Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yesterday definitely improved in the late afternoon/evening. The class last night was a special candle lit class in honour of the new year, and it included chanting and meditation. The chanting was neat - the teacher guiding the class had a really beautiful voice, and everyone in the room (which was a lot, because the class was packed!) joined in.

For the meditation part, they had us all pick a word out of a bowl and then meditate about how that word is a part of our lives, and what it will mean to the year to come. I drew "obedience", and I'm still trying to wrap my head around how that word can influence my life in a positive sense. I mean, I think that I'm pretty obedient, generally. I fulfill my commitments, I work hard, I don't back out of things at the last moment. In fact, a lot of the time I feel like my problem is that I stretch myself too thin, trying to make everyone happy, and then I burn out.

So I'm trying to think of it as more of a "be obedient to my own path and the journey I want to be on, instead of getting sidetracked all the time". I don't know if this makes sense, and maybe it's a bit selfish, but it was the best I could come up with. Any other suggestions for possible interpretations?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday is rarely a good day.

Today is a kind of blah day. I didn't sleep well, and what little sleep I did get was filled with anxiety dreams about work. I woke up feeling sad, like there was no point in getting out of bed, and it's a feeling that I haven't fully been able to shake. It's grey and snowy outside, and everyone in the house is pretty slow and quiet. I practiced for a little over an hour this morning, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

I hate days like this, because I feel like I'm wasting time by lying around, not doing anything. On the other hand, I have just about zero motivation to get up and do something. I feel this strange anxiety that I'm going to spend all my free time for the rest of my life sitting around, not accomplishing anything, and then when I look back I'll be disappointed with myself. This is silly, because most of the time I'm a very busy person - I fill up my free hours with Matt, friends, yoga, reading, etc. I just don't know how to quiet the voice that tells me that everything I do is a waste of time: yoga is a waste of time, writing is a waste of time, being around other people is just going to be difficult and will make me feel bad, and so on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today was lovely and relaxing. I woke up late, walked down town (in minus 14 degree weather!), ran some errands and then went to a yoga class. The studio I've been taking classes at, Studio 330, offers a one week introductory special for $20. So far this year, I've only been in Kingston for a day or two at a time, so I've always just paid for the drop in classes. At the beginning of this week, I mentioned to the teacher that I was here for a week, so she gave me the introductory pass, even though she knew I'd been there before. So now I'm spoiling myself with daily classes.

The community there is really nice, and I've liked all of the teachers that I've had so far. The space is gorgeous - a lot of exposed limestone bricks (they don't call Kingston "Limestone City" for nothing, I guess), and they'll often do classes by candlelight. They have change rooms, a bathroom and shower, and a neat little hang-out type room with comfy chairs, a vanity with a mirror, and cubbies to store your stuff. Lovely.
So yeah, I've been having some really wonderful classes. However, I have noticed one troubling thing about my practice this week: I've been getting really frustrated with myself. Mostly frustrated in the "I-know-I-can-do-this-pose-so-why-isn't-it-working" sense. Yesterday I kept falling out of half moon, and I know that it's something that I can do! But at the same time, I also know that my practice changes from day to day, and I'm in an unfamiliar space, etc., etc. I wish I could just do things without over-thinking them.

Other than that little bit of self-inflicted irritation, it was great practice. Then I got back to my mother's place and found that my husband had made an apple-tofu-egg noodle casserole. So good. As I said before, I am so spoiled.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Restorative classes and podcasts. A winning combination.

My mother and I went to that gentle/restorative class last night. It was lovely - gentle music, candlelight, lots of props. Afterwards, my mother told that she'd really enjoyed it. "They don't give massages at my yoga class at the gym," she said. I noticed that she took a schedule so - maybe she'll go back?

Before the class started the teacher/owner of the studio and I were chatting, and she said that she felt like she knew me from somewhere other than her studio. I mentioned that the first time I met her, she had said that she'd practiced a few times at Octopus Garden in Toronto. Since I sometimes take classes at that studio, it's possible that we might have run into each other there. Then we started talking about YuMee, and how she moved up north and doesn't teach in Toronto anymore, and how much everyone misses her.

It's stuff like this that makes me love the yoga world - how small it is, how everyone seems to know each other. I love that I can go to a city a couple of hundred miles away from Toronto, talk to a teacher there and realize that we know the same people.

Speaking of YuMee, have you guys ever tried her podcasts? Because they're really, really lovely. They're perfect for a home practice - I find her instructions really easy to understand, and she has different levels/different styles/different lengths to choose from. You can find them here. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Solstice! Christmas! So much fun!

Our holiday celebrations started on Monday, December 21st with the Festival of Lights in Kensington Market, which is their annual Winter Solstice celebration. It was amazing how many people were there, considering that it was freezing cold out and a Monday night. There was a parade of people with home-made lanterns and outlandish costumes, and a bunch of other fire and light related stuff. It was really lovely!

Crowds of people on Augusta Avenue:

Homemade lanterns:

Solstice costumes:

Then on Thursday, they gave us a free lunch at work and let us all go early! This was especially nice since they had been telling us that we would definitely have to stay until 5. Matt and I had thought that we would have to take the bus to Kingston (which you can't pre-purchase tickets for - it's basically first come, first serve), since all the trains after 5 pm had been sold out for weeks and weeks. But since I was finished early, we were able to make an earlier train that still had seats. Lovely! Traveling by train is so civilized.

We made it to Kingston in time for dinner, and then Matt, my sisters and I went to midnight mass. It's a family tradition for Matt and, since he's spent the last few Christmases at my mom's house as his family lives in another province, it's one that we've adopted. I'm not much of a religious person, but I have to admit that there's something really beautiful about midnight mass - the carols, the smell of incense, the candles, the rituals.

On the way home from midnight mass, we saw a coyote! It was quite red, so at first we thought it was a fox, but we later learned that a lot of the coyotes around here are part red wolf. It was so neat! One of the things that I love about my mom's place is that there's a lot of wildlife around - she lives near the edge of town, and we often see deer and foxes. In fact, the deer come right up to her back fence and she throws them carrots and apples in the wintertime.

Christmas day started with a tradition that my sisters and I have, which is to all pile on to one bed and open stockings together. After that we headed down to the living room and opened presents. I got a new wool coat that I wanted, a new bathrobe (I've had my old one for about six years, and I bought it when the Neptune Theatre held its annual costumes and props sale, so God knows how old it actually is), and some gift certificates to by office-y clothes for work. I also got some funny yoga-related stuff - a box of postcards with pictures of cats doing yoga poses on them, and a little statue of a frog in halasana.

I am happy to report that my mother's gift was a huge success - she loved it, and the clothes we got her fit perfectly. I ended up getting the gym bag from Roots - I was describing what I wanted to one of my former co-workers, and she said "oh yeah, that sounds like the tote we had in the summer - you know, I found one a drawer the other days, it's marked down to $19.98 now". It's perfect - it has straps on the front to attach your mat, and lots of pockets and stuff inside. I guess it was fate! For the mat, I got her the Halfmoon EcoYoga Mat, which is supposed to be "decomposable, recyclable and hypoallergenic".

I've convinced my mom to come with me to a gentle yoga class at a local studio, so I'm really hoping that she'll enjoy it. Keep your fingers crossed!

The rest of Christmas day was great. My sisters, Matt and I took a long walk, we came home and watched a movie (Star Trek - oh God, we're all so nerdy) and then had turkey time. I don't normally eat meat, but when I explained to my mom that one of my reasons for going veggie was that I couldn't know where meat came from, or how the animal was treated, she started buying a local, organic turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas. The first year she complained about the cost, but after trying it, she had to admit that it tasted better.

My sisters and I out for our Christmas walk (I'm the one on the right):

So that was my holiday - how was yours?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My mother recently started going to the gym and, among other things, she started attending a weekly yoga class. I was, of course, elated. Sadly, she tells me that she doesn't get much out of these classes. "I know that I need to go to the gym and be more active," she said, "but I hate it. I really, really hate it."

So imagine my surprise when she asked me to get her a yoga mat for Christmas. "I want to, you know, practice my moves at home," she said. I thought that maybe if I got her a mat and a gym bag to carry it around in and some other fun stuff for the gym ( a cozy sweatshirt, socks, headbands, etc.) it might make her hate it less.

Of course, now I can't find a bag that I like. I want one that can carry a yoga mat, but isn't just a plain, oblong bag. I want her to be able to put gym clothes and stuff in it, too. A few years ago I bought my friend and awesome Gaiam bag that had bungee cords to hold your mat, but when I went back to the store where I bought it, they didn't have anything similar.

So then I went to what my husband jokingly refers to as "The Great Satan", Lululemon. I've never actually bought anything there, but I thought that if anyone had the kind of bag I was looking for, they would.

Well, first of all, they didn't. Second of all, the whole experience was SO CREEPY. The store was full of bright-eyed chipper young girls who approached everyone with "WHO ARE YOU SHOPPING FOR TODAY?" followed by "YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GET HER OUR TRADITIONAL LULULEMON GROOVE PANT, THEY'RE SUPER COMFY". Eep.

I mean, I know I shouldn't be judgmental - I worked retail for a long time, for a fairly big company. I know they were just doing their job, and to give them credit they all seemed to really be into Lululemon and believe in what they were saying. It still kind of set my teeth on edge, though.

The upshot of this is: I still couldn't find a bag. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I keep looking at my blog and thinking that I should post something, but then I realize that I really don't have much to say. I go to yoga classes, I practice, I enjoy it. I know which styles I like, but I don't feel like I know enough about yoga to be able to debate the merits of various styles.

On the one hand, I wish that I was more involved in the yoga community. On the other hand, when I see the politics and the pettiness that goes on, I'm kind of glad that I exist in my own little yoga bubble. I mean, one of the main things I love about yoga is that it's not competitive, but I hear about teachers who are competitive with each other all the time.

Lately I feel like I don't know what I want, or how I want my life to be. People keep asking me what I want for Christmas, but the truth is that I don't really want anything. Honestly, I feel like we already have too much stuff, and that we should be giving some of that away.

This has been a tough week. Matt's last contract ended in mid-November, and he has been looking for something new since then. I've been feeling sort of sick all week (sore throat, fever, but nothing else). I finally gave in and took the day off today. If you happen to think of us, send us some love, okay?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Girly stuff

This doesn't have much to do with yoga, but it does have to do with thinking more about how I take care of myself and the way I treat my body, which is why I'm writing about it here.

I've been on the pill off and on for the past 6 or 7 years. It seemed like an obvious choice to be on it at first - it was a good method of back-up birth control, and then with Matt, once we realized that we both wanted a long-term commitment, it made sense to stay on it.

Now, the more I think about the fact that I'm putting synthetic hormones in my body, the more I'm questioning how good/safe this is.

On the other hand, it seems like condoms probably aren't terribly environmentally friendly.

How do you guys feel about the pill? Have you been on it? What made you decide to stay on it or stop using it? Do you have any alternatives to suggest?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mid-November complaints

Saturday I had a wonderful practice. It was a really tough class, but I flew through it. My body was so light that I felt like I could have gone on for hours. I felt all lovely and floaty for the rest of the afternoon.

Yesterday, though, was a different story. I'm always amazed at how much my practice can change from day to day. Yesterday everything felt like a challenge - downward dog was uncomfortable, balancing postures were difficult, inversions gave me a headache. I left the class feeling like I hadn't gotten anything out of it - not because of the teacher, but because of my own reluctant body.

Today I just feel sad and lazy, which seems like a dangerous combination. It's partly the weather, and partly stress that's happening in my personal life, and partly being frustrated with myself for the way I feel. When I hear myself talking, I sound like a non-stop complaining machine.

My teacher on Saturday played this song during class:

It almost made me cry for some reason.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ugh. Sleep.

I am terrible at sleeping. It doesn't matter how tired I am, how long I've been awake, what bed I'm in, I'm just horrible at it.

I can usually fall asleep fine, and I generally sleep somewhat soundly for the first few hours, but I wake up every night at around 3 or 4 and from then on I toss and turn. If I do manage to fall back to sleep, the rest of the night I sleep very lightly and have anxiety nightmares.

It's the WORST. It's got to the point where I hate night, I hate beds, I hate having anything touch me while I try to sleep. Pretty much, I just hate everything. I haven't slept a whole night through for the last five years or so.
I feel like I've tried everything. I've tried eating dinner earlier in the evening, tried warm milk, tried white noise, tried a sleep mask, tried melatonin, tried herbal sleeping pills, tried regular sleeping pills. Right now my doctor has me on Imovane, which is a sleeping pill that is processed out of your system pretty quickly, so you're not drowsy in the morning. Which is great and all, because it helps me sleep more deeply those first few hours, but unfortunately doesn't stop the 3 am wake-ups.

I know sleeping pills are bad. And I know that my insomnia is probably at least partly due to stress. And I also know that I have a really lovely life compared to many people and, as someone who has quite a regular yoga practice, I should be better able to manage my stress.

Sadly, knowing all of these things does not make me sleep better.

If you have any fail-safe sleep-aids, please, please share them. Right now, I feel like I'm at my wits' end.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I had a really great string of classes this week.

On Wednesday night, the teacher taught us a really neat sequence that involves transitioning from crow to a tripod headstand then back to crow and into plank. It was really challenging, and I'm still working on it, but I loved it.

Thursday night two of my friends came with me to class, and I got to introduce them to one of my all-time favourite teachers. They seemed to like the class and said that they would try to come every week. I'm always so interested when non-yoga people enter the yoga world, and seeing what a difference starting a practice makes in their life.

Yesterday I had a teacher that I've seen quite frequently in the last few months (she subs regularly at our studio, and would always come into the store afterwards to chat with me), but that I haven't had as a teacher in over a year. She made a comment during class that my practice was looking really strong, which left me feeling all glowy and happy.

Then on the way home, I started to think about what she'd said. Why did this comment make me so happy? What does it matter how good (or bad) my practice is looking. Do I practice in order to achieve something? What am I trying to achieve?

It's hard to figure out, because I tend to be fairly goal-oriented, and the only tangible "goal" that I can see coming out of my practice would be doing my teacher training. Fair enough, that is something that I'm interested in. But it's not the reason that I practice.

Is my goal to stay fit? That's another possibility. I'm not very active, I don't go to the gym, and now I sit at a desk all day. I certainly do like the feeling of strength and endurance that yoga has given me.

Does anybody else ever question their reasons for practicing? Or are you able to let go of all that and just DO?

Monday, October 26, 2009

First of all, can I just say that I'm totally spoiled? Because I so am.

The store that I used to manage has a yoga studio above it. Because the studio is owned by the same company as the store, I helped out quite a bit there and in exchange took a ton of free yoga classes. When I gave in my resignation, I shyly mentioned that I would love to continue on as a paying student at the studio. The owner smiled and said that she was sure that we could work something out.

The upshot of this is that I'm still going to be helping out at the studio in a kind of energy-exchange sort of thing for free classes. This is awesome for several reasons, because not only do I get to take classes, I get to work behind the desk (which I love) and it gives me an excuse to visit my old staff.

In other news, my shoulder is a lot better. I've been using this Jivamukti China Gel that one of my teachers gave me, and it really does help. I've also been paying more attention to my alignment, so now my shoulder only twinges every once in a while.

In other, other news the new job is good. It's great to leave every day at five and not think about work when I get home. There are a lot of positive things about my new work environment. However, I have to admit that it's weird for me to suddenly be working at this big, faceless corporation. If my idealistic 18 year old self could see me now, she would be disgusted.

I used to think that I would never be the type of person to do a job that I wasn't passionately in love with. I thought that no amount of money could tempt me away from following my dreams, and so on, and so forth. Insert your typically angsty teenage rant here. And of course, it doesn't help that I have friends who have really great jobs with not-for-profit organizations or working with people with disabilities who pretty much spend all day helping people.

I have good, solid employment and I don't want to complain about it, so all I'll say is this: it sucks growing up and realizing that sometimes you have to do less-than-great stuff to pay the bills.

Also, Project Halifax is a lot harder when you work for a financing company than it is when you work at a little neighbourhood store frequented by the very wealthy who really have very little excuse for being cranky. Oh well. I'm not giving up.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Lately the transition from chaturanga dandasana to upward dog has been absolutely killing my left shoulder. I think I'm doing the poses properly, and no teachers have corrected me, so I don't know what's going wrong. One of my teachers suggested spreading my hands farther apart on the mat, but that doesn't seem to help much.

Does this happen to anyone else? What do you do to stop it from happening? Because my shoulder is now starting to hurt even when I'm not doing yoga...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Work, etc.

Work is a bit of a challenge right now. I have four days left until I leave, and I'm having a hard time balancing the fact that I want to keep working hard up until my last day and don't want to slack off just because I've quit, and the fact that I need to reign myself in and let others do the work, because I won't be there next week and they need to be able to run things without me.

It's especially hard because as a manager, I definitely have room for improvement in my training skills. Don't get me wrong, I'm not awful or anything, but I do tend to be of the "let me do it, it will get done faster" mindset, which is less than great when you're actually supposed to be teaching people how to do things.

It's also super weird for me that I won't be a manager at my new job. Hopefully I'm not too accustomed to being large and in charge!

Other than my work issues, today was pretty good. I got up early and went to class, and it was fantastic. The girl at the bakery where I get my coffee gave me a free croissant. One of my regular customers brought her adorable dog into the store for a little play-date today. I went out to dinner at a vegetarian buffet restaurant with a friend and ate way too much deliciousness.

Things are good, they really are. I just wish that I could stop feeling like I'm about to burst into tears.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Self-motivation is currently set at "low"

How do I force myself to get up and out of bed so that I can go to a morning ashtanga class before I start work at 11?

Because right now the mornings are dark and cold and totally uninviting and it's REALLY hard to convince myself that not sleeping in is a great idea.

Monday, October 12, 2009


We were driving home along the 401 today, and I was sitting there, watching the bright fall colours fly by. It should have been pretty and nice and it was, but oh, I don't know, for some reason it made me sad, too.

Sometimes I feel like I don't live in the world, I live with it. I tolerate it, and really only enjoy it as long as I can have the things that I want from it. I'm selfish, and all I do is take, take, take and then complain that I don't have enough. I don't notice the seasons changing, except when it affects how I get dressed in the morning. If you asked me what phase the moon was in, I would probably laugh at you.

What I'm trying to say is, I feel apart, separate, and I don't want to. But I don't know how to change, either.

I suppose living in the city is part of it, especially this city. The life people lead here encourages me to be self-absorbed, to care about selfish things. You forget that you live in this huge, beautiful world because everything is Toronto and why would you ever want to leave Toronto, because Toronto has everything you will ever need.

I feel like I used to treasure things, things that I owned, moments that I lived through, the people around me. Now I feel like I tear through life without stopping for a second look. I used to wake up and feel like every day could be an adventure. Now I just trudge through my weeks, wanting them to be over and done with, as if I'm counting down to something that's never coming.

On the way home, we stopped at Tim Horton's for a coffee. The man behind us was explaining to the woman he was with that he'd disappeared for a second because he'd run off to give a stranger back the $20 bill that she'd dropped.

"Oh," said his friend/partner/wife/whatever.

"Well," she said, after thinking for a minute. "She should at least have bought you a coffee."

That pretty much sums up how I feel right now. We're all waiting for that metaphorical coffee as a reward for all the good deeds we've ever done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mmmm lentils

I started my home practice again tonight. I did Surya Namaskar A & B followed by some back bends and other fun stuff, then finished up with a handstand. It sounds a bit boring when I write it down here, but seriously, it was SO GOOD. Then Matt (a.k.a. el husband) and I had some lentil soup and challah, and that was also SO GOOD. Now I'm chilling out on my reading couch with the kitties while Matt does homework in the other room.

I read a really interesting article in the NY Times this weekend about possible biological reasons for anxiety. You can find it online here. You might need to have an account with the NY Times to access it, but it's free to sign up. The article talks about how very anxious people seem to have an overreactive amygdala, and warning signs can be present as early as infancy. What interested me is that I don't feel like I was a particularly anxious child (although I am a fairly anxious adult!) but my mother always said that I hated new or strange situations, or any kind of disruption to my schedule, which is totally one of the signs. Anyway, it was pretty timely since I'm certain that the new job will send me into anxiety overdrive. Some people are great in new situations; I am terrible.

Here's a video that makes me smile and pretty much cures any anxiety:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I guess my saying that I was back was perhaps a touch preemptive. Things have been so crazy since we came home. First, it was settling back in to our apartment, which was a giant mess because we had people staying here before the wedding and we didn't have the chance to do anything before we left. Then, two days after we came home, our power went out, and stayed out for three days. Apparently a transformer in our basement broke down or something? This is what they mean when they tell you an old building has "character".

The next big thing that happened was that I was offered another job. It wasn't something that I went looking for, but the hours and the pay were good, so I accepted it. I've been with the same company for four years now, and it was SO HARD to give my notice on Monday. I won't go into detail, but I can tell you that tears have been shed on more than one occasion over the past few days.

So, where does that leave me? In a bit of a crazy head space, that's where. I don't deal very well with change, so I am already feeling very anxious about this. Also, I've totally let my home practice slip since the wedding. It was easy to get up early and practice when it was warm and bright in the mornings, but now I want to stay in bed as long as possible. I know, I know, I just need to suck it up and not be such a baby!

So now tell me something neat or interesting or even mundane that's happened in your lives since I last posted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm back!

...and am now legally wed.

I honestly couldn't have asked for a better, more beautiful day. The weather was gorgeous, everything went smoothly, and most importantly, we were surrounded by people we loved. I couldn't feel more blessed.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Emotions are not the enemy

Today was exactly what I needed. I slept in, lounged around the house until the afternoon, ran a few errands and then did a couple of yoga classes. Yes, a couple. I ended up taking a class right after my private session. Two and a half hours of yoga today! Crazy.

I've often had teachers say that a certain pose or twist can release certain emotions, and I have to admit that I've often rolled my eyes at that. Today, though, after doing a particularly difficult shoulder-opener in my private class, I started bawling for absolutely no reason. I mean, yes, I've been generally stressed about the wedding, family, work, etc., but I was feeling really good today! Fortunately, I was alone with one of my all-time favourite teachers, so it wasn't as embarrassing as it could have been. She encouraged me to let go and just have a good cry, and I have to admit that I felt waaaay better afterwards. 

My practice was so much smoother and cleaner after I had my little meltdown. The second class was actually a breeze compared with the private one! Later, a friend of mine called, and she said that I sounded happier than I have in weeks. So maybe a few tears are a good thing?

Have any of you ever experience an emotional release while practicing? When and what happened? I am actually super fascinated by this now!

p.s. The picture today is from Riverdale Farm here in Toronto - because who can resist a tunnel with a light at the end of it?

I am bad at blogging

I know that it's been a while since I posted, mostly because I'm living in a haze of work-yoga-wedding-prep-thank-you-card insanity. I have so much that I want to write about, so I think I'll just put it in point form:

- My sisters were here this weekend! I adore them.
- Two of my best friends and my sisters threw me a surprise wedding shower that involved delicious food, Apples to Apples, and belly dancing.
- Everyone is being so awesome about the wedding, and I am feeling really loved. 
- The staff that I have right now is probably one of the best that I've ever worked with. 
- They gave me a certificate for a pedicure/manicure for my wedding!
- It will be the first manicure and pedicure I've ever had!
- I am getting married in 9 days
- I am starting to feel really overwhelmed, even though I swore that I would make this as easy as possible.
- Some people that I really care about aren't able to make it (for super legitimate reasons!) and that's hard.
- Family politics are really tough.
- My wedding is going to be pretty small and intimate and I'm really excited! It will be full of people we love.
- I haven't had as much time for yoga lately, and my practice has definitely suffered.
- I tried my first hot class at a Moksha studio and I really liked it!
- I am doing a private class today with one my favourite teachers of all time. 
- I'm trying to justify the expense as a de-stress-wedding-gift-to-myself sort of thing.
- I am super tired and emotional these days.

That's all for now, my lovelies. Think good thoughts and enjoy the gorgeous weather!

Monday, August 24, 2009

How I get caught up in things and give myself headaches.

When Matt and I got engaged, I was very nonchalant about the whole wedding thing. In fact, I may have even bragged that planning a wedding wouldn't be too tough, since I'm pretty chill about it.

Dudes, it is exhausting. 

Every weekend I have off, we pack up a rental car and drive to Kingston. Since this is where my mother lives now (she moved there after I left for school), this is where the wedding will be. 

Don't get me wrong - I'm super excited! I love my dress, the church is adorable, the reception hall is old and gorgeous and right on the water. I'm just really, really exhausted right now. Also, I feel like I'm going to forget something big, like we'll get to the reception and there will be no cake.

Except I did order the cake from a really tiny, sweet Kingston bakery, and it's going to be chocolate.

We did manage to take some time out from planning to go out to the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area this weekend. It was really nice just to walk around and breathe fresh air and not worry about anything for a few hours. We saw a turtle, a couple of snakes, and a TON of frogs. Seriously, every step resulted in at least one or two frogs jumping out of our path. The picture above is of a tiny one that jumped into my hands.

I know this is supposed to be a yoga blog, but there's not much yoga going on this week. I'm still keeping up my home practice (although my handstand this morning was probably one of the worst I've ever done), but unfortunately I don't have much time for classes.

Friday I'm going to something called Fake Prom. It will be vintage dresses + nice people + booze. An excellent combination!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Awesome inversions and stormy savasanas

Who doesn't love a good, old-fashioned alliterative title?

Today was definitely better,  but by the time I got to my yoga class, I was exhausted. It always amazes me how my practice can change from day to day - yesterday I was feeling huge and strong and ready to take on the world, today I was feeling totally shaky in poses that don't generally pose a challenge for me.

My teacher today was the person I mentioned in my last post, Charlene Yeh. I've never taken a class with her before, and now that I have I can understand what all the fuss was about. She was really, really great. She led us in a gorgeous chant at the beginning of the class, and she's one of those teachers who gives you massages with nice-smelling lotion at the end of the class. 

And yes, the stuff that came in between the chanting and the savasana was good too. We did some neat inversions, including this reverse handstand sort of thing where you start out with your hands on the floor and your feet on the wall with your body making a 90 degree angle in the air, and then you slowly walk your hands back towards the wall and climb your feet up so that eventually you're in handstand while facing the wall. It's neat to have the usual way you do things turned on its head. Plus, I love inversions. These days I am all about inversions.

She also talked a bit during class about this Zen book she is reading, and what it has to say about the beginner's mindset. The book says that beginners have many options open for them, whereas people with a more "I'm advanced" mindset have a more narrow world view. Obviously, it's important to keep that beginner's mindset and try to stay open to learning as long as you keep living. This is something that I need to remember.

There had been a storm brewing all day, and the clouds finally burst just as we were beginning savasana. The storm came all at once - rain pelting the windows, thunder and lightning so close by that they were nearly overlapping. It was wonderful lying there, breathing deeply, listening to the storm rage outside. 

Unfortunately, when I got home I learned that the storm had turned deadly in some places. To the north, east and west of the city there have been tornadoes, with people losing windows and the roofs off their houses. At least one person has died. For a while, we were afraid that there would be a tornado in Toronto - the sky was a sickly shade of green for about half an hour, and the cats were looking extremely nervous. It's strange how something as fiercely beautiful as a summer storm can be dangerous as well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today was a less-than-stellar day. It started out really well with an early morning ashtanga class, but it was pretty much downhill from there.

Work wasn't great, for reasons that I won't get into, and I really was not a happy camper. One good thing that I can take away from this day is that I managed to maintain my composure even when things were really tough. 

I'm usually the type of person who cries if you look at me the wrong way. I've definitely had my days where I ended up in the bathroom taking a tearful break. It's nice to know that I'm (hopefully) changing for the better and getting a firmer grip on my emotions. Sometimes it seems like I'm a non-stop feelings machine.

On a completely different note, for anyone who might be reading this AND living in Toronto AND wanting to take a fabulous class tomorrow (Thursday, August 20th), an amazing teacher by the name of Charlene Yeh will be doing a class at the Roots Yoga Studio (1073 Yonge Street). She comes highly recommended by a teacher that I really trust, and friends of mine who have taken her class say that it's amazing. She's a music student in Paris during the school year and incorporates a lot of music and singing in her classes, and the last one she taught at the Roots studio also involved chakra work. I'm excited!

Today's picture is one I took of a sunrise in the Annapolis Valley. It was pretty. It makes me happy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Whole World vs. First World

I am sitting out on my fire escape as I type this, enjoying a gorgeous summer night. I tried to take a picture of my view for you, but it was too dark. I'll do my best to describe it for you:

I'm on the third floor, on a wrought iron fire escape just outside my dining room window - my cat is sitting on the sill, giving me a very bewildered look. Our building has a courtyard out back shaded by several gorgeous old trees, and a few of my neighbours have set up patio furniture down there. A family from the next floor down is sitting out there right now - I can see the flicker of a lighter and hear the murmur of conversation. 

The rest of my view is taken up by the building behind mine, but I don't mind. Both it and my building date back to the 20s, and they are wonderful specimens of the architecture of this era. My boyfriend just poked his head out the kitchen door and asked if I wanted some ice cream.

I am very lucky.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. How lucky I am, I mean.

First of all, let me make a confession: I complain a lot. I complain about my job, about the heat, about my family, about having to wait in a line at the grocery store, about the rude man at the bank. I make a big production of it, sighing and rolling my eyes, hoping everyone will know just how difficult my life is.

It's not really that difficult. Not when I put it into perspective.

Lately I've been trying to classify my problems as "whole world problems" and "first world problems". Had to wait in line at the grocery store? First world problem. At least I have a grocery store to shop in, and I have money to buy food with.

My mother went out and bought favours for my wedding, even though I told her that I wanted cards from the cancer society saying that a donation had been made in my guests' names? First world problem. I am marrying the person I love, and my mother cares enough about me to help pay for the wedding. So what if I don't agree with everything she wants to spend her money on? She's doing it because she'd excited that her daughter is getting married.

I challenge you to think before you open your mouth to complain about something. Is this really an issue that will make or break your life? Children are starving to death, mothers are dying in childbirth from inadequate medical care, wars are raging around the world. Is it really worth putting up a fuss because the sandwich you ordered isn't made exactly to your specifications?

To end on a happier note, here's one of my favourite videos of all time, by Halifax artist Jenn Grant:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kula Shaker Part Deux

I did end up going back, of course. I really enjoyed this class as well. I'm not sure who the teacher was - on the website it says it was supposed to be Christi-an, but after looking at her picture I realized that it must have been a sub. Unfortunately, I didn't catch her name. 

Now for the exciting part - for the second time today, I got to do crow! And I held for even longer this time! I know!!!

Then I came home and demonstrated for my boyfriend, and made him take the picture above. I know it's not perfect, and in a real crow your legs aren't touching your arms, but still - it's a start. 

Project Halifax continues. I'm seriously sticking with it and being friendly with as many strangers as possible. Last night I ended up having a nice conversation with my cashier at Sobey's. It started with me asking her how she was doing, and ended with her telling me about the horrible summer cold she's been fighting and the antibiotics she ended up having to take. 

I know it sounds silly, and it's just one little interaction, but it still makes me happy. I feel like it's one extra little piece of humanity added to life in the big city. 

Today I saw a woman at the corner of Bay and Cumberland, right in the middle Yorkville, feeding pigeons. She had a plastic bag full of birdseed and she was scooping it out and throwing it all over an island in the middle of the street. Pigeons came from everywhere, but she didn't even look up. She just kept serenely scattering seeds. It was beautiful.

Kula Shaker

I have the day off from work and I wanted to try something new, so I decided to check out the Kula yoga studio in the Annex. 

First of all, I have to say that they have a gorgeous space. The whole place is very bright and open and clean, and the studio itself is beautiful. You can tell that it used to be a living space, because there's an old bricked up fireplace in the studio, which they've turned into a sort of altar with a statue of Vishnu in it. 

They're a green studio, using cork flooring in the studio and radiant heat panels for hot classes, among other things. One neat idea that they have is they offer mason jars as water bottles for students who have forgotten theirs at home. You can read more about their eco-friendly ideas here.

The class I took was "Anusara-Inspired" and taught by a lovely woman named Marinella. She had a very gentle, sweet style of teaching that I really liked. I didn't know much about Anusara yoga, but of course the poses were familiar, and I soon got into the rhythm of it. I find that attending a new style of yoga is like going to a church of a different denomination - even if the prayers or service are different, it's all pretty familiar.

Even though it wasn't a hot class, it wasn't long before I was a sweaty mess. From where my mat was, I could see the heating controls on the wall, and apparently it was 32 degrees in there. Not that I minded! I'm the type of person that doesn't sweat easily, so if something makes me break into a sweat, I actually enjoy it. Weird, I know. 

Another weird thing is that I noticed my left leg sweating way more than my right. I wonder if it has something to do with the plate? I know that, being metal, it heats up or cools down far faster than my body does.

Maybe it was due to the heat, but it was a fairly gentle class. We did get to do some fun stuff, though, including crow, which I was able to hold a LOT longer than I usually can. Maybe I'm actually getting some strength in my arms? One can only hope.

All in all, it was pretty great. I took advantage of the first week special, which is unlimited classes for eight days. I might go back for their five o'clock class, if I'm not too lazy. I'll have to bring my mat with me this time, since they do charge a rental fee. Which means that I should get a proper bag or strap for my mat. Which means that I should probably get a move on.

Have a gorgeous day!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's all about balance

My right side and left side are so completely different that some days it's hard to believe they belong to the same body. I know that most people differ from one side to another, and everyone has one leg a little longer than the other, and so on, and so forth. But please, bear with me and my complaining - this is a fairly new feeling for me.

A little less than a year ago, my bicycle had an encounter with a set of streetcar tracks (damn you, corner of Church and Adelaide, I will never be able to look at you without flinching). I was changing lanes, looking back over my shoulder to make sure that there were no cars behind me, and preparing to make a left-hand turn, when I felt the sickening slide of the wheel shifting into the track. I was already leaning into the turn, so I was totally off-balance, and I knew I was going to fall. I put my left foot down to try to stop it, and then the next thing I remember is lying in the middle of the street on my back, staring into oncoming traffic. It was kind of a perfect storm of cycling accident-ness. 

Fortunately, the cars were able to drive around me, and some very lovely people helped me out of the street. Unfortunately, it was about this time that I realized that I couldn't put any weight on my left leg. The people who'd helped me called an ambulance for me and waited with me until it came. One of them even locked up my bike for me and gave me his business card so that I could call him if I wasn't able to find it. If nothing else, at least I dispelled the myth that if you get hit by a car or whatever, Toronto people will just keep walking. It turns out that not only will they stop, but they'll be incredibly helpful too!

At the hospital I learned that I'd fractured my left tibial plateau (top of the tibia, part of the knee joint). It was broken (well, dented, really) in such a way that I required a bone graft AND a metal plate. Whee knee surgery! After that came two months on crutches, and two more months with a cane. 

These days I'm cane-free and getting close to pain-free, although it does still bother me after a tough practice or when it's especially damp outside. The thing that I notice the most, though, is the weakness on my left side. It's hard for me to hold any kind of balancing pose, or to keep the knee bent or put much pressure on it for any length of time. 

My strength isn't the only thing that's gone way off-balance since breaking my leg - I'm also all out of whack flexibility-wise. Because I now tend to favour my right side and hold more tension there, my left side is waaaay more flexible. 

So now I have my good side for strength, and my good side for flexibility. At least they're different sides. Right? I mean, right?

I was going to post a picture of my amazing scar (no, seriously, it is pretty cool), but then I thought it might disgust some of my (probably non-existent) readers. You can thank me later, imaginary people!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some days are better than others...

It was tough to drag myself to class today. There were a few factors at play - I did a ten hour day at work, I was exhausted because I didn't sleep well last night, it was 30 degrees and beautifully sunny outside. None of these things made me want to shut myself up in a sticky, sweaty studio for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Of course, in the end I was glad that I'd gone. It was a karma class, so I wasn't sure what the pace would be like, but it ended up being fairly gentle. This was exactly what I needed. Last week's karma class was pretty tough, but this week the teacher went easy on us due to the heat (and a few beginners in the class).

My boyfriend (technically fiancé, but I hate that word) and I went out for a late dinner after class, and everything was going well until our walk home. We were talking about our upcoming honeymoon, and the destination that we picked will involve an airplane ride. I hate airplanes. I know it's silly but, seriously, I hate them so much. They make me cry. I hate that talking about something like my honeymoon, which should be a lovely subject, brings me to tears. I think that conversation probably spoiled any good work done by the yoga class.

Then I came home and watched this:

Seriously, how can you not watch that and smile?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eka Pada Sirsana

I did an Asana Intensive class at Octopus Garden on Monday. The pose we worked towards was Eka Pada Sirsana - leg behind the head pose. We spent most of the two hour class doing hip openers and back bends before attempting the (nearly) impossible. I actually managed to do it on my left (more flexible) side!

I love the rush of excitement and pride and humility that I feel when I finally manage to conquer a difficult pose. Before I started practicing yoga, I wouldn't have expected it to make me feel as humble as I do. I am so grateful to my body for working as hard as it does, for holding out a few more seconds even when I've reached my edge. I am constantly in awe of the changes that I see in it, the way it's  slowly but surely becoming faster, harder, stronger.

That being said, after the Asana Intensive (and after biking home in the stifling heat), I stumbled through my door, fell onto the couch and didn't move for a good fifteen minutes. 

All in all it was an amazing class, and I'm so glad that I went. My hips will definitely never be the same.

In other news, Project Halifax is going well. I smiled at everyone on the street as I walked to and from work and went out of my way to make friendly conversation. In a weird way, I feel like I can change things, one friendly interaction at a time.

In keeping with the Halifax theme, today's picture is one that I took while in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia back in May. It's of a fiddlehead fern, which are delicious in stir-fries and salads. I love the feeling I get from the picture, of something fantastic about to unfurl.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A little bit of the east coast in Ontario...

Lately I've been really homesick for Halifax. I miss how friendly the people are, I miss the music, I miss the trees, I miss the ocean, I miss the laid-back pace of life. So what I've been trying to do is bring a little bit of Halifax here to Toronto.

Today I:

- Smiled at everyone I saw on the street
- Had a conversation with a woman and her adorable young daughter on the subway
- Complimented a stranger on her gorgeous jade necklace
- Made my bus driver laugh
- Brought flowers with me to my ashtanga class to brighten up the studio
- Stopped to thank a fireman who was sitting outside of the local fire station (we recently had quite a bad fire in our building - one of my neighbour's apartments was completely gutted - and I've been meaning to thank the firemen for saving the rest of the building)

I suppose that it's not very good karma to list every good thing that you've done, but I wanted to make this list so that later, when I'm feeling like I don't do anything good or make any kind of contribution to the world, I read it and remember the random little acts of kindness that I've done. In fact, I'm going to try to list one Halifax-esque thing that I do every day.

The picture for this post is one that I took of the gorgeous St. Mary's Basilica last time I was in Halifax. Enjoy!

Obligatory Introductory Post

I've recently started a home practice, and decided that in addition to that I would join the cool kids and start a yoga blog. Ideally, this blog will be a way to reach out to other yoga people and share thoughts, ideas and experiences. 

Of course, I'll need a few people to actually read what I'm writing before any sharing begins. Hopefully this blog will be like the baseball park in Field of Dreams - if I write it, they will come. Or something like that.

For now, I leave you with a picture of one of my cats hanging out with my various yoga props. Ain't she sweet?