My Favorite Yoga Poses

I wrote this post during my last month of pregnancy and forgot that I never published it. Because of this, there are some references to my pregnancy that I am choosing not to remove. Although it was written during my pregnancy, everything I wrote is still true.

The last few weeks of my pregnancy I have been taking it easy at the gym for multiple reasons (time being the biggest reason). However, after missing an entire week at the gym (due to family visiting and work related items), I was more than ready for my hour of power yoga. Before class, I started thinking about all my favorite poses. I thought it might be fun to go through my top poses and why I love them so much.

You may click on any of the pose names to get a step-by-step guide to properly execute them.

Downward Dog – This is a great way to open up my shoulders and hips before moving into more complicated poses. When I first started yoga a few years ago, I thought this was one of the hardest positions ever. Now, I welcome this position as a way to come back to my breath and re-center after a tough sequence.

 

Chataranga – This pose took me forever to learn. I simply didn’t have the strength to lower down and hold my body elevated for an extended period of time. I would make it to a certain point and then just collapse. It wasn’t until I started going to my current instructor that I was able to do this pose. He simply said to try it on my knees to build up strength and then gradually I would become strong enough to do the full version. Why didn’t I think of that before? So, the next few classes I took my knees and before I knew it, I had no problem at all holding this pose. It is one of my favorites because it reminds me that I do have the strength within me to do things I thought I couldn’t. Now, every time I try a new pose I just remind myself that I should be patient with myself and it will eventually happen.

Crow – This is one of those poses that I think people get intimidated by. It is also a pose that immediately comes to mind when I think about fun yoga poses. Once again, it took me a little while before I even attempted to do crow. Why? Well, I thought I didn’t have the strength to hold my body up like that. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I am a very strong woman and never ever call myself weak. I just thought I was being realistic and didn’t want to fall on my face and embarrass hurt myself. Then, one day the instructor (same one as above who I absolutely love and will probably cry when I have to move away from him) came to me and said that the pose was all about balance and not strength. I thought to myself “how could it not be about strength.” Then, instead of trying to explain to me how it was considered an arm balance, he insisted that I at least try. He walked me through the setup and demonstrated a few times before he told me to give it a try. “You are only about 6 inches from the ground. I promise you won’t get hurt if you fall.” So I decided to give it a go. To my surprise, I was able to do it on the first try without a problem. I didn’t even fall on my face. As I came out of it (feeling super accomplished) the first thing I said was how it really was about balance. This pose is a favorite because it reminds me to always try everything before just ruling it out. Not to mention it is really fun and looks super awesome.

Shoulder stand – This is my absolute favorite yoga pose and has been since the first time I tried it. It is considered an inversion so unfortunately I haven’t been able to partake in it the last few months of pregnancy. (Note: Please do not take this as advice on what to do while pregnant. Every pregnancy is different and for me, shoulder stand was not an option in the latter months. For others, it may be a daily position until they give birth. Please listen to your body and your practitioner.) It continues to be a favorite of mine because every time I do it, I get a sense of calm energy. Maybe it’s the blood rushing to my head or maybe it is just looking at things from a different perspective, literally. Either way, I always have a sense of calm come over me during this pose that is accompanied by self-awareness. I love the feeling my body gets during this pose because it is completely activated yet relaxed at the same time. I also love the feeling I get when I come out of it slowly. It is as if all the tension from the previous poses has been released and my body can fully relax.

Triangle – Maybe this is a bit of an odd one to have as a favorite, but I truly enjoy coming to this pose throughout my practice. It gives me the feeling of openness in my hips and chest and reminds me to come back to my breath. I also think this is just a very beautiful pose if done correctly.

Camel – This has become one of my go-to pregnancy poses due to my inability to do full backbend. This pose allows me to get the same benefits of a backbend without the overextension of the spine or the added pressure on my hips, ankles and wrists. I also love the added benefit of strengthening my core and thigh muscles without any extra work. It is a great multi-benefit pose that I continue to go back to multiple times during my practice when I need to counter balance my forward folds.

Bridge (supported) – Although I have supported in parenthesis, I love every form of bridge (full, one-legged, supported). Like I mentioned above, I like to balance my forward folds with some form of backbend. I find bridge to be a great gentle backbend that gets the job done. It is also a great leg strengthener and surprisingly takes a lot of control. For example, I have to actively make sure I am not tightening my glutes or tensing my jaw.

Savasana (Corpse Pose) – I don’t really think this one needs any explanation. It is the best feeling in the world to be on your mat at the end of a tough practice and feel the tension melt away. After having worked many muscles in my body, it is amazing how I can feel complete relaxation while still being aware of myself and my surroundings. This pose is technically the most difficult yoga pose because it is all about being present and not just zoning out after working hard. I admit it is hard sometimes to not let my mind wander or to fall asleep but it is so important to the pose and that is one of the many reasons I love it.

 

These are just a few among many of my favorite yoga poses.

Question:

What are some of your favorite poses?

 

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One Year In

So it has been one year since I published my first post. Wow, this year flew by! A lot has happened in this past year that has caused me to put this hobby on the backburner. We got Sirus, moved and had a baby. There are some things that I wish I had done differently but all in all, I think I made the right decision to start this blog.

When I first told my husband I wanted to start a blog, he was very supportive and genuinely excited for me. I took the plunge and jumped right in with no experience or skill in this area (um, html and CSS). Sure, I had an idea of what I wanted write about, but then life took over. I made all these plans to blog every day and let my voice shine through. I had hoped to make tons of friends and make some connections. In the back of my mind, I knew that being a full time graduate student and having a hobby that required a lot of time was a long shot. All that being said, I tried not to put pressure on myself.

I decided from the beginning that I would mainly use this blog as an outlet. I could share recipes and workouts and day to day happenings. I could have sort of an online journal to look back through in years to come.

Now, looking back through the past 12 months, I don’t have as much to show for it as I had hoped. What began as a small inkling has now blossomed into something I really really want. I want to commit more time to this blog. I want to actually make connections with other bloggers. I want to share more recipes and workouts. I want to be creative and open and provide quality content. Unfortunately, I still have a few more years of graduate school in front of me. So, instead of setting unrealistic goals, I will just say that my hope for the next year is to really focus on making this blog more of a priority. I truly enjoy the little time I get to spend writing it.

Thanks for listening (well, reading) and in honor of reaching the blog’s first birthday, here are a few posts that I had the most fun writing. (Edit: For some reason my links aren’t working properly. You can access the below posts by right clicking and opening in a new tab. I’m currently trying to fix this problem. Sorry for the trouble.) 

A post about all the little things that make me happy

My pregnancy announcement!

My unexpected love for Sirus.

My experience as a first time mom.

Sirus turns 1

My experience with breastfeeding

That time I made 50 cookies

Thank you for hanging in there with me. I look forward to the next year and many many more!!!

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Five Things Friday

This week has been jam packed and I am a little behind so today I thought I would quickly drop in to tell you five random things about my week. Feel free to tell me some random things about your week in the comments.

1. Unfortunately Sirus got sick this week and ended up needing some antibiotics and some good ole TLC. He didn’t want to eat or drink or play. All he wanted to do was sleep. It was pitiful.

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2. The crib mattress finally arrived and so we have started to sleep train…I think she is handling it better than I am. When I look in that giant crib at my tiny baby I can’t help but picture her as my sweet newborn and want to hold on to that forever! It’s bittersweet to see her growing up.

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3. Chocolate covered raisins have been my go to snack lately when I’m craving something sweet. I just grab one small handful and that leaves me satisfied until dinner.

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4. As I was cleaning out some old boxes in the guest bedroom I came across some things from my teens that had me pretty nostalgic. I have to admit that I felt a little old when I realized they don’t even make some of these things anymore.

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5. I’m really trying to learn how to use my Nikon DSLR. I mean, I bought it for a reason. I might as well learn how to fully take advantage of all it has to offer. There is a lot of information out there but most of it seems pretty straightforward. Be prepared to put up with seeing my progress. We will see how it goes.

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Photo Credit: Flickr Shivapat License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  

So, I definitely didn’t take this picture. Did anyone believe that I did? Well, hopefully soon I will have some beautiful pictures of my own to show you!

Enjoy your weekend!

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Rotisserie Chicken Casserole

This recipe is definitely a favorite in our house right now! We have made it a handful of times in the past few weeks due to its simplicity and yummy flavor. We always like to use leftovers in a unique way so we don’t get bored with our meals. This recipe is perfect for transforming leftover rotisserie chicken into a brand new succulent dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Casserole

This recipe was modified from similar versions like THIS one.

Ingredients

3 cups of cooked shredded chicken (this is where we use leftover rotisserie chicken)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup uncooked rice, cooked {about 2 1/2 – 3 cups cooked rice}

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Crushed corn flakes (enough to cover the top)

Directions

Start cooking rice while you prepare other ingredients. We usually cook the rice while we pull the leftover rotisserie chicken off the bone.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients into a greased 9×9 baking dish. You can use whatever size works best for you but we like it to be deep.

Stir ingredients together in casserole dish.

Crush cornflakes in a plastic bag and pour over the top. ***We ran out of corn flakes so the pictures included in this post are without them***

Bake about 30 minutes or until the casserole is heated all the way through.

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I like to pair this casserole with sweet potatoes (or green beans if you are watching your carbs). It would also be great with roasted broccoli or asparagus. 

Enjoy!

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Game Night and Fifty Cookies

Good morning! I hope you had a great weekend. Ours had a healthy mix of fun and relaxation!

We started our weekend fun on Friday night. After leaving work I chose to forego my usual Friday night yoga class so that we could continue our yearly tradition of attending the local Lebanese food festival. My husband and I had our first date a long time ago at a Greek festival. Neither one of us had any money back then (we were 15 at the time) and we had no idea how much Greek food cost. We ended up sharing a plate of Lamb and having a blast enjoying the music and the atmosphere. Ever since then, we have made it a mission to attend every food festival we can together, within reason of course. Last year we both had the opportunity to leave work for a lunch date. This year, things didn’t work out that way, but we were still able to pick up our favorite meals before heading to daycare and then home. Fun fact –> last time we were at this festival, I was pregnant!

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We both opted for the meat pie plate this year because they are only available at this festival and the other options are available at other food festivals. Each plate included two meat pies, loobia (the green beans), rice and pita bread.

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We also decided to get an order of grape leaves to share. These have a surprising amount of flavor and I always find myself wishing we had more.

Even though we didn’t get to enjoy the fun of the high-energy atmosphere, we did get to have a laid back and delicious dinner as a family of four, which was much needed after a long and busy week. The perfect way to start our weekend!

Saturday

After a rough night (baby girl woke up every two hours to nurse) we spent the morning lounging around the house before setting out for a few errands. As soon as we arrived home, I went to work in the kitchen making a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies in preparation for a game night with friends on Sunday.

Goods in the bowl

My family has always been the kind to make enough food so that everyone can have thirds. Following family tradition, I made about 50 cookies.

A few of them didn’t make it to the container…my bad. They were delicious though. I think 45 cookies is more than enough for everyone!

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After polishing off some of the above deliciousness, we had dinner. Ever since I moved out of my parents house I have used the excuse of being an adult to eat my dessert before my actual dinner. 

Sunday

A few weeks back, we decided to buy an activity gym/bouncer for our little girl after hearing that she loved the one at daycare. It arrived in the mail the other day and I hadn’t gotten around to putting it together. I figured it was finally time to do it.

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Unfortunately, she is still a little too small to use it so it will just be chillin’ in her room until she is big enough. 

After lunch we headed out to a friends house for game night. They had roast beef sandwiches and a few other finger foods to pair with the cookies I brought. 

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After everyone had a chance to finish eating, we started playing Family Challenge.

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I had never heard of it before but it turned out to be pretty fun. It is adaptable to both children and adults so we just chose the harder challenges on each card. 

We left around 6:15 because the little one was getting tired and fussy and we had a few things to do at home before going to bed. 

Have a great day!

Question:

How was your weekend? Anything exciting happen?

What are some of your favorite board games?

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