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Marisa Porter

Boxes are square. Last time I checked, people are not.

10 of my Favorite Prenatal Yoga Poses

I’ve loved yoga since the day I discovered it. I love the way I feel when do it, and especially the way I feel afterwards. A good yoga practice makes me feel open, spacious, bouncy, flexible, strong, pain-free (or at least in much less pain), and calm. And at no time has yoga more been my friend than during pregnancy.

Yoga has helped my energy, strength and flexibility so much. When you can no longer do basic things (like pick things up or put on shoes) without modifying how you do them, keeping up a yoga practice gives your body a bank account of other default postures to draw from, without which I’d have had to ask for a lot more help.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a pro, but these poses have helped me immensely. I also had a yoga practice before pregnancy. Not all poses would be appropriate for all pregnancies.

All postures help with 3 really important things:

  • Daily energy, strength and flexibility
  • Baby positioning
  • Strenghthens and stretches muscles used during labor (that you might not typically use)

Here are some of my favorite poses.

Warrior II

A classic and basic. Warrior II. It begins to warm up your hip flexors for the other poses. My warrior II is better now than it was before pregnancy.

prenatal yoga warrior II

 

Standing Half Moon

Standing half moon for picking things up. I really do pick things up this way.

standing half moon prenatal yoga

 

Standing Figure 4 or Standing Pigeon

A standing figure 4 for putting my socks on. As long as I practice this daily, I can put my own socks on. :)

figure four or standing pigeon prenatal yoga

 

Yogi Squat

Alternate position for picking things up is yogi squat. (Really helps encourage the baby into the right position, too).

yogi squat

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And with a side stretch:

yogi squat side stretch

Low Lunge Variation

And one of my favorites for various purposes, opening up the low back, the psoas muscle (great for lowering risk of emergency C-section I hear), and the hips – the low lunge variation. Start this one on your hands instead of elbows. Work gently into your elbows over time.

runners-lunge-low-variation

 

Horse, plie, or goddess squat, whatever you want to call it.

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With a side stretch variation. Side stretches feel so good during pregnancy.

 

plei squat horse yoga horse with side stretch

3 legged downward dog. 

This one will fire up your muscles and strengthen your core.

3-legged-downward-facing-dog-prenatal-yoga

3 legged Down Dog with Open Hip

This next one is one of my absolute favorites, especially when you’re experiencing that sore, tight band of muscles around your low back that are exhausted from holding up your baby. This yoga pose stretches all the way from your shoulder to your hip. You’ll want to start in down dog, transition to one legged dog, and lastly of all bend your knee and open your hip. In pregnancy, you can open up your side as much as you want to feel that therapeutic stretch all the way up your back (before prenatal yoga, instructors will usually tell you to square your shoulders because they are focusing on different muscles).

 

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Just doing the poses for this photo shoot got my heart rate up and I worked up quite a sweat, even though it was a short and sweet practice.

Cooling down, focusing, prayer, feeling gratefulness for having made it to 39 weeks, for my and my baby’s health.

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Sleep i-Divine Storm Palette

 

sleek idivine storm palette

sleek idivine storm palette

sleek idivine storm palette

sleek idivine storm palette

sleekstormpalette

sleek idivine storm palette

 

This photo below with the strap awkwardly in front of my face reminds me of a photo my Mom has of herself when she was 17.

seventeen

Revlon Nearly Naked versus Revlon CC Cream

My readers know my fondness for Revlon Nearly Naked foundation. It works for both oily and dry skin, leaving a matte but glowy finish. It has amazing coverage that quickly builds to full coverage; depending on your skin you might not need concealer. I wore Shell last year when I reviewed it, so I grabbed the same color this summer, but can’t tell if I should have gone darker with summer skin.

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And the next day I got Revlon Nearly Naked in Nude, one shade warmer, but in a different lighting which makes it hard to get a good comparison:

revlon-nearly-naked-nude

At the same time, I tested out Revlon Age Defying CC Cream. With this one I think I got the color spot on. It looks more natural but has lighter coverage. Oh well. You just use more concealer then. I’m torn between these two products (especially since I don’t know if I got the right color on Revlon NN).

Revlon Age Defying CC Cream has some other things going for it. For one, it’s SPF 30. For another, it’s not in one of those super annoying glass bottles that spills all over everything. Save me please.

Thirdly, it’s packed full of skincare ingredients. I LOVE skincare makeup. Licorice root extract, grape fruit extract, sodium hyaluronate, and more add a little bit of love to your morning makeup routine. Maybe not enough to replace your skincare, but extra doesn’t hurt. :)

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Another Revlon product I love? The Revlon Colorstay Concealer I am wearing lightly in both pictures. LOVE this concealer, which looks like skin and can be built to a good coverage.

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Nate has a Secret

Reese by Noriko – Wearing Hair

Hello new hair style. Perfect cut and color. The hair I’ve always wanted. Don’t mind if I do this do from now on.

Reese Wig by Noriko

Does it take long to do my hair? No, not really. Who does my hair? A lady named Patti…she lives a ways from here.

Reese Wig by Noriko

Little effort, lots of confidence.

Doesn’t break the bank.

Because this is Reese by Noriko. From Patti’s Pearls in California.

Reese Wig by Noriko

reese by noriko

More on Hair Health, Alopecia, Minoxidil, Saw Palmetto

It’s such a relief to stop using minoxidil (Rogaine, Lipogaine, etc).

After the initial wow I had using 5%, the side effects influenced me to switch 2%. Much better. However, the side effects of minoxidil are cumulative. I’m getting personal here, but tweezing your face twice a week, than once a day, than twice a day, will get to a girl after awhile. Then there was the side effect of depression. Not really strong, but a constant feeling of uneasiness that seemed to lessen considerably whenever I forgot to use minoxidil for a few days. Nate noticed it, too. Of course I also lost an alarming amount of hair and would start using it again.

I won’t comment on the side effect of weight gain except to say that it made an ordinary battle to stay fit harder. Nobody wants that.

So I’m done. And I already am experiencing the benefits of quitting. In one week I’ve gone from having to use the tweezer twice a day to twice a week. And what’s there is much finer in texture.

To counteract the withdrawal I knew I would experience quitting minoxidil (you lose all your hair gain in a matter of weeks if you quit minoxidil – no such thing as using it for awhile and then quitting if you want good results), I’m using megadoses of topical and internal saw palmetto – an herb. The only herb I know of with a reputation for stopping hair shed.

I told myself if I experienced the hair shed, I would mix minoxidil with it and go off of it more slowly. But in the end, I went cold turkey. It’s been a week so far. I know from experience that I would have lost a lot of hair already going cold turkey, but I’m not. In fact, I experience less hair shed than I did on Lipogaine.

Every day:

I take one dose of Hair Repair from Whole Body Research (includes over 300mg of saw palmetto) and

I absolutely douse the crown of my head in Surface Awaken Therapeutic Treatment, the second ingredient of which is Saw Palmetto. You can’t skimp with this stuff – I pour it on thick.

And that’s all I’m doing right now. Both products contain all the B vitamins and the Saw Palmetto also has all the amino acids which make up hair, as well as many other minerals, herbs and vitamins which help to maintain hair health. Between the two you are doing the essential things I’ve learned you must do to even have a chance against hair loss:

Block DHT.

Cause new growth.

Nourish hair.

They are 3 separate things which require 3 separate types of ingredients. Rogaine or minoxidil, for example, is a drug that artificially causes new growth but it doesn’t block DHT, so if you use it all by itself you could get new hair that gets attacked by DHT. If you block DHT only, you may not get new hair growth in places you have lost hair. And if you don’t nourish hair, the combination of the above might result in weak hair that is easily damaged or breaks off. This is not to say that effectively doing all 3 is easy. We are still in a stage of a lot of research when it comes to restoring lost hair from stress, genetics, medical conditions or trauma.

Here’s the picture from a few months back after using minoxidil-based products for about 4 months. Read more about my experience before and after minoxidil here.

Here is a picture of my hair after 1 year and 5 months of minoxidil use and the week after I stopped using minoxidil based products respectively:

minoxidil and saw palmetto hair loss

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(The first picture is product free and the second two were both after having done my hair). The only thing that’s really clear in my mind is that the Surface Awaken and Hair Repair have kept me from losing any progress I made with Lipogaine (Minoxidil) so far, though it’s only been a week. This is unexpected and of course, makes me hopeful that I will not have to go back on the stuff ever. The 2% was not quite as amazingly effective as the 5% anyway (though it was effective) but I just don’t think I can live with the increasing side effects for the rest of my life, which is, of course, what you have to be prepared to do if you use minoxidil-based products.

I’ll try to keep you all posted.

Interesting fact about Saw Palmetto: even though it is claimed by many (note the word claimed) to promote new hair growth, it also is prescribed by alternative medicine doctors and used by patients to reduce unwanted body hair. If it works, it brings many interesting questions to mind about drugs versus herbs, and the healing code many believe to be in herbs. The only way I can imagine saw palmetto to do this simultaneously is that by working with the female hormonal system, instead of just blindly causing hair growth (anyway and everywhere), like minoxidil tends to.

 

 

Why Hot Yoga – how Bikram Yoga is Changing my Life

I will never forget the sixth day of my 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. I felt a release in my back. A pain that I did not even know it was possible to exist without evaporated. I’ve had neck pain for a decade, and I am a little young for that.

The emotional release that came along with this physical relief of pain, tightness and tension was dramatic. I called my husband laughing and crying. I floated, not walked. I played the violin. “It sounds effortless, happy, fluid.” Nate reported. I cried tears of happiness while I played. I expressed myself, something I’ve struggled to do with the violin for years.

I did doubles sometimes (two 90 minute classes in one day) – the best of all. The second class was always euphoric. I ate and slept less those days. I didn’t need much of either. I drank a lot of coconut water though. Unwanted flab melted way, and so did the pain of painful memories, tension and false expectations of myself. While friends thought I lost weight, I actually gained through muscle.

On the last day of 30 my day challenge, I mourned. I didn’t want life to change.

I floundered for a few weeks after that. How often is one allowed to go to Bikram yoga? Isn’t that kind of time commitment irresponsible? Twice should be good for a responsible adult, right? I tried other yoga forms at home in the meantime. All good, but none so therapeutic. Pain crept back into my muscles, joints, tendons, mind. My work hours, the ones for the very job I said I had to do less yoga for, receded like a puddle on a sunny day. Last week I petered out at 20 hours, and pain plagued 10 of those hours. My going to yoga guilt was not working, for myself or anyone else in my life.

I don’t care how much responsibility I have, I said. I’m going to yoga. Today I finished my fourth class this week. I still have time for a fifth. I worked 38 hours this week at my desk, coding and designing, each day getting better, more creative, more productive. Happier. I hadn’t played the violin in a week, knowing how the old frustration might be there. It wasn’t today. The beauty I found in it on the sixth day of my Bikram yoga challenge was back.

I have never been to another hot yoga class. Chances are they would vary in effectiveness by how much they are like or unlike Bikram yoga. But since heat is a necessary part of therapy, I’m not parting with it, or a grueling 20 some postures, anytime soon.

I have found the key to everything else I love.

Long Live all the Mountains We Moved, I had the Time of my Life, Fighting Dragons with You

We did it. 3 years and nine months of grueling self denial, long work hours, and watching our money disappear into a seemingly endless black hole is over.

And we are never going back.

When 593 people liked my post on my Facebook group, the reality began to hit home. We actually did this. We didn’t give into cultural norms and think living with debt was ok. We fought it. We agonized. We cried and argued and forgave each other when one of us messed up and encouraged each other. We had to deal with feeling selfish when we had to say no to a cause or friend in order to make another snowball payment (a payment larger than the required minimum payment). It was hard to remind ourselves that this was OK for then because someday we would be able to live and give like no one else.

We paid off debts and celebrated briefly only to feel the next one roll over us like the weight of a gravestone. We said no to new clothes, handbags, and vacations countless times. We reminisced over the days we used to travel and spend our own money on fund-raisers for causes we loved and longed to be free of the weight of the payments. We wiped the tears from our eyes and said, some day. Some day. Some day we’ll buy and give what we want to buy and give, this time with cash and no debt. This time we’ll do it free. But until then, slap another extra payment on the debt and do it another day. One more day. One more day. One day it will be one more day until freedom.

And when the day came it was so unexpected, after so many false almosts, and prolonged dreams and deferred hope that we didn’t know how to feel it. We didn’t know how it could be possible. Figuratively we had arrived at shore with tattered clothes and empty pockets after floating on a bit of driftwood. And we knew we were home.

Our Debt Free Scream:

We lived on faith, hope, prayer and the Taylor Swift lyrics to Long Live:

“Long live all the mountains we moved
I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you
And long, long live the look on your face….
Bring on all the pretenders
We will be remembered…”

And maybe it’s not that big of a deal to the world that we paid off $134,000 in 3 years and 9 months starting at making only $28,000 a year, and maybe we won’t be “remembered.” But for us, well, we’re dragon-slayers.

And I cannot describe the peace that sweet victory brings.

 

5 Random Things to be Content About: Because Perfection doesn’t Exist this Side of Heaven

These things may seem random and petty in the light of greater problems. But if people, time and purses don’t encompass all of life, what does?

1. The career that allows you self expression but isn’t your ideal perfect dream career. Because if you’re hustling to follow your dreams on the side, and can follow some of those dreams at work, and aren’t a slave, and can put food on the table, be content. You’re luckier than most.

2. The almost perfect purse that doesn’t have a cell phone pocket. Some day I’ll get a Petunia Pickle Bottom purse, but for now I have this lovely soft oversized bag with organization galore inside and no cellphone pocket on the outside. Oh well.

3. Tea and coffee with friends and sometimes yoga. The early morning you got up to meditate and follow your dream. The Saturday you get to sleep in, even though you spent multiple late nights finishing up projects at work. Perfect schedules don’t exist. But determined and balanced ones can.

4. The wardrobe that allows you to pull together 2-3 put together outfits at most, and only has one workable pair of “favorite jeans.” Some day you’ll be able to buy lots of jeans. Not today. Oh well.

5. A community of less than perfect, growing, learning people. They’re all there for a reason. Some to love us. Some to strengthen us. Some to refine us. Be thankful. Life is good. Even when it doesn’t seem so.

This side of heaven – we can’t have it all.

This is Kombucha

this-is-kombucha-4

I made my first batch of kombucha and blogged about it here. This is batch number 5. It’s much better than my first batch, which, in comparison, tasted like a mixture of sweet tea and vinegar.

now this is kombucha (batch 5)

This fizzy stuff tastes like a delicate white champagne. But better. I love it.

Contributing factors:

  • It’s the fifth batch, so each batch grows better with time. You have to keep mixing in a pint of aged kombucha with each new batch, and of course you can let your mushroom (scoby) grow.
  • I also switched to plain white sugar on batch number 3. This speeds up the kombucha fermentation and makes a much healthier brew. Feed that scoby! It can’t easily digest organic raw sugar as well for some reason. Feed it simple sugar. It’s a yeast, not a child. (It also eats the sugar so you don’t have to).
  • This was my first batch with green tea, which I’m liking. It has a more white champagne taste, rather than cider-y, fruity or dark.

now this is kombucha (batch 5)now this is kombucha (batch 5)

I would love to be able to share a cup of health with you my readers! I also would love to know what you think of the taste, even those of you who think this whole process is weird. And of course, I would love to know what those of you who are fermented food or kombucha fans think of it, too! :)

Nothing takes away that dizzy feeling from not having eaten the right things, or for too long, like a cup of home brewed kombucha. I down a glass before I go to the gym and it gives me energy while calming my stomach. It is chock full of enzymes, probiotics and vitamin B. For more kombucha health benefits, read this.

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