December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010

Today has been a very interesting end to my year.  My boss told me not to bother with my two weeks notice and the company would pay me until next Tuesday. Woohoo! And as I stretched and practiced Pigeon pose, the receptionist at my studio came in and told us that the instructor who was supposed to teach had not shown up.  So after a moment of disappointment, about 10 of us decided to just go through the practiced ourselves.

It was a beautiful silent class.  We ended about 20 minutes early.  That's not bad considering we didn't have someone telling us to hold Triangle pose and Standing Bow for what, sometimes, feels like forever.  I deviated from the practice a little and did some advanced poses and extra sets of Standing Bow and Standing Head to Knee, but we all finished at the same time with big smiles on our faces.  It was a major sense of accomplishment.  I definitely didn't sweat as much as I normally do - I felt as though I was practicing in my living room - but the same benefits were there.

I just realized today that there's only a week until competition!  Yikes!

Happy New Year!!

December 24, 2010

A Little Thought

I had a little moment yesterday where this yoga competition came into full light for me.

I was thinking back to the training session we'd had on Wednesday.  Seven of us had gathered outside of our regular yoga practice times to go over the routine with Ida - a few of us had skipped out of work to be there, some had been at the studio all day and we were all there because we truly wanted to be. We are all so very different - we come from different backgrounds, we are different ages, some are teachers, some are students, some have been practicing a long time, one girl has only been practicing two months, we have different strengths, different depths of flexibility and different body types - and every single one of us was there supporting everyone else. 

There was no feeling of competition between individuals in the room - we were all supporting, encouraging and sharing tips with each other.  There was no animosity, no jealousy - only pure joy for what our fellow competitors could accomplish.

Being the center of attention is difficult for me at the best of times.  My face goes red, I get extremely nervous, I worry what other people are thinking and I stumble on what I want to say.  But on Wednesday, in that hot room, I was in one of my most comfortable, safest places that I have in my life and I found peace while I completed my routine in front of everyone - all eyes on me, center of attention, calm, collected and focused.  I have found my peace and my space.

Happy Holidays, everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful rest with your loved ones. xoxo

December 13, 2010

Pure F#*$king Rage

I worked an extra long day today in order to get some overtime in so I could take the advanced class again tomorrow.  I started work early, skipped my regular 6am class, worked 10 hours and got to the studio in time for the 5:45 class.  I was so looking forward to it - my body being looser - getting some good back bends in - having a nice sweat after a long day.

From the moment the bright lights came on I felt this anger simmering inside me.  I got through Pranayama breathing fine but I wasn't happy.  I thought it would pass - it normally takes the breathing for me to get immersed into my yoga.  But as soon as we started Half Moon pose I was at a full blown boil.  I was so pissed off for being in the room, for having to listen to the instructions from yet another person today, for having all of these stupid people so close to me.  I felt like a child.  I wanted to stomp my feet and scream at the top of my lungs.  I wanted to throw my water bottle and smash something.

So, you know what I did?

I left.  Yep, I left the room in tears.  Angry tears.  I got right into the shower.  And now I'm sitting at home, hair still wet, wondering what the hell happened to me in there.

December 9, 2010

Practicing Blind

Well, not blind but nearly blind.  Picture driving down a street at dawn with an extremely fogged up window and all you can see are shapes and some colours.  That is how I see when I am not wearing contact lenses or glasses.

I have an appointment in a week to get tested to have Lasik eye surgery and am not allowed to wear my contact lenses for an entire week.  This morning was the first time that I have ever practiced with my glasses on.  I left them on for Pranayama Deep Breathing and then they came off.  It was just way too annoying to have them sit on my face.  This probably couldn't come at a better time because, in preparation for the competition, I am trying to practice without the mirror.

It was weird though.  I knew what my surroundings looked like so I felt safe.  I trusted the teacher, who also has poor eye sight, so I felt sympathy.  But, wow, to not see the familiar faces around me or see my own body was very different.  I found that I was less critical of my body.  I wasn't catching myself criticizing my thighs or my stomach and then having to push those thoughts out of my head.  I didn't adjust my yoga clothes as much because I couldn't see when a seam or a strap was out of place.  My balance was OK - mainly because I have been trying to not look in the mirror as much lately.  I would touch my body more - my hips or my feet - to make sure they were in the right line.  As exhausted as I was this morning, I do think I was able to find more focus.  In Savasana there was no where to look because I couldn't see anything and there were very few reasons to fidget because I couldn't see myself.

As much I love being able to see clearly, this was a good experience for me.  The next week will definitely continue to be challenging and I'll soak in all that I can learn, but I can't wait to put my contact lenses in again!

December 8, 2010

Wall Walking

I stayed after class this morning to practice a few extra poses with a teacher.  It was awesome.  I am loving this extra yoga I'm doing.

I tried wall walking for the first time ever.  Man, was it freaky.  Basically you stand 3 feet away from the wall with your back to it.  You put your hands over your head and bend backward until your hands touch the wall.  You then walk your hands down the wall while backward bending.  As you come down to the floor you come up on to your toes, lift your chest and press your chin and chest against the wall while locking your arms.  You then just walk back up the wall to come out.

Going down was OK.  I got down to the floor in the first couple of tries.  Coming up was another matter all together.  Figuring out how to push your hips forward, stay on your toes and then walk your hands back up is hard!  It just was not happening.  I swore loudly a couple of times but my teacher was wonderful and got me out of the pose.

I'm excited to try again!

December 7, 2010

Advanced Class

I took my first Advanced Bikram yoga class today.  I skipped out of work for a few hours - feigning an appointment - which it was and went back to the studio at 11 this morning.

All I can say is that it was amazing.  The first thing Ida Ripley said to me was that I was there because I was advanced enough in my yoga practice to know my own limitations.  Holy, compliment!  I did poses I never thought I could do.  I learned that my right ankle, that has been sprained many times, needs time to loosen up before I can sit in Lotus pose.  I realized that my back is rather flexible.  I found two possible poses I will do in the competition.  And I bailed hard when I was trying to do headstand!  I had to laugh - I fell hard flat on my back with a loud and wet smack!

I went back to work a few hours later and felt high as a kite.  I still feel amazing.  Challenging myself with these new poses has given me a little push - a push I've been needing for while.

The Dancing J gives a great break down on the Advanced Series here.

December 4, 2010

To Know

"Know yourself.  Know what is good.  Know when to stop."
- Lao Tzu

I feel as though it is so important to know when to stop - when to take a step back and evaluate what's going on.  This pertains, not only, to things that do you harm - too much food, booze, drugs - but also to those things that are good for you.  I have been, in the past, obsessed with food and booze as well as exercise and yoga.  I remember not only overeating but also exercising too much.  An obsession with food is, in my opinion, just as bad as an obsession with over exercising.  I used to feel horrendous guilt if I missed a day of yoga or hate myself if I ate ice cream.  It's important to find balance in all things, whether they be "good" or "bad".  I've started to find that balance, especially with food and yoga.  It's OK if I miss a day or two of practice and it's OK if I've eaten a handful of homemade cookies today.

December 3, 2010


I've been thinking about fear a lot lately.  The way I am afraid of competing.  The way I am afraid I will be in the same job in 5 years.  The way I am afraid of many irrational things that are out of my control and that are not happening when I am worrying about them.

Iyengar helped me remember that it is unnecessary to worry.  In his book, Light on Life, he says, "Forget about fear.  In the future there is fear.  In the present there is no fear."

I need to live in the moment.  As I practice my asanas in my living room there is no reason to be afraid of the competition because I am in my living room practicing MY yoga.  That moment - this moment - is mine.

December 2, 2010

Words of Wisdom

I was blow drying my hair the other morning while reading Bikram's book and he says that if you fall out of Standing Head to Knee you need to try again and then if you fall out again you need to try again.  This is not only good for your determination but it also helps your muscles "remember" where and how they are supposed to work.

I've been focusing on this asana in the past few days because it has been ages since I've been able to complete the posture to it's full expression - with the forehead on the knee.  The other night I got there - held it for a couple of breaths - came out of it gracefully and since then it's been a little easier to get into the pose every time I try.

Huh, who woulda thought he knows what he's talking about?

December 1, 2010

Like a Bird On a Wire

Leonard Cohen's concert was nothing less than amazing.  I feel truly previledged that I got to see this amazing poet and musician perform.  From the moment he walked on stage, Mr Cohen exhuded a graciousness I have never seen before in a performer.  He was polite and kind and as humble as a 76 year old celebrated poet and singer can be.  He walked on the stage at 8:05pm with an amazing entourage of musicians and singers and they didn't stop until 11:30pm!

His voice (Listen!), is an amazing deep baritone.  The songs they played were often very similar to the recorded versions but they were far from boring.  Every note sung and played was deeper and fuller than I've ever heard on any of his albums.  He brought life to the music and the music to life with his voice and stage presence.  It brought tears to my eyes when he, so genuinely, thanked the audience for having him back to Victoria.  And how grateful he seemed to be creating music with the other artists that graced the stage.  I spent a lot of the concert wondering what it would be like to meet him.  How many stories he must have.

I've been to a few amazing concerts in the last couple years.  I think Leonard Cohen has come out on top.

Like a Bird on a Wire

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Like a worm on a hook
Like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee

If I, if I have been unkind
I hope that you can just let it go by
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you

Oh, like a baby, stillborn
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me

But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, "You must not ask for so much"
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, "Hey, why not ask for more?"

Oh, like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free