Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Workout Labs Yoga Cards Review

As I began to get more involved in my yoga practice, I felt it was time to invest in some educational tools to guide me.  I've always loved the idea of flashcards as a workout tool.  I used to use my very own DIY aerial flashcards to create routines for my Fabric & Flow class I had taught at my studio, Pole Harmony: Aerial Dance Fitness Indianapolis.   The use of flashcards freed up my creative energy and allowed me to put all my focus into my movement while the cards dictated my lesson plan.  As you can imagine, I was quite excited to discover there were yoga cards out on the market that would allow me to further explore areas of improvement as well as create easy to follow routines for my home practice. 

After some research, I decided to purchase the Workout Labs Women's Yoga cards from Amazon.com for $27.95 USD. The yoga cards are marketed as high quality waterproof plastic 5" x 3.5" cards.  The deck includes 47 poses, 3 breathing exercises, a meditation card, and 5 sequences.  Each card is divided by color coding and are organized by Dynamic Stretches (pink), Standing Poses (purple), Forward Bends (light green), Seated and Supine Poses (navy blue), Inversions (dark green), and Backbends (orange).

The cards have a picture of the pose on the front and on the back of the card there is information that details muscles each pose stretches or conditions, organs that benefit from the pose, and mental or emotional benefits. The information side also breaks down how to do the pose and any modifications that may be applied. 

List of poses in deck:

Cat Stretch

Balancing Table


Plank Flow

Striking Cobra

Palm Tree

Swaying Palm Tree

Standing Yoga Seal

Warrior I

Warrior II

Warrior III

Extended Side Angle

Extended Triangle

Revolved Triangle

Half Moon





Standing Forward Bend

Wide Legged Forward Bend

Downward Facing Dog





Extended Cobra






Inclined Plane

Seated Forward Bend

Head to Knee

Bound Angle

Extended Child's Pose

Wind Release

Half Boat



Fire Log

Eye of the Needle (MEN)


Cow Face

Half Spinal Twist (MEN)

Reclined Spinal Twist


Yogic Breathing

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Ocean Breathing


One of the things I don't like about the cards are the lack of sun salutation sequences in the deck. The deck also does not include the chaturanga pose. I feel like beginner yoga students would benefit from having a sun salutation warmup sequence in the deck as it is the first form of flow students often learn in their practice. Overall, I have found these cards to be beneficial to my practice in helping me focus on specific poses. I would certainly recommend these cards to any new or advanced practicing yoga enthusiast.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Discovering Yoga

 Since selling my studio back in October 2015, I felt at a loss in my world when it came to fitness.  I didn't have a pole or aerial setup in my new living situation because when I bought my house I had always thought I would have my studio.  Note- when buying a house, ALWAYS take into consideration a space for the pole.  It's been a slow process but I finally have a space to resume my pole and aerial activities.  Before I situated my current living situation and the home aerial gym issue, I had to rely on alternative fitness activities.  This is when I really discovered Yoga.  Yes, I used to teach a Yoga based flexibility class.  I have even taken a Yoga instructor training.  Even though I had all this knowledge and experience with some of the basic postures, I've never taken the time to develop my own practice in true yogi fashion. 

I started with taking classes twice a week at the local YMCA.  We recently had a new YMCA open a block from where I live.  I started out taking the classes every Monday and Thursday evening.  Our city has multiple downtown YMCA locations so for awhile I bounced around the different facilities to test out all the Yoga classes.  The classes were geared towards all level students so it helped me really hone in on the specifics of poses.  I wanted to make sure I was learning the poses properly and engaging my body to get the most out of my practice.  This is where I started to discover moves that I needed to work more on based on what my body was telling me.  I've always been able to listen to my body when it comes to pole dancing.  This concept is something I'd always taught my students.  Now that I was a student myself, it was something I had to practice even more as I learned this new form of exercise that challenged me to take on a new perspective. I developed a list of poses that I would work on as my goals to improve.  Some of the poses really surprised me.  Yoga has been a practice that has exercised my patience and discipline.  I've seen progress in the past few months since I began regularly attending classes.  I've acquired skills that I had been working towards for years with pole in just a few short months of consistency.  My husband just recently started to join me in taking classes. 

Overall, taking Yoga classes has been a beneficial experience for both my mind and body.  I'm focusing on areas of my body that need attention to create balance while exploring my own capabilities.  It's been fun to return to becoming a student again where I can come and go without the pressures of maintaining a business.  I look forward to sharing my progress in my Yoga practice with all my readers.  If you get the opportunity to take a class, I highly recommend it as a supplemental workout for both pole and aerial training. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Monthly Pole Challenge Update: May 2016 Week 2

This week I decided to take a little break from my current participation in all pole and aerial activities.  On Monday night I went for one of my monthly massages.  I ended up being a month over due since I have been working on getting my outside landscaping and living space situated the past six weeks.  During my massage, my therapist informed me I had some edema on my right posterior knee.  She thought it was around the ACL.  Being the super cautious person I am about my knees, I decided to treat the area with the standard RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) treatment for a few days.  I haven't been having any pain in the area in question.  I do know I have been pushing my forward splits a lot lately in my pole activities as I've been trying to flatten my jade.  If I've sprained the ACL, I believe this may have been the cause.  For my Tuesday night fitness activity, I opted for some beginner yoga with www.DoYogawithMe.com.

I've talked about DoYogawithMe in a past blog post.  For those of you unfamiliar with DoYogawithMe, it is a website full of hundreds of free online yoga videos for all levels of practice.  There are videos of various lengths from ten minutes to an hour and a half.  You can choose any level of the workout you want from beginner through advanced and prenatal.  Since DoYogawithMe is a community where knowledge is shared for free, the costs of producing high quality content are dependent on monthly voluntary subscription fees and donations. You can also purchase your favorite videos from the site for your own personal workout collection. 

I've found using the site and workouts for my yoga practice to be beneficial towards implementing yoga into my fitness regimen when I can't participate in a live class or as in this week's situation when I'm still wanting to get in a workout while giving myself an active rest day.  The video I used for my Tuesday night workout was a beginner Full Body Hatha Flow with instructor Anastasia Hangemanole. The workout was a nice relaxing practice accompanied by the sounds of the ocean.  The most challenging of the poses in this particular video are performing extended triangle and dancer pose.  I did my yoga practice prior to bedtime and afterwards I felt relaxed and was able to fall asleep quickly. 

If you haven't checked out DoYogawithMe, I highly recommend it as a great supplemental workout to change up your routine or if you're just getting started with yoga.  If you've been using DoYogawithMe, please feel free to share your favorite video links in the comments below! As always, thank you for visiting my blog!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Pole & Aerial: When you're no longer progressing with frustration at an all time high

We've all been there at one point or another.  When you suddenly feel like you've hit a brick wall in your training physically, creatively, and emotionally.  It could be circumstantial- you've lost your training space, something changed in your training space that is challenging you (went from poling on a 45 back to a 50 for reasons you cannot control), your real life schedule changed and you can't train as much or often as you like, or for no particular life changing event at all; whatever the reason, it can be extremely frustrating to battle out whatever it is that is forcing you into a hypothetical brick wall.

 You may be asking yourself, where do you go from this point on? First thing to do is to take this time to self reflect. What exactly it is that is happening to make you feel like you're no longer progressing?  Is there a particular skill that you have been struggling to achieve or used to be able to do that you no longer can?  Do you know what changed if you were able to do the skill before?  Often times its as simple as walking away from training a particular skill and working on something else then coming back to the skill later.  When your frustration isn't as simple, sometimes looking at the situation differently can help you work towards a solution.  Are there specific areas of the body that need to be conditioned for this skill to be pulled off?  Look into other activities that will train surrounding muscle groups that will assist the main targeting muscles your particular skill originates from. 

Other areas of focus to rejuvenate your training could include challenging yourself by creating little games. 
  • Hold poses for a breath count of five. 
  •  Repeat combos or sequences for a certain number of times without taking a break starting with initiating all moves from your favorite side for the first run through then starting over again initiating all moves from your non-favorite side. 
  • Make flash cards for moves that you know well and blindly pick four cards and challenge yourself to seamlessly connect all tricks or poses in the order the cards were drawn. 
  • Alpha Pole or Alpha Aerial. Practice skills using the alphabet by the first letter of the move or trick's name.  Create in the air combos using just skills with one letter or consecutive letters based on the alphabet. 
  • Hold poses for as long as possible on spin pole. My favorite is the chair spin challenge where you hold the chair pose while your pole is on spin for as long as possible.  Repeat on your non-dominate side. You can challenge your friends or classmates to participate in this one too.
Creating self challenges can be motivating as well as beneficial to implementing conditioning certain areas of your body that you may not have been targeting by relentlessly working on specific skills.  There are tons of challenge ideas out there that can help you out of a rut or change your focus to alleviate your state of frustration. 

Still no break through moment of clarity?  Ask a friend, classmate, or turn to the wonderful online world of fellow pole and aerialists.  Post a video of your attempts to receive constructive criticism for working through exactly what you're struggling with.  If you prefer to problem solve independently, develop a plan of execution for the skill.  Map out in a pole or aerial journal exactly where every hand and foot is supposed to be.  Draw diagrams, use clock face directions, or whatever else that helps you to visually and mentally comprehend the movement.  Film your practice and review as many times as it takes.  Review your plans while reviewing your video.  Sometimes certain skills take more than just watching someone do it and doing it yourself.  You may find yourself in a full out problem solving process that requires breaking things down as much as possible before breaking through your barrier of frustration.  I often use this process and along the way it helps me discover what specific needs I have to train to get to my final product.  Pole and aerial is often described as a journey.  If you've never struggled and worked through it, then you'll never fully appreciate the journey.  I have to say that systemically breaking down movement has become one of my favorite things about pole and aerial.  There is nothing more rewarding than finding that missing puzzle piece and having the end result come together. 

If you're still feeling like no matter what you do nothing is working, just remember why it was you fell in love with pole or aerial in the first place.  We all came to doing pole or aerial for a variety of reasons but we all stayed because we love it.  Recently community pole dancer and studio owner, Alethea Austin was interviewed for Pole Parlous Podcast Episode 9 and discussed pole burnout.  Her ideation on the topic can be summed up in one very inspirational quote that I will end this blog piece on:

"What people are doing now doesn't really matter to me.....I appreciate it. I like watching it. But I'm gonna move the way that I move."

Friday, May 13, 2016

#pfmayipolewithyou Challenge Progress Post #1

I am loving the trend of online challenges that have been taking the internet pole community by storm.  As a former home poler, studio owner, and turned back to home poler; it has been invigorating for my practice as I have found a direction to train and draw new inspiration from now that I am back to being on my own and poling for me and only me.  Last Thursday I posted a blog introducing the #polechallenge for the month of May.  The challenge this month has a move for each day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Those moves are then combined into a combo for Thursday.  Fridays are flexibility days with areas of focus provided by the challenge creators. Saturdays are sexy choreography days and Sundays are for rest.  Below are my contributions to the challenge linked to text followed by my break down of notes I've included about each move.

Week 1

May 2nd-4th Poses
  • Allegra: This was my best allegra I have ever done! This move has always been tricky for me as my back gets twisted and jammed into the pole.  I think the more I work on this one the better it will get.  I just recently revisited this move after years of not doing it with last month's April Alpha Pole Challenge. It's growing on me. 

  • Superman: I have always loved this move and decided to change it up and do a variation with a split leg.

  • Scorpio Handstand: The trick to this one has always been leaning my pelvis into the pole for balance.  Another move that I have loved for quite awhile.

  • Combo: My struggle with this one was transitioning out of the allegra.  I've never connected the allegra pole move before so I found it quite rewarding that I was able to move past this move all while staying on the pole. 
  • Splits: I opted for a pole split to represent this pose. 
  • Sexy Choreo: Music was Selena Gomez "Good for You".  Choreography by @polefellas on Instagram.  Loved this little routine.  My favorite part is the squat at the end that spins out into the splits.  I tackled learning this one first by using a repost app to download the original video to my phone so I could break the routine down by writing it out in my pole/aerial journal.  Writing it down helped me to mentally grasp the routine and then I took it to the pole and broke it down in sections.  After becoming comfortable with each section, I was able to combine each piece into the entire routine and perform multiple runs.  I also did this one in heels but it wasn't pretty.  I ended up kicking more walls than I care to admit. 

Week 2

May 9th-11th Poses
  • Jamilla
  • Butterfly
  • Brass Monkey Bridge
  • Combo: I had a hard time with grip while attempting this combo.  My pole was extra slippery during this practice session but I was very pleased with my ability to find a way to get the brass bridge into a combo.  The brass bridge is still a move that makes me a little nervous.
  • Backbend

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

One Minute on Instagram!

This is pretty big news for the pole and aerial community!  Instagram now allows users to upload videos up to one minute long.  I have been a huge fan of the social media platform of Instagram and it's ability to allow me to search through an endless video collection of pole and aerial.  I have drawn a lot of my own training inspiration from many posts.  Lately I've gotten involved with more of the community challenges that Instagram users have created.  As I was scrolling through my feed this weekend, I came across a post by Leigh Ann Reilly, owner and instructor at Be Spun in Los Angeles, California, where she announced she will now be posting one minute tips in honor of Instagram's increased video time.  I thought this was a great use of the new time allotment for users and felt I had to share with my readers so they wouldn't miss out on these amazing tips for pole fitness! Check out Leigh Ann's recently posted videos below.

Click to view video 1:
Click to view video 2:

Thursday, May 5, 2016

#PFmayipolewithyou May Challenge

New challenge! Hosted by IG user PoleFellas. Can't wait to participate and work on weekly blog progress.

Who's joining us?@flyingvidalid @polefellasstudio and me prepared #pfmayipolewithyou a#polechallenge with the main goal of sharing and meeting new people that shares our passion, Pole 🙏🏻 the challenge suits all levels and we'll be posting variations for every move so that everyone has something to work on. Monday, tuesday and wednesday are going to be just moves, thursday we'll combo them, we will show you an example that you can follow but we also love creativity so we are excited to see what you come up with too 😁🙌🏼 fridays we stretch and on saturdays we'll work on a sexy Pole routine 😏❤️ Sunday is rest day and the last two days of the challenge are the most important ones, on the 30 we want you to pick some moves from the challenge and combo them in an original way that shows your style and the last day its all about sharing, so we want you to repost a video ( or more If you want!!) and show some love to the participants that inspired you and support you through the challenge 🙏🏻💕 At the end we'll choose a winner based on their enthusiasm, not only posting but also helping, loving and encouraging other participants, remember its all about sharing, growing and meeting new people 👯 the winner can be anyone, anywhwere in the world and he/ she will be getting a package of Pole goodies 🎁🌎 To join you just need to repost this image and tag friends who may want to join, post daily using the hashtag#pfmayipolewithyou And tag us@flyingvidalid @polefellas@polefellasstudio (If you are not interested in the prize there's no need for all the tagging, meeting new cool people will be your prize 🏆) Can't wait to share and have fun with you all!! See you on Monday!!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lifestyle: Menstrual Cups and Toxic Shock Syndrome

They're the latest rage in women's hygiene, especially in North America.  Menstrual cups. Everyone seems to be jumping on the band wagon for this new menstrual hygiene product that promises convenience, environmental friendliness, and is cost effective. I can't argue the fact that my menstrual cup has changed my monthly menstrual routine entirely. 

So what exactly is a menstrual cup?  Basically its a silicone cup that a woman inserts into the vaginal canal to collect menstrual fluid.  Manufacturers claim the cup can be left in for up to twelve hours.   Cups are easy to use and once inserted properly, sit low in the vaginal canal while the wearer is unaware of its use.  There are many different brands of menstrual cups on the market.  It can be difficult to chose a cup when you're first doing your research.  I spent quite some time researching all my options before deciding to go with the DivaCup.  Some of my research consisted of comparing Amazon reviews, watching YouTube videos of women talking about their experiences using the cup and offering tips for insertion, and reading through all the product websites.  I decided on the DivaCup mostly because it was convenient for me to go to a local store and purchase.  The brand is one of the only brands that are available at actual stores.  I have yet to see any other brands selling reusable menstrual cups at local retailers.

Instead Softcup
Prior to choosing the DivaCup, I had tested the waters with the Softcup brand disposable menstrual
cups. I found the Softcups to be easy to use and a new discovery that had changed the game of my monthly routine entirely.  I'd been considering using the DivaCup for quite some time and was well aware of them for many years through a pole dancing community forum where many women had talked about how wonderful they were for the pole athlete.  If you're a female pole dancer or aerialist then you know the struggles of dealing with a menstrual cycle when it comes to classes, training, and performances.  Menstrual cups are liberating when it comes to all nuances women can experience with their menses. 

Menstrual cups have many benefits which I previously listed above as many of the appealing reasons for a cup versus traditional methods of female hygiene products.  One of the benefits that had been a huge reason for many women to make the switch was the claim for no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, a life threatening complication from a bacterial infection most commonly associated with the use of highly absorbent tampons. A case report released in July 2015 has spread troubling news in the women's health world to the realization that Toxic Shock Syndrome can still exist with menstrual cup users.   Although there aren't any other confirmed cases at the time I am writing this, this single case alone does not mean anything more than it happened when we had thought it wouldn't.  There is still a lot more data and research needed to be collected to conclude that yes, TSS can happen with menstrual cup users.  Was this a rare situation where all the factors were just right?  Absolutely.  The case report states the patient acquired a small abrasion to the vaginal canal upon her first time inserting the menstrual cup.  As a health care provider, I know all too well that some people can have frequent staph infections or be carriers for bacteria that if given the proper elements can turn into an infection in the body at any given area where the bacteria can enter skin or mucous membrane barriers.  It certainly will be interesting to see how the data portrays the use of menstrual cups and the risks associated for Toxic Shock Syndrome.  I don't think the release of this confirmed case should be any cause for alarm.  I do think that it will point researchers in the direction for further studying of women's health issues in hopes that we can better understand how Toxic Shock Syndrome develops and if there are certain factors that exist that would make certain candidates more at risk whether they use a tampon or menstrual cup.