Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I have a guilty secret. Right now, at this very moment, I'm eating this:

It's a maple-walnut butter tart from the Farmer's Market. I've made a weekly ritual out of this since late August, when I started teaching a noon class downtown on Wednesdays. There is a big farmer's market in the square that day and one of the farmers sells single butter tarts for a buck. His red awning has a Pavlovian effect on me: I see it and drool. It's one of the small things gets me through the week, especially now that I'm teaching 4 classes a day again.

This morning's practice was a YogaDownload class called Power Vinyasa Flow #1 with Dawnelle. I've already tried the 45 and 60 minute versions of this class. I enjoyed the 30. There were a few spots that didn't make sense, but overall, the shorter class flowed well. Since I'm familiar with some of the transitions between poses, I found it easier and even fun moving through the flow sequences.

I think beach season is really over. I've been in a stubborn denial about this, but early yesterday morning I finally put the fan away and brought out the space heater. It's a sign. Another sign: I've had to run the space heater to get the apartment up to practising temperature in the morning. It's been dropping below 10C at night.

I guess I can put my bikini away now, but I'll hold off on the hammock - we may get some warm days yet!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I spent the morning at the dental hygienist getting my teeth excavated from underneath layers of plaque. Yuck, I know. Because I'm self-employed, I don't have dental insurance, something most Canadians get from their employer. We have universal medical coverage here for bodies, but not for teeth. It's a huge gap in the Canada Health Act.

I'm embarrassed that I let my teeth go for this long (it's been at least five years since I had them looked at). I felt guilty every time I biked past my old dentist's office.

The most embarrassing thing is I could have had my teeth taken care regularly, for a reasonable fee, with minimal inconvenience if I had just researched it sooner. My care is being provided practically for free by the Dental Hygienist School down the street. It takes me two minutes to get there on my bicycle.

This year, my care was free because the hygienist who treated me covered the administration fee herself. Apparently, they have trouble finding enough people for the students to practice on, so the students do their own recruiting. That's how J found me - through Craig's list!

So here's my public service announcement for the day:
If you're not insured and can't afford to shell out $200 several times a year for dental cleaning, make friends with your local hygienist school. By the time my cleaning schedule was finished (I had to attend three appointments), I had been examined multiple times by a kazillion qualified dentists, my teeth were clean as a whistle (and double-checked), I had x-rays, a full oral examination, fluoride treatment, plus they gave me a free tooth brush and floss.

I get to keep my x-rays to take the dentist if I need further care (and I do; a filling is loose, there may be a cavity). In four months, they'll do it for me again, and in another four, again. I get three cleanings a year.

So that was my morning. Clean tooths and there was a bit of Astanga in there too. I got up early and did half-Primary before I started my day.

A reader recently asked what I do for half-Primary. I practice right up to Marichyasana D, do one Navasana, then cut to the closing sequence (no backbends). It takes about 55 minutes with Savasana. When I practice half-Primary, I rein myself in and do a more subdued practice.

Now that I'm back on a heavy teaching schedule, I'll be varying my practice a lot more. There will be more half-primary, more hatha, more (and shorter) vinyasa practices. There will be days when I don't have the energy to do very much, but I'll always try to do something.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I don't want to go to ice hockey. I never *want* to go. Once I get there and I'm skating, I'm fine and I have a great time, but there's always the dread factor.

Tonight, I play the late game. This means it will be dark and cold and it's pouring out. Maybe I'm getting too old for this. Best Hockey Friend and I were discussing it on the bench last week. She's pushing 50, thinking this might be her last year. If she doesn't sign up again, I don't know if I will. I almost didn't bother to sign up for this season, but she talked me into it.

This is my 11th year in the league.

I did a 45 minute hatha practice this morning, Gentle Hatha #1 with Jackie. It's the last day of my Lady's so tomorrow will be back to Astanga. I'm missing my inversions.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


And the holiday continues. This morning, I practised to Gentle Hatha Yoga #2 with Jackie, 30 minutes. Soothing, relaxing, lovely and it occurred to me as I practised: there isn't a single Chaturanga in this entire thing. It's all about stepping gently back and forward, no jumps, no stress, no standing poses. Holiday indeed!

Today was CPR day, all day. Argh. I'm required by one of my clients to carry an up-to-date CPR card. They've been so lax about it that I never bothered to keep it up after the initial course (boring, 8 hours, in the boondocks suburbs; at the time I thought “I'm never doing THAT again”). Well, they're cracking down. I have to have it before Wednesday.

It's expensive, but I decided that I would rather pay an extra 20 bucks and do the course downtown rather than travel to deepest darkest suburbia. I located a company that offers the course, signed up, showed up this morning and discovered that the owner is an acquaintance (we once worked at the same community centre). Long story short: all employees of that community centre receive free CPR training from her company by default. Since I still teach there, she handed me a cash refund during the break. Cha-ching!

It felt like Christmas, a gift from Santa Claus that goes directly into my 'pay the rent' fund. Well, I *did* buy myself lunch.

The course was boring. I remembered almost everything from 5 years ago. I sat there knitting my hat and blithely offering answers when she questioned the class on the material. I was the only yoga teacher there and the only grown-up. The class took place at a culinary college and they were all 19-year-old chef students.

The best part of the afternoon was the first aid training, especially bandaging knife wounds. The whole class just perked right up. Relevant material! I guess they've seen their share of cuts and amputated fingers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Well, *that* was wonderful! I just finished a Hatha style class from YogaDownload. I decided to try Gentle Hatha Yoga #1 with Jackie, 30 minute version. It was exactly what the doctor ordered for the lethargic Lady's Holiday mood I'm in today.

There wasn't a single standing pose (aside from Uttanasana) or inversion in the entire sequence. Most of it was low to the mat, Adho Mukha Svanasana and low lunges, some Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (Pigeon), which I love, lots of twists, all very gentle.

The instructor, Jackie, has a soothing voice and it's easy on the ears. These are Hatha classes so they're 'talkier' than the flow classes, but the information is relevant and alignment-oriented (no one is telling you to 'explore the energy of your chakras').

The only thing I would have added was a Paschimottanasana right after the Baddha Konasana. I checked the cheat sheet for the 45 minute version class and voilá! There it was! I don't know what's going on with my hamstrings today, but they're wide open. In Paschimottanasana, I was able to fold forward and rest my face between my shins. Nice! I love open hamstring days.

The other versions look excellent. Poses are added on at the end of the sequence in the longer versions (rather than subtracting them from the middle to create shorter versions; I'm discovering that this may be preferable, as it avoids gaps and inconsistencies). I downloaded all of them and also downloaded all versions of Gentle Hatha #2. This is my homework for the Lady's Hols.

Friday, September 25, 2009


Ug. I felt scattered and agitated all day, then my Lady's Holiday hit like a hurricane. I didn't do my practice in the morning. No reason - just didn't feel like it. I waited and waited and waited and finally unrolled the mat a few minutes before bed. I did about 20 minutes of restorative yoga. That's all I had in me. I meditated for 5 minutes and was asleep shortly after.

On the bright side, I clipped the dog (she looks like a show dog again).

And I finished the hat! I knit all the decreases I could, but I had to wait until my knitting class in the evening to finish (I didn't yet have my double-pointed needles and even if I had, I wouldn't have known what to do with them). I was at the class for less than an hour. Me and another woman both finished our hats early. The instructor gave us Girl Guide Cookies when we finished.

Before I left, I bought some more of that soft, wonderful wool, this time in a periwinkle blue colour. I'm going to start a second hat soon!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Today, I did Power Vinyasa Flow #1 with Dawnelle, the 45 minute version. With this class, I really noticed the spots where they 'cut' things out to make the session shorter. The Prasaritas with tripod headstand were gone, but there was still a cue for Prasarita (which then led to a Toppling Tree pose). Back and forth and back and forth. Not a big deal, but a bit confusing.

So, no inversions in this sequence, which is fine because my Lady's is imminent. I noticed that the intensity wasn't necessarily higher in this shorter version (as I've noticed it being in other 'short' versions of these YogaDownload classes). All in all, it was good. I think the 60 minute version of this class may be my favourite so far. 'Advanced Intermediate' level seems to be working for me.

My entire day was just slightly bizarre. Gmail was down in the morning, which means I couldn't check to see if I had a noon class (and the students who were emailing to ask about that noon class were not getting any answers). Gmail eventually rose from the ashes and there *was* a noon class.

My afternoon youth class almost always runs (and full too, lately I've had upwards of 16 children in that one). But only one person showed up for my evening class in the park. I had to cancel it. I guess it's too cold (to be honest, it really *was* too cold). That's it for outdoor classes. I'm putting the early Saturday morning class on hiatus until we can move indoors.

This knitting project I'm working on is making me crazy. I had to rip out several rows twice in the morning, only to mess the whole thing up again in the afternoon and then discover I was doing it wrong in the evening. Rip, rip, rip. At least I'm getting good at backtracking. It's all one step forward, two steps back. Someday, I'll have a hat. Someday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Apparently, the soreness from hockey didn't kick in until 48 hours after the game. I woke up this morning feeling generally achy, but particularly achy in my left QL, in my quadraceps and my hips (particularly the hip flexors). Ouch. All day, I just wanted to stretch my hips. I biked to my evening class and all I could think of on the way down was stretching. I just wanted to get on my mat and strrrrreeeetch!

I took it easy today in my practice. I've been practising in the morning this week, usually after a long walk. I did a subdued half-Primary, focusing on stretching everything out. I was loathe to get on the mat (feeling tired and sluggish) but once I did it felt just great. Half-Primary was more than enough for me, though.

I noticed more red maple leaves on my walk this morning. The trees are beginning to turn! This is so contradictory to current weather. A heat wave moved through the city. It's drippingly humid with a heat index of 34C. Feels like August *should* have felt. I guess this is our 'indian summer'.

I went out for a sushi lunch and as we sipped our tea afterward, a rainstorm moved in from the west. The skies opened in torrential a torrential downpour. Afterward, it was very cool out and the whole neighbourhood felt freshly scrubbed! That was our first rainstorm since August 30th.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The ice hockey season started up last night. After my meditation, I dressed in my finest dorky-looking hockey gear and headed to the ice rink to see if I could remember how to skate.

I don't play ice hockey in the summer months, so it's been six months since I was actually on any ice. I suffered all the usual problems: the brain-eyes-to-hockey-stick disconnect (the puck was flying right past me), the feeling that my feet were doing stuff my brain had no handle on (like stopping), feeling overwhelmed by the action of the game (addled confusion) and my complete and utter lack of endurance on the ice (*wheeze*).

By the end of the game, I was milling around in our end (I play defence) woefully watching the forwards take the puck down the ice and I was all “Do I HAVE to skate all the way down there?”

I figured I would be sore today, but I wasn't at all. Surprise. By the way, we lost, 4-2.

Today is vinyasa day. I've been saving an 'advanced intermediate' Yogadownload class for a day when I was feeling perky. I decided today was the day: Power Vinyasa Flow #1 with Dawnelle, 60 minutes.

This was a challenging class for me; it just goes and goes and goes without stop. The poses aren't difficult, but there are a lot of them. Half-way through the standing pose section, I realised that my legs were feeling really shaky! I couldn't figure out what was going on. Then I remembered: hockey! My legs were actually *tired*!

I enjoyed the class a lot. I'm really starting to dig the tripod headstands following the Prasaritas. I rarely have the opportunity to do Parivritta Ardha Chandrasana, so I liked that (and struggled with it a bit). The class included a spine strengthening series and some core work that made me whimper. It's rare for me to take breaks during a class, but I had to stop a few times to rest in Balasana.

Overall, two thumbs up! I'm going to download the 45 minute and 30 minute versions of this one. The same teacher offers a Power Vinyasa Flow #4, same level, so I think I'll check that one out too.

Busy day today. I'm spending a couple hours at the dentist in the afternoon, then teaching two classes. I'll be goinggoinggoing until the 8 p.m. Right now: off to the grocery store before it rains!

Monday, September 21, 2009


It's funny, 'thinking' about doing the Primary Series is often far more traumatic than actually doing it. At least, that's how if felt today. As I stepped on the mat, I was all “Hm, do I really want to put myself through this?” By the time I was half-way through, I was all “Everything about this feels easy!” It doesn't always unfold that way and I'm always grateful to have a good practice (today definitely was).

Urdhva Dhanurasana was interesting today. I usually feel it in my arms and shoulders, or in my back. Today, I felt an intense stretch sensaton across the front of my pelvis. It felt incredible. The pose felt very open. I rocked the closing poses. I miss Sarvangasana and Sirsasana when I'm not doing them regularly. Maybe I should add them to the end of vinyasa sequences when I'm not practising

My practice is shifting slightly and part of the shift is towards shorter practices. This will become even more apparent next week when I'm back to teaching 15 classes a week. I've always noticed this shift, but this year it's been particularly stark, probably because I'm practising every day without fail. I just don't have the energy for an hour-and-a-half Astanga marathon on most days.

When the schedule kicks in, Sunday will be my only true day off. I'm thinking of creating a yoga 'schedule' for myself with lighter practices on the heavy teaching days.

P.S. Finally catching up on my comments. Sorry I haven't been responding properly, everyone. Too busy being LAZY!!! :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I had a funny little practice today. I was feeling really indecisive. We're having a warming spell, but I wasn't sure I wanted to take my practice outdoors because the park was crowded. I didn't feel like doing a full Primary but I felt like doing a bit. I didn't feel like doing a lot of yoga, to be honest. Also, the batteries on my iPod shuffle were dead.

The solution: Very slowly and mindfully, I did 5 Surya Namaskara A's and 5 B's. The shuffle charged up while I saluted. Then I went out to the balcony and did the really short version of that vinyasa core class, Core Yoga #1, I've been loving lately (aka: 'Hello, Bandhas!').

All together, with the 9 rounds of Nadi Shodanam pranayama, I spent 45 minutes on the mat. Perfect! This is such a great time of year to use the balcony. The balcony faces south, with lots of sunlight in the afternoon and it's sheltered from the wind, fairly warm even on a cool day.

Today was every bit as lazy as I hoped it would be. I did a lot of reading, listened to music, swung in my hammock in the park (later moved to the sunlight; it was a tad chilly for hammock-swinging), made significant progress on my knitting project.

The GF and I finished watching Grey's Anatomy Season 2. I've seen it before, but she hasn't, which is a lot of fun for me and it's difficult to keep my mouth shut about future plot elements.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It's getting way too cold to practice (or, particularly, to teach) yoga outdoors. I taught an outdoor class this morning, then did my own practice. Brrrrrr! I checked the Environment Canada website and found out it was 10C (50F) out. I did manage to find a sunny spot, but still! Layers!

I did the 45 minute version of the Core Yoga #1 class with Dawnelle. This is the class with the fun Virabhadrasana III ('airplane') to Standing Splits transition. I think I definitely prefer the 45 minute version to the 60 minute one. The 30 minute version is actually great too - very intense.

I spent my afternoon eating Death by Chocolate cookies, drinking tea and knitting, then I biked to the GF's house and watched 'Slaughter House 5' on TVO.

I'm being lazy and milking it for all it's worth. Next week, it's going to get a bit crazy. Ice hockey starts, I start back up with my guitar lessons. Then, the next week, the rest of my class kick in: VERY crazy.

I'm trying to fit in all then naps and leisure I still can. Because once it starts, I suspect that I won't be coming up for air until the holidays.

Tomorrow: more lazy. Stay tuned!

Friday, September 18, 2009


Today was an odd day. I had the day off from teaching and thank goodness I did because I was feeling a bit under the weather. I'm not sure if this means I'm actually sick though - I often get these 'low energy phases' in the fall and winter. And yes, it could also be the New Moon, though I don't really pay attention to those things.

In the morning, I slept in, took the dog for a long walk down at the university (I let her run around off-leash, she was in *heaven*), then came home feeling thoroughly exhausted. I laid down, thinking I would rest for a bit and fell into a deep sleep. I woke over three hours later. Bizarre.

Still didn't feel much like practising, so I caught up on some work. I was reviewing a list of goals I had set for the year and noticed that 'knit a hat' was on that list. Since fall is nearly here (and boy, it felt like it today!), I wondered if courses might be starting. Googling proved me right - a 'knit a hat' course was starting up, in fact, this very evening. I very spontaneously decided to give it a go, quickly washed up, jumped on my bike and rode down the knitting shop.

Gosh, what fun! I do know how to knit scarves, but hats always seemed out of reach because of the decreasing thing. It's much easier than I thought and like all classes, I received some good tips and the teacher corrected a few of my bad habits (apparently, I've been knitting wrong for years!).

I finally did my practice in the evening. I did a 45 minute free-form Hatha practice. It's fun to do this every so often - just start practising and see where the flow takes you. I always start out thinking I'll be on the mat for 10 minutes and stay for much longer. No pranayama today. Meditation finally happened right before bed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Everything has been going so well lately! Sleeping well, waking happy, feeling strong, balanced, well-grounded. I've been content and at ease with my life. Practice is good, the dog is good, my classes are good, and plentiful. Money is rolling in (finally). I'm reading and learning and listening to music and making music and doing all of my favourite things.

And you know what that means.

It's time for life to bitch-slap me around a little bit.


Last night was challenging. This morning, I woke unhappy and agitated after a night of BAD dreams, feeling weak, off-kilter. I silently raged against the routines of my life, feeling anything but ease.

And you know what that means.

Time to draw upon all those inner reserves I spend so much time cultivating and just get on with it! So that's what I did.

I splashed cold water on my face and took the dog for a walk. I decided to do a shorter practice today. I chose the lunchtime sequence I enjoyed so much last week (Lunchtime Flow #1 with Dawnelle, 30 minutes). It felt so good to escape from my mind into my body and breath. I followed up with 9 rounds of Nadi Shodanam pranayama.

I haven't meditated yet today. I'm saving my meditation for later in the evening to calm my mind down before sleep.

As luck would have it, I'm teaching a lot today. I'm putting on a 'happy face' and reminding myself of my commitment to offer my very best self to students.

I'll get through this day. And this too shall pass. It always does.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This morning, I made a goal to be out of bed, cleaned up, apartment tidy, dog brushed and out walking before 8 a.m. I almost did it. I was walking by 8:10. I think I should get extra credit points for even getting out of bed this morning because I was incredibly groggy.

A couple years ago, I spent an insane amount of money on a Garmin GPS wristwatch pedometer. Even though I do use it a *lot*, it's one of those purchases that I've always sort of questioned. I mean, it's neat, but who really *needs* a GPS pedometer? Especially since I tend to take the same walk on the same route every single day. The pedometer serves more as a record keeper than anything else.

Lately, I've been getting bored of my walks and it occurred to me: why not switch things up and walk someplace different? Every day? The pedometer tracks my kilometres no matter where I go - that was the reason for buying it.

Each day this week, I've headed out in a different direction. The dog is fascinated and determined to mark every single tree and fire hydrant. Yesterday, I noticed that the first maples are beginning to turn, bright fire engine red leaves against the blue sky. This morning, I didn't noticed any autumn leaves but it seemed like every yard in that neighbourhood had hostas. Friendly neighbours, other walks are interesting again.

After my walk, I practised Astanga, the full Primary series today. I managed to bind in Supta Kurmasana *and* cross my ankles. On Monday, my Garba Pindasana was exceptional - I was able to lift my hands to my chin. Couldn't do it today, though. There's a balance to be struck between not enough water on the arms and legs (allowing the arms will slide through the eensy-weensy holes in the legs) and too much (can't keep my arms in place to do Kukutasana).

I practised Kapalabhati today, 5 rounds of 20 breath cycles.

(No, this isn't me, but the video clip does a nice job of showing what Kapalabhati is without a lot of discussion).

It's chilly today, 18C out. Not warm enough for hammocking or other outdoor shenanigans. So I'm going to make butter cookies instead.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last night, I logged into the YogaDownload site like a little kid looking for candy, searching out a new class to try today. For those of you who are wondering if I've sold out or something, no worries. I won my subscription to YogaDownload in an online contest. I have unlimited download privileges for one year. I wasn't required to blog about it as a condition of my membership, but since I practice every day and these classes are part of my practice, it's bound to come up.

I'm gradually working my way through all of the vinyasa classes on the site. From what I can tell, most of the classes offered are vinyasa style. I thought I might have tapped out my options, but last night I discovered two entire pages of vinyasa classes I hadn't even considered yet! Fun!

I really liked the vibe of the lunchtime class I did on Sunday. I thought it would be nice if there was a 'morning' class along the same theme. Well, there is! That's what I did today: Morning Flow #1 with Dawnelle. Amusingly, I ended up doing this class around lunchtime (on Sunday, I practised the lunchtime class in the morning - at least I'm adaptable, but maybe next time I'll switch them up).

I chose the 60 minute version. i've noticed that the longer versions are a bit less intense and more deliberate than the shorter sequences. This class focused on back bends. It had more of an intermediate/advanced feel. There was a forearm-stand in there and also handstand. Shoulderstand was included as a closing pose. The backbends were incremental, starting with easy ones like Bujangasana and leading up to Urdhva Dhanurasana.

This class was good for me because I tend to avoid backbends, don't like them. I didn't love this class, but I worked hard and Savasana felt really good.

I concluded my practice with 9 rounds of Nadi Shodanam and 10 minutes of meditation.

It's another beautiful day. I'm thinking of taking my hammock out to the park again today. It's not forecast to be quite as warm tomorrow. Ah, fall!

Monday, September 14, 2009


In an odd way, I feel like things are finally 'coming together' for me right now. The past year has been a bit scattered. The return of my meditation practice was a big step - for too long, it just felt impossible. It's funny how 'easy' it feels now that I’m meditating regularly again.

My asana practice has become more consistent (I've been keeping a daily practice this year, but there have been times when that 'practice' was 15 minutes on the mat). I'm working hard in my practice every day, investing time in it, my focus is strong.

Today, I started tracking my food intake again, the first step towards returning to CR. For now, I'm just observing and getting back into the habit of food-logging. And holy smoke, do I ever eat a lot!

For a couple of months, I've felt myself drawn back to Pranayama practice. I did 9 rounds of Nadi Shodanam Pranayama after my yoga practice and I hope to make this a regular thing.

There are many other items on my list, but instead of feeling overwhelmed by them, I feel confident that everything will unfold in time.

I haven't practised full Primary in almost a week. I've been alternating between half-Primary and the YogaDownload classes. Today, I had the time and energy to devote to a full practice. It felt good to get back to it and interesting to see where the rough spots were.

Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana has been very challenging for me recently. My balance is fine in every pose but this one. I'm learning to be patient with myself.

I've lost my bind in Marichyasana D again (The first time I typed that, I typo'ed: “I lost my mind in Marichyasana D” Same difference? *wink*). I couldn’t find my bind at all in Supta Kurmasana today, so I crossed my ankles instead. It felt like an entirely different pose. I liked it!

And I had a 'moment' in Bhujapindasana. Ever since my faceplant incident, I've been loathe to lower my forehead to the floor in that pose. Today, I decided to bring all of my focus to the Bandhas. As I held the arm balance, I felt myself lift and I spontaneously lowered, easy as pie (I didn't come up again, but I have a feeling that's next).

In non-Yoga news, it's such a beautiful day out! In another universe, it would be a beach day, but I taught a noon class and I have things to do this afternoon. I have a book to read (the library won't let me renew it and it's too great not to finish). And I'm going through another one of my human anatomy geek phases, nose in various books. I have some accounting to ignore (but it's on my list).

That won't stop me from enjoying some time in the sun though! I might even take my hammock to the park...

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Today was supposed to be a beach day, but it didn't happen. Instead, I ended up going to brunch then doing boring, responsible-person stuff, like cleaning the apartment and combing the dreadlocks out of my poor, neglected dog's fur (there was a bath too - *somebody* is not loving me right now).

Sticking to my yoga schedule this morning (alternating between vinyasa and Astanga this week), I chose a vinyasa practice from YogaDownload: Lunchtime Flow #1 with Dawnelle, 30 minutes.

I really liked this one. Seems like the shorter sequences are more intense than the longer ones. I was soaked in sweat 10 minutes into that practice. Dawnelle definitely has her own style of teaching and I'm beginning to recognise her signature poses. Although not billed as a 'core' class, this one contained many core elements.

My favourite pose was, surprisingly, standing splits. There was a lot of Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana early in the sequence which opened up my front hips nicely and made the pose easier. I also enjoyed Natarajasana - I felt very stable and strong (not always the case).

The most challenging pose was a spinal balance that incorporated core work in a vinyasa. I liked this one a lot: From table, reach the left arm forward, the right leg back, inhale into a 'Cow tilt', exhale into a 'Cat tilt' while tucking the left knee to the nose. Repeat.

Also challenging was the 'flip your dog' routine, moving from Adho Mukha Svanasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana. I can flip my dog into a backbend quite easily, but I can't get back again! I just can't seem to get my head wrapped around this transition. It's hard to think when I'm upside down and all turned around! Maybe with practice...

Last night, I had a vivid dream that I was easily doing dropbacks into Urdhva Dhanurasana. Kind of interesting, given that I haven't been practising backbends very much lately and I certainly haven't been working on dropbacks. In the dream, the dropbacks were easy and deliciously fun. My dream-self wanted to email Ursula (who mastered these dropbacks months ago and is delighted with them) to tell her all about it.

Then I woke up. Oh well! I've always felt deeply drawn to dropbacks and it's sometimes a puzzle to me why I *can't* do them. I feel like I should be able to.

In other news, I've been meditating. My goal is consistency, with a minimum of 5 minutes per day. So far, I'm doing well - I'm into my third day. I'm keeping a simple log of my progress over here.

I've updated KD (my private blog) with a few photos from the summer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Busy day for a Saturday, which is unfortunate, since Saturdays afternoons are usually reserved for sloth (I like sloth!). I woke up early and did half-Primary, didn't have time for a full practice.

I had a surprisingly good practice overall, although I was very preoccupied (Lots of stuff going on that's not bloggable here, maybe bloggable on KD if I could only find the time). I completely bungled Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, not because I was stiff or wobbly. I just couldn’t keep my attention on the count. That's actually embarrassing! *blush*

Afterward, I biked down to the Market to pick up a few gourmet food items (read: Death by Chocolate cookies) and to teach two classes. One was outdoors (*lovely* weather) and the other indoors, at a gym.

I'm all excited about teaching in this space since I recently figured out how to connect my iPod to the fancy-schmancy stereo system the Spinning teachers use. I'm loving the surround-sound, it's like having a sitarist sitting in the right hand corner of the room.

The rear brakes on my bicycle began to jam this morning. I've been having problems with them all week, but this time it was serious. I managed to make it to N's Bike Shop just in the nick of time. I thought it would be a quick adjustment, but I had a broken spoke. Read: $$$. Argh, I wasn't budgeting for bike repairs this week!

They fixed it on the spot, took about 20 minutes. They go all out for couriers and people who commute via bicycle. It's a different world when you don't own a car and rely on a bicycle for transportation. I was back on the road in under a half-hour, though.

I made muffins yesterday. I forgot how yummy real, home-baked muffins are. Not difficult to bake either! I used this recipe. Next time, I'll modify it for banana-nut muffins and sprinkle brown sugar on top.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Up early, checked email, went for a walk, did my practice after a bit of shuffling around and procrastinating.

I did the 60 minute version of YogaDownload Core #1. Interesting, this longer version of this class is actually *less* intense than the 30 minute version, with more time spent in the poses (read: longer holds). I sweated less but worked harder. The poses were more or less the same, with some extras like Parivritta Trikonasana and Prasarita Padottanasana C. The seated abdominal sequence was repeated a second time. I'm going to make a prediction: the 45 minute version of this class will provide the perfect 'middle way' between these two extremes and it will prove my favourite.

I'm feeling dull and sleepy today, just a bit moody. I didn't really have 'fun' in my practice today, but it wasn't the postures or sequence, it was definitely just me.

On my way to the grocery store earlier, I was mulling it over, trying to figure out why I'm so *tired*. Then I realised: I'm teaching. A lot. Right. So it's an adjustment.

Also: Gray, cool weather almost always puts me in a more mellow mood. Not in a bad way - it's a great day to sit by the window and read a book. And maybe take a nap.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Back to Astanga today, though I only had time for Half-Primary. That was enough. Given the number of classes I'm teaching today (three, which isn't so unusual, but I'm out of shape for it), I wanted to conserve some energy.

I've been getting a bit disgusted with the whole 'morning sloth' thing I have going lately. Usually, I'm an early riser in the summer months, but not this year (I don't think I've seen a single sunrise). In the past month, I've been particularly bad, sleeping in and spending way too much time mucking around on the computer in the mornings. To be honest, I really don't have time for this now. My fall schedule is kicking in in a big way and soon I'll be teaching a *lot*. I need to get back into some kind of normal, productive routine.

Starting today. *gulp*

This morning, I woke at 7, checked email and finished some work, then I walked up to the Big Park with the dog. A round-trip walk takes just under an hour. I didn't practice in the park (too chilly out). After my walk, it was a very easy transition to immediately unroll my mat and dive into practice. Ah, the magic of momentum! My motor was already revved up.

This seems like a good routine to establish. I'll tackle it one day at a time. Tomorrow is next!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I did *not* want to do yoga. Today was one of 'those' days. No particular reason. Maybe I was lazy. Yes, I think that's it. Some of the lethargy I was feeling yesterday carried over into today. I had 10 hours of sleep last night, so I'm not sure where it's coming from, but my energy is definitely low.

I didn't practice in the morning. I planned to do an afternoon practice after teaching my noon class. Nope! Lunch killed that idea. Then I was distracted installing an update for my iPod. I live and die by my iPod Touch, so this kept me happily occupied with geekiness for a couple of hours. Then it was time for tea. Then, oops!, I was running out of time! How did *that* happen?

(insert innocent look)

I wasn't feeling motivated enough to do Astanga (To be honest, I've been struck by a bit of Astanga burn-out lately). So I poked around on YogaDownload and found a Vinyasa-style class I hadn't tried yet: Core #1 with Dawnelle, 30 minutes. Absolutely loved it!

I would like to start reviewing these classes on the YogaDownload site. For now, here are a few observations about the 30 minute version of the class:

I appreciated the brief period of seated pranayama in the very beginning. It wasn't fancy - just basic diaphragmatic breathing, but it brought a certain calm and focus to the practice. I often start my own classes this way. Dawnelle's classes always have a strong flow component. There are no sun salutations per se, because the whole class is a sun salutation. This particular class focused on developing core strength.

The cues all revolved around the theme, with frequent reminders to 'engage the core' and 'observe the engagement of the core' in the poses. If you replaced the word 'core' with 'bandhas', you would have a great prep class for Astanga. That's what I did: each time I heard 'core', I engaged Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha.

My favourite part of the class was the transition from 'Airplane' (Virabhadrasana III with arms back along the sides) to 'Standing Splits'. I also found the Utthita Trikonasana variation challenging. I'm looking forward to trying the longer versions of this class (45 minute and 60 minutes).

If you're curious about this class, you can download the 20 minute version for free.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


In retrospect, yesterday's practice was actually quite fantastic. Every pose felt good, my hamstrings were open and I had abundant energy. Afterward, I felt fantastic, like I could take on the world. I should have saved some of that Pizzaz for today.

Today, I'm feeling sleepy and lethargic. I carried this low energy into my yoga practice this morning and stumbled through the Primary Series (literally stumbled; my balance was off...Utthita Hasta PadaOOPS!).

At times during my practice, I felt like I could easily lay down and go to sleep. And in Savasana, that's precisely what I did! My cat nap lasted for 10 minutes. I only got up because I was too chilled to continue. For a while I was actually dreaming!

Now I face the task of reviving myself to teach my afternoon and evening classes. Chai tea, please! And maybe a cookie. Or two.

I would love to go to bed early tonight, but I wonder if I actually will? Lately, I've been a night owl...

Monday, September 7, 2009


Oh, it would have been so easy to hop on a train, head for the ferry terminal and escape to the beach for a day of fun. But I didn't. I looked around at my sad, dusty apartment: dirty floors and piles of laundry. I felt a pang of guilt. I'm on my last roll of toilet paper, the dog needs a bath and I could write my name in the layer of dust on top of the television set. Today just needed to be a cleaning day.

And so it was. Four loads of laundry, a trip to the corner store for provisions, scrubbing, sweeping, cleaning and coaxing the dog into the bathtub. Everything looks sparkling and beautiful now and I feel relieved. I needed to do this.

I rewarded myself with my yoga practice. Back to full Primary today. I was indoors, where the floor is solid under my feet and I sweat and sweat. I don't know why I sweat more when I'm inside, but I do. It was nice to have a focused, heated practice. No breeze, no distractions. Also nice to be back on my Manduka again (I use a cheap dollar-store yoga mat when I'm in the park).

I particularly enjoyed my Savasana. I've really experienced a sea change in this pose over the past year. I remember a time when I couldn't be bothered with it, or found laying still for five minutes unbearable. It felt like a waste of time. Now, I'm fully committed to five minutes in the pose, at the end of my practice.

I set a timer. I use the black silk eye pillow I won in the very first WoYoPracMo (Thanks Christelle!). I'm a huge fan of eye pillows now. I even use it at night sometimes, when I'm having trouble drifting to sleep. There is something about that slight weight again my eyelids that eases me into a relaxed state.

Today in Savasana, I was so deeply relaxed by the time the timer went off that I stayed for a little while and observed my own state of bliss. Wonderful!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


This weekend has been a orgy of really, really unhealthy, but extremely fun food. I'm not sure how I got on this train, but it's been a fun ride.

Let's review:

Friday: Was a Beach Day, so of course we had to head to the Café for Banana Pancakes to sustain us on the long (okay, okay, 15 minutes!) ferry ride over. At least we shared them. Of course, I had to have a home-baked banana-chocolate-chip muffin at the Island snack bar. We also went to the patio at the Island Restaurant for drinks but stopped short of buying a meal or dessert (their prices are insane). Instead, we saved our loonies for veggie burgers and fries back in the city.

Saturday: I worked in the morning and, of course, stopped by the Market. Saturday is Death by Chocolate Cookie day! I enjoyed my cookies after a healthy lunch at home. Went to cocktail hour at a friends place in the evening (had a sip of the wine, but mostly ate granola). We finished the evening at a favourite Thai Restaurant. I was *very* good and ordered the vegan vegetable plate which is healthy and delicious (and doesn't leave me feeling like I have a brick in my stomach, like the Pad Thai).

Today: I was treated to Banana Pancakes for brunch (ate an entire plate myself *burp*) and home fries as the Café. Banana pancakes two days running is more than decadent! I would like to think that I burned off these calories helping out in the garden, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case! We went out for a spontaneous supper in the evening and I had my favourite pasta, plus a few bites of dessert. Delicious, but *heavy*.

Monday? I'll be having an apple for breakfast. Seriously, my hollow leg is filling up!

After the gardening today, we headed to the pool at the Very Big Park for some chlorine and sunny fun. Oh, I love this pool! It's clean and uncrowded, possibly because it's unheated, which results in a process of natural selection. It was our first time out this year, due to the municipal strike and the generally grungy weather earlier in the summer. Plus, in August, we were busy at the cottage and the beach. Today was the last of the season!

We went for a long dip, played in the water (handstands!) and then warmed ourselves in the sun. We missed 'last call' by a few minutes; by the time we were ready for our last dip, the lifeguards were already shooing people from the pool. I managed one last tiny toe-dip before we were herded to the change rooms.

That's it, no more pools for the summer. It makes sense, because it *was* getting a bit chilly. I'm not ready to let go of summer!

(And because this is a yoga blog...)

I raced home and squeezed in a quick yoga practice after my bath and before racing off to supper. The day was so jam-packed that I literally didn't have a pause. This is where the YogaDownload classes really come in handy. I did a 25-minute Shoulder Opener #1 sequence with Dawnelle that was already sitting in my queue of downloaded classes. I like this sequence a lot and even the 25-minute version was a well-rounded practice.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


The sparkling weather continues, this time with big, fluffy white clouds moving across the sky.

I taught classes all morning and had an hour to kill between them, so I set up my mat in a courtyard park in the downtown core and did the Swenson short form. I did a full closing sequence, since I missed my chance to do Sirsasana yesterday. I had a good practice, self-led, which gave me the opportunity to hold poses a bit longer and linger in downward facing dog whenever I felt the urge.

The practice felt too short. I was on the mat for about 40 minutes. Lately, I've found myself enjoying a longer practice, but it's nice to know that I can squeeze in a well-rounded practice when I'm in a time crunch. I'll probably continue to do the short form on Saturdays, at least until the weather gets too cold for it.

For fun, a dog story:

I know my dog is smart, but sometimes she surprises me with her ability to navigate thorny problems. She absolutely loves Greenies. These edible dog bones that are supposed to be good for her teeth and breath (I'm as of yet unconvinced). They're not cheap, so I save them as 'special treats' and I had one celophane-wrapped hidden away in a baggy that was tucked into a cloth bag, sitting under the desk. Somehow, she managed to sniff out the Greenie, get it out of the cloth bag, open up the baggie and extract the Greenie from the celophane wrapping.

It was quite an operation! Here she is in the aftermath. Her expression says: “Greenie? What Greenie? I don't know ANYTHING about any Greenie. Nope. Not me.”

Yeah, riiiight!

Friday, September 4, 2009


(Mysore rug in retirement; it has been reincarnated as a 'beach towel')

Beach day! I've been planning this all week. I did my yoga practice in the early morning, in the Big Park. Very quiet and no mowers this time. I finally got back to my full Primary series. I ran out of time and had to skip Sirsasana and Savasana, though. But these are small sacrifices to make for the prospect of Banana Pancakes. ;-)

After breakfast, we took our time biking down to the docks and ended up on the 1 o'clock ferry. We stopped for a coffee on the way to the beach and I added to the decadence of my morning with a home-made chocolate-banana muffin.

The beach was beautiful and the weather was absolutely perfect. I love it when it's just hot enough to make swimming appealing, but not so hot that's it's miserable to be in the sun. Unfortunately, it was noisy. The infestation of military jets continues. One of the fighter jets flew so low, I wondered if he was going to take the tips off the trees. It was actually a bit frightening.

I spent the day lazing around in the sun, swimming and reading. My latest book is 'Rapt' by Winifred Gallagher. It's an amazing treatise about the psychology and physiology of attention. The book touches on everything from meditation, to neurology, to cognitive therapy. It's well-written and engaging. This book appeals to me because it offers a scientific perspective on the benefits of meditation practice. I always love it when an aspect of my spiritual practice can be explained in a nuts-and-bolts kind of way.

This summer, I officially became a 'lake swimmer'. I've never been very comfortable in the lakes around here, but I finally overcame my water-snobbery and I've been swimming nearly every weekend since early August. I think my trip to the Island was the tipping point: it was so beautiful and clean there, almost ocean-like.

It was one thing to get over the 'yuck factor' but the temperature is a different story. This water is COLD. I've learned to wade in up to mid-thigh, exhale completely and then...just like tearing off a band-aid...inhaling deeply as I take the plunge. EEEK! As the season deepens, the water will get colder. It's very possible that this was our last beach day, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an Indian Summer.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I enjoyed my morning practice so much on Tuesday! Not too hot, not too cold, not too sunny, not too many people, and most importantly, quiet.

I wanted a repeat.

This morning, I woke early so I could walk the dog up to the Big Park for another blissful morning practice. The park was practically empty and the sky was a deep, blue bowl. The leaves on the trees glowed neon green. Seriously, I could not ask for better weather. In my city, this is as good as it gets!

What I didn't know, is that I was about to have 'one of those days'. You know, one of those days when EVERYTHING goes wrong.

But back to bliss...The ground was dewy and wet, but that was fine. I happily started my practice, a Yogadownload Hot Yoga/Power Yoga fusion class (Hot-Power Fusion #1, 60 minutes, Lauren). When I'm doing a lot of Astanga, I miss practising poses outside of the Primary Series (I'm thinking of stuff like standing balances like Ardha Chandrasana, hip openers like Pigeon, standing splits - that sort of thing). This class was heavy on the standing balances, which was good fun and there was a half-Pigeon in there too.

Half-way through my practice, I heard a roar overhead and the ground shook beneath me. I glanced up curiously: Military jets. Rehearsing for the weekend air show. Great. The dog was shaking like a leaf, trying to wedge her body beneath me in downward facing dog. I spoke to her soothingly, but carried on.

And that's when the Riding Mower started. He began near the edges of the field and started ominously working his way towards me in in large, looping spirals. Each time he came close, the dog would break out in new spasms of terror.

As I was 'enjoying' Pigeon, the Riding Mower and the Military Jet synchronised their movements in perfect precision, converging simultaneously. The dog tried to wedge herself into my left leg.

Savasana? Ha! You must be joking!

So much for quiet mornings in the park. I know there's a lesson in non-attachment here someplace. I'm digging. I really am.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Once or twice every summer, we'll have a stretch of absolutely gorgeous, sunny, not-too-hot, dry, perfectly clear weather. It found us this week. When I checked online, I saw a line-up of bright, happy, shiny suns icons in the weather forecast. No rain to be seen. Hurrah!

I've been trying to take my practice outside as much as possible. Today, I practised in the afternoon, sandwiched between noon and evening classes. I walked the dog up to the big park and did a fun Yogadownload flow class: Power Vinyasa Flow #4, 50 minutes, with Dawnelle.

I had a great practice, enjoyed my Savasana, enjoyed the sunshine, enjoyed the people watching.

Didn't enjoy the little friends who joined me for my practice.

(image from Wikipedia)

The yellow jackets are out and with a vengeance this year. They've been bugging me as I practice yoga, trying to land on my juicy-looking red mat. They buzz around my head as I try to read on the balcony. I keep my balcony door open at this time of year for the breeze so they've been coming in, then beating themselves silly against the window trying to get out (until I catch them under an overturned glass and free them, so they can turn around and come back and the whole cycle starts all over again).

I've noticed the yellow jackets in past Septembers, but never really understood their behaviour. So I looked it up on Wikipedia. Interesting!

“Adult workers chew and condition the meat fed to the larvae. Larvae in return secrete a sugar material relished by the adults. This exchange is known as trophallaxis. In late summer, foraging workers (nuisance scavengers) change their food preference from meats to ripe, decaying fruits or scavenge human garbage, sodas, picnics, etc., since larvae in the nest fail to meet requirements as a source of sugar. This is why yellowjackets are known largely as pests that are capable of ruining picnics.”

(Thank you, Internet for sapping all of the mystery from life)

So, the yellow jackets are sugar addicts, like me! Now I feel a bit more compassion toward them. But not TOO much. I'm still thinking of making a yellow jacket trap for the balcony.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


And I'm *still* not feeling well - my Lady's this month has been brutal. Headaches, cramps, mood-swings. I'm normally so easy-going and content, all of this inner chaos makes me feel like my body is falling apart.

I've been having distressing dreams. Last night, I dreamt that my dog wandered away from me in the park I couldn't catch her. No matter how fast I ran, she was always just out of reach. In real life, this would never happen - she's very much a 'velcro dog', whimpering if I'm out of her line of sight. I woke feeling panicked and my first impulse was to jump out of bed and get her leash!

I decided the best thing for my body (and my anxious, churning mind) was to get moving. I picked up my mat and headed to the Big Park for a morning practice. It was so beautiful out - much warmer than I expected. The sky was like a deep blue bowl, perfectly clear. I spotted two planes, high up in the sky, leaving a contrail overhead like a perfectly drafted dotted line.

I did a Yogadownload class, Yoga for Back Pain #1, 30 minutes, with Jamie. This is a very gentle Hatha class. Practising at a slow, easy pace felt good. The park was so quiet this morning, very peaceful. It would have been nice to do a longer practice but I was pressed for time.

My Fall schedule is beginning to take shape, with new classes starting up each week. By the end of the month, I'll be up to my full schedule. As I'm teaching more and more, fitting my practice in will be more of a challenge. I would like to try to get in the habit of morning yoga practice again. Yes, I know, Big Words coming from someone who loves to sleep. A couple years ago, I was a happy early-riser. What happened to that bright-eyed girl, who liked to rise with the roosters? I'm trying to find her!