Friday, December 31, 2010


I practiced at my usual time this morning, but because the evening classes were all cancelled, everyone else was there too. It was crowded and HOT. I was quietly dying over there in my little corner, whimpering on my sweat-soaked towel, wishing I was in the back row where I could flake out without an audience.

Yesterday, I promoted myself to the middle row so I could get a better eye-line to the mirror with my piss-poor eyesight (The Bikram Yoga Rock Stars all inhabit the *front* row). A rockstar I'm not, but I figured that I have enough of a handle on the series and transitions now not to confuse the people behind me.

I always wondered about those mirrors, but it's not vanity. Truly! No one looks good after 90 minutes in a hot room. Sweat-shiny skin, mussed hair, and beet-red faces peer back at us from the mirror. It's definitely not an ego-enhancing experience. The mirror is all about alignment. Can you see your foot emerging from the top of your head in Floor Bow? No? Kick up!

But seriously, the HEAT! How could I have missed this? It's always been hot, but today felt extreme. I was soaked in sweat before the class even began and felt alternately dizzy and nauseous through the floor poses. Even Savasana felt miserable.

As I was leaving the room, I noticed one of the Bikram Yoga Rock Stars laying in Savasana on the floor outside the room. I asked another Rock Star and she concurred: it was unusually hot, even by Bikram standards. Relief! I'm glad it wasn't just me!

It's the end of another year and I feel moved to acknowledge it. If I were to choose a word to describe 2010, it would be: 'unpredictable'. It wasn't a great year, but it wasn't a bad one either. It was challenging, painful and heartbreaking, but also surprising, uplifting and a year of great growth both personally and in my yoga practice.

I wrote a whole list of resolutions in January and it turned into a bit of a joke; didn't accomplish a single one. Instead, I did a number of things I never would have anticipated or predicted.

For example, I *never* would have predicted that I would go to a shala, let alone practise at one for 5 months. It was a huge adjustment for me, but I learned a lot.

And one shala led to another, and another. By the end of the year, I had practised Mysore-style across the city, attended workshops and made friends far and wide. I've connected to the Astanga community in my city and I greatly value that.

After years of a touch-and-go meditation, I finally returned to daily practice. It's become one of the things that truly sustains me during tough times and I would no sooner skip mediation than I would skip brushing my teeth. I truly feel that my daily Astanga practice has led me to this turn in my meditation practice.

Studying with Kino was something I had always wanted to do, but never thought I would have the opportunity. Then, surprise!, she showed up in my city. Awesome! Her workshops were spectacular and I learned so much.

Back in 2008, I added "Drop back into Urdhva Dhanurasana" to my list of resolutions, then I never even started. This year, my shala experience gave me the push I needed to explore different methods of learning this action. For me, working on a slope was the key and summer was the time. During my daily walks to the park, I dropped back to a hill, gradually moving to a flat surface. A backbending workshop at Shala North sealed the deal.

A spontaneous summer road trip offered the opportunity to study with certified teachers for the first time, an item on my Astanga wish list that wasn't on my radar for 2010. I learned a lot in those two days, and still more in a subsequent workshop with those same teachers. These experiences were life-changing and the whole of my teaching and practice has been transformed. Their approach to the practice resonates deeply with me. I have no idea how this will play out long-term, but I feel that I've 'found my teachers'.

And then there were the injuries...

My first injury came as a shock. It happened at Shala Central in July. It took over 5 months for that torn left hamstring to heal and every practice was a learning experience. My right shoulder went out during another shala visit. I practised through the hamstring injury, but the rotator cuff kept getting worse even with modifications.

Which leads me to my final unpredicted event of 2010: Bikram's Yoga. I wanted to continue daily practice as my shoulder injury healed. Hot Yoga seemed like a good compromise. I'll be starting the New Year in the hot room and will hopefully return to my Astanga practice in February.

2011 is already shaping into an interesting year and it hasn't even started yet! I have a feeling my life and my practice will continue to be 'unpredictable' and I'm starting to feel very comfortable with this state of affairs!

If I were to choose a word or phrase for the coming year, it would be 'light', both in the sense of vision and feeling. I want to bring a lightness and ease to my practice, learn to see people and events in a more positive light, but also let go of people, obligations and things that are weighing me down.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for reading my blog. I would have never predicted how much this blog would grow in 2010 (there it is, that word again!) or how many people would join my community of readers.

You bring out my best as a writer and you motivate me in my yoga practice. I know that not all of you comment here, but that's okay! It's enough to know you're out there, reading my words. It's meaningful to me. I felt a great many emotions in 2010, but I could never feel entirely alone with such a great community behind me.

Thank you for being my community, my friends and my support network. I hope the New Year brings all of us joy, challenge and success!

(Princess Fur opens up a holiday gift. Very exciting! It was a bone!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I feel like a pancake!

Just to be clear, I'm not 'quitting' Astanga. Not permanently. Not yet.

I'm taking a break from the practice while my shoulder heals. My shoulder is in bad shape. When an injury starts to limit activity in my day-to-day life, I pay attention. Even removing most vinyasa from my Astanga practice was not easing the pain.

No, I haven't gone to see a physio about this. The physio would just tell me to stop doing stuff that makes my shoulder hurt. Like Chaturanga. And Adho Muhka Svanasana. I knew this already, I was just in denial. I need to rest my shoulder.

The 26 poses taught in Bikram's beginners' class are easy on the shoulder joints. There's no vinyasa, there's no deep binds that internally rotate the arm.

So I signed up for 30 days at Hot Central. When my contract is up, I'll return to home practice for the month of February. In March, I'm travelling to see my teachers for a week or two. If the shoulder injury is still an issue, D&J will help me with it.

In the meantime, there are far worse places to be during a Canadian Winter than a hot, hot room. I have three words for you: Radiant. Heat. Flooring. It's like lying on a beach, except you're working very, very hard. ;-)

I didn't make this decision lightly. A few years ago, I had a VERY bad experience with Bikram's Yoga which turned me off of the practice.

My current experience has been very positive. I asked around and heard great things about Hot Central. The studio is modern and spacious. The changerooms are clean and sparkling. The practice room has wood floors which are kept spotlessly clean.

The instructor for my very first class is also an Ashtangi! He predicted that 30 days in the hot room would clear up the pain in my shoulder. So far, he's right: I have full pain-free range of motion and I can use my right arm again.

So, how do I *really* feel about Bikram's Yoga?

Actually, I feel like a PANCAKE! In the seated portion of this practice, Savasana is taken between every. single. pose. Flip! Flip! Flip! If there were tanning lamps on the ceiling, I would be getting a VERY even tan. Every 30 seconds, I'm flipping myself over to rest or to take another pose.

I'm also feeling my quadriceps. And my calves. And my hip flexors. I scoffed at the idea that I might get sore from a Bikram's class, but my legs ached for the first few days. I'm intrigued with the emphasis on leg strength in this practice and heartened by the abundant opportunities for backbending. I may not be doing Urdhva Dhanurasana, but I'm doing hang backs, Bujangasana, Ustrasana and Shalabasana. For what it's worth, my legs are getting stronger and that can only help my backbending.

My holiday from Astanga also includes this perk: Sleep! Apparently, Bikram Yogis don't dig pre-dawn practice. The earliest available class is from 9:30-11. As much as I enjoy the energy of early mornings, it makes better sense for me to stay up later and get some work done at night, then sleep later in the mornings.

This could be fun :-D

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What I did on my Winter Vacation

Tap, tap. Is this thing on?!

Hi everybody! *waves* It's been awhile, hasn't it? Two weeks seems like a long stretch here in Blogland. I'm feeling a bit rusty, to be honest.

I'm really happy that I took the two weeks off. If for no other reason, I was able to avoid writing those inevitable, semi-obligatory 'Happy-Whatever-You-Celebrate' posts (Happy Kwanza!).

Also, my practice kinda sucked. Just knowing that I could be as miserable as I wanted to and not have to write about it cheered me enormously. One day, I wept through an entire Primary Series practice. As I took rest, a rebellious thought percolated: "I just had an absolutely miserable practice and NO ONE HAS TO KNOW ABOUT IT!"

It was kind of awesome! :-D

I truly savoured the downtime. I was only teaching 5 classes a week for the duration of my break. And what did I accomplish in this abundant spare time? Well, there was sloth, LOTS of sloth! Probably more sloth than was really warranted, but I loved it.

I baked vegan cookies and went for long walks with Princess Fur. I meditated every day, sometimes twice a day. I took epic afternoon naps that stretched into the evening. I watched the lunar eclipse (Happy Solstice!). I watched my entire collection of Jane-Austen-Books-Turned-Into-Movies on DVD (and started thinking in 19th Century Gentry Speak). I spent way too much time messing around on the Internet and not enough time reading. If I were to change just one thing, that would probably be it.

I spent the 25th in the best possible way: I hung out with other, non-holiday-celebrating friends, watching a good movie ('Almost Famous' - I can't believe I had never seen it!) and eating yummy Chinese carry-out (Happy J-mas!).

I did make some small progress on my big decluttering project. Digging deep into storage, I immersed myself in the history and genealogy of my family, scanning the old documents and photographs for my digital archives. I rediscovered my grandfather's draft certificate from the 1940s. I learned that my grandmother was meant to be named 'Patricia' until her romance-novel-reading older sisters judged the name too plain and chose a more froofy, flowery moniker (which she disliked until the day she died). I found an announcement from my mother's high school graduation and my great-great-great-grandfather's birth certificate.

During my break, I heard from a few of you. You wished me a Happy Whatever-I-Celebrate (Thank you! Happy Yule!) But mostly, you wanted to implore me not to Change the Blog. Apparently, polished, professional content is vastly overrated for most of you (or perhaps there's too much of it on the Internet already?).

I thought my daily blatherings might be getting a bit old, but one of you went as far as to threaten to 'unfollow' me if I even *considered* writing a series of those '10-things-blah-blah-blah-yoga-blah-blah-bulleted-list' posts.

10 Ways to Piss Off Your Blog Readership. Okay, I get the message.

I never wanted to be an important 'A List' blogger anyway. Rest assured, my inane practice reports and daily brain-dumps will continue, complete with grammatical errors and entertaining typos. You've been warned! If it isn't your cup of tea, well, the Internet is a BIG place. I'm sure there's more polished content out there, I just won't be writing it.

I've continued my daily yoga practice during the break, with a bit of whinging and heel-dragging here and there. One week was thoroughly awful, then I finally learned the knack of super-heating my apartment (Humidity!). But then my Gimpy Shoulder, which is now officially a 'thing' (read: 'rotator cuff injury'), started to give me huge problems. I couldn't do Downward Dog. Or wipe the kitchen counter. Or open a door. The frustration began to weigh on me, and I started to brainstorm alternatives.

I had a lot of time on my hands. My imagination ran wild.

And this, Dear Readers, is what happens when I don't have a community backing me up for a stretch: I get all creative! Leave me alone for two weeks and before you know it, I've quit Astanga and picked up Bikram's.

You all think I'm joking, don't you? (I'm not!)

I'd write more, but I need to get some sleep. The hot room awaits...

More tomorrow.

(The very fact that I stayed awake late enough to see this eclipse probably qualifies as a miracle! Happy Festivus!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reluctant Holiday

Here's one of the great things about Astanga: on one day practice can be absolutely abysmal and then the very next, it can be the Greatest Practice Ever.

This morning, it's like someone waved a magic wand over my sweaty head, or I somehow Chakrasana-ed myself through the Looking Glass into a parallel world of unsore shoulders and boundless energy and backbends that felt peachy keen (and opening prayers that burst forth melodically, instead of wheezing out in raspy whispers).

I had an AWESOME practice today. Sometimes that's the way it works in daily practice. You see, every practice, no matter how unawesome, is actually awesome because one leads to another, like beads in a mala or breaths in a vinyasa. Everything ebbs and flows in cycles. That's how I knew, last week at this time, that as bad as things seemed they would most certainly be better in 7 days. They always are.

Yesterday, LauraYogini commented that as someone new to Astanga, it's comforting to hear that even long-time practitioners have off days. What I loved most about her comment, though was this: She wrote, "even if I don't always make it through, then so long as I notice that, and enquire as to why, and learn, acknowledge and nurture those reasons and lessons, my practice is still a 'success'."


As I lay on my back this morning, taking rest, I was thinking about my practice and blogging and I had this moment of brilliant clarity: I need to take a break. Not from Astanga, but from this, this blogging thing.

Now don't get all panicky! A break is a break; I'm not quitting the blog. But I've been going pretty much non-stop here for almost 2 years. As the readership of the blog has grown (and it has grown exponentially over the past year), it has started to become less about me, me, ME and more about what I have to offer the Astanga community, our 'Cybershala.'

What started out as a whiny little practice blog has grown. People actually READ this blog, hundreds of people! Last year, I got the mention in Yoga Journal. That was epic! Then, over the summer, my blog was listed on Shala North's website *cartwheel*.

Recently, the blog was honoured on two resource websites for the massage therapy community. I'm not naive: I realise that these 'awards' are intended to drive traffic to the sites, but I'm impressed that the site administrators had clearly *read* my blog. The lists they compiled are actually quite good and worth a perusal. I'm in esteemed company on those pages.

(there used to be pretty badges here, but the awards were 'discontinued'. I guess the site owner realised that giving out yoga awards wasn't driving traffic)

I'm delighted with the readership I have and I'm not interested in making money from my blog, but I would like to offer better content to the people who visit here. I'd like to make the blog less about me, me, ME and more about us, us, US, the community.

So I'm taking a Blog Holiday to think this over. I'll be back before the New Year.

Some of the things I'm doing on my holiday:

-Updating my Twitter stream. If you're really worried about me, you can always head over there to reassure yourself that I'm alive and well and not yet standing up from Urdhva Dhanurasana.

-Updating the Facebook Page. With new and interesting links because I'm *not* taking a holiday from the Internet at all! I'm not THAT crazy.

-Observing the renovation of my apartment hallway with great, um, trepidation. So far, we have lilac paint on the ceiling, shit-brown paint on the walls, darker shit-brown paint on the elevators and door jams. And the emergency exits on either side of the floor are painted a brilliant, bloody, Lady's Holiday Red. I can't wait to see the new carpet!

-Cuddling Princess Fur. Because there can NEVER be too much cuddling for Princess Fur!

-Reading and commenting on your blogs! And with great enthusiasm since I won't be writing here.

-Writing in my private blog. So I can chart out my course for the next year, both in my yoga practice and professionally.

-Buying a new coat.Because my old one is in pieces and Canada has decided to go back to having Real Winter again. *shiver*

-Writing a long overdue email. The one I promised to send two of my favourite people *cringe* months ago. I'm sorry :-( You'll hear from me soon!!

-Yoga tourism. The winter is cold, cold, cold. I need to warm my tootsies at a shala someplace. I'm sure there's Room at the Inn someplace in this town. I'll take the best offer! :-)

See ya'll on December 30th.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm finding it very difficult to maintain flow and focus with so much of the substance cut out of my Vinyasas. I'm not jumping forward or back. I'm not doing downward facing dog for most of my practice. I do it in the sun salutations and as far into the seated poses as I can manage, then I revert to table pose when my shoulder begins to ache.

The lack of flow creates hothouse conditions for huge amounts of futzing. Since I'm annoyed and (yes, I'll admit it) a bit depressed about my abbreviated Vinyasas, I tend to stop a lot and 'rest'. It seems to require a lot of energy to start up again.

I'm like a street car that jerks forward, then stops, forward, then stops. Leaving all the standing passengers pitching forward and back and bumping side to side, trying not to fall into someone's lap.

Part of this could also be the 'winter practice blues'. I've never practiced Astanga this consistently through an entire winter season. Last year, I was varying my practices more, the year before that, I was trying to get my groove back after an illness. And the year before that, I was in the first 6 months of my Astanga practice and it seemed hard no matter what the weather was doing (but somehow easier because it was newish to me).

I think consistent, daily practice of the same series highlights difficulties that might not seem as obvious if you just practisted yoga a few times a week or sporadically. The variations in energy levels and motivation become particularly stark.

Back bending was good today and my dropbacks were strong. I'm surprised by how well this is going, actually. I thought I would have to 'start over' but I seemed to have picked up exactly where I left off.

Today, I wasn't able to nail the exhale-to-drop-inhale-to-stand thing (to the futon of course - the floor is still impossible), but I was able to stand up easily with two strong rocks. I also tried coming up from the floor. I only managed to lift up to my fingertips, though.

In honour of the first big snow storm of the season, 70s Yoga Lady Kareen is making a Yoga Snow Angel.

Must get cold in that leotard!

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Monday, December 13, 2010


There are certain days when I have NO gas in my yoga 'tank'. Today was one of those days. I didn't feel well when I woke up. I didn't feel well as I unrolled my mat. And I didn't feel well as I started the Suryas. It was all downhill from there.

As I finished the standing poses, I began considering the possibility of half-Primary. I paused to rest before the Marichyasanas and knew I wouldn't make it through a full practice, so I bailed after Navasana and went to finishing.

Half-Primary. Oh well...

But I'm glad I paid attention to the frantic white flag of surrender my body was trying to wave. I could barely get through finishing! After lunch, I laid down to rest my eyes for a few minutes and woke from a deep, deep sleep two-and-a-half hours later.

Clearly, my body wants to rest, so I'm giving it some downtime: as much rest as possible today, early bedtime, lots of sleep.

So far, December has been kicking my ass. Definitely not part of my plans for the month but I'm rolling with the punches...

In other news, it's cold out. COLD. Behold, frost on the window right next to my window seat. It's like an entire universe in a window pane:


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Sunday, December 12, 2010


I returned to my full practice this morning: Primary, plus Intermediate poses. I wondered if it might feel long, or difficult, but it was fine. My shoulder still isn't completely comfortable in the vinyasas and half-way through the practice, I was modifying them. But I did every single vinyasa (not even skipping between sides) and I've dropped all of the modifications in poses.

Of note:
- I can bring my right arm alongside my ear in Parvakonasana
- Prasarita C is feeling deeper
- Wrist binds are back in Marichyasana D
- I'm doing Chakrasana again

And unrelated:
- Uttita Hasta Padangusthasana has been *fantastic* lately. My balance has been very good! I've never had an easy time with this pose, but for the past few days it's felt exactly like that: easy!

I whizzed through the rest of my practice and did all of my Intermediate poses, even Bhekasana and Parsva Dhanurasana.

I did my three Urdhva Dhanurasana and was considering drop backs to the wall, but my only wall is occupied by boxes full of stuff for scanning. So I decided to try dropping to the futon instead.

I'm still turning my feet out a *bit*, but overall, the drops felt really good! Even better, I was dropping on the exhalation and standing right back up on the inhalation! I've never done this! It definitely felt a bit awkward and it wasn't pretty (I was staggering around after coming up), but suddenly it's feeling possible! I'm looking forward to experimenting with this more in the coming week!

Bonus: Mysore Rug Yoga

I've recently discovered that in addition to turning my feet and hands Na'vi blue, my blue Mysore rug has other magical abilities. The rug has spontaneously started to take yoga postures!

In this photo, my blue Mysore rug is taking Purvottanasana!

I'll keep you updated if the rug decides to practice any other postures.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010


I still don't have my voice back, but that's okay. It's the weekend and I've just discovered chocolate almond milk at the grocery store (which, warmed on the stove translates into Vegan Hot Chocolate). Plus, I don't have anywhere to go, not that I'd want to. The forecast is for days of cold and rain. Perfect weather for a time-consuming indoor project!

So commences the next phase of Operation Going Paperless: Photos and Memorabilia.

I'm a prolific keeper of old letters, cards, photographs and sentimental schtuff. These items currently fill a large portion of my only storage closet (and I've already sorted through the collection several times before - it used to take up an entire footlocker!). I've dragged this hodge-podge from state to state, cross-country, and country to country. I'm not about to drag it province to province, so let the culling begin!

Technology has caught up with my sentimental packrat tendencies. I can now scan my memories! This month, I'll be spending lots of quality time with my new scanner and the paper shredder. My goal is to whittle it all down to two small plastic bins. If holding a document in my hands doesn't trigger a gut-wrenching sentimental moment, it gets scanned and tossed.

Practice today was in the evening. I did the Suryas and a few seated poses, then closing, followed by meditation.

I didn't want to jinx myself by mentioning it here, but I've been meditating daily for over two months. I started, as I always do, with easy five-minute sessions and worked my way up to 20 minutes. I meditate before sleeping - either before my afternoon nap or at night.

Meditation is one of those things that is hard to build a habit for, but once you do, it's tremendously helpful. I'm finally at the point where I don't skip a day. Even if it means simply sitting for five minutes, I do it. Even if I'm not feeling well. Even if I'm having a bad week (especially if I'm having a bad week). It's keeping me sane!

On Thursday, I made my triumphant return to back bending and documented it with a photograph. Urdhva Dhanurasana is not looking great, but given that I haven't been practicing it very much, it doesn't look too shabby:

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Friday, December 10, 2010


Often after a couple of days away from my Astanga practice, I'm struck with an irrational fear that somehow I won't find my way back to it - like a wandering child, veering off the known path and becoming lost in the woods. In the interval of non-practice, the Primary Series starts to appear long and interminable. I begin to wonder if I might be too weak. From afar, the practice starts to look too difficult.

Then I get back on the mat and everything is okay again. That's what I did this morning. My two-day Astanga vacation gave me a some perspective and appreciation for my daily practice. I realised that I didn't care whether I was doing perfectly floaty vinyasas between postures. I was just happy that I was doing anything at all! I was just happy to be there.

So I did my Primary and I had a good practice. Since it was Friday, there was no pressure to do Intermediate poses, but I know I'm ready to add them back in. My shoulder is still a bit sore in places, but I'm 99% there. I stopped pushing back into downward dog half-way my practice through because I didn't want to aggravate my shoulder, but I was feeling pretty good. I skipped inversions, due to my LH.

I did five backbends! Today, I was even walking my hands in. I can feel the effect of *not* doing backbends this past week. My front body is very tight and I feel the stretch across my belly when I push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana.

Tomorrow, there will be a very mediocre, but hard-won 'State-of-the-Backbend' photo! For practice, I'm going to take it easy, but I'll be back in the Astanga business for practice on Sunday.

Overall, I'm feeling a little more upbeat. It was just an awful week, but like all awful weeks, there's an end to it. My voice is still raspy, but I can talk. Sometimes. It's gradually returning.

And with a reduced schedule, I'll finally be able to rest and have some fun. Things will only get slower coming up on the holiday. My favourite part of Christmas is the time off!

A dog story for Princess Fur Friday:

My superintendents are not happy to be managing a building in a province that protects the right of tenants own dogs. When I first moved in, they asked me to sign a clause verifying that I would 'never own a dog'. I cited my legal rights and they backed down.

Since then, they've tried various underhanded strategies to force us out. When I finally filed a formal complaint, they backed down.

But then they renovated the elevators with special, Princess-Fur-Camouflaging interiors. I was suspicious. See? They're still trying to make her disappear! She blends right in:

In the sample book, I'm pretty sure that particular colour swatch was called 'Schnauzer'.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010


This morning I woke up voiceless. The discomfort of my cold was aggravated by a night of restless sleep, punctuated by a third night of painful cramps. And to add misery to injury, I had a blistering rash all over my legs and torso.

I feel like my body is hoisting the white flag of surrender: Enough already! I give up!

I'm falling apart. And I can't fall apart. I don't have time!!!

I got up and did some Hatha yoga, but I felt broken. It's been all of two days, but I already miss my Astanga practice. My plan was to take a break from Astanga during my LH, in order to rest my shoulder. But I'm feeling so fragmented and low energy that I may go back to a (modified) Primary Series tomorrow.

Huge props go out to Maepress for leaving the comment about apple cider vinegar. I think that may have been the single thing that helped me get my voice back in time for the noon class. The Cybershala comes through for me yet again.

By the end of the day, I still had a voice, but I sounded like a version of Bob Dylan in my evening class. Then I seethed through a 3-hour meeting regarding professional standards for yoga teachers, unable to make single remark, because I couldn't. My voice was completely gone.

I know my blog has been an unrelenting festival of misery this week. I don't often have a bad week, but when I do, its a doozy.

In my darkest moments over the last few days, I've considered:
- Quitting Astanga
- Ditching my career as a teacher
- Moving to Hawaii

The reality:
- I'll do my practice
- I'll plan my classes for next session
- Pay my credit card bill

Life will go on. Because that's what life does.

I hope tomorrow is better because I really can't take much more of this.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I had a rough day, but I survived. My LH hit full force in the mid-morning, just as was preparing to teach a busy noon class. I had just finished a comfortable restorative practice, draped over a bolster in various contortions for a better part of an hour. And *bham*. Frankly, I wouldn't have chosen this timing (busiest teaching day of my week) but these things are rarely 'choosable'. I carried on as best I could.

I was really basking in gratitude that I actually had a voice to teach with. It's been coming and going since yesterday. Last night, I took a hot bath and gargled salt water, used a neti pot and crossed my fingers. When I woke this morning, I emitted an experimental 'OM' and sat up joyfully in bed when I could hear it resonating through the room.

My classes went well. Tonight was special for my students: these were the last classes of a ten-week session. There was a sense of celebration, honoring all that they had learned over the previous months. My voice lasted through all four classes, but started to fade as I made my way home.

I'm now 'on holiday' from these evening classes until the New Year, so I'll get a bit of a break. I'm looking forward to it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


The universe is mocking me. I was sleepless past 2 a.m. last night with insomnia and cramps, but my LH is still MIA (I'm overloading on the acronyms here because, frankly, I'm sick of talking about it). So I got up this morning to practice: tired, sore and cranky.

My cold appears to be wrapping up, but laryngitis is following close on its heels. Believe me, this is the kiss of death for a full-time yoga teacher who offers mainly led classes. I'm scheduled to teach four classes tomorrow! I really need my voice!

And to top it all off, winter is here in full force, with snow flurries, wind chills and overcast misery. We haven't seen the sun in days. The sidewalks are gritty with salt. Even the smallest excursion outdoors chills to the bone.

Practice this morning was full Primary, which is so soothing. I love it! It's hard to start, but then it's hard not to stop. It's an easy practice for me, particularly since I'm still modifying every vinyasa. Today, I recovered my Chaturanga-to-Upward-Facing-Dog, with no pain. I can do Downward Facing Dog as long as I set it up very carefully. It's not the complete vinyasa, but it's a start.

The best news: I did Urdhva Dhanurasana today, three times, very carefully. First backbends in nearly a week!

So it's coming along, slowly but surely. I'm just trying to be patient as this difficult week crawls by. I'm keeping faith with my practice and holding on to the hope that everything will be easier in 7 days.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, December 6, 2010


Last night was rough. I didn't sleep well because my head hurt and my sinuses were throbbing. Then, I was kept awake with horrible cramps that stayed with me until morning.

But when I rolled out of bed in the morning, my LH hadn't actually started, so I still had to get up and do my practice.

Lady's Holiday FAIL!!!

I'm still waiting, and in the meantime I'm bloated, paranoid and I can't. stop. eating. cookies. *burp* Epic PMS!

On the bright side, I actually had a very nice practice and my shoulder does feel a *bit* better. I was able to do Purvottanasana today, which made me happy because it's become one of my favourite poses. A number of other small things are back: bringing my arms overhead in Prasarita C (gently, of course), reverse-prayer-hands in Parsvottanasana, and grabbing my toes in Baddha Padmasana.

But some simple things are still tricky, notably downward facing dog and bringing my top arm alongside my ear in Parsvakonasana. I'm still modifying my vinyasas and skipping vinyasas between sides too.

I haven't bothered to even try my Intermediate poses and since I can't press up into Urdhva Dhanurasana or even put any weight into my shoulder in that position, backbends are out. I'm doing 'bridge pose' instead, hoping that I can at least strengthen my legs and work on that elusive connection between active legs and relaxed gluteals. Last time I was up at North, DR pointed out that I still I haven't nailed that.

On the even brighter side, I'm successfully fighting off the cold I picked up. A combination of ColdFX, neti pot, and vitamin C seems to be doing the trick and I haven't even brought out the oregano oil yet. As I'm writing this (on the subway home from my last class of the day, 9 p.m.), I'm feeling about 100 times better than I did in the morning.

It's 70s Yoga Day! Here, Kareen demonstrates one method to let off some steam when you have Epic PMS.


It's even more effective when you shake your head vigorously back and forth and flap your tongue around like a crazy lazy.

I tried it and now I only want to eat *half* the box of double chocolate vegan cookies.

I'm saving the other half for tomorrow. ;-)

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Sunday, December 5, 2010


I kept my promise to myself and eased off of vinyasa practice this weekend. Today, I took it down another notch and did an Iyengar-style restorative practice in the evening, based on an Iyengar sequence that boosts immunity. I prepped with a long, hot salt bath, then I blissed out over blocks and bolsters, finishing my practice with Viparita Karani and a leisurely Savasana.

The immunity-boosting practice was strategic - I woke this morning with a scratchy throat and sore sinuses. I've been using my neti pot all day and taking supplements to fight this off. It's absolutely the *last* thing I need right now, given that I'm moving into my last week of a heavy teaching, plus my LH is due any moment now.


So I'm grumpy, sniffly and I have no idea what kind of practice I'll be doing in the morning. I'm planning to get a good night's sleep and see what the dawn brings.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010


This weekend, my new best friend is the paper shredder, in close competition with the scanner. I completely emptied a two-drawer filing cabinet and started the arduous process of getting rid of old paper.

Why, oh why did I ever think I should keep all this stuff? It's a mystery...

By the end of the day, I culled it all down to six files of 'keep' items (stuff like my birth certificate and sentimental stuff). There's a 10 centimetre heap of items to scan for tomorrow. There's also a garbage bag full of shredded paper and another garbage bag full of paper that didn't need to go through the shredder.

The Great Purge 2010 continues!

I'm planning to shed the file cabinet (which presently lives in the kitchen, of all places!) and keeping the remaining files in the file drawer of my desk.

My life is shrinking! Yay!

Practice this morning was easy Hatha Yoga. I added a bunch of core work and hip openers to the mix. In the afternoon, my abs were sore. Already! Lazy abs! Maybe I need to do more of that tomorrow.

A fun riddle for a lazy Saturday:

Q: What does North Korea and Astanga Vinyasa Yoga have in common?
A: Driste!

Today, *my* Driste was chocolate cookies! What was your Driste? :-)

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Friday, December 3, 2010


After all of that fuss and drama yesterday, I was unprepared for my practice to be so ordinary and - dare I say it - good. I moved through at a good clip. My body seems to have adjusted to the modified vinyasas and I found myself falling into a groove. I skipped vinyasa between sides today to reduce the impact on my gimpy shoulder.

The shoulder is feeling much better! I didn't even notice any sensation until the very end of my practice. If this is any indication, I think a weekend of rest will resolve the problem. I hope so.

Princess Fur is enjoying her new hiding place under the desk very much. All the better to supervise me as I practice!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010


The Good: Ten hours of sleep. TEN! My mid-day class cancelled, so I slept in. Till 7:30 a.m.!!! It was heavenly.

The Bad: My practice. Nearly everything about it. Today, I sunk to a new low, not only skipping backbends, but opting out of Sirsasana as well. And I didn't bother with Intermediate either. Clearly, I need to figure out some reliable substitutions for those parts of the series.

Well, the backbends anyway. I skipped Sirsasana because I had The Lazy.

I can't believe I have to do it all again tomorrow. This has been one of those weeks when my practice feels impossible. The weekend is the light at the end of my tunnel.

In the meantime...

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Practice this morning was tough. I was paying attention to the sensations in my shoulder during every pose and transition, taking care to back off when I felt the slightest twinge. A huge number of poses, both in the Primary Series and my Intermediate, are now modified.

The whole process was mentally exhausting. Usually, my momentum carries me forward. Today, I felt like I had to bully myself through every pose. By the time I got to Pasasana (modified twist with prayer hands *sigh*), I was frustrated and spent.

On the bright side, I'm still able to do the 'lift-up' part of Vinyasa, so I've been emphasizing that and I had a few genuinely awesome 'Lolasana moments'.

I can't press into Urdhva Dhanurasana from the floor without discomfort. I have to drop back instead. I'm using the wall as a support so I can drop back with properly aligned feet. Once I'm in the pose, my shoulder doesn't hurt.

Since I was already at the wall, I worked on standing up too, walking my hands up the wall a bit, then standing. It felt really good! I'm looking forward to this part of my practice tomorrow.

It's not a great practice right now, but I feel good about moving through it and learning from the experience. I'm trying to keep positive.

This has been a challenging week. My Fall pre-reg sessions usually wrap up by now, but they've been dragging on due to earlier cancellations. They won't finish until next week. I had hoped to travel up to Montreal this week to practice with D&J, but it just wasn't possible. My next chance will be in March.

I'll just be happy to have a couple weeks of a slower schedule so I can catch my breath. I'm exhausted. Then it all starts up again in January.

(Sunset tonight, while waiting for the bus to take me to my three back-to-back classes.)

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