5 Steps for Picking a Yoga Class

You’ve heard all about the benefits of yoga.  You know it can provide flexibility, strength, stress relief and relaxation.  You are ready to try a class and see what it can do for you, but you are not sure which class to take.  The following steps will help you choose a class that is right for you, giving you the best chance for an enjoyable class.

Know what you want from yoga

Yoga offers a lot of benefits – physical, mental and spiritual.  Make sure you know what you really want, and also what you don’t want.  Are you looking to increase flexibility and strength with little concern for mental improvement?  Do you want an aerobic workout?  Does your mind need a rest more than your body needs a workout?  Does the philosophy of yoga turn you off?  Knowing what you want from your yoga practice is the most important step to ensuring you choose a class that is right for you.

Research local yoga studios

You can find yoga classes at many different places including dedicated studios, gyms and fitness centers, community centers and more.  Start with an internet search for ‘yoga classes [your city]’ to get a feel for your options.  Look through the websites of facilities in your area, keeping in mind step 1 – knowing what you want.  Dedicated studios are more likely to have classes that focus on the philosophy of yoga, including breathing and meditation in classes.  They are also more likely to offer the largest selection of classes.  Gyms and fitness centers often offer more fitness based classes, with a focus on the physical benefits.  Classes at YMCAs, community centers and other facilities are likely to more basic, catering to the general population who may not take regular classes.  Make sure to read the ‘About Us’ or  ‘Our Mission’ page to get an understanding of what the facility wants you to get from them.

Find a class with a description that suits you

After you have narrowed down the facility choices, read through each of the class descriptions.  Many studios offer in depth class descriptions with the style of class, length of class, ability level needed, inclusion of breathing or meditation and more.  Even short descriptions such as “Basic flow class suitable for all levels with a focus on flexibility” are helpful.  Remember what you want to get from class and focus on descriptions that meet those criteria.  Classes that say all levels or any ability level will usually start with basic postures and show modifications to make them more intense or difficult.  These classes are a great way to see how the physical aspect of yoga progresses and allows you to stretch your abilities slowly as you attend more classes.

Make sure it fits your schedule

This is often the step that is considered first when trying to decide on a yoga class.  Schedules are hectic and finding time for you can be difficult.  Being available for class is obviously important, but don’t sacrifice what you really want from your yoga class for the sake of timing.  Especially with the first few classes you attend, choosing schedule over substance could turn you off yoga entirely.  It is important to start with a class that meets your needs.  Allow yourself time to get to class without rushing or stressing.  If you show up flustered, it will impact your class negatively.  The first time you go to a studio or facility arrive 15 minutes early to sign up and get information about the facility.  You’ll want to know if they have any specific policies and where the restrooms and locker rooms (if any) are.  This will also give you a few minutes before class to relax and prepare.

Ask Around

This step can be done at any time during your search for a yoga class, but I suggest saving it for the end, using others experience and opinions as a confirmation of what you have found, or reason to rethink your decision.  Asking others too early can bias your search and cause you to exclude classes that would be great for you, because maybe they were not right for someone else.  When you do talk with others, make sure you understand what they are getting from their yoga practice and ask if the classes they recommend will help you get what you want from the class.

Remember, the key is to know what you want and find a class that can provide those things for you.  Even if you have tried yoga before or you practice one style regularly, these tips can help you discover new classes.

Good luck and Namaste!

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Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Here is another easy recipe to make in bulk for a large group or for leftovers.  Chicken salad is especially yummy in the summer, but we eat it all year round.  There is a lot of chopping involved, but otherwise this is a pretty simple recipe.

Once again, the recipe is more of a guideline and you can adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.

This will make about 6 to 8 sandwiches depending on how much filling you put in each croissant.

  • Cooked shredded chicken – 3 to 4 breasts
  • Chopped celery – about 1 cup
  • Sliced grapes (I like my quartered, but halves work well too) – about 1 cup
  • Chopped red onion – about 1/4 cup
  • Roasted chopped pecans – handful (roast pecan halves in dry skillet, stirring frequently to prevent burning, about 5 minutes, then chop)
  • Chopped provolone cheese – I buy the sandwich slices and cut them into 1/2 inch or so cubes
  • Mayo – anywhere from 1 to 2 cups, depending on how saucy you like your chicken salad
  • Fresh baked butter croissants – 6 to 8
Combine the chicken, celery, grapes, onion, pecan and provolone and mix well.  Add in mayo until the desired consistency is reached.  Slice open croissants, fill, eat.  Yummy.
The chicken salad will usually last 5 to 6 days in the fridge, which makes it easy to store in individual containers and take for lunch.  It’s also great on mini party croissants for brunches and showers and such.
Enjoy!

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Garden Blooms

I love discovering the first blooms in the garden.

The first visible signs that you are on your way to fresh veggie deliciousness.  No matter that the actually veggies won’t show up for weeks, it is just nice to know they are on their way.

Here are the first few from our garden:

Tomato

Bell Pepper

Beans

Peas

Strawberries

The herbs are flowering as well.  This is less exciting than when veggies bloom, because you don’t need the blooms from herbs to get the good stuff.  The leaves are the good stuff.  But herb flowers are often very pretty, as is the case with the bloomers I have now.  And… they are all purple.  Herbs after my own heart.

Chives

Sage

Lavender – the prettiest by far

I really hope the lavender fields are in bloom when we go to Seattle in June.  I bet they are spectacular.

I hope wonderful things are blooming for you as well!

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On Being a Princess and Being a Hater

I loved the Royal Wedding.  Not get up at 4am and watch all the coverage loved, but enough to wake up to see the dress (stunning and gorgeous) and then to see the kiss (double kiss, *swoon*) on the balcony and watch the entire ceremony later on DVR.  I thought it was fairy tale and history and magical.  For a minute, I wanted to be British.  Americans do not have loyalty to anything the way the British do to their monarchy, right or wrong.

After the wedding, I read a lot of articles, blogs and news coverage on the wedding; I wanted to know all the details.  It amazed me how much hate was thrown around regarding the wedding and the people who watched it.  I’m all for free speech and the ability to share our opinion with the world, but why do we have to bash others whose opinion is different?

I don’t begin to assume that all little girls had dreams of growing up to marry prince charming.  Hell, I don’t assume all little girls dream of growing up to marry a man.  But for those of us who did, this was a chance to watch someone else live out that dream and cheer and celebrate for her.  I spent my entire childhood reading stories and books.  No matter the genre, the fairy tale ending always came true (even for Nancy Drew).  So even if being royalty wasn’t something I considered, living a fairy tale sure was.  Congratulations to Kate for making her fairy tale come true.  I wish them absolute happiness.

And for those of you who thought the Royal Wedding was stupid, or a waste of time and money, I wish you happiness as well.  Because you are entitled to feel and believe what you want.  But can we please just stop the bashing. A friend of mine publicly posted her reason for watching the Royal Wedding, which was sentimental and meaningful, and it was another reminder to me that we never know the motivations of others and seemingly mindless comments can be incredibly hurtful in some situations.

Maybe I make my PB&J sandwiches funny because that is how my granny made them for me.  Maybe you are a bird watcher or stamp collector because those things fascinate you beyond belief and bring you joy.  Maybe you like sci-fi or westerns or sappy love stories because they remind you of something or someone special.  That’s great.  That’s what makes the world go around, different people with different interests.  But let’s all just take a breath and think twice about why someone might be in to something, or feel the way they do about something, before calling them a stupid idiot and bashing them for feeling that way.

Don’t misunderstand me…. Write all you want about why you believe what you do and why I should change my mind.  I welcome new ideas and different points of view. If we are passionate about something we should want to try and convert others to our way of thinking, whether it is religion, politics, book genres or ice cream flavors. As a Christian, I am called to share the good news with others and bring them to Christ.  But make no mistake, hating others for their beliefs won’t win hearts for Jesus.  I’m not advocating befriending everyone, no matter their interests and beliefs; I’m simply advocating not hating.

Sometimes I wish we could amend the first amendment to say “Congress shall make no law…. abridging the freedom of speech… unless it is speech that hates or bashes others.”  That probably flies in the face of true freedom of speech, but bashing others because of their likes, dislikes, feelings or beliefs flies in the face of our humanity.

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Hi, My Name is Jessica and I’m Smart

That’s right folks. I’m smart. Really smart, actually.

From an early age, I tested well and was told I was smart. Somewhere along the way, however, I determined that I shouldn’t play up my intelligence around others, even though everyone knew I was smart. I answered questions in class, I got better grades, teachers talked about me more. But for some reason, I determined that it was cocky or bragging or prideful to talk about my intelligence. So I didn’t.

I downplayed my brain power. I qualified many of my statements with “well, I think that maybe” or “I heard that” so it did not seem like I was a know it all or had all the answers simply because I was smart. I rarely said “this is the answer” or “I know this is how it works.”

Maybe I thought it would hurt other peoples feelings if I said I was smart (or smarter than them). When I was in the seventh grade and we took our standardized tests, our math teacher announced that someone in our class had gotten the highest score of anyone in our grade, a 99%. I saw everyone look to one kid and whisper his name because they assumed it was him. I assumed it was him. Then our math teacher pointed at me. I was embarrassed. And the kid everyone assumed it was, Jason Rose, looked embarrassed too. Then I felt bad that he felt embarrassed, like it was somehow my fault. (He made fun of the way I ate my cookies in high school, so really he deserved to feel bad in seventh grade… but that’s another story.)

Whatever the reason, I have always felt uncomfortable with my intelligence and the perceptions other might have of me (or of themselves) because of it. Now, after some maturity and life and work experience (not a lot, mind you, but some) I am finally starting to learn that downplaying my abilities only hurts me.

In school, doing well on assignments and tests was enough. You were graded fairly (most of the time) and that was enough to get by and be at the top. The real world isn’t like that. There are very few tests where we are fairly graded on our brain power and that alone is enough to move us forward and upward. Others have to have a reason to give me an opportunity at all, and if I always downplay my intelligence and abilities no one is ever going to give me a chance.

One of my favorite poems is by Marianne Williamson because it so accurately reflects how I feel.

Our Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are younot to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Of course, I haven’t worked out all of the internal factors that cause me to play small, but I am working on it.

First order of business, announce to the interwebs that I am smart. Really smart.

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Wannabe: Event Planner

When people ask me why I am getting my MBA, I like to say it is because I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  While I say it in jest, to draw a laugh and to not have to talk about the fact that currently, I don’t actually want to get an MBA, there is a lot of truth in the statement.

The truth lies in the fact that I want to be so many things I don’t know how to choose or where to start.  On any given day if you asked me what I really wanted to be you might get a number of different responses:  yoga instructor, development economist, university professor, high-powered executive, housewife, photographer, writer, serial entrepreneur.  The list goes on.  And on.  And the problem is, there is a part of me that wants to do each and every one of those things.  Probably more importantly, a part of me thinks I could actually be any one of those things if I could just make up my damn mind and put some effort into it.

I decided a fun and interesting way to hash out some of the things I “wannabe” would be to write about them.

Today, for some random reason, I wannabe an event planner. I’m feeling creative and spatial and logistic, adding up to the need to plan an event. It’s been just at a year since I planned a real event, Moms’ 50th birthday,  which I also catered.  It was super fun and a lot of work, but mostly fun.

One thing I love about event planning, especially big events like weddings or galas, are design boards that help you visualize the concept for the event.  I also love searching out the perfect item to match that concept.  I’m not sure I would love dealing with picky, emotional people.

I thought I might create a design board since I was feeling so creative, but I got bored with it.  (So maybe I’m not cut out to be an event planner, but really its only fun when you are doing it for someone and it will have a real impact on the event, and not just to be doing it….  I digress.)  Here are a couple that I love, just for effect.  I unabashedly stole them from others on the internet.  (But I’m sure mine would be just as good.)

Bridal Buds

The Renegade Bride

Fine Stationary

If you have any weddings, showers or birthdays coming up and you need some party planning help, give me a shout.  I’ll need something to keep me busy this summer!

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The Herb Chronicles

Fresh herbs are like manna from heaven. Fragrant, yummy manna.

The smell of a fresh basil plant does special things to me.  Things that cannot be discussed here.  But good, good things. I’ve instructed my husband to figure out how to keep basil inside all winter.  Winters are extra long and extra cold with no fresh herbs for cooking.

I put a few herbs in the garden this evening.  Here are some pictures.  I wish I had a scratch and sniff blog.  The only real way to experience herbs is through scent, but this will have to do for now.

Parsley

 

Oregano

 

Thyme

And my love…

Basil

 

I planted 6 basil plants.  I’m not sure that is enough.  The hubs seems to think it is.  We’ll see.

I also planted dill and purple basil (not included in the 6) but forgot to take pictures.  I will get more tomorrow.  There is so much to talk about with herbs.  Scents and textures and colors, oh my!  I hope to be able to talk more about my herbs and what I do with them.  I’d love you hear your herb stories too!

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