Look, I know I'm not very good at yoga.
If you've ever been to a yoga class, I'm that girl in the room. The one that can't do the splits, sit cross-legged without a block, or generaly mimic the teacher in any way because I'm overall so god-damned tight.
But I'm ok with that. Because it's not about looking cool, it's about feeling better and slowly improving my strength and flexibility.
When I do a little bit of yoga every day, my entire body feels good. My back issues go away. My stomach muscles are noticeably stronger. And I feel like Catwoman, which is a good thing.
So to keep up this good yoga habit through the holidays, I bought myself an early Christmas present - a travel yoga mat, specifically this one from Jade Yoga.
Like a lot of people, travel has always disrupted my healthy habits. I went up to D.C. several times this past summer and fall, and it was such pain to drag my thick yoga mat along, that I just didn't bother. But then when I'd get back to North Carolina, it would take me a little while to get into yoga again. I think it's way harder to start or re-start healthy habits, than it is to maintain them. Ergo, I should do yoga even when I'm away from home.
This Christmas we're visiting my husband's family up in New England, where I'm sure we'll be enjoying plenty of holiday cookies and candy cane drinks. We're usually pretty good about taking long walks with the dogs, but I want to keep up with the yoga as well.
So I did some research and survey said: Jade Voyager Yoga mat.
Every now and then I'll make a purchase that turns out to be the best thing ever, and I think this mat is one of those things.
It's super thin. Look how easily it fits into the front pocket of my suitcase.
It's also full-sized and super gripy - which I prefer in a yoga mat. I hate slip-sliding around.
My regular yoga mat has gotten kind of old and worn down (I think I bought it in 2003, so I may have gotten my money's worth). It's just a tad too slippery for me to feel completely comfortable sometimes. The Jade Voyager travel mat is a little too thin and unpadded for daily use, but when I decide my old yoga mat has finally given up the ghost, I might upgrade to this Jade Harmony mat, which is thicker, and definitely a little pricey, but not if you think of it in terms of price per use (i.e., for daily yoga practice, it might be worth it to splurge on a higher quality mat).
It looks nice and padded, but still extra-grippy, so you can really push down and away from the mat to get that nice downward-facing dog stretch in your lower back.
Anyway, yoga is just one of the ways I'm planning on staying healthy this Christmas and into the New Years. I refuse to feel bad about enjoying some holiday treats with my family. Yoga is a more positive and sustainable activity I can incorporate into my life to help me feel good.
How about you? Any healthy living goals for the holidays you'd like to share?
Since I started running my editing business full time, I've been sitting a lot more than I used to. I spent the majority of the day on my feet at my old job, so I never really had any back issues before. But now that I sit in front of a computer all day, I've been dealing with some pretty nasty upper- and lower-back pain. Even though writing is just about my favorite activity to do in the world, lately it's been just a little less fun because it can feel quite physically painful. I never really thought of writing as a sedentary job, but it totally is.
My father has pretty significant back issues, so this is a problem of mine that I wanted to nip in the bud. Taking editing/writing breaks (see step 6 of my work from home tips) and moving around certainly helps, but honestly you can only take so many breaks in the day before you start killing your productivity, and plus, it doesn't really fix the underlying problem, which is a lack of flexibility.
At the beginning of the summer, my upper-back pain was the biggest issue. It felt like someone was driving a knife between my shoulder-blades. I adjusted the ergonomics of my desk, and that helped a little, but not completely. Eventually, I did some research and found that tightness in your chest muscles is what actually pulls your shoulders forward (especially for desk-workers), which causes the area between your shoulder blades to feel tight and painful. Thankfully, it's very easy to solve. I used this gentleman's website as a guide for correcting bad posture and found it very helpful, particularly stretch number 7. I do that one daily, and it has made the pain between my shoulder blades completely go away. I've also noticed that my shoulders look much less rounded. Win-win :)
But as soon as I fixed that issue, the pain just migrated into my lower back. After editing all day, I'd stand up and feel like an old lady hobbling around. Everything felt so stiff.
For whatever reason, my thoughts instantly turned to yoga as a solution. I've done some yoga in the past, usually whenever I happen to belong to a gym (right now, I don't), and I've always enjoyed it, though I've never practiced very regularly. Now that we have internet again, I decided to check out some Yoga videos on YouTube - and have LOVED IT. It's made a huge difference in my back issues.
My favorite is the Yoga by Adrienne channel. She has a really nice blend of vinyasa (flow/strength) and hatha (stretching/flexibility) routines. I really like her teaching style, which is more relaxed ("no yoga-robots"), not too woo-woo, but also just woo-woo enough to help me feel focused on the breath (and not mentally ticking through my never-ending to-do list).
After trying meditation off and on over the past year, and feeling like it wasn't really helping me as much as I wanted it to (for whatever reason, it seems to kill my creativity), I've found that yoga works a lot better at improving my mood. In addition to feeling calmer, I also feel a lot stronger. Even doing mundane stuff, like cleaning the shower, is easier because I'm just better at moving around on my hands and knees. I've always been a very inflexible person, but even I can tell that my flexibility has significantly improved.
Anyway, for you writers and desk-jockeys out there, seriously, consider adding a yoga video to your daily routine. Or, do some sun salutations while you watch TV with the family. I do that quite a bit now and it feels so good to get that body moving around.
Yoga + Writing = :)
Writer, editor, scientist.