Tuesday: The Public Headstand and Midday Yoga Break

A first: On Tuesday, I officially earned the right to say that I did a headstand in the presence of others. Woo!

That said, my toe is still mysteriously not OK, though I guess I’m starting to recognize that 1) it’s some form of tendinitis and 2) just because it’s a tiny toe doesn’t mean it doesn’t need rest. Tuesday morning was one of those days when I could have easily been lured out of bed by the city streets, but instead, I packed a change of clothing, headed off to work, and awaited a lunchtime yoga class at Jivamukti in Union Square. Yes, the really intense studio with photos like this.

I hadn’t been to Jivamukti in a really long time. Like I’ve said before, in times of financial deficit, yoga doesn’t exactly make the top of the “need” list – especially with websites like yogadownload.com, where I can down dog for peanuts in comparison to the price of a class in Manhattan. But I think my body may be suffering from my lack of stretching, and so this midday Spiritual Warrior flow was more emergency than luxury.

I happen to love this class. It’s not much of a workout, but there are enough vinyasas and long-held poses to make me feel as though my arms gained some sort of strength. As for the stretch factor and attention to the piriformis muscle with poses like seated spinal twist, it’s definitely first rate.

The other reason why I’m drawn to Jivamukti’s Spiritual Warrior class time and again is consistency. Each class follows the same set of poses, each pose held for the same amount of time. In a world where you can hardly rely on Starbucks for your daily latte (their steamer has broken on me 3 times in the last year; common guys), I’ve really come to appreciate the unwavering nature of this hour-long class.

So with all the monotony, and forgive me for drawing on my Jewish roots here, but what makes this class different from all other classes? For the first time since beginning my yoga practice (which is something like 7 years), and since discovering Jivamukti’s beautiful studio (about a year now), I was able to complete a headstand – you know, that pose I’d usually just take legs-up-the-wall for (see below).

What’s funny about this achievement though, is that while, sure, I felt personally accomplished, that sense of achievement didn’t permeate the borders of my yoga mat. That’s also something I love about Jivamutki’s studio: the lack of competition.

My inversion didn’t break any yoga barriers. It definitely wasn’t perfect. I didn’t hold my pose the longest. I probably held my headstand for about 20 seconds (a PHR – personal headstand record!), took a break, and then held it for another few seconds. That was really it. And with that, I assumed a short meditation stance, slept through savasana, and was back off to work where I finished out the day in yoga pants and a tie dye sports bra.

I know it’s not the norm to be able to take an hour out of the work day to do something so personal like practice yoga. But if you can spin it, I highly suggest you try. Yoga offered a great way to break up my day, and I actually found myself much more productive than had I spent 30 minutes stuffing my face. After class, I also wasn’t craving a hefty meal, and instead chose to snack on pears, grapefruit slices, and my new favorite cinnamon oat cereal.

If you’re planning on signing up for a yoga class midday, just remember to:

1. Pack a bag with a change of clothing.

2. Leave a yoga mat in the office so you don’t have to think about it or schlep it to work.

3. Bring a towel. You’ll probably want to shower (even if I didn’t). Call the studio first if you’ve never been, and inquire about their changing rooms. Some studios rent towels, but I prefer my own.

4. Deodorant. Don’t forget your deodorant.

Close Your Eyes and Run: 5 Awesome Monday Miles

It’s a physical impossibility not to run on a 40-degree day in February when you can actually hear birds chirping over the sounds of trucks and cabs. It’s not like I promised to stay off my feet; I just said I’d try.

Which brings me to Monday morning, when I managed to remove myself from a mound of comfy down blankets to gear up for a run. The getup: completely unoriginal, as proven by the fact that Noah commented he’d “never seen those running clothes before” as I passed him on his way to work. (Sarcasm is a pillar of our relationship.)

Wearing the same white Gap Body long-sleeve shirt, thermal army printed Juicy hoodie (left over from my high school years; hey, it’s warm and un-bulky!) and pink bedazzled 180s, I set off heading north on Lexington Ave. The path: also unoriginal, yet oh-so welcomed on a Monday morning. I really wasn’t in the mood to think this one out.

I hadn’t necessarily planned on running the entire bottom loop of Central Park on Monday for two reasons: my toe and my lack of time. But every time I hit another marker (“Ok, I’ll just run to the bottom of Central Park; Ok, I’ll just run up to the 72nd Street entrance; etc”), I decided to keep going, and before I knew it I found myself at the half-way mark of my normal weekday path – the Bethesda Fountain.

Monday’s wasn’t the best run of my life, especially after that phenomenal 9ish-miler on Saturday. It wasn’t the worst either though. I still felt a little residual tightness from the weekend, and I couldn’t seem to shake it off until I stopped to stretch about 3 miles in. I was actually a little upset with myself afterward for having waited so long, once I realized what a difference a mere 1 minute of calf, hamstring and glute stretching made for the final 2 miles of my run.

Still, any minor aches I felt were overwhelmed by how beautiful it was outside. I even closed my eyes for a few seconds at a time (when it wasn’t hazardous to other runners, of course), soaking in the warmth of the sun and allowing myself to drift off into the quiet of my mind. It’s amazing how even in the heat of the moment, your heart racing and your legs working really hard, how meditative running can really be.

My run, from the bottom of the park home, was a bit unusual; I decided to take 6th Avenue downtown rather than 5th. There were times I regretted it, since the foot traffic was far heavier, but at the same time it was nice to stare into different store windows, to see different faces, and to end my run in Bryant Park. As quickly as it started, the 5 mile run was over, and I was off to work to start what’s already turned into a really hectic week.

I could really use a day off from running on Tuesday to let my toe finally heal, but with one more day of sunshine before two potential days of rain, I’m thinking I should stick it out and rest mid-week instead. I’d rather not hold myself to any decisions though. Plus, I’ve discovered this sick Skrillex song, which is going to make the perfect backdrop for Central Park.