Winter Park, Florida

I have been trying to think of something travel related to write lately but I have not been traveling.  So goes the dilemma.  Then I realized maybe some of you might be tourists in or near Orlando some day and find yourself in Winter Park.  I have been here on and off every few weeks for the last few weeks house sitting.  I am literally on top of a restaurant!  Not sure I want to tell you which one since I will be here for a while.  But, I can tell you some good places to go nearby. I am going to start taking my camera with me around to give a picture tour at a later time.

Winter Park is North of Downtown Orlando down 17/92 or I-4.  There are several pockets of areas within Winter Park.

Winter Park Village

Winter Park Village is an upscale urban shopping and dining area with a movie theater also.  I believe it is also has I-max.  I could be wrong though (obviously I do not go to the movies often). There are shops such as White House Black Market, Coldwater Creek, Ulta.  There are two grocery stores, Publix and Chamberlains, which has more organic and natural products.  I shop for groceries and at Ulta but do not spend much shopping at other places though.

There are a lot of upscale chain dining areas and several moderate dining areas.  Cheesecake Factory, Brio, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Crispers, and several other places I have not tried yet.

Downtown Winter Park

Downtown Winter Park is directly east of Winter Park Village.  You can take Fairbanks or Morse or any of the other streets over and find a cute brick pavers area with lots of green areas mixed between.  The drive through the neighborhood down Park Avenue, even after you go through the shopping area is gorgeous.  There are a lot of large houses that are not all cookie cutter.  Made during different times of architectural influence it looks very nice.

The shops are fairly upscale and have chain stores to independent small businesses.  I like walking along and window shopping, especially with some ice cream.  There is a Kilwins, Tutti Frutti (frozen yogurt), Cafe 118, etc to get ice cream from.  There are also a lot of wine bars I have not actually been able to sample yet.  I might have to do some investigating.

Yoga

Full Circle Yoga

So far the only place I have gone to yoga in Winter Park is Full Circle Yoga.  The biggest difference between this studio and others I have been to seems to be that this studio is always full to the brim.  Get there early to get a spot!  It is actually two studios.  There is a hot studio and the main studio.  For some reason the main studio reminds me of summer camp at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan (yes I am that geeky, I played the trumpet).  Its has exposed wooden beams and screened door and I am not sure why, maybe its the color it is painted. It is open and airy.

I have been to three instructors and they all seem knowledgeable and there is a different flow from all teachers. They have a great variety of classes and class times. I will do a separate review of Full Circle Yoga under the yoga section.

Food

There are hundreds of restaurants in the area, or at least it seems that way. Here are a few of my favorites (in no particular order).

Mitchell’s Fish Market

It’s a chain, but I do like it.  Mind you I have only been twice.  I am adding it because they have some of the freshest mixed drinks and an awesome happy hour where you can get their shrimp tacos 2 for $5.  They are very yummy. They also had a jazz duo (or maybe trio) there one night though I have not heard them since.

Chipotle

I know another chain.  And fast foodish.  But I like it because I can get easy vegetarian food, the portions last me for two meals at least, and it is a fairly fresh option.  Best Tex-Mex lunch option to me.

Croissant Gourmet Bakery

This one probably does not need an explanation.  I mean really?  Just in case, awesome, flaky, buttery, crunchy yet chewy, yummy, croissants.  Plain or chocolate.  Yum.  Plus lots of other French desserts and sandwiches.  Awesome baguettes.  I try not to go there often simply because it could become a very unhealthy habit.

Cafe 118 Degrees

Just in case you want to offset your yummy croissants with something super healthy, right across the street is Cafe 118 degrees, which really means everything is cooked under 118 degrees Fahrenheit, or is raw. I have met the owner of the restaurant Joe, and he is really passionate about the restaurant and the entire concept of raw living.  In fact, even though the food is amazing, the most impressive thing about the restaurant is how knowledgeable and passionate all the staff are about the food and concept.  Ask away and you will get answers.

Like maybe, how do you make raw vegetables into lasagna and what is in the raw dairy and soy free ice cream. Really, I love the ice cream, it is my favorite place for ice cream in the area.  Actually, I am not regretting not going and getting some after yoga.

They also serve fresh raw juice and smoothies and wine.  I have not tried anything here I have not liked.  I do have a hard time getting people to go though…

Also, I really like the music on the website.  Just thought I would add that.  Never listened to it before I looked up the link to add here.

For next time…

And this is just the beginning, more food, parks, and shopping coming later.  Any suggestions of places to try?

Advertisements

Settling in…week after week???

Serendipity.  Really my life has been serendipitous recently.  I could not sell my couch so I posted it again on Craigslist with my bed.  I got a call half an hour later and sold it to a women who needed it for her daughter who just moved into her first apartment.  She found it in the AUTOMOTIVE section where it was accidentally sent to.

MyLinda, the owner of Altamonte Springs Yoga invited me to go to one of her 3 week series.  The series was yoga for back and neck.  I have had some neck problems for a few months, I think caused by too many vinyasa in a bad posture.  I have learned since to use my knees for chaturanga.  I kept worrying I would never be able to get farther in Yoga because I cannot do a single chaturanga off my knees. But, since it was the weekend of my garage sale and I had been sleeping on the loveseat while my parents were visiting combined with my stiff neck, it was nice to have a back and neck class.

I went to class and saw a Facebook friend I had met at a yoga class a month or two prior.  It is nice to meet people of similar thoughts.  And it was really an amazing class.  I realized I was not keeping my shoulders spread out.  It is not enough to keep my shoulders out of my ears, I have to keep the shoulder blades apart.  The class was almost entirely about stretching the shoulders.  It was amazing.

This was Sunday, the serendipity started Monday.  On Monday we started Warm and Slow a little late because Julie talked about the proper alignment for downward facing dog and how the shoulder are wide.  It was putting what MyLinda had been talking about Sunday to good use.  It was also interesting that I had recently asked Juliette and Lee about the proper alignment for down dog.  I was not sure if the line should be straight or arced with shoulders through the arms. Well that is much harder to do with the shoulders held wider.  At first my shoulders hated me for this.  Every time I went into down dog I had to reevaluate and move my shoulders into proper position.  Then I realized this is how my shoulders should be in plank too. Suddenly plank had so much more strength coming from the shoulders and no pull on my neck or elbows.

I am still experimenting with plank, I have not really gotten into a lot of no knee planks yet.  But, my knee planks feel much more stable.  Hopefully this will translate well for me.  It is much harder to do down dogs this way, but I am going to assume that is just my muscles getting used to this extra work.

For now, I am settling in to my new place, until Saturday, then the owner comes back.  It is a good prep for learning to travel and take what accommodations come cheaply.  It is odd being in someone’s home, but it once I decided I needed to just get used to it, I did.  I am comfortably sitting on the couch drinking a bottle of Pinot Grigio, watching Limitless on her Netflix, and trying not to mess up her incredibly clean house.  It is in a nice place with lots of shops and restaurants and has parking and high lofted ceilings.  It is nice to feel somewhat settled this fast.  Moving into a furnished place is almost like living on vacation in a vacation rental.  Only, I have to go to work on Monday.  Let’s see how fast I get used to settling in again someplace new next week when she comes home for a week.

Happy Hour Yoga!

Connecting to the Pose

So lately my yoga has been much more intense and focused for me.  But, my life is becoming much more intense and focused, so this makes sense.  I am evolving.  My drishti (where your vision is focused) is almost always fixed, whereas I used to have to remind myself all the time to stay focused (or I would not even try).  Also, when I am in the pose it is like I am in the pose with an intent to be there in that pose.  I feel my feet and or hands grounded, all muscles involved engaged, and my body is there in that moment.  When I am in extended side angle, I am there not just waiting for the next pose and counting the breaths until I get to move.

It has helped me not to push too far and not to pull out too soon and to not be half-assing a pose.  I really enjoy yoga a lot more lately.  It is like I am preparing my body for life.  Occasionally there are poses like planks held for a long time or forearm plank that I still get to the point” of oh my God can we stand up again” still, but not as many.  I feel as if I am connecting to poses better.  I know intuitively where my body wants to go into  a pose, how deep, and with what modifications.

New Favorite Pose

Extended side angle is one I am really starting to connect with.  This was always a pose I liked to get into and out of quickly.  I hated holding it.  Lately though it is as if I feel my extended arm that is stretching over my ear is strong and reaching out from my body and creating a beam of energy up and out.  My gaze, drishti, is strong and fixed up without my neck hurting or being overly engaged.  My legs are strong and deep into the lunge and I am aware of where the knee is and if it is over the little toe side of the foot.  My supporting arm is almost always elbow to knee lately instead of extended.  I really feel as if the stronger connection and grounding is something I need more now.  Before I would try always to open my arms and place the supporting arm on the ground.

The Teacher

This was the case at Happy Hour Yoga at Altamonte Springs Yoga on Friday, taught by Rob Hefele. I love Rob’s classes because I really do feel as if I can do any pose and it does not matter.  A lot of teachers say that but I do not feel that.  Or I hear, “its okay if you modify this but you should really try it this way, you might be surprised how it feels” after I modify in a way not offered by the teacher.  Rob states this at the beginning of the class and all poses so I do not feel as if he is saying it because he saw that I am not doing what he wants to see. In fact, I get the impression he does not want to see anything in particular at all.  He is an easy-going guy with a great flow an awesome voice to listen to, and as most female yogis in the area will tell you, a lot of very attractive tattoos.

I am always able to feel as if I am exactly where I should be in my pose and not pushed to go anywhere else in this class.  It is also packed with people and includes guys too, not all classes have this addition, and so it has a lot of energy.  He, like a lot of great teachers, takes requests if you need something in particular.

Happy Hour!

After class there is wine and great conversation if you choose to partake.  The class, teacher, and studio in general have a great community of people.  Some nights there are not very many participants and some nights there are many.  I cannot drink after yoga so I normally just have water or head home.  Wine after yoga sounds like a stomach ache and headache to me :).

The Studio

The Altamonte Springs Yoga studio is gorgeous and has two floors.  Happy Hour Yoga is in the bottom floor in the larger room.  It has plastic insulating the room so that it can get very hot during hot classes (this is not a hot class) and they have dehumidifiers, fans, floor heaters, and crazy heat lamps on the ceiling.  There are two mirrored walls and a great sound system.  The floor is wood and gets slippery when there is a hot class or after a hot class.  Especially MyLinda, the owner’s, hot classes.

Hopefully my yoga practice will keep improving like it has.  If I am done I am done and I just sit in Savasana or spinal twist or rock back and forth.  I skip poses I know will not serve me in the moment and ask for other poses that I can get similar benefits from.  I hope I can make it to a few more Happy Hour classes before I leave.