4, 2012

Woke up again during the night last night.  

This time, went to bed much later than usual … planning to have a Saturday morning sleep in.   Woke up at 4:40am without the alarm and was basically awake until 6:30am.  But, heck – it’s Saturday, so I took advantage and slept in until 8:30a.

Husband and I took Sookie on a 90 minute hike … amazing … but, mostly uphill.  Picture is of Chuck and Sookie today about half way through.

Did Yin afterwards and was soooooo tight.  The seated forward folds were uncommonly uncomfortable for me.  I could not relax or breath without fidgeting.

Very distracted by the physical discomfort even when I really backed off, but made it through.

Nothing else profound to report today other than these classes are obviously really working my hips and glutes.

Until tomorrow … 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 10 February 3, 2012

Woke up several times last night, once for an hour … which I unfortunately used as an excuse to hit the snooze button at 4:40am until 6:30am. 
Needless to say practice got bumped and I still wanted to do “Strength” on an empty stomach so I didn’t eat anything for the four hours before I hit the mat.
I did 15 minutes of another core focused DVD first instead of “HardCORE” and then popped in strength.
I was absolutely wasted by the time we hit the first five yogi push ups.  My legs shook during the rotated crescent poses.  My shoulders begged for mercy in the forearm planks.

I dropped to my knees at several points and wished the class was over, but I persisted and got through it.

I’m finding the rotation of Crosstrain, Cardio and then strength is pretty intense.  Looking mucho forward to Yin tomorrow.

Will be meditating later this evening.

Meantime … hitting the kitchen for some chow – which I of course, was deliberating during savasana.  I’m thinking a veggie wrap made up of leftover salad, avocado, leftover beans from our family taco night, jalapenos and salsa.  The spice should recharge me.

Really working on letting go of any disappointment if I can’t physically get through a class.  A year and a half ago my ego would not have allowed me to rest during a challenging flow, but now I listen to my body and relent when necessary.

It’s funny – strength is not just built during the “strength” movements in exercise or yoga.  It is gained during recovery – which is why we must let our bodies have “rest days.”

Will be taking it easy and resting to build that strength back up the next few days.

(Attached is a photo of me in a "strength" pose just for kicks.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 9 February 2, 2012

Super sore from yesterday’s Crosstrain class, but knew I’d work that lactic acid out with this class.  Have been sleeping like a rock.  I credit the evening meditation, good aches and being physically wasted from the new early wakeup time for this.

Cardio class today ...

Turned up my space heater and really got into the flow.

Focused on being present, alignment and working my “edge.”

That extended side angle to reverse warrior flow really rocks my glutes.  Yoga booty here I come.

Hamstrings have been tight, regardless of how much warming up I do or the temp of the room.  Right knee is also smarting quite a bit.  Really injured in August when I jumped back into my Ashtanga practice too quickly from that year break, I quit after two weeks because I felt I was aggravating the injury and wasn’t being mature enough to modify.

It will be challenging for me to modify the poses in this DVD series if necessary.  Lotus is what really gets me … I will have to settle with a half lotus on the left side for now.

I can really feel the effects of this program already.

Some people may smirk at some of the verbage Travis uses or the anecdotes he tells – thinking they are too “New Agey” or “Yoga-y,” but the truth is what he says is full of positive intention and it can’t help but affect you in a positive way.

I felt some old emotional baggage; some negative thoughts and feelings just burn away during today’s practice.  After I rose from savasana all that was left was ash.  A last exhale and 15-minute meditation cleared that away so that nothing remained, but a clear mind and delightful mood.

(image from:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 8 February 1, 2012

Major good effects from yesterday’s practice.  I felt much less anxious and nervous in a social situation last night than I usually do.  Carrying the lesson to not judge or be so personally, deeply affected by all the “little things.”

Convinced the hubby to practice with me today with much success.

I find I am so much more focused and have much less inner dialog when practicing with him.

The second week of HardCore allowed me to go deeper and engage more fully.

My second go at Crosstrain was similar in that I could access the poses more deeply because of a bit of familiarity with the flow. 

Will meditate this evening.

Power Fiber Bowl
Makes 1-2  servings
¼ cup organic old fashioned oats
¼ cup organic oat bran
1 ¼ cup water
1 packet stevia
cinnamon to taste
3 tbsp Nutiva Hemp Protein
2 tbsp organic golden flax seed
1 pear – chopped
2 dates – chopped

Cook oats, oat bran and water on stovetop or in microwave.
Stir in stevia, cinnamon, Nutiva, flax, pear and dates

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day 7 January 31, 2012

January is such a flash in the span of a year.  A signal of new beginnings, it is also a time of “back to reality” after the holiday season.  People start planning for the next twelve months, dealing with taxes from the previous year and basically looking forward and backward in time without savoring what is happening right now.  And then, suddenly – it’s January 31.

Where did the time go?

This is what today’s Ultimate Yogi Practice – Mountain Pose/Pranyama/Meditation was all about for me … staying present. 

The Mountain Pose series is about thirty minutes of standing, coordinated arm and breath movements.  It’s basically a standing meditation, very qigong/tai chi like.  I always have to let go of the “I’m about to get a workout” attitude before approaching a practice like this.  That is not what this is about.  It’s about fusing breath, movement, focus and awareness.  Highly beneficial for a kooky multi-tasker like me.  It took me about twenty minutes of mental list writing, internal dialog, mental chatter and monkey mind to reconcile this and once I did, the “whoa – zen” set in.  This is really good stuff. 

And I want to be wherever they filmed this!  Gorgeously captured in a meditation garden outside of a pagoda-like structure (I’m assuming that is what this is), you can’t help but be whisked away to this stunning locale in your mind.

Pranayama and Meditation are actually very advanced practices if you approach yoga from a traditional angle.  But, The Ultimate Yogi aims to integrate these practices into every yogi’s life.   Ambitious, yes.  But, highly beneficial.  Beginners will benefit from the early introduction to learning to sit still and being present.

A tip from me?

Be sure to blow your nose before this one!

The Pranayama practice consists of “Breath of Fire” and “Alternate Nostril Breathing,” so take time to clear your nasal passages before hitting the mat.

The four part meditation series is a blissful, calming, affirming practice. 

I experienced some tightness in my chest during this practice today, a physical manifestation of my resistance to sitting still.  By the fourth round of alternate nostril breathing I was very “there,” until Travis started counting in Spanish.

The language change threw me for a loop and kind of took me out of the zone.

Oh, well – I know for next time.  And for me – this is one of the lessons of breath work and meditation.  To just NOTICE these things, instead of letting them affect me so deeply.  And, ah yes, the parallel to my life … to not let the little things (or the big things for that matter) pierce me so intensely.  I am a feeler.   Learning to control my emotions, or at least recognize the impermanence of them is another of my lessons as I walk this earth this time around.

Gentle practice – intense changes.

Gotta get to life stuff now.  Work, smoothie … and some fun today!  Little road trip for a friend's wine tasting (really – just a taste) and acoustic show.

Today’s Smoothie: (use organic fruits and veggies when possible!)
Makes 2 servings

2 cups water
1 – pear
1 – apple
1 – cup berries (cherry, pomegranate, blackberry mix)
3 – cups raw spinach
1 – head romaine lettuce
1 – cup kale
1 - lemon
2 tbsp golden flax seed
3 tbsp Nutiva Hemp Protein
Vitamix and Serve!

(image from:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 6 January 30, 2012

Happy Monday!  

I made a promise to myself last night after a 15-minute evening meditation that I was going to wake up and do my Ultimate Yogi practice before I started work Monday morning at 7:00am.  I wore my sports bra and tank top into bed as a reminder of what I needed to do.

Alarm went off at 4:45am and I rolled out of bed, changed into my yoga pants, downed a glass of water and got right to it.

I messed up the order of the DVD’s yesterday, so today I did Detox.

Maybe it was the early morning mojo, but this was my favorite practice so far.

Comprised of lots of twists, the Detox workout gets serious during a delish triangle/twisting triangle/twisting half moon/standing splits /seated twist and double seated pigeon series.  This series gives rise to Travis Eliot's best instruction so far.  I love his attention to the physical details of these more advanced poses.  This allowed me to squeeze very deep and wring out lots of junk – culminating in some sweet sweat.

The Detox DVD also has an inventive bridge series right at the end that will challenge the hips of the strongest athletes.

I feel so ready for my day now! 

My goal is to continue these early morning practices (except for Yin) for the duration of the 108 days.

Worky work is calling now … until tomorrow!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 5 January 29, 2012

I encourage anyone doing The Ultimate Yogi 108 day program – or undertaking any fitness program to keep a journal.  Even if you just scribble down the quick details of what you accomplished, journaling holds you accountable and creates a record of the ups and downs of your journey. 

Today, Sookie woke me up anxious to greet Sunday.  I can never refuse her enthusiasm so I hauled out of bed, had a quick cup of coffee and got right to it.

On the agenda was the Vitality class, HardCORE and 10 minutes of meditation.
(WOOPS! Looks like I did the wrong dvd - will do Detox tomorrow now.)

I really enjoyed a silent ten minute sitting meditation before bed last night, so I will be repeating that tonight.

I also swapped out the HardCore DVD for another core focused workout for about 20 minutes.

Then, I hit the mat for Vitality.  Vitality consists of several “circular” flows with an emphasis on heart opening and back bending.  Culminating in “ustrasana” or “camel pose,” this is a nice flowy, fun practice. 

I have started to notice the absence of inversions … but, this DVD has a lovely plow/shoulder stand sequence that quenched my desire to be upside down.  I know that headstand is difficult to put into a DVD program that is aimed toward a wide range of folks without tons of instruction.

On that note – the practices thus far – except for Yin, have been very standing pose heavy.  I get it … condensing down what is usually a 90-minute class into 60 – 75 minutes – something has to give.  I remember teaching yoga at the University here.  I had 50 minutes!  I always felt like our practice was on fast forward to fit in every element of a balanced practice.   Alas, you let it go.   You have to.  You do what you can.  It’s the Ashtangi in me that needs to give up the idea that unless you do an entire primary series – you haven’t practiced.  

Practice ended with a nice savasana – although I was very restless … ready to use all the Vitality the practice created!

For breakfast, I made something new … I was craving eggs … so here ya go:

Kale And Celery Saute with Eggs

2 – eggs (preferably cage free, vegetarian fed or organic)

2 cups Kale - chopped
4 tbsp chopped onion
2  large celery stalks – chopped
1 tsp coconut oil
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Garlic Powder

1.     In a pot – use ½ - ½ cup water to sauté onions and celery for about 5 minutes – or until they start to soften.
2.     Add Kale and cover to “steam” for about 3 minutes.
3.     Remove cover and add coconut oil.  Stir and “sauté” for a minute or so.  Turn off heat.  Add pepper and garlic powder to taste.
4.     Cook eggs as desired. 
5.     Serve eggs over  Kale and Celery.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 4 January 28, 2012

Just finished the Yin Yoga  Ultimate Yogi Practice.  As I sip the other half of my smoothie (stored in a spaghetti sauce jar) from yesterday, I realized I forgot to list  one lime in the recipe.  The citrus zing is crucial!

Just like a Yin Yoga practice is crucial to any well rounded yoga program.

I wish there was something on the schedule that recommended this particular practice be performed at night – before bed, then I would have timed my day for that.  Travis mentions this in the intro to the Yin practice – but, alas – it was too late.  I did it during the day and now I’m completely Zen-ed out.   It’s a good feeling, but I really just want to take a bath and go to be instead of getting on with the five million things I need to accomplish today!  Will most definitely do Yin in the evening from now on if my day allows for it.

I took Sookie for a 30 minute run before doing this DVD, which was great because this practice hones in on opening areas most runners need deep work on.

The Yin class is a slow, mellow practice with a focus on hip, hamstring and lower back opening.  Yin is difficult for me.  I’m a Type A  with a chatterbox monkey mind, so in many ways, Yin challenges me more than arm balances and rockin’ flows.  This is especially evident for me in seated forward folds like wide angle forward fold. 

In fact, fear kicked in during upavishta konasana   Fear is a crazy emotion to deal with in a yoga practice because it can really set you up for injury.  And since my fear was OF injury (I had “popped” some connective tissue in my left hip rotator and my hamstring insertion during this pose about three years ago) set in and I had to really focus on my breath to calm my mind.  I find ujayi breath to be extremely calming in scary yoga and life situations. 

I took full advantage of the longer savasana in this practice.  After I peeled myself off my mat, I sprayed my decade old Manduka mat down with a water/tea tree oili mixture to freshen her up a bit.

Will be doing my meditation this evening before bed.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 3 January 27, 2012

Day 3 January 27, 2012

Had to get up extra early for an airport drop off this morning.  Sookie (my beloved Boxer - see pic) didn't mind the schedule adjustment on her morning walk so we hit the chilly streets.  The darkness was a  reminder of those magical morning hours long before dawn.  I've got to get back into waking up earlier than early.

Woot Woot!  90 minutes and I’ve done HardCore, the Stength Class and ten minute gratitude meditation!

Time crunched today … so this will be short.

Very glad I did HardCORE before Strength.  Would have never happened the other way around.  This is quite the program for beginners.  I feel the need to repeat again to new yogis to not get discouraged.  I perform all sorts of fitness feats and the combo of these two DVD’s is beyond a killer workout.

My hip flexors, inner thighs and glutes were so worked from the previous days, I really just wanted to hold anjani asana (low lunge) for 90 minutes today, but I got through it.

The strength class is another tough flow of mostly standing poses with lots of yoga pushups and a side arm balance series thrown in.  I had my heater rockin’ today, but remembered something I learned in my Ashtanga studies … that heat lends itself more towards a flexibility practice, that it will zap your energy for strength.  And it did.  I kept it on, but made a mental note to just have the room at “room temp” next time.

Still thinking a lot about food during practice.  So funny!

But, today was all about salad dressings.  I am not really watching calories or fat … so if anyone has any good whole food salad dressing recipes – bring ‘em on. 

On my last visit to San Francisco I had the Dino Kale salad at The Plant Organic Café.  Kale, greens, red quinoa, avocado, almonds, cucumbers … and this amazing lemon cumin dressing!  I’m fixated.

Today’s Smoothie:
Makes 2 servings
2 cups water
1 lime 
½ Bag Trader Joes Organic Baby Spinach
1 Organic Romaine Heart
1 banana
¼ cup frozen pineapple
¼ cup frozen mango
3 tbsp Nutiva Hemp Protein
2 tbsp flax
Blend in Vitamix and enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 2 January 26, 2012

The Ultimate Yogi is fast medicine.

I had to resist jumping up from my practice to hit the keyboard to share all of my thoughts with you.

Yes, monkey mind and inner chatter were crazy active today – but, in a good way.

This morning, the effects of my first day were deliciously evident.  I pleaded with my husband to let me sleep awhile longer as my aching muscles felt so tremendously delish wrapped by my warm sheets.  He indulged me, but I was so anxious to hit the mat again that I just lay there awake - imaging today’s Cardio class.

I must admit, I had my doubts as to whether this DVD would actually get my heart rate up or make me sweat.  Lesson learned – do not second guess Travis.  He makes good on his promise. 

The Cardio DVD delivers a fast paced standing flow workout that consists of repeating several sets of varying “crescent” poses with lots of vinyasas in between.  Beginners should not let ego get in the way here – rest when needed.  More experienced yogis will enjoy the constant movement linked with breath and Travis’ guidance to find the subtleties within the speedy flow. 

I thought the sequence was coming to a close with the side angle series, but this was when I really started to burn and sweat.  Look forward to this glute sculpting set of alternating between side angle and reverse warrior.  Yowza!

You are rewarded with drowsy pigeon pose on both sides followed by plow and shoulder stand.

And then you twist.  And here is where the magic of yoga revealed itself to me.  As I took the second side, tears began to flow.  I was thinking about food – how my palette had begun to change a couple of weeks ago – way before I had even become conscious of The Ultimate Yogi Program.  And then, I started to think of my brother.

My brother Jesse loved food.  He loved to indulge in decadent meals at both fancy restaurants and divey diners.  Toward the end of his life, living in Santa Monica – he discovered vegan and vegetarian cuisine.  He would call me up to meet him at Vegan Thai food or the Farmer’s Market for Vegan Soul Food.  He had bought a hybrid car, started working out, was reading about Buddhism and was experimenting with becoming a more conscious human being in general. 

But, at his heart, he was a burger guy.  He loved a cheeseburger and fries.  After Jesse passed away, as a way of connecting with him –  this former vegan embraced a much more carnivorous way of life.  Finding a burger place became my way of connecting with him.   Every cheeseburger felt like I was sharing it with him.  But, he is gone.

And as his soul has had time to ascend, I feel his presence drifting further from me.  I know he will always be with me in my heart, but in order for his soul to progress – I also have to let him go.  And as time passes and I evolve and change, I feel myself going back to my true self.

My cravings have been for grains, fruits and veggies.  And thank goodness.  I was putting my health at risk with bad dietary habits that were an emotional reflex.

And so then I finished Day Two with a ten minute meditation.  I used the Gratitude Meditation.  Although my inner diaglog was quite loud, I was able to really hear and connect with Travis’ words. 

It’s funny – I had the Meditation DVD on in the background for segment timing yesterday while doing housework.  I didn’t LISTEN to it though.  However, I had this undeniable urge to clean out my closet last night.

After doing the meditation this morning I understand why.  Travis mentions clutter and cleaning it out.  He also talks about being grateful for your clothing and how there are so many out there who have so little. 

I will be making a trip to GoodWill this weekend.

This is super powerful stuff people.

Be prepared for change.

*Pic is of my smoothie today:
Makes 2 servings (Use organic if possible)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
2 dates
1 bag Trader Joes Organic baby spinach
1 small apple
1 banana
3 tbsp Nutiva Hemp Protein (The original one with tons of fiber)
2 tbsp organic golden flax seed
Place in Vitamix and Blend

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 1 January 25, 2012

I am going to be using this blog spot as ani informal, daily journal of my experience with The Ultimate Yogi program, as I do not feel a short review on will cover this experience.  I'll tweet daily links and post on The Ultimate Yogi Facebook page as much as possible.

If you are doing this program with me - please follow this blog spot and comment.

I received The Ultimate Yogi* DVD package today and immediately dove in to the 108 day yoga program touted as the P90x for yogis.

Even though I am a seasoned yogi, my personal practice has almost disappeared since the passing of my brother on September 20, 2010.  I am looking to the structure and discipline of the program to return me to my mat.

And I think I've come to the right place.  Created by Santa Monica, CA Yoga Teacher Travis Eliot, this comprehensive, intense program requires a daily commitment for up to 90 minutes.

The beautifully packaged set comes with a dozen DVD's, a calendar and a short movie/introduction to get you started.  The companion website and Facebook page provides additionally info and support, including a nutritional plan.

I watched the beautifully shot short film and intro with a dear friend of mine before I got my set and I must admit, we did chorkle a bit a the seriousness of it all.  Warning to non-yogis - do not be turned off by this film or the more advanced elements of yoga discussed in a very cinematic way.  This program is very ambitiously taking the whole picture of yoga - not just the physical practice of asana (poses) and making it accessible to the masses as a home program.  This is a very West Coast style yoga program - which I am very drawn to.  Travis reminds me of my first yoga teacher, Bryan Kest ... who came to me via his classic Power Yoga   VHS series.  (This is a total complement - I love me some Bryan Kest.)

So ... Day One.  The schedule calls for doing three sections - Cross Train, Hard Core and 10 minutes of Meditation.

The CrossTrain class is a flow class of about 45 minutes or so.  Beautifully sequenced and progressed, it's heavy on warriors and standing poses, but includes shoulder openers, hip openers, a short pranayama (breath) sequence and a nice finishing.  Slower paced than my usual Ashtanga practice, but refreshing because of the depth and detail I found from Travis' instruction.  The students in the video are of varying ages, but all have admirable physiques and practices that will inspire.  If you are a beginner, be patient - this will be a very challenging practice for you.  Be sure to watch the DVD at least once before attempting to DO it.  More advanced practitioners will enjoy finding the newness in familiar poses.  I WILL be sore from this and so will YOU!

The HardCORE class is about 15 minutes of yogic ab work.  Travis suggests different rep ranges depending on where you are in the program.  Not being able to moderate, I of course, did them all and HOLY WOW ... fABtastic exercises!  You will burn, burn, burn.  I must admit though, it was difficult for me to do this AFTER the Cross Train class.  I just wasn't motivate to work again after a savasana.  I will be doing this before the extended practice next time to fire up my core.

Finally, I was a bit confused on how to do the meditation.  Although I have a personal meditation practice, I wanted to use the video.  The video has pranayama/meditation combined.  I just started that section and set a timer for ten minutes which had me doing the pranayama for ten minutes.  I got through breath of fire and three cycles of the alternate nostril breathing.  I am going to try to watch this video in full before I do my next meditation to see what's up with this section.
Ok - after watching the video ... the meditation series starts after the pranayama, but there is no menu item to choose this, so you will have to fast forward past the breathing exercises to the meditation - which Travis explains is four parts: the gratitude meditation (about ten minutes,) the dedication meditation (about 3 minutes,) the affirmation meditation (3 minutes) and finally japa meditation for a total of twenty minutes.)  So, I guess you just do as much of it as prescribed each session.  Looks like you will have to extend it ten minutes as you get to the third part of the program.

All in all ... I feel great ... I'll let you know tomorrow where and how bad the soreness is.

I'll also try to include some of what I'm eating in this.  I already feel inspired to get my food more in check.  I feel like I've been on an eating holiday since Thanksgiving which has not stopped due to travel throughout December up until today.  So, time to get back on the wagon.  The Ultimate Yogi program seems to advocate a vegan lifestyle.  I'm definitely willing to add more meatless meals back into this former vegan's life.

I'm not trying to lose weight - but, if that's a side effect - cool.  I weighed myself this morning and I am 125 lbs and a very high 24% body fat for me - even though I still fit into all my clothing.
All that holiday fun caught up to me!

So far today ... I've had a vitamixed smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, spinach, banana, berries, flax and hemp protein.  Not usual for me - but, I'm just not that hungry today.  Lots of unpacking and paperwork to catch up on ...

I will also post if I do other forms of exercise as well.  This happens because I am constantly trying new programs for review on and have a big Boxer who needs to get outside!

Anyhoo ... this has become longer than I intended ... most posts will be more brief - I promise!

*I was provided a complimentary copy of The Ultimate Yogi at my request for review on