A Yoga Packed Weekend + Dealing With Anxiety

So apparently I said "Yes" to a lot of things over the summer that are all happening at the same time.

In a 3 week span I have multiple wellness fairs, the start of teacher training and a presentation at an annual conference. Oh and in totally random news, I'm taking my real estate licensure exam. More on that later.

The craziness kicked off this past Friday and I can't lie, I was feeling so much anxiety during the week leading up to it. It was a great lesson in mindfulness for me actually. Anxiety is a normal feeling/emotion. In mindfulness practice we don't try to fight or stop anxiety, we practice feeling it completely. When I started to feel the physical effects of anxiety I stopped and actually felt and brought awareness to the feelings in my body - the 'tightness', the shortness of breath, the knots in my stomach, the self-doubt and negative self-talk. I was able to identify these things immediately as anxiety. I was able to feel them fully and release them. I was able to tell myself, "You have a lot going on. These feelings are normal. You are prepared. These feelings will pass". In the past I may have given into the 'anxiety'  and backed out of one or more of my commitments as a result. That is what anxiety tries to do, it tries to trick us into stepping out of our power instead of into it. 

Other things I did to help were better prepare myself for my commitments - I practiced my speeches, wen't over my presentations a few more times, carved out more study time for my RE exam and went over my checklists. I also practiced self care - yoga, running, meditation, etc. By Friday morning I was feeling much more calm and confident. 

The weekend started early Friday morning with the PA Breast Cancer Coalition's Annual Conference where I presented in both the morning and afternoon workshop sessions. Since I knew the attendees wouldn't be dressed for a physical practice, I used my time with to talk about the 8 limbs of yoga, the various styles of yoga and how they differ, and the connection between mindfulness and yoga. I spent most of my time on the latter as I think it is the most powerful benefit of a yoga practice, especially for someone dealing with the trauma of a cancer diagnosis.

yoga and breast cancer
yoga and breast cancer

The conference was a lot of fun. I ran into so many people I know from different parts of my past and current life. Also, the food was great! After my final presentation I headed straight to Yoga on Chocolate to kick off our first Teacher Training Weekend. While this is my fourth time leading a Teacher Training, I was especially nervous because I didn't know over half of the group and neither did my co-teacher, Pat! As soon as I met everyone though I immediately felt at ease and was assured that we were all meant to come together for this experience. 

Our first weekend could not have gone any better. The trainees were attentive and hungry for information and Pat and I worked wonderfully together. The only problem is everything ran so smoothly that we burned through way more content than we had planned for. Not a bad problem to have. 

While I started my week off with anxiety and self-doubt, by Sunday evening all I could feel was gratitude. Gratitude for the tools of yoga and mindfulness, gratitude for my teaching partner, Pat for trusting me as a co-leader, gratitude for my husband who took care of the house and dogs and made sure I had a home cooked meal every night after training, and gratitude for the all of the teacher trainees who showed up big this weekend. I am excited to see where these next few months take us.

My busy schedule continues throughout this week. I'll be teaching yoga and mindfulness at a local wellness fair today and this weekend I'm attending the Girls World Expo with Athleta to share the benefits of yoga and self care with young girls from all over the state and also to promote our newest program at STUDIO B, Project Y.E.S. - Yoga, Empowerment and Self-Esteem Training for pre-teen and teenage girls. Click below to learn more about Project Y.E.S. and to sign your daughters up for our next session which starts January 10th!

How to Barbell Hip Thrust + Dealing With Creepers at the Gym

On the heels of my last post, My Favorite Booty Building Exercises, today I'm taking a deeper look into my favorite move of them all, the barbell hip thrust!

Why You Should Barbell Hip Thrust

We talked about this in my last post, but I'll just reiterate that having strong glutes is super healthy. It can help improve athletic performance and reduce risk of injury. The barbell hip thrust is a great way to target the glutes specifically, so if you are interested in growing your glutes without growing your legs, this movement should definitely be in your routine!

Hesitations About Barbell Hip Thrust.

Hip Thrusting is an awkward movement, especially if you're doing it at a public gym. The benefits of the movement, however, far outweigh the awkwardness. I've been doing barbell hip thrusts in the gym for years. Yes, I've gotten weird stares and inappropriate comments -  watch the video below to hear more about how I handled an awkward hip thrusting experience. The bottom line is this, the barbell hip thrust is a great movement and you deserve to be strong and healthy. Get comfortable with the movement by watching videos online, reading blogs, and practicing in private and then strut your ass into that gym and do it. Don't let someone else's insecurity hold you back from becoming your best self. Maybe bring a supportive friend along the first couple times you perform it in the gym or hire a trainer for a session or two for moral support. If someone makes an inappropriate comment/gesture, REPORT THEM!

How to Set Up for the Barbell Hip Thrust

Before we get into the movement, lets talk about how to set up for the barbell hip thrust. First and foremost you will need a sturdy bench. If your bench is even the least bit wobbly, I recommend using two benches and setting them up in a T shape like the picture below. 

barbell hip thrust

You will want to set the barbell up parallel to the bench. It's important to use weights that are tall enough to allow you room to roll the bar over your thighs. Even if you aren't using a lot of weight, make sure you use the taller weight plates to set up. 

In the picture above you'll notice I have a pad around the bar. This is really important. You'll want some sort of support between you and the implement to protect your hips. If you do not have a bar pad you can fold up a yoga mat to use between your hips and the bar. 

how to peform the barbell hip thrust

To perform the movement, step your feet under your knees. I like to point my fee out slightly, but you don't have to. It's important to note that you should maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire movement, including your neck. Next, brace your entire body and drive down through your feet to lift the hips. Be careful not to overextend your back. Keep your body braced as you lower the hips.

Check out the video below for more instructions and to see the movement in action!

My Favorite Booty Building Exercises

Today we are talking about my favorite training topic - how to grow your booty!

Having a firm, round butt is definitely the "in" thing these days, but that's not the only reason you should do it. A firm, round booty = strong glutes, and strong glutes are super healthy! This article  does a nice job of explaining why. Basically, your glutes are responsible for stabilizing your pelvis and moving your hips. When they are weak, it can lead to tightness in the hip flexors and pain in the low back. No bueno. 

Before we get into the movements, let's talk about my top 4 tips for growing a booty

My Top 4 Tips for Growing a Booty

1.) Be Patient and Consistent

Growing any type of muscle takes TIME. - it definitely doesn't happen over night! You will need to train regularly and for a few weeks before you start noticing changes. 

2.) You Need to Eat

In order to grow your glutes, you have to feed your glutes! This doesn't mean you have to pig out 24/7, but you may need to eat more calories than you were previously in order to support your booty in it's quest to build. Timing is important too. I recommend eating a small meal consisting of a healthy carb and lean protein before and after you train.

3.) Genetics Play a Role

Genetics are a real thing and this is something you should be aware of as you seek to alter your physique. This article from Livestrong.com says it best: Although you can change physical appearance with diet and exercise, your genetically determined body type regulates pre-exercise-program body composition and fitness outcomes. According to the American Council on Exercise, mesomorphs are naturally muscular and hypertrophy quickly, endomorphs possess a round shape with greater fat distribution and ectomorphs are thin and linear. Although endomorphs may require fat loss for visible muscle definition and ectomorphs may gain less mass than a person with a mesomorphic body, all individuals benefit from strength training.

I tell you this because I don't want you going down the trap of compare and dispair, okay? 

4.) Stop Playing, Lift Heavy

If you want to put on muscle mass, you need to lift heavy. Period. Keep your reps in the 5-8 range and find a weight that is very challenging by the final 2-3 reps.

This is probably a good place to tell you that alignment and form are super important, especially when heavy weights are involved. If you are new to weight training, i highly recommend hiring a personal trainer who can teach you to perform these movements properly and safely. If you are local, I offer personal training consultations in the Harrisburg, PA area.

The Movements

In my latest YouTube video I take you through my favorite booty-building exercises. I've also listed them below with hyperlinks to instructional videos. Enjoy!

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Weighted Glute Bridge

Sumo Deadlift (or any deadlift variation)

Single Leg Deadlift with Landmine

Barbell Hip Thrust

Students of STUDIO B - Karen Beall, krb ceramics

At STUDIO B, our students are some of the coolest people around. Their professions, stories and backgrounds have inspired us to start a new series, Students of STUDIO B. Each month we will highlight a member of our community who is up to really cool things.

We are kicking off the series with Karen Beall owner of krb ceramics.

Karen and student in class "Wine Coolers"

Karen and student in class "Wine Coolers"

SB: Tell us a little about yourself and your business:

KB: I am an artist and my artwork incorporates sculptural forms derived from small, often overlooked species from the natural world. Much like a scientist, I collect and study fungi and plants to serve as sources of inspiration. At times my artwork also comments on environmental themes. I recently set up a ceramics studio in my home and after years of teaching at Lebanon Valley College I've started to teach children and adults in my own studio. I offer weekly Saturday classes for children and project-based classes for children, teens, and adults. My website--krbceramics.com--features my ceramic artwork and provides information about the classes. I also have a website--karenrichbeall.com--that features all of my artwork.

Children in Saturday morning class

Children in Saturday morning class

SB: When did you start practicing yoga at STUDIO B and what was your goal when you started? 

KB: I started practicing yoga at STUDIO B in Fall 2016 because I wanted to work towards becoming more peaceful, focused, relaxed and flexible.

SB: What is your favorite part about yoga at STUDIO B?

KB: My favorite part of Studio B is the getting to know yoga community and the teachers...and the location!

Karen’s artwork “Nature’s Recyclers”

Karen’s artwork “Nature’s Recyclers”

Karen, Thank you for participating and for being a part of the community at STUDIO B!!

P.S. You can find some of Karen's work at our Annville studio!

Weekend Recap - Teacher Training

Happy Monday : ) I am here today with a weekend recap...Teacher Training style.

Yoga Teacher Training is much different than other forms of fitness certifications. While many personal training and group fitness certs can be completed in a day, a weekend or even a one-time test, becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance requires completing a 200 hour program with a Registered Yoga School.

I am currently co-leading one of these programs with Pat O'Connell over at Yoga on Chocolate. Our program consists of eight, 23-hour weekends over a six month period. So what could we possibly do for 23 hours in a weekend? That's what I'm sharing today!

Every weekend has the same structure, but the details vary. Here is a look at Weekend 7 of the 2016-2017 Training!

Friday Evening - Practice, Assisting Workshop and Discussion

Last weekend's training started on Friday at 5pm. We briefly discussed what's been happening since the last time we were together and covered housekeeping stuff for the weekend ahead. At 5:30pm we took a Vinyasa Flow class together followed by a quick break. 

After break we led the group through a hands-on assisting workshop. Assisting is intimidating, so many new teachers shy away from it, but it is also powerful and something that sets a great teacher apart from a good teacher.

We ended the evening with a discussion of the book we read between weekends, The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukav and wrapped up at 9pm.

Saturday - Meditation, Practice & Anatomy

Saturday morning started bright and early at 8am with student-led group meditation. Participants were asked to share how their meditation practice is going overall - what's working, what's not, how they feel during and after, etc. We also discussed various tools for meditating and teaching meditation. 

The Teacher Trainees practiced with the 9:30 class while I assisted them. It had been a long time since I assisted an entire class so it was a great refresher for me! After class we had a quick break followed by a session on Bandhas and Pranayama before we broke for lunch.

After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon practice teaching. We are getting close to the end (just one more weekend left!) so the TT's are getting anxious to get more practical experience.

yoga teacher training

Saturday ended at 5pm. No matter how we do it, Saturday is a LONNNG day! By this point our bodies are beat and our brains are fried.

Sunday - Meditation, Practice,  Anatomy & Practice Teaching

On Sunday we met again at 8am, but this time at STUDIO B, Harrisburg. We began with a student-led meditation and discussion. Lucky for me, the student chose a guided meditation that included a trip to the beach! After meditation I taught and the TT's joined the 9:30 class. Despite being exhausted, the group brought a ton of energy to class that I was so grateful for!

After class we discussed the ethics and business of yoga then broke for lunch.

The afternoon was spent on Anatomy and more Practice Teaching. We took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and took things outside, something we haven't been able to do all training.

One topic we didn't cover this weekend that we normally spend a good bit of time on is Personal Development/Goal Setting. This is a powerful component of the training where we focus on ironing out who we are, what are purpose is, aligning our lives around our purpose and creating visions and goals. 

The next time we meet will be graduation weekend. I am so excited for this group of Trainees to start sharing their light and love with the world in the form of yoga. They are all going to be such excellent teachers and I can't wait to see how they manifest their unique talents and gifts.