Sunday, January 31, 2010


Well, that was fun. WoYoPracMo, 2010: Complete!

I’m glad I did this again, even though at first it seemed a bit silly, given that I had just finished a year of daily yoga in 2009. I’m really glad I ‘upped the ante’ and decided to do a daily full Primary Series. Clearly, the time was right for me to dive back into Astanga in a serious way. The first week was a bit shaky, but I was on a roll after that.

If you asked me on the first of the month, I would have never predicted that I would move on to second series by the end of January. So, thanks WoYo, for bumping me into Intermediate! It was an unplanned, more-or-less spontaneous decision, but I’m having fun with it. It wasn’t the kicking-and-screaming transition I thought it would be.

I continue to be amazed by how simple it is to do something *daily* when you build a routine around it. I’m still meditating daily too, just 10 minutes a day. Along with the yoga, 2009 turned out to be the ‘Year of Doing Things Daily.’ I started flossing daily, brushing the dog’s fur daily, brushing the dogs *teeth* daily. I created a cleaning schedule for the apartment and completed a decluttering project. I don’t think my apartment has *ever* been this clean and tidy, my finances in such careful order or my pantry so well-stocked.

I’ve been thinking about the rest of 2010 and what I want my yoga to look like over the next year. Ideally, I would like to continue with a six-day week of Astanga practice, with something lighter on Saturday and the Moon Days (or use the Moon Days to go to classes, something I’ve really missed doing).

I’m not keen on the idea of ‘days off from yoga’ because I find that it breaks my momentum. If anything, the past year has taught me that if I make time for yoga every day, there *is* time for yoga. Even if I’m only doing some light restorative poses and Pranayama, I always manage to squeeze something in.

I’d like to keep my slot of ‘Yoga time’ each day. Sacred time.

Here’s my plan for February:
Sunday: Full Primary, 5 Intermediate poses
Monday: Full Primary, 5 Intermediate poses
Tuesday: Full Primary, 5 Intermediate poses
Wednesday: Full Primary
Thursday: Full Primary
Friday: Full Primary, 5 Intermediate poses
Saturday: Non-Astanga yoga practice (YogaDownload or a live class)

Wednesday and Thursday are the ‘Astanga Lite' days because of my heavy teaching schedule.

Both of the February Moon Days are on a Monday. Neither of my senior teachers have classes that I can attend on that day (unless I snuck out of Teacher M’s class early and RAN to my own class; I’m actually thinking about doing just that!).

I started late this morning because I decided to do some more audio editing (this is way beyond the yoga now, moving into sheer geekery!). I split the short version of the audio for Beryl’s Power Yoga at Setu Bandasana so I could create a playlist that included the 5 Intermediate postures I’m working on (from the audio of the Freeman DVD) sandwiched between Beryl's Primary and the finishing poses. Now they run continuously with no need for me to get up and fuss with the iPod.

Once I got started, I had lots of time and a long, lazy practice. After Primary, I paused the audio and hung over the Ball of Pain for about five minutes, then did my psoas stretches before moving on to my Intermediate poses. Backbends were okay, but not great. Given all the prep I did today, I expected them to be better.

I struggled through the Intermediate section. It’s harder to keep up with someone else’s count. I gave up on binding in Pasasana and really worked the twist instead. If I can get a deep twist going and open the shoulders, the bind will follow. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Now, time for my weekly feature...
The Internet Asks (interesting searches from my access stats)

The keywords were interesting this week. Of course, now that I bought the domain reluctantashtangi dot com, no one is looking for it anymore. Lots of folks are landing here looking for ‘audio Ashtanga’ and I have a lot to say on that topic. ‘Grimmly Ashtanga’ is popping up again too, which is timely since Grim is back to doing an Ashtanga practice again. :-D

lululemon boodiba
Linda probably never imagined that her Lululemon gift card procrastination would come back to haunt her via a keyword search leading to MY website. Bizarre!

yogitoes silver dot
The silver dot was a true mystery to me when I first bought my Yogitoes towel. Since mine was obviously remaindered, I wondered if the dot was covering up something, like another logo. But, nope. The towels have dots and no one seems to know what the dots are for. It’s the aliens, I tell ya!!!!!

astanga practice everyday
January 2010, FTW!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I’m enjoying the Intermediate poses and my slightly longer practice. This weekend was a perfect time to start - the girlfriend is away and my schedule is light. I have no social commitments on the calendar. I’ve been going to bed early and rising at dawn for my practice. It feels a bit like a retreat or a ‘stay-cation’. I’m enjoying the slower pace of my days.

There were no weird after-effects to my practice today. This time I followed Gregor Maehle’s outline for the Intermediate poses and it made a lot more sense to me. I like the way he spells it out, vinyasa count by vinyasa count. I had a great practice.

The binds in Pasasana were tenuous. I’d like to start doing the Erich Schiffmann shoulder sequence again - that would open things up, I think (I created an MP3 of that portion of Schiffmann’s ‘Beginning Yoga’ video today).

My Intermediate backbending poses are still creaky too. So I inflated the Big Balance Ball of Pain. My plan is to do a long supported backbend over the ball a couple times a day. Again, that should open things up! :-)

I did one other bit of work towards making this practice of Intermediate easier: I created an MP3 of the first five poses of Intermediate from the Richard Freeman DVD. I like being able to follow a teacher’s voice as I practice. This will help me learn the poses and the vinyasas properly.

I love Richard Freeman’s cues - they crack me up. In Bhekasana: “Invite your heels to visit the floor.” Heels, meet floor. Floor, meet heels. Will you stay for tea?

Yeah, fat chance! *snort*

I added just one prep pose for Urdhva Dhanurasana today: a hip/psoas stretch over blocks to address the tightness in the hips. It worked; I felt much better. Opening the hips takes the pressure off my low back and shoulders.

I’m feeling a lot stronger in Urdhva Dhanurasana. I can hold the pose longer. Also, I noticed that I’m feeling stronger in Utpluthi and I’m able to hold the pose much longer than Beryl’s count (I wonder how I would handle the count on Sharath’s led? I’ll have to try it!).

Here’s this week’s State-of-the-Backbend. Not bad, not bad at all. It would be great if I could start making some real progress in this pose.

Friday, January 29, 2010


This morning, I practised my full Primary, working very hard in every pose (except Janu Sirsasana C, which I skipped, as always). I practised with my recently edited ’short version’ of the Beryl’s led Primary. I'm really enjoying the abbreviated version - it moves less quickly than Sharath’s, so I had time to really work each ‘lift-up’ in the seated vinyasas.

All my binds were accounted for today and I'm feeling strong.

After Setu Bandhasana, I turned off my iPod and opened my David Swenson book to page 130: Intermediate Series, Pasasana and entered a brave new world of conflicting details.

For example, which side of Pasasana is first? Right or left? Swenson and Maehle have different answers. Is the extended leg in Krounchasana slightly bent in order to bring the chin closer to the shin or is it straight? Are the legs together or hip-distance-apart in Shalabasana and Dhanurasana?

For today, I followed Swenson’s direction, but I’m going to read through the first five Intermediate poses in the Maehle book tonight. Then I’ll use my own judgement and intuition as to how I want to shape my practice of Intermediate.

After being so resistant to this series, I was genuinely surprised to find that I really enjoyed the poses. It’s fun to do something different. None of these poses are ‘new’ to me - I’ve done them all in the context of my Hatha practice, but I was intrigued by how they fit together and the transitions between them.

Surprise! I can bind to tippy-fingers in Pasasana! My heels are not on the floor. I used a book under my heels. Each week, I’ll choose a slightly smaller book until my heels are on the floor.

And, no surprise! I have VERY little flexibility in my back, especially my upper back and this became starkly obvious in Shalabasana A and B as well as Dhanurasana. I didn’t do any additional ‘prep’ poses for backbending today. I found that my hips (psoas) were very tight in the first Urdhva Dhanurasana.

After the practice, I felt very heavy, then the feeling faded and I felt GREAT! For a few hours after, I was literally floating around and full of energy.

But as I was coming home from the grocery store, I suddenly ‘crashed’: I felt exhausted and spent, I had some kind of ‘hot flash’ (I'm not old enough for the real thing) and was soaked in sweat by the time I walked through my front door. I rested for a bit and ate lunch. I feel fine now, but I was very shaky for about a half-hour.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

In the elevator, one of my neighbours observed that Princess Fur looks a bit like she’s headed to a fetish club when she’s wearing her MutLuks and harness (and the coat isn't yet on).

So here she is, in her all kinky glory:

I love the way she's 'posing' and the pissed-off expression on her face. I don't wanna know what's in the 'thought balloon' over her little head!

On a related note: I can’t wait to see what kind of searches this post triggers!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Last night, just as I was snuggling under the covers and feeling sleepy, the fire alarm went off. I waited. It kept going. So I got up, dressed and carried Princess Fur down a kazillion stairs to the lobby where all of my equally unhappy neighbours were congregating. I chatted with my next door neighbour and tried to calm Fur, who was shaking like a leaf.

The firemen came in, all noble and handsome in their bulky beige jackets and nifty hats. They declared a false alarm (second time in less than a week - argh!) and sent us all back to our little boxes in the sky.

Except, except...the alarms didn’t stop. They went on and on, sporadically for almost an hour afterward. It was loud. It was maddening. It was absolutely impossible to sleep. I’m right in the thick of the busiest part of my week; sleep is essential. So I slept in this morning and then I was pressed for time.

Since my practice takes the highest priority these days, I finished that first. The quickest I could do was Sharath’s CD for most of the practice and closing on my own. Savasana was a quicky - down and up and out with the dog for a walk. If I don’t dawdle, I can pull off my entire practice in just over an hour.

I was surprised to find that the bind in Supta Kurmasana has returned and the bind in Marichyasana D is back as well. Backbends felt good and I felt strong. I’m getting used to the ‘lift-ups’ in my seated vinyasas and I’m beginning to contemplate kicking my legs back. I tried today, but didn’t get very far. Baby steps!

Miraculously, I made it to my noon class with 10 minutes to spare (the Transit Gods were smiling on me). Now: time for a nap!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The peanut gallery has spoken. Intermediate is apparently a bit like cod liver oil: difficult to get down but ultimately very good for you. So I’m going to give it a shot. Not today and not tomorrow, because these are my most intense teaching days, but I’ll work it into the schedule, probably starting on Friday.

I don’t say it often enough, but I’m deeply appreciative of the advice I receive from the more experienced Astanga practitioners out there. The Cybershala always comes through for me when I have a question or feel ‘stuck.’ I doubt I would have persevered this long if it wasn’t for the community of Astangis on the web.

Today, I continued with my Primary and added the finishing poses back in: shoulderstand, headstand and the lot. I had a perfectly acceptable mediocre practice and I’m happy with that.

I worked on my lift-ups. They’re not fancy. Right now I’m just crossing my ankles, lifting my feet off the floor, pulling them back through the blocks and then lowering down so I can manually come into a high plank and do Chaturanga. I’m working the bandhas and visualizing kicking back into the high plank - that's my next goal. It will come in time.

My bind in Supta Kurmasana went bye-bye again. I’m still having some SI joint issues, have been plaguing me since Monday. Are these two things related? Perhaps. My lower back is cranky too, which isn’t helping.

I did prep for my backbends and did three Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Here we go, it was bound to happen sometime this month: I had an absolutely wretched practice for no reason at all. It just was. Can’t blame my Lady’s, can’t blame the weather, can’t blame my emotional state.

How bad? Well, I was distracted throughout, gave up on working my jump-backs because I wasn’t in the mood to work that hard and I was modifying poses all over the place. My hamstrings were stiff, my hips hurt (this is probably due to my Monday night ice hockey game) and my breath felt shallow.

Backbends were too much to endure. I did one and skip the others. I didn’t do the closing sequence at all because my SI joints and low back were feeling creaky.

I took 3 minutes of Savasana and put it behind me.

So, we’ve established that the highlight of my day was not yoga. The highlight of my day was Avatar. Yeah, yeah, some of you have been telling me to go see this movie. “Go see it NOW!” you’ve clamoured. “It’s important, it’s wonderful.” One wise soul offered this advice: Watch in IMAX 3D.

I was rolling my eyes a bit, but I’m SO glad I listened.

Avatar is, without question, the MOST STUNNING film I have ever seen. I’m not a movie person. I’m not even much of a science fiction person. This film transcended every genre, blew apart my highest expectations and left me literally speechless.

I have an incredibly short attention span for movies and yet I sat there, absolutely RIVETED for 3 hours. I couldn’t move. My bladder is the size of a thimble and I didn’t even get up to pee. And when I got home, I was oddly disoriented, the same way I am after returning home from overseas travel. I’m still a bit speechless about the whole experience.

I don’t know what to say about this movie that will convey how powerful and wonderful it is. The ordinary moments were so beautiful that I found myself weeping. The heartbreaking moments were so poignant, I realised that I was gripping the armrests and straining forward in my seat. The story is simply told, but the message is profound. I want to see it again.

No spoilers here. Just go see it. PLEASE. And if you can, see it in 3D. Even better, see it in IMAX 3D.

Monday, January 25, 2010


My energy levels are back, but I felt stiff and gummy this morning. It’s the third day of my Lady’s Holiday, so I did the full Primary without the closing poses. I did practice Supta Konasana though, and held Downward Facing Dog in the sun salutations.

I usually take it easy for three days during my ‘holiday’ and then go back to my normal practice, so tomorrow business as usual.

I resumed the ‘lift-up-and-jump-back’ thing with blocks during my seated vinyasas. I was sweating buckets - it was great! I enjoying the feeling of working hard. My arms were tired when I finished. At the moment, I’m getting the ‘up’ part, but the ‘jump back’ is a work in progress. Baby steps!

I’ve been thinking a lot about drop-backs lately. My Urdhva Dhanurasana is looking pretty good. Theoretically, I *should* be able to drop back. But I can’t. I dream regularly about dropbacks (and the other night, I also dreamt that I could catch my heels in Kapotanasana - seriously, I’ve never given much thought to that pose, so where did THAT come from?). In the dreams, my drop backs are easy and fun. It's a bit of an obsession.

I recall being told that one ‘must be able to do drop-backs’ in order to move on to Intermediate. I suppose that’s why I’ve been fussing about this; because I’ve been thinking about Intermediate.

Patrick left a great comment yesterday about the criteria for adding Intermediate, citing Maehle’s ‘primary-every-day-even-low-energy-days’ standard. If that’s the case, I’m ready. My energy levels don’t get much lower than the first day of my Lady’s and I got through the entire series, sans inversions.

To Intermediate or not to Intermediate?

This is where it becomes challenging as a home practitioner. I have to self-evaluate, determine my own direction and assess my own progress. I don’t want to move on too quickly before I’ve truly mastered the Primary Series (I can do the poses; it's the transitions I'm thinking about), but I also don’t want to hang back in my comfort zone (which is my tendency).

Almost 3 years of Primary has done a lot for my physical strength, but very little for my spinal flexibility. I don't think my backbends are going to improve further without a lot of extracurricular preparation work or the first part of Intermediate.

2010 might be the year I start expanding my practice.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Interesting - GOOD - practice this morning, despite my modifications and subtractions. I really wanted to go all out, but reined myself in. I took it easy in the vinyasas, but I did them gently between sides today. I found myself instinctively coming deeper into poses that I had modified yesterday. It felt right, so I went with my gut feeling.

I’m not sure what’s changed, but Supta Kurmasana was absolutely amazing today. The bind was easy and the pose felt comfortable! It feels like such a miracle to me, since I couldn’t even touch fingers together a week ago. It's good to have that one back.

Urdhva Dhanurasana was also very good. I had lots of time for backbend preparation since I’m skipping the closing sequence for these few days. The pose was feeling so comfortable, I decided to do a quick State-of-the-Backbend photograph. I took only one photo:

Seriously, this is the best backbend I’ve done in months. I’m definitely on to something here.

In my comments section and elsewhere in the Astanga-sphere, there’s been discussion of backbending and Intermediate Series. I’m beginning to wonder if it might be useful to start adding Intermediate poses to my practice, particularly the backbends. I’m not a ’natural’ backbender, but I think I could get close if I did the work.

Anyway, it's Sunday and time for...The Internet Asks, (gems plucked from the Wonderful World of My Access Stats)

This week, the following keyword searches came up:

sucirandhrasana twist
This is an interesting query, given that I’ve never mentioned this pose on my blog. Sucirandhrasana is the Sanskrit name for ‘Eye of the Needle Pose’. When I teach Sucirandhrasana as a twisting pose, I instruct the students to completely drape one leg over the other, then bring the legs to the floor, keeping the opposite shoulder grounded. It’s a wonderful deep twist, though uncomfortable for anyone who is tight in the hips (or particularly boney).

astanga primary series audio
My favourite audio Primary series is Sharath’s CD (You can find the CD at Beryl Bender Birch has two led Primaries, both are available on iTunes and downloadable MP3 online (Aliveyoga and BetterListen).
Hm. I’ve seen this come up periodically over the past month and it makes sense, actually. I registered the domain last week and it’s up. Now you can go to to access this blog. Fancy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Astanga | Book Review: The Woman's Yoga Book

First, the necessary disclaimer: I normally never practice the full Primary Series of Astanga Yoga during my menstrual cycle.

But I’m certainly not opposed to some form of yoga during menstruation. Along with my daily yoga practice over the past year, I have been practising Yin Yoga and a special Iyengar Restorative Series during my cycle and I’ve found that yoga can be very helpful, relieving menstrual symptoms and soothing my frayed nerves (more on this later).

Because I set my WoYoPracMo intention to do a full Primary Series every day of January, I practised the full Primary today despite the start of my Lady’s Holiday. I did take it easy and slow things *way* down. No downward facing dog, no vinyasa between sides in the seated poses and no closing sequence. It was Astanga, to be sure, but it was VERY modified.

And it wasn’t bad. This is saying a lot, given that I was up half the night with the worst cramps I’ve had in months, the dog was fussing and my neighbour woke me from a deep sleep to get her spare key (she misplaced hers at a party).

Two years ago, I faced this same challenge (Daily Primary during WoYoPracMo) and found it incredibly difficult. I think that I've learned a lot about modifying my practice since then; I was able to shape the Primary Series to meet my needs.

I wasn’t feeling great this morning, but I had a pleasant practice all the same. I always feel stiff during my Lady’s - my joints feel gumby. My balance is also off. I usually don’t notice it because I’m not usually doing standing postures. It was good to observe this differences.

Book Review:

Today seemed like a good day to settle down with a book. A few months ago, I won a copy of Bobby Clennell’s ‘The Woman’s Yoga Book’ from YogaDork. I’ve spoken about it before, but hadn’t had a chance to read through it.

This is a great book and a must-have resource for women in their reproductive years. The first chapters set a foundation by offering a history of cultural traditions around menstruation, then familiarize the reader with the physiological processes of the menstrual cycle.

Clennell goes on to offer comprehensive descriptions of the standing, seated, and supine poses as well as backbends and pranayama techniques. She relates all of these to the different phases of a woman’s cycle. Further chapters explore sequences specifically designed for different times of the month, as well as for specific menstrual symptoms.

The illustrations in this book are comprehensive, clear and delightful. Clennell is a professional animator and her skills shine through in the quality and clarity of these drawings. They’re colourful, respectful and easy-to-follow.

The sequences are so clearly illustrated that they give a home practitioner the visual information required to guide her own practice. I was able to dive right in and use these illustrations to set myself up in various complex Iyengar-esque configurations of straps, blankets and bolsters. It can be overwhelming, but Clennell makes it easy.

I can absolutely attest to the efficacy of these sequences. The sequence for ‘during menstruation’ has become my go-to resource for menstrual cramps. It always offers me relief. But I was surprised and delighted to discover that Clennell’s sequence for ‘soothing the nerves’ actually works! I even use this sequence at other times of the month when hormonal changes get the better of me.

In an industry flooded with new yoga books, this one is an instant classic. I’m delighted to have my own copy and I recommend it heartily.

Thank you, YogaDork and Rodmell Press for the opportunity to review it.

Friday, January 22, 2010


When I woke this morning, I knew my Lady’s Holiday was imminent (and I was right) so I hit the mat with a special gusto. In the spirit of my WoYoPracMo goal, I do plan to keep practising the full Primary Series over the next few days - sans inversions, of course. But I’ll be taking it easy.

Today’s practice was really fantastic and I can only blame the blocks. I’ve been SO lazy about my transitions between poses in Primary, particularly the seated vinyasas. Now that I’ve regained some of my strength, I realised that it’s time to 'raise the bar' a bit. There’s no way I’m going to be jumping back/jumping through right away, but I can give it my best effort and my best effort requires blocks.

I use them to get enough height to do the ’take it up’ portion of the vinyasa properly. This is a valuable strength-builder. For now, that’s all I’m adding. I’m continuing to do my sloppy, lazy, close-but-no-cigar jump-through for the time being. If I can master the jump-back, then I’ll shift my focus.

As it was, that extra notch of effort heated me right up! I was sweating buckets in the seated poses and it felt great. As soon as I came into Bhujapindasana, I knew I would be binding in Supta K. Marichyasana C is binding more comfortably these days too!

My only half-hearted pose was Savasana. The dog wandered over and asked for attention in the middle of my ’take rest’ and I couldn’t resist - we went for a long walk.

I had nothing on my agenda for the afternoon and felt like resting, so I settled into my window seat to work on a small project: to teach myself Audacity (an audio editing programme) and use it to edit some of my yoga audio files.

Currently I practice the Primary Series with either the audio of Beryl Bender Birch’s ‘Power Yoga’ DVD or Sharath Rangaswamy’s CD. Because I practice at home, I find that I work a lot harder if I’m held accountable by a teacher, even if that teacher is only ‘digital.’

In both recordings, there are poses and entire sections that I tend to skip each time. This requires me to get up and ‘fast forward’ through those parts. I wanted to eliminate these sections in order to streamline my practice and keep it as compact and efficient as possible.

I experienced a few hiccups with Audacity, but overall, I found it very intuitive and easy to figure out. The Sharath recording is now 65 minutes (70 minutes with my 5 minute Savasana and even shorter if I opt to do the closing sequence on my own). Beryl comes in at just under 78 minutes.

I can’t wait to use these!

The 'Princess Fur Friday' Photo:
Lately, Princess Fur has been spending quality time in her bean bag chair. This is actually MY bean bag chair, but she co-opted it as soon as she realised that it wouldn’t attack her or swallow her up in its depths. When she gets really settled into it, you can barely spot a dog unless she pokes her little nose up:

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today: Practice Interruptus.

During meditation this morning, I noted that I was actually *looking forward* to my practice. I was looking forward to an entire hour-and-a-bit of uninterrupted ‘me time’. I put the kettle on so I could enjoy a pot of chai as I moved through the Primary Series. I carefully laid out my mat. I started the sun salutations joyfully.

I got as far as Kurmasana when the phone rang. I needed to take that call and resigned myself to a half-hour away from my mat. When I finally got back to it, my body was cold again. Even three sun salutations couldn’t help me bind in Supta Kurmasana. I just did my best and moved on.

And that’s when the fire alarm went off. I rolled my eyes and kept practising. I mean, SERIOUSLY?!

I hoped it was a false alarm. It wasn’t. With a deep *sigh*, I got dressed, called to Princess Fur and we headed down a kazillion stairs to the lobby. It was was the real thing, with fireman and everything. Princess Fur and I went to the park for a walk, because what else can you do?

Two hours after I started my first Surya Namaskara A, I stepped back on the mat to continue my practice. By this point, I just wanted to finish it and I did. It wasn’t my best practice, just my most determined one.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I practised early this morning because I’m finally, *finally* getting into the routine of waking at 6 a.m. again.

The afternoon naps help a LOT. I’ve been taking a nap nearly every afternoon at 3:00, whether it’s a heavy teaching day or not. I never sleep for long, just 30 minutes tops. But I feel so much better in the evening and it’s *much* easier to get up in the morning.

I’ve been meditating in the mornings and recently, I noticed that I no longer have issues with falling asleep during my meditation. I hadn’t made the connection before, but I wonder if the afternoon naps are helping me stay alert in meditation?

Whatever the case, it’s working for me. I joyfully sing the praises of a career that allows me to nap regularly. I’m so blessed!

I switched things up and used the Sharath Led Primary CD for my practice this morning. I wasn’t feeling particularly bendy, but I was able to bind in Supta Kurmasana all the same. I guess that bind is here to stay.

Halfway through my practice, the sun came out for the first time in about a week and I basked in sunbeams all the way through my seated poses. I could practically feel the Vitamin D tapdancing on my cells. Sweet sunlight!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Big excitement today: I dusted and tidied the bookshelves. This was more of a cleaning task than decluttering, but it got me thinking about books, ‘hard copy’ books (as opposed to the 'soft copy' books I now read on my Kindle), and my relationship with them.

I grew up using the library and it wasn’t until I was in university that I started accumulating books.

As a student, I used to love the first day of the semester, the day I walked to the school bookstore and bought my pile of required reading. It didn’t matter to me that most of these books were as dry as the Sahara Desert. I loved them. I clearly remember standing in the line-up, admiring the jewel-green cover of Michael Grant’s ‘History of Rome’. A more boring book has never been written, but the cover was sure pretty.

The books kept accumulating and by the time I was through graduate school, I had a problem. Or rather, 1500 problems. That’s how many books I owned! Moving apartments was a *nightmare*. I started to cull my collection and by the time I left for Ontario, I owned just under 1000 books, packed tightly into boxes and filling most of the UHaul.

It was kind of embarrassing.

I kept culling. I located a scholarly used bookstore and gradually sold most of my academic books. When I left my corporate job, I happily unloaded all the computer books. By the time I moved apartments again, I was down to 600 books. Every year since, I’ve filled a bag with books during my annual ‘book declutter’ (this year, I made $45!).

Currently, I own just over 330 books (300 is supposed to be my limit).

Michelle loves a sneak peek at my bookshelf, so here’s the current Yoga Philosophy and Yoga shelves, all nicely organised and dust-free:

Practice was a little bit stiff this morning due to last night’s hockey game. Full primary with a whole array of backbending preps before Urdhva Dhanurasana. I felt strong today, but my back did not feel flexible. Savasana was the best part.

I love the way this month has pushed me into an easy routine. Getting to the mat isn’t difficult these days. It just unfolds.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I had a fantastic practice today. I feel like I’m moving deeper into the poses, especially the forward bends.

For the first time in months, the bind in Marichyasana C was comfortable. I’m still binding to fingers but I have a feeling the wrist bind will be coming back any day now. The bind in Supta Kurmasana was tight, but I managed it.

And, for the first time this month, I got that blissed-out, fuzzy feeling in Sarvangasana (shoulderstand). Previously, I was just feeling tight and unstable.

In a stark contrast to yesterday, I pulled out my full Iyengar arsenal and did a tonne of preparatory work prior to backbending. In the comments, Boodiba pointed out that there is no prep work for backbending in Primary and she’s right. In his book, Gregor Maehle mentions this too; he recommends really working the Urdhva Mukha Svanasanas (Upward Facing Dog) in each vinyasa, but this definitely isn’t sufficient for me.

Today, I did four prep stretches:
1) Hip/Psoas stretch over a block
2) Thoracic-focused backbend over block/bolster
3) Lumbar-focused backbend over block
4) Underarm/Shoulder stretch

Afterward, I did an experimental vinyasa and noted that Urdhva Mukha Svanasana felt easy.

Urdhva Dhanurasana wasn’t a cakewalk or anything, but it definitely felt more comfortable. I’ll keep doing the prep poses for the balance of the month and see if it makes a difference long term.

Okay, enough about yoga. Let’s talk about toothpaste!

Skippetty recently mentioned about how incredibly annoying it is when someone squeezes the toothpaste THE WRONG WAY (from the middle, instead of from the end). I’m sympathetic to this pet peeve. Here’s another one of mine: leaving the toothpaste cap all messy and gummy with half-dried-out toothpaste. Ewwww! Seriously people, you’re putting that stuff in your mouth! Keep it neat!

Years ago in university, I picked up this handy gadget for squeezing the paste out of the tube. I’ve never seen one since, but it’s an elegant solution to the problem:

Ever since her dental surgery, I’ve been extremely diligent about Princess Fur’s dental hygiene. Daily, I brush her teeth with some super-yummy ‘Poultry Flavoured Toothpaste’ (Go on! You know you’re jealous!).

Skippetty, you’ll be glad to know that even the Princess takes great care to squeeze her tube of Dog Toothpaste properly - from the bottom:

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Ahhh! I have a day off today, no classes, no private sessions. My schedule is a bit wacky right now. I teach a class every day, seven days a week. Sometimes, it’s just one class, but it’s funny how just one class shapes the day.

On the bright side, knowing that I have somewhere to go forces me to organise my time and it keeps my spirits up. But an occasional ‘day of nothing’ is really wonderful. I’ve been spending the day on my window seat, gazing out at the gray, drinking tea and reading.

I took my time with my practice this morning, practised full Primary with Beryl’s DVD. Now that I’ve passed the half-way point in WoYoPracMo, it’s feeling easier, I’m feeling stronger.

This morning marked the return of my bind in Supta Kurmasana. As soon as I started to come into the pose, I knew that I would be able to bind - it just felt right. It’s funny because yesterday, I was miles away from a bind.

I didn’t do any preparation for my backbends today: no cobra, sphinx or laying over a bolster. And all three of my backbends were perfectly wretched. Good to know that my preparation work was useful; I’ll return to it tomorrow.

Lately, the keywords in my access stats have been full of queries about the practice, ‘astanga this’ and ‘astanga that’. There’s definitely a theme. I wonder if some people are googling ‘astanga’, trying to find more information to fuel a New Year resolution. If that’s you, say hello in the comments!

Here’s this week’s edition of The Internet Asks:

how long to perfect primary series ashtanga
This is an interesting question. I mean, how do you know when your Primary Series is ‘perfect’? What does this mean? Is it when you know all the poses? Or when the transitions between them are flawless? Or maybe when you can do everything easily and still maintain an awareness of Bandhas, Ujjayi breath and Drishte? I don’t think I”ll ever really ‘perfect’ my Primary Series. I don’t know if I want to.

anusara for ashtangis
For some reason, this gave me gave me the giggles. I know that Anusara is, in part, derived from Ashtanga but these two systems are very different in their approach. I’m trying to imagine a hard-core, traditional Ashtanga teacher sweetly imploring her class: “Keep your heart open! Connect with the Shri!” *snort*

astanga on laptop
Not recommended. You’ll bust the keyboard before you even get to the standing poses and your feet will slip on the plastic. I recommend a Manduka Mat.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I’m done with that meditation group. I’ve always had issues with the facilitator. She seems very controlling to me. This time, she made each of us ’sign in’ so she could ‘keep track’ of our participation. Also, she stands by the ‘donation’ jar so she can view exactly how much you ‘donate.’ It’s creepy.

But now I even have issues with the space. Previously we were meeting in the common room of a lovely community centre, which was fine. But this time? We met in the ‘group therapy’ room of the city’s notoriously run-down mental health centre.

This building so decrepit, depressing and despair-soaked that it’s slated to be torn down. Misery practically oozes from the walls. I escaped at the first possible opportunity and headed to a party.

I didn’t think I would be in any mood to be with people, but it turns out that as exactly what I needed. Old friends, laughter and a few handfuls of potato chips made it all better. I stayed till 2 a.m. and left happy.

Five hours of sleep and there I was on the mat practising the Primary Series, thank you WoYoPracMo. I would have been full of excuses if I hadn’t promised myself to practise every day this month. But it was fine, good even.

I even did all three of my bloody backbends, with only small groans of protest. I’m discovering that for me, preparation poses are absolutely a must for comfortable backbending. Tomorrow, I’m going to do an experiment: no prep.

I haven’t taken a State-of-the-Backbend shot in quite a while. Here it is. In all my pasty-white winter goodness (obviously, I didn’t get away to a warm place over the holidays):

Friday, January 15, 2010


The nap I took yesterday made all the difference in my energy levels the rest of the day. I felt perky in the evening (when I’m usually groggily groping around for my second wind) and I even woke before the alarm this morning - at 6:30 a.m.

I’ll try it again today, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found the solution to the whole exhaustion problem. This isn’t a new answer - I remember taking regular naps a couple years ago when my schedule was busy.

I had a terrific practice this morning, nice and relaxed because I didn’t have to be anywhere at noon. Full Primary Series and I skipped Savasna because I got a phone call. I’m back to using the Beryl ‘Power Yoga’ DVD, probably for the weekend. The main difference between Beryl's led Primary and Sharath's is the pace. There's also a note of warmth with Beryl that makes me feel well-cared-for, even though I'm practising at home.

Yesterday afternoon, I had some time before my evening classes and, on a whim, did some restorative backbending and shoulder openers. I held ‘sphinx pose’ for about 5 minutes, focusing on my breathing. Then I tried Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Eureka! It wasn’t awful! It didn’t look too bad either and more importantly, it didn’t feel too bad. Maybe I’m climbing back up on this wagon after all...hmm.

There was a mirror on one wall. I was doing backbends close to it so I could see and adjust the positioning of my feet. I have to say, there’s a VAST divergence between my sense of how they're positioned and where they actually are. The correct alignment made me feel like I was VERY pigeon-toed. Noted!

I was very curious how my backbends would feel this morning. It wasn’t a catwalk, but it wasn't an ordeal. I can see that I’m making progress!

A sidenote: I’m half-way through WoYoPraMo (hooray and also, PHEW!). January is just flying by...

I’ve been seeing red milk crates everywhere lately. When the Princess was a pup, I strapped a crate on to the back of my bicycle, attached a doggie seatbelt inside and cycled around the neighbourhood with Princess Fur riding shotgun. She didn’t love it, but I thought it was great fun!

Every time I see a red milk crate, I think of those crazy, cute puppy days:

And here's a closeup, for the maximum dollop of cuteness:

And if you still need more puppy goodness, go to Karen's blog and look at this (awwwww!).

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I planned my entire day around the Return of the Nap.

I skated, walked the dog, practised my guitar and answered email in the morning. I made lunch as soon as I got home from my noon class. Now, I have some free time~

I’ll try to sleep for about a half-hour this afternoon. I want to see what it does for my energy levels, which have been so low on these long teaching days. My mid-week is just brutal, with at least 4 classes a day, plus my own 90 minute practice plus all of that commuting.

I meditated after my 6:30 wake-up (which was really 7 a.m. because I was feeling lazy), then stepped on the mat for sun salutations. Pre-salutations, I almost never feel good. I’m usually stiff and cranky and weary.

My full Primary this morning was lovely. I lit a candle today and watched the sky lighten and the sun rise as I moved through the postures.

It’s almost magical to observe my body as it warms up. First, the forward bends become easier and I feel less ‘heavy’ during the Chaturangas. Downward Facing Dog starts to feel lighter and my heels melt to the floor.

I felt very focused once again. I’m convinced that, for at least this moment in time, the meditation is helping me bring better focus to my asana practice. It’s a wonderful discovery and a very welcome one, seeing as the month is only half over. I can use all of the help I can get.

The three backbends were more of a mental struggle than a physical one today. But at least I did them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I’m really not doing very well at this whole getting-up-before-the-sun thing. I have a short memory, but I seem to remember getting this urge to hibernate in past Januarys. I feel sleepy most of the time, but especially during the day. Especially when I have other things I need to be doing. The best remedy is to keep moving, in the bright sunlight if possible.

I haven’t skated much this winter. Incredibly, I haven’t visited the big rink downtown even once. In past years, I’ve been down there every single day from opening, but I’ve been busier this year.

The neighbourhood rink was flooded over the weekend. It’s rough hewn - rimmed by snow banks, with an uneven, gravelly surface, but the kids love it. It’s in constant use for shinny and recreational skating almost from the moment school ends in the afternoon 'til late into the night. But in the morning and early afternoon, it’s empty and all mine!

But I was having trouble motivating myself. Yesterday, I grabbed my skates on the way out the door as I headed to the park with the dog. I vowed to skate for 15 minutes. If it wasn’t enjoyable, I wouldn’t do it again.

And, of course it was FUN! Princess Fur didn’t think it was fun - she never ventures far onto the ice, but loiters around on the snow banks with a surly expression on her furry face.

After my noon class today, I went to the rink without the Princess and skated for almost a half-hour. Fun, fun, FUN! With any luck, the weather will stay cold enough through February to maintain this ice. I’ll try to go every day. It’s good for me: sunlight, fresh air, exercise. I just hope it doesn’t get *too* cold.

I practised with Sharath’s led Primary today. I meditated again before I practised. I wasn’t quite as focused as I was yesterday, but I was definitely more focused than usual. In the classes I teach, I take my students through a short, seated meditation before we begin the warm up asanas. I find that this calms everyone down and brings their full attention to the class.

I guess that strategy works on me too! Who knew?! ;-)

I practised backbends today. They were not fun. As I prepared to push into the first Urdhva Dhanurasana, I suddenly made this face:

Bill the Cat! I *love* Bill the Cat! I haven’t thought of him in years...


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I still can’t get my head wrapped around 2010.

Every time I see that date printed at the top of a page, I get flashbacks to the 2010 movie, the one based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel, ‘2010: Odyssey Two’.

I was a 14 year old space enthusiast when that film came out. More than anything, I wanted to be an astronaut and I was quite serious about it! My utter inability to understand math as simple as algebra foiled my plans, but I still loved the film.

My most enduring memory of it is the gummy bears! I bought a whole bag of them at the concession stand and ate them slowly, to last the duration. I may not be an astronaut, but I still love gummy bears.

Um, where were we? Oh yeah, yoga.

Full Primary again this morning. This is starting to feel like Groundhog Day! (oh no! not another movie tangent...I won’t do it...but that WAS a fun film...).

Today’s practice was slightly different - in a good way. I felt more focused and the time really FLEW by. The only thing I did differently than the usual was meditate before my practice (I usually meditate at night, before sleep).

I’m wondering if meditating before my practice gave me greater focus during the practice? It’s easy enough to test this theory: tomorrow morning, I’ll meditate before my yoga practice and see if I have the same kind of focus during my asanas.

For the rest of the month, I’m going to report daily on backbending because otherwise it’s too tempting to just skip Urdhva Dhanurasana. Sloth will get me nowhere with this (while updating all of you keeps me honest!).

So, today: I did all three backends. They didn’t feel great, but I did them.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Back in the city again this morning. Back in my tiny, ferociously over-heated apartment. Back to sweating profusely during my practice. Love it!

I did my 90 minute full Primary this morning and made a special effort to milk the three Urdhva Dhanurasana for all their juicy goodness. Ug. I hate backbending. I’ve been struggling with it lately, but I held my backbends for longer than usual today and didn’t skip any.

It’s requires a healthy dollop of self-discipline. I’m already on the floor, on my back, chilling out. Pushing into those backbends feels like a punishment.

In other news, I watched Yoga Inc. today. You can find it online, gratis. Very interesting documentary. I read the book and this film covers much of the same ground, but it’s good fun.

If nothing else, you get to watch Bikram Chodhury prance around in his speedo and celebrate himself. And Yoga Competitions! And David Life being all defensive! And Cyndi Cyndi Lee.

For some reason, I’m getting shadows of the Borg from the whole Yoga Works thing. Alan Finger looked liked he was trying WAY too hard to keep that serene smile on his face during the interview. He was almost puppet-like in his responses.

Hive Mind, anyone?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I practised at the house this morning. It’s always easy to get up early at the house because I never sleep well away from home.

But oh, oh, oh, it’s cold and drafty in that house. Despite the space heater on full blast, I couldn’t build up a good internal fire. I didn’t even need to wet my arms for Garba Pindasana because they slid right through my legs on smooth, non-sticky skin. Because I wasn’t sweating.

I hate that.

All the same, I had a good practice and I’m glad I showed up on my mat. It was 90 minutes of joy on a lazy Sunday morning. Can’t beat that. :-D

And now, it’s time for this week’s instalment of The Internet Asks...featuring the latest search terms from my access stats (overall access numbers are going down, oddly enough. Am I getting dull?):

astanga why saturday rest day
The most common explanation is that Guruji wanted a day to spend with family and decreed Saturday the official rest day to accommodate this. I’m well into my 13th month of continuous daily practice and though I can definitely see the benefits of this approach, I’m looking forward to February when I’ll be adding a day of rest to my weekly yoga round.

space heater astanga
FTW. Especially in cold winter climes. Especially in chilly, drafty old houses.

astangi trails
We leave trails?! *furtively glances around*

Saturday, January 9, 2010


My body is anti-backbend this week, so I have no State-of-the-Backbend photo to offer you today. I’m not sure what’s going on, but even pushing up into Urdhva Dhanurasana is so uncomfortable, I just can’t motivate myself. I do it once, then roll into child’s pose.

I probably spend too much time happily slumped over my computer or curled up in the window seat, reading. I’m thinking I could benefit from some quality time laying over blocks and/or a bolster in a supine backbend. I’ll put that on my list for next week.

Today, I’m giving the apartment a good scrubdown. I just finished the kitchen, even cleaned out the fridge. The bathroom is next. Now that everything is organised, I’m seeing all kinds of improvements I could make to this space: a new futon cover, storage baskets for the wall unit, rearranging stuff on the walls.

A couple years ago, I was determined to move out of this building, but recently I’ve come to a sudden peace with my status as a perpetual renter (and I’ve learned to ignore the creepy superintendent). Apartment hunting in this city is a reality check. And here’s the reality: I live in a cheap apartment in one of the best neighbourhoods in the city.

And I actually don’t mind living in a small space - I like it. It keeps the material accumulation under control. I find that I ‘expand’ to fit the space I’m in. No expansion here!

I slept in again this morning, so I only had an hour to practice the Primary Series. I didn’t have time for the closing poses at all, so I just did Savasana. I added them later on, before teaching my noon class. Tomorrow, I plan to be up early and I’ll have time for a more leisurely practice. I’m looking forward to it!

Friday, January 8, 2010


I slept in until 8:30 this morning and it felt very, very good. And very necessary. I was walking wounded yesterday and I don’t know how I got through my four classes. By the time I started teaching the 8 p.m. class, I was slurring words and tripping over my own feet from sheer exhaustion.

I did a late morning practice today, full Primary Series but I ran out of steam at the very end: couldn’t motivate myself to do the backbends, got distracted during the closing sequence and skipped everything after Sarvangasana. No headstand today.

Missing the lotus poses wasn’t a big tragedy, but I can’t believe I forgot to do Savasana! :-D

I practised with the recording of Sharath’s led Primary today, but I’ll return to Beryl tomorrow. I’ll have the time to devote to a longer practice and I miss doing Bakasana after Utkatasana.

*For those of you just tuning in, I rarely do a ‘self-led’ Primary Series (though I do go through phases with that). I generally practice with either the audio of Beryl Bender Birch’s ‘Power Yoga’ DVD (which is a full led Primary) or the audio of Sharath’s led Primary. An audio led Primary keeps me on track and I enjoy the company during my practice, even if it’s just a disembodied voice. I've been doing a home practice for over 14 years and videos, DVDs and audio recordings have been key in helping me maintain this.

I finished my big project - let's call it ‘Declutter 2010’ - this afternoon. The grand finale was making space in my tiny storage nook for the television and VCR. I rarely use either, and they were collecting dust on my shelving unit (and I was always afraid I would knock them down during my inversions practice).

In the newly created space, I'm storing my Djembe (African Drum), which makes it easier to access (so maybe I’ll play it more). My guitar has its own corner now. Everything looks tidier. I like the feel of a space with minimal electronic gadgets. It feels very homey and organic to me.

Every single closet, drawer and storage space in my apartment has now been cleared out and tidied. I’ve shuffled through my book collection, generating a pile for resale. I’ve thrown away several bags of junk, donated piles of clothing, and cleared out my desk.

I’m ready for the new decade! Bring on tax preparation (next project!)

Princess Fur is fully recovered from her dental surgery. I knew she was back to her ‘old self’ when she asked for her toys. I pulled a few more out of storage when I was cleaning this afternoon and she entertained herself for hours, pulling them out of the bag they’re stored in (I think that’s her favourite part).

The fun was absolutely *exhausting*

Thursday, January 7, 2010


This morning, it took an act of discipline bordering on heroism to rouse myself from a deep, satisfying sleep, peel myself from the warm bed and turn on that bright, hurtful light. OUCH. Now that I’m whipping myself up into a froth of exhaustion every day, I’m sleeping like a baby at night and it feels great.

I unrolled my mat at 8 a.m., practised with Sharath’s led Primary. It’s a bit shorter than Beryl’s Power Yoga (full Primary with extras) because it moves quickly through the poses without added instruction or chatter. Sometimes, I like the chatter, but on days like this, I just need to move through it.

I did the closing sequence on my own. I stayed for 10 breaths in Sirsasana, in the middle of the room this time. It felt more stable and strong, which is what I hoped would come from my work against the wall over the past few days.

Gosh, I’m so tired right now, it hurts. I’m finding it really difficult to adjust to this heavy teaching schedule after almost a month of relative sloth.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Up early this morning! It wasn’t a happy, spontaneous awakening, but having a full schedule ahead made getting out of bed far easier. I practiced the Primary Series from 7-8:30. My balance was off (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana felt impossible) and I was very stiff, but the 90 minutes flew by.

I skipped Janu Sirsasana C, as usual. Setu Bandhasana is coming along.

I’ve been feeling unstable in Sirsasana so I’ve taken it back to the wall this week to give myself something to ‘fall back’ on while I troubleshoot. I’ve been playing around with my alignment and centre of balance and feeling more stable as a result.

I’m not actually *using* the wall, but knowing it’s there gives me the confidence to try new ways of being in the pose. Nothing drastic, just a slight shift in the alignment of my legs introduces more ease and lightness. I’ll move away from the wall in a few days.

I’m in the midst of a busy teaching day, so alternating between doing a lot and doing absolutely nothing. It’s great to be back to my regularly scheduled programming! It feels comfy, in an exhausting sort of way.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I did a late morning practice today because I was on a late schedule; didn’t wake up until after 8. Then I made some tea, and decided that post-tea would be a good time to take the dog for a walk, then I talked on the phone for a while.

By the time I finally hit the mat, the tone for my practice was already set: lots of distractions. I was distracted by my computer, the snow falling outside my windows, my bladder (all that tea!), the dog (so cute). But also: my teaching schedule, my decluttering project, my to-do list.

At some point during the seated poses, I told my mind to shut up and suddenly noticed how quiet my apartment actually is on a winter morning. I felt a deep sense of peace descend.

Still doing full Primary, Janu Sirsasana C was my only skipped pose. I’m feeling stronger! Urdhva Dhanurasana felt lighter. And for the first time this week, I found ease and enjoyment in shoulderstand.

I’m down to the nitty gritty of my decluttering project. I sorted through my jewelry today. That was a bit sad because I have so many pretty pieces (and sentimental ones), but all I seem to wear are my Superhero necklaces. Anything else just gets in the way when I’m teaching.

I’ve finished organising the last kitchen cabinet which leaves only one more task: the dreaded, scary storage space under the kitchen sink. I’m saving that one for Friday.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Alarm clock FAIL again this morning. No candle light yoga for me! It was bright out by the time I unrolled my mat, but at least I did my practice.

I’m feeling stronger today - the vinyasas were not as taxing. I still don’t have my bind back in Supta K, but I bound to fingers in Marichyasana D. That’s promising! I need to lose my Christmas Cookie weight in order to go any further in these bound poses, I think.

At the moment, I’m still skipping Janu Sirsasana C (due to a physical issue). I’m now trying a modified Setu Bandhasana, building strength towards the full pose.

My back is a tiny bit sore in the area that cramped up yesterday, but I felt fine during practice. Whatever it was, it’s passed and I’m grateful.

I didn’t do a lot of Astanga last month. The Primary Series just seemed too impossibly long and draining. Now, because I’m committed to it, I’m not questioning, just doing. Maybe that’s the secret (don’t overthink it).

I’m in the process of reading the new Gregor Maehle book and he mentions that daily practice of the Primary Series (for a YEAR!!) is a prerequisite for practice of the Intermediate Series. The Primary Series builds endurance. I think I agree!

It will be interesting to see if my theory holds up later on in the week, when my teaching load is so much heavier. I may have to reintroduce afternoon naps into my routine!

The decluttering rounds continue. Today, I’m cleaning out the bathroom cabinets. When I finish, I’ll reward myself with a new bath pillow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I fought my alarm clock this morning and won, ended up sleeping in until 7:30. I just couldn’t wake up. I had a headache and I felt achy. I felt worse as I started to practice. A muscle on the right side of my back was cramping up. I’m temped to blame my QL, but it’s probably just an errant erector muscle along the spine. I wondered what happened? Did I sleep at a weird angle?

At one point, I had to stop and come into Child’s Pose. The cramping sensation was so intense, it took my breath away. Child’s Pose turned out to be a poor choice of resting poses - it was actually more uncomfortable. The only pose that offered relief was Chaturanga. So there I was, holding my Chaturangas because they felt so lovely. Irony!

Somehow, I made it through the entire Primary Series. And now I feel fine. I’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

I must be coming out of my funk, because I started a monumental decluttering project. Nothing beats the winter blues like getting rid of piles of stuff. The thing is, I already live in a small space and declutter fairly regularly, so there’s not a lot to throw out. I mainly rearranged stuff in a tidier fashion.

I did pack up two huge bags full of books, making room for new books on my shelves. I cleaned out my desk, including the ‘junk drawer’ and the ‘clippings file’ (the two places where I tend to deposit stuff I don’t know what to do with).

I didn’t get rid of many clothes. My wardrobe is in a sad state, but I *do* wear everything on a regular basis. My nicest clothes are yoga clothes - for work, of course. I don’t like dressing up, so my favourite outfits tend to be shabby and worn. I wish I could care more about clothes, but I just don’t. I think I’m missing the ‘clothes-horse gene’.

But I more than make up for it with my collection of bags. I love bags! Not purses (ack!), BAGS. Knapsacks, shoulder bags, sling bags, big bags, little bags. My cousin gave me a colourful little neck bag from Mexico and I went into spasms of ecstasy. It’s perfect for my subway pass and my debit card and that’s all I tend to carry with me anyway. I’m going to ditch my wallet.

In the process of all this re-arranging, I managed to finally use my shiny new label maker. It’s embarrassing how happy this made me. I was happy as a clam, typing up tidy little white labels. I even labelled a clear bin that was quite obviously full of tea lights (you could see them!) because just IT FELT GOOD.

I am sooooo easily entertained.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I’m so disoriented! For some reason, today feels like Monday. But yesterday felt like Saturday. I was so worried that I would wake up and completely forget that I teach at noon today, so last night I wrote the date and “Noon class!” on a yellow sticky note. I posted it to my computer so I would see it first thing in the morning.

I keep looking at it and thinking, ‘Whoa! It’s Saturday?”

I set my alarm for 6 a.m. this morning and resolved to wake at that time no matter how I felt about it (it did NOT feel good). I had trouble getting to sleep last night and that’s a sure sign that I’m sleeping too much and I’m completely out of my routine. It will take a few days to get it back, but I’ll adjust. This week is going to be so intense! I’m back to my full teaching schedule, doing WoYoPracMo, plus the weather has taken a turn for the worse and it’s bitterly cold. By next weekend, I guarantee it will *really* feel like a Saturday and I’ll be ready for it!

I practised my full Primary this morning from 7-8:30. I lit a candle and practised in near darkness until the sun came up. For some reason, I really enjoy doing that and it makes the practice slide by so smoothly, almost as if I’m doing it in a dream state.

I’m so far away from binding in Supta K right now, it’s actually funny. I know it will come back eventually but it feels so odd not to bind, like I borrowed someone else’s stiff, gummy body.

Another thing I’ve noticed: around Christmas, my left hip was really bothering me and I was experiencing some tenderness in my low back/sacrum area. The lower back pain has disappeared completely and the hip is feeling a bit better too. Practice and all is coming...and some is going away!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Welcome to the shiny, sparkly new decade and yet another instalment of WoYoPracMo.

We went to a party for New Years. I brought a fruit plate because I couldn’t bear the thought of baking *another* batch of cookies. I’m sick of holiday food. Apparently, everyone at the party shared my angst: there was a feeding frenzy on the fruit plate. Especially the fresh mango. Grapes trump cheese plate, hurrah!

I didn’t sleep well. I’ll blame the two glasses of wine I drank. I have no tolerance for it - I was even a bit hung over in the morning. The girlfriend and I went to the Café for our traditional New Years Day brunch and I went home to practice yoga afterward.

Full Primary Series on a full stomach! Banana Pancakes, a mild hangover and an hour-and-a-half yoga practice do not play happily together in the sandbox. I felt slightly nauseous but I solidiered through it. At least I have a good excuse for not binding in Supta K: my big Buddha belly!

I’m actually sore from practising Primary yesterday, the arms and the hamstrings mostly, but also a bit of abs. I’m sure I’ll be feeling it everywhere in a few days. I’ve decided to do a daily Primary Series for WoYoPraMo. I’ve done it before, two years ago, so I know it’s do-able.