Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've been in denial these past few days, but it looks like I need to face up: there's something going on with my right shoulder and it's not just my Gremlin talking to me.

This issue has been ongoing to a certain degree, but it's never effected my practice in a huge way until now. I started modifying parts of my practice yesterday, but today I found that even a simple movement like pushing back from Upward Dog to Downward Dog was very uncomfortable.

The pain is on the front of my shoulder, underneath the deltoid. I have to dig around a bit to palpitate it. It hurts at odd moment, like the forementioned Downward Dog, but also when I bring my arm over head in the Parvokonasanas. But it's fine in Chaturanga and even Uth Pluthi is fine (well, as 'fine' as Uth Pluthi gets, anyway).

By the end of my practice, I was modifying all vinyasas, taking out the jumps and replacing Downward Dog with table pose (hands and knees). I did a finger bind in Marichyasana D and took it easy with Prasarita C. For some reason, Supta Kurmasana was comfortable, but Pasasana wasn't even do-able. Ditto for Bhekasana and I didn't try Parsva Dhanurasana, figuring I pose that has me landing on my shoulder is probably a bad idea.

I gingerly did three Urdhva Dhanurasana, coming down to take a break between each. My shoulder was very uncomfortable pressing up from the floor, and the discomfort was enough that I was hesitant to make that additional push upward in order to bring the juicy stretch into my front hips.

Talk about taking all the joy out of my backbends!!! *sigh*

Fortunately, a Moon Day is coming up and my LH with it. I may take a break from Vinyasa-based yoga for few days and see if the shoulder issue sorts itself out. Meanwhile, ice and arnica are my friends. Demoing Downward Dog in my classes is NOT my friend.

I hope this thing resolves itself or it's really going to mess up my Big Plans for December. *sigh*

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Monday, November 29, 2010


Eight hours of sleep feels like a novelty these days. In fact, it feels like too much. I woke groggy this morning after a night of very weird dreams. They involved elements of nearly every job I had worked over the past ten years, including teaching.

Very freaky! Hey, go easy on me, Brain! It's only Monday...gah.

Practice was stiff and creaky. Forward bends were fine today, but twists were limited. I could only bind to fingers in Mari D.

Sirsasana felt better today, but I completely wimped out on backbends. After my three compulsory Urdhva Dhanurasana I took finishing. I didn't even try to drop back. I was tired!

We haven't had a visit from Lyn in awhile and with the colder turn of weather, it seemed like a good time to showcase her smurf-blue body suit.

Snazzy! All the cool Ashtangis are wearing them this season. ;-)

Every time I look at this photo, the words "Sit tall!" erupt from my mouth in my special 'Yoga Teacher Voice'.

Also: Bandhas, Lynn, BANDHAS!!!

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Sunday, November 28, 2010


I feel like I'm developing an intimate relationship with the garbage dumpster.

I've probably thrown away six bags of garbage/recycling and I've been up and down the elevator all weekend, carrying stuff down to the loading dock.

I placed a box full of items in the back hallway for my neighbours to pick through. It astounds me what people will pick up if it's free. Plastic travel mugs! Blank books! Gone! A jar of honey?! Yes, even a jar of honey! Everything disappeared within an hour. Old binders! A tea strainer! An old plastic spatula? Yup! A worn out skillet? Absolutely! Mind boggling.

The notes and papers from my YTT required two bags, two HEAVY bags, to recycle. I couldn't believe the huge space this created on my bookshelf. I kept some things - pop quizzes, my final exam and essay, chant worksheets and sentimental stuff. When I was finished, the keeper pile fit in a small file folder. Three giant binders were reduced to less than a centimetre. All these years, I've never even looked at this stuff...

I stumbled across the notes I took during my first year of teaching. I used to document every. single. class. Reading these critiques of myself and my fledgling teaching experiences was entertaining. It's a bit like finding the diary you kept when you were 16 years old. CRINGE! And then: RECYCLE!!! No, I didn't keep them. I'd prefer to forget my first year of teaching, thankyouverymuch.

The one thing I wanted to keep was a series of articles by Thomas Myers (Anatomy Trains) that were absolutely fantastic. I'm looking forward to rereading them. Of all the fluff I was forced to read for my anatomy module, those stayed with me.

Practice today was a typical Sunday practice, with one notable exception: I was able to move past that 'sticky hamstring feeling' and find true openness in my forward bends. Friday's experiment wasn't just a fluke. I was reveling in it! The one pose that still gives me problems is Krounchasana. When that one gets easier, I'll be relieved.

This was probably the futziest (is that even a word?!) practice I've had in ages. At one point, I was camped out on my mat, laying on my belly, propped up on my elbows, carefully studying my fingernails and trying to talk myself into doing my Intermediate poses.

Then I was reading Twitter when I should have been doing Urdhva Dhanruasana. I admitted as much in a tweet, appending it with the #badlady 'hashtag'. Ha, ha! But with all of my futzing, I still finished in 1 hour, 45 minutes.

When I woke up this morning, the sky looked like this:

This is reason enough to wake at 5:30 a.m., non?

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Today was more-or-less a day off, though I did do a short practice: the Suryas and fundamental poses, then finishing. No backbending!

I still woke up early though, at 5 a.m. I prepared a mug of tea and went back to bed with the Richard Freeman book. It was a great way to while away a morning.

It's amazing how well my body has adjusted to this crazy, early schedule. I get about 7 hours of sleep at night and another half-hour during my daily nap. It's really working for me. I even get tired in the afternoon around the time I should be taking a nap!

I shot the State-of-the-Backbend photo on Thursday this week. I was NOT having a good back bending day. But here it is:

See that? No bend in my upper back! And my shoulders have been really tight lately.

I feel like I'm regressing.

The Great Purge of 2010 continues this weekend with my desk, which I've decided not to sell because Princess Fur likes to camp out under there and hide from the world. It makes her very happy and I don't have it in me to deny the Princess her happy place.

I went through all the drawers and cleared out the junk, though. Note to self: You NEVER need to buy office supplies EVER again. I'm officially cut off from stationary stores. My plans for this desk involve keeping the surface clear of clutter.

After I finished the desk, I cleared out the bathroom cabinets. I now have three bags for the trash, a bag of stuff to give away and still more clothing to donate to the Sally Ann.

I've had a tough time letting go of some of these clothes, even though most of them are HUGE on me (thanks to Astanga, I've gone down many sizes). I'll never wear this stuff again, but the memories tug at my heart.

Next up: The kitchen cabinets. Then, three GIGANTIC binders of papers from YTT 8 years ago. My filing cabinet is also on the list.

I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying this. Skippetty described this type of cleaning task as 'cathartic' and I completely agree. I also agree that it's only cathartic when it's *your* stuff. Cleaning up someone else's mess is no fun at all.

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Friday, November 26, 2010


It's as if the Astanga Gods heard my whimpers of despair this week and delivered this morning's practice as a reward: I had a fantastic full Primary! I always love Primary Fridays, but this was a particularly yummy one!

I think I may have answered my own question regarding the hamstring. This morning, as I pushed through the sensation - with care and attention - I felt a shift. After a few minutes of this, things started to open up and lengthen. It felt AMAZING!

Kurmasana is the pose that tore my hamstring. A commenter asked where I was feeling discomfort prior to the injury. It was right around the attachment to the left sit bone. One day, I was lifting my heels in Kurmasana (something I had been doing for months) when I felt a sharp pain around my left sit bone. I knew immediately that it was bad, and it was.

As the injury healed, I continued with my daily practice, making all of these hilarious modifications to the Primary Series to accommodate my gimpy hamstring. Lots of bent legs! It seems silly now, but I often wondered if I would *ever* be able to do Kurmasana again. It felt so impossible! The pose used to be one of my favourites and over the summer, I watched with a bit of envy as shala-mates came into it.

Earlier in the week, I was experimenting with Kurmasana, engaging my legs and nearly coming into the full expression of the pose, chest close to the floor, and then strongly engaging my legs...as if my heels might lift (but not lifting my heels).

Today, I did this for five breath cycles and continued for another five. My chest was on the floor, I was feeling really comfortable in the pose and there was no sensation at all around my left sit bone. So I tentatively lifted my heels:


I know I'm not out of the woods yet. There will inevitably be days when I'm stiff and uncomfortable, but I think the worst is over. Lifting my heels in Kurmasana felt like the final test, and I've passed! I'm now learning where my limits are with this healing injury and how to move past them with care.

This has been SUCH a learning experience!

Every morning, Princess Fur gets her fur combed out. If I don't do this, she turns into the schnauzer version of Bob Marley with fantastic dreads.

When I call her over, she hesitates, then finally heaves herself out of the basket and then (I swear I'm not making this up!), she DRAGS HER FEET until she's standing in front of me, head hanging low. It's like she's lost her best friend.

Then she gives me this pleading look:

Oh, poor, abused little dog!

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Thursday, November 25, 2010


Wow, it's a slllllooooow day in the Cybershala. I guess everyone in the States is stuffing themselves silly, hopefully on Tofurkey, but I know better. Poor turkeys! It's an ordinary day here in Canuckistan: practice, work, eat, nap, work.

My noon class cancelled, so I slept in then endured a really mediocre practice. My shoulder is feeling better, so jump back/throughs were do-able, but I bailed out of headstand early because my hands kept slipping apart. back bending felt stiff and difficult.

I'm still on my re-organisation kick. I bought two bins for storage. Princess Fur's toys will fill one and the other will be home to 'active knitting projects', though I use the word 'active' very loosely here.

I was knitting up a storm last year, then I got derailed by the heel of a sock. That heel has become the 'standing-up-from-a-backbend' of my knitting life. I can't seem to get past it. It's the gatekeeper pose to the Rest of the Sock. It's driving me nuts. One of my goals for December is to pay a visit the Knitting Lady at my favourite shop and beg for help.

If I could finish that damned sock AND stand up from Urdhva Dhanurasana in December, I wouldn't need anything for Christmas. Santa, are you listening?

Yesterday, I mentioned that I've finally adjusted to Intermediate Series. Not only are the poses feeling easier, but my nervous system seems to have settled down (no more insomnia, except occasionally on the Full Moon) and I'm no longer eating everything in sight. This is a relief, because my diet has been terrible during the transition. In the past couple weeks, I've been trying to reduce caloric intake and clean up my diet a bit.

Today, I purchased a stainless steel, leak-proof container to carry my supper in. Such a small thing, but it will make a huge difference. Because I teach most evenings, I eat on-the-go, usually between classes or on the subway. I used to forgo supper, thinking that I shouldn't be teaching with a full stomach, but I was eating anyway. I was just picking up vegan cookies instead. Might as well eat healthy!

I've also ended my dysfunctional relationship with 'energy bars'. Let's speak plainly: these are chocolate bars with some vitamins in the ingredients list. I jettisoned those cold turkey last week and I've returned to an entirely whole foods diet, no sugar during the week (I cut myself some slack on Saturdays).

Eek. Agave syrup is my BEST friend. I never thought I'd say that.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Okay, let's swap it up: Great day, lousy practice. I was up at 4:30, on the mat by 5:30, had plenty of sleep. My practice felt interminable.

I don't what the problem was, but I felt stiff and HEAVY. Halfway through, I stopped doing jump back/throughs allegedly because my right shoulder was feeling tweaky, but it's entirely possible I was just being lazy.

Also: The gimpy hamstring is talking to me again. During my shala visit last week, it was feeling pretty good, but it's stiffened up again. This morning, my mobility was limited on the left side and I felt overwhelming sensation in the area every time I came into a forward fold.

So, what do you think, Cybershala? Do I push through this (the injury is now about four months old) or do I back off? I think it's hilariously funny that my hamstring is always on it's best behaviour when there's a Mysore teacher in the vicinity. Kind of like that quirky banging in a car engine that ONLY happens when you're NOT at the mechanic.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I think I need to make a truce with Tuesday. At the moment, it's not my favourite day of the week. Tuesday seems to be the day when nothing is easy and even simple things go disastrously wrong.

I can't put my finger on any specifics, besides a feeling of general ennui and frustration. I'm starting to jive with the notion that nothing new or important should be undertaken on Tuesday, because Tuesday kicks my ass (In other words, I should have picked a different day to install the update on my iPad *cringe*).

I've been brainstorming Tuesday Survival Strategies. I love the Hanuman Chalisa and this past summer, I set the goal of memorising it. The project stalled about 7 verses in, but I know those first verses really well because I chant them in my yoga classes (as my students are taking rest). Maybe this is a good time to take up the challenge again. I can use my unhappy Tuesdays to chant the whole thing and maybe Hanuman will help me ward off bad Juju.

Practice today was good. I realised something as I finished up my Intermediate: It's no longer a big deal. Those 8 poses used to feel interminable. In my brain, I think Parsva Dhanurasana lasted at least 10 minutes, but I don't mind that pose anymore. Laghu Vajrasana no longer lasts for a half-hour. In fact, I kind of like it. And everything else is breezing by.

On Sunday, when I was at Shala South with my shala buddy...okay, wait a minute, this is getting ridiculous. I have a few different 'shala buddies' so I need to do nicknames. I'll call this particular buddy 'Cabbage'. I think she'll laugh when she reads that.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes...Sunday. Cabbage was doing full Primary and I was doing my Primary+8Intermediate. I breezed smoothly through my 8 poses of 2nd, Cabbage did a little bit more backbending, I did a little bit less and we magically finished at the same time. Pretty cool, eh?

Jai, Hanuman. Save me from Tuesdays. And can I have a piece of that large, vegan chocolate cupcake you're carrying?

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Monday, November 22, 2010


During my 'purge' this weekend, I cleaned out a few storage areas, including my yoga gear. Apparently, I'm a woman of many props, with a special fondness for blocks. I have three sets! Foam, hollow wood and cork.

The foam blocks came with my very first mat, which ordered through the mail from an ad inYoga Journal in the early 90s. The hollow wood blocks were required for YTT. The cork are a recent addition - I love them and use them the most.

I also excavated a strap, two sets of toe seperators, 3 Yogitoes towels, 1 Manduka towel, 4 traditional Mysore rugs, 3 yoga mats, 3 mat bags, 2 eye pillows, 4 tennis balls (two of them encased in a sock), Miracle Balls, the Acuball, a deflated gym ball (for backbending), a resistance tube and an entire bag of malas.

And did I mention the 4 zafus, 2 buckwheat hull pillows, the bolster and the zabuton? Don't get me started on the cotton blankets!

I'm thinking I need to get rid of some of this stuff, especially the props I don't use anymore. All of these items were used at time or another, but I've 'outgrown' many of the props. I don't props very much anymore.

It's ironic. Never in my life have I had such a regular, daily yoga practice, yet it requires so little in the way of accessories. Astanga is minimalist. I like that.

Good practice this morning. It felt good to get back to my own space for after a weekend 'away'. No big changes to report.

I've returned to daily dropbacks, but for now I'm only dropping to the futon, taking great care to keep my feet correctly aligned, hip width apart. It's rough going. I no longer have The Dread, but the floor seems very far away right now. Need to get those hips to open up!

This week, the 70s Yoga Ladies offer a new approach for coming up from Laghu Vajrasana: Pray!!!

I'm going to try this! It has to be better than my current approach, which involves collapsing into a sloppy Virasana and laughing at myself.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010


This weekend was great! I did some serious thinking, reordered priorities, rejigged my schedule and made a few changes. One of the biggies is this: I now have a regular day off. Yes, that's right. I didn't before. I was teaching 7 days a week, sometimes even during the slower summer months.

From now on, I'll always to be able to count on having Sundays free and I'm planning to keep that day sacred. No classes, no privates, no work. It's a relief to know that each week, I'll have a entire day with nowhere to go, nothing to do (unless I want to).

Today was my first 'Sunday off' and despite the Moon Day, I decided to practice. I went to Shala South for Mysore-style.

I was 'crim' but I was in good company! There were many other 'crim Ashtangis' today at South. I counted close to 18 people in that room. But going against the grain is very much in style at this studio. I walked in and did my full Primary, plus 8 Intermediate poses. The teacher, DT, never tutted or raised an eyebrow. If anything, I was amongst the more 'traditional' people in that room. Many people were working outside the series, adding extras or flourishes.

I received some strong, focused adjustments. I was impressed that I got so much help, considering this teacher had never seen me before. DT corrected the alignment of my hips in both Parivritta Trikonasana and Parivritta Parsvakonasana (she asked me to shorten my stance on the latter). These adjustments were very similar to feedback I've received from IM at Studio Central in the past.

I received really deep adjustments in both Marichyasana C and D and also got the coveted Prasarita C adjustment, hands to the floor (I held the pose longer, hoping some help might come along, and it did!).

I probably would have had an assist in Supta Kurmasana too, but I didn't need it! For the first time, I was able to bind my hands, cross my ankles, then shimmy my ankles behind my head by myself. DR's help the other day gave me the muscle memory, I think. I wonder if I'll be able to do it again tomorrow?

I moved through my Intermediate poses smoothly. DT checked that I was binding in Pasasana, then left me alone to do the pose on my own. I skipped Parsva Dhanurasana because it felt too crowded to manage it. I grabbed a block to use for Laghu Vajrasana (I'm still not lowering my head all the way to the floor). It was actually nice to have this option and not feel all sneaky or weird about it.

This studio is very supportive of the use of props: the wall for handstands or backbends, bolsters, straps, etc. I certainly could have added my usual shoulder and hip openers before Urdhva Dhanurasana, but opted to go right into backbends to save time. I was practising with a shala buddy and wanted to finish up. I did 6 backbends, no dropbacks (though I might ask for them next time).

I had a good experience this morning. My only gripe is the music - there was some electronica playing when I unrolled my mat, but it wasn't playing for the entire duration. I was actually surprised that it bothered me so much - I used to practice with music and I still play it in the Hatha classes I teach.

I wouldn't mind going back to this room for an occasional practice on Sundays. It's not a 'traditional' shala, but given where I am in my practice right now, it's a good compromise. Whatever practice you bring in the door is supported and I really like that.

And I'm very curious about DG's morning Mysore now. I'm planning to go back to South and give it a shot sometime in the next couple weeks.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


Over the past month, I've releasing stuff from my life: books, objects, clothing, papers. Every weekend, I take on a new project. Last weekend, I went through my bookshelves and bagged up books for resale. I made $100 off of this project, which wasn't actually the point, but a nice end result, nonetheless. And I'm not finished! I'm already bagging more.

Yesterday, I sifted through my closet and ended up with three bags of clothing. Some will go to charity, some will end up at the resale shop. I'm starting to realise the folly of buying dressy clothing: I never wear it. I'm not a fancy dresser. I literally live in yoga clothing from Lu these days and maybe a few t-shirts, jeans. Note to self: shop accordingly!

Next up is my desk, which I'm planning to sell. I never actually use it. It's really just a storage receptacle for papers and objects I don't know what to do with. I'm a sucker for electronics of all kinds (Geek!). I've packed up a box full of this stuff to donate to a non-profit that refurbishes it. My printer is in there. And a digital camera from 8 years ago that looks like a brick.

Today will likely involve shredding and recycling vast amounts of paper. It makes me weep for trees. I think the YTT I attended 8 years ago killed an entire forest! Bell Canada killed another one. And my early years of teaching killed one more.

In the evening, I unrolled my mat and did the Suryas, Sirsasana, and the three closing lotus postures, then I meditated for 20 minutes and retired to bed with Richard Freeman's new book, which I bought for myself in a fit of retail therapy on Friday. This is my bit of fun for the week and I'm enjoying it throughly. Great stuff!

The State-of-the-Backbend was taken on Tuesday. It's not the deepest backbend ever, but I look more relaxed in this photo, at least. I've been working on trying to release muscular tension.

In the aftermath of a rough week, my instinctual reaction was to curl up in the window seat this weekend and munch on chocolate. Not healthy. And a two-day break from practice is just gonna make me more loopy.

So tomorrow I'm 'going rogue'. I'm doing my practice at Shala South's Mysore room (they're open on the Moon Day because that's how they roll down there). I'm pretty sure the teacher, DT, will let me practice my Intermediate too, so it will be business as usual. And I'm practicing with a shala buddy, which will be fun.

I've never been South for Mysore before and never practised with this teacher, so it will be a little adventure!

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Friday, November 19, 2010


What a throughly wretched week! I'm happy it's over. Next week will be approximately half as stressful, then things will begin to drift back to normal. And then it will be December. Poof! Just like that.

I slept until 7 this morning and sat in the window seat for a lazy hour with a mug of hot tea. Then I took a salt bath and headed up to Shala North to do my practice in a room full of warm, breathing fellow humans. I think I was looking for comfort more than anything else, a feeling that I'm not alone in this crazy thing I do every morning with such fierce dedication.

I had a great practice. DR was there (he hasn't been the last few times I've been up), so I received a number of really useful adjustments. I had some help with Marichyasana D. I can reliably bind to wrist in this pose, but it takes some wriggling around to get it. DR showed me how to rotate the shoulder of the wrapping arm and then he took me into the pose much deeper. Nice!

I got the 'calf roping' adjustment in Supta Kurmasana. Once my legs are behind my back, I can usually lift up for the exit on my own, but I flopped out of Bakasana like a dying fish. DR coached me through the jumpback to Chaturanga a few times and I think I have the hang of it now. I can't wait to practice this on my own!

Oh yes, and backbends. I was so warm and bendy this morning, it was a bit disappointing to find Urdhva Dhanurasana so stiff and uncomfortable. In my home practice, I do at least one shoulder opener and one hip opener before I take backbends. Without the prep, I felt very uncomfortable and tight. It was frustrating.

In Urdhva Dhanurasana, DR asked me to press up to my fingertips. The muscular action required to do this feels absolutely foreign to me, like it's a language my body doesn't yet speak. I have a feeling I'm probably strong enough, I just don't know how to co-ordinate my muscles to bring the weight forward into my feet.

DR pointed out that if I was in his room regularly, he could help me learn. True. But to be honest, I'm not in a big hurry to stand up from backbends. I don't see a reason to force it. I'm working on it and I have faith that it will come when my body is ready.

For completely different reasons, I've considered the idea of going up to North for a month - perhaps in December when my teaching schedule slows down. I could do shala practice of Primary in the morning and a second practice with my Intermediate poses at home in the evening. I would love to get some help with my transitions and clean up my Primary a bit more.

After practice, I went out for Indian food with a shala buddy. I'm still eating myself out of house and home these days (and not gaining any weight...weird!). As I came back with a second full plate of food and extra Naan, her eyes widened. "I have to fill my hollow leg", I explained.

It's my Intermediate Series hollow leg! I never ate this much when I just practised Primary! Plus, I ate dessert too!

And I tonight I went out with friends to a smokehouse and had a vegan sandwich with fries, a couple beaver tails and then cancelled out all of my hard-won virtue with a slice of non-vegan cake for dessert. Cake is always my downfall.

Bad lady, but I sure had fun! ;-)

Today is a VERY special day! It's Princess Fur's birthday. She's 8 years old. I took this photo on the first day we met. She was a tiny puppy, just 8 weeks old and I knew immediately that she was THE dog.

She's still THE dog. Happy Birthday, Fur! You're the best home practice buddy ever!

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Thursday, November 18, 2010


Aaaaand Day 5 of 6. I was up at 4:30, on the mat by 5:30, finished by 7:25 and out the door by 8. Life is moving too fast! This week just blew by and I feel like I spent all of it teaching, practising, eating, sleeping. Repeat.

Well, that and errands, and hand laundry.

And caring for Princess Fur. Even at my busiest, I make time for cuddles, playtime and long walks with my dog. It's not Fur's fault that I'm over scheduled.

Yes, I like all of these things and they make me happy. But I haven't been making time for ME. Of course, I do my practice and meditate every day, but I'm missing that quiet, introspective time needed to 'process'. Without it, I get loopy, discontented and stir-crazy.

That's where I am right now. So far, with the exception of a few angsty blurts on Twitter, I've managed to hold my shit together pretty well, but I'm feeling a bit rootless and uncertain again. I'm having a crisis of confidence in both my practice and my teaching (ironically, I've had incredibly positive feedback on my teaching this week, so I really need to stop being quite so hard on myself).

I think I just need some rest, so that's first on the agenda (my classes cancelled tonight, so I can go to bed early). Tomorrow morning, I'll make a bit of time to sit and drink tea in the window seat, watch the sun rise, do some reading, maybe a bit of writing, and thinking.

My morning yoga routine hasn't felt long or difficult lately, but it *has* been a tad bit lonely. I miss the sound and energy of people around me as I practice, so tomorrow I'm heading up to the Shala North Mysore room to visit DR in the late morning. I've been jonesing for a Prasarita C adjustment. If I'm lucky, I may get Supta Kurmasana too. And a good squish.

And after I've done these three things, I'll re-evaluate how I'm feeling and see if the itch has been scratched.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Seems I woke up at a stupidly early hour this morning for no good reason.

It's poor manners to waste another person's time because you cannot manage to be organised. Particularly when said person started *her* day at 4:30 a.m. in order to accommodate *your* schedule.

Basic Ahimsa. Or maybe Asteya. Or good old fashioned common sense.

Hrmpf! End rant.

All of which leads me to this moment in time: Sitting in a coffee shop in a part of the city I rarely frequent, yawning as I drink my green tea and killing some time before my next class. Trying to make the best of it, but annoyed all the same.

Practice was good this morning! I was on the mat by about 5:30 a.m. and wrapped up around 7:15. I skimped on backbends today to save time, did only three Urdhva Dhanurasana.

I've been thinking a lot about Supta Kurmasana lately. I feel like this pose is stagnating. I suppose I expected that I might be binding to wrist by now - my shoulders are certainly open enough. I find that this pose comes along more slowly when you're not getting regular shala help.

I think I need more opening in my hips. That would be a good project, and a good preparation for the LBH poses later on in the series too! If anyone knows any 'research poses' in that genre, I'm keen to hear about them.

One of the top search terms for the blog these days is "pulled hamstring ashtanga" (the other one, amusingly, is "jivamukti balm"...seriously, what the heck?!!).

My gimpy hamstring has finally mended and I have full flexibility back in most forward folds. The one exception is Krounchasana, but I didn't have that pose prior to the tear. When he gave me the pose, D offered very specific direction to avoid re-injury. I can come into the left side of Krounchasana without a lot of depth, but minimal discomfort.

I'm surprised by how much sensation I still feel in the area of the tear. It's not pain, more like a tugging. This injury still limits me. I wonder how much longer it will affect my practice? Should I be concerned?

It's been over four months since the injury. I think it may have been a more serious injury than I initially thought.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Mardi de la misère. I'm so glad this day is over!

The best parts of my day were 1) my practice and 2) exchanging my space heater at Canadian Tire at 9 a.m. This sums it up nicely!

The heater wasn't staying on consistently so I had to baby-sit it, reaching over every so often to give the power switch a nudge. Definitely not good for maintaining a flow in my practice.

By the way, 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning is definitely the hour to make an exchange if you ever need to do it. The place was empty, except for me and one very elderly man.

My classes were fun, though the energy was a bit weird.

And the weather. Oh, don't get me started on the weather! It's my least favourite kind: Windy, rainy, cold. HATE!!!

I'm using my new, brightly orange Mysore Rug this week. Last week, I looked like a Na'vi after using the blue rug. This week I'm taking on the hue of an Oompa Loompa from using the orange.

Tomorrow, wake-up is at 4:30 a.m.

Is it Friday yet?!

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I was up at 5 and on the mat by 6 this morning. I had a good practice. I'm amazed by what a non-drama my Intermediate Series poses are now. I flow right into them and love them. I feel like they complete my Primary.

I've been doing a shoulder opener, a hip opener and six Urdhva Dhanurasana lately. Yesterday, I added in a few dropbacks, but to the wall so I can start to persuade my brain that my legs don't *need* to be externally rotated in order for me to drop back.

That went really well, actually. I think my leg/foot alignment would have even passed J's scrutiny. Today, I raised the bar and dropped to the futon: with feet hip width apart, inner edges of the feet parallel. I couldn't believe it was actually possible, but I did it!

I couldn't seem to stand up, though.

Busy week ahead. I have two really early mornings mid-week and a kazillion errands on my to-do list. I'm feeling a bit wrung out and it's only Monday.

I may need a tranquilizer at some point. Or maybe I'll just unroll my Persian rug on the lawn for a bit of "Tranquilising Breath".

P.S. The 70s Yoga Guys (aka: the Swenson brothers) are having a party at Loo's place. It's Astanga, Old Skool!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010


On Friday afternoon, a huge fog bank rolled in and covered the city for most of the night and into the next day. This is what it looked like from my balcony:

It was just fog, but for some reason, everyone was really excited about it. And then the fog lifted and it was back to life-as-usual. Today, it's rainy, but I'm happy to be sitting in my window seat and reading a book. I have a rare 'day off' today, so I'm making the most of it!

I woke up early-ish this morning for my full practice. I was on the mat by 7:30 a.m. I was feeling stiff and awkward, as I often do on Sundays.

My left armpit is bothering me, a side-effect of the flu shot I got on Friday. Usually, my deltoid hurts from the flu shot (last year's H1N1 was particularly brutal; it ached for a week). But this year, it's the armpit.

I didn't feel it in my chaturangas but definitely caught a hint of it in Urdhva Dhanurasana. At first, I was hopeful that the soreness was a sign that the shoulder openers I've been doing have been effective, but nope, I'm pretty sure it's just the shot.

Backbends were good today and Sirsasana is back to being awesome. I had a pretty good practice for a Sunday! I'm looking forward to a good yoga week.

A quick update on my protein conundrums

I'm finally figuring out vegan protein sources and creating more balance in my diet. Last week, I bought some gluten flour and made my own seitan. I was amazed by how easy it is to prepare (and how very, very messy...geez!) But it's delicious, loaded with protein and freezes well. Thank goodness I'm not allergic to gluten, as I first though I was!

I've also been adding Quinoa to my brown rice, mixing them half-and-half. I'm not a Quinoa fan, but I have to admit, it's growing on me and the mix is a good compromise.

I finally figured out a way to use the Vega protein powder. The smoothies were not working out for me at all (they were making me sick) so I've been adding the Vega (along with Maca powder, flax meal, chia seed) to oatmeal.

It ends up looking like toxic sludge by the time I've added all the stuff to it, but it tastes okay and it gives me a great protein/nutritional boost.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010


I did a Hatha Yoga practice this morning for an hour. I followed the Gentle Hatha Yoga #3 sequence with Jackie, from YogaDownload.

I did not like this sequence at all. I'm not a fan of sequencing that focuses exclusively on one side for several postures, then switches to the other side. It leaves me feeling unbalanced. There was definitely not enough pose/counterpose in this class and more than once, I felt like I needed to add counterposes of my own, or just come into Downward Facing Dog for a spell.

Interestingly, I looked back on the 20 minute and 30 minute versions of this sequence, which I tried last year, and I didn't like those either. For the same reason!

The rest of the day was full of fun. A much beloved and excellent vegan restaurant is shutting its doors after this weekend. My vegan buddy G messaged me and we made last minute plans for a late lunch.

Nothing is funnier than two vegans despairing over a menu that has too many options. We're not used to options! I finally decided on a yam/eggplant sandwich with sage hummus. It was awesome. G got the scrambled Tempeh. We shared a pumpkin spice waffle with banana-coconut compote for dessert.

Then I headed off to a party for a friend visiting from Vancouver. It was the best possible Ashtangi social schedule: I was home by 7:30 at night. Ha, ha!

I took my weekly State-of-the-Backbend photo on Wednesday. My middle is pouffy from LH, but the backbend isn't bad. I'm still focusing on breathing. I walk my hands, but never past the 'edge' where I'm not able to breath deeply and freely.

One thing I struggle with in backbends is keeping my breath duration long. Once I get into a pattern of quick and shallow breathing, I'm almost never able to get back to a better quality breath. So I've been using a metronome to give myself a point of reference. 4 beats inhale, 4 beats exhale. I know right away if my in-breath become shallow and too fast. It's not a new idea, but it's been really valuable to me for keeping my breath even in Urdhva Dhanurasana.

I was looking at past backbend photos and, though the changes are subtle, it's coming along slowly and slowly is just fine with me.

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Friday, November 12, 2010


I slept in a bit this morning. This means I slept until 6:30 a.m. Kinda sad that it felt stupidly decadent to get up before 7 a.m., but that's my life and I'm not complaining! The early schedule is still working great for me. I'm getting used to being a bit sleep deprived. I tend to catch up on weekends.

I did my Primary this morning with D's DVD. I don't think I've used this DVD since *before* I went to Montreal, so it was a bit surreal. Prior to Montreal, he was just The Dude on the DVD. Now he's one of my teachers, at least in a 'long-distance-once-in-awhile' sort of way (I'm still getting my head wrapped around this, to be honest).

The DVD moves along at a slower pace than I'm used to, but felt good to slow down and bring more mindfulness into my practice. It was also a nice change for a Friday. I was able to focus on my breath and bandhas more. There are constant cues and reminders to breath evenly and engage the bandhas. It's one of the things I've always liked about this led DVD.

With the more leisurely pace, I had time to work my vinyasas and lift-ups, emphasizing strength. I took the time to come into postures more carefully, especially in the Marichyasanas.

D skips a pose in this DVD (Paravritta Parsvakonasana) and adds in others (Baddha Konasana C, Tadaga Mudra). It was fun to change things up a bit from my regular routine.

I noticed that a few of the cues are different from the ones I've heard D use in the workshops and in his Mysore room. None were contradictory, the emphasis was just different in spots. Hearing the instruction in the DVD helped reinforce some of the things I learned at the workshop. Since I'm now integrating these concepts into my teaching, it was helpful to hear how D offered them in the context of a led class.

I had a good practice. My knees is still fine *sighofrelief*. Sirsasana felt better today, backbends felt worse. Oh well!

I really enjoyed seeing the responses to my 'Lady's Holiday Survey'. The responses are still trickling in, but yesterday I hit 50 responders, so I figured I would do a tally.

Frankly, I was astounded by how many of my readers are Ashtangis. I know, I know, I shouldn't be! I guess I just thought I had a wider readership here, but I'm pretty 'niche'.

So here's the numbers:

1. Do you practise yoga asana during your monthly 'holiday'?

It appears that most of you practice during your Lady's Holiday. One person commented: "I practice if I feel good, don't practice if I feel bad. Simple logic!" That sentiment summed it up for most respondents.

2. What asana style do you practice during your 'holiday'?

In addition to the styles mention above, one person indicated that they practice Anusara.

The first day of the cycle is rough for many and it's the common 'skip day'. This was a theme in the comments. Some of you practice Yin Yoga or a gentle restorative sequence on that first day (or the heaviest days).

A few people commented that 'daily yoga' is important, even if it's not Astanga. I was very surprised by how many people keep on with their Astanga practice even during the Lady's Holiday.

There seems to be a strong culture of daily practice amongst Ashtangis which transcends physical discomfort and traditional views.

Put simply, I think many of us get in a routine and we're loathe to change it up, lest we lose momentum. Also, going back to a daily Astanga practice even after only a few days off can be stiff and unwieldy. Many try to avoid that by carrying on.

3. Do you practice inversions at this time of month?

Again, many people take the first day off, but continue 'the practice as usual' on subsequent days.

In the comments, most indicated that they do Sirsasana and Sarvangasana, but hold for shorter durations (10 breaths).

One person noted that Urdhva Dhanurasana feels good for her back during Lady's Holiday (I concur - backbends are one thing I don't skimp on during my 'holiday').

To be honest, this statistic was the one that amazed me the most. Most yoga texts and YTTs drill it in: no inversions during the menstrual cycle. Dire consequences are predicted for those how break this rule. But obviously, many of you are doing inversions with no ill effect.

4. If you abstain from asana practice, what influenced your decision?

This question was for those people who abstain from practice during the 'holiday'.

To be honest, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek when I added the option about Nancy G. So I was genuinely tickled when I noticed that " 'Cause Nancy Gilgoff said so" came in a close third after "Advice from my Teachers" and the big winner: "Physical discomfort."

'Feeling like shit' seemed to be a good reason for most of you to skip practice. It's kinda hard to do the Suryas when you're doubled over in pain.

Four of you indicated that you *do* sometimes get The Lazy. One person even admitted:"Sometimes I use it as an excuse..." (Yeah, I do that too!)

There were a couple of interesting comments regarding the importance of the Bandhas:

"It's impossible to engage bandhas and so I don't feel like I'm practising ashtanga or at least not practising in a safe and healthy way."

"If I happen to be suffering from cramps, I don't practice intermediate because I need my bandhas to be intact to keep me from hurting myself. Plus, it feels like shit."

5. If you choose to practice during your 'holiday', what factors influenced your decision?

This question was for those of you who *do* choose to practice. I was curious about your reasons (health related, practical or more philosophical).

Most of you are practical. Practice feels fine, so why not do practice? Several of you, like me, go a batshitcrazy without some kind of practice or you find that practice actually alleviates the discomfort of your menstrual cycle.

Only 3 of you practice during your Lady's specifically on the advice of your teachers.

And 16 of you are resisting the Patriarchy *fistpump*

Many thanks to all of you who participated in the survey. That was so much fun, I may do another one someday.

Be sure to read the comments from the survey post for additional views on the topic.

Finally, a photo for Princess Fur Friday. This is one of my favourites. Sleeping schnauzer, furry paw!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I was up at 4:30 this morning. I actually love practising at this hour, but peeling myself out of bed is a challenge.

A strong routine is my greatest asset on days like this. I don't talk about it a lot here, but routine is one of the things that keeps me on the mat six days a week (seven, if you count my non-Astanga Saturday practice). Nothing about my practice os 'optional'. On my schedule, it's 'inked in'.

My mornings are a bit like a vinyasa, knowing exactly what comes next and following the steps on order. I don't need to think about it, I just breath and do and everything falls into place.

Just as I do during my practice, I try not to anticipate, maintaining full attention on the activity at hand, whether it's a salt bath, sweeping the floor or starting Surya Namaskara A.

Come to think of it, this is exactly how I get through the *week*. Day by day, task by task, class by class. I can't get too far ahead of myself because it gets overwhelming.

I was back to my full practice this morning, including the inversions. I found Sirsasana really difficult. I've lost my headstand mojo. I was really noticing my neck. I *never* notice my neck in that pose so, of course, I was fussing.

Backbends were mind-blowing, including Urdhva Dhanurasana. All kinds of stuff has been coming up this week, which is ironic because I've been doing less Intermediate than usual and minimal UD.

I'm feeling a huge shift, but I'm not really able to attach words to it yet. I'm still figuring it out.

Yesterday's 'knee thing' faded into the ether. I guess my gremlin was playing a practical joke on me. All was well today.

Tomorrow: Primary. And a nap! (is it telling that I'm already planning a nap for the next day when I haven't even gone to sleep for the night?).

(From 'cosmic bowling' a few years ago. Bowling is one of those things I do well with until I start to *think* too much)

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Many thanks to all of you who answered my little survey. The responses are surprising me (and they continue to roll in). Some good comments too!

I apologise for inadvertently leaving out a few popular styles of yoga. I cranked out that survey after lunch yesterday in a short timeframe and very little sleep. I assumed (correctly) that a large number of my readers are ashtangis, but many other styles are represented in the responses (perhaps that's a survey for another day!).

This morning, I did another inversion-less practice, but included my Intermediate poses, which I had been missing. Today is Day 3 of my LH so I may be back to my full practice tomorrow.

I had some weird, completely inexplicable knee discomfort that only came up during forward folds. The discomfort was near the right patella, medial and distal. It felt like a mild crampy sensation. By the time I taught my noon class, it was gone. I'm wondering if it was a fluke. My lotus poses felt fine.

My alarm is set for 4 a.m. tomorrow morning. Yeah, it's one of those busy weeks. *yawn* There are not enough hours in the day. I would use any extra ones for sleep!

This is one of my new 'thick' Mysore rugs. It was VERY blue when I first bought it. Even after a wash, the dye still turns my hands and feet blue during practice. Parts of me look like a Na'vi!

Tonight, one of my students asked why I was so 'bruised' everywhere.

I told her, "My yoga rug has been beating me up!" :-D

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was a bit surprised by the stir yesterday's post produced! The comments were fascinating and made me insatiably curious about how many women forgo the whole 'Lady's Holiday' thing and just do their practice anyway.

That's exactly what I did this morning, full Primary, but I did skip the inversions. I didn't do my Intermediate poses, but I probably will tomorrow.

Honestly? I was feeling lethargic and uncomfortable as I first stepped on the mat, but as soon as I moved through the first Surya, I felt a thousand times better! It was the nicest hour of my day. I'm really glad I practiced.

I feel like I'm going through a personal paradigm shift around this issue. I've always felt *awful* during the three days of my cycle when I wasn't practising. I thought I needed to rest (and grudgingly followed the tradition of rest) but maybe I just need to move! I've often noticed that walking around helps me feel better, makes sense that yoga would too.

I'm so curious about how other women manage their practice during this time of month, I've created the short survey below. It's brief - just five questions. I've offered space to provide additional details (or not) and it's anonymous, so nobody will 'bad lady' you for your responses. Also feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, or email me if you want to fly under the radar.

I'll give it a week, then tally the responses and summarize the comments in a blog post.

This survey is not *just* for ashtangis (although it is, of course, limited to women). I'm keen to hear from women from across the spectrum of styles of yoga. I'm curious how different traditions address this.

Ready, set, GO!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

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Monday, November 8, 2010


The goal for my 'Lady's Non-holiday' this month: Stick to a routine.

I often get lethargic and depressed during these few days, but I'm not sure my cycle is entirely to blame. It might have *something* to do with the fact that I'm usually oversleeping, eating unhealthy food (chocolate!) and doing very little yoga (or any kind of exercise).

I'm the first to admit that I'm a bit of a baby about this whole thing. Yeah, I get cramps, but I always feel better if I get up and move around. But it's such a good excuse to sit around and watch DVDs, which is fun but not necessarily healthy for me.

So here's a plan: For the next three days, I'm going to wake up when I usually do, replace my Astanga practice with a gentler form of yoga, and try to maintain normal activity levels (walk the dog, run my errands, etc.)

Day 1: I was feeling wretched this morning, but I woke at my usual time and did 90 minutes of restorative yoga. I took my practice from the Bobby Clennell book, the sequence for 'during your cycle'. It involves a few supported heart-openers over bolsters and loads of bolster-supported forward folds.

Verdict? I'm feeling SO much better! Tomorrow, I may opt for a more active yoga practice but still no inversions.

I've written about this topic before (in fact, 'Astanga during menstruation' is a trending keyword search for this blog). I'm still not convinced that taking a break from yoga is necessary or healthy during menstruation.

I find that I feel better when I practice and yoga seems to soften (or eliminate) pain and bloating, it lifts my spirits and restores my appetite.

I know Astanga practitioners who practice throughout their cycles with no ill effects. I know of others who abstain from all yoga for up to a week each month. Different senior teachers have varying (and strong) opinions about this.

I think this may be one of those things that should be left up to the individual practitioners. I'm still figuring this out for myself, but I'm leaning toward 'practice without inversions.'

This week, one of our 70s Yoga Ladies demonstrates 'The Kneeling Cobra':

Quick, yoga teachers! What would you adjust first? Her knee? Or her hair?

Oh yes, and this pose is supposed to 'reduce the hips'. Awesome!

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Sunday, November 7, 2010


Aunt Flo is fickle. She comes and goes. She was well on her way yesterday, but absent this morning. I guess she wandered off to do some sightseeing. I'm sure she'll be back. I wasn't sure what practice I should do, but I really felt like doing my Primary, so I did. I skipped the inversions (seems like a fair compromise) and had a good, sweaty practice.

I'm really, really glad I did my practice! I really needed it.

Loo asked how I clean my clothing and mats. It's such a process! Given how much Astanga I do, hand-laundry feels like a hobby! I used to think that if I just threw my stuff in the bucket with some detergent right after practice, that would do the trick. Everything would dry and be sweet smelling for the next day.

Ha, ha! If only it were *that* easy! The sad truth is, clothing gets stinky from Astanga. All of those nasty toxins have to go somewhere so they take up resident in yoga clothes. I've experimented with various strategies over the past few years and I've found system that's full proof for me.

I'm sharing it here, but remember: your mileage may vary. What works for my stink might not work for your stink. For awhile, I tried Dr. Brommer's lavender soap to soak my stuff. The bacteria in my clothing *laughed* at Dr. Brommer. It didn't work for me at all.

So here's my secret formula:

I own two sets of practice clothes. Two yoga tops and two yoga shorts/capris. I tend to buy good quality because I'm hard on clothes. Lu is expensive but their clothing holds up well and that's important when you're wearing it and washing it literally every day.

My first line of defence is Tide with Febreze. Yeah, it smells like ass, but I've gotten used to it and it does a great job of cutting the odour. I use it for daily laundering as well as my weekly machine wash. Every day after practice, I dump my clothes in a bucket with detergent and soak them for a half-hour, thoroughly rinse and hang everything to dry in the bathroom.

My second line of defense is a weekly white vinegar rinse. This is *key* and particularly important for my yoga tops, as they get horribly stinky even with consistent washing. In a bucket with an inch of water and an equal amount of white vinegar, I thoroughly saturate the tops and let them soak for a half-hour. Next, I add water, detergent and throw the yoga pants in for a soak. After a half-hour, I rinse everything then put it in the machine wash with my regular load. I allow it all to air-dry afterward.

My Manduka gets a thorough scrubbing once a week, on Friday. In a spray bottle, I combine 1 part white vinegar to 2 part water, plus 20 drops of tea tree oil and 20 drops of lavendar. I spray the mat until it's wet and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I scrub it throughly with a wet towel and rinse it off in the tub. It takes about 24 hours to dry.

I have two Mysore rugs in regular rotation and use each one three times before washing it. Rug-washing days are Tuesday and Friday. I'm using the 'thick' rugs now because they don't bunch up on my mat. The thick rugs take *forever* to dry, so alternating between the two allows time for that. I soak the rug in the kitchen sink for a half-hour with detergent, rinse it in the tub, wring out as much water as possible, then air-dry.

Princess Fur gets a bath in the tub, every two weeks with baby shampoo (which smells sweet to my nose and probably horrific to hers). And she's brushed as often as I can corner her (read: not often enough). :-D

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Saturday, November 6, 2010


I'm glad I practised yesterday, even though it was almost a Moon Day. I'm also glad I practised today, the 'real' Moon Day. I didn't do Astanga, just an easygoing Vinyasa class.

Bad Lady Lite? ;-)

I did a YogaDownload class, 'Heart Opening Flow' with Jackie. After months of silent Astanga self-practice, it felt weird doing YogaDownload again. I was struck by how awkward some of the cues were, but I appreciated being led through a unique sequence, with a teacher to keep things moving along (or not - some of the holds felt interminable to me).

The sequence was a continuous flow of standing poses with no inversions. But there were backbends, glorious backbends! And what a difference a couple of months of Intermediate Series practice makes! I was totally rocking the backbends. I've done this class before and found the backbends challenging in the past. Not today. Today, I found them fun and satisfying.


It was just an hour - enough to get me warmed up and stretched out before heading off to teach my class. And when I came home, Aunt Flo was waiting for me. Drat. It may be Wednesday before I'm back to my Astanga practice. That's lousy timing. :-(

I shot a State-of-the-Backbend photo earlier this week. In my backbending, I've been focusing on alignment and not carrying tension into the posture. I've been walking my hands in, but only to a point where my breathing is still deep and free flowing. As soon as I feel tense or constricted, I bail out (and try again).

If D managed to convey just one concept to me vividly, it's this: No breath, no Prana. If I'm holding tension in my body, I'm blocking the flow of energy in the pose and there's no benefit. If I'm not breathing deeply in a pose or the breath feels 'blocked', I need to figure out why.

In this photo, I emphasized proper alignment of my feet and especially my shoulders. Then I only walked my hands in a bit. I wanted to find my 'edge' but still be able to breath deeply.

What surprises me about this photo is how deep the backbend is given that I'm not engaging in any heroics or trying to walk my hands a huge distance. In past SOTB photos I've walked my hands in until I was gasping for breath. In those photos, the backbends look great but I'm DYING to get out of them because they feel *awful*.

Maybe it's just me, but I think I *look* more relaxed here than in past photos (and damn, it looks like my feet are turned out again. How does this happen?! Grrr.)

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Friday, November 5, 2010


Today was a wonky on-the-cusp Moon Day. Most people seem to be taking the day off, but I didn't see a point, given that I'm no longer at a Shala.

Plus, now that I'm regularly practising some Intermediate, I really love my Primary Fridays and I don't like to miss them. After a week of hard work on the mat, Primary Series feels like a fun, fun reward. This is really amusing, given that full Primary used to be *such* a big deal in my world. Even as recently as a year ago, it felt like a long, very difficult practice. Now, it's the practice I do if I'm feeling under-the-weather or I need a break.

I had a great practice. Every day, I noticed changes and shifts, things that are newly easy. Often, I don't think to note them, but here's an example: Marichyasana C. I can remember a time when coming into this pose felt like constructing Human Origami. Now, I wrap myself into it on one inhalation. It feels like giving myself a hug. I love Marichyasana C!

You know what else I love? The weekend!!! I'm so happy for some downtime. Today, I finished all of my errands and weekly cleaning, plus I cleared up my desk and reorganised the area around my window seat. I spend so much time there, I wanted to make it more user-friendly and welcoming.

Adding a lamp for light, moving my stereo within easy reach so I can listen to music, putting away my overabundance of books and cleaning up the centimetre-thick-layer-of-dust. All small things, but they made such a difference.

In the afternoon, I cleaned up the kitchen, took Princess Fur for her usual walk and when we got home, she resolutely marched into her condo, anticipating my regular evening departure to teach classes. But instead, I pulled out a big bag of toys. She turned herself in circles, she was so excited! The Human! At Home! Playing with the Dog! A Miracle!

We played for about an hour, then she passed out in sheer exhaustion in what can only be described as a 'Toy Coma'.


It's gonna be a GREAT weekend :-D

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Thursday, November 4, 2010


Have you noticed how the Internet has taken the mystery out of just about everything? I can still remember hunting down song lyrics as a teenager. In the early 90s, I recall spending hours at the library trying to track down the origin of a quote. In the pre-web-olden-days, if you needed to know something about moon phases, you had to track down a farmer's almanac.

Now, I just Google everything I want to know and the answers magically appear. As for moon phases...well, there's an app for that!

So for those of you who were wondering if the Moon Day is *really* on Saturday, even though most shalas have it scheduled for Friday: The app says that it's a New Moon as of 12:52 a.m. Saturday morning. But given that the change back to Standard Time happens on Saturday night, I think it's fair to say that this one is definitely 'on the cusp.'

I'll probably practice on Friday. If for no other reason, my LH is upcoming and I know I'll miss my practice during those days off.

Thanks for all the feedback on the Vegan Protein Debacle. Here's an update: Health Food Store #1 is ordering Seitan for me. If I like it, I may try preparing some homemade. Everyone keeps telling me how easy peasy it is.

I found Vega on sale (but shit, it's expensive!!!), bought the Vanilla Chai flavour. I don't have a good history with concentrated protein so this is an experiment.

My first Vega smoothie was just 'okay' but the second was mind-blowingly fabulous and found myself craving it. Nothing changed. I think it was just a case of my body recognising holy-smokes-there's-protein-in-this-stuff. I've been getting bizarre cravings for chocolatey 'energy bars' too. Again, I think my body is just craving the protein.

In addition, I did a thorough analysis of my overall diet and filled in a few gaps so I know I'm getting all the nutrition I need.

Practice this morning was good. The jump into Bhuja P was not happening today for some reason. I tried it twice and moved on.

I've changed my approach to Laghu Vajrasana after realising that I had reached a point where I can 'pigeon peck' endlessly. I've reintroduced the block and I'm now lowering to the block and holding for five breath cycles before coming up.

Sirsasana was dodgy the first two days of this week. My hands were slipping and I felt unstable. The past few days have been very good in the pose (hands are less sweaty maybe?).

It's been a Bad Transit Karma week with many delays and long waits. On Monday, I was 10 minutes late to a class. This almost never happens because I build time into my commute to account for possible delays.

This is what the platform looked like. Almost too crowded to move. People were not happy.


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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Practices this week have ranged from 'just okay' all the way to the low end: 'you've gotta be kidding me'. Let's see...Sunday was stiff, Monday I practised late because of the alarm clock fail and yesterday, I had a raging headache.

But today was awesome, which makes it all better. Hey, Astanga! I like you again. You can call off the dudes in the white coats for now. The Crazy has been averted. *phew*

I'm continuing to jump into Bhuja P with mixed success. I'm jumping every time, but my feet don't always clear the floor. Lately, I've been taking whatever the landing I get as the starting point for the pose, however sloppy. I just do my best with it. I find that trying repeatedly to get the jump just frustrates me. I do it once and move on. The exit is almost always a fail, but figure this is a good motivation to jump into it better.

The Big Awesome for today was my exit from Kurmasana. In the workshop, D instructed us to lift up from Supta Kurmasana with crossed feet, then straighten the legs into a Tittibasana. Keeping the legs engaged, drop the heels while lifting the hips to bring the legs into position for Bakasana.

When D was demonstrating it, it looked like his knees were pivoting in place on his arms. Today, I managed to do the same and instead of my legs sliding further down my arms (and making the Bakasana jumpback feel impossible), my knees stayed in place and I was able to nail the jumpback. It *almost* felt easy. Awesome!

We're well into the orange-and-red-huge-leaf-piles phase of the season. The weather has been nippy too! I love this time of year. It makes me so happy :-)

Today is our lovely Owl's birthday. Happy Birthday, wise one! I hope your day was full of awesome!

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I was on the way home from teaching my last class of the evening when I realised that I hadn't updated this blog.


This day was a mix of lazy/busy, so I don't really have an excuse (except for the 'lazy'). I spent a lot of time on Twitter, picking the Cybershala's collective brain about soy-free, vegan protein sources. Protein sources that aren't beans (because I may be allergic to them *sigh*).

Yeah, it's tough to be me. I've spent the last two months trying to put a finger on this weird allergy/systemic reaction. It's thrown my entire diet into chaos, but I think I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

And at least I've established that I'm NOT gluten intolerant. *bigsighofrelief* Not that I'm going to go on a 'bread binge' any time soon, but it's nice to know that the occasional multi-grain-roll-with-almond-butter-schmeer is an option for me.

Today I discovered that I'm apparently the last vegan on the planet to properly appreciate Vega. I thought the stuff had soy in it, so I had been steering clear. It's also pricey, but I'm desperate. I'll investigate tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'd like to know how a city that serves dinner at all hours of the night and caters to every possible international cuisine could be so empty of something as simple as seitan. No one carries it! Not even the usual suspects, Health Food Store #1 and Health Food Store #2. I'll check #3 tomorrow, but seriously!?

Oh yeah, and my practice: It was okay. I felt tired and there was some MAJOR futzing happening right around Laghu Vajrasana. In yesterday's post, I think I was 'bad ladying' myself a little bit. It kinda worked. I did 6 Urdhva Dhanurasana and I worked hard in them.

Something interesting: During the workshops, D taught a shoulder alignment trick coming into UD. Today, I realised that I was doing something similar on my own long before the workshops, something that just 'felt right.' Making that identification helped me to understand D's approach better and it was a sweet moment. It was nice to have a 'backbending thing' make sense for a change!

Also, something that J helped me with (in Pasana) is carrying over into almost every pose I do including my backbending. It was a simple adjustment and instruction, so simple, it's difficult to convey. Basically, I need to relax and not tense up my shoulders when I'm trying to bind. When I can do this properly, the shoulder joint has more mobility and space and I'm able to reach deeper.

I'm not sure that really made sense, but I'll leave it be.

It's starting to get dark at night as I'm coming home from teaching my classes. I love living in the city! Magic :-)

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Monday, November 1, 2010


I was very organised last night! I set up everything for my morning practice as I sipped my chamomile tea. I sat down with Princess Fur and gave her a good-night cuddle, then I launched the alarm clock application...and forgot to turn it on.

Alarm clock fail! I slept in until 7:30. Oops!

I suppose my body thinks it 'needed' that 10 hours of sleep, but I'm getting a bit skeptical. I seemed to be doing just fine on 8 hours per night last week and I wasn't having any trouble falling asleep either.

If I can manage to remember the alarm clock this week, I'd like to wake early for my practices and take afternoon naps to balance out the sleep.

I got up and did a 'late' practice this morning, on the mat by 8:30. I didn't do any of the extras. No hip openers, shoulder openers or extra backbends. I was finished in 90 minutes.

I loved this practice because I kept moving and I was comfortable. I'm starting to question whether 'comfortable' is really good for me, though.

While reading this blog post from Helen, I was so moved that I started crying. On a public bus (good times!). It really struck a chord in me.

I can SO relate to everything she's going through, even though I'm not quite there yet. Her musings mirror the struggles I've had in Urdhva Dhanurasana. This has started me thinking about how I'm working in my backbends (or 'not working', as the case may be).

The truth is, I can face physical discomfort head on, but I tend to run away from fear and the 'emotional stuff'. These days, I'm still struggling with plain old 'garden variety' backbends. For all intents and purposes, I'm right back where I started with Urdhva Dhanurasana, albeit with a deeper backbend and better alignment. And deeper breathing (I take my victories where I find them).

I find it really, really difficult to work this stuff out on my own. I do practice consistently and I do work hard in my practice, but this is one area where I would really benefit from encouragement and the regular presence of a teacher. I don't know how much I should be pushing! I'm trying to stay in a zone where I'm connected to my breath. But I'm afraid I will lose the openness I've gained by not pushing further.

And to be honest, I don't know if I have the will power to face up to that discomfort and breath through it. I know exactly where my edge is because it's the place where my breathing stops and my heart begins to hurt. I don't like to go to that place and I'm not motivated to find it unless someone is nudging me. Someone I trust.

So here's where I'm at: I'm not really pushing myself in backbends. I think about it. I give myself little 'pep talks'. And I approach my practice every day with the best of intentions. Then, I bail out when I hit that moment of discomfort. Every day. And I feel awful about it. *hangshead*

On the bright side, I'm feeling comfortable with my Intermediate poses and I'm breathing deeply through that portion of my practice. Several of those poses used to push me into the 'freak out zone' and now I enjoy them. That's something, right? It's given me a glimpse of what's possible if I can just move through to the 'other side.'

I have no idea how Kapo is going to play out in my practice when I get it (and it won't be any time soon), but if the current state of affairs is any indication, it's going to be rough going.

Oh yeah, I forgot...on a 'lighter' note: I jumped into Bhujipadasana this morning without my feet touching the floor. Then I did the rest of the pose and kept going, no drama, no worries. Even though I did it, I still can't believe it did it. *mindboggle*

I amaze myself. And disappoint myself. Simultaneously!

This is for those of you who, like me, are afraid that the stress of your practice may be speeding up the aging process.

The 70s Yoga Ladies have the answer! Anti-wrinkle yoga:

'Fill out the lines', eh? Sounds suspiciously like Botox!

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