Friday, November 21, 2008

Day 346

Lady's Holiday knocked me flat on Tuesday. I had some crazy notion that I might practice on some of those days, but I needed the full three.

Today's practice was half-primary in the morning because I was pressed for time with a class to teach and a class to attend. Crazy schedule and I'm already feeling rushed. Hopefully, more on the weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Day 345

Half primary today due to time constraints. I spent most of my day on the phone trying to save my winter vacation from almost certain ruin at the hands of the Angry Air Mile Gods. I'm SO over airmiles. They're worthless. Grrrr. Everything turned out okay, but I'm relearning that hard, hard lesson: Nothing in life is free.

I took a long walk in the afternoon to burn off my excess energy, then flew through my yoga practice. Afterward, I headed to the rink for the finals in my hockey league. My team was 2nd place going into the finals and that's where we stayed; we lost the game.

I really do love ice hockey and nothing gives me more joy than playing a hard game against an evenly matched opponent. I'm not very competitive about it though - I just like the game. I do my best each time I go out on the ice, but if my best is really lousy on a particular night, I just laugh it off.

But this season, my team was full of people who were taking our recreational league just a BIT too seriously. After being told I couldn't play on a line with a good friend because we were both 'weak players' who were bringing the team down and then was criticized for every small error, my confidence began to falter. Weary of the constant negativity and criticism, I stopped going to games, avoided the pub entirely and missed a large part of the season.

After each final, the teams are redrafted. Next week, I'll come to a room full of mostly new teammates. I hope this group is more interested in the joy of the game and less in who wins or loses. I'm perfectly aware that 'hockey isn't yoga' but we're also not playing in the NHL.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 344

It's cold, damp and miserable out and it's been pouring rain all day. I stayed in bed for as long as possible - until about one o'clock. I didn't get around to eating lunch until two o'clock. I unrolled my mat at three o'clock. Yes, far too soon after lunch.

I did the full primary today, in the front room of the house in my new 'yoga space'. I had a pretty good practice - even generated some of my own heat in this cold, drafty house! Afterward, I chanted and played my shruti box for over a half-hour.

The new chant we learned on Friday is much more melodically complex than the previous three. I think I'm going to need to listen to it for awhile before it really sticks.

All day, we've been working out a possible escape-from-the-city plan scheduled for early December. It's very tenuous right now, but the moment we confirm everything, I'll shout my joy to the heavens (and blog about it).

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Day 343

I broke my 14-day yoga streak yesterday with the Moon Day. I had to do it - I swear there was never a better-timed Moon Day. I was at the doctor's office all morning and teaching all afternoon and evening. After all of that, I really needed a break.

I've officially been sick for three weeks. The doctor needed little convincing to prescribe an antibiotic. The diagnosis - brace yourself - sinitis AND bronchitis AND laryngitis. The prescription was stupidly expensive because I'm antibiotic-resistant. The surprising thing is, I'm already feeling better. The pressure in my sinuses is gone, I'm not as congested or coughing as much.

I didn't do a full practice today because of time constraints. I had a bunch of errands to run AND I started Part II of the Shruti Box Class! Yes, there's a part two!!! I'm so excited. I'm just loving these classes. I have three more to look forward to after this one and I'm totally blissed out about it. If she offered a 'Shruti III', I'd totally sign up. I'm hooked.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 342

Last month around this time, I was struck with some strangely intense lower back pain. I practised (sporadically) through it. I had just started to get back on the daily-home-practice wagon and feared that I had overdone it in some of my forward bends. The pain felt similar to lower back spasms, though it was more concentrated in the sacrum. But now, the pain is back and I know it has nothing to do with those forward bends.

(Disclaimer: My male readers may find this TMI, so proceed at your own risk)

Last month, I experienced an extended period of Premenstrual Syndrome - not the moodiness, but soreness in my chest, some bloating and, as it turns out, lower back pain. The symptoms were so acute that I was *certain* that my Lady's Holiday was on the horizon, but no, it came right on schedule. It made for a very unpleasant two-and-a-half weeks. Because it had never happened before, I decided it was a fluke.

Apparently, it wasn't. All of the above symptoms have made a reappearance, approximately 13 days before my Lady's is scheduled to arrive.

This pain is really affecting my practice. More than a quarter of the poses in the series are now downright uncomfortable and even painful. I'm wondering if any other female ashtangis have experienced this?

The back pain, along with my continuing cold/flu/whatever-it-is makes my practice really unpleasant. Yet I soldier on... Today, I did the full primary in the morning, about an hour after waking. It felt good to get it done early in the day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 341

Morning practice today, followed by a half-hour of chanting with my shruti box. That instrument wasn't cheap, but it's turning out to be the best thing I spent money on this year. I simply love it. There's something so addictive about it. I'm using it as the 'carrot' to lure myself to the mat. Practice for one hour and I get the shruti. This is really working for me.

It's interesting to observe my own reaction to a longer yoga practice. Starting the first sun salutation is always the hardest part, then I settle into it. I find my mind wandering more these days. Julie mentioned that her 'monkey mind' kicks in after the standing poses. It's the same for me - as soon as my bum hits the mat, it's monkey time. Janu Sirsasana is the worst.

But there's something magical about those gaps of stillness when I so find them. The sunbeams falling across my mat, or the glow of candles - a sense of peace and wholeness. A deep connection with my breath. Feeling like I'm suddenly *fully* in my body.

I've missed this!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 340

I'm moving into the homestretch now, 25 days until I reach my goal of '365 days of the Primary Series'. Since I'm so close, I thought it would be nice if I was actually *doing* the full Primary Series. I've been building strength gradually and adding poses incrementally. Today, I fired up my Sharath CD and did the whole burrito.

And it was actually GREAT! I was ready. I'm certainly not up to the same level I was in June, but I'm doing every pose (or a modified variation). And, best of all, I'm doing all of the vinyasa in between, so I'm truly building my strength and stamina. Practice and all is coming.

I'm on Day 7 of my self-imposed 'yoga streak'. I find it's so much easier to practice when I'm not giving myself any other option. Practice is just something I do, every day without fail, so I plan for it and expect it. I can't say with any honesty that I look forward to it, but I've been doing this long enough to know that this comes and goes. For now, I'll keep rolling along...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Day 339

One of the challenges I'm facing in my yoga practice is finding my way to the mat on weekends. I spend most Saturdays and Sundays at the house and there's very little open space. I've struggled to find an area that feels right for yoga. So far, I've tried a tiny parcel of floor next to the bed in the upstairs spare room. I did that twice and hated practising there.

My favourite room in the house is actually the front room downstairs. It has high ceilings, lots of windows and natural light. Even though it's in the more 'public' area of the house, it's uncluttered and comfortable. I like this room for reading and writing (in fact, I’m writing this while seated in my favourite chair in front of the Faux Fireplace).

Because I love the room, I decided to give it a try for yoga. I moved aside two reasonably light chairs and practiced near the front of the room, next to the sideboard and close to a wide west-facing window. I brought along my travel Buddha and two tiny statuettes of Ganesh and Saraswati and placed them behind two tea candles.

I practised my sun salutations facing north (I'm used to facing east), but it was a good practice. There is also an unused wall space next to the front door where I can do Sirsasana and handstands. My only lingering complaint is that this house is COLD. My apartment is so warm that I'm considering bringing my little space heater over here to heat my 'yoga area' before practice.

I had a really good practice - my best all week, probably because I had plenty of time and didn't feel rushed. It still doesn't feel entirely like 'home' or like my space, but I think it will work. I'm hoping it will. Starting next week, I'll be practising in this house on Saturdays and Sundays.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day 338

My weekends have changed shape radically with the end of my long-time Saturday morning yoga class. For almost five years, I spent every Saturday morning wandering a downtown farmer's market, then teaching a class. Last month, I lost that space and I've been searching for new digs ever since. In the meantime, my Saturdays are free.

I totally underestimated how difficult it would be to drag myself down to the farmer's market without a scheduled reason. I haven't been back since the class ended. Fortunately, I discovered that my favourite Samosas, normally purchased at the farmer's market, are available at an organic food store closeby. But I really miss eating my weekly chocolate cookie and chatting with my favourite vendors at the market.

Fortunately, over the past three weeks I've developed a new routine. My Saturday afternoon's are now spent at a Sanskrit Chanting class. I'm learning to play the Shruti Box, an Indian instrument similar to the Harmonium. It produces a drone sound through reeds and is a great accompaniment to singing to chanting.

I've wanted one for years, but couldn't justify buying one because I really don't know how to play it. Over the summer, I received an email announcing a beginners course. I bought a shruti box in Little India and the class really has been useful for learning how to play the instrument properly. We've learned three chants in the class: So Ham, Innvocation to Ganesh, and the Shiva dity made famous by John Friend. I'm really enjoying the class and I'm sad the last one is today.

Today, I went for a long walk in the Big Park with the dog, did my abbreviated yoga practice, chanted with my Shruti Box, then got on the subway to class.

Practice was a bit rushed, but felt good. I'm still bothered by the cold and there's a faint pressure in my sinues. If this plague persists through the weekend, I'm going to visit the doctor on Monday and seek out treatment.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Day 337

This sinus infection is driving me crazy! I've added the forward bends back into my practice. I now seem to alternate between doing Vinyasa between poses and blowing my nose. Moving up and down really stirs everything up. I'm really tired of being sick and I can't believe this plague has persisted so long.

My practice today was low energy and exhausting. I'm definitely feeling wiped out after two intense days of teaching classes. I dragged through the sun salutations and lingered in the seated poses. And it was just really hard to drag myself to the mat.

Given my reluctance, It's probably a good thing that I had to keep moving this morning in order to fit my walk and my practice in; there was no opportunity to dawdle. This afternoon, I'm going to see a matinee showing of 'Changeling' and then heading to a dinner. And tomorrow, I'm going to sleep in!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Day 336

I practised in the morning today, after my long walk and before lunch. I had a good practice! This is probably the most energetic I've felt in a week. The weather is fantastic out - sunny skies and crisp, yet pleasant temperatures. For a brief moment, I thought about moving my yoga mat into the park, but it's not *that* warm out.

Lately, I've been leaving my iPod at home for these long walks and using the time to do some deep thinking about my life and habits. It actually pains me to write about this, but over the past few months, I've fallen into some really unhealthy habits in terms of diet and exercise. And I've gained some weight. I'm full of excuses about why this happened, but here's my big one:

Some of you may remember that in early September, I was very ill and briefly in hospital. Ironically, I lost a lot of weight during that illness. Unremarkably, I gained it back as I recovered - and then some. I was too weak to exercise. I had trouble digesting anything but the most bland, starchy foods. I got in the habit of eating those foods and continued eating them far longer than I should have.

Also, I've discovered that it's more difficult to follow a healthy diet when you're sharing meals with someone else. When I started dating, I let my diet slide. It was just too much fun going out for brunch and eating fruit-and-cream-cheese-stuffed french toast and yummy desserts.

But the fun had to end eventually. I'm getting my strength back and I can digest raw vegetables perfectly fine. It's time to climb back up on that wagon I fell off of two months ago.

1) One small sugary snack per day
2) Long walk with the dog every day
3) Yoga EVERY day (yes, even Moon Days and Saturdays - I need to get back in a routine)
4) Log all my meals in my nutrition planner, daily

*waves as the wagon pulls away, with me onboard*

Let's see how it goes...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 335


I'm so excited and pleased with the election result!

I was up until the wee hours last night, following the election coverage. I was supposed to go to an election party, but I was far too sick to leave the apartment. I'm still sick with this stupid infection. For most of the night, I was feverish and struck by fits of coughing. Instead of partying with friends, or dancing around in Dundas Square, I was hunkered down with my computer tuned to CNN and the T.V. tuned to the CBC's coverage.

Obama's speech was an amazing moment! Tears streamed down my face as I watched. For the first time in 8 years, I'm proud of my country-of-birth.

Practice today was still abbreviated due to the silly sinus infection. It's amazing how quickly I can breeze through the sun salutations when I'm only holding downward facing dog for one breath. I felt good during my practice, though, as long as I was upright. Obviously, Sirsasana is out of the question right now. Any inversions, really. *sigh*

But I'm delighted to report that the laryngitis seems to be fading. This is excellent news, as I teach 7 classes over the next two days.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could be healthy for a whole week? Or practice 6 days in a row? Yes I can?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 334

Don't practice and all is not coming.

That’s how I feel right now - really frustrated with my practice and the state of my health in general.

After a couple of great days finally feeling energetic and strong, I was hit with a cold, then with my Lady's Holiday. And *then*, just as the cold started to fade, I picked up a serious sinus infection. I laid low over the weekend, in hopes that the extra rest would restore me to health, but instead I just feel worse.

I did my extremely modified half-primary today with further modifications to prevent my sinuses from exploding (at least, that's what it felt like). Basically, I removed all standing forward bends and didn't hold downward dog in the sun salutations.

If I keep taking stuff away from my practice, I'm afraid that eventually there will be nothing left!