Yoga on the Cheap

Aaaaaaah…

I just got done with a short yoga class without leaving my home – and without dealing with creepy fitness videos (is it just me, or can they get strange really quickly?)

You guessed it – there’s an app for that

Last year, I stumbled across one of those free “Apps of the Week” at Starbucks called Yoga Studio. Now, I’m not one to pay for apps (although I will admit to the occasional, yet deadly, in-app purchase of Jewel Mania. Those days are over, though.) But, I would gladly fork over the whole $2.99 for this beauty of an application.

There is an awesome selection of classes available for free after you download the app

There is an awesome selection of classes available for free after you download the app

Yoga Studio is easy for yoga beginners (like me), and the interface is simple and beautiful. Not only can you download 15, 30 and 60 minute classes, but you can choose between beginner, intermediate and advanced versions of various “classes.” My session today was on relaxation, which I desperately needed.

One of the neatest features is that you can schedule and create your own classes – pick out your favorite poses, and the app will even link them together with other poses in order for a fluid, well-balanced session. How great is that? Tree pose, gate pose and half shoulder stand here I come!

    There's a large, and rather intimidating, pose library that includes instructions, benefits and best practices for each pose. You can create your own yoga class using any combination of these poses!

There’s a large, and rather intimidating, pose library that includes instructions, benefits and best practices for each pose. You can create your own yoga class using any combination of these poses!

But why yoga?

I’m not saying this app is the only option, of course. I’m just saying – if you’re on a budget and you want to try out some yoga, this is an excellent alternative to taking classes. The benefits of yoga are in line with the tenets of minimalism and simple, healthy living and I just can’t wait to delve further into it.

I’ve read over and over again the physical and mental affects of practicing yoga (like improved flexibility, fitness, and stress reduction), and boy, do I believe them. I’m especially bad at managing stress – I kick into overdrive when I’m stressed, and fail to take general care of myself and my surroundings, only focusing all of my time and effort on working and worrying about something that sometimes doesn’t even deserve the time of day. I notice my mood shift when I get around to a nice yoga session, and it’s something I want to incorporate into my daily routine.

Real studios are (probably) nice, too

Admittedly, I have not been to a real yoga class in years, but the perks of going to a studio are not to be ignored. There’s a community around practicing yoga with others, and with a live instructor, you’re able to get feedback on your poses. As one who’s always been a bit overzealous when it comes to stretching muscles, I don’t think it would be a bad idea for me to get some instruction on my form.

Do you practice yoga? Where?

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Adjusting the Tension

This past weekend I pulled my sewing machine out from my greatly diminished craft chest and wondered why I hadn’t gotten rid of it along with my other supplies. I haven’t sewn since high school – the summer before college, I discovered everything I sewed started to look like a manic episode with an etch-a-sketch.

The bottom half of the thread would bunch up into unmanageable bundles and soon the machine would stop moving forward. I gave up on my machine, and away it went. For years.

And when I got it back out this weekend, the machine and the thread still bunched, and it still jammed up. Only this time I actually stopped to think about why it was happening.

Pillowcase

A five-minute YouTube video taught me that it was a matter of tension. I had never adjusted the bobbin (bottom thread) tension, and to adjust the top tension I often just turned the dial to a random, sounds-good-to-me number.

So, I adjusted the tension the right way. And it worked.

After that, I sailed through the pillowcase project that’s been on my mind for weeks. I found myself immersed in a hobby I had forgotten so long ago, and rode a creative high for the rest of the weekend. I felt energized and encouraged by nothing more than a simple, beautiful clean stitch.

Good tension and bad tension

I realized that to get those straight stitches I had to add just enough tension to make it right – note that there’s still some tension needed.

To keep balanced we all need to find the right level of tension, and I think many of us, young and old, stretch ourselves too far and wind ourselves up too tightly. We pack our schedules just so we can feel busy and important, without stopping to focus on what’s actually important (the link, by the way, is a must-read).

So, what’s bad tension?

  • Credit card debt
  • A cluttered home
  • Procrastination
  • A hostile work environment
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Overflowing schedule

And what’s good?

  • Reasonable deadlines (and less procrastination)
  • Structured, well thought-out goals
  • A daily habit – such as journaling, reading, or even flossing
  • Healthy competition (I love this one – just careful to not overdo it)
  • Spending uninterrupted, focused time with loved ones

These seem obvious, but so many nuances lie between them that sometimes it’s easy to mistake bad tension as acceptable and healthy. It’s even easy to see the positive tension as overwhelming when we’re already stretched to our limits.

So next time you’re feeling tangled up and close to a complete shutdown, stop and examine the tensions you currently have in your life. Write them down – both home and work tensions – and carefully consider each one. Is it necessary? Can it be adjusted?

Ease up on some of the bad tensions, and put a little more stress on what’s healthy and important. You’ll come away with the beautiful feeling that everything is back in it’s proper place.

 

 

Cutting Kitchen Clutter

These are the only dishes I am allowed to use this week.

These are the only dishes I am allowed to use this week.

One of my largest stresses is coming home to a cluttered kitchen. I rush around in the morning and throw my dirty breakfast dishes in the sink, then prepare food later that evening and find myself too tired to clean up, and the cycle continues until there are literally no dishes left for me to use. I have a feeling most of you are nodding your heads in agreement.

So, the most recent challenge I’ve posed for myself is to cut out the stress I feel when I see a dirty kitchen. The cause of that is that I just have too many darn dishes. I’m one person for heaven’s sake.

So here is my challenge: use one of everything. Just one.

For a girl with over 20 coffee mugs to her name, this is absurd. But I’ve decided that I’m not going to allow clutter to stress me out anymore! In fact, I’ve decided to get rid of 9 coffee mugs. It’s not as many as I’d like to see go, but it’s a good start.

To help me with this, I’ve hidden most of my dishes in the pantry. Habits can be hard to change, which is why instead of forcing myself to clean every other day, I’m forcing myself to use only one set of dishes. It’s working out nicely so far.

What stresses you out? Take a look at the root of the issue, and see what you can do to change it.