Yoga and other various exercise things

Over the last few months I have increased the amount of physical activity I take part in. Going to the gym, doing the whole martial arts thing, and most recently I added yoga.

I have found them all to be rewarding, all in their own ways. At the gym I get to just completely zone out and do my thing and not have any interaction with anyone else. Some would argue that’s not the greatest thing to do since I don’t push myself as hard as what I need to, which is true, but at this point I’m just happy I’m making it there again and getting satisfaction from what I do.

In martial arts I’m learning so many new things and discovering a whole different kind of satisfaction from slowly becoming more proficient in what I am learning. I enjoy learning things that make me feel a little safer in that if something were to happen to me physically, I most likely would be able to react in a way that will help me as compared to freezing. I am learning *how* to punch and kick and whatever other strikes or defenses you can think of. I am learning how to fit things together and all these other awesome things.

Lastly, with yoga I am learning more about focusing on my body and releasing my thoughts and just experiencing that moment, that breathe, that movement. I am able to feel the difference between how I am doing each day and also to not judge myself or my body. Some days I can easily hold a pose, warrior 1 or dancer, or I can easily move through sun salutations or other vinyasas without shaking limbs. Other days I require more patience with myself. And some days I need to recognize that I need to modify the pose or the vinyasa and make them easier on myself.

I feel that in working on all these different things I am slowly starting to round out how I experience life in my body and mind. I am becoming healthier, making better choices for myself and working on learning some sort of balance. It is hard in some ways in that I am often doing these alone when I would like to share what I’m learning with my husband, but I am also grateful in some ways that I’ve got my own things. I write a wee bit, in my blog and occasionally journaling, and exercise and do yoga, work on various craft things and am interested in different studies. Nathan does martial arts, (sadly on days that I work) plays video games, builds things whether legos or tech toys and programs things and studies those sort of things.

It’s good to have that balance and different interests. But… I look at all sedentary activities that both of us participate in and can’t help but think that we both need to be more active. It not only is good physically but also mentally to participate in different activities. Our minds and bodies like variety, need it even, in order to grow and change and become more capable. I also can’t help but look at it from the perspective of a nurse – a variety of physical activities helps the body maintain itself better, encourages better sleep, maintain hormone balance, cleans out toxins and requires “new” blood and oxygen be sent to parts of the body that don’t get much use in day to day activities and therefore are sort of forgotten or stagnant. I think that’s actually why I enjoy the variety of physical activity that I currently partake in. They each get me moving in different ways and activate different parts of my mind and body.

Best of all, there are restive and restorative forms of all of these. There’s finding “the zone” when running. Katas in martial arts where the body acts while the mind quiets. And in yoga there are options for what kind of rest/restoration I need – gentle yoga that’s still movement, hot yoga where I am only focusing on finding balance within the poses and nothing more, or the quiet meditation of restorative yoga where I slowly stretch and relax my body until I find a stillness in each position. Any of the practices are good and serve a purpose. I’m a bit more partial to the restorative yoga, but that’s probably because I just got home from participating in it.

Now on to homework I’ve been putting off. And maybe the gym later. I’ve got some new work outs to try that a friend gave me and I’m interested to see if I can do them and get the full number of reps she suggested.

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Physical books vs ebooks

Physical books vs ebooks. The battle has started and there are strong advocates on both sides. Physical books have texture, weight, smell and don’t run out of battery! Ebook readers mean you can carry all the books you are reading everywhere without breaking your back or shoulder, they are easy to use even if you’re standing in line, many are back or front-lit so you can read anywhere, even in the dark and did I mention you can carry hundreds of books?

Both have their benefits and detriments. I personally resisted getting an ereader for years, scoffing at those who would choose to diminish their reading experience. Then I played with one of my friend’s while we were out and about and I couldn’t help but notice the convenience. When I got home and looked at the stacks of books on the floor in front of and next to my book shelves and bed I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to not have to take into consideration whether I had space for the new books I would inevitably bring home. Thus I started to ponder whether I should look into buying one. I did all sorts of research and wasn’t really satisfied with the options nor with the pricing, but I wasn’t in a hurry either. I had dozens of unread physical books that were calling out to me and it would be silly to purchase them all over again as an ebook.

Nearly a year after I began contemplating switching over I received a Kindle as a birthday gift. Initially it didn’t see a whole lot of use. Even having my Kindle linked with my husband’s account I was more interested in many of my physical books. So I would switch between them and noticed the benefits of both.

The pricing for physical books was and is still better in most ways. I was paying for a physical commodity and that has more value in my opinion. I still buy the physical copy of a book if the ebook price is not at least 25% less. I get annoyed when the price is the same for both, or near enough to be a negligible difference. Unless the book I’m looking at is one that I already have in ebook form. Then I have a stronger tendency to purchase new books in the series in ebook form, though I will wait months for the price to drop. The same goes for series I already own in physical copies, I will purchase physical copies rather than ebook even if there is a price difference. Consistency apparently means much to me.

As time has moved on, I’m purchasing more and more ebooks. The convenience of being able to carry a much smaller or at least less clunky device is advantageous, especially if I’m planning on going multiple places. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to use when I’m doing cardio at the gym since I don’t have to worry about losing my page and it fits on those little “book” ledges so much easier. A simple touch of a button (or screen for those with a touch screen device) is more convenient than turning pages when I’m trying to keep from falling over or, at least want to maintain my pace, on a treadmill or elliptical machine.

On the other hand, when I’m curled up on my couch and reading, I much prefer a physical copy. There’s more satisfaction in turning the pages, in the weight and even the smell of the book. I like the color contrast, it doesn’t strain my eyes as much as the back-lit screens do and I can easily read in sunlight or bright lighting. Some ereaders have addressed the contrast and screen lighting issues, but not the texture and weight and smell of real books.

The ideal solution in an ideal world, at least for me and my husband, would be to give readers the option of purchasing a physical copy and giving them a code to use to purchase the ebook either for free (yay!) or for a small fee, $1-5 depending upon the page count and original price of the book. This could be accomplished by one of three ways:
1-The honor system where a reader could go to the publisher’s website and enter the ISBN number of their book and then pay and download the ebook in the format of their choice.
2-Giving book sellers little cards like what Starbucks and Apple have going on for music/shows/apps that can be given to customers with their purchase from a brick and mortar store. The reader would then go to Amazon/Barnes&Noble/iTunes/publisher’s websites or an independent website set up by a joint effort of the publishers, enter the ISBN number and one time use code and pay the fee and download their ebook.
3-For people that purchase online they would be given the option to add the ebook to their purchase and make it all one simple process to download/send to their ereader after checking out.

I see this as the ideal solution as booksellers would still sell physical books, readers would be able to switch between or lend the physical book (as they already do!) and publishers would make even more money since they’d be selling the book in two formats, albeit one at a discounted price. My main argument for why that is not as much of a concern is that unlike physical books, an ebook only has to be produced one time and that file is then disseminated to the various online sellers. The publishers have less at stake if a book flops, they’ll still make more money than they otherwise would have. There will still be people who will only purchase in one format, but I think there would be enough purchasing both ways to make it worth the changes required.

Since it’s not an ideal world and I must make a choice between the physical book and ebook, I must side with the ebook. It is with a heavy heart and much reluctance, but ebooks have too many more advantages over physical books. As long as I remember to charge my ereader that is!

Social Anxiety

The last few months I have noticed that my social anxiety has increased. I am overwhelmed in public even more easily than I would have been a few years ago. I am even more intimidated by new situations, new people than I remember. I have started to get more of the physical symptoms including racing heart and occasionally even tightness in my chest.

All in all, it’s sucky, frustrating and scary.

I became acutely aware of this in the last week when I nearly started to cry while waiting to meet a new instructor for martial arts. I was making up a lesson from a few weeks ago and my normal instructor, hell any of the instructors that I knew, were not available so I agreed to work with someone I didn’t know. I got there a bit early and so had something like 7 minutes to work myself up nearly to tears, I couldn’t take a normal breath, I could feel my heart racing and I was uncertain if my stomach could tolerate much more acid build up before I would need to run to the bathroom and throw up. This was mostly because there was the one on one instruction with someone new in a place that I still am not familiar with and surrounded by others I didn’t know. It was compounded by the fact that I was stuck in a fairly confined space with over two dozen people coming and going. I haven’t felt that bad in a very, very long time. Once the lesson started and I began going through the new kata I’m learning I was able to calm down and I think even learn something. If there was too much time between different exercises the anxiety started to creep back up, but it was tolerable, especially since it was only half an hour and I was kept pretty active.

The other incident that comes to mind was Saturday night when I went out to dinner with Nathan. It was a Saturday night at just about 7, so of course it was busy and the restaurant was full of people. It was a pretty crowded space and it was so filled with people noise that I couldn’t hear the music. I couldn’t hear Nathan even when he spoke pretty loud, though I don’t know how much of that was because I had already hit my max for sensory stimulation and so my brain was shutting down the information overload to keep me from having a full on panic attack. There was again compounding in that I hadn’t slept well the night before and had been up since about 530am and it was the last day of my 3 twelves. It wasn’t until it had started to quiet down enough to where I could hear music (which is actually quite soothing to me) that I could even really start to think and was capable of responding to questions and carry on a conversation.

I am truly lucky that Nathan is as patient as what he is because I know he was getting frustrated and confused with me in both incidents above. He doesn’t like people much and can also get overwhelmed, but he is better at tuning out things and going into his own world. I can do that if I’m prepared, sometimes, but if I’m caught off guard then I just end up shutting down. That’s if I’m lucky and I don’t start to go the other way and begin to have building anxiety. Not so awesome. Not awesome at all.

I guess I just find it weird that my anxiety, which could be controlled, or at least ignored, a few years ago, has increased again. I can understand why it initially increased with starting a new job, but I’ve more or less settled into it. Yes, I have started back to school in the last two weeks, but I noticed the trend of increased anxiety before that, probably sometime in November. It was one of the reasons why I started doing yoga and working out again. I haven’t noticed any changes for the better despite better habits that have a lot of evidence behind them saying that they should have a positive impact on my symptoms. Actually, if there have been changes they have been in the wrong direction. It’s weird and I wish I knew what was going on.

Anyway, enough whinging. I need to find sleep and yoga and class. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely day!