1.27.2016

Cross Country Ski Mammoth



Happy New Year (again)! I am not a New Year’s Resolution kind of girl and instead I have themes for each year. I usually wait for the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year to some) to decide what my theme is, but this year I think I have figured it out. I think I am going with “try something new each month”. It was more of a try new things kind of year, but giving it the timeframe of at least once a month gives me something to aim for and focus on. You know, that whole a goal without a plan is just a dream thing. So for the month of January I went Cross Country (XC) Skiing!

Now to be honest I did go XC Skiing once before in Tahoe two years ago for Christmas. But I don’t really count that time. It was icy, I was falling all over the place, and I had no clue what I was doing. This time I signed up for a lesson and had a much better experience. So for anyone being technical, this was the first time I had a XC skiing lesson and the first time I went XC skiing in Mammoth Lakes. So that can count as my try something new for January.

I haven't been snowboarding very much in the last two years with the drought in California and a schedule change at work. T has continued to get an annual pass to Mammoth but I have not. When we have gone to Mammoth and he goes skiing I have been finding other things to do. The most recent thing I did was sign up for a XC skiing lesson at Tamarack Lodge.

I feel I should mention a few things about myself at this point. The first is that I am a bit klutzy. I snowboard because there is only one piece of equipment as opposed to four pieces of equipment if I skied. I do not like to “go fast” and like to make sure I know how to stop and how to get up when I fall. Are you getting a sense of me as an athlete now? Bet you want me on your team! I was willing to try XC skiing because I thought most of the terrain would be flat and I love the area in the summer and wanted to see it in the snow.



I purchased a package that included a lesson, rentals, and a pass for the day out of Tamarack Lodge. My lesson was at 10am and I arrived early to get my equipment. There were four people in my lesson and Katie the instructor was great. We started with the basic stance and walking and then added a glide. In the beginning we didn’t use any poles but eventually added them in. We learned how to stop and how to ski down hill in the cross country ski tracks. I was the first person to fall, so then we all learned how to get up when you fall. The lesson was an hour and a half and pretty great. We learned around Twin Lakes in the Mammoth Lakes basin and it was beautiful.

About noon I headed back to Tamarack Lodge to meet up with T. He rented some cross country skis and we decided to try to ski up to and around Lake Mary.



Okay. Confession and a little background information. My confession is that T is a skier and I didn’t think it was going to be worth his rental money to ski around Twin Lakes like I had done that morning. That is why we decided to try to go to Lake Mary. Background information: Lake Mary is up a hill from Tamarack Lodge. In the summer it is a workout on a bike at 8000+ feet and this day was no different.

We started out and the first little bit of switchbacks was a workout! We were maybe a third of the way up the hill and T said, “Call it if you want to turn back”. Like Hell I would! I was the one who had taken a cross country ski lesson. I wasn’t calling anything!



By this time it was early afternoon and the wind had come up. It was getting colder but we were pretty warm. T passed me up and was much better than I was. We finally made it to the relative flat road that circles Lake Mary and it was beautiful. So peaceful and quiet. The snow kissing everything.



By the time we started to make our way down the hill I was pretty tired. I fell five times and was glad I had learned an easy way to get up! We made it back to Tamarack in the now howling wind and returned our gear. We went to have a beer at the Tamarack Lodge but quickly changed our minds when we saw how packed it was. We ended up at the Black Doubt nano-brewery in Mammoth and I think I may have found my favorite ape-ski place! Great beer. When we got home we jumped in the hot tub for 20 minutes with the snow around us. T and I had a great time and I would do it again! I am hoping for some more snow and a chance to go snowshoeing next time I am in the area.



Do you have any winter activities you could suggest for me to try. Remember I am a bit klutzy, so mention any safety gear I might want to add. For example, I snowboard, but I always wear knee and wrist guards….. I fall a lot… But that doesn’t stop me from trying new things.

What do you suggest?

-elizabeth

1.13.2016

200 Hours of Yoga

200 hours of yoga in ten weeks. That is A LOT of yoga. I guess it wasn’t really 200 hours of YOGA because it was actually Yoga Teacher Training and some of that time was lectures and such but 200 hours were devoted to yoga over ten weeks and that was a lot of yoga.



How did I find myself in Yoga Teacher Training. Funny you should ask. To answer the first question I always get, No, I don’t want to teach yoga. So what was I doing?

Over the summer I got serious about yoga. I increased my running and needed some major cross training. I had been going to yoga during the spring, but had two months off over the summer and started taking ten classes a week. It was awesome. I was in a zone. The studio I was going to, Yoga Tribe in Huntington Beach, had a summer challenge of 92 classes and that motivated me to attend so many classes.



Yoga Tribe is a hot yoga studio and offers three different types of classes. The Dayton Method is very similar to Bikram Yoga and has a series of 28 postures performed in the same order in each class. There is a 60 minute or a 90 minute class. I started going to this studio off and on about three years ago. When I first started they only had the Dayton Method and I would go to the 6am class once a week. Eventually they added 60 minute Warrior Flow classes and these were vinyasa yoga classes. Vinyasa Yoga is a breath with every movement style of yoga. Each yoga pose flows into the next with the breath. I tried out these classes and loved them. They were not as hot as the Dayton and each class was different. Yoga Tribe started offering a 5:30am class twice a week and I switched over to Warrior Flow classes. I started taking a restorative yoga class on Sunday night and it was fantastic! Eventually the studio switched it over to something called Yin Yoga and I went to a few of those classes. Yin Yoga is very passive and you hold positions for 5-7 minutes. Almost all poses are seated poses but you feel them! When I was taking all those yoga classes in the summer, there were two days a week when I would take a 5:30am and 5:30pm Warrior Flow class and then a 7pm Yin Yoga class. I felt great.

In these classes there are studio announcements at the end of class and I kept hearing about Warrior Flow Teacher Training. I had been taking classes from the yogi who was teaching Teacher Training and she is one of the best yoga instructors I have ever had. For weeks I would hear these announcements and they would wash over me. Then one day I was in her class, Shannon Kasoff is her name, and she said something that grabbed my attention. She said, “If you have ever wanted to learn more about yoga and alignment and how it relates to your body, teacher training is for you”. I am not sure if that was word for word what she said but all of a sudden I was interested. I really did want to know about yoga alignment and how it related to my body. I wanted to be a better yogi. I talked to Shannon after class about some questions I had and let her know I didn’t want to teach but was interested in learning more about yoga. She answered all my questions and the next day I signed up.

The first weekend of training I thought I had made a mistake.

As I sat through orientation on Friday night it started to dawn on me that this was after all, Yoga Teacher Training, and if I really didn’t want to teach yoga, this might be a bit of an overkill for what I was looking for. I was training for a half marathon and on the first Saturday morning of training I got up and ran eight miles and then went to my required 9am yoga class and then had class/ training from 11am-4pm. I slept during our break and was exhausted by the time training ended on Monday night. Not a good way to start the first week.

This teacher training was designed so people could work and attend training for ten weeks. Classes were on Saturday and Sunday from 11am-4pm and on Monday from 7-10pm. We had one Friday orientation meeting and one Wednesday night event. Additionally we were required to take four yoga classes a week and three classes at other studios. The 9am Saturday class was mandatory for all students. We also needed to observe two yoga instructors teaching. Each week we had three textbooks we were reading and multiple writing assignments. And when we started to have to practice teach as a class, we were practicing that each week too. All of this added up to our 200+ hours of yoga teacher training.

There were twelve of us in the training and we came in all shapes and sizes. There were eight girls and four boys. The youngest were in their early twenties and the oldest said she was in her fifties. I hope I look that good when I am in my fifties! The experience level varied greatly with a few people being fairly new to yoga or that style of yoga. The first night we were put in groups of four and these people became our “Omies”. A cross between “Homies” and “Om”. I thought it was kind of clever. These people would be the ones we texted if we were late and be our study buddies. My Omies were AWESOME and I felt so lucky to be in the group with them. One of them was the owner of the Yoga Tribe studio named Jason and I was curious how that was going to go. It ended up going really well.

So let me just say that Yoga Teacher Training was intense, time consuming, and completely overwhelming. It completly messed with my schedule and I got to the point during the week where I just had to focus on the next thing I needed to do to keep moving forward. Read this chapter, write this paper, answer questions, take a yoga class, practice teach with Omies…. did I eat? Ironically, it was stressing me out. A few weeks into the training I realized what was going on and tried to slow the train down. I wasn’t too successful, but at least I was better. I talked about this a bit in my blog post about Mindful Eating. But while it was all those crazy things, it was also wonderful.

Shannon told our class that this was her dream teacher training. She had created a manual for us that was 2.5 inches thick. Each week we focused on a different topic. We created a strong foundation and moved up from there. We had lots of guest speakers and my two favorite were Nicolette David who taught us all about anatomy (my favorite part of training) and Simon Ballard who did a sound healing class for us that blew my mind. That was a whole new experience. While the training focused on teaching, I was able to find a lot of it that was what I was looking for. We practiced many yoga postures and dissected them to understand their component parts. I learned about complimentary yoga poses and so much more. We even had a huge section on yoga modifications and yoga for pregnancy. We had to take a yoga class with Shannon while we were all (even the boys) pregnant to understand what it felt like and how to modify yoga poses. We wore big shirts and had a balloon as a baby so it wasn’t really like being pregnant but it was close enough! That was a hard class!



The teacher training part was also really good. We created classes together and then started teaching them to each other. We got lots of feedback and eventually taught a class to our family and friends. It was done “popcorn” style where we each took turns, but it was nerve racking just the same. I was so proud of our my fellow students during the training and felt lucky to be part of the group.



We also spent a Wednesday night doing a Karma Yoga Project where we helped with Laundry Love, and organization that Shannon and her husband Christian work with. The organization helps homeless people do their laundry and offers them a free meal. It was a moving experience to work with all the volunteers and to help some of the members in our community. Clean clothes. So simple, but so important. Something I won’t take for granted again.


As graduation approached we could feel our time together coming to an end. We had learned so much together and Shannon organized a special day away from the studio. We had lunch and then visited the Chinese Gardens at Cal State Long Beach. The following weekend we completed our finals and then graduated.




And at the end of all that I can say it was worth it. I became better at yoga. I am certified to teach if I decide to do that in the future. I learned more than I thought I would and want to keep learning. Always a good sign….. And I am grateful for a body and a country where I can practice yoga. I think Yoga Teacher Training was a gift I gave myself. But the universe also gave me a gift when I decided to drop my ego at the door and pursue this. I am not sure what doors this will open, or where it will take me, but that is the story of my life. Until then, I will just be grateful that I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training and for my new found knowledge and experience.

As they say at the end of yoga class.... Namaste.

-elizabeth

1.03.2016

Welcome 2016!

Happy New Year!

Yes I know I am a little late, but I was in the land of very slow internet and it was too painful to try to deal with technology when the great outdoors was calling. Case and point:

 

But I still got a photo of the Neighbor's deer all dressed up. I guess he had a good New Years....

 

New Year's resolutions are not my thing. Instead I have yearly themes! I decide on a theme by Lunar New Year (February 8th this year) and so far that has been working pretty well for me. Except for 2015, but that update is coming in a bit.

 

I was in the Seattle area for Christmas with my Mom's side of the family. It was wet and cold, but awesome. Amazing food and sleep. I slept so much this holiday! Maybe it was because the sun would set at 4pm. Ouch. Still, we made the best of the daylight hours.

 

For New Years the cats and I (we are cat-sitting one cat) drove to the Mammoth area to spend it with T and Mr. and Mrs Fish Whisper. I felt so out of shape and decided to not snowboard, but got in a lot of hikes, even thought it was freezing. Litterally.

 

 

 

When I got home (T is skiing for another week), I was doing some meal prepping when I noticed some expired condiments in our fridge. I was in the "New Year" spirit and decided it was a good time to clear those out. I like schedules and think I will add this as something to do every new year. I know it is small, but it made me feel like I was unburdening our house in a strange way. And it wasn't overwhelming becuase it was just the door of the fridge. I highly recommend it. Plus I found something that was really old. Clearly not something we needed.

 

2015 was a great year and I think 2016 is going to be a great year too. Change is in the air. And while it makes me a little nervous, it also keeps me on my toes.

 

Welcome 2016! I am excited to see what you have in store.