Monday, November 30, 2009


The vet phoned at 2:15 to let me know that Princess Fur was in post-op. They took out several of her front incisors, which means she'll look like a furry little hockey player with a gap-toothed doggie smile. But her teeth are shiny and clean and this particular veterinary nightmare is over, finally. She's very woozy and sleeping it off at the moment. I can pick her up around 6ish.

It was an odd and lonely day without the Princess here to keep me company.

I went to sleep later than I wanted to last night and I've been struggling to resist the Urge To Nap all day. But I'll be strong! I *will* get back on a normal sleep schedule this week. I'm skipping ice hockey tonight to attend to the Princess and I'm planning to go to sleep early.

I had a great practice this morning. I'm back to Astanga! Full Primary today with Beryl. I skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Setu Bandhasana. Headstand still feels weak - in fact, everything felt a bit week. My lower back felt cranky and I felt like I had lost strength in the vinaysas. Funny how quickly that fades (and it will come back quickly too!)

New yoga stuff always adds a bit of spice to the practice: I tried out my new orange, Yogitoes towel, which I bought at a deep discount at the local 'remainder' store. It was the very last one! An alert student gave me the head's up and I sent the girlfriend over to pick it up on Friday.

I'm so glad I didn't pay full price for the silly thing because I actually HATE it. My list of complaints is long: I don't like the texture of the fabric, I don't like the size. I don't like the way it bunches up. I don't like the way it catches on my feet. I don't like the Big Silver Dot on the front of the towel. The manufacturing seems a bit shoddy (the towel was cut unevenly). I don't like the little bumps. I don't even like the particular shade of orange.

To be fair, this is a remainder product and it's possible that the newer Yogitoes are better than this one. Perhaps this one was on discount because it was poorly made. Whatever. I don't like it and I doubt I would like a spanking brand-new improved one either. The Manduka eQua may be ugly, but it works for me.

I'm just waiting for the Manduka people to grab a clue and create some towels in bright, fabulous colours. I would gladly cough up another $60 to have a yoga towel that isn't slate gray. Who knew that aesthetics would matter to me so much? They do!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Hi! I'm boring today. Boring, boring, boring! But that's okay. It's a Sunday and nobody reads this on Sunday (do you?)

And I haven't done yoga yet. But I will. I have Hip Opening Flow #2 (21 minutes with Lisa) queued up on my iTunes. Short and sweet for the laziest Sunday on record. I'm planning to hit the mat while the girlfriend watches a movie later.

She's at the grocery store right now and I'm enjoying the eerie silence of the house. I saw a cardinal outside the window this morning before I sat to meditate. It's gray, somber day out and it's getting darkish already at 3:30. I'm in a wintry mood.

I had big plans to do a solid Astanga practice this morning, but 'life's little dramas' got in the way. It's funny how my Astanga practice never seems to happen if I don't get up early to do it. I'm a creature of my routine; take away the routine and I flounder.

My excuse is sleep. I slept in because I was up late again last night. Then I took a long afternoon nap. To be honest, I'm *still* tired, but if I keep sleeping like this during the day, I won't sleep at night.

Goal for next week: return to a sane sleep schedule.

It's time for my regular weekly feature...

The Internet Asks

Some Sunday fun, pulled from the archives of my access stats. The Internet was not very inquisitive this week but there were a couple of interesting queries.

can you practice Ashtanga and Hatha at the same time?
Depends on what you mean by 'the same time'. I don't believe it's possible to do both styles in the same session because Astanga and Hatha each have a different pace and energy. But it's entirely possible to switch between styles and in a daily yoga practice, I think it's healthy to 'mix it up.'

ashtanga long hair
Uh, oh. Seane Corn strikes again!

Here's a little known fact: I used to have beautiful, thick, curly flowing long hair. Nearly to my waist! No joke! I cut it *very* short during yoga teacher training because it was interfering with my practice. I was sick of 'hair management' and yoga was more important to me. My friends were shocked and horrified and at least one person stopped speaking to me. People get riled up over the weirdest things! Hey, it's MY hair! (and it's back to being very short after this summer's longer hair experiment fell flat...literally).

31 flavours of shoulder openers + yoga
Ooooo! Kinda like Baskin Robbins, except it's pain instead of ice cream! YUMMY!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I'm SO tired. My sleep schedule is completely out of whack right now. This morning, I decided to get up at the regular time and meditate, even though I only had 5 hours of sleep. By the afternoon, I was dragging and needed a nap. I'm glad that I saved my yoga practice for later in the day because it's the only thing that managed to wake me up.

I did my own simple Hatha sequence, the one I give my students when they're trying to build a home practice. It starts out light, with forward bends, moves into the 'classic' version of sun salutations, a few standing poses and hip openers to wind down. I didn't get to the hip openers, but I did drink some tea.

And I'm feeling a bit better.

Goal for the weekend: normalize my sleep schedule. Amazing that one sleepless night could throw me off so completely!

Friday, November 27, 2009


The whirlwind week is ending in a whirlwind day! I feel like I've been spinning in circles since I woke. I arrived home very late last night and went to sleep very late (a combination of a post-class energy spike and a new-gadget energy spike; take a guess!).

I slept in this morning.

I did a shorter meditation session because I'll be attending the meditation group tonight.

Then I did a short, 26-minute Hatha Yoga sequence, Gentle Hatha Flow #2 with Jackie. It felt good to *move*, to flow into something more active and energetic. Lately, I've noticed something interesting about my practice, though: after these couple days of restorative yoga, I feel very comfortable settling into stillness in my poses and moving in a slow, measured way between them. I feel graceful, like a dancer.

I know a few of you are still waiting in suspense for the end of my 'story'.

I finally figured out where that Kindle came from and it really *was* for me. I was a bit worried about this, actually. Wouldn’t it have been a bummer to find out that it was all a Big Mistake and I had to send it back? I was so excited about it!

My mother, a diligent holiday-planner and deeply aware of the deficiencies of our Canada Post mail system (particularly when it comes to packages from the States), decided to order early to avoid disappointment. She figured there would be plenty of time to warn me that the package was on its way. After all, the order had to processed, the package sent, passed through customs and delivered.

It just never dawned on her that the Kindle would arrive on my doorstep less than 24 hours after she placed the order!

Apparently, the United Parcel Service has the *Mad Skillz*

But why did she send it SO early? This is so cute: My mother knows that my schedule lightens up around the holidays. She figured that during my 'down time', I would be able to set the Kindle up and figure it out. A whole MONTH!

Ha, ha!!!! I had that puppy set up within 10 minutes of opening the box! Within 15 minutes, I had bought my first book (Eknath Easwaran's translation of the Bhagavad Gita, of course!)

By the that afternoon, I made my first accidental purchase. Riding along in the streetcar, I accidentally bumped the 'buy' button as I was browsing Georg Feuerstein's 'The Yoga Tradition'. Thank goodness my 'accident' was a book I actually want! In fact, this is the kind of book the Kindle was made for: The print edition of 'Yoga Tradition' is the size of a coffee table book and weighs a tonne. I would never drag it around the city with me. Thus, I've never managed to get around to re-reading it, even though I wanted to.

So, for now, my yoga-philosophy-dork appetite is sated.

Then today, I discovered the universe of FREE Kindle books, which was kind of a relief. For all that I love the technical, geeky goodness of this thing, the hard truth is, I get most of my books from the library. And my library's e-book system doesn't yet support Kindle. But many older books are freely distributed, mostly through initiatives like Project Gutenberg.

I have a feeling that that Kindle will be able to do something my high school English teacher was never able to accomplish: get me pumped up about reading the classics. I'm in the midst of 'The Secret Garden' right now and having a great time!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The past few days have been absolutely wild, gyrating between tearful-awake-all-night-consumed-with-worry to pure-WOOHOO!-elation. It's almost indescribable. My days are usually very serene, with the careful unfolding of a regular routine. No fuss, no excitement.

But this week? Let's do this in point format (because, frankly, my brain is fried):

- Monday: Princess Fur has been lethargic, hesitant to eat and she hasn't been playing much. I took her in to the vet for testing and walked out $500 poorer. Ouch. After everything else was ruled out, we agreed that she needed a dental cleaning.

I spent the rest of that day telling myself that I should just 'let go' of that $500. But it's hard. I had *just* started getting back on my feet financially.

- Tuesday: My vet phoned me with the quote for Princess Fur's dental cleaning: $1300. I shit my pants. I simply don't have this kind of money (I had only $400 saved for the procedure).

I spent much of that day tearing up every time I saw a Christmas tree because I was pretty sure I would have NOTHING but a huge debt for Christmas after this was all over. I stayed up all night surfing the Internet, hoping Google might save me.

Then my Lady's Holiday hit me with power cramps and a bad headache. Wacky hormones were magnifying everything. I felt like I was falling apart.

- Wednesday: My all-night research led me to another vet in the area. After a quick chat with the receptionist (I was a tiny bit hysterical), I decided to take a chance and bring my dog in for yet *another* examination.

This vet (a kind and compassionate older gentleman) spent a half-hour talking me off the ledge and reassuring me that my dog is actually very healthy. He went through the test results (faxed from the other vet) line by line by line. He gave me a quote for the dental cleaning: under $400!

Woozy from lack of sleep, I spent the rest of that day feeling like I was in the twilight zone: exhausted, relieved and a bit suspicious that I was actually living in another dimension.

Today: Things seemed like they were finally back to normal!

The dog is booked for a cleaning on Monday. I had a solid 8 hours of sleep. I did 30 minutes of restorative yoga this morning using Teacher H's CD, but modifying one of the poses into my newly beloved Supta Baddha Konasana using a bolster to add a slight backbend, totally blissing out. I noted that there's no twinge at all in my shoulder now. I'm hoping to get back to a more rigorous practice on Friday.

My Thursday noon class is fully booked, which is great news: I'll have enough cash for my monthly subway pass purchase.

As I'm finishing up my practice, the UPS guy phones. UPS? I wasn't expecting a delivery. The packages are from There's a small box and a bigger box.

I open the small one. It's a case of some sort. I'm puzzled. I open up the bigger one:

Yes, as a matter of fact, that *is* an Amazon Kindle.

I'm officially gobsmacked (to be continued...)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Way back in October, I submitted a short personal anecdote to YogaDork for the Bobby Clennell book give-away,:

As a teenager, I lived with my bachelor single father. My dad had a broad knowledge of many topics, but there were some that alluded him - like menstruation and the purchase of an appropriate bra.

That’s where Rita came in. She was our neighbour and quickly became my friend and confidant. Every teenage girl needs a mother figure to guide her and Rita steered me right. She helped me buy the bra, explained the ins and outs of my period and helped me pick out clothing (To this day, I’ve never managed to develop her finely honed fashion sense).

After we moved away, Rita and I kept in touch. A few years ago, she let me know she was thinking of me a lot. She had cancer and there wasn’t a lot of time. She passed away last year. I’ll never forget her kindness. She was my ‘port in the storm’ during a time of great transition. I was blessed to know her.

...and I won! The Woman's Yoga Book arrived last week and just in time for my Lady's Holiday. This is a medium-sized, well-made book with the thick quality paper that I love and full colour illustrations that are hand-drawn. I love the illustrations in this book - they're just beautiful and they inspire me to try the poses. A quick scan of the chapters made me want to curl up on my futon and start reading.

This will be an especially fun read, especially given that the intricacies of my monthly cycle absolutely fascinate me. I'm interested to see how it all relates to my yoga practice.

This morning, I propped the Clennell book open on a pillow and spent 45 minutes doing most of the sequences from Chapter 12, 'During Your Period: Effortless Practice'.

I haven't even read a word of this chapter yet, but I can tell you that the restorative poses were worth the price of admission! I felt so much better afterward. My nerves have definitely been frayed lately, so it was a relief to feel the return of calm.

This has renewed my enthusiam for Supta Baddha Konasana, an old favourite!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Thanks for the well-wishes for my hockey game, everyone.

We got pounded, lost the game 4-1 (we officially came in second place, but that's okay - the pizza tasted just as good). Turns out, the reason that the other team was SO good is they have a *very* special player: The Bionic Woman.

She's scary. When I mentioned the losing-my-arms thing, I was only half-joking.

That's why this next part is so *very* funny.

In the second period of the game, I was positioned along the boards, valiantly attempting to keep the puck in the other end so my team would have a decent scoring chance. That's when I noticed her, the Bionic Woman, moving toward me at mach speed.

I held my ground with this single courageous thought running through my mind: “Holy shit. I'm gonna DIE.”

She plowed into me and then she kept going, tripping over my stick and crashing to the ice as I looked on in amazement. I was amazed that I was still standing! Then the whistle blew and the ref pointed at me.

“Dude, you've GOT to be kidding! I was just *standing* there!”

“I know, I know, but you *did* technically trip her.” He pointed at my stick.

Unbelievable! I received a two minute penalty for that. Me! The pacifist, vegetarian, meditating, yogadork! The one voted least likely to hurt a fly! My teammates were simultaneously indignant and amused. I'm just not a rough player.

So there I am sitting in the penalty box, serving my time and these two little kids wander over from the viewing area. I smile and tell them: “I was bad. The ref put me in a box!”

The little girl giggled. “You're in time out!” she announced, and wandered away.

I certainly was! :-D

I wasn't sure how my yoga practice would be this morning, given the game and the unusual quantities of alcohol consumed at the pub afterward (I rarely drink, but just for the record: three drinks seem to be enough to put me under the But I seem to have turned some kind of corner with this shoulder business because I felt fine on the mat this morning, definitely better than yesterday.

I did a solid half-Primary, skipping only Janu Sirsasana C, broke into a good sweat and felt more focused than I have in days.

I had a weird vertigo moment after Parsvottanasana. I'm not sure where that came from but it made Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana *very* interesting. I just felt slightly off-balance.

Sirsasana has been feeling unstable for me too, to the point that I don't feel entirely comfortable bringing my legs back up after holding the half-bend. Today, I skipped that part and came into child's pose. I haven't been doing very much of that pose over the past week, so I may have lost some of my strength for it.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Now I'm obsessed with downward facing dog photos.

I glanced at a photo of Beryl Bender Birch in downdog and her arms seem a bit funky. Arjuna has a bit of that going on (maybe it's an Astanga thing?). Google images shows a wide range of different alignments. I can't tell anything from the photos in Maehle's book (but seriously, that woman doing the pose has NO body fat). And David Swenson just looks like he's carved out of alabaster.

I guess I can be concerned about it, or just carry on. I'm carrying on.

This morning, I stumbled through a lethargic and sub-par half-Primary. It was one of those practices where my driste was everywhere but where it needed to be and I was paying a lot of attention to hangnails. Every time I think that meditation is honing my ability to focus, I have a scattered practice like this one and I just roll my eyes.

I skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Marichyasana C & D.

My left deltoid is now fine - six days exactly. The sore left shoulder/upper back is feeling better. But now the right rhomboid is sore.

I figure ice hockey should finish me off nicely. The finals are tonight and somehow, my team ended up in second place. We're playing for the championship. No matter if we get it - the real prize is the coveted early game (no one likes to play late because there's a party at the pub afterward with free booze and pizza).

We might win - there are some great players on my team. But the other team is ferocious (”Grrrrrr”). I'll be lucky if I leave the ice with either one of my arms intact. Then my downward facing dog will look *really* interesting :-D

Sunday, November 22, 2009


As planned, I practised with Erich Schiffmann's Beginning Yoga video this morning (digital download from iHanuman). It was full of awesome! As a teacher, I'm filled with admiration for Erich's ability to convey extremely subtle body movements in a clear and logical way.

This video is perfect for a beginner yoga student. The emphasis is on moving slowly, breathing and feeling the poses. There were a few spots that I would have liked to see more alignment info (like the positioning of the feet in bridge pose, for example), but that's not really Erich's style; he's flexible. He encourages movement of the Drishte (gaze-point) in postures: “Look up and then look down”. One of his favourite cues is “Wriggle as necessary”. The focus is on finding the right 'feeling' in each pose and finding a place that enjoyable.

I was especially interested in the shoulder series. The shoulder series as conveyed on the video is light years away from what is described in the book. There's so much more to it. Erich's instructions and demonstration added a 'wow' factor to every single part of the series. I'll need to watch this one again and take notes. Obviously, I was hoping this would ease some of the pain in my shoulder and upper back and it worked. I felt better afterward.

I really appreciated his reminders to relax the shoulders. This morning, I realised that I've been routinely tensing my shoulders in Prasarita Padottanasana A. I'm sometimes a bit mechanical in my Astanga practice. I need to be more aware of my shoulders as I'm moving through poses.

In terms of the postures in the video, there was nothing very 'new' - the poses were pretty standard. But in saying that, I really wonder about the reach of Erich's general influence on yoga in the US and Canada. Teachers learn from teachers who learn from teachers. I kept getting this déjà vu. Much of what I was hearing sounded vaguely familiar, like I had heard it different contexts. The thread of knowledge creates a tapestry...

My favourite Erich Schiffmann pet phrase: “Enjoy this part”

This morning, this really had me thinking. It's like an invitation to pause, to take everything in, so find ease in whatever 'part' is going on at the moment. It's a valuable practice for taking yoga off the mat and into life. I'm still mentally chewing on it.

Okay, enough philosophising. It's time for my new regular Sunday feature:

The Internet Asks

The keywords were a bit sparse this week. I had to dig around a little bit to find some fun stuff. Here's a few of the search terms that led people to my blog:

astanga daily body tiredness
Well, yes! In fact, it's kind of a theme here in Astanga blogland. I can provide references if you like. There are many to be had!

red unitard
Okay, how cool is it that this person was looking around for 'red unitard', inexplicably ended up on an Astanga yoga blog (they were probably all: "What the hell?!"), yet found exactly what they were looking for. Amazing!

headstand, yoga and regrowth of teeth
Oh. Wow. I'm SO sorry. I don't know what to tell you - that's rough. And unfortunately, I don't think they'll grow back.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Once again, my practice is beginning to feel like 'Groundhog Day' but of a different flavour: the 'restorative' edition.

The good news: My shoulder is feeling better, much better. The bad news: My left Deltoid is still tender. Specifically, it cramps up if I hold my left arm out to the side, à la Virabhadrasana II. Apparently, this soreness is not unusual and it may plague me for another few days. Good times!

Since the sore deltoid triggered the old shoulder injury (I'm almost sure it was Virabhadrasana II or Parsvakonasana that did it on Wednesday), I chilled out today with restorative practice again.

I did most of Teacher H's restorative class (I have this on audio), all the way through the backbends section. Then, I used a strap to do my own signature hamstring/psoas series (my legs were feeling tight). My practice lasted an hour.

I also stretched the upper back in my noon class while teaching the Schiffmann shoulder sequence to my students.

This felt so good that I was inspired to purchase the Beginner Yoga 'Backyard' video that Karen mentioned a few months ago. It features an expanded shoulder sequence. I'll try this for my practice tomorrow. I should be ready to do some standing poses by then. I haven't viewed the entire video yet, but in the first moments, he carefully clears a few fallen leaves off of his yoga mat before sitting down. For some reason, I find this extremely endearing!

While I was snooping around on Erich's iHanuman page, I found a free talk entitled 'Why meditate?' I love this! I'm going to listen to it every time I feel a burned out in my meditation practice! I enjoy the simple, clear way Erich conveys complex ideas and they way he phrases things. The story about 'the window' is a keeper!

No backbend photo this week, but here's a photo I shot of my Downward Facing Dog recently.

This one has a story!

I took the photo out of pure curiosity because something's been bugging me. At a spring yoga conference earlier this year, a perky little YTT Trainee bounced up to me as I was leaving a workshop she had been 'observing'. With impressive arrogance, she proceeded to tell me *everything* that was wrong with my downward facing dog, the main issue seemed to be the alignment of my pelvis and back. She was very insistent: if I continued to do the pose with this alignment, I would surely injure myself.

I was nice about it. I let her know that I was an experienced teacher. I gently explained that I've been doing the pose that way for 15 years and it's *fine*. And, as a teacher, I have a pretty good sense of alignment. She gazed at me in confusion for a moment, then bounced away.

I would *love* to know whose teacher training she was in. :-D

So I curious to see if she might have a point. My back looks fine in the photo. My arms are the big stand-out. Although I do hyperextend in my elbows, that's not what's going on here (Believe it or not, I'm microbending the joint like a good girl). I just have funky arms. I do seem to sink into the armpit chest (Teacher M is always pointing that out) but I have a hard time finding the middle way between sinking and rounding up too far.

If I was as cute as Princess Fur, people might give me treats at conferences. Just sayin'!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Is there such a thing as the Friday Blues? This is the second week in a row that I've felt 'off' on Friday. Last weekend wasn't very much fun, so maybe I'm flinching in anticipation?

Last night, I laid over the Acuball for 20 minutes, smeared some heat-rub on my left upper-back and left arm, then took muscle relaxants. That seemed to do the trick. I slept like a log and I felt a bit better in the morning.

The pain (a tight, cramping sensation) flares up on the inside edge of my left scapula when I turn my head to the left (more pronounced if I then drop my chin to my shoulder). Playing my guitar makes it worse. I didn't practise my guitar at all on Wednesday. Yesterday and today, I played and took breaks, trying not to tense my shoulder. Maybe this will break my bad habit of scrunching my left hand up when I'm trying to get the G-chord. Argh.

Anyway, I'm not taking any chances with this 'injury'. I'm doing Yin or Restorative yoga until my upper back is pain free. No Chaturanga for me. I'm in constant movement while teaching my classes, I don't need to stress my upper-back/shoulder any further with my own practice. I miss Astanga. I've been on a serious Astanga spree and life isn't the same without daily Beryl!

This morning, I practised with Teacher H's restorative yoga sequence, leaving out the part against a wall, since I no longer have a free wall to work against (the bookshelf works for Viparita Karani, though) The supported backbend was *wonderful* and I could really feel it working in my thoracic spine. I'll have to keep that one in mind for finessing my Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Teacher H was my main teacher for years and it was soothing to hear her voice. I looked up her schedule and she has one vinyasa class that doesn't directly coincide with my classes. I may stop by and visit, since the Jivamukti studio seems to be defunct.

After practice, I went back to the Acuball, then took a hot bath. I'm going to nap for an extended period this afternoon instead of working at the soup kitchen. More rest for my shoulder!

Also, I need the extra sleep because I'm going to a party tonight and I'll be out past my bedtime (I know, shocking, isn't it!?). My friend S is celebrating his birthday and he throws the *best* parties. He always invites a diverse group of really interesting, multi-faceted people; the movers-and-the-shakers, but the ones you really *want* to know. I'm shy in groups, but I always have a good time and end up in a good conversation; people aren't cliquey at these parties.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My shoulder *still* hurts. My arm is still sore. Have to admit, I never envisioned this degree of 'after effect' from the Swine Shot, but I'm still glad I got it. Lady's is coming up any day now, so there will be a few days of R&R and I should be fine.

Today, I did the 'Yin Liver' sequence from the Sarah Power's DVD. I did the entire thing, plus a long Savasana, plus some time on the Acuball: 90 minutes total. I took a hot bath after that. My shoulder (I'm pretty sure it's the rhomboid) is still sore, but it's a different kind of sore now - more of a 'muscle sore' rather than a 'pinched nerve sore'. Hopefully, it will feel better tomorrow.

Cristina asked a great question in the comments. She's a night owl and finds it impossible to get up and do her practice in the early morning hours, as recommended by 'the gurus'. She wanted to know what time I get up for my practice. Is it really necessary to practice at an early hour to get full benefit of a yoga practice?

I don't think so. I believe that the best yoga practice is a consistent yoga practice. If doing yoga early in the day helps you to keep a consistent practice, by all means get up early. But there are also benefits to practising later in the day (my body tends to be more open during an afternoon or evening practice).

My 'yoga time' has varied over the years, based on when I work, when I wake and other factors in my life. I've gone through 'night owl' phases. I've practised at noon. I've even practised in the afternoon or twilight hours (that's the schedule I was on *last year*).

At the moment, I get up at 5:45 a.m. There's a big construction project going on across the street and it's noisy. I like to finish my meditation before it starts. If I rise early, I'm able to eat breakfast and tidy the apartment before I sit for meditation at 6:30. After I meditate, I take Princess Fur for a walk and then I do my yoga practice (usually around 8ish). I try to go to sleep before 10.

After the construction ends, I may sleep a bit longer.

More and more, I'm realising that there's no 'perfection' to be found in this practice, no 'standard' to adhere to - at least none that applies equally to each and every person. Whenever I stumble across a 'rule' in yoga, I listen very carefully and then apply it to my own life. My practice is my laboratory; this is where I learn what works for me.

What doesn't work, I let go of.

As for the gurus, I'm sure early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise is a piece of cake if you're living in a cave or an ashram. In real life? Not so much...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Swine Shot update: I'm inoculated.

There was *no* line-up at all at the public health clinic last night. I was walked in, checked in, sat down, got my Swine Shot, spent 15 minutes in the waiting area until I was given clearance to leave (they make you wait 15 minutes, just to be sure you're gonna keel over).

Never one to waste time, I did my meditation as I waited. I was the weirdo in the back with her eyes closed and a blissed out expression. Not even the screams of terrified young children getting needle-poked could phase me.

I was loathe to do this right after my class, but It took all of 20 minutes and I still made it to bed an hour early. Today, the Swine Shot is being offered to everyone, not just the priority groups, so I'm glad squeezed it in.

Left Deltoid update: Ow-my-arm.

Seriously, it *hurts*. I've been getting the regular flu shot for years and my arm was always a bit sore the next day but nothing like this. I opted for a really easy Hatha/Iyengar practice this morning, using my old stand-by favourite, Patricia Walden Yoga for Beginners.

It's super-easy and a fun blast-from-the-past. I've mentioned before, I first started doing yoga with this video. I can still remember how horribly difficult it seemed 15 years ago. The holds seemed interminable (now, they seem short). I used to avoid doing Virabhadrasana II because of my 'weak knees'. In fact, my knees are just fine, (it was my brain that was weak).

I had a good practice, but I'm afraid even the small amount of arm-lifting in this practice was too much. My left shoulder/upper back ins now aching, in addition to my left arm. Maybe a protective contraction? Anyway, not good. I don't want a recurrence of that old shoulder injury. I'll need to be careful today as I'm teaching.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I was so tired this morning. But I started my day at the usual time because I've discovered that when I don't, I feel out of sorts of the rest of the day. Better to take a nap around lunchtime if I need the extra sleep - and that's exactly what I did.

Despite my weariness, practice was good. Some days, I just have to unroll the mat and jump on without overthinking it too much. I was done by 9:15.The Beryl half-Primary is a bit over an hour. During Janu Sirsasana A, I caught myself studying my fingernails and silently reprimanded myself. My focus was good the rest of the practice (though I did pause to pet Princess Fur once or twice).

Skipped: Janu Sirsasana C, Uttana Padasana. And I don't do Urdhva Dhanurasana when I'm practising half-Primary.

The rest of the day is teaching and a few errands. The grocery store near the gym overcharged me by $5 yesterday. Mainly, it's the principle of the thing, but I also want my five bucks back. I don't see how that extra charge (for a tort? from the bakery?) could be accidental. I'm a little bit steamed about it and trying not to be. It's silly, but I'm annoyed.

After my last class tonight, I'm getting my Swine Shot. I tried earlier today, but there was a wait. Apparently, there are no line-ups in the late evening and I'll be in that area anyway. So much for going to bed early, though.

Monday, November 16, 2009


It's an Astanga 'Moon Day' today, new moon, and according to the tradition, a non-practice day. I don't always pay attention to the Moon Days, but today, I was feeling heavy and lethargic, so I happily surrendered to another option: short vinyasa practice.

I did Lisa's Hip Opening Flow #2, 30 minutes. This class is not as heavily 'branded' with YogaDownload terminology and poses - it must be an 'early' one. Interesting, there was a definite 'Anusara' flavour to the class too, which surprised me. I didn't know Lisa had a background in Anusara. I certainly don't notice it in her later classes.

Nice class, though not my favourite. For a class targeting hips, it wasn't very hip. (Ha, ha? Okay, bad joke. *hangs head*) Maybe the longer versions include more and better hip openers. Seriously, adding a Pigeon pose doesn't cut it - there are so many other hip openers. I was hoping to learn something new.

Today was guitar lesson day. I trudged to my lesson with my tail between my legs because I was feeling like I had made absolutely *no* progress since my last lesson. In fact, I felt quite stuck. Guitar Teacher got me unstuck, which is a relief! It will be easier to practise now. I won't feel like I'm spinning my wheels.

I've been teaching her hand mudras. Last lesson, I showed her Vishnu Mudra and she's keen to learn others. This is a good excuse to bone up on my Mudras!

Tomorrow: Half-Primary *and* my H1N1 shot. I'm finally in a 'priority group' that qualifies, so I'm wasting no time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I'm at the house today, so I meditated in the crushing silence this morning (the absence of comforting city noises). But the silence was cheerfully broken by the hum of the small space heater we found hiding in the basement. The handy bonus function of 'white noise generator' was really great, but this heater also produces HEAT!

I was delighted to actually break into a sweat this morning during my practice. I did full Primary with my Beryl DVD, which I finally remembered to pack (hooray for to-do lists). I had a great practice and a perfectly lazy day afterward. Oh, and I skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Setu Bandhasana, as usual.

You know that dream where you're walking into a room, or a hallway, or an outdoor space, or anywhere really - and realise you're in your skivvies? That's sort of how I felt when I checked my access stats yesterday. Yeesh.

Suddenly, it seems, *hundreds* of people are reading this blog. My blogdom popularity rating has gone up by 50%. My readership hasn't been this high since my Accidental Brush with Fame over the summer.

I can't figure out, although many of you seem to be finding me via Grimmly's blog *waves at Grim*

Anyway, hello and welcome friendly lurkers! I'm glad you're here. Make yourselves at home. There's a comments section below and help yourself to the gingerale in the fridge.

While I was pursing my access numbers, I stumbled across the search statistics and that's where the *real* fun started. This is where I got to read about the search terms that lead you people to my blog. Lots of you search for my blog name, which is heartening. Some of you search seemingly random words or phrases. Some ask questions.

And me, being me...well, I feel compelled to answer. I may even make a regular feature out of this.

So, this week, the Internet asks:

Why use a Mysore Rug?
I have one word for you: sweat. Puddles can make a sticky mat slippery. Astanga is a sweaty practice, particularly if you're doing it in a heated shala with a bunch of other (sweaty) bodies. The modern micro-fibre yoga towels develop better traction as they become damp (some folks even spray them with water for that purpose).

Kino McGregor on fasting
Arturo wrote a nice post about this: Nutrition for Yogis

What does Seane Corne use in her curly hair?
The Hair is far less impressive in person (and the person is far *more* impressive in person, but that's another post).

Here's a juicy tidbit: Seane Corn highlights her hair:
"Probably the unhealthiest thing I do is that I do highlight my hair and I have been doing that for a very long time. And it is probably the most chemicals that I am introducing into my system."

And finally, here's my favourite random search string:
nice zafu morning ride

Giddy-up, zafu! We're going' for a ride! Yeeeee-hawwww!

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I'm back to full Primary for the weekend. I'm planning to continue this through Tuesday, then practice half-Primary on Wednesday, Hatha on Thursday and a Vinyasa practice on Friday - pretty much the same schedule I ended up doing last week.

I had a good practice. I skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Setu Bandhasana. My Sirsasana felt very strong today. I've been focusing on using my arms to support the pose for months, but today was the first time I actually felt stable and my head was only lightly grazing the floor. And I finally figured out where the weird callus on my left foot is coming from: jumpthroughs. I'm dragging my foot along the floor as I attempt to pull my feet through.

I've been in a weird mood these last few days - kind of lackadaisical about everything and everyone. I don't feel very motivated in any area of my life. I considered skipping my shift at the soup kitchen last night (but ended up going anyway and I'm glad I did; it was fun!). I had trouble getting out of bed this morning because I didn't see much of a point (but the prospect of Death by Chocolate cookies with tea in the afternoon gave me the jump-start I needed).

Now, I just feel like taking a nap and I probably will.

Lady's must be coming soon. That *has* to be it because it's not like me to be this moody.

My quasi-weekly State-of-the-Backbend photos are beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. They all look the same. My feet are even turned slightly out the same way in each photo (incorrect alignment, but at least I'm consistent!)

Princess Fur is enjoying her new Canine Condo very much, even though it looks a bit like a prison (or the face cage on my hockey helmet). She looks like a puppy in this photo and very small in contrast to her palatial dwelling:

Friday, November 13, 2009


I'm feeling completely lazy and unmotivated to accomplish anything today. I slept in an extra hour, did my morning meditation and walked the dog. But I couldn't seem to coax myself to the mat all morning. I made a phone call, fussed around the apartment, played around on the computer, finally settled down to 45 minutes of vinyasa yoga.

I warmed up with a few sun salutations, then did an audio class, Power Vinyasa Flow #4 with Dawnelle. This wasn't my favourite Dawnelle class. I found the sequencing a bit awkward. I'm hoping this is due to the shorter class format and the longer versions have a more natural flow.

This class was challenging! The level is accurately listed as 'advanced intermediate'. I'm hoping that the 'new' YogaDownload will include some true 'advanced' vinyasa classes. I love the way these classes help me build strength and flexibility in areas that Astanga doesn't always target.

There were two sections near the end of this class that had me begging for mercy. In one, a long hold in high plank was followed by side plank with top leg lifted (full disclosure: I bailed). The other started in a high lunge ('crescent lunge'), followed by a Parivritta Parsvakonasana variation (with bind), followed by a Virabhadrasana III variation back to high lunge (and onward into other poses).

If nothing else, the challenge of those sections will bring me back for another go at this one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yesterday day was long and tough. I wasn't happy with a single class that I taught and my body felt like it had been through a wringer. On the subway home, I had to keep repeating: “I'm kind to myself” because I was definitely NOT being kind to myself. I can be pretty self-critical when it comes to my teaching. After meditation, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and didn't budge until morning.

I woke up feeling sore and bone tired, I didn't want to get up. I wasn't sleepy-tired, my body was tired. Instead of falling asleep during my meditation, I was very distracted. I can't remember ever being so distracted during a meditation. It was like my brain was too numb to focus, so it wandered aimlessly, everywhere.

After a quick walk, I did a 60 minute Hatha practice: Lunar Flow with Lisa. I've been saving this one for a 'hard day.' This definitely qualified. I love the 60 minute version, as I thought I would. It's a perfect downshift class. During the class, I was actually moaning as I came into some of the poses, but I felt so much better afterward.

I laid on the mat for another 20 minutes, using the Acuball to smooth out the tight spots in my back, took a 30 minute nap, then a hot bath. Add some chai tea and I was feeling perky again.

YogaDownload has completely changed their web site - new look, new process, new stuff. In order to download classes, I now have to go through a 'shopping cart' process, which is a bit annoying. Also, the search function on the site is now terrible. I hope they improve it (or return to the functionality it previously had).

On the bright side, there are five new classes available and videos. For non-subscribers, there's a new pricing scheme with one-use and full download options.

Yesterday, I wrapped up my Astanga 'six day' week. Now that I have my sleep schedule regularized, I was curious how more Astanga would effect my energy levels. I'm delighted to be doing more Astanga this month, but I'm not sure if I can do a six day week regularly. If the way I felt this morning is any indication, full Primary on a regular basis may not be sustainable, at least not at the moment. I feel like I've depleted my energy stores significantly.

Perhaps a four or five day week would be more do-able...I'm still thinking on it. Maybe four days of full Primary, one day of half, one vinyasa day and one hatha day?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


That sound you're hearing emanating from Canada? It's the bagpipes. They're everywhere.

This morning, I turned on CBC Radio for Princess Fur, who likes to listen to the news as she dozes inside her Canine Condo. Bagpipes boomed out of the speaker. Walking to the subway? Bagpipes. Downtown? Bagpipes.

Then I remembered: It's Remembrance Day in Canada, our version of Veterans Day. And we celebrate with bagpipes (and poppies, and poetry and Lest We Forget).

Need to get a poppy, I guess.

Here we go. *ouch* Be careful! Don't poke the blog!

I did half-Primary today, as scheduled. It was a nice break, moving through a shorter practice. Half-way through the sun salutations, I stopped and snapped a few photos of my Downward Facing Dog.

This led to some experimentation with a wider stance and fussing around about 'sinking into the arm-pit chest', something Teacher M always warned me against, but I suspect that I do. Of course, just as in Navasana, the Yogic Jury is still out on whether sinking into the arm-pit chest is favourable, or to be avoided.

If I had time, I would do some research, but not today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I had a bright, chipper, energetic practice today. This was a surprise, since I played ice hockey last night and usually 'the morning after' is a bit of a dull affair.

It was a tough game last night. We tied 5-5 against a very good team, the same team that beat us in our very first game. I had one assist and two very good shots on net. I took one hard fall, in which I hit my head. This left me with a 10-minute headache (some pranayama on the bench took care of it). I also fell on my bum, but it was a stupid fall. I was standing around feeling sorry for myself because the other team had just scored goal, when my feet went out from under me. Doh.

My neck was a bit tender this morning, but all my parts seem to be working. No weird bruises or tender spots. My left hip is a bit tight, though.

You may have noticed that I'm beginning to keep track of my 'skipped poses'. I'm dong this to hold myself more accountable for them. It's working - I've stopped skipping Marichyasana D. So, today I skipped my usual: Janu C and Setu.

I skip Janu Sirsasana C because I have nerve damage in both my feet. The condition is called 'Morton's Neuroma'. It's an enlarged nerve between the third and fourth metatarsals. I likely developed the condition when I was working as a field archaeologist in the 1990s. On some sites, sitting is prohibited so you squat. For hours. As a result, I'm a great squatter, but my feet are damaged. It probably doesn't help that I have tiny feet for my height.

Any pose that requires excessive flexion in the metatarsals is a problem for me. I can do Janu Sirsasana C, sort of (and if I'm in a shala, I will), but doing it daily aggravates the neuroma, so I don't. I used to have Plantar Fasciitis too, but that seems to have faded away.

I'm currently obsessed with Navasana. A few weeks ago, I did some research and realised that I've been doing the pose wrong. I've been balancing on the tailbone, rather than on the sit bones.

It's hard to balance on the sit bones! (I tend to fall forward) It requires a lot more abdominal strength and I consciously have to avoid using my Psoas to support the pose. But if I can pull it off, my spine is as straight as an arrow.

I tried teaching this new alignment to a group of students last week and they really struggled.

So I'm doing research. Depending on the source, you're either balancing on the sit bones or on the area between the sit bones and the sacrum (just forward of the coccyx). Some sources get specific (oh, those Iyengar people) and specify the front of the sit bones. Another source mentioned the 'back edge of the sit bones'.

In terms of Astanga, Gregor Maehle and Beryl are in the behind-the-sit-bones camp, David Swenson doesn't specify, but the photos look like he's on his sit bones.

Fun Trivia: In fancy anatomical language, the sit bones are called ischial tuberosities (a term I love using in my classes; saying it is like chewing gum).

I'm personally leaning towards 'the back edge of the sit bones' but I'm going to keep experimenting in my practice.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Last night, I devised a sort of 'plan' for my yoga week.

Monday - Primary Series, full & 60 minutes total meditation
Tuesday - Primary Series, full & 60 minutes total meditation
Wednesday - Primary Series, half (to Navasana) & 40 minutes total meditation
Thursday - YogaDownload class of my choice (30-40 minutes) & 40 minutes total meditation
Friday - Primary Series, full & 60 minutes total meditation
Saturday - Primary Series, full & 60 minutes total meditation
Sunday - Primary Series, full & 60 minutes total meditation

If I can pull it off, it will be the first time I've done the 'six day week' since the summer.

It's much easier to do a daily 90 minute practice now that I'm not bicycling around town to my classes. I tend to shrug off the biking and not consider it 'exercise' but I *do* cover a lot of ground commuting to my classes. Some weeks, I was riding hard for almost 3 hours a day. It started taking a real toll once my full-time classes kicked in.

When I got my subway pass at the beginning of the month, I noticed my energy levels change right away. I had more energy for everything, including asana practice. I'm strong and healthy, but my body does get tired - I tend to forget this. It's great to be able to put my energy back into my yoga practice again. And I'm getting tonnes of reading done on the train. I may finally catch up with my book list!

Practice today was full Primary. I skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Setu, did everything else. I bound *and* crossed my ankles in Supta Kurmasana. Headstand was terrific. Overall, my attention was terrible, though. I'm going through a pretty intense 'monkey mind' phase. I'm seeing it in my meditation too, though not as much as in my asana practice.

*snip, snip, snip* A long rant followed that last sentence, but I thought better of it and moved the entire thing to my private blog. Some things don't need to be shared with the entire Blogiverse.

In brighter news, we had a nice 'Indian Summer' here (is that politically incorrect?) on the weekend. The high was 18C yesterday. I took the dog to the park and we sat in the sunshine, underneath a lovely golden-leafed tree. I meditated for a half-hour in the sunlight with fallen leaves as my 'zafu', then the girlfriend and I had an impromptu picnic in the afternoon light. After our walk, I took a long nap. It was the perfect day!

I'm going to hold onto that memory on this gray, gloomy Monday. By mid-week, it will be cold once again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I'm at the house for the weekend and I forgot my DVD. This is why I need a packing list for travelling to the house. So I'm writing one up. I'll keep it in my GTD system as a Saturday reminder. I forgot a bunch of stuff this time, stuff I can live without, but I do like my creature comforts on the weekend!

I bought the Beryl audio recording off of iTunes for emergencies like this (Yes, I could have practised to Sharath's recording, but I'm on a Beryl kick right now). I like this recording. It's even more casual and layed-back than the DVD. The pace is a bit slower, no Sankrit counting and some poses and vinyasas are skipped. It was recorded in the Caribbean and I like to imagine that after Savasana, I'll head to a café with my fellow Astangis for a beachside brunch. ;-)

This one feels like a real class because it *is* a real class. Beryl even makes a few verbal snafus that I like to call 'Voiceos' - you know, like Typos, except you're talking instead of typing. She gets her left and right mixed up once, cues 'bring the torso to the chest' when she means 'torso to the leg'...that sort of thing.

All you yoga teachers out there are probably nodding; you've been there, done that. You know exactly how it feels. And how does it feel? Well, when you're a new teacher, you beat yourself up about it a lot. After a few years of teaching, it's no big deal. You shrug, correct the error if you actually catch it and move on. Half the time, the students don't even notice - they're too busy trying to wrap their arm around their leg or whatever you've told them to do.

Occasionally, I'll make a *really* big boo-boo in my cueing and my students will try to do this impossible thing I've just asked them to do (like grab the big toe of their standing leg when their other leg is already lifted and then they'll get his panicked look. It's like 'The Three Stooges Do Yoga'. Then I have to 'fess up to my Voiceo and backtrack. Good times. :-D

I had a good practice today. Got up early and meditated for a half-hour before unrolling my mat.

The house is very, very quiet and I'm still not used to it. I'm accustomed to the sounds of the city. It's pretty noisy in my apartment even when all the doors and windows are closed. I can hear the fridge, the buzz of the heating system, traffic outside and foot traffic in the hallway. The house is completely still and the silence actually has a sound of its own. I was listening this morning as I meditated. The silence was a roar, a buzzing in my ears.

I recall a character in a movie once turning on a recording of city sounds - traffic, horns, voices - as she went to bed. She was a New Yorker and couldn't sleep without the noise. At the time, I thought it was funny, but now I totally get it. Silence is noisy too, in a different way.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Full Primary today. I enjoyed my practice, skipped Janu Sirsasana C and Marichyasana D - the former because it aggravates an old condition in my feet and the latter because my low back was a bit cranky last week (and possibly because I'm lazy). I always skip Setu Bandhasana. I probably need to suck up and learn that pose. Argh.

Lately, my entrance into Sirsasana (headstand) has been particularly strong and I'm wondering if it has anything to do with my recent work at the gym. I don't belong to a gym, but I teach at a fancy-pants health club. Recently, I started taking transit to class, usually arriving a bit early (intentionally - I factor in extra time in case there are transit delays). I use this time to play around on the fancy-pants gym equipment, most of which is still a big mystery to me.

There's this metal thing (Google says it's a 'leg raise') that is in my direct eye-path while I'm teaching, so I've seen other people using it (so it's less of a mystery). It looks like a throne without the seat. You climb up, rest your elbows on these platforms while grabbing the handle thingies, then lift knees to chest. Funky. It's a way to work the abs (and the quads too, I guess, and the Psoas). So I've been doing that.

Here's the photo I found online:
She looks so happy, doesn't she? And look at those abs! (clearly, I'm easily amused!)

Today, I arrived *really* early, so I unrolled my mat spent some time goofing around with forearm balance and handstands. I also worked on my backbends, doing Urdhva Dhanurasana against the wall (trying to press my chest towards the wall) and some hangbacks.

I'm no closer to doing drop-backs but at least I'm working on it. Sort of. I get points for trying, right?

Here's this week's State-of-the-Backbend. Kinda lame today:

I think I'll have a good run of long practices through the weekend and maybe even into Monday (no guitar lesson this Monday, which makes the day more manageable). I'm using the DVD regularly right now. I seem to go through these Beryl and Sharath (the CD) 'phases'. Right now, it's all Beryl.

Flo was asking about the Power Yoga DVD. I like it because it's a led Primary, but in a more casual format. Beryl counts in Sanskrit and follows the traditional vinyasa (mostly; there are few fun side-trips into non-traditional poses like Bakasana and handstand), and she offers tips and encouragement for each pose. There's a very authentic feel to the teaching on this disc - it's like being in a real class. Some of the people on the DVD can't do full lotus and use modifications. Beryl stumbles over her words a few times. I like it because it's unpretentious.

Significantly, modifications are offered and encouraged. There are probably not enough modifications to suit a raw beginner, but enough for someone who has done a lot of yoga or has a passing familiarity with Astanga.The DVD was very challenging to me when I first started. Now, a bit less so, but it's comfortable and familiar. When I'm in an Astanga 'slump' the DVD inspires me back onto the mat.

I tend to use the DVD when I have a reasonable block of time to devote to my practice. It's longer than Sharath's CD - about an hour and thirty-five minutes to Sharath's hour-and-ten-minutes. I own other Astanga DVDs, including Mark Darby and Richard Freeman. I found them interesting to watch, but I just wasn't comfortable practising with them. I haven't yet seen Kino's disc (but would like to; this might go on my Christmas list, along with the Intermediate).

Beryl also has a few audio recordings out there, including one on iTunes. I have the one recorded in the Bahamas (referred to as 'beachberyl' in the tags).

You know what my favourite part of the Power Yoga DVD is? Savasana. Beryl's late husband Thom created a CD of rock 'n roll devotional music and one of his songs (based on my mantra, 'Om Mani Padme Hum') accompanies the Savasana. I wish that song was on iTunes because I would totally buy it.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I had a wonderful practice today. In fact, I had a wonderful day.

I woke early, did my half-hour of meditation, then 90 minutes of Full Primary with the Power Yoga DVD. Everything flowed smoothly and easily. Sirsasana was particularly strong today, Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana was particularly challenging (I misplaced my balance this week, need to find it!) and everything else fell into place (except Garba Pindasana, which just fell apart, but I got a good laugh out of it).

As I was practising Baddha Konasana, my mind started wandering. I wondered why Beryl doesn't teach the second version of Baddha Konasana (with the back rounded, forehead to toes). I'm sure there's a good reason. Does someone know? Anyone? Bueller? Jen?

Speaking of Beryl, Christine commented recently and shared this amazing video of Beryl Bender Birch talking about her own philosophy of teaching (courtesty of the Omega Retreat Centre in New York). Wise words from a great teacher: 'You need to practice in order to teach.' I know I wouldn't be an effective teacher without my practice. Daily practice is fertile ground for all of my best ideas and innovations as a teacher. It keeps me fresh and inspired.

It' s my girlfriend's birthday tonight. I stopped by the store to pick up a Chocolate Truffle Cake after my noon class. This is a classic example of a 'selfish gift'. I love chocolate and sweet things, but she doesn't find as much joy in sweets as I do. She'll enjoy the cake anyway. And I knit her a fabulous blue toque that I know she'll love, so it's all good. :-)

I'm heading into the weekend with a pile of amazing books waiting to be read and lots of fun knitting ahead of me. I'm getting ready to turn the heel on that sock I'm working on. The sock is scaring me - I've put a lot of work into it. The Lululemon people say you should 'do one thing a day that scares you'. Glad to know I'm living up to my full potential!

The weather is supposed to be fabulous here, by the way. Sunday may be the perfect day to go to the Really Big Park and have a Autumn Picnic!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I've been sitting at my window seat, reading RSS feeds and eating lunch for the past hour. In that time, the weather has created a constantly shifting panorama outside my window. It has been very sunny and clear, overcast, darkly stormy, windy with torrential rains and then brightly sunny again. Right now, it's gorgeous - bright blue sky, brilliant sunshine and thank goodness, since I walk to my class in about an hour.

I'm having a great day. Since my noon class cancelled, it felt like a holiday. I didn't sleep in, though. In fact, I woke before the alarm clock, which is a kind of victory for me. I was trying to get to that point before the time change hit. On Sunday morning, I found myself waking up an hour *before* the alarm. Argh!

My internal clock seems to have finally received the memo about the end of Daylight Savings Time. The waking-early-without-the-alarm thing was one of my goals when I set out to regularize my sleeping schedule. I'm glad that it's finally bearing fruit. I'm also no longer feeling drowsy in meditation and I'm feeling more wakeful and energetic in my day-to-day life. These are all good things!

One thing I'm learning is that I seem to need more than 8 hours of sleep. I think 8.5 may be the magic number, with an occasional 9 hour night.

After breakfast and a walk, I meditated, then popped Beryl into the DVD player for a fun half Primary. My asana practice took a bit more than an hour. I had a great practice, nothing special but it was nice to do some Astanga mid-week. My hips are really feeling it after the fact, but in a good way.

Recently, it occurred to me that I'm now spending as much, or more time meditating than I am doing asana practice. I never imagined that I would enjoy meditation this much! It's surprising.

I'm absolutely *loving* my Mobile Meditator. Since I first inflated it last week, I haven't used my buckwheat hull zafu at all. Right now, I'm learning to fine-tune the amount of air in the three chambers to create the best alignment for sitting. So far, I'm finding that the best approach is to inflate the zafu with more air than needed, then let a little bit out while I'm sitting on it to adjust the height.

Now that I'm used to air, it feels very stable and solid to me. It creates a good foundation while still being soft enough that my bum doesn't get numb. I'm particularly delighted that I can adjust the height at will - my hips are not the same for day to day, and the MM is infinitely adjustable. A more comprehensive review is coming - I just wanted to offer an update.

The other 'portable' zafu recommended to me was the Prapatti. I contacted the Prapatti people and heard back a couple of weeks later. In order to receive a price quote, they needed very specific information about my measurements - the height of my knees relative to the floor in a seated meditation position. They requested photos which, of course, roused my inner-geek into a state of ecstasy.

I got out my digital camera and shot several photos, including this one:

That was fun! But I haven't heard back from them. I'll keep you all posted!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Finally, *finally*, I have something nice to say about poor Natalie Maisel, who I've been so critical of in the past. This morning, I tried Chakra Balancing Yoga #1, 30 minutes and I was so impressed!

This is a terrific, beginner level class that explores and balances the Chakras. For each Chakra, she offers a location, description, a colour visualization, a vowel sound (not the traditional ones that I'm familiar with, but that's okay I guess) and an affirmation. It was nicely done, relaxing, really a meditation in motion.

I liked most of her asana choices for the Chakras. That said, I would have left out the two deeper backbends (Ustrasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana). Given that this is such a gentle class, there's no opportunity to warm the body; it's tough to do backbending cold if you're not naturally bendy).

As alternatives, I would have offered Bujangasana (Cobra, with a Sphinx variation) for the Heart Chakra, and Sasangasana (Rabbit Pose) or Sirsasana (Headstand) for the Crown Chakra.

The Savasana was soothing and lovely, with a review of each Chakra.The Sanskrit names of the Chakras would have been a nice addition for more advanced students. Overall, though, I liked this class and I will do it again. It has given me some ideas about how I might integrate Chakra work into my own teaching (Ever practical and science-minded, I'm particularly interested in how the Charkas relate to the endocrine system).

Now, I just have to get this out of my system...

Today's pet peeve: *sigh* 'Fallen Leaf' is NOT a yoga pose.

The pose being reference (I think...) was Child's Pose', known as Balasana in the Sanskrit language. But did I have any way of knowing that as I was looking forward to the counter pose to my backbend? No, I didn't. Cue FAIL.

This kind of thing drives me crazy! Since this pose was not listed on the YogaDownload 'cheat sheet', I had absolutely NO idea what Natalie was talking about when she asked me to take 'Fallen Leaf'. In fact, I'm still not sure.

Yoga poses have standard, agreed-upon (Sanskrit) names for a reason. They allow yoga students to study anywhere, with other teachers, even in other countries! The Sanskrit names of the poses should be the same if your instructor is speaking Tagalog or Japanese. And English, *especially* English. When the instructor speaks my language, I should be able to understand what's coming next.

To be fair, YogaDownload has it's own quirky naming conventions and that's fine, but the instructors need to keep things consistent.

End rant.

Busy day today. Lots of classes, but I'm having a good week. It looks like my noon class is cancelling again tomorrow. That's bad for the money thing, but I'm looking forward to the 'time off'. I'm planning to fill it with a few errands and household chores.

And sloth. :-D

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


My hockey team won, 4-2 last night, but I wasn't there to see it. It was a late game, a cold and rainy night and I was already tired. When games run past my bedtime, it's hard to motivate myself. This morning I got the update from my defence partner, E. They had full lines despite the late start. I'm glad this team is doing well because it means we'll get one of the 'early slots' for the finals at the end of the month.

I turned on the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire this morning and did a self-led Astanga practice, the short form of the Primary Series. Very fun. I loafed around in the poses I particularly liked, took breaks to drink tea, cooed over my dog and enjoyed a long Savasana.

The rest of the day has been a perfect combination of feeling lazy, while still being fairly productive. I did some cleaning, finished the laundry, bought groceries.

The beginning of November marks the start of Subway Pass Season. Bruce, the folding bike, is now sitting forlornly in a corner, headed soon to storage. Using my shiny new pass, I hopped on a train after my noon class and headed up to my favourite grocery store. No more hauling groceries around on the handle bars of my bicycle, or stopping at any old store I pass on my ride home.

I know that by the end of the winter, I'll be dying to get back on my bike, I'll miss the delicious freedom of my wheels. But for now, I'm delighted that I can sit around on my commute and read, read, read. I can listen to music, or knit. Or daydream. (or try to ignore the crazy person moaning in the corner, but let's not go there...)

For now, I'm a happy transit rider.

Monday, November 2, 2009


No Astanga today.

My low back is feeling cranky this morning and my mind was very scattered (I woke up on a the 'wrong side of the bed', I guess). After my meditation, I went for a walk and then opted for an easier yoga practice, Lunar Flow #1, 45 minutes with Lisa. This was a good choice, the perfect thing to soothe my back. I'm feeling a bit better.

I've tried the 20 minute and 30 minute versions of this one. This class added a few poses and expanded the 'moon salutations'. The practice started in Savasana and moved into a supine twist. The gentle moon salutations consisted of low lunges, down dog and cobra. Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (Pigeon; which I modified into a bound twist), was followed by Ardha Matsyendrasa (Half Lord of the Fishes), followed by lots of forward bends and a shoulderstand sequence at the end.

I have a feeling that the 60 minute version will prove to be a favourite. I'm saving it for a special occasion (like the next time I having a rotten day and need to be pampered with easy yoga).

Pet peeve: The instructor, Lisa, calls Karna Pidasana 'Deaf Man's Pose'. This just sounds WRONG. Politically incorrect, sexist, weird...something. I flinch every time she says it.

For the record, Karna Pidasana is translated as 'squeeze the ears pose' or sometimes, 'ear pressure pose'.

Anyway, there are no Deaf guys in this pose.

So I'm having an odd day. I don't feel like I 'fit' in my body. I had to pause my morning meditation to add air to the Mobile Meditator because I didn't feel like there was enough height to support my low back. Then I changed my mind and released some of the air. I felt like Goldilocks, trying to get it 'just right' (but at least it's adjustable, if I'm going to be all quirky about it).

Then, walking to the subway after my noon class, I felt like I was flopping around in my body, like it didn't belong to me. I spied my reflection in a glass surface and I looked as gangly and awkward as I felt.

No more classes today, thank goodness. Just a guitar lesson and ice hockey. You know, activities that require NO hand-eye co-ordination and body-awareness whatsoever. *eyeroll*

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I'm spending the weekend at the house and stayed here overnight. It's the first time in a long time that I practised in the front room. My poor, neglected old Maha mat got some love from me.

I did an early morning practice shortly after waking (though not *too* early since daylight savings time ended). I set up my computer nearby and ran the Power Yoga DVD for my practice (Beryl, Day #3). I don't really need to see the DVD, I just like to have 'company', the sound of a voice leading me through my practice.

This house is so cold! I never really warmed up (didn't break a sweat) and I found that some poses were not bindable, notably, Marichyasana D and there was no ankle-crossing in Supta Kurmasana.

I had a good practice though. Afterward, I chatted with my girlfriend for awhile, then came back down for a half-hour of meditation. When I'm here, I pretty much turn her front room into an ashram, with the mat, zafu, candles and meditation shawl.

The best part of the morning was receiving my Google Calendar agenda: “No events today”


I'm looking forward to a lazy day, lots of reading, a bit of knitting and a long walk in the park with the dog.