Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Breathe First...And Try New Things: GroupEx Classes

Do you take GroupEx Classes?  

I know they're not for everyone, but I just love 'em.  I've been taking a whole bunch of them lately and experimenting with different ones.  I belong to the Bellevue Family YMCA AND the North Kirkland Community Center's Move It! Program.  Yup.  Two different "gyms".  To be fair, I also work at them.  But by working at them, I see what these "gyms" stand for...and different gyms stand for different things. 

Here's what I know about the Bellevue Family YMCA and the NKCC Move It! Program:

I know my bosses care about their GroupEx Staff and respect what they do.  

I know that these gyms center on community and acceptance.  There's no "Gym Dude" attitude or dirty looks if you happen to throw your workout clothes on in the dark and end up with mismatched socks (not that that's ever happened to me...).  😜

I know that the instructors LOVE their jobs.  They put their heart and soul into their classes and their biggest concern is making sure everyone is safe and feels welcome.  They throw all their energy right at you and it fills you right up!

I know the members of the gym are real people--they're not there to look at themselves in the mirror, they're there to get healthy, make connections, and leave class with a smile.

So if you haven't checked out your local community center or YMCA or other human-centered gym or yoga studio, I highly suggest you give it a try.  Zumba, Yoga, Bootcamp, PiYo, Tai Chi, Circuit Training, Sculpting...whatever floats your boat...  

Get your body moving.

Workout with a friend. 💖

Smile at someone.

Be Zen.

Don't take yourself too seriously. 

Have fun! 

Namaste, Friends!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Breathe First...And Try New Things: Bouldering

OK, I'm back at it.  I have an update on the last thing on my "Breathe First...And Try New Things" list...   
  • Experience new Healing Modalities, Relaxation Techniques and/or Exercise Classes (even if they seem a little weird)
I've tried a whole bunch of new classes in the past month or so, but today, I want to talk about Bouldering. It's technically not a "class", but for me, it's a new way to approach exercise so I figure it counts for this category.

A little history...

Hubby (who is a dear) has been trying to get me to go Bouldering/Rock Climbing with him for YEARS.  Yup, years.  But quite honestly, I'm totally afraid of heights and the thought of falling and hurting myself and not being able to do yoga scares the bejeebers out of me.  So I've been putting it off.  And putting it off.  And putting it off.  

Recently, a couple of friends asked us to Boulder with them.  Hubby was so excited, he immediately said yes, we'd go.  I totally panicked.  I had visions of myself climbing halfway up the wall and then freezing from fear, not able to get back down.  (Which of course, in the "Land of my Imagination" would require the people at the climbing gym to call the fire department, and the firemen would have to get a ladder and carry me down the ladder in complete and utter humiliation.)  Yes.  I have an active imagination.

Despite the fear, I gathered up all my courage and reminded myself of the many things my hubby does for me on a daily basis to help me out.  It was my turn to do this one little thing for him.  It would make his day for all of us to go rock climbing together.  So I decided to do it.

So one Saturday, we arrived at the climbing gym.  Of course I had to watch the 2 minute safety video and then sign my life away and promise that I wouldn't sue the gym if I fell off the wall and broke my head.  Always a little nerve wracking.

I rented climbing shoes, which I must say, are even worse than rented bowling shoes.  Totally stinky and way less comfortable.  I guess climbing shoes are meant to be worn tightly (kind of like ballet shoes) and my long and spread out yoga toes do not appreciate the confinement.  They were screaming to be set free!    

Next came the climbing.  I got a quick tutorial and some helpful hints from hubby and our two friends.  (Which was awesome, by the way!)  I was super lucky to have their guidance (and cheerleading) during my first bouldering experience. 

I watched them climb.  They made it look so easy (and fun)!

So then, my turn.  I chalked up....

and started climbing!

I'm not going to lie...  

I was terrified.  

But I did it.  

And I liked it.  

And I'm planning on going again.  

I'm learning.  See, the fear of the unknown (or the un-tried) can be really paralyzing.  It can make a person feel weak, unsure, self-doubting.  I am starting to learn that, at least if I face the thing I am fearing--whether I fail or succeed, like it or hate it--I regain my power.  I have control over my fear.  And when you face your fear, you're not living from weakness or self-doubt, you're living from a space of power.  Is it easy to take the leap?  No.  But it's worth it.   

So, I'll leave you with this quote of the day:

So go out there and face your fears!  Take baby steps.  Bring supportive friends with you (it's always more fun to face your fears with your friends!).  Try something new and exciting! Let me know how it goes!

Dorothy `

Friday, March 2, 2018

Breathe First...And Try New Things: Floating

We all know self-care is important for a person's well-being.  But how often do we make a plan and go do something relaxing and good for us?  If you're asking me (personally), the answer is:

Hardly Ever.

So as you may know, in January, I made a "Breathe First and Try New Things List".  On that list was the item, "Try Floating".  

We have friends who are "Floaters".  They swear by it.  They love the weightlessness, the quiet, the space for meditation, and the calm.  They say it's total "me time".  They made it sound so interesting, that hubby decided to get us a gift certificate for Christmas to try it out.

Now, for those of you who know me, you know I'm a total Nervous Nelly.  So as soon as we made the appointment to go float, the worries started pouring in.  What if I'm too cold?  What if I feel claustrophobic?  What if I feel...exposed?  Yikes. Totally NOT a relaxing way to start.

So our (very patient) friends tried to put us at ease.  They explained: 
  • The water temperature, the air temperature, and your body temperature are all the same.  So really, you don't feel cold unless you move around a lot.  The key is:  Stay still. 
  • Don't worry about feeling claustrophobic.  LifeFloat has floating pools rather than floating pods, so nothing encapsulates you, you're just floating in a mini pool.
  • Exposure.  Yes, you're supposed to float naked, but all the rooms lock and it's your own private room.  Think of it like taking a bath at your house.
So, with those little pearls of wisdom in our pockets, we headed out for our first float at LifeFloat in Seattle.  When we walked through the door,  a sweet smelling wave of warm moist air washed over us.  The foyer was quite lovely and very spa-like:

The friendly girl behind the counter offered us tea and asked us about our music preferences.  Then, after a little tutorial about floating and a short tour of the facilities, she brought us to our rooms. 

Upon entering, I immediately locked my door.  (Paranoid much? Yes. Yes I am.)  I looked around. Very clean.  Whew.  Toilet, sink, bench, towel, shower.  All the essentials.  I threw my bag down and raced to get undressed...I didn't want to be late for the start of my very first float!  I hopped in the shower and saw that everything was there--soap, shampoo, conditioner, and a bottle of vinegar for post-float ear cleaning. 

Now the shower is connected (sort of) to the floating pool, so you just turn around and step down into this mini pool (which was actually much bigger than I had expected).  To my delight, the water felt like it was the perfect temperature!  The lights were dim, but you could see clearly and find your way around. Good for a clutzy gal like me. 

Darn.  This is where I remembered that I forgot to put the earplugs in to keep the water out.  Well, I wasn't getting out, I didn't want to risk moving too much and getting cold.  Instead, I grabbed the little floating circle headrest by the side of the tub, thinking it would keep my ears out of the water.  Not so much.  Maybe I have a heavy head...like a bowling ball.  Oh well.  I would manage.

I looked over at the buttons on the wall next to the pool.  The girl had explained them all...one for shutting off and turning on the lights, one for the music, etc. but I couldn't remember which was which. I was thinking it would be cool to turn the lights off, but again, I didn't want to move and risk getting cold. I hate being cold.

To my surprise, after a few minutes, the lights went off on their own and the spa music started.  Ah ha!  I was just early!  Now the fun begins!

There you are floating--the water, your skin, and the air are all the same temperature, and it's pitch black.  It's such a strange sensation!  You kind of feel like you're floating in space.  (Not that I've ever floated in space, but that's what I imagine it to feel like.) You can really let go of all your muscle tension and the body and mind can truly relax. 

Of course, me being the questioner, I now had to explore my sensations to the fullest.  How far can my arms go out before they touch the side of the pool?  How close am I to the four edges? Can I gently float and travel from one side to the other?  I bet yoga would feel really good in here--what yoga poses could I try without moving too much?  Wow. I can hear my own heart beating.  Maybe I should have gone for the "no music" option.  I'll bet listening to your own heart beat would be very calming....

So once the questions subsided.  I decided to meditate.  THAT was delicious!  I highly recommend floating and meditating.  It was so relaxing that I'm pretty sure I fell asleep within a few minutes.  (Thank goodness for buoyancy!)  All of a sudden I realized I was dreaming and I woke myself up.  All the lights were back on!  Oops!  I wondered how long I had been in there after my float was over!  

Now a little bit panicked that I might be running overtime and hindering the next floater, I jumped out of the tub and quickly showered off the salt.  (Did I mention that there is about 1600 pounds of pharmaceutical Epsom salt in the tub?  Good for easing muscle tension.)  Despite my rush, I felt REALLY relaxed.  

I got dressed, grabbed my things and headed out to the "Ready Room" (which I had all to myself) to dry my hair.  Hubby had finished before me (I guess he didn't fall asleep and miss the "lights on" signal), so he was in the "Lounge" having a cup of tea and chilling out. 

Was it a fun experience?  Yes!  Is it a good self-care option?  Yes!  (Especially now that I've got all my worries and questions out of the way!)  Is it something I'd try again?  Yes!  Is this something that could be great for stress relief, better sleep, reducing muscle tension, and quieting the mind?  You bet!  

Self-care is important.  So if you want the opportunity to try something new in that department, this is a great option.  For more info, check out LifeFloat at  https://www.lifefloat.com/  

(By the way, I'm writing this for fun and to tell you about my own experiences, not to promote.  However, if you're like me and you think it sounds interesting, I thought you might appreciate the link!)

Take care, Friends!