Saturday, February 28, 2009


I started practice today with every intention of doing full Primary, but it got cut short and I did half-primary instead.

I'm pretty sure the fact that I stopped to open up ALL the blinds in the apartment had something to do with this (I have cheap blinds - they take some time to open). Once the apartment was filled with golden sunlight, I continued. I'm craving sunlight these days. It was blissful to do yoga in beams of light.

I live in a south-facing apartment. During the winter, the sun shines straight in through the windows and it's a bit blinding so I usually keep the blinds down during these months to cut the glare. But as we're moving closer to spring, the sun is climbing higher into the sky each day. Soon, I'll be able to leave the blinds open all the time. I'm looking forward to this.

Today's cleaning project: The kitchen cabinets. Also known as 'Where Expired Food Goes to Die.” Ug.

Friday, February 27, 2009


For no particular reason, I put off practising until the late evening. I find that if I don't practise in the early morning, this often happens and I feel either rushed or unenthusiastic about practising. I wish I could consistently practice in the a.m.

Today's practice was very easy-going: 5 Sun Salutation A, 3 Sun Salutation B, the standing poses and then a bunch of restorative yoga poses, including hip openers and hamstring work. It was blissful for my body after a hard day of teaching yesterday. I feel sore all over.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I did the Short Form, but it was really a perfunctory sort of thing because I'm teaching four classes today and still feeling tired from yesterday. Thursdays are generally a 'do what I can' day, and that's usually not much. I let myself off the hook for accomplishing anything important.

The highlight of my afternoon was laying on the futon reading a book and cuddling with the dog, then taking a nap. :-)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


It's been very, very wet there for the past few days and even though it's theoretically warmer, it doesn't feel that way. Damp cold seems to affect me more deeply than extreme dry cold.

I took out three videos at the library this week - Bryan Kest's Power Yoga I, II and III. Today, I tried Power Yoga I. Bryan Kest is very pretty and very California; surfer dude. I can see how the muscular chest and those cut-off jeans worn over cut-off long johns might flutter the female heart. Alas, I was left cold by his beauty. ;-)

But I thought his sequence was pretty good. It was well thought out and I really enjoyed the way it flowed. Bryan Kest calls long holds, 'hanging out in the pose'. There was quite a bit of 'hanging out', particularly in the first moments of the sun salutations. This didn't work for me; I find that I need movement in order to warm up. Once warmed up, I can handle the longer holds. It's like forcing me to move quickly first thing in the morning - not gonna happen.

The rest was good, though. I could see this practice expanding my capacities in important ways. None of the poses were unfamiliar, but they were sequenced in interesting ways to build strength and endurance. I'll reflect more as I continue to explore the tapes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I'm starting to settle back into a routine here at home and today I managed to pin myself down to the mat for a good hour and do the full primary series. I used the Sharath CD to keep myself on track and my practice felt really good.

My survival strategy today was simple: keep busy. Also, things have a way of working themselves out. It's not an easy time in history to be a full-time yoga teacher. I'm working on a few strategies to expand my yoga business and stay afloat over the summer.

As difficult as things have been, it's definitely roused me from my happy complacence of depending wholly on word-of-mouth to expand my business. In the long run, I think that the outreach and marketing work I'm doing now will bring me great success, particularly once the economy recovers. I'm not giving up!

Monday, February 23, 2009


I'm having an awful day. Pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong (But I still have a hockey game in a few minutes, so there's still room for a continued fall from grace).

*shakes head*

I'm fervently hoping that this run of bad karma has run its course and that tomorrow will be a bit brighter. Even a tiny bit brighter would be great. In the meantime...

My practice today was less the result of tapas than of habit. I simply put one foot in front of the other and eventually both feet ended up on the mat. I did the Swenson short form because that's literally all I had in me.

As I moved through the series, every pose was a prayer: 'Please let things get better. Please let things get better. Please let things get better.'

For me. For you. For everyone.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


I fully intended to do the complete short form tonight, but when it became clear that I was running out of time, I veered off into hip-opener land. I practised my prep poses for Hanumasana and also goofed around with Bakasana.

The soreness in my armpit/siderib area is feeling much better and I'm feeling stronger in my modified jumpthroughs! I think I may have stumbled onto a technique that will help me build strength. Or it's just a wonderful coincidence...I'm never sure!

I'm off to the house for the weekend, returning to my humble abode sometime Monday.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I was at an all-day conference today, then went to a photo show one of my students is involved in. The latter activity involved travel on public transportation in a swirling snow storm. I was cold and tired when I arrived home and not feeling up to much. I always enjoy the commeraderie and buzz of a good conference, but as an introvert, I find it drains me fast.

Also, Law and Order SVU was on ;-)

So I did some forward bends during the commercial breaks and concluded with Supta Padangusthasana and Supta Baddha Konasana. 'T.V. Yoga' is not ideal, but that was all I had in me for today.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Ouch, my armpits.

Every time I think I've become intimately familiar with every possible muscle group in my body Ashtanga introduces me to a new one. The area below my armpits and into my sideribs hurt like hell all day and particularly during my practice. Especially while attempting jumpthroughs. Yup! Somebody overdid it yesterday!

Amusing sidenote: I was trying to figure out precisely which muscles were at play by googling “sore muscles under armpits and all I found were pages and pages of people complaining about their sore muscles and wondering how to get rid of them. I don't have any answer but one: don't do Ashtanga yoga. *grin*

For benefit of the curious, I'm thinking my soreness was in the Serratus anterior. My second guess is the Latissimus Dorsi. Or maybe both.

Anways...Swenson Short Form today. And ouch.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Today, I discovered the secret of jump-throughs. I made this exciting discovery while teaching a kids' class and goofing around in sun salutations. Here's my epiphany: socks and a slidey floor. I probably did about 400 jump-throughs. I knew I was on the right track when I was getting 'ooo's' and 'ahhh's' from the kids and one child said with great excitement, “You're floating!”

Back at home, on my sticky yoga mat with bare feet, reality came in the form of stubbed toes, but I'm getting the idea and more importantly, I'm building strength. Hopping around the floor in my stockinged feet is way more fun than Uth Pluthi.

Today's practice was short and simple: Sun salutations and standing poses, probably about 20 minutes and very late at night - I had just returned from teaching three classes. I felt tired and run down. I was just happy to get it over with.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


It's Neti Week in my classes. At least once a year during my pre-registered session, I bring a neti pot to class with me, along with a thermos of warm water and some sea salt. And I do neti. That's right, performance neti - right there in front of my class. With three classes, that's a lot of neti!

It's always fascinating to watch the reactions the neti pot generates. In kids' class, some are interested and others say “Oh, gross!!!” In my adult classes, there's a mix of squeamishness and fascination. My neti demonstration inevitably spurs a discussion of various yoga techniques and their efficacy.

One year, I demo'ed neti to a room full of mostly unimpressed adults, but a 17-year-old boy was so taken with neti that he bought his own pot and started doing doing it at home. He said it helped control his allergies. I believe him. Neti has not only helped me control allergies, it has helped clear sinus infections and stave off other illness.

I did the Primary Series, an evening practice, with a few modifications because I was feeling tired and stiff. But my sinuses felt great ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Lately, I've been exploring yoga podcasts and videocasts. I'm already familiar with several of the podcasts on iTunes. I've actually done a few of the Yoga Today classes, back when you could still download them. But I'm beginning to investigate these options more closely, as prices at studios are going up (around $20 per class in my city). My home studio was sold to a fancy schmancy health club a few years ago and its satellite studio was bought out and fluffed into a 'Spa Studio'. I'm feeling a bit 'homeless' these days.

Though I don't teach at yoga studios (by choice) and, increasingly, I'm not attending classes at them, I do enjoy taking the occasional class. I find that I get inspiration for my own teaching from experiencing the techniques and sequences of other teachers and it bolsters my dedication to practice. The podcasts and videocasts seem like they might be a good alternative to studio classes.

Today, I tried a Vinyasa Power Flow podcast (7/12/2008) by a Denver area teacher named Dave Farmar. Dave has been practising yoga since 2001 and trained as a teacher with Baron Baptiste in 2005.

I've heard a lot about Baptiste yoga and I was eager to see how this style compared to Astanga. I enjoyed Dave's class. It was a bit slow to start - I'm not a big fan of beginning a class in Balasana (child's pose). Once the flow started, it moved along at a good clip and I enjoyed the postures. I did find that Dave talked a lot, particularly during holds of poses. Sometimes the commentary was not relevant to the pose itself (instructional). I'm a talker too - I know that I do this in my own classes and it was a good reminder to me. From the student perspective, it's aggravating, particularly during long holds of poses (and the holds tended to be very long in this podcast).

I enjoyed the way Dave sequenced the postures into a flow and offered options for more advanced work in some of the poses. He did this in a very natural and fluid way. I particularly admire the way he handled multiple levels (for example, teaching Ustrasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana simultaneously).

The flows moved through a series of poses on one side and then the other. I found that my body felt imbalanced and disconnected when practising this way. I really prefer to do one side of a pose, then the other side almost immediately. I also felt the holds were far too long for a vinyasa flow class and they were sometimes uneven (long hold on one side, but not the other). This really threw me off.

These are observations more than criticisms - everybody teaches differently and students will seek out teachers who enhance their own approach to practice. By experiencing other ways of teaching, I learn new ways of presenting information and I figure out what works and doesn't work in my own classes.

I'll write more about videocasts and podcasts as I continue to explore this medium.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Today was a holiday. In Ontario, it's 'Family Day'. Mainly, this is just an excuse to have a holiday in February. We were kind of jealous of Presidents Day. ;-) I'm not complaining, though.

I slept in this morning and with the unfolding of the day, yoga didn't happen until the evening.

I intended to do full Primary. I unrolled the mat and started sun salutations. But within minutes there was a crisis in the works. A hard drive had failed and I was needed for tech support. Soon I was troubleshooting in between salutations, surfing forums between poses and doing poses in the kitchen as I advised from my laptop. I stopped halfway because it was getting too complicated.

I was never able to get the hard drive back. Let this be a lesson to all of us: back up your data! And if you really want to get a full practice in, better not sleep in!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Woke early again, once again with the intention of doing the full primary. Unfortunately, I got distracted by the Internet and got a late start. I cut it to half-primary.

I'm somewhat amazed by my weekends lately. It used to be a chore to get to the mat for even 10 minutes on a Saturday or Sunday, but this waking early thing has totally transformed my weekend yoga practice. Of course, I've had to forfeit the whole 'sleeping in thing' to do it, but I'm not unhappy about the result. I always managed at least 45 minutes of practice these days.

Sundays have settled into a nice routine. Usually, I go ice skating, then I visit a favourite little café for chai tea and a brownie.

This week, I brought along the Anatomy Colouring Book and my brand new fancy-schmancy pencil sharpener and coloured for awhile. I was totally blissed out - I love colouring So far, I'm only into the pages detailing regions of the body, but I'm very excited about moving on to bones and muscle. My goal is to work my way through the entire book (colouring) this year.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


This morning, I woke up at 7 a.m. and set up my mat next to MB Buddha in the front room downstairs. In the morning hours, clear, white light streams in through the east-facing dining room window. Through the west-facing windows, I can see the houses across the street lit by the rising sun. Since the weather warmed up, I've started hearing birdsong from the back yard. It's a nice atmosphere for practice.

I did the full Primary Series today, led by the Sharath CD. I moved through all poses, only substituting my usual three. For the first time in a while, I did Garba Pindasana. I wasn't sure how I would negotiate the rolls with various furniture crowded around me. I was afraid I might have to rename it “Hit My Head on The Coffee Table Pose”. Somehow, I managed! ;-)

I'm no closer to recovering my bind in Kurmasana, but I was surprised to notice that I actually seem to be making progress in Hanumasana (not part of the Series; this is a personal project I've been working on in my practice).

Over the past two years, I've had a recurring dream about doing this pose, being able to slide effortlessly into the splits. I keep hoping (and stretching), but I think this is my year!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Fridays are a day off teaching for me and tend to be a combination of recuperation from the busy week and preparation for the coming weekend. I usually do the cleaning, tie up loose ends for the financial and scheduling sides of my business, cull my to-do list (and add items for the following week) and pack my bag for the weekend. I also set aside time for practising music.

One of my resolutions this year was to make music a daily part of my life. I own so many musical instruments that I'm a bit embarrassed to 'fess up, but the instruments that aren't in storage are my Djembe (African drum), shruti box (Indian instrument similar to the harmonium) and guitar.

The drum usually languishes in the winter because the drum circles move indoors and I lose motivation to practice. This winter, I decided to learn some new rhythms and I've been trying to practice (with a sheet stuffed inside the drum to reduce noise) three times per week. My goal is to attend an indoor drum circle sometime this month.

I started playing the shruti box this fall to augment my chanting practice. I took a series of classes, so I have a decent repertoire of chants to draw from. I usually play my shruti after yoga practice and before meditation. I've been playing about three times per week. I find it very soothing and since I already love chanting, it's a natural off-shoot.

The guitar is an area of deep guilt for me. I bought my guitar three years ago and after a few months, it ended up in the closet. After one of the strings broke, it seemed destined to stay there. This year, I resolved to learn to play it. My father played a classical guitar when I was a child, often sitting in the cockpit of our boat and quietly singing me to sleep at night. These are some of my best memories of my father. I'd like to learn the instrument to honour his memory.

A couple weeks ago, I bought some new strings and, using YouTube videos as a guide, I restrung the instrument. Then I searched for and found a fabulous guitar teacher. I had my first lesson last Monday and this week I've been learning to play a song! It's really amazing how quickly I'm catching on. I think it would be a hoot to learn some yoga chants accompanied by guitar!

Today, I had a good chunk of time in the afternoon to practice, so I did the full primary series, start to finish. It was an intense, sweaty practice. I can feel some of these poses coming back to me. I'm very, very close to binding again in Supta Kurmasana. Bujangasana is back. Halasana feels heavenly.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I did Swenson's short form today, following his sequence down to the letter. I wasn't feeling particularly rigid. The honest truth is, I was uninspired and just wanted to jump into something easily and fluidly. The short form is good for that - I unrolled my mat and stepped right into sun salutations.

My practice felt particularly good today, maybe because of the heat. It's very warm and humid here - well, warm for February. The high was 4C. When I'm teaching, I often end up demoing poses 'cold' because I'm not doing the practice with my students. I forget how much I love a pose like Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) until I do it with warm muscles. I was sweating today, so even the forward bends were blissful. Also did a great headstand today.

Everything just felt great. It's been a great week!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Today I had my favourite brunch: Banana pancakes at Futures and spent the rest of the afternoon at my apartment, working. I took a break to do my practice.

The theme in my Hatha Yoga classes this week is developing core strength. I moved through my own sequence, rearranging a few things and tweaking the flow in a few spots. I'm really starting to enjoy Navasana.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Ouch, my shoulder! I don't know what I did to it but this has been going on for a couple of days, which is actually odd, given that I've been doing a restorative practice since Sunday. It feels like a pinched nerve, just an occasional, fleeting burning/sharp sensation around the left deltoid.

Also: Ouch, my hip! I took a hooping class on Monday night and it felt great. It's a terrific workout and so very, very different from yoga (which is why I like doing it). It also makes me aware of how unbalanced I am in the movement of my body. I couldn't seem to get my hoop to spin entirely horizontally. I woke up the next day with the most fabulously multi-coloured bruise on my left hip, right along the pelvic head. Looks like I got beaten up (and it's true! I a hoop!). It's still very tender.

And finally, to cap off my litany of complaints, I'm feeling yucky and run down and I have no idea why.

Today, I did a modified Swenson short form of the Primary Series today and despite my ennui, it did feel good. I took a break right around Virabhadrasana I to google shoulder injuries and, deciding that whatever I have can't be too serious, carried on (and my shoulder felt fine for the remainder).

Monday, February 9, 2009


Oops. Yoga practice? What yoga practice? Oh!!! THAT yoga practice.

11:30 p.m., already in my PJs. Restorative yoga for 20 minutes: forward bends, then a supine backbend over a bolster and Supta Baddha Konasana. Savasana afterward lasted 8 hours! ;-)

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I went to see one of my all-time favourite artists live last night. It was a wonderful show and I really enjoyed it. I very rarely see live music these days, so I was such a treat.

My Lady's Holiday arrived yesterday afternoon, so I did 45 minutes of restorative yoga practice this morning. My yoga pants were in the laundry, so I practised in my flannel PJs!

I started with some gentle sun salutations, did Utthita Trikonasana, Parsvakonasana, Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana, and Hanumasana. Then I rolled up a thick blanket inside one of the yoga mats that are lying around the house to make a rough bolster. I did supine Baddha Konasana with the bolster running along my spine, then placed the bolster horizontal beneath my thoracic back and did a deep supine backbend. I finished with a side stretch in Balasana and Ardha Matyendrasana.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I did an early morning practice at the house this morning. I unrolled my mat in the front room with my friend MB Buddha in attendance and did the full primary series.

I used Sharath's CD for my practice, but modified the series slightly to accommodate my work on Hanumasana (and my dislike of a few poses). I replaced Mari D with Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (pigeon), Janu C with Hanumasana and Garba Pindasana with a supine twist. I cut the Sarvangasana sequence short because my neck is tight this morning.

It's nice to have this time alone in the morning. It reminded me of when I was young. I used to wake early so I could have time to myself. I would watch the sun rise, swim, write in my journal or just sit on the bow listening to music on my Sony Walkman. I have sweet memories of those morning hours.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Aw, it feels good to be through another week and onto the weekend.

I had a relaxed mid-morning practice today. I did five Surya A's and one Surya B, then a series of standing poses and standing balances. This sequence is from a class I taught a few weeks ago that I just love. I think Ardha Chandrasana might be my favourite pose ever. The more I do it, the more I love it.

I've been using an online metronome to practice my drum and guitar this week. On a whim, I turned the metronome on during my yoga practice today, set at 60 beats a minute. I held each of my standing poses for 20 seconds exactly. The was particularly fun and challenging for the balances and kept my mind focused. I could increase the holds very easily with this method and build strength.

I finished up with some backbends (Urdhva Dhanurasana and Ustrasana), Splits preparation (Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana and Hanumasana) and forward bends. I didn't think I would feel like backbends today, given that I taught them all week long, but my back felt good and I flowed right into them. I held Urdhva Dhanurasana for 30 seconds of the metronome.

I'm headed to the house this weekend and I have a goal: I would like to get up early in the morning before the household wakes and do a full yoga practice. It would be wonderful not to stress about fitting my practice into the day. I'm bringing my alarm clock. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I can't believe I went for ten days without doing a single Astanga yoga practice! It really doesn't feel like it was that long. I tend to do five repetitions of Surya Namaskara A each day no matter what style I'm practising and I do teach one Astanga class every week. I have a feeling that my 'hatha' practices are more like 'Vinyasa' practices. I tend to work up a sweat.

It felt good to get back to it. I did a solid half-Primary, basically as much of the series as I could fit in the time I had allocated (Thursdays are busy).

Big news in my 'back yard': Joe the Crane Operator has finished up his work on the new building going up next door. Today, the crane was carefully disassembled and loaded onto flat bed trucks for removal to yet another building site. But I wonder what Joe is up to next? For over a year, he sat in his little Joe Pod at the top of the crane, pretty much eye-level to my apartment. I have to admit, I got a bit attached to him. The view out my window is a little bit lonelier. And I no longer have a bright blue driste for Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana.

Happy trails, Joe.

Shoeless Joe, the Crane Operator

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I woke up early to practice this morning.

I did the same backbending sequence I've been working on this week for my students. I made some notes and changed a few things - moved poses around and added a few. 'Working at home' has never been so much fun!

I practised Ustrasana (Camel) without the strap today, really savoured Bujangasana (Cobra) and experimented with adding different twists.

One of my New Year resolutions is to learn to play my guitar - the one I bought two years ago and has been sitting in storage with a broken string ever since. I restrung it last week and I've been messing around with a few chords, practising about 20 minutes a day, just to get in the habit (I'm looking around for a guitar teacher).

My thumb mounds are sore! Really sore! I noticed it in my yoga practice yesterday, but didn't make the connection. Clearly, I don't use my thumb mounds as much in yoga as I do playing guitar (although I do use them a bit - I remember them being sore last year). A new muscle to obsess over! Opponens pollicis! Exciting.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I decided that I needed a change of routine in the mornings. In the winter months, I gradually start sleeping in longer and longer until it's often late before I get up. There are probably some solid reasons behind this, including the cold and the shorter days, but now the days are gradually getting longer. My excuses are beginning to expire. So last night, I decided to set my alarm for 7 a.m. Baby steps.

I woke with the alarm this morning, got up and did my practice. It felt great. After the rush of the weekend, it was so nice to have plenty of time and really savour it. This week, I'm teaching a class structured around safe backbending that includes long holds in (various levels of) Bujangasana (cobra) and partner work using straps for Ustrasana (camel). I did the entire practice I had sequenced, starting with the pranayama (Nadi Shodanam) and even tying a strap to my bathroom door for the supported Ustrasana portion. Trippy. I really don't like backbending very much.

It was a good practice and, to my surprise, had me sweating a bit too. Afterward, I headed out into the snowstorm and skated for a half-hour on the neighbourhood rink. I finished all of this by 9, the time when I'm usually just thinking of getting out of bed. I had forgotten how nice it is to get up early (and how much easier it is when there's some light outside).

Monday, February 2, 2009


I'm absolutely wiped out. My hockey league re-drafted teams and I'm playing on a brand new one. Apparently, no one on this team likes to be show up because we ended up with only 7 players (2 spares). To add insult to exhaustion, we were playing a team that's loaded with really skilled skaters. I didn't manage to even make it off the ice for a break during the first period, then it was spotty.

I love hockey, but that game couldn't have ended soon enough. One of the refs turned to me and quipped, “Is this enough ice time for ya?” Um, yeah.

I came home, took a hot bath and did a half-hour of restorative yoga. I spent most of that time draped over a bolster in various configurations but also did Eka Pada Raj Kapotanasana (Pigeon) and a supported Hanumasana (splits) because I'm renewing my vow to eventually do full Hanumasana. Well, someday.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Wow, on the weekends time really gets away from me! Let's see: slept in a bit this morning, made hot morning beverages (I drink a coffee substitute called Teeccino), set up the new DVD player we bought yesterday then went for a long walk to our favourite café for tea and a better-than-sex brownie (the jury's still out). Skating and grocery shopping came after that, then we stopped by the DVD store to rent more documentaries.

Things I love about our neighbourhood DVD store: free popcorn, walking distance from the house, kick-ass chocolate chunk biscotti.

Oh yes, and yoga: basically, today was another one of those do-yoga-quickly-before-bed days. I did the abbreviated practice I've been using on those days that seem to have 16 hours instead of 24.

On an un-yoga note: We watched the documentary 'Sound and Fury'. It's about deaf culture and cochlear implants. It was absolutely riveting and I highly recommend it. It's one of those films that has me thinking long after the closing credits.