Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yoga for Runners Workshop

This past weekend I participated in a Yoga for Runners workshop at my yoga studio with my favorite yogi. The idea of the 2 hour class was to strengthen what is weak (such as hip adductors) and stretch what is tight (such as glutes and hamstrings), while focusing on balance and similar motions as running. All this contributes to more efficient and effortless running.

I mentioned the motion of running…by this, I mean directing energy forward. As runners, we want to keep our legs and arms moving forward and back, not side to side. In Vinyasa yoga, there is something called a sun salutation, which is a series of poses done in succession so that one pose flows into the other. One of the first poses in this series is bringing our arms out to the side and above our head, then performing a swan dive hinging at our hips and bringing our palms to the ground. In this Yoga for Runners workshop, the sun salutation was adjusted for runners by raising our arms in front of us instead of out to our sides, focusing on forward-moving energy. This was suggested as one the warm-ups to do before a run. Here is the sequence of yoga warm-ups to perform before a run:
After doing this sequence, my muscles felt warm and ready for a run!  It was said that you can do it once or thrice or as many times as you want until you feel warm-ed up.  Unless you're super tight, once should be great for a pre-run warm-up.  Then we did a series of strenghtening yoga poses, each one focusing on forward energy as opposed to side-to-side motions.  We practiced for about an hour and a half before we began our post-run cool-down:
I've been praticing yoga for a while now, and with each practice I discover something new about myself, sometimes physical sometimes emotional (and many times both).  I love yoga, and I think it's so beneficial for runners because when we run, our muscles tighten and shorten.  Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen, which is a huge added benefit to running.  This running workshop was sensational because it really emphasized that!  I learned a lot, strengthened my body, focused on my breathing to steady myself for a challenging yet effortless practice, and learned how to focus that energy into running motions.

Do you practice yoga?  What are some of your favorite poses?  Least favorite?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mix, Mix, Mix it Up!

We are officially in our house! It’s such a great feeling and it really feels like “home.” One of my favorite rooms (who am I kidding, I love every room!) is the kitchen because 1) I love to cook, and 2) it’s a gathering area for company because it flows into the dining room and living room.

Something I wanted for, oh, probably the past 8 years was a Stand up KitchenAid Mixer because you can do EVERYTHING and make ANYTHING with it--cookies, brownies, bread, cakes, mashed potatoes, pasta with the pasta attachment, juice with the juicer attachment, ice cream, etc…the possibilities are endless! Don’t you want one too? :)

So when Sean and I built our registry, that was one of the first things to go on it! Well, for my birthday last month, my parents surprised me with the chrome KitchenAid to match our stainless steel appliances!! I am absolutely in love with it!!
I haven’t used it yet because we’ve been moving and unpacking, but I do have a delicious Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten, I plan on making with my fabulous chrome KitchenAid mixer. The Barefoot Contessa always has delicious recipes and I can’t wait to make this one.

What are some of your favorite recipes?

On the workout front, I trained twice this week with my trainer, who kicked my @$$ both times…I love it!! And Sean and I got a nice 2-3 mile walk in last night in our new neighborhood. It was absolutely wonderful. What can I say, la vie es bon :)
This weekend I’m taking a cardio class with my cousin and then we’re going paddle boarding!! I’ve never done it and I can’t wait!!

Have you ever been paddle boarding? Any advice?

Have an awesome and active weekend!
<3 Mags

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Big Sky Country!

One of my favorite places in the world is Montana, aka Big Sky Country. My aunt has a house on a lake, and for the past many many years, we’ve spent some fraction of summer there (usually revolving around the 4th of July). It had been a couple of years since I went up due to work and schedules, but this year our entire family went up. The entire vacation was spent on the lake jet skiing, boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. The weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was sunny and warm, and the neat thing about MT (why it’s called Big Sky Country) is that it can be hot and sunny with clear skies on one side of the lake, and on the other side there can be dark clouds. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Here are some pictures I took this year:
Me and my baby bro
Me and my nephew
Tubing with my baby bro and our sis-in-law (our big bro's wife)
My baby nephew
My big bro, his wife, baby bro, and my two nephews :)
Pure heaven
Me and baby bro
MT has spectacular sunsets
Cousins!!  I love them!!
Sunset :)
My baby nephew was SO close to walking!  He was walking with this chair all over the house!
Me and my cousin drinking sangria through Red Vines
Me and my beautiful cousins
Sunning on the dock
I love it here 
I also got a run in! First run for me in a LONG time! I woke up really early one morning before anyone in the house was awake (with the exception of my dad who is also an early bird…the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree :)), and it was the perfect morning for a run – cool with sporadic drizzling. I hit the pavement and I can’t even describe how great it felt to be surrounded by nature and breathing the cleanest and freshest air, filled with the scent of evergreens and wild flowers. It would drizzle then stop, drizzle then stop, and the sky was painted with spotted clouds and the sun trying to peak through.
Big Sky Country
 Trail run
Running in Montana
I ran 2 miles out, then turned around to head back. On my way back I got wrapped up in remembering my uncle and Grammie, both who loved that place more than anywhere. Side note: my uncle died of lung cancer 12 years ago, and he always said felt so peaceful when he was at his house in MT. And most of you know about my Grammie.  Anyways, I was remembering them and smiling, and I felt so close to them. I even forgot I was running. Then all of a sudden, a huge gust of wind came just as if they were saying hello and smiling back at me. I know it sounds bizarre, but I know that’s what it was. It was a magical feeling. Before I knew it, I was back at the house and the wind subsided. That run was one of the greatest runs I’ve ever had because everything just clicked.

After my run, it was back to water sports on the lake! Then we celebrated the 4th of July with our Annual Croquet Tournament complete with Sangria my cousin and I made, followed by our famous Fireworks show! My family always goes crazy with fireworks…we seriously have the best fireworks show on the lake!
Let the croquet tourney begin!  (And a view of the lake from the house)
Happy 4th of July from me and my cousin! 
4th of July tats with big bro!
That's right.
Glow sticks on the 4th!!
Glow sticks with my 2yo cousin
The arsenal.  We go nuts for fireworks!

The fireworks masters - my cousin, bro, and nephew

As always, it was a spectacular holiday filled with family, activities, nature, great food and drinks, and so much fun and love! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful and close-knit family <3