Things I Learned from Taking 4 Yoga Classes in 6 Days

A few weeks ago, I was feeling a little off all day and decided I didn’t want to go to the gym for my normal weight and cardio type of workout. I felt like I needed something, but something more along the lines of yoga, which is something that sadly gets neglected far too often in my training schedule. Luckily, there are 2 yoga studios within a short walk from my apartment, so I was able to satisfy my need/want for yoga. I opted to go to CorePower Yoga in Newton Corner since they give new students and ENTIRE WEEK for FREE! How cool is that?! With classes running you $23 a pop, getting the chance to even get one for free is a treat.

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In typical Monique fashion, I decided that I should make the best of the free week and get to as many classes as possible, which ended up being 4 since we were away over the weekend. My first class was a little rough. My bad shoulder was bothered by a lot of the moves (I realized later probably because I wasn’t used to moving it that much), my mind just couldn’t slow down and I was too focused on remembering how to get my body the way it was supposed to be rather than really soaingk in the aspects of yoga I needed: calmness, breathing & slowing down my mind. I also wasn’t a fan of the instructor as there seemed to be no flow to what he was having us do and I think I can settle into my practice the most when we are flowing through sequences and focusing on our breathing.

My second class was the Yoga Sculpt, which wasn’t really what I wanted for that particular day (a Sunday late afternoon when I was already sore), but it ended up being a really great class. I love that it incorporated yoga AND weights AND cardio all in one class- totally my style and the instructor, Angela, was great! It was a small class, but she kept the energy high and pushed us through some challenging sequences. I also felt like I was able to get into my groove better and leave more thoughts outside of my mat. This is a great class for people who think they don’t like yoga or that it’s not a good enough workout (even though it is a workout if you want it to be!).

My third class was the 6pm CorePower Yoga 2 with Carrie, which was really great! It was challenging and there were some good flows and by the end I was a sweaty, sweaty mess & felt totally noodle-y. I even surprised myself with rocking out a challenging arm balance, which felt way easier than it used to feel when I practiced yoga regularly.

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The body is an amazing thing. Up until last Thursday, I hadn't practiced yoga in an embarrassingly long time. 🙏🙏🙏 There was always something I'd rather do, even though I know I would've benefited from yoga more than anything on some days. # My first day back was rough. I felt rusty and inflexible and my mind couldn't slow down for a second. # My second time was better- I was flowing more smoothly, breathing was better and My mind wasn't racing so much. # Today was my 3rd time and it felt amazing! Great flows, great breaths and then I totally surprised myself with this arm balance. I used to be able to do it back in the days when I practiced yoga a lot, but I remember that it was a challenging for me . Today, though? I was shocked by how easy it felt. Clearly it wasn't from practice, but I have to attribute it to my consistency with my strength training over the years. Consistency does pay off and I gotta say- it was pretty damn empowering to do this! So next time you take an extended break from working out or practicing yoga, remember it takes a bit to get back to where you were before you took that break. You have to start slow and be easy on yourself, but if you keep at it, you'll get back to where you were soon enough. Muscle memory is a wonderful thing! #yoga #yogaeeverydamnday #corepoweryoga #armbalance #challengeyourself #consistency #selflove #selfappreciation #onestepatatime #keepgoing #namaste #ffcheckin #fitfluential #motivation

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My fourth and last class may have been the best. My body felt so much more flexible, my mind was quiet, my breathing matched every move and my shoulder wasn’t bothering me anymore. Emily G taught the 6pm CorePower Yoga 2 and she challenged us by having us go through a 10 minute flow! By the end, I was exhausted, but felt really good. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to yoga since I was feeling a little off so I told myself I would take it easy. Once I got on my mat and slowed my breathing, everything felt better and I left so happy that I went.

My whole yoga experience at CorePower Yoga last week taught me/reminded me about a few things:

1. Muscle Memory is a fantastic thing. Even though my first few classes were a little rough due to the fact that I hadn’t practiced yoga in MONTHS, once I got back into the flow (literally) of things, my body remembered how to do the things that I hadn’t done in so long. I was able to relax into child pose and pigeon pose and I remembered what the various sun salutations were and how the breathing aligned with each movement.

2. Strength training helps in so many aspects of your life.
Although I hadn’t practiced yoga in a while, thanks to regularly lifting weights, my body felt strong in all of the poses I tried- from chaturanga to forearm balances to standing balancing poses, everything felt easier than it did when I was practicing yoga regularly.

3. Practice makes you better, but some days you may not be where you were the day before and I love that yoga encourages us to acknowledge an accept this. It’s so easy for me to get hung up on always trying to be better than I was the day before, but that’s just not how life works. Some days I can whip out 4-5 chin ups and some days it’s hard to do 1. Some days I can run 5 miles and feel amazing and sometimes 3 is a real struggle. Life is always going to ebb and flow and have ups and downs and yoga is a good reminder that that’s all part of life!

4. Breathing helps. A lot. Whatever it is- whether a holding a challenging pose, finishing that last rep or handling a rough situation or argument, breathing through it will always help you get through it.

The sad part about yoga is how expensive it is, so I need to be on the lookout for some deals because I KNOW how good it is for me to try and practice fairly regularly. The way I feel when I leave yoga is a totally different feeling than when I leave the gym after a cardio/strength training session, which is why I need to make it a priority to fit both types of workouts into my workout schedule. I can see the calmness and peacefulness of yoga really coming in handy leading up to my wedding 😉

Questions for you: Do you practice yoga? Where do you practice it? What do you look for in a yoga class? What have you learned about yourself from a workout (lifting, yoga, running, etc.)?

If you’re looking for a flow you can do at home, check out this post: Strong & Lean Yogamomto Yoga Sequence

Weekending: Wedding Update Edition

Good morning! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? I was loving the great fall weather. Know what else I was loving? BOOKING A VENUE AND A DATE!!! If you’ve been following B2B for a while, you already know that wedding planning thus far has been stressful. Being on a budget, having no idea what I want and having a busy schedule anyway has made the whole process just not that fun. BUT, now that we have a venue and a date I already feel a million times better. Before we get to that, let’s chat about the rest of the weekend, too.

After work on Friday, I met up with my sister at Hopsters in Newton Corner. This place is literally walking distance from my apartment and they sell lots of craft beers and delicious looking charcuterie boards and flatbread pizzas. On top of that, you can even make your own beer there, which sounds like a fun activity even for someone like me who isn’t a big beer person.

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The purpose for our meetup was so that I could finally officially ask her to be my Maid of Honor! I scoured Etsy for a while until I found this bracelet, which had my sisters name all over it (literally and figuratively!)- she loves bracelets and monogramed items so this couldn’t have been more perfect. Luckily, she agreed 🙂

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When I got home, RM and I made a nice healthy fish dinner, thanks to my mom’s friend Jean’s husband who caught the fish!

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A little while after dinner, it was snack time. Yes, we have a snack time every night- it’s my favorite! We always try to have healthy snacks like paleo banana bread muffins or toast or something else that’s not loaded with tons of sugar. On Friday, RM toasted up some Ezekiel bread, topped it with almond butter and my mom’s homemade blueberry jam, bananas, cinnamon and ground flax seed. Delicious!

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After teaching on Saturday, I rushed home to shower and hit the road to head up to Jackson, NH to look at The Wentworth Inn as a possible wedding venue.

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I had spoken with Kim, the fantastic wedding planner, a few times leading up to our visit and was totally in love with the venue before even seeing it in person! It was affordable, included a lot of things in the package that most other places didn’t include (90 minutes of full open bar at the cocktail hour?! yes, please!) and seemed like a great mini destination place since it’s just 10 minutes north of North Conway. I also loved that everyone could stay on site, which eliminated the need for us to need to book buses or vans or some other type of transportation. And, they source all of their food locally, from 15 nearby farms, to be exact, and they said nothing is ever frozen. For foodies like us, we loved the sounds of that!

After a tour and long discussion with Kim, we were pretty sure we were going to book our wedding at The Wentworth… on the 4th of July! They were giving a phenomenal discount to have the wedding on that day, one that was just too good to pass up, so we are going to be getting married on July 4th, 2016! We are hoping it doesn’t throw a wrench into people’s normal 4th of July plans, but since the holiday is on a Monday, we hope that people can do celebrating on Saturday and Sunday and be with us on Monday-  I promise it will be a good party!

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After our tour, we decided to walk to the Wildcat Tavern for a late afternoon snack and drink since we didn’t have lunch. The trio dip platter was a fantastic option and their wine selection was incredible! Ashley- they had La Crema by the glass 🙂

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When we got back to our room, RM laughed and said we apparently didn’t need to get a snack. Curious, I went over to see what he was looking at and was so surprised by the super sweet gesture that Kim had done by sending us a nice card and a cheese platter.

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It’s little things like this that really go a long way with potential clients- we appreciated it so much!

After resting for a bit, we went down to the hotel bar to have some dinner. They have a full restaurant, but we prefer the bar atmosphere. The food was unbelievable- I got the lamb stew and RM got the steak and everything was absolutely delicious and so fresh tasting!

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We also shared some sort of apple tart with cinnamon ice cream for dessert that went unpictured because we were too impatient to wait for me to get my phone to take a picture 😉

Another great thing about the Inn is that breakfast and breakfast tip are included in your room rate. When we saw all that they had to offer for breakfast, we couldn’t believe it! They had a really nice continental breakfast bar with fruit, yogurt, cereal, pastries, etc., but they also had a full breakfast menu. We decided to split both of the specials: blueberry pancakes and eggs benedict, with a side of homemade corn beef hash.

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Oh, my, God. Everything was so fresh and flavorful and just delicious.

We hit the road after breakfast so RM could be back in time to watch the game. I decided to make good use of time and went to Whole Foods. I treated myself to a smoothie since I was hungry for lunch at that point.

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We decided we wanted to do a roast chicken dinner so I prepped that when I got back before going to a yoga class.

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There is a CorePower Yoga a short walk from our apartment and last week there was a day where I just didn’t feel like going to the gym so I decided to check it out. They offer a free first week for new students which is an amazing deal, so I’m trying to get the most use out of it. Yesterday, the only class they had in a time that worked for me was their Yoga Sculpt class, which is almost like a yoga bootcamp. I really wanted a restorative yoga, but I ended up really loving the Yoga Sculpt class- we started and ended with nice yoga flows, but in the middle we used weights and did all sorts of lunges, pushups, squats, jumping jacks, burpees, etc…. I was totally in my element, even in the 98* room! I felt great when I left.

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I popped the chicken and veggies in the oven when I got home and everything came out SO GOOD! I have never made a roast chicken before even though it’s my favorite meal so I was a little nervous but everything tasted delicious.

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And that’s about it. If you made it this far, thank you!!

Now that we have our venue and date picked, I can focus on the fun stuff like dress shopping and invites and things like that! Feels SO GOOD to have the biggest part of wedding planning checked off 🙂

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Do you prefer beer or wine? What’s your favorite dinner meal? What do you have going on this week?

 

Five on Friday {11.6.15}

TGIF! Seemed like you guys enjoyed last week’s “Five on Friday”, so I’m back again today with another round of it.

1. Over the past year or so, I’ve really started to enjoy painting my nails (except I’m way to impatient to sit still and wait for them to dry most of the time so I either end up with smudges immediately OR I put one coat on, let it dry, and then put the next coat on the next day.). I love shopping for new nail polish’s and it’s even more fun when my nails are all nice and long like they are now. Marshall’s and TJ Maxx are my favorite places to pick up Essie nail polishes because they are half the price they are at Walgreens! Also, my freshly shined bling just makes the whole thing even better 😉

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2. We are going to Jackson, NH tomorrow to look at a venue that we are HOPING and PRAYING will be “the one”. Fingers crossed- think positive thoughts for us!

3. Is it me or do fresh flowers in the house just make everything better? We have two bouquets right now and I smile every time I look at them!

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4. I did something last night I haven’t done in far too long: I went to a yoga class! I have been oddly sore this week and just had zero interest in going to the gym. Rather than push/force myself into going, I opted to take a more restorative approach to my workout by taking a class at CorePower Yoga in Newton Corner, which is conveniently a short walk from my apartment. I could tell it had been too long since my last practice because my head was allll over the place. So many thoughts running through my mind the whole class, which was really frustrating 😦 New students get a free first week so I hope to get back at least 2 or 3 more times- I could really use it!

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5. I recently signed up to participate in The Resolution by PMC ride at The Club by George Foreman III on January 3rd. I joined the Just Keep Spinning team in connection with the team leader who reached out to me to promote the event. Brought to you by the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), the event will offer over 2,000 people the opportunity to participate in a two-day indoor bike-a-thon with the goal of raising $1 million for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. You can participate in the event either by yourself or by joining a team- all you have to do is raise $250 and the cool thing is that 100% of every raised dollar will go directly to Dana-Farber to support adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research. If you’re interested in joining the event, you can register here and you can either create a team, ride as an individual or join Just Keep Spinning and ride with me 🙂 I”ll be riding from 12-1pm on Sunday, January 3rd and I am SO excited about it! If you aren’t interested in riding, but want to donate to the cause, feel free to check out my donation page (that I’ve yet to update and personalize yet!).

Questions for you: Tell me something about you or your week! Do anything fun? Have any good workouts? Do you practice yoga? What’s going on this weekend?

Happy Friday!! Have a great weekend- chat with you next week 😉

Guest Post: Strong & Lean Yogamoto Yoga Sequence

Good morning! I’ve got a really great post for you today- something you don’t see much of on this blog: Yoga! My cousin in law, Malinda, is a yoga instructor and the creator behind and author of Yogamoto. I recently saw Malinda at a family wedding and we had so much fun talking fitness and health and sharing our passions with each other. On top of teaching yoga in Maine, Malinda and her husband are super active with outdoorsy things and traveling all over the place. I hope you enjoy this post and learn something and are able to maybe get a little at-home practice in. I know I could use some of this a few times of week!

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Thanks to Monique for letting me share some yoga goodies with you all! I’m Malinda, and I created a practice called Yogamoto. Yogamoto is all about being present and living your path. Aside from teaching yoga, I love travel and adventure. I ride motorcycles, scuba dive, ski, sing. Yoga helps me get the most out of life… afterall the present is life! So let’s live there… right?! That’s what Yogamoto is all about – living life to the fullest.

I have been doing yoga since I was a kid, playing around with poses on the livingroom floor with my mom. I had NO IDEA we were doing yoga – acroyoga even – I just loved it! I started taking classes in high school. I got my 200 hour certification last year and have been having so much fun sharing yoga with my students!

Here’s a short sequence that strengthens, arms, core and legs, while increasing your range of motion. The sequence closes with a grounding balance pose. Here’s a misnomer – yoga isn’t all about flexibility! It’s about strength, balance, range of motion, and mental clarity. These are powerful poses that you’ll find in many beginner-intermediate yoga classes. While they look simple, they are challenging! Take time to do a little every day to build up your strength and stamina.

1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with feet hip width apart, spine straight, palms facing front, rib cage lifted, shoulder blades back and down. Hold for 3 breaths. (see the top left photo in the image under #2 for this pose)

2. Swan Dive to Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Inhale arms up overhead, exhale arms to the sides while hinging at the hips to bend forward. Back remains straight while bending forward. Bend forward as far as you can comfortably. Though legs are straight, keep the knees soft with a micro bend. (Bend knees if you have lower-back issues.) Hang like a rag doll, relaxing arms, neck, back. If you like, grab your elbows to create a window for your head. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malinda guest post Swan Uttanasana

3. High Lunge. Bend your knees, bring palms to the mat, and step the right foot back on your inhale. Step back far enough so the left knee is over the ankle. The right leg is straight, right heel is raised, resting on the ball of the foot. Press back through the right heel. Tent fingertips to lift the heart forward so the spine and neck are held in a straight line. Place hands on blocks if this is more comfortable. Hold for 5 breaths.

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4. Plank. Place palms on the mat. On the inhale, step the left foot back to meet the right, resting on balls of the feet. Hands are directly under shoulders. Shoulder blades are flush across the back (not sinking down through shoulders or pressing up to round shoulders). Create a straight line from crown of the head to the heels. Think about holding the core strong to stabilize you. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malidna guest post Plank

5. Side Plank (Vasisthasana). Place the left hand to the center of the mat, and start to pivot the feet so you are balancing on the outside of the left foot. Right foot stacks on top of the left. Bring the right hand to right hip as you turn the torso to the right. Inhale right arm up to the sky. Create a straight diagonal line from the head to the feet. Hug core in to stabilize. If this version is too intense for you right now, start by placing the left knee on the mat. If you are up for more of a challenge, lift the right leg up to be parallel with the floor. Hold for 5 breaths. Exhale bringing right hand back to mat to plank.

Malinda guest post Side Plank

6. Chaturanga Dandasana. Starting in plank, align shoulders slightly ahead of the wrists. Inhale, press back through the heels, engage the core, draw shoulders back. Exhale, slowly begin to bend elbows, hugging elbows to sides. Lower body keeping the plank position of a straight line from head to heels. Lower slowly taking about 3 seconds. Continue to lower until your shoulders are at the same height as the elbows at 90 degrees. Hold for 3 breaths.

Malinda guest post Chaturanga Dandasana

7. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Exhale, press through the hands, lift the pelvis, press down through the heels. The heels may not touch the floor. Tip the pelvis up, draw inner thighs back. Focus weight in the hands in the fingers/finger base, not in the base of the wrist. Spin elbow creases forward. Elongate the spine, keeping neck neutral between the arms. Hold for 5 breaths.

Malinda guest post Downward Facing Dog

Repeat 1-7 on the other side.

8. Tree Pose (Vrksasana). Start in Tadasana. Slowly shift weight to the left foot, peeling the right foot off the mat heel to toe. With the hand, help bring the right foot to the inner thigh of the left leg. Press the foot into the thigh. Open the knee out to the side. (If this isn’t in your range of motion, rest the foot on the inside calf. Just don’t place foot on the knee.) Find one point of focus in front of you. Inhale hands to Anjali Mudra. Hold for 3 breaths. With the next inhale, raise hands above head. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Bring palms together, exhale to heart center, Anjali Mudra. Exhale foot to floor. Repeat on other side.

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Have fun with this sequence as you get stronger and stronger.

I would love to see more of you! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and @yogamoto1 and check out my website www.yogamoto.com.

Time to Shine!

Malinda

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Thanks so much for sharing these poses with us, Malinda! I can’t wait to try this sequence… preferably when my head isn’t so congested! 😉

Questions for you: Do you do yoga? How often do you practice? What is your favorite pose?

This Week: Workouts, subbing & things I’m looking forward to

Good morning and happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend 🙂 I have to tell you something I’m proud of myself for: I took an unplanned, totally random day off from the gym last week and instead of working out, I watched tv and drank wine. I did get on my yoga mat for about 15 minutes of stretching and sun salutations, but that was mostly to stretch my incredibly tight hip flexors! I was supposed to be teaching a bonus bootcamp, but since it was raining I had to cancel it. After a late night out on Wednesday (and an unplanned double), by the time Thursday afternoon rolled around I was spent. Work has been crazy and I went back and forth about whether I should suck it up and go to the gym or just listen to my body and go home and relax. The fact that I picked the latter was a big step for me!

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I subbed a cardio kickboxing class at the Watertown BSC. I hadn’t taught kickboxing in almost 3 weeks and boy did I feel it the next couple of days. I got to wear my new kicks- LOVED them!

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  • Tuesday- I taught my last bootcamp class of the season. We got so dirty doing a super fun workout- I can’t wait to share it with you!

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  • Wednesday- I went to the gym expecting to go for an outdoor run before teaching UXF Burn, but literally as I was outside tying my sneakers, the manager came out and asked me to cover the 5:30 class. Mind you, it was 5:45 at that point, and there were only TWO people in the room waiting for the class. I really, really, really didn’t want to teach the class as I was already teaching a lot and wanted to have time for myself and my own workout, but I didn’t really have a choice. It ended up being a good workout and I pulled myself together, but I wasn’t happy with it at first!
  • Thursday- As I mentioned above, I had to cancel my bootcamp and decided to do a little yoga before relaxing. It was perfect.

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  • Friday- I went to the gym during lunch and ran 3.5 miles and then did some strength exercises.

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  • Saturday- I had had a stressful Friday night, so I decided a run was a good idea before the day started. We were also going to be eating and drinking a lot all day, so that was extra motivation. I ran a beautiful 3 miles and did 4 sets of squats, plié squats, oblique dips, oblique twists and push-ups throughout.

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  • Sunday- Another rest day!

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I don’t know what I am going to do today. I have to deal with a lot of sh*tty stuff today ( more on that later), so I’m definitely going to need a solid workout after work.
  • Tuesday- I’m subbing the 5:30 cardio kickboxing and 6:30 UXF Burn at the South Station BSC. I like that double!
  • Wednesday- I’ll probably run before teaching UXF Burn
  • Thursday- I’m either going to rest on Thursday or Friday. If I workout on Thursday it will be during the day since I need to prep for my party on Thursday night (shopping, cleaning, etc).
  • Friday- I have a feeling I’ll rest on Thursday so I’ll probably head to the gym during my lunch break. I’ve really enjoyed my Friday lunch break workouts as it breaks up the day!
  • Saturday- I’ll teach my cardio kickboxing class at the Oak Square YMCA before my party.
  • Sunday- Another rest day. I’ll have to clean and stuff like that so it will be an active rest.

Things I’m Looking Forward To

Although this is a busy week, it’s all fun stuff so I can’t really complain 🙂 I’m excited to host my first party at my new place! Some of my friends and my mom and her friends can’t come, but I think there’s still going to be a good crowd- hopefully it will be good weather so we can go outside. I’m also looking forward to my friend Jen’s birthday dinner on Friday night. I won’t be able to stay for long since I have to prep for my party, but it will be good to see those girls.

Questions for you: What was the best workout you had last week? When’s the last time you skipped a workout “just because”? What are you looking forward to this week?