Posts tagged ‘yoga’

Haul-Bys

Hello, haulers! Here are a few quick hits to finish up the day.Patches for U.S. Armed Forces

The United States armed forces has a weight problem: More than a quarter of 17- to 24-year-olds are too overweight for military services, and the problem is bigger among women than men. CBS This Morning considered the problem in this segment earlier today.

pumping iron

A “fitness marketing expert” says there are five basic reasons that most gyms suck, and one is that there’s very little connection or community among members. I know that, for me, a squeaky-clean facility wins out over every other factor, all the time. Who cares if there’s camaraderie if we’re all working out on floors that haven’t been mopped in a week? Anyway, check out the list and see whether you agree.

pot leaf

If you ever wind up in a jail with a yoga program, take advantage of it. This pothead in Colorado did, and the judge was so pleased that she went easy on him even though prosecutors wanted him to spend more time in jail. Insert your own high-on-life joke here.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ Evan Longoria thinks yoga is cool and helpful. Think I can translate that into getting Mr. Haul Buns, a baseball fan and yogaphobe, to come to the studio with me this summer? Yeah, probably not.

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March 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm Leave a comment

Unsavory

Bikram yoga posesHot yoga and running are alike in so many ways. They can make you feel like you’re dying. They make you leak sweat like a faulty garden hose. They cause you to seriously reconsider the Mexican food you had for dinner the night before. And when you’re smack in the middle of doing them, it can take all of your will not to puke on yourself.

The way you feel at the end is always worth it. But this isn’t one of those inspirational posts. This is really just about how, a few minutes into my Bikram yoga class this morning, I had to mind-over-matter it hard core when I realized that someone around me smelled like fried onions and garlic.

The offenders

You guys know what I’m talking about. You get a whiff of it when you’re sitting next to a stranger on the bus or when someone’s standing too close to you in the grocery store check-out line. It’s not the fresh, savory bouquet that wafts out from the kitchen when you’re visiting your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s the stale odor that you first smelled lingering in your elderly Aunt Trudy’s curtains and upholstery. It’s a smell that has notes of body odor and airless rooms. It’s a smell of good stuff gone wrong. I’m so sensitive to it that I make a point of keeping the windows in our very small apartment wide open and the fans going while I’m cooking.

Anyway, that’s what was making its way into my nostrils at approximately 6:25 this morning, as I was trying to get into standing-head-to-knee pose. Keep in mind that Bikram yoga is practiced in a room that’s heated to a humid 105 degrees Farenheit and filled with people—if something stinks, it has to compete with about 300 other foul smells for dominance. This one had eaten its Wheaties.

I know that one of yoga’s biggest tenets is to just accept what is—especially if it’s annoying—and persevere without letting it affect you. Let’s just say that this morning, I wasn’t the best yogi I could be. As we moved through the sequence of poses, I furtively tried to sniff my hair, my hands, my clothing. Nothing. Sure that I was in the clear, I darted quick glances around the room at my classmates, trying to narrow down who the culprit might be.

I was fairly certain the stinker was the chick a row ahead of me with all of her hair gathered in a tight topknot. I mentally focused my disgust on her. By the time we finished the standing poses, I was having a hard time. I was tired. I was a little dehydrated. And this smell was killing me. No one else seemed bothered, but I was unable to concentrate on anything other than not wretching. Some enlightenment, eh?

Then we moved to the floor, where I realized the terrible truth: THE STINKER WAS ME. My towel, which I’d brought from home to cover my mat, smelled like someone’s grandma’s housecoat. And in a sickening flash I realized that the towel had been hanging up to dry in our bathroom—our windowless bathroom!—when I was making vegetarian mole over the weekend. I was mortified. It was like that old horror story when the heroine realizes that the threatening calls are coming from inside the house!

The second half of a Bikram class is spent on the floor, much of it with your belly to the mat. That means I repeatedly had to face-plant myself into the very odor I’d angrily pinned on my fellow yoga-goers moments before. For about 45 minutes.

Did I mention it was really humid?

And that, friends, is karma.

Kulae yoga towel

My chariot to funkytown

March 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm Leave a comment

Haul you need is love

I was raised in a family that celebrated every holiday it could. I suspect that comes, in part, from the fact that Momma Buns is the queen of many things, including finding the perfect paper goods for any occasion — on sale — at Party City. As my sister and I grew up, she put that talent to the test as often as possible. I remember waking up to find that Momma Buns had decorated the kitchen with red foil hearts and made pancakes (a rare treat on a school morning). Other years, I remember her sitting with me while I scrawled my classmates’ names on Snoopy Valentine’s cards, or my whole family passing gifts wrapped in pink tissue paper around the dinner table. (As I grew older, mine was usually a romantic comedy or super-weeper newly out on video. Untamed Heart, anyone?)

So even though I know that many people think Valentine’s Day is manufactured, romantic silliness, for me, it brings to mind really great celebrations of the deep affection my family and I have for each other. So I love it. And I love you guys. In the spirit of that love-fest— even though the actual holiday was yesterday — I’m going to unabashedly share some fitness-related stuff (plus a few randoms) that makes my heart sing. Cool?

“Golden Years” by David Bowie

I first heard it in the movie A Knight’s Tale, which makes me uncool. But my adoration of choreographed dance scenes already makes me uncool, so whatever. Now, the song is on my running playlist—and it’s very useful as a workday afternoon mood-booster, too.

Love Your Muscles with Crunch

Love Your Muscles logoI joined Crunch gym just after I started my job in New York two years ago. Aside from the convenient locations (one near my job, another near my apartment) and really great classes (Marc Santa Maria’s Monday night hip-hop and Dave Norfleet’s iRide Spinning are FANTASTIC), the vibe there is a little bit funkier and more accepting than many other New York gyms I’ve visited. The gym’s motto, after all, is No Judgments. This month, they’re holding workshops and offering training specials to raise money for Augie’s Quest, a Muscular Dystrophy Association initiative to find a cure for the degenerative muscle disease ALS. This month, the gym will give Augie’s Quest $5 for every new membership and $10 for every new personal training package. “Love Your Muscles” refers to the signs they put your name on when you donate: You can choose a muscle you love — I picked the heart — and your name goes up alongside a cute cartoon drawing of that muscle. If you’re interested in more information or want to donate, go here.

Savasana

Toward the end of every yoga class, the instructor asks everyone to lay on their backs, heels together, toes flopped apart, arms by their sides, palms open. Sometimes our eyes are open; often, they’re closed. We lay in this position, known as savasana (suh-VAH-snah) or “corpse pose”, and relax everything. Sounds like sleeping, you say. It’s seriously close, but so much better. Often, the  poses right before savasana are challenging, and laying down and focusing only on breathing and relaxing seems like a reward. In Bikram yoga, sometimes the only thing that gets me through a rough class is the thought of how sweet the savasana will be at the end. I lay on my mat and think about how the ground is supporting me, holding me up, and how I don’t have to do anything except find little snarls of tension in my body and then let them go. Even if you’re not into yoga, try giving yourself a few minutes of motionless chill-out time after a tough workout sometime. It’s pretty awesome.

Puma’s Dizzy Barrel Bag

When my old gym bag bit it, I tried to make do with tote bags and backpacks and the like. No good. I resisted buying a new one because I didn’t want something huge and clunky, but I needed something big enough to fit a change of clothes, my sneakers, and toys like my interval timer, my iPod, a magazine, my weight gloves, etc. Behold, Puma’s Dizzy Barrel Bag. It’s pretty great, kind of stylish, and (right now) on sale! Gym bag woes, cured.

Puma Dizzy Barrel Bag

So cute, right?

I’d love to hear what gets your heart pumping, too. Gadgets and gear? Workouts? Instructors? Personal accomplishments? Something completely unrelated to fitness but awesome nonetheless? Tell us about it in the comments section. 

February 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

Bring Your Sneakers to Work day

This Friday is Run at Work Day, according to the Road Runners Club of America. Since the RRCA are the good people who saw fit to make me a running coach, I wanted to spread the word. It’s a pretty good idea, regardless of whose it was: I’ve slowly worked my way back to doing something active on my lunch break — I was really good about it when I started my current job almost two years ago, but then I got lazy. For the past few months, I’ve made a point to get out of the office for an afternoon treadmill seession or Spinning class a couple of times a week, and it really makes me feel better about work, life, stress, all of it. (Isn’t it annoying when the fitness magazines are right?) If you get any kind of break in your day, a brisk walk (or any kind of physical activity, really) is better than coffee, chocolate, or any of those old reliables we use to keep us going.

I know. You’re so busy. Or you don’t have a set lunch break. Or the company will grind to a halt without you. Screw it. Your health and happiness are more important than whether Larry in Accounting has his TPS reports by 3 p.m. In fact, why don’t you ask Larry if he wants to walk or run with you? Pretty soon, you and Larry will be the cool kids. Everyone in the office will want to be part of your run/walk club. You’ll have to put people on a waiting list. There’ll be team shirts, jackets, water bottles! Bob Harper will show up, begging you to tell him your secret to motivating people to lead healthy lives. And you’ll pause in your lunchtime 5K to say, “Well, there’s this awesome blog I read called Haul Buns…”

Bam. Now, who’s in?!?

Will it help if I tell you Larry from Accounting looks like this?

"Hi! Want an excuse to get sweaty with me?"

 

September 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

It doesn’t have to suck, people

Yeah, not so much.

On Tuesday, I tried out a new-to-me yoga studio in the Flatiron Distrcit of Manhattan. The place I’d been practicing, Laughing Lotus, was great. But my month-long card expired there, and I got a deal on a month of unlimited classes at this new joint, so I switched.

The minute I walked in, I wasn’t sure I liked the vibe of the place. It felt kind of corporate. Everyone was speaking in hushed tones. And a quick glance at the ladies clustered in the corner and sipping tea as they waited for the 7:15 vinyasa class gave me pause; they were near-carbon copies of each other, right down to their lean torsos, bored expressions, white tank tops and black Lululemon pants. I seriously thought there might have been a dress-code notice I’d missed. I only relaxed a little bit when some equally toned and joyless-looking individuals showed up. At least their shirts were different colors.

I know you’re supposed to leave all of your preconceived notions outside the door, but dude, these chicks freaked me out a little. As the class progressed, it became clear that many of them had quite lovely yoga practices. They could bend themselves into pretty little pretzels, seemingly with ease. But no one seemed excited about it.

The teacher was very good. The poses were challenging. I don’t know what was up; I don’t pretend to know what everyone else in the class was thinking or feeling, but it just didn’t seem like my classmates were having any kind of fun whatsoever. The only moment of levity I witnessed took place when I completely fell out of a side plank after grabbing my right big toe with my right hand and trying to extend both toward the ceiling. I landed on my mat and lamely said, “Well, that went well.” The chick to my left smiled.

It was a lot like the gym I worked out at in graduate school, a gorgeous facility populated by incredibly thin, incredibly fit women (and men). The women especially worked out with an intensity that was a little scary. I took a class at that gym a few weeks ago; the women were still thin, their faces still dead-set on wringing every last calorie out of their movements.

I much prefer the feel of places like Laughing Lotus, Feminine Fitness, and the New York Sports Club I teach at in Butler. There, you find people of all different body types and sizes who are trying to make something positive happen in their lives. They have varying degrees of success, but they show up and they try, and they usually have a good time.

I witnessed the same thing yesterday, when I volunteered at the New York City Marathon expo. My job was to greet people at the entrance and point them in the right direction. I talked with new runners and old runners, thin runners and fat runners, tall runners and short runners and in-between runners. Without fail, they were excited to be there and to be part of something so huge. I wished them a good run on Sunday, and they thanked me with huge grins — even the people who said they were freaked beyond belief.

I’ll keep going back to the new yoga place, at least for the month. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m not asking for much, but don’t you think there’s something to be said for enthusiasm?

After all, is there anyone who WON’T be pulling for Chilean miner Edison Pena at this Sunday’s marathon?

Vaya!

November 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm Leave a comment

Mama Yoga

I’ve had babies on the brain lately. Not because people who ask about my wedding plans find it perfectly polite to segue into a conversation about my reproductive viability, even though many do. But a couple of really important ladies in my life recently decided it’s time for them to be mommies, so I’ve found myself having conversations about birth plans and fertility drugs and the pros and cons of being pregnant in summer vs. winter, and vice versa. It’s surreal. It’s awesome.

It’s not for me, not just yet.

However, I just may be swayed — especially when people like my friend, Marin, make it look both so chic and fulfilling. (How many things can you say that about?) I’m not the only one who thinks so; when a Chicago television station produced a piece about  mom-and-baby yoga, Marin and her three-month-old daughter, Calli, were the natural stars. Marin is the hot mama in the white top sitting cross-legged while she talks with the reporter. Check out how zen Calli is! And then there are always the inspirational ladies at Run Like a Mother, some of whom finish — and dominate! — races just weeks before their due dates.

I will say this: When my time to procreate arrives, I will most certainly make myself a shirt like the one I saw a runner wear several years ago. It stuck with me, mainly because she was in front of me pretty much the whole course. The shirt’s back read: “Eight months pregnant and STILL kicking your ass.”

November 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm 1 comment

Would you want your boss sweating it out next to you?

A few articles recently came to my attention: Both are from The Wall Street Journal, and both are about Bikram yoga. (Bikram Yoga NYC, which is mentioned in both pieces, is one of the places I practice.)

For the uninitiated, Bikram is a style of yoga practiced in a room that’s heated to more than 100 degrees. Depending on the day, it can be intense, awesome, totally bizarre, frustrating, and/or empowering.

The first piece gives a good, funny, first-person sense of what it’s like for newbies. The second piece is all about companies that offer fitness discounts to their employees; some offer reduced-rate Bikram, which means there’s the potential for bosses and minions to be side-by-side on the mats.

I’m lucky enough to have cool co-workers who love to sweat like I do. I’ve taken yoga classes with my boss and some of my colleagues on multiple occasions, and it’s been fantastic and fun every time. If you’ve tried Bikram or other styles of yoga, what did you think? Leave a comment! And if you’d never try Bikram, leave a comment and let us know why! How about working out with your boss? Would you ever do it?

October 26, 2010 at 5:31 pm Leave a comment

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