December 31, 2011

Blessings To All

I am currently reading Cave in the Snow, the story and life of Buddhist nun, Tenzin Palmo. In 1976 she secluded herself in a remote cave in the Himalayas for twelve years on the search for enlightenment. Her story has warmed my heart in the last few days of 2011 - has renewed my faith in the capabilities and depth of the human heart and has left me in awe at the purity of one woman's life journey.

I will have to rescind my statement of best book of 2011 because the story of Tenzin Palmo has touched me deeply. This is by far one of the most inspiring stories I have ever read. 

In the spirit of Tenzin Palmo, I wish each and every one of you a year full of compassion and love for yourselves and all those around you.

December 30, 2011

A Yoga Sand Sculpture

One of my favourite videos to watch these days are time lapses of yoga practices.  They are beautiful and graceful.  But how about Katie Grinnan who takes it to the next level.  She has created a sculptural time lapse of her yoga practice using sand, plastic and enamel.

Images form This Is Colossal

December 29, 2011

Opening in Padmasana

Practice this morning felt so much better than yesterday but my ankles and knees in Padmasana were still giving me a lot of feedback.  I could not get into Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana at all, nor could I grab my big toe on the right in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschismottanasana.  Mari B was OK and Mari D I just tried to focus on breathing through the discomfort and getting a little twist in my spine.  In the finishing sequence, Pindasana was definitely not happening and neither was Matsyasana.  As I got to Baddha Padmasana, where I normally sit cross legged, I remembered this video I watched last week.  

In it, David Keil gives an awesome description of how to open your hips in Padmasana.  I followed his instructions before doing Baddha Padmasana, Yoga Mudra, Padmasana and Utplutih and wouldn't you believe my lotus felt so much better.  I was able to hold Yoga Mudra for full ten breaths, while grabbing my elbows - I am not ready to hold my toes.  

Check it out.  Give it a try.  I recommend trying the sequence when you are warm.  It was great to do at the end of my practice. Here is the original article on the Yoganatomy website.

December 28, 2011

Heavy Morning

There's a reason yoga should be practiced on a regular basis.  The accumulated benefit of the practice.  I think that there is the misconception with complete beginners to a yoga practice, that you only need to practice until whatever ails you feels better and then you're cured.  I remember very clearly thinking this 6 years ago, as I browsed through one of Iyengar's huge practice books, believing if I practiced certain asanas for a certain period of time I would be cured of my back pain.

This morning was the perfect example of why I should practice yoga five to six days a week.  Christmas morning was my last practice.  That's 3 days ago and while normally I would be OK with a 3 day break, take into account Christmas day feasting and Boxing day where I existed on the couch and watched movies and ate, my body was not happy with me this morning.  I felt heavy, my normally very flexible hamstrings were tight, I could barely lift my bum off the ground when I attempted jump backs, and my ankles and knees were severely tight when I attempted any half lotus or full lotus position.

It was a good reminder that this practice does me good - all of the time.  It was also a good reminder that it's OK to have a gentle practice - especially when you're recovering from food and booze overload coupled with epic laziness. 

P90 Update: I did do my P90X during these lazy days but I know from experience that the P90 does not improve my yoga whereas that the yoga definitely improves my P90. 

December 27, 2011

Best Book of 2011

I've read 31 books this year.  Yes, I keep track - I'm a bit of a nerd this way - if I don't, I forget what I've read.  I read a wide variety of books from B.K.S Iyengar's Tree of Yoga to Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim, a dark novel about a man's return from Hell.  I don't often read non fiction and if I do it must be written well, so that it flows like a story, I have little patience when it comes to slogging through a book.  Books are meant to be enjoyable to me.  They are my idea of the perfect escapism.

My favourite kind of books are those that portray the lives of ordinary, every day people and then take you deep into their lives.  Show you their inner psyche and relationships you would never expect if you were to cross paths on the street.

Therefore, I think the best book of 2011 was Alice Hoffman's The Story Sisters.  I read this book in 24 hours.  I could not put it down.  

It is the dark tale of three young sisters who live with an imaginary world, Arnelle.  Elv, the eldest, invented the world and the language, which only the sisters speak.  The sisters lock out the world, including their mother.  The youngest sisters, Claire and Meg, consistently look to Elv for approval and affection.  As the sisters grow older and Elv becomes a teenager, their bond and friendship begins to crumble.  Elv becomes increasingly addicted to drugs and the younger girls become terrified of their sister.  The novel follows the girls through the years struggling to stay together as a family until tragedy strikes and their world crumbles.  

What I found most intriguing about this book was how the women had to fight to stand alone.  They had to discover their own strengths within themselves away from the world they had always known.  They had to learn to live with their faults and their guilty feelings.  They had to overcome tragedy.  And although the end is not perfect, I had a sense of fulfillment and warmth because these women fought tooth and nail to stay afloat in a world that never seemed to be in their favour.

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Apparently both these fine gentlemen do not remember making this video.  Please enjoy the wonderful David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Little Drummer Boy.

December 24, 2011

And Again!

I'm starting P90X again.  It's been nearly 2 months since I finished the workout program and I've tried to stay on track with a regular weight regime and it hasn't happened.  I've tried to do BodyRock workouts every other day and it hasn't happened.  I've been trying to keep super clean with my eating and it hasn't happened.  My birthday, Vancouver, LW's birthday, Vegas and Christmas happened instead.

So today is Day 1.  Yes, I'm starting the day before Christmas.  A lot of people would say why not wait until after Christmas.  Why wait?  I've been procrastinating for 2 months now.  I feel ready to start today.

December 23, 2011


Uh oh, I've discovered Pinterest, which so far is just place to look at amazing photos and a bit of a time sucker.  If you want an invite, let me know :-)

Simple yet true.

Source: via Cher on Pinterest

I want to sleep here.

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

I want to always live by these words

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

December 22, 2011

What Is Mysore About?

These three videos feature David Keil discussing the Ashtanga mysore method of practice.  With 3 months of mysore practice under my belt, I can say that David expresses very accurately what you will expect as a newcomer to the Ashtanga mysore practice.  So if you're curious about exploring something new, pick up your knitting and take a listen to the interview. 

Thanks to Laruga for sharing these on her blog.

December 21, 2011

A Thought

And another thought from Glimpse by George Murray.

"It's not easy to be me, but I know that's true for you too."

It's important to remember this sometimes.  We all have bad days.  We all have good days.  We all fear.  We all love.  We all cry.  We all steal.  We all lie.  We all have secrets.  We all have dreams. 

December 20, 2011



It pays to be pushy and ask for what you want.
Homemade Christmas gifts are better than bought ones.
It feels as though you're taking a step back.
That step back means a giant leap is about to happen.

December 19, 2011

With Yoga Comes Responsibility.

Someone asked me the other day what it was I liked about the Ashtanga Mysore practice as opposed to any other yoga class that is led by a teacher. 

For me it is the fact that I must take responsibility for my own practice from the moment I step on the mat to the moment I leave the room.  I have to really connect and be aware of my own body - it's capabilities and limitations - at any given moment.  I also have to be responsible for giving it my all - whatever my all may be on that day. 

I think one of the reasons I like this is because this responsibility seems to carry into every day life.  I am responsible for everything that happens in my life.  I don't mean things that are out of my control like how people speak to me or the fact that I was laid off.  It's more that I am trying to learn to take responsibility to how I react to these moments in life.  I can choose how upset, happy, excited, angry I become to any given situation.

I cannot blame my teacher if I hurt myself while practicing.  I can only take that injury and learn from it.  Become more aware of what happened to cause the injury and take full responsibility to not repeat the aggravation.  Every single time I step on my mat I make a promise to be completely honest with myself.  The more quickly I learn to become honest in my practice, the more responsible I become as a yoga practitioner, thus becoming more aware of my self.

December 18, 2011

December 17, 2011

Checking In

My practice has pretty much been on hiatus this week.  Monday, the day after we returned from Vegas, was the most painful Ashtanga practice I have yet to experience.  My knees hurt, my hips, my ankles, my back.  I was heavy, tired and my brain would not keep quiet.  Therefore, I stuck my head in the sand and pretty much avoided the world.  

I rolled out my mat Friday morning - in the dark before the world had woken and it was amazing.  *Cue George Costanza, "I'm back baby!"* 

This morning I went to the led half primary at Ashtanga Yoga Victoria to check in with myself.  I haven't taken a led class since my first week of Ashtanga practice and it really is something different.  I knew what was coming next but had to remind myself to listen to Harmony guide the class.  I now know where I move too quickly through certain asanas and where I take my time and have too many unnecessary movements.  I am still a little tired.  I came out of a few poses early, either because of a sore ankle or my arms felt like they were going to collapse underneath me.  I tried to breathe through the pain but today it simply wasn't happening.  I can feel my body slowly coming back to me and it feels wonderful.



December 16, 2011

Thoughts On A Dark Morning

It is in the dark before the dawn that I feel my most exposed.  When my insecurities and vulnerabilities are at their most fragile and left unprotected.  Before I have spoken a word to anyone and rebuilt the exterior shell that protects me during the day.  It is as I lay in the darkness - second guessing my plans and the beginning of a dream that I feel most ungrounded and uncentered.  It is during these moments of exposure - as I allow these thoughts to make me feel weak that I become aware that they are manifestations of my ego wanting to protect itself from becoming bruised and damaged - that I must roll out my mat, open my heart and breathe.

Las Vegas work of art. 

December 15, 2011

Wisdom From a Novel About Knitting

I'm reading the book The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.  Here's a little excerpt from the beginning of one of the chapters.

Casting On

"The only way to get going is to just grasp that yarn between your fingers and twist.  Just start.  It's the same with life.  Of course, every beginning won't be the same: There are dozens of ways to cast on and they vary based on skill or design or even just relying on the tried and true.  My point?  Sometimes what works for one piece isn't the right way next time.  You have to experiment to see what works.  But there's a similarity no matter the method: you either try or you don't.  So form a slipknot; make a series of twisted loops on one needle and then use its partner to reach through and make a stitch.  Casting on is as much leap of faith as technique."

I guess I'm sharing this with you because as much as we can relate yoga to life, so can we relate other hobbies or interests that we have.  How I dealt with learning how to knit again after 20 years can be similar to how I may tackle life.  How I practice yoga can be similar to how I deal with a job interview.  So just get started.  Get the ball rolling.  It doesn't matter how you start.  Just that you do.


December 14, 2011

Wisdom on Forward Bends

This is a great video from Kino MacGregor.  She discusses forward bends and accessing your bandhas.  It is beneficial no matter what yoga style you practice.


December 13, 2011

Yoga Time

My favourite time to practice is first thing in the morning.  I like to rise, drink water, brush my teeth, wash my face and begin.  I don't even think about it.  I know I am not as open as when I practice in the evening.  But this doesn't bother me.  Everything about my day is better when I practice first thing is the morning.

Because of the deal I received when I started my Ashtanga practice, I am only able to go to evening classes without paying any more.  I struggle with this every time I plan to go to the studio.  It is dark, it is cold, I have to drive and find a parking space.  Don't get me wrong, as soon as I park the car, I'm good to go.  I am happy to be there.  I have a wonderful practice.

This internal struggle that I deal with two evenings a week is so annoying.  I try to simply make the decision and go with it.  But my stupid mind goes on with making excuses.  I find it especially hard now that it is dark at 4:30.  Who wants to leave the house then?

Next month I need to purchase a new pass.  It will be a Mysore pass and I'm hoping to practice in the mornings.  Ideally, I would go to early morning Mysore and then straight to work.  I can see the early morning practice but the job is still elusive.  I guess I'll see what the new year brings.

December 12, 2011

Vegas Recap

What can I say about Vegas?

Late nights.
Too much booze.
A lot of walking.
Poker, of course.
Beautiful dry hills on the horizon.
Amazing architecture.
Victoria Secret.
Rodeo cowboys.
Beautiful art galleries.
Expensive stores.
Fun with my lovely and my family.

We had a great time.  Vegas is one of the most overwhelming places I've ever been, with some of the friendliest drunks I've ever met.  I can't say I'll ever go back to the city but would love to explore the desert one day.

December 8, 2011

Holy Practice

Last night was an amazing and tough practice.  There were very few people in the Mysore room when I arrived and once I'd moved through Surya Namaskr A & B, Harmony was there adjusting me and helping me go deeper.

I touched my chin to my shin in Utthita Hasta Padangushthasana with help but my goodness was that difficult and liberating.  I was able to lift my legs through my arms in a couple of jump backs.  I was able to bring my nose to my shin in Mari A by inhaling and lengthening my breast bone forward then exhaling folding forward.  I struggled with Mari D on the second side.  I have a hard time finding that perfect spot for my foot to sit in my hip crease and receive a lot of feed back in my ankle.  I was given a new asana, Navasana or boat pose.  I then proceeded to do 6 sets of Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose).  On the fifth set, Harmony helped me walk my hands closer to my feet.  I have few words to explain the feeling of moving your hands closer to your feet while pushing against gravity and seeing the world upside down.  I was taught to do Chakrasana or backward roll out of the Shoulder Stand sequence.

It was an amazing practice.  I find that as my teachers help me move a little deeper into asanas that I it gives me the confidence to try to go deeper on my own.  It liberates me from my own mind where I think I may not be ready and it pushes me to try harder.  I learned a lot about what I am capable of last night and where I need to bring energy to during my practice.

December 7, 2011

So Close!

Last night, I touched my stomach with the hand that wraps around my bent leg in Marichyasana D!  So close!

After Harmony helped maneuver me into the asana the other week, I have been able to wrap my head or my arm, rather, around my leg to try to reach for the arm wrapped around my back.  It felt amazing having my hand actually touch a part of my body instead of floating around in mid air.  I needed a gentle pull to get my hands together but it was so much easier than before.  The first side is still much more open than the second side.  My right ankle has little tolerance for being compressed for so long.

I have started holding my floor poses for five to ten breaths recently.  It feels good and I seem to be able to check in with my body more effectively.

Oh and I was also able to hold the final lift, Utplutih, in the closing sequence, last night.  I held it for seven full breaths and was able to stay in Padmasana, which is typically what bothers my right ankle the most.
I was a little worried when I switched from a Bikram practice to an Ashtanga practice, that my body and my heart would miss the backward bending.  Other than a little tweak to my lower back a few weeks ago, I feel amazing and am falling in love very quickly with this practice.

December 6, 2011

Right To The Bitter End

My Grandpa is a retired sea captain and when I ask him the right questions he will tell me stories about his years at sea.  

Today, he told me that the term bitter end originates from a nautical term.  A bitt is a wooden or iron post that is fastened through the ship's deck in order to secure the anchor.  If all of the anchor cable has been released into the water you have come to the bitter end.

December 5, 2011

Recipe Update!

I was following my own recipe tonight and noticed I left out a very important ingredient in my Miso Coleslaw.

2 tablespoons of rice vinegar!  It adds the necessary sourness to the dressing.

I've been dragging my legs off the healthy eating wagon in the last couple of weeks.  My trip to Vancouver started it, which I do not regret one bit!  I am a bit of a foodie at heart and when I'm surrounded by friends who love and appreciate food as much as I do it's so hard to say no.  I admire people who can stick with the clean eating 100% of the time.  I guess I'm kind of thankful that LW is not much of a foodie because it makes it easier to eat clean most of the time.

We head to Vegas on Thursday for LW's birthday celebration and I know that it's going to be hard to make the right choices all the time.  I am going to bring my oats so that I can soak them before bed and have in the morning and I want to do either my Ashtanga practice or a BodyRock every morning when I'm there.  I just feel better when I do something in the morning to get my blood pumping.  

I noticed when I was in Vancouver and ordered a fritatta for breakfast how hard it is to reduce fat and calorie intake when you're traveling because as good as the fritatta was I could taste the butter it was cooked in.  I now know that I should ask for some menu items cooked with no fat.  Do I really care?  Part of me does because I am not yet at my goal.  Part of me doesn't, I just want to say fuck it and move on.

It's tough to eat clean.  I have to say that it's one of the most challenging things I've ever done.  They say yoga brings awareness to your self.  So does clean eating.  My body responds so clearly to bad food.  I was making LW cookies for his birthday and well, you know, I love cookie dough and ate a couple spoonfuls.  I paid for it and 100% completely suffered for it.

So, as I sip my scotch and type this, I raise my glass to everyone who is making the effort to eat clean. 

December 4, 2011


Do you ever wonder why a practice - be it yoga, writing, painting, tai chi or soccer - brings you peace, tranquility?

In the book, Glimpse - Selected Aphorisms, George Murphy puts it beautifully.

"Routine breeds sameness; shields mediocrity, and creates happiness."

Happy birthday to my LW, who without, I would be searching for the divine in a cloud of mist instead of that which lives within us all,  I would not have these wonderful books lying around the house and I would not be staying up late playing video games and laughing with you.

December 3, 2011

Yoga As Art

I think this video is simply beautiful, it helps that it's soundtrack is Beirut.  Meghan Currie performs yoga as art in New York City.  She also has some beautiful time lapse videos.

December 2, 2011

A Quiet Place

I crossed the water back to Victoria this afternoon with a renewed sense of direction.  The sun sparkled amongst the waves, the sea birds dove for fish, the houses perched on the island cliffs seemed more peaceful than ever. 

Beirut was my soundtrack as I slowly started to formulate the beginning of a plan in my mind.  A path that seemed slightly impossible last week is now sporting sign posts that point in different directions.

Maybe it is possible.  It won't all be easy but I think I've found a sense of direction for the first time in a long time.

December 1, 2011


What can I say about today except if you ever get to Vancouver, check out Salt Tasting Room. They serve a daily grilled cheese and soup special.

We had a squash, carrot and Gouda soup with an emmenthal, cheddar grilled sandwich topped with caramelized onions and grainy mustard. It was absolutely delicious. You'll find it down Blood Alley in Gastown where you would never expect to find such delicious food amongst the dirty alley.