Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Laughter Yoga

As one peruses the internet in search of the different types (or limbs) of yoga they may run into some more recent versions of yoga such as "Laughter Yoga." Laughter Yoga was invented by Dr. Madan Kataria on March 13, 1995 in Mumbai India. While in 1995 it was a small group of people who practiced gradually the laughter caught on and now there are more than 6000 Laughter Yoga centers and clubs in as many as 60 countries.

So what is Laughter Yoga? Simply put Laughter Yoga involves self-triggered laughter. If you are picturing a bunch of people in a room being told jokes and calling it yoga… well you are just a little off. According to a few different sources Laughter Yoga really stresses “unconditional laughing” and focuses on Pranayama. It is said that whether laughter is spontaneous or it is forced (or couched along) it offers the same physiological response and psychological benefits.

While Pranayama is often neglected in many home practices of even in some studio experiences it is nice to think that there is a “type” of yoga that would make Pranayama it’s focus. Now if we can really call laughing a yoga workout is up for question in my mind, but I do not see any harm in a good laugh every now and then.

If you want to check out more about laughter yoga check out a few of these sources that I found…

Alternative Asanas: A photo essay about Laughter Yoga
Laughter Yoga (General History from Wikipedia)

Laughter Yoga International (the official site from the creator of Laughter Yoga)

This post was originally posted on Daily Yoga Wisdom.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose)

It was only recently that I actually took to the time to get to know my physical limits by testing them. I have never been into sports or any activity that really required perspiring so needless to say there is a lot I did not know my body could do and there was a lot that I was afraid to even attempt. Although I have been an on and off exerciser my whole life it was not until 2009 that I started to get a little more adventurous in my physical activities. I pushed my limits with my first half marathon and then marathon and now sailing. Where I have still been a little afraid to push myself though has been in my yoga practice. I convinced myself that there were certain things my body would not do and when I reached a certain point in a pose, just outside my comfort zone I would stop. At first I did not realize that I was doing it until the other day I finally picked my head off the ground in Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel Pose. I could not believe it. I have never been able to lift my head off the ground not even as a child when I was just messing around with Wheel Pose. I thought it was a fluke and I tried it again and sure enough, I did it again! After I rolled up my mat for the night I thought about why I had suddenly been able to do Wheel Pose. Was it that I was stronger after months of push-ups and other strength training? Sure. Was it possible that I was more flexible after months of yoga practice? Sure. But there was something more so I thought about what I had done that day or even that week. I had done a lot of things that terrified me recently, sailing out of the marina, throwing down an anchor, sailing through a pretty bad storm, jumping off the dingy onto the sailboat while the current was particularly strong. So much in life has changed over the last month and not just with our physical location, I had opened up a little part of me that held a lot of fear for things and pushed some of those things out.

While my Urdhva Dhanurasana is not yet perfect it is finally an effective stretch for me. I can feel my chest and spine stretch and they like it. And look how close I am to having my arms straighten out. It is only a matter of time before this is just like Lotus Pose for me. Being able to accomplish what I have with Wheel Pose has opened my mind to the possibility that all the poses I once thought too difficult for my reach are just a matter of pushing past my fear and bringing my mind and body together for a little bit of joy.

How do to Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose):
1.Lie on the floor. Bend your knees as if you were going into bridge pose. Bend your elbows and spread your palms on the floor beside your head, forearms relatively perpendicular to the floor, fingers pointing toward your shoulders.

2.Release your fear and exhale pushing your tailbone up, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Take 2 or 3 breaths. Then firmly press the inner hands into the floor and your shoulder blades against the back and lift up onto the crown of your head. Keep your arms parallel. Take 2 or 3 breaths.

3.Press your feet and hands into the floor, tailbone and shoulder blades against your back, and with an exhalation, lift your head off the floor and straighten your arms.

4.Stay in the pose as long as is confortable and make sure to breathe easy. Repeat as many times as feels comfortable (usually anywhere from 3-10 times).

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2012 Guide

Calling all Princesses.... the registration is now open for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon! There are four events happening during the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend...
So mark your calendars for Friday February 24- Sunday February 26, 2012. The Disney Princess Half Marathon will start at 5:45 am in Epcot's parking lot and will end in Epcot's parking lot. This will be my third Disney Princess Half Marathon so if you are a newbie Princess feel free to ask me any question either here or on Facebook. But here is a list of information about the previous races that you may find helpful...
Disney Princess Half Marathon Training Tips:
How to Train for the Disney Princess Half Marathon: A detailed post about what I did for my first Disney Princess Half Marathon Training.

Disney Princess Race Reviews:
Disney Princess Half Marathon 2011: A mile by mile account of this year's race along with photos!

Disney Princess Goody Bag Information: 
Disney Princess Half Marathon Goody Bag 2010
Disney Princess Half Marathon Goody Bag 2011

Frequently Asked Questions about the Disney Princess Half Marathon:
What to Expect from the Disney Princess Half Marathon
Frequently Asked Questions about the Disney Princess Half Marathon 
What to Bring to the Disney Princess Half Marathon

Disney Princess Half Marathon Medals:
Every finisher will receive a Princess Crown medal. Here are the medals from 2010 and 2011...
Disney Princess Half Marathon Medal 2010
Disney Princess Half Marathon Medal 2010

Disney Princess Half Marathon Medal 2011
Disney Princess Half Marathon Medal 2011

Entry Fees and Deadlines
Disney’s Princess Half Marathon
  • $130 by August 7, 2011
  • $140 between August 8 and October 2, 2011
  • $150 on or after October 3, 2011
Disney’s Princess Half Marathon – 2-Person Team
  • $260 by August 7, 2011
  • $280 between August 8 and October 2, 2011
  • $300 on or after October 3, 2011
Disney Royal Family 5K
  • $50 per participant
  • $55 per Stroller division participant
Disney Royal Family Kids’ Races
  • $10 per Kids’ Dash participant
  • $25 per 1-Mile Run participant
More Registration Information can be found on the official Disney Princess Half Marathon website.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Days 2-5 Bradenton Florida

It is funny how there are times when old clich├ęs actually prove themselves to be true, like “Time flies when you are having fun.” True so, very true. The last four days have really just flown by and I cannot remember what it was like to not live on a sailboat. In the interest of trying to remember what we have done and keep my online journal up to date I will write the highlights of the last four days…

So after a day stay at Desoto Memorial we decided to head back in the direction of the Twin Dolphin Marina to make sure we were close to a town we knew because there were a few hardware things we needed for the boat (bolts and cables oh my!). The Bradenton anchoring spot (there are three in the area, Desoto and Bradenton Beach and between the two marinas next to the Green Bridge) is close to downtown which has lots of little restaurants, two marinas (literally across the water from one another) and a yoga studio (Om Gaia Wholistic Center). We sailed back with our favorite little sail, the storm sail and found a nice spot to anchor (although it is shallower than Desoto at 5 feet, Desoto was about 8-10 feet).

Twin Dolphin Marina Bradenton FL
Twin Dolphin Marina as seen from an anchorage in Bradenton Florida

Between two marinas and just a dinghy trip from a rocky shore we were set up and anticipated a stay through the holiday. So we settled in and began to fix the things we needed to fix. While Norwood did the fixing, Maverick and I practiced the things we would need to do for sailboat living that we have never before done on land… like not fall off the boat in Maverick’s case, getting in and out of the dinghy in both our cases and learning to kayak in my case (can you say awesome backup dingy).

Today for instance Norwood worked on fixing the kill switch for the engine. It is on this little cable thing and the previous owner put it in at an angle which meant it was just too difficult to pull and it ultimately broke. So he had to take it all out and put in a brand new cable in the original place which would mean it would be a straight pull up to kill the engine.

My goal for today was to learn how to use our inflatable kayak so I could paddle myself to shore in the mornings for my runs. I am not particular great at things that involve water. The last time I tried anything like this was white water rafting in Nantahala River which did not go well at all. I lost my paddle almost immediately and we got stuck on a rock with Norwood cursing and me crying. Anyway today’s kayak adventure went a lot smoother. Since I have never actually been in a kayak and I am not really that great at water sports we tied my paddle to the kayak and tied my kayak to the dingy which was tied to the sailboat, thus making it really impossible for me to be swept away by the current. It worked out really well and after two hours I could paddle against the current and pull the dinghy behind me. Tomorrow I am going to try and make it to shore which is a little over a mile away from the sailboat. To make sure that I do not get swept away I will stay tied to the dingy (which has a solar powered motor) and Norwood will be there in case I cannot paddle in to shore. Soon, probably tomorrow I will be able to paddle myself in and back so I can do my morning runs.

We are all acclimating nicely and the sea sickness I felt the first time we sailed is now non-existent. When we are not doing something for the boat we are just enjoying sitting outside in the cockpit and watching the sunsets and all the other action that happens out on the water.

Sunset on the water (2)
Sunset on July 2, 2011 in Bradenton Florida

It turns out that we could not have picked a better place to anchor for the Fourth of July holiday. In the Manatee River just between the Regatta Point Marina and the Twin Dolphin we had the opportunity to see many fireworks shows all around us from Bradenton Beach to what we believe was Ana Maria Island we had two full days of fireworks.

Bradenton FL fireworks (2)
The City of Bradenton Florida's firework show on July 4, 2011

As we sit tonight on our fifth day of off grid sailboat living we are finishing up the projects that kept us in this place and preparing for our next destination… which is still undetermined, but that is the great thing about our current form of travel, you can truly anchor anywhere so we can enjoy the journey and worry about the destination later.

Want to see more of our photos from Days 2-5? Check out my flickr album Days 2-5 Bradenton Florida.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Day 1: Egmont Key and Desoto Memorial

After about 3 weeks in the Twin Dolphin Marina we have officially set sail for our year long (or possibly longer) sailing adventure. Today we did not have big travel plans in mind but we did have two goals for the trip; 1) Leave the marina without hitting another boat and 2) drop the “hook” for the first time and make sure that we are really anchored and able to swing with no problems. Both were accomplished with ease, which I have to admit surprised me. For those of you who have never been in a marina on a big boat let me just say that the tight spaces make it pretty nerve wracking to pull out. The last thing someone wants to do is hit someone else’s boat not only because of damage to the other boat but to your own as well.

in the twin dolphin (3)
Our Sailboat in the Twin Dolphin in Bradenton FL

As newbies to sailing neither Norwood nor I had experience moving the sailboat in and out of tight spaces, at first neither one of us could remember what direction was reverse on the gear handle. But we took off in the morning so the water was calm and there was not much traffic in and out of the marina. With the small current already pushing us out of the slip backwards all we really had to do at that point was untie all the lines except the one on the starboard side that would all me to keep the bough away from the neighboring boat and closer to the dock. Norwood steered us out of the slip and then out of the marina with more ease than you would steer a car.

With our first goal of the day successfully completed we then decided as we exited the marina that we would travel to a local island that we had read about online, Egmont Key.

Egmont Key (6)
Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay

Egmont Key is an island at the mouth of Tampa Bay in Florida. It is technically a Florida State park that is accessible by private boat only and is supposed to have trails and beach access. If you read about it on the Florida State Parks site it sounds like a fantastic place to visit for a weekend. On our 3 hour trip there we passed through some heavy rain as we exited the Manatee River and crossed the Tampa Bay but our spirits were up because we had envisioned this wonderful state park that we would be able to walk around and enjoy. When we arrived we saw no boats, which immediately made us think something was wrong. Then as we got closer I pulled out the camera with my long lens and discovered that there was in fact no way to get onto the island and that it was closed to pretty much everyone. We did see people on the island and a dock next to what looks like a housing development, which was in itself strange because no one is supposed to be living on the island. We dropped the anchor for the first time with success and Norwood took the dinghy in to ask around, thinking that perhaps we were in the wrong place. Nope right place but no beach access and no pets on the island. Now it is a bird sanctuary and there is not a single point that you can access the island (the whole island had no access signs posted). If you look at the map of Egmont Key  you will see that where we landed is the dark green park that is all bird sanctuary. The large part of the island that they say is accessible by is not really the place you want to be on a boat. Over by the lighthouse is the shipping channel so there is a lot of traffic of BIG boats going through there and the Gulf of Mexico side is rougher and you really do not want to anchor there, even for a night. So much for a state park. Disappointed we pulled up the anchor and headed back in the direction we came to drop anchor for the night at Desoto Memorial, which we knew to be a popular anchor spot. The only good thing about heading out to Egmont Key first was we saw a small group of dolphins playing in the water just a short distance from the sailboat.

Dolphin spotted in the Tampa Bay

Having already passed Desoto Memorial Park we had a good idea of how many boats were already there and where we would be able to anchor. What was nice about going the way we already came was we could follow the line we already created on the GPS and the weather had already passed over. Since the weather was once again nice and we had a good amount of wind we decided to pull out the storm sail and give it a go. I would just like to say that I LOVE the storm sail. It is a small sail that is easy to control and we were traveling at about 4 knots almost 5 with it at one point.

DeSoto Memorial Park
Desoto Memorial Park, Florida

Finding a spot and anchoring at Desoto was a breeze and besides the occasional power boat passing through and creating a wake it is a protected and peaceful location that is just a short dingy ride onto the beach (which you do have access to) and a short bike ride to grocery stores. We took the dinghy into shore and walked Maverick around the park. Maverick, like he does most places we go, made friends with a little girl who was out with her grandma and her dog. She really liked Maverick and wanted her grandma to trade her little dog for a dog just like Maverick. They walked with us for a bit then we all went our separate ways.

Tomorrow we are going to sail to Sarasota. Not sure of our final destination yet but when we get there we should have no problem laying down the hook, now that we are old pros at it. :)

Want to see more photos from today... check out our flickr album of Egmont Key and Desoto Memorial Park.