Friday, April 29, 2011

Change of plan

So yesterday after work I planned to go to yoga. Lame, right? Yeah, that's also what my car thought... and therefore, didn't start. This is my car on a tow truck :(

But I didn't let it stress me out. My friend picked me up and since the last yoga class had already started, we seized the day and had a huge dinner :)

I don't usually eat this much and never funky combinations like this (steak AND salmon?), because yoga on a full stomach is no good. My body sure loved this iron, protein and omega-3 extravaganza though, because I've got TONS of energy today! :D

And I'd like to say: a big Thank You to all my friends who have graciously offered their help while I'm without transportation. You're the best-est!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nail polish re-organization

Before: big mess!

After: Aaah, much better :)

The process was a tedious one though! After assembling this with my friend (thank you, friend!) I have a new appreciation for IKEA furniture design. This is not from IKEA and was quite complicated to assemble!
The instructions were 12 pages long!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bikram Yoga clothing: Tips for men and women

In a recent comment, a reader asked for tips on where to buy clothes for Bikram Yoga. In this post, I want to give you some pointers for that, as well as tips on what to wear in a Bikram Yoga class. 

General advice:
  • wear as little as you feel comfortable with (but minimum for women: short shorts and sports bra top, minimum for men: short shorts)
  • clothing is NOT optional  in Bikram Yoga (despite what some rumors say!)
  • go for sports wear quality, moisture-wicking materials (cotton will feel heavy, lose it's shape, and start sagging when wet from sweat)
  • shorts should cover the first inch of your thighs and fit snugly around the thighs!! Can't stress this enough! If you don't follow this, the person behind you will see your underwear or more in Balancing Stick and Standing Bow, EEEEEEEEK!

    WOMEN's wear:
    For bottoms, most women wear short shorts, but if you're uncomfortable in that, wear shorts or capris. Make sure they are form-fitting, so the teacher can see your legs/knees and give you corrections if needed.

    For a top, you can either wear a sports bra type top like this:

    or a supported sports top like this:

    I don't recommend wearing anything with sleeves and personally, I prefer not wearing a sports bra AND a top, so that is why I recommend sports tops which include chest support.

    MEN's wear:
    For obvious reasons - I'm a girl - , I'm not a pro when it comes to men's wear. But I know that my favorites, Shakti and Lululemon, both usually offer yoga shorts for men as well.

    If you wear loose-fitting shorts, you MUST make sure you wear tight-fitting underwear or the person behind you will see your boy parts! Generally, you want to make sure that pubic hair is always covered by tight-fitting clothes!

    A shirt for guys is definitely optional. Many men go bare-chested. If you're uncomfortable with that, you can practice in a shirt and possibly take it off during class. If you go with a shirt, I would suggest you pick one without sleeves.

    General shopping tips:
    If you choose to get your yoga practice clothes from the stores/brands that specialize in yoga clothing, prepare to spend around 40-50$ per piece. The clothes are usually high quality and nicely designed with yoga practice in mind.
    Examples for stores (US based and/or mail order): Lululemon, Shakti, Mika, Lucy, ...

    You can certainly find cheaper alternatives in stores that carry general sportswear. Even the pieces priced as low as 10-15$ are usually good quality, but mostly not designed with yoga in mind. Shorts might not be tight-fitting enough, bras might be to tight/bulky because they are designed for high impact sports. I find that to be the trade-off when buying these cheaper alternatives.
    Examples for stores (US based): the usual suspects... Target, Old Navy, Dick's, Sports Authority, T. J. Maxx, ...

    If you have any questions or additional tips for readers, please leave a comment! (If the comments section gives you trouble with Firefox or other browsers, please try using Internet Explorer.)


    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Magic Lake

    The lake in front of my balcony is a pretty one... and I'm not the only one who thinks so!

    There's swans... and ducks, of course...

    Water rats (although they're not really rats, not dirty, vegetarian, and really quite cute)... And remind me of Paderborn!

    And huh? Is that a TURTLE?! I didn't know turtles could survive here, but apparently they can! Learn something new every day... I'm glad this little fella survived his hibernation and hangs out here with me now :)

    I am on the lookout for more friends from the lake now... Personally, I expect to see a unicorn or two within the next couple of days!

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    What I miss about Munich: Alternative movie theaters

    I checked out an alternative movie theater in the area yesterday. I really liked it and I hope I'll make a habit of going at least once or twice a month! Nothing comes close to Munich's movie theater scene though... there are tons of theaters and most of them show non-Hollywood stuff. LOVED them so much! And I miss them, so I am very happy to have found a new happy place for myself :)

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Tips for a Bikram Yoga Challenge

    It's been about three weeks now since I've finished my first Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge. It was definitely a challenge, but I am very happy I did it as I have seen A LOT of benefits in my well-being (physical and mental) as well as my yoga practice. I recommend doing a challenge like this to anybody who is considering it!

    So if you're interested, my tips for you would be:
    • tell your friends/family/coworkers about it! You will not have much time for them during you challenge and you might have to leave work early on occasion to make it to class. If they know that (and why) you are doing this challenge, they will probably be much more understanding/supportive.
    • plan your outfits and laundry day! Doing a Bikram Yoga Challenge means tons and tons of laundry. Before you start, figure out how many yoga outfits and yoga towels you have. I personally like to have 4-5 outfits, so I only have to do yoga laundry 2-3 times a week.
    • expect dietary changes and plan for them! Even before the challenge starts, stock up for your increased need of water, electrolytes, protein, vitamins, and food in general. You will have less time for quick trips to the grocery store once your challenge starts, so buy as much of what you'll need beforehand. I recommend: yummy spring or mineral water, electrolyte supplements or at least lemon and salt, nuts or whole wheat snacks or protein bars, fruit or multivitamin supplement, snacks to satiate possible increased hunger. Your body needs good nutrition to transform itself!
    • plan to concentrate on yourself as much as possible! Don't plan any big trips or changes for the duration of your challenge. It is supposed to be a time to concentrate on yourself (your Self), your body, and your yoga. You will be plenty busy, especially if you work full-time or have other commitments you cannot get out of.
    • plan to take class every day; don't plan to do many doubles! I have seen many people miss classes multiple times each week, and then do doubles and triples on multiple (consecutive!) days to catch up. This is not really what a Challenge should look like. A Challenge is meant to be a commitment to focus on your yoga every day, with consistency. No offense to the folks who had to do multiple doubles and triples to make the Challenge. That is great commitment, of course! But is also adds unnecessary anxiety and stress to it, while the point of doing a Challenge is the opposite: de-stressing and adding stability to your life. (This is my understanding of a Challenge, so no offense intended!)
     If you have any questions about this, please don't hesitate to ask :)


      Monday, April 18, 2011

      On the road: Chrysler

      Spend the day at the customer's office. Their technology center is really nice!

      Check out the cafeteria :) Almost comes close to BMW's awesome FIZ cafeteria!

      Saturday, April 16, 2011

      More visitors

      I got new neighbors today :) I wonder how long they will stick around for.

      They brightened the otherwise gloomy day!

      PS.: Spring, get here already!

      Friday, April 15, 2011

      Visitors from Germany!

       My former boss is in town for a conference, so we went out with a bunch of colleagues and had a yummy dinner out (American classic: BBQ) + some drinks... good times :)

      Wednesday, April 13, 2011

      Bikram Yoga 30 Day Challenge: results, benefits and a recap

      About two weeks ago I wrapped up my first 30 Day Challenge, meaning I practiced Bikram Yoga 30 times in 30 days. I skipped 2 days and caught up by doing 2 doubles on other days (taking two of the 90 minute classes on the same day).

      I am quite proud of myself for having finished this challenge successfully, esp. because work has been pretty busy during that time. In this post, I want to give you an overview of the changes I have seen and the benefits I have received from this Yoga Challenge.

      Food cravings:
      Overall, I think my food cravings have stabilized in the second half of the 30 Day Challenge. I have realized though, that I really needed to take electrolyte supplements. Coconut water, lemon, salt, and foods weren't cutting it anymore with that much sweating every day. (How did I know? When you have too little electrolytes in your body, your muscles will feel VERY tired and weak. You might also experience muscle cramps.)

      Energy and Sleep:
      Bikram says, Yoga makes you need less sleep. I have not experienced that during my 30 Day Challenge. I have, however, experienced that before when I was practicing three to four times a week.

      I feel A LOT stronger now and I have definitely toned up everywhere! My arms, legs, core, butt, back, shoulders, feet, everywhere! I am particularly thrilled about my back muscles (most back problems have disappeared!), my core strength (good posture! and abs are always good, of course!), and strong feet! You might think, huh? Strong feet? Yeah, most people's feet muscles are way too weak, because we wear shoes every day. Weak feet muscles can lead to over-pronation and thus knee pain or even hip pain and back pain! I have noticed stronger feet means no more over-pronation for me :))
      Also, as I have mentioned in a previous post about this challenge, my skin is now SO amazingly soft... I haven't used any moisturizer since before the challenge! Not even on my elbows or knees and they feel baby-soft now. (I do use moisturizer on my hands due to frequent hand washing, and on my face for sunscreen.)

      The 30 Day Challenge has definitely helped me become more calm and less moody. It also gave me a great sense of accomplishment :)

      The 30 Day Challenge has been great for my postures! I've become much stronger and also more flexible (in muscles AND joints) and can balance so much better now (thank you, strong feet), so almost every posture has improved. Still makes me very happy when I can do stuff that I couldn't before!

      However, I still struggle with the heat. It is much hotter in this studio than it was in my German Bikram studio. On some days I wonder, if it really has to be THIS hot. I've barely had any classes in which I did every set/side of every posture.

      Weight loss:
      Many people ask me about weight loss with Bikram Yoga, so I want to address it here. First of all, I do not own a scale or take my measurements, so I cannot give you any numbers. This yoga is not purely about exercise, but if you have weight to lose, you will definitely see some great changes in your body if you practice regularly.
      This yoga will help you balancing: balancing on one leg or your toes, but also balancing your mind and your body. For your mind it looks like this: you will feel less stressed, less anxious, less depressed, and you will be able to handle difficult situations better. For your body/weight, more balance will look like this:
      • you will crave foods that are good for you,
      • overeating or "undereating" will not happen so often anymore,
      • you will build more muscle and become stronger.
      All of this will add up to a healthier and stronger body. If you are underweight, you will gain muscles and strength and probably crave protein to help you get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight, you will become leaner and stronger, fat will slowly be replaced by muscles. Whatever your current state is, Bikram Yoga will help you get your balanced body (and mind).
      Personally, I don't really have weight to lose. I do have some padding ;) and I have definitely seen a reduction in that. I can definitely feel less padding (read: fat) between my skin and the muscles when I push down on my stomach or butt. I doubt that I have lost any weight though. I have probably gained some, because I have gained quite a bit of muscle mass. That's perfectly fine though, because it's about balance and I was pretty well balanced when it comes to fat even before I started the Bikram Yoga.
      If you have any questions about this, please don't be shy! (No account needed to comment.)

      All in all, this challenge was great for me! It was stressful, because I was working full-time (and more). But it was great to see that I could do it and that my body LOVES this yoga!

      If this made you curious about Bikram Yoga, you can find the closest studio location on Bikram Choudhury's official website here: Bikram Yoga studio locations.

      Sunday, April 10, 2011

      Haha, weather, you're crazy!

      Yep, 81 degF means 27 degC!!! I guess the weather got upset when I criticized it yesterday.

      Finally, SUNSHiNE and I get to enjoy my sunroof!

      Saturday, April 9, 2011

      Spring... is not quite here yet

      The weather hasn't really that great yet. This park pulled me in though when I was driving past it, so I took a quick stroll.

      Can't wait for the weather to get nice, so I can spend time outside (and not freeze after an hour).

      Tuesday, April 5, 2011

      Rain, hooray!

      If you know me, you probably know that I like rain. It reminds me of home, which is the German region Ost-Westfalen (it rains a lot in Ost-Westfalen). Also, rain means it's too warm for snow... and that's a plus, right? You also have to agree, that THIS rain was particularly pretty, right?

      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Bikram Yoga Challenge: 30 day recap... coming soon!

      My friend recently mailed me this card... The kitty is very cute, of course, but wait 'til you see what the inside of the card says.....

      "I meditate, I do yoga, I chant... and I still want to SMACK someone!"

      LOL!!!!! And before you ask: Yes, my friend specifically pointed out that the card reminded him of me :D

      Now, what to make of that... If you know me, you probably know that yes, I do have little patience sometimes. But it actually has improved a lot since I've started practicing Bikram yoga half a year ago. Yes, I still get worked up about stuff at work sometimes, but I have learned to stay calm most of the time and to settle down fairly quickly if I failed to stay calm. I'd call that improvement!

      Another thing that has improved BIG TIME is my so called "road rage". I used to get very impatient in heavy traffic (no "rage" involved really, only tenseness an impatience). But, if you live near Detroit and get impatient in heavy traffic... you are going to feel impatient A LOT. Anyway, my road rage has pretty much disappeared. Yay for Bikram Yoga!

      I have not put together a 30 day recap yet. I will probably think some more about it and post it later this week!

      Saturday, April 2, 2011

      Saturday lunch

      Spent my day lunching and shopping with a friend of mine. Thanks for showing me this new sweet breakfast joint (appropriately called... TOAST), dear friend!


      We then continued to the mall where I talked her into buying an amazing "little black dress" by my favorite designer and she, in turn, talked me into buying this awesome necklace from her favorite store... so we're even now ;)

      The stones are amethysts, which are known for promoting calmness and clarity.