Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yoga Basics Workshop

I attended a 2 hour yoga basics seminar on 9/22/2012. These were my take aways:

1. Down dog - when I lift my leg, I need to make sure my hips are actually stacked vertically. I tend to only bend my leg, instead of fully stacking the hips.

2. Crescent Lunge to Warrior 3 transition - The focus point for my eyes should move from the wall to the floor, instead of starting at the floor. This allows for more complete extension in Warrior 3.

3. Down Dog to Warrior 1 transition - my front foot should land with my pinky toe next to my thumb. Even knowing this, I can only come so close before my body gets in the way.

4. Utkatasana - It is worth separating the feet a little to get my legs to parallel. The movement actually loads my muscles when I do this and becomes much harder.

5. Half Pigeon - It is better to focus on getting my front leg parallel to the front of my mat, than to focus on bending over further. I should also be able to support my weight when upright, using that time to look over my shoulder and ensure my back leg is straight.

6. Crescent Lunge with Twist - I tried this using a block. It was really hard. I am no where close to doing it during class, but it was interesting to try.

7. Chatarunga - Doing this movement while cold is really hard on my shoulders and wrists. It made me appreciate the benefit of warmth generated during the normal class flow.

Given that we covered 16 poses over two hours, I expected to have more take aways. Either I have learned a lot over the past 6 months, or I did a poor job paying attention. Either way, I did have fun, and it was a worthwhile investment of my time.

September 2012 Review

Overall my new set of goals has proven to be well aligned, with efforts complementing one another.

1. Move better - I did all planned exercise, with some unplanned extras, enabled by time not spent on the internet.

I setup a spreadsheet for my 5/3/1 program, loading the main work set for each workout over the last 10 months. I used this to plot trendlines of both my projected max and work weight, allowing for more immediate feedback on progress and more realistic goal setting.

Since I was walking as a replacement for the internet, I ended up doing it almost every day. Unexpectedly, these long slow walks improved my cardio, causing a dramatic leap in my ability to keep up during yoga class.

Since I completely stopped gassing out during yoga, I have been able to go more deeply into a number of movements. In one class, I even managed to do wheel. I was able to do yoga 3 days in a row one week, with limited soreness. I attended a 2 hour yoga basics seminar, and got through the meat of the book Yoga Anatomy. I have yet to see if there will be long term benefits from those.

All the energy spent on yoga and walking impeded my lifting progress. Next month, I need to make a deliberate choice between the two. Yoga is favored by a light diet and heavy activity. Lifting is favored by a heavy diet and light activity. I am leaning towards yoga, since my interest is there right now.

2. Beat the internet - This goal was my primary focus in September. At first I succeeded in time boxing and tracking my work hours, but then a high visibility project with a tight timeline got the better of me. I am scaling back to normal hours now though. In any case, tracking my work made me more effective, which was valuable in a crazy month.

Cutting my internet use did lead to withdrawal symptoms, which I primarily dealt with by walking and eating in circles. They balanced one another out, but I actually managed to get sick of frozen pizza and ice cream.

I also decided to use the internet for personal reasons only once a month, except streaming audio and Netflix. This has been hard. The biggest key is accepting I have to give up some good to eliminate the enormous time waste. I had to dispute a credit card charge over the phone - blech. Cutting email met some resistance, but people got over it. I do have a monthly internet chore list that will take hours to complete. Hopefully that shortens with time.

I am working on replacements for the time I spent online. I've setup a couple magazine subscriptions (whisky advocate, wired, mit's technology review), so I get current information on my interests. I verified the library will call me when a book comes. Video games have served me well. I do need to get better at setting up social activities.

3. Make my money work - I managed to buy a little time, mostly by suggesting the use of cabs when my wife and I have scheduling conflicts with the car. I bought more prepared foods to reduce cooking time, but ended spending longer shopping for and eating food, with no net time gain. I had fun though

More notable progress centered on taking care of the investment in the house. My wife followed through on setting up repairs with a contractor. His rates are reasonable and work is scheduled. I suppose this also counts as buying time, but I am paying a heck of a lot more than $10/hr. Also, since I was not doing anything around this before, the limited time I am spending feels like an extra burden on my schedule.

I did nothing around investment analysis. The workout spreadsheet satisfied my need to play with numbers in Excel.

4. Socialize - The only social activities I did that were not consumption centered on exercise. I made it to yoga class 2-3x a week and attended a yoga seminar. My wife and I walked more with the nice weather. Counting that as social is not really in the spirit of the goal though. We did setup a trip to the arboretum in October, but that's just the two of us again.

I passed on the chance to attend Riot Fest in downtown Chicago. I do not like loud noises or crowds, and that trumped my desire to socialize.

Consumption based socializing went well. I shared meals with a lot of people - friends, family, coworkers. I went to a party. My wife and I setup a party for November. Still, I'd like to see us do better than just eating and drinking for entertainment.

I did find that without time spent on the internet, I am more open to engaging in small talk. I actually made conversation during a haircut, instead of comfortably sitting in silence. Maybe it was a fluke, but if not, it would be very positive improvement.

Overall, without the internet, I am getting a lot more out of life. It is important I turn this change into a permanent behavior.