Monday, April 19, 2010

Coloring the day

Hard mysore practice today… a cold room and a body recovering from a fun weekend away with amazing girlfriends (celebrating our darling Greta’s upcoming marriage!!!!)

On days like today, I am reminded that everything is connected. The way I treat my body during the day/over the weekend impacts how I feel in morning practice. And the way I feel during practice colors the rest of the day… my concentration, energy, productivity, creativity, and courage.

I’m feeling the heaviness of a long week ahead, so I’m trying to concentrate on the things I can actually control. I’ve noticed that the following habits (mostly related to what I put into my body) correlate with a better morning practice... and thus more fulfilled days: 
  • Sleeping at least 7 hours (of good, deep, dream-filled sleep)
  • Not eating after ~7pm 
  • Drinking herbal tea before bed (keeps me hydrated)
  • Eating whole foods (grains, salads, avocados, beans, beets, tomatoes, fruit)
  • Eating little to no sugar
  • Minimizing salt 
  • Minimizing dairy
  • Having an early morning pre-practice coffee with cinnamon… to wake up and warm up (and no, I’m not giving this up anytime soon!)
What am I missing? Anyone have any other good habits that help their yoga practice? I need all the help I can get!


  1. I love your list, Christina. It looks quite a bit like my list :) I would add an extra hour of sleep (but that could be that I crave sleep with a little one who likes to hang out in the middle of the night). And so important.

  2. it is so hard to do any of these things when you are a new mom! but one thing I do is when there is a moment of quiet to just sit there and appreciate it and appreciate life. I try to do that a few times during the day.

  3. remember that coffee does not counter the effects of alcoholic beverages,
    especially beer in the at lunch

  4. I too follow a number of the items on your list. Here's one thing that I do (and you might want to try): Peter Gillham's Natural Calm. Its a powder form of magnesium that you place in water (about a teaspoonful) and drink before you go to bed. It balances your calcium intake and restores healthy magnesium levels. It's great in calming you down and relaxing stress muscles. Sold at Whole Foods. Check it out.

  5. Maybe not so much "good habits," but tips/tricks/lessons learned:

    1. The longer I am awake before practice, the better it is (Cēterīs paribus). However, this involves waking up earlier than I absolutely must, which my body (mind?) tends to resist.

    2. Hydrating up until just before practice is not ideal, but it works (nothwithstanding the need to use the restroom in the middle of practice). However, this is better than going to practice feeling dehydrated.

    2. Drinking beer the night before makes practice more difficult (probably because the bubbles do not make it easy for me to sleep soon after drinking it); wine is preferred after about 8pm during the week.

    3. I think dairy and salt work the opposite for me (though I think I may need to do a bit more personal research on this). I've had many a lovely practice after consuming each of these. But not together! Chinese food and a milkshake or hot chocolate is the absolute worst combination of foods ever. If I eat both of these in the evening, my stomach is toast afterwards, and practice the next day suffers. There's a reason cuisines of East Asia do not incorporate dairy, and messing with this causes far more pain than practicing on a moon day ever could. I should note that during the day this is just as evil a combination, but there is recovery time before morning practice.

    4. Ibuprofen: Apply liberally.

  6. These are great... so this is what I'm adding and thinking about:

    -Give myself more pre-practice time in the morning (but to go to bed earlier/more time in the day)

    -Salt: Trying to figure this out because salt also makes me feel better sometimes, although I think I can have TOO much (working on moderation). (Frank your experience with dairy is interesting to me... part of my negative experiences with dairy could be related to my lactose intolerance)

    -Sleep (and snuggles - so important, Rebecca!)

    -Moments of quiet and stillness (thanks, Kim!)

    -Craig I'll look into that magnesium powder - sounds similar to Epsom salts?

  7. Christina, comments re: salt and dairy.

    1) I don't eat as much dairy as many people. I largely don't like cheese, which many people slather all over their food, and cream sauces are too "cheesy" for me (must have to do with growing up on my grandmother's Southern Italian food, in which "white sauce" means oil-based, not cream based). Perhaps if I ate these things I would not feel the same way. However, a cup of ice cream, milk in my cereal, or a cup of hot chocolate do not bother me at all (though all three at once might be a different story...). Yogurt does not bother me either, but generally that's a relatively small serving when I eat it. Perhaps moderation is the key?

    2) I'm sure there are times when my body requires salt to balance electrolytes and whatnot. So, perhaps if I ate a meal drenched in soy sauce when I wasn't feeling like that's what I need, I might not have so positive a reaction as far as practice goes. But when my body is craving salt and I head for Chinatown, it's probably because it's what my body needs. I imagine that purposefully abstaining from salt when I feel the need might actually make me feel worse if during/after a hot, sweaty practice. Note that Ashtanga does often make me sweat a lot. When I first discovered the practice in 2008, there were pools of sweat all over the place. Those have greatly reduced in size, but there are still days when I am blinded by the perspiration. There are people, however, who do not sweat a quarter of what I do on a less-sweaty day, so I imagine that many Ashtanga practitioners may not need salt in the same way. I could be talking through my "asana" here, but it makes sense to me...:)