practicing yoga while pregnant feels good

Yoga + Pregnancy = Do What Feels Good.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Pregnancy

I recently ran into a friend and blog reader in downtown Missoula. She asked if I would write a post on how it feels to practice yoga while pregnant. This one’s for you, Wendy!

One of my first questions after learning I was pregnant was whether I could still practice yoga safely. I’ve been doing yoga for over 15 years. Yoga keeps me sane, balanced and happy. These seemed like uber-important qualities to maintain in the face of rampant hormonal shifts and a major upcoming lifestyle shift. But I was worried that I might be relegated to a few boring poses instead of my usual vinyasa practice.

Since I was living in the Kingdom of Tonga at the time, Google was my main source for answers, along with emails to a few fellow yogis who’d gone through a pregnancy. Here’s what I learned: no one agrees on the “dos” or “don’ts” for how to practice yoga when you’re knocked up. Every question yielded 10 different answers.

Sure, there’s tons of information cautioning against twists and inversions, especially during the sensitive first trimester. And plenty of websites offer opinions about the best poses to open hips and prepare your pelvis to push through a very (repeat: very) large object. Every individual body responds differently to each asana. Every pregnancy is unique. Hence, it makes sense to find conflicting stories and advice on prenatal yoga.

After hours and hours of research, nine months of practicing, and three months of teaching yoga while pregnant here’s my takeaway formula: yoga + pregnancy = do what feels good. Or, even more simply, don’t do things that feel bad. Your body and your instincts are your best guide, and they’re not shy about shouting out when something is amiss. So, I listened carefully and kept experimenting to find out what felt best to me.

Downward dog while 8 months pregnant teaching yoga at the peak fitness.
Downward dog while teaching a vinyasa class at Peak Fitness in Missoula.

My practice has changed as continuously and as rapidly as my body has over the past nine months. The only constant is that yoga always makes me feel better, whether I squeeze in ten minutes of floor poses before bed or a full 90-minute vinyasa session. Each time a new pregnancy-related complaint surfaced – sciatica, rib pain, pressure on my pubic bone, cankles the size of wiener dogs – I could find yoga poses to ease the symptoms.

In short, I can’t imagine not doing yoga while pregnant. My cankles would probably be as big as labradors, and I’m pretty sure my moods would be as fierce as a pit bull’s. Here’s a brief recap on what has felt good to me while practicing yoga as a prego, given with the caveat that, again, every body is different:

FIRST TRIMESTER

  • Slow down any transitions to standing, especially during sun salutations, to avoid dizziness.
  • Try to twist only from the bra strap rather than the tailbone: keep your belly pointed forward.
  • Warrior poses – hell, all lunges and squats – feel awesome, and help keep your foundation strong for the weight gain to come.
  • Spend lots of time in savasana.

SECOND TRIMESTER

  • Almost everything feels good.
  • Do several cat/cow stretches and tabletop extensions (opposite arm and leg reaching long while on all-fours) in the morning and evening.
  • As the belly gets bigger, modify upward dog, child’s pose, standing forward bend and other poses to make room for the growing baby bump.
  • Balancing poses (like tree and dancer) keep hips strong and pelvis centered, which counteracts sciatica pain.

THIRD TRIMESTER

  • Keep doing planks and sideplanks to maintain internal ab strength, but be careful of overdoing core-reliant poses.
  • Wide-legged downward dog feels like heaven.
  • Pigeon pose, straddle stretches, and goddess pose open the hips.
  • Be careful of loosey-goosey ligaments and joints: don’t stay in a stretch too long.
  • Try a supported bound-angle pose or feet-up-the-wall pose when you’re belly is too heavy for lying flat in savasana.

 

Today I danced naked in the sun over water so blue it hurts. I samba-ed. I hip-hopped. I waltzed. I waved my arms, wiggled my butt, and jumped around like a goof with a huge grin on my face. So, what spawns a naked dancing session on a boat? First ingredient: alone-time. Second ingredient: a remote and ridiculously beautiful location. Third ingredient: weeks without dancing of any sort. The boys took the afternoon to go hunt fish along the nearby reef. As I dried off from my swim, I suddenly realized I didn't have to put my clothes back on. Instead, I turned on music loudly and started making bread in the galley. The kneading and dough-punching rhythm soon expanded into spins and leaps, which required deck space outside. No problem: our anchorage at Beveridge Reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was deserted, save one boat in the distance. With no one to watch but the sharks, I was soon gyrating on the bow in my birthday suit. (No pictures, sorry.) I don't know if I gain such joy from my boat dancing sessions because they are so few and far between, because they are a celebration of sun and sea and music, or because they always coincide with those rare, precious pockets of me-only time. Probably the whole enchilada is what put the stretchy smile on my face, as I belted out the chorus to a pop song: "Hey, I heard you were a wild one!" Here's what I took away from my naked sunlight dancing: everyone should try it. It's like skinny-dipping or bungee-jumping -- that same bubbly feeling of being free, spontaneous, slightly naughty, open, exposed, blessed, exhilarated. Wild. You can dance to your own internal beat, or blast the music as loud as you like. Spins are pretty much imperative, since being dizzy puts life back in its proper perspective. The more shimmies and shakes the better. Kick high and swirl your arms around, finding the breeze behind your knees, beneath your breasts, between each toe. Let it all just jiggle. No audience but the waves, no critics but the clouds. Today I danced naked above the fish and beneath the birds. I was beautiful. I was alone. I was as wild as the sea, and as shiny as the sun.

Dancing Naked

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Fishing

dance travel south pacific islands brianna rob

Today I danced naked in the sun over water so blue it hurts. I samba-ed. I hip-hopped. I waltzed. I waved my arms, wiggled my butt, and jumped around like a goof with a huge grin on my face.

So, what spawns a naked dancing session on a boat? First ingredient: alone-time. Second ingredient: a remote and ridiculously beautiful location. Third ingredient: weeks without dancing of any sort.

The boys took the afternoon to go hunt fish along the nearby reef. As I dried off from my swim, I suddenly realized I didn’t have to put my clothes back on. Instead, I turned on music loudly and started making bread in the galley. The kneading and dough-punching rhythm soon expanded into spins and leaps, which required deck space outside. No problem: our anchorage at Beveridge Reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was deserted, save one boat in the distance. With no one to watch but the sharks, I was soon gyrating on the bow in my birthday suit. (No pictures, sorry.)

Today I danced naked in the sun over water so blue it hurts.  I samba-ed.  I hip-hopped.  I waltzed.  I waved my arms, wiggled my butt, and jumped around like a goof with a huge grin on my face.    So, what spawns a naked dancing session on a boat?  First ingredient: alone-time.  Second ingredient: a remote and ridiculously beautiful location.  Third ingredient: weeks without dancing of any sort.    The boys took the afternoon to go hunt fish along the nearby reef.  As I dried off from my swim, I suddenly realized I didn't have to put my clothes back on.  Instead, I turned on music loudly and started making bread in the galley.  The kneading and dough-punching rhythm soon expanded into spins and leaps, which required deck space outside.  No problem: our anchorage at Beveridge Reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was deserted, save one boat in the distance.  With no one to watch but the sharks, I was soon gyrating on the bow in my birthday suit.  (No pictures, sorry.)  I don't know if I gain such joy from my boat dancing sessions because they are so few and far between, because they are a celebration of sun and sea and music, or because they always coincide with those rare, precious pockets of me-only time.  Probably the whole enchilada is what put the stretchy smile on my face, as I belted out the chorus to a pop song: "Hey, I heard you were a wild one!"  Here's what I took away from my naked sunlight dancing: everyone should try it.  It's like skinny-dipping or bungee-jumping -- that same bubbly feeling of being free, spontaneous, slightly naughty, open, exposed, blessed, exhilarated.  Wild.    You can dance to your own internal beat, or blast the music as loud as you like.  Spins are pretty much imperative, since being dizzy puts life back in its proper perspective.  The more shimmies and shakes the better.  Kick high and swirl your arms around, finding the breeze behind your knees, beneath your breasts, between each toe.  Let it all just jiggle. No audience but the waves, no critics but the clouds.    Today I danced naked above the fish and beneath the birds.  I was beautiful.  I was alone.  I was as wild as the sea, and as shiny as the sun.

I don’t know if I gain such joy from my boat dancing sessions because they are so few and far between, because they are a celebration of sun and sea and music, or because they always coincide with those rare, precious pockets of me-only time. Probably the whole enchilada is what put the stretchy smile on my face, as I belted out the chorus to a pop song: “Hey, I heard you were a wild one!”

Here’s what I took away from my naked sunlight dancing: everyone should try it. It’s like skinny-dipping or bungee-jumping — that same bubbly feeling of being free, spontaneous, slightly naughty, open, exposed, blessed, exhilarated. Wild.

dance naked island boat sail brianna randall

You can dance to your own internal beat, or blast the music as loud as you like. Spins are pretty much imperative, since being dizzy puts life back in its proper perspective. The more shimmies and shakes the better. Kick high and swirl your arms around, finding the breeze behind your knees, beneath your breasts, between each toe. Let it all just jiggle. No audience but the waves, no critics but the clouds.

Today I danced naked above the fish and beneath the birds. I was beautiful. I was alone. I was as wild as the sea, and as shiny as the sun.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Morning Jagermeister and Other Tales of Leadership

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

“Do you do Jager?” Lionel asked me in his South African/Australian accent. I had just met Lionel and his wife, Irene, during happy hour at the one bar in Fare, the largest town on the island of Huahine.

“Not since college,” I replied with a startled laugh, remembering the licorice-flavored taste of shots of Jagermeister at San Diego bars. Gross.

“But you really look like you do Jager,” Lionel said stubbornly.

“Wait a minute … what do you think ‘yeagher‘ is?” I asked cautiously, wondering if I’d become so relaxed that I looked perpetually pumped full of alcohol.

“You know, stretching and bending and stuff,” he replied.

“Oh, yoga! Yeah, I do a lot of yoga,” I said in relief, and then explained my miscommunication. Rob was laughing hysterically beside me.

Next up, Lionel asked if I’d lead morning yoga sessions on the lawn in the southern anchorage. He was an avid yogi, and had organized a few morning stretch sessions at different spots in Polynesia. Lionel hadn’t ever taught before, and was excited to have a new “yoga queen,” as he later nicknamed me. I, on the other hand, felt a strange reluctance to lead. I’ve found a new passion for yoga the past few months at sea, and it felt like a private passion. I wanted to selfishly guard my morning yoga energy rather than spread it out across unknown people.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Other people we’ve shared sailboats with had asked if they could follow my yoga routine. I’d led a few half-assed sessions on the bow for whoever else could fit alongside, or follow along from a neighboring boat’s deck. But yoga on a boat isn’t the same as yoga on land, and I was hesitant to be in charge of “real” yoga for people with various ability levels (not to mention various English comprehension!). That smacked of a job, which I want no part of.

But then I kicked my selfish self, and told Lionel “of course I’d lead Jager.” After a rusty first few minutes, I sunk quickly back into a leadership role. My mind churned quickly through the potential flow of poses. My eyes scanned the different participants for their comfort level. My hands made adjustments to their bodies. My mouth called out instructions on how to move, and variations to make sure everyone felt confident and safe in each pose.

It was great. Every morning at 8:30am, a fleet of dinghys would land on the white sand beach, and 5 to 10 cruisers would walk up to a grassy spot surrounded by palm trees. We’d lay out towels or mats in a circle, and I’d start the practice. I especially had fun watching the progression of the participants: Jim from Ireland who could almost touch the ground on Day 4. Mark, our shipmate, who could easily get into a headstand alone on Day 2. Jan from Slovenia whose hips opened like flowers in triangle pose. The German woman who had never tried yoga in her life, succeeding in crow pose. Moana, a local breakdancer from Huahine, who joined in to learn our balancing poses.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Like you probably already guessed, I received just as much energy from the group practice as I did from my private practice. It was a different type of energy, for sure, but just as potent. I liked the confidence boost it gave me, especially after being the follower and novice onboard so many boats the past few months. And I really enjoyed making people feel better in their bodies and their hearts, too. Next time someone asks me to lead yoga (or Jager, for that matter), I won’t hesitate to say yes.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

A Treatise on Slacker-dom

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Reflections on Life, Traveling

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

It’s a luxury to be totally irresponsible. I’m not taking it for granted, either. For someone like me who was a workaholic and a (slight) control freak during my academic and professional careers, it’s totally novel to just sit back and do nothing for a change. Sure, I’ve always been good at taking long, relaxing vacations. But it feels remarkably different to have no end in sight for the long vacation, no one to worry about except me and Rob, no responsibilities, deadlines, bills, or schedule.

I thought I’d be antsy with the free time. I thought I’d be motivated to think up new life goals, to set objectives for next steps. I thought I’d immediately start on the Great American Novel, or organize dance parties and potlucks every night. And I DEFINITELY thought I’d squirm at having to take orders on other people’s boats. Instead, I feel little pull to make big decisions right now, and even the small ones sometimes seem taxing. Surprisingly (at least to me), I’m enjoying following instead of leading. I’m wallowing happily in my newfound slacker-dom.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Of course, there have certainly been moments when I wish I could just take the wheel myself, set the anchor where I want, or organize the cabin my own way. Early on, I had to learn when to bite my tongue and get used to asking permission instead of giving directions. But the transition into ceding responsibility took much less energy than I’d thought. Granted, we participate in decisions to a point, and chime in if we ever feel our safety is at risk.

But 90% of the time, if the captain says “sheet in the main,” I turn the winch and if he says “go to port,” I turn the wheel. And if we hit a reef or the sail rips, it isn’t my responsibility to fix the problem. Even when the control freak in me rears her head occassionally, she quickly bumps into the slacker wallowing on the surface and settles back down.

My slacker-dom was fully revealed to me in Huahine, when I balked at leading yoga sessions for cruisers. That’s how far I’d come in shirking all responsibility: I was reluctant to even take charge of a half-dozen sailors who wanted to stretch for an hour. Jeez. I’ll tell you more about those yoga sessions in the next post, but for now I’ll just say that my normal personality emerged and I happily taught some poses on the beach.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

The problem with suddenly being in charge of something, though, was that it woke up my ambitious side. Just a little bit, but enough to make me look around and have a minor epiphany: slacker-dom decreases freedom. Counter-intuitive, right? All of you reading this who are inundated with deadlines, bills and schedules are scoffing at me, thinking that I’m the one with all the freedom. And that’s certainly true, to an extent. But the less responsibility we take, the less chance we have to influence our future. The less we lead where we want to go, the more powerless we are to determine our destination.

In less oovy-groovy terms: if Rob and I owned our own boat, we could go wherever we wanted, however we wanted. We could let our sails luff or yank in the sheets to go faster. Same with me leading yoga instead of following someone else: I get to pick the poses that feel good in my body, and be creative in shaping the flow and flex of the practice. I’m definitely not ready to be my own capitan yet, nor do I want to set up a yoga-for-cruisers school. But after a four-month hiatus from being responsible, I think my slacker-dom might be subsiding some. We’ll see what emerges from the mellow muddle the South Pacific has made of my more ambitious side.

on the horizon line - sailing and traveling blog in mexico

Yoga Boat-Style: Root Through Your Feet.

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness

sailing south pacific travel blog brianna randall

Imagine doing yoga without ever finding stillness in a pose. Imagine your downward dog is always walking, rocking, swaying to and fro. Imagine that your greatest accomplishment during practice is holding chair pose without doing an accidental somersault. Imagine going back to the beginning after you’d been advancing through a practice for 15 years.

Practicing yoga while sailing the big blue sea probably feels similar to doing yoga in a dryer set on “tumble.” It requires a whole new level of zen. Even though attempting yoga on a bouncing boat can be extremely frustrating in itself, the alternative would be even more frustrating: I would be a horrible crew member and unhappy human without my practice onboard. Yoga helps me breathe through the ocean’s endless time. It centers me within an incomprehensibly vast space.

Continuing to practice at sea unveiled new wells of patience with myself, and forces me to accept the limits imposed by the watery world around my floating home. The worst sacrifice: no headstands. Bridge and downward dog are about the only safe inversion in 15-foot seas. Forward bends and child’s pose round out the blood-to-the-head poses. Second saddest sacrifice: no balancing poses … at least in the traditional sense.

on the horizon line - sailing and traveling blog in mexico

In reality, every movement all day long on passage is its own balancing pose. Even the simplest yoga asanas requires 100 times more forcus on balance than they do on land. The rolling swells require at least 3 points of contact at all times, but often 4 points is mandatory. Triangle becomes a tangle as the stern dips 20 degrees left, then right, then flings left again. Warrior series are possible only if one hand maintains a death grip on a nearby lifeline, which limits their fluidity and mobility. A simple sun salutation is an ab-busting, shoulder-wrenching, mind-over-matter exercise as my ass becomes a pendulum threatening to overtake my anchor points on deck. I’ll never roll my eyes again when an instructor says to “root through my feet” or “feel grounded in the pose.”

Luckily, yoga at sea provides plenty of benefits, once I was ready to receive them. Even as a moving boat drastically narrows the diversity of available asanas, it doubles the amount of time I practice. Each morning I move through sun salutes to energize and elongate. Long, comforting stretches settle my mind and bones during the 12:00 to 2:00am night watch each evening. I have a newfound affection for the hatha and yin yoga poses I used to shun in favor of faster-paced flow. The rocking space lets me connect truly and deeply to each asana.

I still long for the day when I can cement my feet — and my head! — to a substrate that stays still. Meanwhile, yoga reminds me that my body is still my own, though it feels lighter and smaller beneath the uncontrollable wind and waves. It keeps me saner, calmer, quieter, and more real during the surreal journeys across the sea.

sailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob robertssailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob roberts

Shaking Til The Coconuts Fall Off

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Community and Culture, Dance, Yoga and Fitness

sailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob robertssailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob roberts

I’ll tell you one thing about Polynesians: they can dance like nobody’s business. Luckily for us, July is the best time to watch them dance. Every island in French Polynesia celebrates heiva this month, which is a version of mini-Olympics here in paradise. Professionals and amateurs of all ages vie for top placement in a variety of categories, including dance, chanting, canoe racing, and coconut husking (seriously). There’s even a Mr. and Miss Heiva contest on each island for teenagers. The winners come to Papeete in Tahiti to compete for the honor of attending international beauty pageants.

Rob and I have been to three different heiva events in Tahiti so far, including a small-town beauty pageant in Tautira on Tahiti Iti. The pageant reminded me of Missoula’s Off the Rack production, with 16-year-old contestants parading around in creative leaf/flower costumes, bathing suits and “city wear” (which is what the rest of the world wears to the beach). The audience clapped along to pop music remixed with a reggae beat. Fun. We also attended two nights of totally awesome singing and dancing competitions in Papeete.

sailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob robertsLet me paint you a picture of the Papeete heiva. Outdoor bleachers surround a football field-sized dance floor in front of a stage filled with drums along the waterfront downtown. We wait patiently as the story told by the upcoming dance is explained in French, English and Tahitian, and then lean forward in anticipation as 20+ musicians take the stage. The drums begin. The lights come up. 60 women shimmy onto stage from all sides, wearing coconuts, flowers, leaves, moss and brightly colored headresses. As their hips circle at lightening speed, 50 men stomp onto stage with their knees waving and their arms swirling, wearing bands of grass around their arms and legs and groins. An occasional grass band or coconut falls off accidentally amidst the shaking body parts, adding to the excitement.

The dancers circle each other, and move in diagonals across the stage. The women have rivers, blankets, reams of thick hair that falls all the way to their hips (after dancing, Polynesians seem to specialize in growing beautiful hair). Spectacular tattoos adorn many of the performers. Flutes and singers join the drums to tell a story of love or war or gods or villages. They change costumes, change characters, change rhythms every few minutes during the hour-long performance, which is interspersed with solos and Tahitian narrators. The scene is one of the most colorful and stimulating performances I’ve ever seen, a concert, play and dance recital all rolled into one.

And that’s just one act. Each night of heiva consists of four different performing groups, which come from all over the Marquesas, Tuamotu, Austral and Society islands.

sailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob robertsAfter a four-hour stint with my feet keeping time at the heiva, I was inspired to try my hand at some Tahitian hip-shaking the next day. Hula dancing was my first true dancing love. My sister and I took classes for a couple of years when we were growing up, proudly performing at backyard luaus in our fancy island costumes. Of course, that was 20 years ago, so my hips felt pretty rusty as I shimmied in a hidden corner of the park near our anchorage. I was also out of breath in about three minutes.

Although I kept up with exercise on passage, the last couple of months have been lax on aerobic activity outside of swimming. My legs and lungs just aren’t cooperating with my mind’s vision of how to mimic the colorful island choreography. Bummer. I’m totally taking the jumprope to shore the next few mornings to get back in shape. After all, you never know when they might call for volunteers from the audience at the next heiva dance off. I’m totally their woman, even if my hair is three feet too short.

kung fu ninja kick on the horizon line blog rob roberts

Magic Mood Mixture (nope, no illegal substances included)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Sailing

kung fu ninja kick on the horizon line blog rob roberts

I know many of you who followed our voyage across the Pacific are secretly asking yourselves this very important question:how the hell did Bri and Rob keep from losing their minds during while bobbing around the ocean blue for a whole month?

First off, don’t kid yourselves: we definitely lost it at times. Second, we each quickly learned what would bring us back from the brink of insanity, and what would keep us as pleasant as possible during the crossing. For me: 1) music 2) exercise 3) caffeine 4) naps. Most of you know that this is the exact same mixture that keeps me sane and bearable on land, too. Just give me some espresso, a dance class or bike ride, and some good tunes to sing along to and my bad mood usually lifts.

Napping is new, though — I’ve always hated that groggy post-nap disorientation, and feeling like I was missing out on something exciting. Nothing like a weird night watch schedule to change my tune about the value of naps. Plus, watching Rob’s impressive cat-napping ability inspired me to follow suit. Rob’s magic mood mixture is about the same as mine, if you double his nap quotient and replace caffeine with mini-projects (fixing broken binoculars, rigging fishing lines, inventing a way to detangle all the ropes at the mast, etc.). Here’s some details on our passage sanity formula:

1) Music: Me playing the shitty nylon-string guitar we bought in Panama City (thank god we found it), and Rob learning how to play his first-ever song on the guitar. Either of us zoning out to favorite tunes with headphones blasting to cover the fact that you’re sharing a very small space with 6 other people, 3 of whom are bickering brothers. Me dancing as best I can, using the stays and shrouds as my partners as I kick, spin, arc, and flail to the beat of a bass. The whole crew singing to Johnny Cash as we cook dinner and do dishes, walking around the tilted cabin like drunk sailors (who haven’t seen a drop of alcohol for a month).

2) Exercise: A fascinating, innovative, hilarious endeavor given the motion and lack of space. I exercised a few times a day, although the definition of “exercise” is totally stretchy compared to what I’d do in regular life. Squats, lunges, pushups and crunches were ubiquitous, along with some fancier strength training moves that required holding on for dear life to something bolted on the deck. I tried out various creative cardio routines, consisting of jumping jacks, running in place, can-can kicks, mountain-climbers, and pretending the single step on deck was a stairmaster. Yoga stretches were a mainstay, of course, throughout the day. The end result? I’m more toned than I’ve ever been in my life, but a dying tortoise could beat me at a 100-yard dash. It’s tough to maintain any sort of aerobic activity when you can’t really walk without falling over.

3) Caffeine: What I would give for an espresso machine … sigh. Next time, I’m bringing lots of good teas and coffee. This trip, though, we made do with crappy instant (Buen Dia!), and some sketchy tea bags that barely tinted the water after steeping. I horded the one tin of stellar green tea, meting out one bag per day when at my crankiest.

4) Naps: Learned to love ’em. Not only do they refresh after getting up in the middle of the night for watch, they also make time go faster, provide an exciting position change from sitting on your butt, give you some alone time, and offer relief from intense midday sun. Rob brought napping to a new level, sleeping sitting up, in the cockpit, splayed out on the yoga mat, or folded into weird positions. While I couldn’t quite match his napping enthusiasm, I’m definitely a convert to taking one per day.

The biggest challenge was trying to add something new or creative or interesting into each day. Something that differentiates it from all the other rolly blue sameness. For me, even a new dance move or a new ingredient to spice up a coffee drink could push me over the edge from a low to a high. Rob and I both learned (and continued to re-learn) that there’s a very fine line between despair and contentment on a boat out at sea.exercise sailing dance yoga on the horizon line brianna randall

We Are Musical People, Yo.

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness

dance move

A drum beats through the background of my daily narrative.  A bass-line usually thrums in my brain and through my body while we eat, when I dance, as I work, while I play guitar.  But the background beat has been eerily absent for over a week.  My guitar and both of our iPods were casualties of the Todos Santos robbery.  Turns out that the lack of music is perhaps the most haunting loss of all.

We are musical people.  You’ve probably heard Rob singing loudly through the aisles of the grocery store in Missoula, or watched him unconsciously playing drums on the counter, the steering wheel, or on my leg when we sit next to each other.  He keeps time to the soundtrack in his mind, and had recently started recording our friends’ music, too.  I try to dance daily, and play guitar often while I belt out old rock songs (sometimes even on key!).  At home, we streamed Pandora constantly and our trademark Christmas gift to our friends was a mixed CD of our favorite songs from the year.

music on thanksgiving

The recent quiet seems to take up physical space in my body.  It almost feels oppressive, like a balloon that muffles my daily rhythms and makes my thoughts echo in my head.  I know: counter-intuitive, right?  The silence should serve to heighten my awareness of the world around me, not stifle my interaction with it.  But for me, music enhances every experience – kind of like a 6th sense.   It cements new memories, anchors me in a place, and activates my creative right brain while tamping down my overactive analytical left brain.  It’s like cream in coffee, hot fudge on a sundae, the icing on the cupcake: music just makes life more fun.

Rob and I have been singing snippets of the same Lumineers song for the past 10 days now (“I don’t know where I belong, I don’t know where I went wrong…I could write a song”).  We’re a broken record, a CD skipping endlessly on one track.  Not only is it annoying, it also tells me that our music sense is stagnant.   I hadn’t pinpointed the problem fully until we got in the shuttle from La Paz to San Jose del Cabo.  Our Mexican bus driver turned out to be an American rock-n-roll fanatic, toggling from Pink Floyd to Coldplay to Clapton to Radiohead.

guitar on bow

As Rob and I sang aloud to “Wish You Were Here,” I felt the bubble inside me pop and my body breathe a deep sigh of bass-filled relief.  I also immediately felt an insane urge to stand up and dance on the bus, now that my music sense was reactivated.  I hadn’t sashayed, spun or shimmied since my last Oula class at the Downtown Dance Collective over two weeks ago.  Completely unacceptable.

Luckily, all of the awesome dance songs I downloaded before our trip are waiting in cyberspace for me, ready to upload to iTunes when I get my replacement iPhone tomorrow.  I’ll be shakin’ my bootie in no time during a self-led solo Oula class at the entrance to the Panama Canal.  We also picked up some replacement tunes (thanks to Cassidy, our main source for all new music), and plan to buy a new cheap-but-functional campesino guitar in Panama City.

As for the Lumineers song – well, we might not be listening to that one right off the bat when we find a music-making device.  But you can damn well be sure that Rob and I will be singing and dancing along to something as we sail across the Pacific.  For us, music is almost as essential as food (almost).

wedding dance - on the horizon line - travel blog - fitness

 

off the rack brianna randall dancing

Last Montana Dance Performance

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness

off the rack afro brazilian dance bri randallTwo weeks ago, I shook my booty in a last hoorah onstage for Missoula’s signature (and super awesome) Off the Rack fundraiser event.  The purpose: raise money for our local Blue Mountain Clinic and raise awareness about sexual choice and diversity.  The unifying theme: costumes made of condoms.  My friend Gillian calls it: “Our community’s best talent show.”  It features everything from artistic body painting (yup, that’s me in green body paint at last year’s show…and Cass in a bra made of condoms…and Rob riding a bike in socks) to costume design, comedy routines and hula-hooping.

off the rack brianna randall dancingrob and bri and cass in off the rack dancingThis was my fourth consecutive performance at Off the Rack, dancing alongside Gillian and other talented teachers from the Downtown Dance Collective.  It combines all of my favorite things: I love dancing.  I love Missoula.  I love costumes.  And I love a good cause.

Check out these videos that Rob filmed to watch a few of the dances from the 2013 Off the Rack Show.  And then go check it out in person next February.

[framed_video column=”full-width”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Riq-DkOrJas&feature=youtu.be[/framed_video]

[framed_video column=”full-width”]http://youtu.be/wBWxqjHKvQg [/framed_video]

[framed_video column=”full-width”]http://youtube.com/watch?v=t7Zd0uUhjHA[/framed_video]

Off the Rack in Missoula dance bodypaint brianna randall

Exercise on a Boat

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Dance, Yoga and Fitness, Sailing

saucony tennis shoes on avocado green tiles - i hate sitting still I’m sitting in the grungy hallway of a junior high school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The buzzing fluorescent lights highlight the 1970s avocado-green tiles, and illuminate Rob and his brother, Brent, playing volleyball in the gym a few yards ahead of me.

We’re visiting Rob’s family for a week before we head off next month. I’m quickly realizing it’s a good test case for how I’ll cope with transitioning to a boat, at least in terms of exercise. The bad news: it’s been 24 hours and I already feel antsy.

The good news: I just found the girls locker room and danced like a crazy woman to music blasting from my laptop, which made me feel much better.

One thing I’m most anxious about as we embark on our voyage is that I’ll become a bitchy and unhappy person if I can’t get enough exercise. Other people seem slightly concerned, too: for instance, my friend Heather turned to me during an Oula Dance class last week in sudden alarm, asking, “Bri! How are you going to dance on a boat?” Great question, and one that I’ve spent a lot of time pondering.

Rob playing indoor volleyball in a gym near his hometown in PA

If you know me at all, you know I don’t sit. I have a standing desk, I bike to work, I do yoga, dance, and strength training. And that’s often all in a single day (thank you, Downtown Dance Collective). Then there’s the outdoor activities that keep me sane and peaceful: hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, cross-country skiing.

Movement is a huge part of who I am and how I relate to the world. I’ve been reading Zero to Cruising and other blogs to learn how other cruisers deal. I know that sailing is active, and that I’ll use my body plenty onboard.

But I’m still anticipating that I’ll need to learn to let go of the antsy feeling that wells up when I stay put.

Off the Rack in Missoula dance bodypaint brianna randall

I’ll need to learn to breathe through the frustration of not being able to hop on my bike and ride hard uphill. Most importantly, I’ll need to be creative in the small, confined space. Pushups, lunges and sit-ups will get boring fast.

That’s why I’m planning on dancing my way across the Pacific. I might not get to make big turns or long leaps. And I won’t look nearly as cool as I did in the performance picture to the left (note: this is how I picture myself when I dance … even in grungy junior high locker rooms). But that won’t stop me from dancing on the bow — even if I have to wear a life jacket and strap myself to the mast.

Stay tuned for videos and posts on how I stay fit, sane and (hopefully) pleasant during our Pacific crossing. Meanwhile, I’m going to do a set of jumping jacks to stay pleasant here in Pennsylvania while I wait for Rob.

 

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