Fabulously on the Move: Yoga for Beginners {Guest Post}

It’s been a LONG TIME since I hosted a guest post here on NTTC.  After going through the blogtastic survey process a few weeks ago, I realized how many of you wanted to hear more about exercise.  With this new knowledge (thanks again!!), I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers who are amazing, many of whom I’ve met in person, and most of all… folks who inspire me!!

Fabulously on the Move Racing to Zen Jess | No Thanks to Cake

First up is the lovely Jess.  I met Jess this year at Fitbloggin, and we were quick friends!  Her warm personality, her bouncy curls, and that welcoming smile… I’m so glad to have met her, and I love her story!  A super busy mom, she just took a professional leap… leaving her traditional job, in favor of following her dream.  I love it when that happens!!

Today on NTTC, she shares her suggestions on getting started with yoga.  With a few simple poses that she demonstrates below, you too could be on your way to be practicing yoga regularly.  Thanks, Jess, for sharing your passion with us!

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I’m Jess from Racing to Zen and am thrilled to be guest blogging for Kelly! I recently completed my yoga teacher training and am excited to share with you what has become the foundation of my yoga practice – the classical sun salutation.

Many people are unsure of how to begin a home yoga practice, but when your budget is tight or you’re just looking for a simple way to unwind at home each night, sun salutations are a wonderful way to bring yoga to your living room. Sun salutations have a wealth of health benefits – improved circulation, regulation of your digestive system and calming your central nervous system. Adding yoga to your existing exercise routine is also a great way to improve your overall endurance. Learning and mastering a sequence can be a great confidence booster too – sun salutations can travel with you anywhere. And, let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love an exercise routine that ends with laying on the ground in corpse pose?

Yoga for Beginners Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

You can follow along in the two photo collages. I’ll give you the English & Sanskrit words for each pose.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Begin in mountain (tadasana) or prayer pose – Feet hips width distance apart, knees unlocked, shoulders back and down, spine long. Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose, centering yourself before you begin.
  • Upward raise (hasta utthanasana) – lift the hands skyward, getting length from your toes to finger tips. Turn the gaze up and slightly backward if you like.
  • Forward fold (utthanasana) – fold forward from the hips, bringing the head towards the ground and chest towards the knees. Let the head be heavy and put a deep bend in the knees to bring the chest closer to the legs.
  • Lunge (anjaneyasana) – from forward fold, lift your left foot and send it to the back of your mat, drop your knee and lift your chest to come in to a forward lunge.

Yoga for Beginners from Racing to Zen | No Thanks to Cake

  • Downward Facing Dog (adho mukha svanasana) – from lunge, curl your back toes under and lift and send the front foot to the back. Spread the fingers wide and imagine pushing your chest back towards your legs.
  • 8 Pointed Star (ashtanga namaskar) – from downward dog, drop your knees, shift your weight forward and drop your chest between your hands. The sit bones stay up and the “8 stars” on the ground are your two hands, your chin, your chest, your two knees and your two feet.
  • Cobra (bhujangasana) – slither forward like a snake, keeping the neck long and allowing the belly to drop to the floor. Remember that snakes don’t have butts, so don’t squeeze your glutes! Lift from your lower back only.
  • Downward Facing Dog – from cobra, push down into the ground with your hands and lift your sit bones back to the sky for one more downward dog.
  • Forward Fold – step the feet one at a time to meet the hands and fold forward.
  • From forward fold, you can roll back up to standing and start the same practice again, sending the right foot back in to lunge instead. Completing one round includes lunging with both legs.

After your sun salutations, enjoy savasana or corpse pose. If you have any worries about falling asleep, just set a timer on your phone, giving yourself 5-10 minutes of quiet, restorative time.

Thanks again to Kelly for giving me a chance to share with all of you! Enjoy your home yoga practice and Namaste to you all!

Heres’s a few ways that you can follow Jess:  Racing to Zen Blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Yoga on the Rocks {and a Breakthrough}

July was quite a month for me.  I was movin’ and shakin’ all month long.  Non-stop.  Every day, there was something.  Every weekend, I over programmed myself.

While it was a wonderful month, I came back from San Diego…. EXHAUSTED.

Throughout the month of July, I was a little more open to dining out… to having a cupcake… and to skipping the gym, en lieu of working at night.  Seriously, I don’t even know how I wrote content for NTTC there was so much going on.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, folks…

And, when the end of July arrived, I felt as though I had been changed…. in many ways, for the better, but in other ways, I had slipped back into an uncomfortable place.

Uncomfortable in an eerily familiar way… uncomfortable in that way where I didn’t know if I could get myself back on track.  Truthfully, I was worried.  Very worried.   Not only had my eating habits slipped significantly, but I also hadn’t been to the gym regularly since… well… Fitbloggin.

For the past month in regard to healthy living, I’ve felt like I was on the edge of an avalanche… where the ground feels unsteady, as though it’s about to crumble.

I knew I had agreed to go to Yoga on the Rocks bright and early on Saturday morning.  My friends over at Core Power Yoga offered me free tickets to attend, and I even roped my friend Erin into joining me… but, did I really want to practice yoga?  Most definitely, no.  I was out of practice and had felt lethargic for the past week.

What I wanted to do was sleep… but I’d committed to going, so I set my alarm for what I like to call “the butt-crack of dawn” on Saturday morning.  I’ll let you in on a secret amongst us friends… I am so not a morning person. Not even close…

Saturday morning came quickly, and I dressed and headed to Red Rocks Amphiteater for the event.  I’ve talked about Red Rocks here before both for a concert and for Film on the Rocks, but I realize that not everyone is familiar with my amazing state… so I’ll give you a peek at its amazingness.

Film on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

It is one of the best venues in the country for live music.  Surrounded by gorgeous red rocks, the acoustics are phenomenal… and then, there’s that view too.  I’m guessing that not every state has this little gem.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

When we arrived, Erin and I checked in… grabbed our free Core Power mats and orange sunglasses and went to find a spot to practice.  I knew I was in for a treat when I saw my favorite concert venue filled with brightly colored mats and yogis practicing their favorite headstand poses throughout the amphitheater.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As we set up our area, I was still hesitant about how I my personal practice would go.  Knowing that I’d be practicing on unforgiving cement, I layered the giveaway mat underneath my Affirmats mat for extra support… as if those the words staring back at me weren’t enough support.  I love this mat… and I love that these words stared back at me for the next 60 minutes.  I needed them, and I repeated them throughout the class.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Can we again pause at the magnitude of this venue??

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As the class began, Amelia Earhart kicked the event off… what an incredible and beautiful story she has.  If you’re not familiar, she recently just flew around the world!

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

She also reported that she is a huge fan of yoga… and spoke about her practice.  The instructor, Inanna Jessop, took over shortly after and we got to work.

Inanna described the purpose of the class was to “ground down in order to rise up.”  How beautiful is that?  And, truthfully, I feel like that is exactly what happened to me during the next 60 minutes.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

We warmed up, and then completed the most beautiful sun salutations and balance poses.  We spent some time working the core (they don’t call it “Core Power Yoga” for nothing!), and as we were working our way into savasana, I had that moment… the “I’m practicing my beloved yoga at freakin’ Red Rocks” moment… and it was then that I realized things had begun to shift.

When our time in savasana ended and Sam Smith stopped singing (love him!), I wanted more time.  When we sealed our practice with a collective namaste, I almost didn’t want to say that beautiful word… because it meant it was over.

Erin and I packed up our stuff to leave, and it took me forever to roll up my mats.  In that moment, I thought I was just too relaxed and not focusing… but in reality, I didn’t want to leave.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Something else happened that was incredibly significant… I realized that my body and my mind was craving yoga.  My cells hadn’t forgotten how this practice serves them.  It remembered, even when I took a month off… it remembered.  And, it responded.

I was energized, poised, and for the first time in weeks… empowered and inspired.  I knew that I COULD again… and with that, I knew that I WOULD.  

And what would I or could I do?  Ever since, I’ve felt the possibilities to be limitless.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Since then, I’ve had a laser focus on being grounded, fueling my body with healthy foods, and setting intention of what will come in upcoming days, weeks, months…

This journey that I’m on has lots of ebbs and flows.  I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t… but the recent pause scared me.  After that beautiful practice on Saturday morning, I don’t fear a thing.  I’ve got too much that I want in my life to worry about fears… and it appears that when I get lost, all I have to do is get back on my mat.

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Thank you to Core Power Yoga for providing Erin and I with complimentary passes to participate in Yoga on the Rocks.  I can’t wait to join you guys again next year!

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A Product of My Lifestyle

As usual I am amazed by how much the Fitbloggin experience means to me every year… and how darn different it is every single year.  The faces change.  New voices emerge.  New opportunities for selfies appear. :)

I feel particularly compelled to write about one of my biggest takeaways of the weekend:  A simple phrase uttered by our fearless leader, Roni Noone, who is responsible for the organization of this yearly retreat.  And, who is a stunning example of how to lose weight, keep it off, and rise above the challenges that appear along the way.

On Saturday morning, exhausted and geared up in an 80’s workout getupI stepped into a session called “Life after Goal” with very little expectation.

Realistically, I am not at goal.  I am still about 30 lbs from it, which to me is pretty significant.  So, why in the heck did I have my butt in that room?  I was there because I wanted to listen. 

Everyone wants to be at their goal weight.  Everyone wants to be safely across the finish line.  And, I too have dreamed of being one of those people.

Even moreso, I’m a girl who is amazingly happy in her skin right now.  Even with the extra pounds I carry every day.  Still happy, but I wanted to hear what the group had to say and to see what I might be missing out by not chasing after my goal right now.

Overall, I heard Kelly, Sarah, and Roni talk about how life is several years after weight loss.  I tuned into Roni’s comments most, as I’d never really heard her speak about her journey and frankly, she has such wise things to say.

My Body is a Product of My LIfestyle | No Thanks to Cake

THIS IS SO ME and resonated completely…

My ups and downs all relate back to my lifestyle.  I’m never truly SURPRISED when I gain a pound or two… I can always track it back to a specific week and what did or did not happen during that week.  And, when I’m feeling GREAT, I can also tie that right back to my lifestyle… it’s all interconnected.

And right now, my body with that regained ten pounds is reflective of my lifestyle for the past few months… and I totally own it, rock it, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a year! I’ve been getting out a little more, vacationing without a hyper-critical eye on my food intake, and I’ve been living freely.

For the past week, I’ve been at the beach.  Wearing the same bathing suit that I’ve worn for the past few years… but feeling that extra weight more than normal.  When it’s all out there and exposed, it’s hard to ignore… but I had these words in my pocket to reference.

Rather than jumping into that space where I criticize every bit of my existence, I took a deep breath and remembered.

It’s ok… my body is simply “a product of my lifestyle.” What a kind way to look at the current state!  Shifting my lifestyle will yield the results I am looking for… and I looked at these words as a gentle hug that I needed during this moment of realization/discomfort.  Now, when I start structuring my meals, making it to my mat regularly, and getting the sleep my body craves… I absolutely know that my body will shed the extra pounds.

I don’t see these words as an excuse, simply a confirmation that my mind has been elsewhere… and that a shift will once again bring change.

Take a look at your lifestyle… is your body reflective of your lifestyle?  I suspect it is…

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A Tiny Piece of My Passion {GIVEAWAY}

When I was designing my blog, I hadn’t yet begun practicing yoga, but I wanted something active to show at the top of the page.  I went back and forth between a silhouette of a girl that was running and the image you see now of a girl in Warrior 2.

I like to think that it was my soul that chose the yoga girl, as though it knew the Proud Warrior was exactly the right image for what I wanted to become.

Yoga in the Yard | No Thanks to Cake

Since then, I’ve spent many an hour at the yoga studio.  And, I’ve fallen in love with it.

I’ve practiced Blindfolded Yoga and enjoyed Yoga in the Yard with friends.  I found myself mesmerized by Candlelight Yoga and even practiced Yoga with the Dolphins during a trip to Las Vegas…

WOW Yoga with the Dolphins Mirage | No Thanks to Cake

Most of all, my yoga practice has become this beautiful escape.  For that one hour during the day, I can completely escape my thoughts, my to-do list, and just BREATHE.  It is the most healing 60 minutes I spend in any given day.

Right before Christmas, I was introduced to a new company called Affirmats, and I just loved their mission and their products.  Their beautiful, beautiful mats are emblazoned with amazing mantras to motivate you through your practice.  The type of mantras that can transform your practice… and I knew I had to have one.

Affirmats | No Thanks to Cake

Isn’t this mat amazing?  I practiced on my Affirmat for the first time on January 1, and I really felt like it helped me push through my planks in a way I never expected!  Not only are the mats beautiful, but they are motivating!

Other facts about this gorgeous mat… it’s Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic, and Slip Resistant.  And, AWEsome!  Especially since it even motivated me to practice at home… with Jillian Michaels!  Whoa… it has magical powers, as well!

At-Home Yoga | No Thanks to Cake

So… are you interested in having an AFFIRMAT of your own??? Well, today is your lucky day!!

My new friends over at Affirmats gifted me the mat above and have offered to send one to one of my VERY LUCKY readers here at NTTC!

Affirmats Yoga Mat Giveaway | No Thanks to Cake

Enter to win by filling out the Rafflecopter below!  This giveaway will remain open until Friday, January 24th at 12:00am.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note:  Affirmats provided me with their product that appears above for this review and giveaway; however, the opinions expressed above are my own.  

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AWP-DO