October 31, 2011

Blessed Samhain

In my younger years I became very interested in Pagan religion and once celebrated Samhain on the eve of November the 1st by way of a Wiccan ceremony.  

We lit candles and invoked the Gods and Goddesses.  We ate apple and burned sage.  We were surrounded by boughs of trees and mini pumpkins.  We took sips of wine.

Samhain is the the time to honor the Crone and the final harvest of the year.  The Feast of the Dead was celebrated in Celtic countries.  Single candles were lit in windows to guide spirits home.  People dressed in white or dressed as the opposite sex to fool the spirits.  The "wee folk" or fae were highly active and played tricks.  Extra places were set at the dinner table for the spirits of ancestors.

I, personally, adore Autumn.  I like the significant change of the leaves dying and changing colours.  I like that life slows down.  It is a sign of growth that is different than Spring.  Beauty takes on a different form.  Beauty is death.  Beauty is calmness.  Beauty is sleep.  The Beauty that exists in the Fall is stark, it is naked.  The twisted branches cannot hide behind leaves and flowers.  The birds shamelessly eat as much as they can to fatten up.  The ground freezes and frost sets in, causing us to bundle up and wear gloves and hats and warm sweaters.

We celebrate love in the Autumn and Winter.  We find reasons to share time with our loved ones, to feast and to eat.  We give gifts to bring light to gloomy, cold days.  

Enjoy your final harvest tonight.


October 30, 2011

Lesson Learned While Sewing

As I mentioned yesterday, I was sewing myself up a bag and here it is!

It's been a long time since I've actually completed a sewing project.  I have a couple half finished dresses that I've finally started looking at again.  I think I got a little distracted by crochet and knitting and probably because, well, sewing is hard.  

You have to be quite precise.  You need to have a sewing machine that works and sometimes things break.  You need to pay attention to detail.  If you don't read the pattern properly you can #$%^ up royally and that can involve a lot stitches being ripped out.  I also find that I need to be inspired to sew and create something.  I need the perfect fabric.  I need to really want something.

Sewing can really reveal your character.  It can bring out emotions and frustrations.  You need to stay focused and you need to know when to go to bed.

Things I Noticed About Myself While I Was Sewing.

1.  I am more organized than I ever used to be.  Things need to be cleared out of the way.  The fabric needs to be pressed and folded.  The pattern pieces need to be folded neatly and returned to their envelopes.  

Notice my set up below.  LW and I live in a small space, I don't have a sewing room and things need to be well organized.  So, I set up my Nan's serger on the kitchen table, my sewing machine on the desk and ironing board right beside everything.  All I had to do was swivel my chair between the two machines and stand up in order to press something.  It made for much more efficient sewing.

 2.  I do not like following patterns to a T.  I like patterns for ideas, I like to see how things are made but I don't like following directions.  I noticed after I was finished the bag that on the original pattern the straps for the bag were supposed to be sewn to the inside so that all that was visible were the handles.  Right from the beginning I visualized the straps sewn to the outside so that the pattern of the fabric would be broken up slightly.

3.  If I don't follow a pattern it is so important to actually measure and then cut out a paper pattern so that you aren't guessing and so that you can use it again.  I never used to do this.  I would simply lay the pattern out and then cut an extra 4 or 5 inches on either side with little direction.  Needless to say this often caused more headaches.

4.  Patterns from the 70s are written differently than today's patterns.  The language has changed slightly.  I don't how exactly but I really had to carefully read a couple of steps in this pattern for the bag that I found in my Nan's closet.

And check out the price! $1.50 for a pattern!  They range from $5.00 to $15.00 these days.

5.  It is so important to take breaks.  No matter how quickly you want to complete a project.  If you start getting tired, you start making mistakes

I was sewing until midnight on Friday night.  First off, I rarely am up that late.  Second, I did make mistakes.  They weren't critical mistakes but they definitely made the final steps more challenging than they had to be.

6.  Stay calm.  I can get frustrated very easily.  Especially when it comes to mechanical things.  I know from my past sewing experiences that if I didn't stay calm the whole project could be ruined.

Sewing the bottom onto this bag was very difficult.  But I managed to stay calm and step back and try to figure out the best way to tackle the problem.

7.  Breathe.  Just as in yoga, your breath will guide you through difficult poses.  Well, if you forget to breathe while you're sewing, first your shoulders hunch up then you get tense.  Then you start getting a headache and then you get frustrated.

8.  Stop if you're not sure what to do next.  Sometimes the pattern is confusing.  Sometimes you get so caught up in one step you can't seem to grasp the next.  Walk away.  Do something different.  

For this project, I was half following a pattern and half of it was in my head.  A couple times I had to get up, walk away and go do something else for a few minutes.  I would come back, regroup and it was amazing how my next step seemed clearer.

So there you have it.  A bag completed and a few personal lessons learned.

Now I'm on to bag number 2 and trying to make some improvements.

October 29, 2011


I have been sewing up a mad storm since yesterday.  I've been wanting to make myself a new yoga bag for a while now and finally found some fabric that inspired me.  Although  now, the bag probably won't have space for a yoga mat because, well, the straps just don't suit the style of the bag.  So, I think this will be version one, I already have the fabric for version two and I'm thinking a third version will have to be made just so that I do have a bag to hold my mat.

I was up until 1am last night sewing, which is very rare for me and then was shopping for notions today.

I'll show you a photo as soon I'm done.

Happy Saturday!

October 28, 2011

Coleslaw with Miso Honey Dressing

I have never liked coleslaw.  The traditional gloopy, mayo kind.  It has always made a little sick to my stomach.  I discovered this coleslaw recipe at the Whole Foods Market website and adapted it to what I had on hand.  It is delicious, simple, and refreshing.  And it gives you something to make from that tub of miso paste you have sitting in your fridge.

I used to have no idea what to do with miso but had heard that because miso is a fermented food you don't want to heat it to boiling because this can destroy the enzymes that are produced during the fermentation process.  Miso is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and contains all essential amino acids which make it a complete protein.  There are 2 grams of protein for each 25 calories in miso paste.

Coleslaw with Miso Honey Dressing

6 cups of cabbage (any kind will do, I used red and green), sliced
3 carrots, grated or sliced
1 apple sliced (optional)
1 cup of sliced jicama (optional)
1 tablespoon yellow miso
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Grate or slice your vegetables.  Or use your amazing Spirooli Slicer that this lovely lady gave me.

Gather your ingredients for the dressing.

Whisk everything together and then pour over the vegetables.

Allow the coleslaw to marinate for a few hours and then enjoy!

You can add chopped apple, jicama, nuts or sesame seeds.  I didn't have any of these on hand but it tastes amazing just as it is.

Sources: World's Healthies Foods
              Care 2

October 27, 2011


I want to be present.  I want to focus on every movement and every breath when I go to my Ashtanga class this evening.

My Ashtanga classes have shifted from a "led" class to what the owners are now calling an introductory to Mysore.  I'm loving it.  I love that I get to find my own breath, my own movement.  My body gets to feel the poses on it's own accord.  It gets me excited for attending 6am Mysore classes when I can afford to pay for a Mysore pass.

Tonight, my focus will be on presence.

October 26, 2011

Moon Day

This is my first time observing the tradition of not practicing on a day where we have a new moon or a full moon.

The Ashtanga tradition follows this method of practice because as our bodies are approximately 70% water, we are affected by the cycle of the moon, just as the tides of the earth are and of course, werewolves.  

The sun and the moon exert a gravitational pull on the earth and their positions can create different energetic feelings that can be compared with our cycle of breath.  A full moon energy is similar to the end of an inhalation when prana is at it's greatest and can cause feelings that leave us energized and emotional but not grounded.  The new moon is similar to the end of an exhalation when apana is at it's strongest and can leave us feeling grounded but dense and heavy.

Relative position of the moon and the sun. Via

By observing these moon days it helps us become more in tune with the cycles of nature.

The Ashtanga Yoga Center  gives a detailed description as to why we should rest on these days.

I don't know what the protocol would be on doing any other forms of exercise on a moon day because I did get up this morning and do a quick 20 minute BodyRock workout.  I have a very hard time not getting a little bit of a sweat on during the day.  It wakes me up and starts me off right.

Happy rest day to all the Ashtangis out there.




October 25, 2011

Anoesis - Word of the Day

Anoesis (as defined from
a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content.
or from the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary
consciousness that is pure passive receptiveness without understanding or intellectual organization of the materials presented.
Mum passed this word on to me the other day, with the comment that this is what we are trying to achieve in Savasana.  So true.

I've started noticing this feeling while I practice Ashtanga at home.  While I move and breathe through the asanas, I try to focus solely on what my body is doing.  The closest I come to thinking is counting my breaths and stretching or lengthening my body.  Anoesis doesn't necessarily last for my entire practice or Savasana but when my mind starts to wander, I come back to my breath and try to focus on my body moving.


October 24, 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole

I was playing with my iPhone the other evening and for some reason downloaded the Kindle app.  Don't ask me why.  I am firm believer in books.  Actual books that you can feel and that you can touch and that you can smell.  I love libraries.  I love book stores.  I love trading books.  I keep a stack of books beside my bed.  I am always reading at least one book.

So, I decided that whatever I read on my tiny iPhone screen would have to be a book that I could not purchase in paper form or borrow from the library.  I bought Claudia Altucher's book, 21 Things To Know Before Starting An Ashtanga Yoga Practice.

I'm reading her book slowly and making a lot of bookmarks along the way so that I can go back later and re read some passages.  I love her personal touch in the book.  She gives her readers personal examples of how her Ashtanga practice has benefited her.  She admits to changes in her outlook on her practice and personal road blocks that have shown themselves along her yoga journey.

One of Claudia's points that resonated with me was when she says that you will go down the rabbit hole.  I thought this was a perfect of description of where yoga has taken me.  I started with a simple practice with a video and then discovered one of B.K.S. Iyengar's books.  I, then, started a practice at an Iyengar yoga studio, moved on to exploring Bikram yoga and have now started opening the yoga doors to an Ashtanga practice.  I also read about yoga.  I think about yoga.  I write about yoga.  Yoga has endless possibilities to me and I never feel as though I have enough time to absorb it all.  I have found that sometimes I may not be ready to read a paragraph in a book - Iyengar's Light on Life, for example, but a month later it makes more sense to me.  I am ready to absorb the information.  One day, I would love to travel to India.

The rabbit hole is the most exciting part of a yoga practice, in my humble opinion.  It gets you thinking, reading, dreaming, it opens the doors to infinity.


October 23, 2011

Home Practice

For the past few days, I've been drawn to simply rolling out my mat in the mornings and trying to do the Ashtanga Half Primary series.  I learned the sequence up to the Warrior sequence (Virabhadrasana) and have been able to practice to the point where I come into Dandasana.  Once I reach this point I've been using John Scott's Ashtanga Yoga book.  I checked it out from my local library and am finding it very useful.

I am loving practicing at home again.  I used to do an Iyengar practice in the mornings before I began my Bikram practice.  There's something very simple and relaxing about not having to go anywhere.  To simply wake up, drink some water, wash my face, brush my teeth and then roll out my mat and find Samasthitti.  

I was able to complete the bind in Marichyasana C this morning on my right side which I haven't been able to do in the led classes before.  The left side was just a little more difficult and I used a strap to pull the last half inch or so of space from between my hands.

I love the freedom to find my own breath and my own pace with this practice.  It feels like it really is my practice.

Marichyasana C. Via

October 22, 2011

Pranayama and Breath

I used to find Pranayama Deep Breathing, the start of a Bikram class, very difficult and challenging.  I now enjoy the breathing exercise, it fills me with energy.  

As I experiment with the breath in Ashtanga yoga, it reminds me that finding the breath can be difficult and challenging and that being aware of each breath brings focus to the practice.

I am re reading Iyengar's Light on Life and I like Mr Iyengar's insight on Pranayama:

"Yogic breathing techniques are meditative in their origin and in their effect.  They basically consist of four parts.  They are inhalation (puraka), retention of the breath after inhalation (antara kumbhaka), exhalation (recaka) and retention after exhalation (bahya kumbhaka).  The in-breath should be long, subtle, deep, rhythmic, and even.  The energizing ingredients of the atmosphere  percolate into the cells of the lungs and rejuvenate life.  By retaining one's in-drawn breath, the energy is fully absorbed and distributed to the entire system through the circulation of blood.  The slow discharge of air in exhalation carries out accumulated toxins.  By pausing after the out-breath according to one's capacity, all stresses are purged and drained away.  The mind remains silent and tranquil."

"It is impossible , when we turn our attention to the inner movement of breath, to use our senses externally at the same time.  You cannot also be thinking that you must stop at the supermarket on the way home after work.  Pranayama is the beginning of withdrawal from the external engagement of the mind and senses.  That is why it brings peacefulness.  It is the hinge between extroversion and introversion" 

The second paragraph I find to be very true in my Ashtanga practice.  I have had moments where my mind has wandered, in my home practice, and I have lost everything.  My balance, the asana, my breath.  When I stopped and found my breath and focus I was able to continue.

October 21, 2011

Lost in Translation?

Has anyone else ever wondered why Tree pose is called Tadasana in Bikram yoga?

I am constantly confused by this.  I asked a teacher once and she told me that the way it was explained to her was that it is because Bikram is from Kolkata, which is in the east of India and Iyengar and Patthabi Jois are from Pune and Mysore which are more to the west of the country and therefore the dialect is different.

The way I was originally taught, Tadasana is Mountain pose which could also be similar to Samasthitti.  While practicing Iyengar yoga, I learned that Vrkasana is the Sanskrit word for Tree pose.  I know that Tree pose in Bikram is more similar to Half Lotus Bound pose or Ardha Baddha Padmottanhasana in Ashtanga yoga than to the traditional Tree pose.   And that Ardha Baddha Padmottanhasana looks like the 1st and 2nd stage of Toe Stand or Padangustasana in Bikram.  And when you Google Padangusthasana (with the H inserted) your results are any asana that have the word "big toe" in it.

I think I may have opened a huge can of worms, which probably has no straight answer.  It may simply be a case of the definition of a word from Sanskrit to English being lost in translation and modified along the way.

If anyone has any ideas on this, I would love to hear from you. 

Vrkasana or Tree pose. Via

Bikram's Tadasana or Tree pose. Via

Ardha Baddha Padmottanhasana or Half-lotus Bound into Standing Forward Bend. Via

October 20, 2011


Sometimes it is better to be quiet than to say anything at all.

Today is one of those days.

Photo Via Bogdan Ciocsan

October 19, 2011

Utthita Hasta Padanguthasana

I've just started working on Utthita Hasta Pandaguthasana in my Ashtanga practice.  I love this asana because it reminds me of Standing Head to Knee in the Bikram practice.  But what I find most difficult is when you turn your leg in one direction and your gaze in the opposite.  Your dristi or where your gaze should fall is Parsva which simply means to the far right or far left.  I always lose my balance here.  First it seems counter intuitive to look in the opposite direction and then I find it difficult to find a focal point when turning my head.  I tried this asana twice before moving on.  Definitely something to work on!

It may be easier to focus if I was practicing yoga here. via What's That Pose

October 18, 2011

Post Yoga

I am home from my yoga class.  

I had an amazing class. 

Seriously.  This world would be a better place if everyone- now I want to say, practiced yoga, but I know that everyone needs to find their own peace - took a little time for themselves that didn't involve TV, the computer, money or shopping.


Image via Nancy Smets

When I Need It The Most

Today is my Ashtanga day.  I go to the 6pm led class.  All I really want to do right now is rent a bunch of movies I've already seen.  Have take out for dinner and lie on the couch.  

Why?  Because I feel wasted.  I feel beaten down.  I feel curling up into a ball and pretending the rest of the world doesn't exist.

But I know that I need this.  My mind needs my yoga practice today.  My mind needs to shut the hell up and think of nothing except my breath and my body.  I also need to do something I'm good at.  And I know that the ego needs to exit my practice but I feel that I'm good at yoga, whatever that really means.  It feels natural to me.  I feel as though I fit in the world when I practice yoga.

So in a couple of hours I will drag my tired lazy ass to my practice.  I will surround myself with people who have a wealth of knowledge that I want to learn.  And I will take my time to do what I love to do.  Because I right now, all I want to do is give the world the finger.

Image via Real Wall

October 17, 2011

My Plants

Growing up in a Dutch household, I am very used to having plants in my home.  I feel they belong in a house, in any buildingGreen plants and fresh flowers give me a feeling of comfort and of peace.  Having something that is living in my home environment is a need, not an option.

According to NASA plants in the home help purify the air of harmful trace chemicals.  I know that I prefer spaces with plants in them.  They make me feel more relaxed.  I feel like they fill space nicely and give warmth to a room.  Apparently, hospital patients recover faster when they have a view of the park.

Here are some of my plants.  And, yes, you will notice that they have genders.  No names, though, I've never been good with naming things.

My gorgeous African violets.  They had divided and I had 4 plants in one pot, I just replanted them and was worried they wouldn't be happy.  She looks pretty happy to me!

My ficus, who I learned does not like bright light, so he sits in the living room, next to my Peace Lily.  My Peace Lily never blooms but I've had it for over 10 years.

My Christmas cactus!  I love her at this time of year when she gets her gorgeous blooms!

My Aloe Vera.  My roomate in college bought this for us back in 2004.  I left him with a friend for a couple of years in the Okanagan and he got HUGE!  He's very happy in the bathroom, I think he likes the moisture.

October 16, 2011

Autumn Day

LW and I went to the beach today.  It was gorgeous outside.  Warm, crisp, happy people everywhere.

View from Clover Point.
Then I went to my Mum's to pick up some homemade apple sauce that she made me. 

Shot from Mum's backyard of my favourite tree, the Garry Oak (Quercus Garryanna

October 15, 2011

Scents and Memory

At the Ashtanga studio, the bathroom is down a hallway past different offices through the maze that is market square.  That hallway smells like the apartment that my Oma lived in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

It makes me happy.  It helps me remember.  It reminds me of who I am, where I came from and that I am loved.

October 14, 2011


I was instructed last night to find Samasthiti in all of my yoga asanas.  To find lift and balance through my feet, legs, torso, shoulders, arms and hands.

I haven't had such a focused yoga practice since my Iyengar classes.  It takes my practice to a different space when I focus on the little things - the lifts and muscle contractions and separations that you don't see, that you can only feel.

Finding Sama (which means same or balance) in Utthita Parsvakonasana is a completely different experience as to finding the same balance in Samasthiti or Tadasana.  This reminded me that there is no need to rush.  I must find that balance before I can more forward.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Samastithi or Tadasana

Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Right Angle pose

October 13, 2011

My Ego

I have just, in the last few months, started becoming very aware of my ego in my yoga practice.  I think it began when I hurt my shoulder and I could not complete a Bikram class to what I guess you could say is my full potential.  My Half Moon Pose was only a Quarter Moon because there were no arms in the air.  I took this really hard.  I was very frustrated.  I hated it.  I felt defeated.

A teacher mentioned to me a little while ago that there are no modifications in yoga.  You go to your 100%, there is no modification, simply try to your ability.  If you can't kick out in Standing Head to Knee for a while, that is OK, it is your 100% and that is all that matters.  I like this because modification sounds to me like a crutch or an excuse which have negative connotations associated with them.  YOUR 100% is exactly that, the space you can go at that moment to the best of your personal ability.  Because yoga is exactly that.  A personal practice.

I am trying to carry this thought into my own practice.  I will do my 100% in my practice and it doesn't matter what it was the day before, the week before or what the person next to me is doing.  As long as my alignment is correct and I am focused and trying, it is all that matters.

Because of this, I have lost all interest in competing in the next Yoga Asana Competition.  I know that some people say that the competition is not about judgement and it's not about competition but, to me, it is.  You are getting scored on your performance in your asanas.  You feel external pressure.  There is bull shit about which poses are allowed to be performed and which ones are not and the more difficult they are, the more amazing people think that you are.

When I was training for last year's competition I started getting really hard on myself.  I did push myself hard, which was good, but I also became critical.  I don't like this criticism.  I know I could work on not criticizing myself but I would rather focus on my complete practice than trying to get the highest marks that I can in certain poses.

I'm not saying that no one should compete.  I think for some people it's great.  But for me, it does not belong in my yoga practice.

One thing it did teach me, though, is that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought I was - mentally and physically.  The competition last year allowed me to find a drive inside of me that I never knew existed.  Since the competition, I have pushed myself harder, physically and mentally than I ever have in my entire life.  

My yoga is where I am discovering myself and letting the critique into my yoga practice is not doing me any favours.  I am trying to leave my ego behind when I step onto my yoga mat.  I want my yoga to be my peace.    

October 12, 2011

Between Two Lungs

"Between two lungs, it was released, the breath that carried me.  The sigh that blew me forward."

I was walking home today, plugged in to my music, Florence and the Machine came on and sang this to me.

It was perfection.  This song is everything that I am trying to do with my life right now.  To Breathe and keep moving.  To Breathe and let it all fall away.  To Breathe and be grateful.  To Breathe and be proud.  To Breathe and to share.

October 11, 2011

Beautiful View

I woke up early on Saturday morning and decided to go for a hike all alone up Mt. Doug.

It was beautiful up there.  It took me just over a half hour to scramble to the top.  I tend to take the least beaten path when I'm hiking and climbed around some beautiful lichen on the rocks.

Mount Doug mostly has Douglas fir and Garry oaks growing on them but in a few places you see some of these gorgeous Arbutus trees.

At the top there is a map of all the surrounding islands.

A little boy with red hair befriended me at the top of the mountain and told me his birthday was in AugustI commented and said to him that he just had his birthday then.  He adamantly told me his birthday was AGES ago and looked at me like I was crazy.  2 whole months ago.  It made me chuckle to myself and reminded me that everything is relative and in the eye of the beholder.

October 10, 2011

Love Affair With Yoga

I had a conversation with myself and my yoga practice today.  I am, from this day forward, having an open relationship with my yoga practice.  This means that if I choose to practice Ashtanga yoga for three weeks, that is OK.  If I choose to take my Bikram class every day for a month, that is OK.  If one day, down the road, I choose to stop practicing a certain type of yoga, that is OK too.

I think, that in the last week, I was starting to feel like I had to choose.  I had to choose between yoga practices.  That somehow I was betraying one if I chose to practice another.  This is no more.  Yoga is a journey and if my progress through my yoga path takes me to different types of practices then that is where I am meant to go.

This morning I practiced Bikram yoga for the first time in a week and my god did it feel so amazing.  Never again will I take Savasana for granted.  Never again will I hate the heat.  

One day at a time, one moment at a time, one practice at a time.

"Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one's being, from bodily health to self-realization. Yoga means union - the union of body with consciousness and consciousness with the soul. Yoga cultivates the ways of maintaining a balanced attitude in day-to-day life and endows skill in the performance of one's actions." ~ BKS Iyengar

October 9, 2011

Mellow Weekend

I dusted off my sewing machine the other day, opened my drawer stuffed full of half finished projects and got sewing.

It's been ages since I've sewed anything other than some simple mending.  I managed to alter a shirt and a dress.  Now I'm at work on a wrap dress that I started about a year ago and somehow forgot about.

I'll let you know when it's done!

Not mine but these old machines are so beautiful

October 8, 2011

Half Primary

This morning I did a Half Primary Series yoga class.  Wow, what a way to wake up.  You are constantly moving the entire class while trying to keep the continuous breathing rhythm.  I found this difficult but I'm sure I'll get used to it with more practice.

I also found the Vinyasa between each seated asana challenging.  My arms still feel like jello. 

A Vinyasa, from my understanding, is where the body gets a chance to realign itself following a seated twist or stretching pose and to keep the body warm.  You come onto your hands from a seated position, jump your legs back into plank, lower your body down, come up into Upward Facing Dog, down into Downward Facing Dog and then hop your legs up into a seated position between your arms again.  The video below is very graceful and well practiced example of a Vinyasa.

I actually did Shirshasana A or Headstand for the first time without a wall.  The teacher guided me up and at the top she put her hand between my calves and told me to squeeze her hand, it was amazing how my entire body lifted up and I found strength through my core and shoulders.

I was looking forward to Wheel or Urdhva Dhanurasana  because one thing I do miss from my Bikram practice are the back bends.  I went to push myself up which I have done countless times and my upper body would not budge.  My shoulders were exhausted.  I had a small battle with my ego at that point.  I really wanted to do Wheel but I calmed that part of my mind and listened to my body and stayed down in Bridge pose and let my body chill out a bit.

I am exhausted now.  I think I'll go for a nap.  Happy weekend!

October 7, 2011

The Little Things

It is nearly Thanksgiving here in Canada and I woke this morning with a bit of a woe is me attitude.  I am removing those thoughts from my mind and taking charge of my thoughts by remembering all of the reasons I have to be thankful. 

I am grateful for:
  • My supportive family.  I love that my brothers and I are now friends.  I love that my mum and I practice yoga together.  I love those moments I get all alone with my dad.
  • My home.  I've been living in this small place for nearly 5 years.  It's been good to me.  LW now lives here with me.  We actually manage alright in a small space together.
  • My friends.  Most of them are so far away, but I'm happy they are wherever they are.
  • My bed.  It is one of my favourite places in the world.
  • My Dutch heritage.  I am very proud to be Dutch.  To speak Dutch.  To look Dutch.
  • My LW.  He came home from the library last week with a dictionary size book of quotes.  One of the reasons I love him.
  • My yoga practice.  It is taking me on a journey of self discovery that can be painful at times but that I find perfect.

October 6, 2011

Yoga Philosophy - Don't Worry

Follow the arrows.

Thanks to Damn Good Yoga

Don't worry.  Easier said that done.  Often that worry turns to hunched shoulders and a clenched jaw.  Or tears and angry words directed at loved ones.  We think too far in the future, we worry about where we will be in five years, we agonize over not finding a job, we beat ourselves down about extra weight that we carry.

What I get from the words, Don't Worry, is live for now.  Live for this exact moment.  Don't stress about losing weight in time for a wedding 6 months from now - choose to go for a walk at this moment or to not eat that brownie.  Don't stress too much about not finding a job - I am not starving, I have support and I am taking the necessary steps to obtain one.  5 year plan?  Great, but remember that life throws you curve balls and sometimes you have to take a different path.

Worry causes stress - it makes me bite my cheeks, it causes my psoriasis to act up.  Worry leaves me with a feeling of tightness in my chest.  Worry makes me sick to my stomach.  Sometimes I find it easier to worry than I do to let it go.  Maybe because I've been doing it my whole life.  Maybe because I feel it's easier to carry burdens than to let that monkey slide off my back.

I'm tired of the worry.  It's time to let the monkey go.

October 5, 2011

First Ashtanga Class

Yesterday evening I took my first Ashtanga class at Ashtanga Yoga VictoriaI absolutely loved it.  

The yoga studio is in market square, part of Old Town in Victoria.  The ceilings in the studio are very high, the floors are wood, the light is soft, there are tall windows and a small alter at the front of the room.

I arrived a few minutes early and was told to just go into the practice room and lay down on my mat, even while the Mysore class was still going on.  It was interesting to be able to observe other people practicing their own yoga in a room with other people, also going through their own individual practices.  All the students were at different levels and there were two teachers in the room giving direction and helping with corrections.

At 6 o'clock, Harmony, the owner and instructor, asked us (me just and one other girl) to move our mats to the front of the room and the students in the Mysore class slowly moved their mats to the back of the room so they could finish their Savasanas.  The fluidity of movement between the start of one class and the end of another seemed to have no beginning and ending.  Yoga seemed endless to me at that moment.

We were first guided through Surya Namaskr A.  We were instructed when to inhale and exhale and which movements to move through.  We were guided through this twice and then did three repetitions on our own.  Surya Namaskr B came next and again we were guided through the first two repetitions and then did three on our own.  We then went through Surya Namakr A & B on our own (only 3 repetitions) with Harmony there to guide us and give us correction.  She then led us through the Basic SequenceAnd we repeated 1 repetition of Surya Namaskr A & B with the Basic Sequence, again, on our own.  Harmony, then, led us through a modified version of the Finishing SequenceAnd we finished with a very long relaxing Savasana.

I left class feeling incredible, energized and calm.

I don't want to go about comparing Bikram yoga and Ashtanga yoga in this post but I'll tell you what I appreciated about a different practice.
  • I liked the hands on corrections.  To have a teacher lift my hips up or press the palms of my hands into the floor was very useful to me.
  • I loved the dim lighting and the teacher's calm voice.
  • There were photographs of Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S Iyengar together because they were both students of Krishnamacharya.  I found this fitting since I began my yoga journey practicing Iyengar yoga.
  • I like that the yoga has a specific sequence that you follow every time you practice.
  • I felt very welcome.
  • I love that I woke up this morning to sore hamstrings and shoulders.
  • I liked the attention to detail in each asana.  With each movement there is an inhale or exhale.
  • I started sweating.  My body is so accustomed to sweating that as soon as it starts to warm up it wants to cool me down.
  • Harmony sang Oms while we were in Savasana and then sang a mantra, which I forgot to ask her what it was called.  And then brought us out of Savasana by ringing a bell.  I loved this.
I hope to share more with you soon.


B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois.

October 4, 2011

Autumn Apple Crumble

TnT and I went apple picking the other day in a neighbour's backyard.  He wasn't using the fruit and the poor tree was weighed down with a ton of perfect little red apples.  I came home and immediately started chopping them up to make apple crumble.

Autumn Apple Crumble 

3 cups chopped apples
1 cup blueberries
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Grease a casserole dish with coconut oilChop up the apples.  You can skin them if you'd like, I never bother because I like the skin.  Dump them into your casserole dish.  Add the blueberries, frozen or fresh.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and maple syrup.  Stir to mix all the flavours together.

Add the buckwheat flour, ground almonds and coconut oil to a bowl.

Add the brown sugar and cinnamon.  I probably added about 2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  I love the stuff so never measure it.

Next, as you would if using butter for a crumble, mix the coconut oil, the flour and sugar together by pressing and combining with your hands.

Cover the fruit with the crumble topping.  Throw the dish in a 350 degree oven and bake until the top is brown and the fruit is soft, juicy and bubbling, about 30 - 40 minutes.

Pour yourself a glass of scotch, if you haven't already been sipping on something, and get comfortable while you wait for the crumble.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving yourself a nice delicious bowl.


October 3, 2011

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, from Happy Birthday To You

It appears I am on a bit of a Dr. Seuss kick.  But something about his words are so simple and so very profound.

Today, I was asked, how are you?  A girl who I chat to occasionally at the yoga studio asked me this question.  What amazed me by this question was that she meant it.  It was not a passing polite hello.  She actually stopped and took the time to look at me and ask me how I was.  It floored me because it isn't often we are asked this and we are expected to respond truthfully.  But it felt good to be asked and it felt good to be genuinely listened to by someone who doesn't really know me.  Even if it was just for a couple of minutes.  I really appreciated it.


October 2, 2011

Tree of Woe

Tree of Woe - Found at Midnight's Flickr Page.
This how I felt in class this morning, on the inside.  Stranded.  Alone.  Dried up.  Outside I was flexing and bending and sweating.  I wasn't feeling it.  I wasn't loving it.  

It is definitely time for me to step back and breathe.