Yoga


I realized a few things about coaching today and I thought I would share my thoughts.

I began my day, as usual, with a video guided yin yoga practice. I began doing yin yoga with a real live in person yogi who would correct incorrect postures and explain asanas. She was a fabulous coach/leader/teacher. I learned that there are modifications available and how to use the practice to greatest effect.

I have been doing yoga for over two years. I give credit to my practice for keeping me flexible enough to continue my CrossFit practice. And I credit CrossFit with my continued need for a yin yoga practice. They are mutual.

After years of practice I know the names of many of the poses and can “assume the position” and/or modify as I need. This is also true in my CrossFit life. I know the Olympic lifts and the gymnastic requirements and all that and I know how to make sure that I don’t die at the gym by choosing my modifications with clarity.

Today’s yoga practice was done with a novice video maker. Apparently, this was her second yin yoga video she ever made. She did not, according to her You Tube channel make very many more. Here was the problem I found. She did not give enough cues. I’m there on my mat, curled into this position or that, not staring at the video and I could modify “like this” or something. I wasn’t watching the damn thing, I was working along with it.

Second to this, her sound system wasn’t the best and the static made her soft voice difficult to even hear at times. I know she had a pillow on the left when we started and it was thrown off to the right by the end, but I have no idea when I was supposed to have used any support in there during the practice.

When coaching/teaching/leading, it is imperative that you actually lead. There are many different ways to learn things but visual demonstration doesn’t work when one is not supposed to be staring at a screen in the first place.

Although I did like her programming and her shift from one asana to another was good on paper, there simply wasn’t enough instruction for anyone not already part of the practice of yin yoga. It wasn’t horrible for me, but I can’t see how someone unfamiliar with this type of practice would really know what to do.

I went from there to the gym where our entire day was working on snatches. This is the most difficult of all the Olympic lifts. There are so many moving parts and it takes a lot of flexibility as well as balance to actually carry this out. It also takes two arms and I only have one that goes overhead. I’ve been working diligently to not re-injure my already bum arm and so I only did cleans.

We did a 21 minutes EMOM. That means we did something at the top of each minute. There were three different moves. On the first minute we did three power snatches (cleans), on the second minute we did six deadlifts with the same wide grip, and then on the third minute we were to do one squat snatch (clean for me). We repeated this seven times for the 21 minutes.

We are in the middle of a deload week as next week we will be working on maxing out. So the percentages today were to be 60 – 75%. I selected the weights I would use. My goal was three rounds at the first weight, three at the slightly higher weight, and the last round at the highest weight.

The guy over there is relatively knew to CrossFit. His mobility isn’t the very greatest and his form is often a bit wonky due to that and to inexperience. Coach told him not to load any more weight on the bar, but to work on form.

One of the tenets of CrossFit is form before function. If you can’t do something perfectly with a PVC pipe or an empty bar, you aren’t going to be able to do it correctly with more weight. The form comes first. If your grip is incorrect, if your pull is off, if your foot placement is askew, if your squat is shallow – all these need to be corrected before you can safely go on to actually adding weight.

When you receive the bar overhead while you are on your toes or your feet are wobbly, all you are doing is risking beaning yourself when you lose your balance and drop the bar on your head. So this isn’t just about CrossFit, but about safety.

Since I’m writing about this, it is safe to assume that the guy added more weight to his bar anyway. He did not get hurt this time. But the need to be coachable is just as important as the need to coach properly. Ego makes us do dumb stuff. Ego makes some people miscount or shave time. But the greatest sin and the least helpful thing you can do at the gym is let your ego get in the way of coaching. The whole reason to have a coach is to learn how to correctly do the stuff. Listen to the coach; not your ego. It will help in the long run.

40e420f81ac617c09aa7077a188b936e

Advertisements

I’ve been trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to write about. I think it is – my arm. By taking a couple weeks off from the gym while my sisters were visiting, I gave the dumb thing a rest. It helped.

I have not been officially diagnosed by MRI or anything, but it is assumed by symptoms and physical exam that I have a tear where my deltoid inserts into my humerus. I can now reach my arm almost straight up but I can’t put my head “through the window” yet as I can’t get my left arm that far back. I also can’t do “cactus arms” for my yoga practice. I learned today that I can do eagle arms with my left (hurt) arm on the bottom, but not with it on the top as that torques it too much.

I can now row without it hurting at all. I can do cleans and deadlifts without problems. I can do downward dog as long as I don’t overextend. There are many things I can now do with impunity. That’s really nice.

Monday’s workout was rowing and then weighted box step ups interspersed with running and toes to bar. I cannot hang from the rig, so I have to do them supine and that seems to work. After I was done with the last round of step ups, I wanted to get rid of my second, heavier knee brace. I always wear a knee sleeve on my right knee. Anyway, I took off the brace and went to toss it over there by my water bottle. I was throwing it like a Frisbee. I used my left arm.

I thought I was going to burst into tears. First, because of the very sharp pain, lasting only seconds. Second, because I thought I might have reinjured my arm and would need to start all over. That second fear seems unfounded.

I have no idea when I’m going to hurt myself. I am very careful during a workout to make sure that what I’m doing is not going to cause me pain. I was doing heavier than normal cleans earlier in the week and every once in a while, on the pull, it would tweak my arm and I would end up letting my right arm do most of the work and coming under the bar all crooked. But, my arm was okay.

It is easier to protect me from myself with my yoga practice because I’m not tossing iron around, I’m by myself with a video, and I can back out as soon as I feel a tweak.

Another problem is sleeping. There are nights when I can get through the entire night without problem and wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new day. And then there are the other nights where my arm throbs and wakes me up several times. I have found that sleeping on the arm actually seems to help. When I sleep on my right side, my left arm eventually torques into some icky pose that will wake me up. I have no real solution to this part of the problem.

I wish I knew how I hurt myself. I was trying to do pull-ups, something that has so far eluded me completely. I know I pulled too hard and hurt my right arm/shoulder. But that’s not the arm that continues to have issues. I don’t remember ever hurting my left arm but just having this continuous pain show up.

Mt external rotation is improving although not as fast as I could wish. Eagle arms didn’t work very well today. My abduction is also improving, but I could not throw my knee brace without risking tears. Things are getting better, but not fast enough to suit me. If I were younger, perhaps I could heal faster. If my body were not trying to decay from the inside out, perhaps that would work better. I really have no idea how blood sugar levels affect healing, but I do know that diabetic heart attack patients have loads of issues with blood sugar. So it’s involved in there somewhere. I could probably look it up, but it wouldn’t change anything.

All in all, it is far better to never hurt yourself. I wish I had followed that advice.

cf

I do yoga to recover from my exercise routines, not as my exercise routine. This means that I use the gentler types of the practice. I’ve tried hatha and slow flow and even got sucked into a vinyasa or two, but I prefer yin and occasionally try some restorative.

When I exercise, I want iron involved. My favorite WODs include some Olympic lifting and little on the cardio or gymnastic side. CrossFit is fun because it is all of those things. And it is difficult because it is all of those things. Recovery from the rigors of the WOD is essential even for young people and for us senior citizens it is all that lets us continue.

So I do a lot of yin yoga. I stretch, I hold the poses for around three minutes and let the connective tissues release. It helps. I haven’t had a really bad IT band in a long time.

My routines is to wake up, start the coffee, go upstairs and do around 30-40 minutes of yin practice. My two favorite yin people are. Yoga with Kassandra and The Yoga Ranger Studio with Aprille Walker. I have tried several others and some are okay, some are pretty good, and there is one woman out there with a voice that drives me nearly to distraction. This is not a good thing when one is trying to calm the hell down.

After I finish up with my yoga, I have a half a cup of coffee, check social media, my email, my favorite online websites and then have a second alarm to remind me it is time to get up and get ready to go to the gym.

Since today isn’t a gym day and since I felt like it, I ran a search for restorative yoga and found one I thought I could like.

Well, let me tell you …

I liked it. It was fine and I restored myself and it felt great but …

I have gotten used to holding the pose for about two to three minutes. You can hold yin poses for longer, but usually since I pick shorter practices, it is a two to three minute hold. I have gotten very used to this time frame. Kassandra does use some background music while Aprille does not. That used to make it much more difficult for me. However, I have gotten good at keeping my mind from the to do list, menu, random unnecessary thoughts, and general noise even with no music to follow.

However, today’s restorative practice held poses for five to six minutes. They were very supported as it was restorative and it was not difficult to hold the pose. But there was no background music and my mind would just go all crazy talk on me. The most difficult part of the practice was trying to keep my mind still.

It took me a long time to even understand what “follow your breath” meant and even longer to actually get my brain to do it. Today, it was all that saved me from the intrusive thoughts, the cacophony of nonsense, the straying mind. I would suddenly see I was all monkey mind and immediately start to follow my breath and it worked.

I cannot even begin to explain the massive difference between three and five minutes. I have habituated to the three minute mark and can usually keep my mind focused on the present moment and the nothingness of stillness for that amount of time. But five minutes seemed like an eternity. Maybe even longer.

I have tried meditation in the past and could eventually manage to at least sit still for ten minutes, but I have never been able to calm my mind, follow my breath, or sit in internal stillness for that long. Perhaps this is something I should attempt again.

What I learned today is that it is scary there inside my mind. It is full of nonsense and distraction and trivial unimportance – anything to keep the silence at bay.

9d01628d59ec11538a21828f4f779546

I struggle with CrossFit. I mean, everybody does if they are really pushing themselves. But I struggle with admitting that I do wonderful things. I feel like I’m bragging or as my mother might say, “Tooting my own horn.”

I work really hard and I am consistent. I allow the coaches to coach me. I try to keep my form even as I tire. I have a whole host of limitations on top of all the other stuff. I’m old and getting older by the minute. I have a heart rate issue and am limited by the constraints put on me by my cardiologist. Right now, I have a boo-boo and my left arm doesn’t work exactly right. I can’t raise it straight overhead and certain movement hurt what is probably a tear where the deltoid inserts into the humerus.

All in all, it takes a certain amount of dedication to do what I do. Perhaps, it takes stupidity or maybe I’m just crazy. Whatever it is, I am consistent in doing it. I show up, I work hard, I reward myself with bacon and an egg when I get home.

Because I was diagnosed as prediabetic last fall, I have had to modify my eating habits. Due to this, I have lost 15% of my body weight and some of that was muscles. I cannot move the same amount of weight I could last summer. That could also be because I’m aging and slowly deteriorating. Whatever the reason, my back squat is lighter. This is upsetting me and yet, I was squatting 90 pounds yesterday. I couldn’t even deadlift that when I started.

I want to be proud of myself. I should be. I show up and work. But I also don’t want to brag too much lest someone point out that what I’m doing isn’t all that great or world class or what the totally awesome old ladies who show up at the CrossFit Games can do. I’m not that caliber of athlete, but I am working to my own capacity each time I venture out.

How do I manage to get these two conflicting ideas to meld into something that doesn’t sound ludicrous to me or to the world at large?

I know that I am more flexible than I was when I started my yin yoga practice. I know that I’m more flexible than when I started it back up after having a temper tantrum that lasted for months. I can forward fold with my legs stacked and do crazy stuff like touch my head to my knees. The instructor, a woman in her twenties, is far more bendy. I feel bad sometimes when I don’t bend like she does or when I sway in the wind on some of the asanas.

There was a time when I couldn’t even get close to the correct position for these things. With practice and patience I now can. No one wins at yoga, but I’m a CrossFitter and we do dumb stuff like compete with ourselves constantly. I try to win yoga, a completely ludicrous choice. There is no winning in this arena. And yet, I can’t fold as far or hold the poses without wobbling and in some instances, even hold the pose at all.

How do I learn to appreciate the time and effort I put into these endeavors? How do I manage to do that without feeling undeservedly boastful? How do I learn to accept where I am now as the space I should currently occupy?

I want to be better. I want to be better at all the things. I wish I was far more capable than I am. And yet, I do many things reasonably well. I do many things at or above expectations. I should be happy with my progress.

I see opportunities for improvement everywhere. I see the missed stitches when I crochet. I see the stray marks outside the lines when I color. I see the collapse as I try to hold dragon pose for too long. I see the lower weights on the bar or substitute movements for the WOD. I see my failures.

How do I find the thousands of stitches done perfectly, the overall pleasing aspect of the pictures, the perfection of pigeon pose, the mastery of weights lifted with proper form? And then, how do I learn to feel proud of these accomplishments rather than looking for perfection? I have no answers. Another fault.

e8a647537621d7096b7e64fa572729c2

What I really want to eat is a huge piece of fresh baked German chocolate cake with some pecan/caramel/coconut frosting piled high on top of it. What I eat is low carb yogurt. What I really want is a plate filled with butter drenched pasta but what I eat is a salad. What I really want to do is revert to a year ago when eating wasn’t a problem.

But here we are and it is. So I read labels and count carbs and hope that my A1C doesn’t climb even higher. It isn’t like I can eat nothing and usually it is just a bit more annoying. But it is always a concern for me, something I watch daily and think about each time I grab some food.

In the wild past I could eat a whole watermelon over the course of a week or bowls and bowls of cherries. I could consume a pineapple over a few days or mindlessly eat several plums or a bunch of grapes. Now, each of those “healthy” foods is just a bowl of carbs and need to be limited. The watermelon or pineapple will spoil before I can finish them. I know that because the grapes and strawberries do.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing wrong, but a friend went on a cruise and ate home made ice cream every day and went out to eat and selected wild things from the menu and then had an A1C come back much lower than the last check. I count and watched and limited my carb count to 100 a day or less and I dropped one tenth of a point. And I’ve dropped 15% of my body weight which is, according to legend, supposed to drop the count all by itself.

I’m already tired of this. I’m tired of watching everything I eat. I’m tired of not eating the things I would love to enjoy. I would love a small bowl of Talenti mint chocolate chip ice cream drowning in Velvet Fudge Sauce. Instead, I eat sensible, healthy stuff.

I don’t know what to do with all this angst, anger, disappointment with a lackluster body, but here I am. I know I could ignore it all and eat whatever crossed my mind, and then I would have to deal with greater things later. Boy, am I going to be mad if some texting teenager rams into me in the next few weeks and I could have had the cake and ice cream.

On a happier note, I’ve been going to a personal trainer and it is far different than just going to CrossFit and doing a WOD that is written for Everyman or everyone else but me. Jack has tailored each session to meet what I said were my goals. So I’m doing many different things and finding some of them far more challenging than I thought I would. Damn.

Yoga has gotten progressively easier as I continue to practice five times a week. The bending stuff is more bent and the poses are more stable, allowing me to sink into the stretch better. I have to tell myself that I’m not supposed to be CrossFitting yoga and remember that there is no prize for forcing myself into some ridiculously ouchy thing. This is for my benefit, not a punishment.

I do miss CrossFit on my personal training days because it is fun to workout with the same group of people I’ve been hanging out with for over a year. Luckily, I’m still there three days a week. There has been no Saturday stuff for the last couple weeks because there have been events off site where many of our athletes were participating and our coaches were off supporting them. I don’t know if there will be a workout this weekend. I hope so.

I know right now my biggest concern is food. I have never really had to worry about food before and quite frankly, it’s both boring and stifling. It is confining and such a stupid thing to fret over. I have enough of it, which is more than many people around the globe can say. But still, I want that cake.

chocolate-cake-1164795_640

I know that going to the gym helps my overall well being. I like pushing myself. I’ve grown tremendously. Things I once only dreamed of doing are now things I do all the time. I’m still not heading out to the Games or anything, but I’ve improved with continual practice.

It feels good to be able to move well. It’s impressive to see muscles on anybody and on me – dang impressive for an old fart. And so, I go to the gym without ever really questioning it. It’s what I do. I wake up and go to the gym. Period. No deciding. No debating. I just go.

I also know I have to eat better. I don’t have that choice any more. I’m pre-diabetic and if I don’t want to end up post-diabetic, I have to watch what I eat. I don’t get a cheat day. I can’t just decide I don’t want to do this now. I’m stuck with this if I want to stay on this side of the A1C line. And I do. So I eat and watch my carbs and try to choose better. No debating. This is just my life now.

I know I move better when I do yoga. I don’t do Hatha yoga or Vinyassa yoga. I do Yin yoga. It’s a practice that holds poses for minutes at a time, stretching as you sink into the pose and breathe in and out (through your nose when there isn’t too much pollen in the air). It helps with connective tissue stretching and allows you to move easier.

Somehow, I gave myself permission to choose on this one. I have no idea why. Probably because my routine wasn’t set in stone. There were no classes I had to attend or people would miss me. I have all my props right here at home and I can select from a range of over a bazillion YouTube videos. I have some favorite posting people who don’t annoy me as I’m trying to relax into the pose. It’s counter-productive to be annoyed while trying to do yoga.

I kept telling myself it was just an hour and I needed to get upstairs and stretch a little. Instead, I just debated myself and opted to not go upstairs, not stretch, not do the thing I knew would help. Last weekend, I finally forced myself upstairs and I was horrified.

All the things I could do once upon a time are gone. I’m not able to bend or move like I could a few months ago. Instead, I’m about as pliable as I was a couple years ago when I first got talked into doing some of this crap.

I know it is better to have this set of skills in my life for a variety of reasons. The most noticeable is that it makes going to the gym easier and that is why I finally got my unhappy ass back upstairs. But it makes the rest of my day better, too. It makes falling asleep and staying asleep easier. It just has a whole host of benefits.

When I’ve been awake for too long, I’m entirely capable of talking myself out of anything that seems like too much work. So, I have my alarm set for earlier on the days I go to the gym and I have been doing just a thirty minute routine before getting ready for the gym. That worked on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday is my rest day. I do laundry instead of going to the gym. I could have gotten up and started the laundry and done a real whole hour yoga class. I didn’t. I decided around lunch time that my issue was I didn’t want to do a whole hour class. I have nothing better to do, but that was my sticking point.

So instead of blowing the whole thing off, I figured it was better to do a thirty minute practice than a zero minute one. And that’s what I did.

I have no idea how long it will take me to get the flexibility back. Since I’m perfectly willing to do this before I hit the gym, I should be able to get in five 30-minute sessions a week and then on my rest days, I can opt to either do some or no yoga. At least I can opt for that once I’m a little farther along the path of habit and routine. Right now, I really need to keep myself vigilant because otherwise I will be back to no yoga again.

And then there is meditation. I need to return to that as well. It is supposed to help with my scattered nervousness. At least that is the theory and it seemed to work that way when I actually did it. So, I tried some of that today, too.

I know how to be healthy. Why is it so much work?

healthy-3638142_1280

I’m not getting any younger. Being old is hard work. You have to fight to keep whatever it is you already have. And trying to get more is far more difficult than when younger.

My goals include working out with CrossFit type WODs four times a week. I do a yin yoga practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and meditate on the days I don’t do yoga. This stuff is helping keep me flexible, strong, safe, clear, focused, etc.

I’ve been doing CrossFit longer than yoga and there are days when I just CrossFit the shit out of my yoga practice. I catch myself in the act and alter my behavior so I can yoga during yoga. I have found that after so much yoga, there are times when I yoga my CrossFit WODs, too. I then have to remind myself that CrossFit is CrossFit and yoga is yoga and when they meet, I must adjust my sails.

I want, above all, to be perfect. All the time. I realize this is both ridiculous and impossible, but there it is. I cringe with each mistake. I cringe when I don’t keep the bar in close on a lift. I cringe when my body doesn’t fold in a pose. I cringe when I find a typo. I cringe when dinner doesn’t turn out the way I planned. I cringe and cringe and cringe and then wonder why I have a stiff neck.

Meditation is extremely difficult for me. I’m busy thinking about being perfect and the whole point of meditation is to not think, especially about being perfect and then I get caught in this loop of wanting to be perfect at a time when perfection is not even a pretend goal.

Using a guided meditation helps some, but my mind still wanders into the path of oncoming traffic and I wish desperately to be perfect at this. I would like to be perfect at something. Okay. I want to be perfect at everything.

My quest for perfection has oftentimes negated the sheer joy in living. This is most clear for me now at the gym when I should be so grateful to be able to do all the things I’ve worked so hard to attain. Instead, I want more and miss the joy of getting this far up an eternal mountain. There is no top to this journey.

Stop and smell the roses. At least notice there are roses and they are beautiful. I love the smell of lily of the valley, maybe I should stop and smell that.

I’ve been keeping a journal of things for which I’m grateful. It helps to keep me focused on the here and now and realize how precious it is. It is perfectly imperfect. I should allow myself to cherish it, mistakes and all. Noticing how often I’ve chosen wisely and done good. Not all the time, of course, but often enough to give me something to be thankful for.

I’ve risked enough to make the mistakes, be imperfect, learned new things. Gratitude makes even the imperfect better.

26733836_1639013972804142_5351605328274336518_n

Next Page »