Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Today's photo theme: Toothbrush

Yes, a toothbrush. I didn't write this list of photo prompts, though I've been faithfully following them for two months and it's been fun.

Next month, I won't be blogging the photos here, but I'll probably post them on Instagram. Give me a shout if you'd like to follow my Instagram feed and I'll add you.

Also: this blog will be going on a one-month hiatus while I carry out a top-secret blogging experiment.

Ask yourself these questions:
-Are we buddies?
-Does the secret code word 'Superfilter' mean anything to you?
-Do you know me in person, or have we followed each other's online shenanigans for a number of years?
-Would I share my sweet potato fries with you?
-Can I vouch for your identity through an established yoga blog or online presence?
-Are you dying to keep in touch with me and/or are willing to persuade me that you're not my secret stalker, posting as an Ashtangi loyalist?

If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', please drop me a line. I'll hook you up.

As usual, I'm up to no good ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 30, 2012


...before the storm.

I shot this photo at 1:30 in the afternoon. For hours afterward, it rained, poured, thundered and flashed lightning. Princess Fur hid under the bed. I just watched in awe...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Thing I Bought

Today's photo theme: 'Last Thing I Bought'

The good news: I'm not buying those chocolate-covered almonds anymore.

The bad news? Well...lol...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Photo theme: Cup

From the archives: A cup of herbal tea in classic Queen's Ware - this is a replica of eighteenth century Queen's Ware from George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate (I'm flying my 'archaeology geek' flag today).

I spent at least an hour composing a long diatribe about Astanga and aging and meditation. Then all the wind went out of my sails.

Looks like you guys will need to wait till I finish the Maehle book for an official review. Also, it appears that he's now writing a book on meditation.

My response to this news, in short: 'Yes, please!'

Check out this superawesome post on Maehle's FB page. I can't figure out a way to link to it, so I'm reposting here in its entirety:

I completed the 2nd draft of my new meditation book, called Yoga Meditation.

I will now start to here post content.

I got requests from a few students to write about how body and practice changes as one gets older as people seem to struggle to keep up practice. Important here is to realize that asana practice was designed to support practice of meditation and pranayama. As you get older you need to shift emphasis from asana practice to the higher limbs. Try to limit your asana practice to 90 minutes and spend the rest on higher yogic practices.

Physical problems often result from students not graduating on to the higher limbs. It’s the higher limbs that will give you the realization that you are not the body but the consciousness, the self. Once that has been attained the ambition to flog the body in asana practice, will disappear and with it many of the physical problems.
(passage from Yoga Meditation): If asana is understood on a deep level then we will, once in the posture, produce the counteraction that propelled us into the posture. When done on all levels of live this method leads to mastery, that it going with the flow, being in the zone or being in the Tao. Rather than manifesting an enormous force that breaks through the barriers of the world and must in the end produce our own un-doing we move through life without force but using existing forces. This way no counterforce is ever necessary to manifest against us.
This principle is beautifully expressed in Chuang Tzu’s “The Dexterous Butcher”. The story is a bit unsavoury for vegetarians but the message is deep nevertheless. Here, Lord Wen-hui watches and questions his cook who for 19 years uses the same blade to carve up thousands of oxen without sharpening it. The cook explains that rather than hacking through the oxen, he first pays respect in his heart, meets the oxen with his whole consciousness and he cares for the Way. He then moves with great subtlety, finds the right spot, almost effortlessly leans against the oxen and suddenly it is as if the whole oxen falls apart by itself. (end of quote)

Your body is that oxen. Rather than hacking through it with much energy and effort, first pay respect for it in your heart. It is not an animal that you need to conquer and beat into submission. Meet your body with your whole consciousness and treat it as an expression of the Divine creative force (prana). Do not think that you only want to get that backbend, that leg-behind-head or which ever posture it is. Understand that your body is the crystallized history of your past thoughts, emotions and actions. Its not just meat, but more than you think it is.

Move with great subtlety and find the right spots where you are holding on. Because it is you that is holding on, not somebody else. And now comes the secret: After with having identified with great subtlety the right spot, lean against it almost effortless and without ambition, just by shifting your body weight within your body. The result will be that your body will open almost effortless.

Important though is that you do not practice for the results, for the outcome. Do not practice goal-oriented as that will lead to more and more injury. As Lord Krishna says in the Gita, surrender the outcomes of your actions.
I found that it takes many years and decades to open to inner intelligence and intelligence of the body. Good news is that intelligence grows as one gets older. Years ago scientists thought that we get dumber as we get older but this has now been proven wrong. There is something called the neuroplasticity of the brain. It means that as long as you keep learning, your brain will become more and more powerful.

As I am getting older, I found that I am using less and less energy and time to achieve in my practice more and more. Recently I read a sign in a café’ saying, ‘Drink coffee. Do more stupid things, faster and with more energy.’ A was amazed that the sign expressed reciprocally what happened in my practice (without coffee). Using much less energy, I do less things in a smarter way but the outcome is much more profound. But like Lord Wen-hui’s butcher I first had to learn to listen to my body.

The good news is that yoga gets better as it goes on. I found the first 10 years tough. The second decade sort of happened by auto-pilot, meaning it required no additional effort. But only in the third decade the harvest began. Keep hanging in there. It will get better and better.

I had a fantastic time teaching in Manila. Heartfelt thanks to the people of the Philippines, who welcomed me so openly. I found them to be some of the friendliest people that I ever visited. I very much look forward to returning to Manila in the future.

I will stay in Perth for the next almost three months until we got to Bali to teach our 200-hour teacher training. Here we will present the essence of our 35 years of research and practice. If you are interested please request our prospectus at http://www.8limbs.com/teacher-training

If you are currently reading or have read my Pranayama book and found it helpful please do not hesitate to give it a review at your favourite online retailer. I put an enormous amount of work into my books and your reviews help to circulate the books and keep me going.

Hari OM

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 27, 2012

On the Road

Today's photo theme: On the Road

From the archives: A fragment of poetry written by bpNichol on the lane named in his honour (behind Coach House Books)

Because of the varied schedule at Shala South, I don't follow a 'traditional' weekly schedule anymore. Thursdays have become my 'day off' instead of the traditional Saturdays (and when I say 'day off' I mean 'a day for a led class'). Fridays are my Sundays. And Tuesdays are usually my Fridays (that's when I practice Primary Series).

I mixed things up a bit more this week, doing my regular practice on Tuesday and taking Primary Series at home on Wednesday morning.

It's been months since I did any home practice and I found it surreal. Oddly, after I finished (early in the morning), I kept forgetting I had practised and I went around all day thinking that I needed to get on the mat!

On Thursdays in the summer, I usually go to a led class in the east end of the city with one of my first teachers. It's an easy vinyasa class and I love the slower pace. It gets me back in touch with why I fell in love yoga in the first place. All of the hard work I do during the week seems to find a fruition in the practice of these basic postures; grace and mindfulness and joy.

Last night, I arrived at the studio early and unrolled my mat, grabbed a couple of blocks with a supine backbend in mind. But there was a glimmer of chaos in the air and I noticed a couple of the other students were eyeing me with mild curiosity. "She's in here!" someone called out, and I realised they meant me.

My teacher had an emergency and wasn't coming. The staff at the front desk asked if I could fill in and teach the class. The odd thing is (and I don't know how I knew this), I had a *feeling* I might be teaching that class! I even wore my 'teaching clothes' instead of the groddy clothes I usually wear to Mysore practice and I put on some jewelry and lipstick before I walked out the door.

So, yay for intuition! ;-)

As I pulled my mat to the front of the room, I tried to initiate that mental shift from 'student' to 'teacher'. And you know what? It's hard! It took me a few minutes to find my voice and to get a good grip on the thread of a sequence that would allow me to begin.

But once I got going, I had a lot of fun. In fact, it's the best class I taught all week - mainly because it was unexpected and funny and vaguely serendipitous. My sequencing was choppy because I was winging it, but sometimes flying by the seat of your pants is fun! :-) I nearly skipped a posture on one side. Then I had a few extra minutes so I added a fun arm balance.

The studio has bolsters (most of the places I teach don't), so I walked around during Savasana, offering bolsters around like a flight attendant handing out cocktails and blankets in the first class cabin (do they still do that, I wonder?).

Afterward, I rode home and did three sun salutations and though *that* was officially my practice, it was really so much more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Today's photo theme: Sunshine

From the archives: Princess Fur enjoys a sunbeam.

She's doing really well, fully recovered from her ordeal and back to her happy routine of napping, eating and tolerating my undivided attention when she isn't outright demanding it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Have you ever had a gut feeling that was so strong, so overhwhelming that it forced you to topple all your plans, to rethink a decision, to seek out a new solution?

A few months ago, my web-friend Summer was co-ordinating her family's move out of the big city and she found a great house to rent. But the minute she said 'Yes', she was struck with a feeling that this was the *wrong* house. Even though everything about the house was absolutely perfect, her gut was telling her 'NO!'.

She listened. She and her partner sought out another house.

A few days ago, while planning my travels, I contacted Princess Fur's longtime dogsitter - it didn't occur to me to consider any other option. She lives outside the city in a beautiful rural area on a farm that's been converted into a doggie-wonderland - the dogs have their own house, with boarders divided into 'rooms' based on breed/size/age. C is a bit of a 'doggie guru' and has been caring for Fur during my travels for more than 9 years. She's amazing and my dog adores her.

But as soon as I made that reservation, this horrible feeling started growing in my gut. It wasn't a whisper, it wasn't even speaking to me in a normal tone of voice. It was *screaming*.

It was screaming: "NOOOOO!"

This has never happened to me with such an intensity - it was absolutely surreal. I'm generally a calm, measured person, but I spent a day-and-a-bit literally in the throes of a borderline anxiety attack. Every time I thought about that dog care booking, I started hyperventilating, my chest felt tight, my gut began talking to me.

So I started exploring other options. The next morning, I was walking through the park, thinking about my dog and panicking about leaving her when I coincidentally ran into our old dog walker. We see G regularly, as she lives in the neighbourhood. I had a sudden epiphany.

"Do you ever board dogs?" I asked her. "Could you board Princess Fur?"

She boards selectively. We discussed it and the next day we ironed out some details. It's now confirmed: Princess Fur is going to go stay with G, with walks around her own familiar neighbourhood, easy access to her vet if there's an emergency, and she'll be cared for by someone who has known her since puppyhood.

It's the perfect solution. I still don't know what my gut was trying to tell me, but as soon as I made this decision, I was flooded with a sense of profound inner peace.

I'm beyond certain that I made the right decision. I'm kind of in awe of 'my gut' right now.

Today's photo theme: 'Heart'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Stranger

During practice yesterday, my main teacher wandered over during one of my poses and made a number of suggestions. Then he offered some specific guidance about the sequencing for a few preparation poses I've been doing. He also suggested some other preps for me to try.

He's been very hands-off lately, so I wasn't sure what brought on this flood of feedback. While assisting me in another pose, he mentioned all of this again - this time offering encouragement, reassuring me that I would see some changes in my practice if I continued the work. Basically, it was a little 'pep talk'.

I finally figured it out: he was giving me homework! It was his last day at Mysore for over a month - he'll be away, travelling and teaching abroad until mid-September.

Since I'll also be travelling at the end of the month, I'm considering expiring my Mysore pass and taking home practice for the rest of the summer. I enjoy the flexibility and ease of home practice. No commute, I can follow my own schedule. The more I roll this idea around in my brain, the more I like it!

Today's photo theme: 'A Stranger'

This one is from the archives. It was taken at the Tate Gallery in London, January 2005.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 23, 2012


For a few months now, I've been flirting around with the idea of making some travel plans near summer's end. And I've been procrastinating. I'm one of those people who loves the *reality* of travel, but becomes completely unhinged during the planning process.

Today, I booked the flight and, predictably, I totally lost my shit. There's really no reason for it. The timing of the flight is absolutely perfect. I've arranged for Princess Fur's care. My assistant will subbing my classes. Everything is in place.

And yet, I’m so very vata this evening, I can’t even sit still and read a book! So I'm chopping vegetables and cleaning the floors, trying to dissipate some of this nervous energy. A part of me very much wants to start packing, but my departure date is a month away.

This freakout will likely continue with ebbs and flows until the day I leave. Then, I'll get up, catch the bus to the airport, find my seat on the plane and be happy-as-a-clam and cool-as-a-cucumber for the duration of the flight, the trip and the return.

Then I'll get home again and freak out because I'm not travelling.

I'm so weird.

Photo theme of the day: 'Mirror'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Upside Down

This is my favourite 'upside down' photo ever - the child in the photo is one of my long-time students. I started teaching her in Kindergarten, as part of a community aftercare programme I'm part of.

This past spring, she and her classmates moved on to middle school and 'aged out' of the programme. And then her family moved to Ottawa.

I would say that I missed her, but she's pesters me with emails pretty regularly ;-) I don't think this is a generation that will touch with people easily...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 21, 2012

9 o'clock

I'm having the best summer ever! The weather has been absolutely perfect and I have the time to enjoy it. My practice is crawling along - with the occasional leap of progress to keep me interested ;-) I've been connecting with friends, going to the beach, hanging out in the park.

And I've been reading. A lot.

There's a pile of books next to my reading chair - about 9 at the moment. Every day, I sit down and read. To motivate myself, I've set a daily reading goal for each book - much like I used to do in grad school, to get through the massive amounts of reading that were assigned. But these are books I *want* to read.

I know someone out there will ask, so here's the current pile:
-Yoga Sutras by Edwin Bryant (this is the second Sutras I've read this summer)
-What We Say Matters by Judith and Ike Lasater (a NVC book)
- Moola Bandha by Swami Buddhananda
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika (for Christine's book club)
- Wisdom of the Body Moving by Linda Hartley (a Mind-Body Centreing book)
- Pranayama by Gregor Maele
- Yoga Mind Body & Spirit by Donna Farhi
- The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (fiction)
- Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron

On my very happiest mornings, I can be found outside on the balcony with a few books, some tea and a small, gray dog.

This photo was taken at 9am:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 20, 2012


I'm falling behind on these daily photos. To be honest, I'm a bit weary of the project and probably won't participate in August. I'm also trying to reduce the amount of time spent on the Internet in favour of more reading and 'being' in the world.

My hair is still growing out - rapidly, but it doesn't feel like it since it's also curling into spirals as it grows. On the good days, I let it all hang out in what one of my friends calls my 'beach hair-do'. On the bad days, I wear a bandana to cover up the worst of it.

The other day, I poked myself in the eye trying to brush a strand of hair out of my face. I'm out of practice for that sort of thing! lol

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 19, 2012


This is how Princess Fur asks to come up on the chair with me. She pats me gently with her paw - and pleads with her eyes. Could *you* say no to those eyes?

She's fully recovered from the surgery and enjoying the summer: lounging around on all the new dog beds I bought for her, bugging me for walks, and carrying all her toys out to the balcony one by one (every night, I bring them back in and the next morning she starts the process all over again...)

She'll never be able to eat hard food again - she's missing too many molars - so I've continued to soak her food to soften it.

When she grins up at me, her 'doggie smile' is all gums and one lone canine tooth. She looks for all the world like a tiny hockey player (maybe during playoffs, since she has a fuzzy beard).

I'm so grateful that she's feeling better and she's healthy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


More like a bowl.

My latest food-phase is Thai rice noodle soup with loads of freshly steamed veggies piled on top. I absolutely love this meal. It fills me up, hydrates me and also satisfies a salt craving which has intensified with the maddeningly hot weather we've been having.

I've also become sort of nuts over sea-salt-and-vinegar mini rice cakes. Crazy! I rarely crave salty snacks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Addiction

I have a small problem...a whole bag of them, actually.

I've become quite addicted to chocolate covered almonds. I can buy them cheap at the supermarket near the studio I teach at. It soooo easy to pop in and buy a small bag. They come in bulk, so one scoop easily becomes two...

There! I've identified the problem!

The solution? Stop buying chocolate covered almonds, obviously. Perhaps I need to replace them with a healthier form of chocolate to satisfy my chocolate craving.

The final step: Accountability. I'm not buying them anymore and if I do, I have to write about it here.

Keep me honest, blogophere!

Thank you :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 16, 2012


Fill in the blank _________________.

Headstand? Leg-behind-head? Dropbacks? Pincha Mayurasana? Handstand?

One by one, the poses that once scared me are becoming routine parts of my practice, like monsters reduced to mice.

It makes me wonder if they were mice all along. And what other mice are lurking in my practice, disguised as scary beasts...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The photo theme for today is 'Finger' and shame-on-me, but this is the first thing that came to mind...hee hee!

These are my high school friends from Grade 10. I went to a rough inner-city high school that year, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The summer before I started, a neighbour anxiously warned my father that the school was notoriously tough on 'haoles' - that's the derogatory local term for 'white people', who were a minority in the city.

She was right - it was rough. I was one of 10 white kids in that school. We all employed various strategies to survive (my strategy was to befriend a Samoan girl in my choir and use her as my personal bodyguard - it mostly worked, lol!).

But the most common strategy was simple: find the other white kids and hang out with them.

And that's how I found myself on the south steps of the English Building every day at lunchtime. We weren't all white, but we all felt misunderstood and mysteriously different from everyone else (just like typical teens everywhere). I made some true friends there.

Later on, I moved to the 'mainland' and attended high school in a homogenous wealthy suburb where nearly everyone was white. During lunch one day, a new friend complained that the few black students (there were five) always hung in a group. What was up with that?

I understood completely. "Don't judge them" I cautioned her, "until you've walked in their shoes."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 14, 2012


This seems to be a summer for getting in touch with people from my past. This week, I wrote an email to one of my best friends from high school. I caught up with her via her brother, who I found on the internet (and frankly, I'm surprised that he relayed my message - we never liked each other very much...lol).

I was well into my third year of high school when I moved from Hawaii to Colorado. I felt like a fish out off water in this new/old school (I had spent a semester there in Grade 9, before moving to Hawaii). A few people recognised me and didn't realise I'd ever left, but I sure knew - everything about that school felt foreign to me. I hated it.

Music saved me. I discovered that I had a special knack: I could pick up practically any musical instrument and learn to play it, quickly. So I joined the band (they needed a tuba player so I spent a weekend teaching myself to play the sousaphone) and that's how I met D.

We were as different as two people could be. I was a worldly, jetsetting 17-year-old from a reasonably affluent family who had travelled and moved around the country/countries, via motorhome, motorcycle, sailboat.

D, 14 years old, was born and raised in a tiny mountain town and she'd never travelled outside of Colorado. I was a cynical and suspicious kid. D was warm and open and trusting. Looking back, I like her far better than I like my teenaged self.

She was a wonderful friend to me - we spent hours doing typical teenage stuff: writing notes, talking on the phone, eating lunch together, giggling on the lawn outside our school. I'll never forget our friendship and what it meant to me. She was my confidant and my biggest booster.

After graduation, I went on to university, then I moved on to the east coast for graduate school. D and I lost touch. The next time we connected, she was divorced with a young son, having just escaped an abusive relationship. We exchanged a few emails, then she stopped responding.

I was really excited to get in touch again. She now lives in a tiny town in the western US and she's remarried. I replied to her email immediately and for days, I biked around my city, hyper-aware of the bustle, the traffic, the people, the giant buildings, the mundane details of my life. I wondered what her life was like - her town, her friends.

I was hopeful that we might build a new connection, a new friendship on the foundations of our old one. But sadly, I haven't heard from her at all. And I'm wondering if there isn't enough common ground between us to bridge the years.

Maybe it's better to leave the past in the past

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Friday, July 13, 2012


Openness has become a theme in my practice lately.

In June, I took my practice to a new space. Mysore-style practice is offered there at a variety of different times (with different teachers) so I embraced the change, opting to practice in the afternoon a few times a week.

At first, I didn't notice any particular difference in my body or my practice - except for the buckets of sweat that poured off of me during the heat wave we've been having (turns out, morning practice has a distinct advantage in the summer months: it's *much* cooler at 6am).

But this week I practised twice in the morning and I noticed a *huge* difference between my morning and evening practices.

Let's start with the getting-up-at-5am part. *groan* I'm no longer used to it! In fact, during much of the week, I don't even wake to an alarm clock; I just sleep until I'm ready to roll out of bed.

During my two 'early days' this week, I woke groggy and rolled into the Mysore room sleepy and a tad bit cranky. How on earth did I do this for a year? Every day! At 4am?! *shakes head*

This week, for the first time, I really noticed how stiff my body was at that early hour. My flexibility was very limited when I first stepped on the mat (though my range deepened as my body warmed up). My hamstrings felt absolutely gummy!

Backbending was particularly tough - and Sarvangasana (due to a lingering shoulder injury). But inversions like Pincha Mayurasana and handstand were actually easier!

I returned to an afternoon practice yesterday and I was amazed by how good it felt, how open my body was. Everything felt more open - from the first Surya to the last lotus.

It's kind of awesome, but I'm aware that there's a danger in this openness - it's far easier to use my flexibility to come into postures, my warm body choosing the 'path of least resistance'. I've been cultivating strength to balance out the flexibility in my backbends and to enhance stability in my other postures.

In light of this, I'm choosing to see the openness of my afternoon practice as a big 'plus' since an open body allows no illusion of strength. In Pincha Mayurasana, I have to be engaged and aware because it's just as easy for me to flop over into a backbend like a wet noodle. *plop* And alignment becomes a mindfulness exercise in handstand.

The deep backbends of second series are deeper in the PM, so it's easier to fall into bad patterns. I need to work extra hard to find the support of my legs in backbends and extra *extra* hard to avoid bending into my lumbar spine. The lumbar is just easier. To move into my thoracic spine requires me to 'think' and 'engage' muscle groups that I don't intuitively connect with yet.

In a new space, with new teachers, at a new time of day, and with new openness, I'm approaching my practice with a 'beginners mind' and I'm learning something new every single practice.

I'm having a pretty spectacular summer!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Today's photo theme: Texture. The tree trunk in this photo belongs to one of the oldest trees in my neighbourhood.

I follow a 'Vintage City' page on Facebook that features daily archival photos of my city. Knowing the downtown area as I do, it's been great fun to see the 'Then and Now' photos and recognise areas that have either changed a lot or changed very little.

The other day, I found a old photograph of my own neighbourhood on the page. The 'hood has changed so very little that I recognised that street corner immediately (Princess Fur and I walk past it every day). But the photograph was from 1920!

I've included it here - the 'then' and 'now'. The tree trunk pictured above belongs to the tree on the corner (behind the utility pole in the 1920 photograph).

Back then, it was a slender sapling. Now, it's so wide I can't wrap my arms around it.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's no secret to anyone who knows me well - I'm not especially close to my family. In fact, I moved away from 'home' - and as far away from my family - as quickly as possible (I was 16). Eventually, I ended up in Canada and built my own life here, with a network of caring friends around me.

My father died when I was a teenager, a few years after I left home. This is how it played out: After my father's death, his wife (a stepmother I hardly knew) phoned my mother and my mother phoned me. I phoned my closest sister and the two of us phoned everyone else.

And that was that.

After his passing, I realised that I didn't know very much about him - he was estranged from his own family and the very little I knew about that side of my family was cloaked in myth.

He told me that his father had immigrated to San Francisco from northern Italy as a young man - for some reason I always thought he was from Genoa (I even named my childhood cat after the city). My father said that his mother, Marietta, was also Italian.

My father's secrets died with him. His children (me and my five older siblings) were not invited to his funeral. We were not mentioned in the will and none of us received family photographs or mementos.

In the mid-90s, I received a letter from a man who claimed to be my distant cousin, from my paternal grandmother's side of the family. He was a church minister with an interest in genealogy. He told me that my grandmother was not Italian, but Swiss German! I travelled to Pennsylvania to visit with him, and his wife (what lovely people they are - we're still in touch).

A few years ago, a woman with my same last name contacted me on Facebook, claiming to be my first cousin! I was intrigued and accepted her friend request. My new 'friend' was, in fact, my father's brother's daughter! We formed a friendship over Facebook, bonding over scrabble and Draw Something.

Recently, she remarked that my father resembled her father when he was young. Then, she sent me a letter with these photographs. The young man in the bottom photograph, far left, is my father at age 21 (the two toddlers in the middle photo are my two oldest sisters).

I'd never seen a photo of my father as a young man. I didn't know my great grandfather's name (but I do now!). Last week, I received a letter from my cousin's nephew, offering details of our family tree. I now know the exact town in Italy that my family comes from.

My cousin is digging up some childhood photos of my father. I'm looking forward to her next letter!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Favourite Colour

It's 'day lily season' here in Reluctant City. I thought it would be fun to offer a photograph of a day lily to represent my favourite colour, but a half-dozen other people on Instagram had the same idea - orange is popular.

Instead, I decided to capture images of all of the orange stuff I own and create a collage. I didn't have enough room to show everything, but here's a representative sample:

-Mat bag
-Mysore rug
-Princess Fur's toy
-Chakra shoulder bag
-Folding papasan chair
-Yoga strap
-Yoga strap bag
-'Jelly Bell' on my bicycle
-Silk 'pig scarf', a gift from a student

Not pictured: Two orange water bottles, an orange clickable heating pad, two orange yoga mats, an orange 'YogiToes' towel, an orange necklace, a piece of original artwork.

And probably half-a-dozen things that I haven't thought of yet.

I like orange!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 9, 2012


BIG plate of lightly steamed veggies and a side of quinoa salad (my dessert, not shown, was apple slices with tahini and sunflower butter for dipping).

That's my supper!

I'm posting this so Michelle doesn't drag me off to Saskatchewan and force-feed me meat and potatoes! ;-)

LOL! I've been a vegan for almost 20 years and I haven't wasted away...yet.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012


I dropped gluten from my diet in February with an occasional 'cheat day' and immediately experienced a shift in my physical well-being. A month or two after that, I dropped the 'cheat days' because I really noticed how bad they made me feel. I could literally feel the gluten moving through my GI tract like glue.

Since then, I've kept a very clean diet and yes, I'm still using my Vitamix to make daily green smoothies. I find that they help rein in my out-of-control sweet tooth and I haven't tired of them even though they've been my breakfast of choice for months.

It's no secret that I love chocolate. I don't know why it took me so long to give this is a try, but two months ago I started putting a tablespoon of organic cocoa in my smoothies. This makes them 'chocolate flavoured.' And OMG! I love them so much!!!

Since then, I've refined my 'recipe' so my smoothies literally taste like smooth chocolate shakes. I've also developed a recipe to make a smoothie that has the taste and consistency of chocolate pudding.

There's no sugar or dairy in these creations. Just kale, fruit, chia and protein powder (I also add flax oil).

It's been a particularly hot summer this year and the heat has affected my appetite, particularly in the day. I'm also doing my yoga practice in the afternoon or early evening so most days a big lunch is out of the question.

The solution? A mid-day smoothie! I usually opt for the 'chocolate pudding' style smoothie, along with a handful of nuts and sometimes half an apple. It's easy to digest, so I don't feel bogged down for practice and it feels so decadent to eat a bowl full of something I love as a meal!

I'll probably revert to a heartier lunch come winter, but for now, this is my perfect lunch:

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Saturday, July 7, 2012


One of my fondest memories in my years as a contract archaeologist came on a phase I survey of a property somewhere in the southern states.

One of my best friends was working an adjacent transect to me and we were hacking through dense, young regrowth with dull machetes. Every so often, we would shout out to each other, venting our frustration.

It was the most awful day - hot, dusty, still, stagnant air and oppressive humidity. We were tangled in brambles, sweating buckets, swathed in heavy clothing to protect against ticks and the ubiquitous poison ivy. Both of us were on our 'lady's holiday'.

Pure misery.

Almost simultaneously, we burst out of the regrowth forest into a clearing bathed in bright sunlight, glowing surreally. We stood there blinking, shielding our eyes with our hands.

We had stumbled into a large meadow completely carpeted with daisies! There must have been thousands of them.

J didn't hesitate. She plowed into the meadow and quickly began picking a bunch. I stood on the periphery, watching her in a heat-exhausted stupor. Then she walked over and presented me with a bouquet!

Back in my hotel room, I put them in water. I recall that they lasted for weeks and brought a smile to my face every time I saw them.

I still love daisies!

I recently got back in touch with my friend J. I think I'll send her this photo...

These are in my neighbourhood, from the garden of one of my students.

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Friday, July 6, 2012


We didn't have many chairs around as I was growing up. The boat had bunks and benches but they were awkward and uncomfortable. I prefered the floor. Watching movies on our tiny colour television, I would usually curl up on the floor of the galley (the kitchen area) with pillows and a blanket.

In the mornings, I sat on the deck, legs hanging off the bow as I wrote in my journal. Evenings, we usually laid outside in hammocks near the bow. Sometimes we would sit in the cockpit and my dad would play his guitar.

So I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor as a kid - something I attribute my relatively open hips to (along with endless squatting on archaeological sites later on).

When I moved into my first apartment, I could have cared less about chairs. I wanted a desk, for sure. We bought a dining room table too. When I moved to the city and my accommodations shrunk, I jettisoned what little furniture I had. For many years, I kept one folding chair (that I also used for yoga) and mostly sat on the floor or the futon.

But in my latest apartment reconfiguration, I was craving a place to sit and read that wasn't the bed or my window seat. So today I bought a chair - nothing fancy, just a simple seat from Ikea.

And you know what? I love it!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

On the Floor

The Universe has delivered once again!

When I bought the new bed, I realised that it was way too high for Princess Fur to jump up or down. She's tried a few times, but I've discouraged it because the jump down, especially, is a hard landing for a little dog.

The other day, it occurred to me that a simple ottoman would provide a 'step up' for Fur to jump to the bed. I resolved to keep a lookout for something like that on our daily walks (people frequently leave stuff out at the curb for give-away).

And that's how we found our Ikea footstool, in really great condition.

It took Princess Fur all of three seconds to discover the awesomeness of this footstool, her magic conduit to luxurious naps on the comfy memory-foam mattress. This dog is spoiled!!!

I realise that my 'yoga blog' seems to have transformed into a photography-and-schnauzer-daily-cute-a-thon. I supposed I could write about my practice, and there's certainly stuff to write about, but...

How do I put this? I just can't seem to write about my asana practice anymore. There's been a shift - writing about yoga practice doesn't feel comfortable to me anymore. I hesitate to say this because I don't hold any strong opinions about those who do choose to write about their practice - in fact, I *love* reading those blogs.

I just can't seem to find a way to write about my own practice. Whenever I write a post and prepare to hit the publish button, I suddenly feel like I'm standing on a street corner in my underwear singing Frère Jacques.

It's not even a the daily trauma of the-pose-that-shall-not-be-named that has made me so tentative. My practice just no longer feels blogable.

So I'm struggling with this virtual space, how to inhabit it in a vibrant and interesting way without falling back on practice reports and asana-ennui. I'm have a few ideas and (hopefully) you'll see some other posts pop up that don't include schnauzer ears peeking over a quilt.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Nothing says 'fun' like an Amazon.com box waiting on your doorstep. Mine contained two books: Gregor Maehle's Pranayama book and Aranya's Yoga Sutras.

Let the summer reading commence! :-)

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Best Part of My Day

Also, best part of my month, my week, possibly my year!

When I came home from practice this morning, there was a message on my voicemail. It was the veterinarian, letting me know that Princess Fur's biopsy results came in.

The mass in her mouth was benign. Let me say that again: BENIGN!

In fact, there was no sign of cancer at all. The mass was formed from an gingival infection.

Fur officially has a clean bill of health!

She's feeling much better and her mouth is healing quickly. Yesterday, she ran around the park like a puppy. Today, she started playing with her toys. She still sleeps a lot, but that's to be expected in an older dog.

I'm under no illusions - I know that even in the best of health, my dog has five years left at most. But this 'scare' has given me a new appreciation for the unconditional love she gives me and her importance in my life.

I'm full of gratitude.

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Monday, July 2, 2012


First week of my 'summer holiday' and I'm adjusting to the free time and finding new ways to fill it.

I do a bit of cat-sitting in the summer. I never intended to turn this into a 'business', but it spread through word-of-mouth and now I usually have a couple of gigs per month. It's just enough to get in my 'cat quota' (I love cats, but don't have one because a dog *and* a cat in this tiny apartment would be a bit much...).

I've been looking after these two guys this week. They're the sweetest cuddle-bunnies and I adore them! I spent a good part of the afternoon keeping them company. The gray guy loves to have his belly rubbed. The brown guy (and I swear I'm not making this up!) enjoys being lifted up by his tail. They both love to play.

What they *don't* love is my camera. You wouldn't believe the effort it took to get them into the same frame!


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Self Portrait

It's a brand new month! Once again, I'll be participating in Fat Mum Slim's Photo-a-Day Project. It's a good motivator to write daily, which I hope to do through the summer.

I finally came to a decision about where to practice in July. In the end, it was a no-brainer. I'm enjoying Shala South. I'm doing well there, learning a tonne and my practice is continuing to evolve. So I'm going to stay put.

July and August are quiet months for me. Many of my classes go on hiatus, so I have more free time, more 'breathing room'. I need to catch up on my accounting and business records (I tend to fall behind on that stuff when I'm teaching a lot).

There are a number of emails I need to reply to - if that's you, please be patient. I'm on it!

I also plan to do a lot of reading, outdoor whenever possible: outside on my balcony, at the beach, in the park. I've been reading the Hatha Yoga Pradipika along with the peeps over at Christine's, Facebook Page. To my surprise, I'm actually enjoying it! From time to time, I may share some choice slokas or quotes.

And, of course, I have a huge pile of yoga books to tackle, which I'll hopefully be reporting back on here.

I'm also planning to write posts about some of my favourite things - not necessarily 'sponsored posts', because I'm really bad at those, but things that I actually love and use. I'm especially keen to highlight products made by small companies that don't get a lot of exposure. So keep an eye out for some 'Stuff Kai Likes' posts coming in July.

Oh, and I'm still growing my hair, natch! ;-)

(This post is part of the Photo-a-Day July project)

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