108 Sun Salutations

On my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, number 18 is to do 108 sun salutations. Today, I did it!

I’m not sure exactly what the meaning of the number 108 is. I’ve looked into it, but there are so many opinions, it’s hard to figure it out. I just knew it was a challenge I was up for.

Our instructor, Sheila, said we would divide the 108 salutations into sets of 27, with a 5 minute break in between. She had two bowls of beads in front of her and would transfer one at the begining of each salutation.

My first set was pretty good. I had lots of energy, but not much focus. My thoughts went something like this: Breathe in, breathe out. I can’t wait to see The Hunger Games tonight! Upward dog, dowward dog. Maybe I’ll get popcorn. Reach up, swan dive. Then Sheila said it was number 27, and we took a break.

During the second set, I was a little more focused. However, at one point, I became tired and thought for sure that she would say before the next sun salutation : This is number 54. She didn’t. There were at least 10 left! Well, I think there were 10, counting these out is hard.

The third set was the hardest for me. My shoulders were tired and my swan dives were shaky. Number 81 seemed pretty far away.

Just before the last set, one woman asked if we could dedicate our last 27 salutations to a girl named Ellen who is awaiting a double lung transplant and is deteriorating fast. I nearly lost it. I get emotionnal very easily, especially when I’m tired. My first 2 or 3 salutations were wobbly, then, I decided to give it everything I had left. I have two perfectly good lungs, there was no reason I couldn’t do this. Every breath felt like a gift and I realized how increadibly lucky I am.

Just before our last 5 sun salutations, the teacher put on some upbeat music. The main lyrics were “reach for the sun”. I found some energy I didn’t even know I had left and made those last 5 sun salutations the best of my practice.

I learned something about myself today. I am much stronger, mentally and physically, than I give myself credit for.  I also enjoyed myself much more than I thought I would.

At the end of all this wonderfulness came a 15 minute savasana. 15 minutes! Bliss.

Savasana Bliss

Today was day 5! I went to Pure again. I love that place! Today’s class was a 75 minute hot flow. My goal was to give it my all and not sit out any postures, even the core stuff. I did pretty well. I was going strong for the first part, right up until a child’s pose break. After that, my runner’s lunge and airplane were pretty shaky, but I found my groove again and the rest of the class just flowed. (Haha, flowed. I’m so funny.) I had Amber as a teacher again, and I liked her much more than I did on Monday! She adjusted some of my postures and fixed my pigeon. I didn’t even know it was broken. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more now. Maybe.

After class, I was drained and needed a moment to breathe and relax….oh wait, what? You’re taking my picture? Let me pose and smile.

Near the end of class, lying on my back, I was almost giddy in anticipation of what was coming : savasana. On it’s own, savasana is basically just lying on the floor. But after you’ve been through 47 flows and 87 different postures, it’s bliss. Over the years, I’ve mastered the art of being perfectly still. I don’t move, I don’t fidget, nothing. It makes all the poses and the sweat worth it. If I could bottle the way I feel during savasana and sell it, I would be a millionaire.

As much as I like to take pictures and have my picture taken, there was no way I was messing up my savasana for a photo. But I wanted to add a visual. Doesn’t this look like heaven?

As much as I love this pose, I have one small problem. I can still my body, but not my mind. Try as I might, there is always something going on in there. These are some of the things I think about during savasana:

– The peanut butter sandwich I’m going to eat when I get home. Note to self, eat before yoga!

– What kind of Booster Juice I’m going to get.

– The sweat dripping into my ear.

– The “check engine” light that just went on in my car.

– Grey’s Anatomy.

– Blogging.

I kind of worry about letting my mind go blank. What if it stays that way?

One teacher once said that thoughts will come up, and that I should just aknowledge them and then picture them floating away on a cloud. I tried this. It made me think of Care Bears. Then of Care Bears doing yoga. Namaste, Cheer Bear!

Yoga vs Hip hop

Today is day 4 of my 30 day yoga challenge. It’s also Thursday, which means it’s hip hop day. Julie and I have been taking dances classes together since January. We decided to go to the 4 o’clock yoga class, then hip hop at 6. This presentend a challenge because I work untill 3:30. I’m a teacher, so it’s not like I can tell the kids “I’m heading out early today, see you tomorrow!” I decided to get them ready to leave 5 minutes earlier than usual, so I could leave as soon as possible. But when we got outside, the parents, who apparently had not received the memo about my bright idea (which I thought up 10 minutes earlier), arrived at the same time they normally do. When I got to the yoga studio, I was out of breath and worried I would be too late for class. I was greeted with a relaxed atmosphere, a smile and a “Go ahead in, you’re fine”. I learned something today: Chill out. It’s yoga.

When I got to hip hop, I considered passing on what I had learned to my dance teacher. She’s pretty stressed out. And she stresses me out with her stress.

Yoga today was a hot flow class at Pure. My teacher was Edith. She was great and she didn’t stress me out at all! She made us do things I haven’t done often, like seated pigeon. Much better than regular old pigeon. But the thing is, I can’t say “I nailed it!” because that’s not very yogic-minded.

I can say I’m good at hip-hop. I’m not a superstar, but I can pick up choreography and follow the beat. I like being able to toot my own horn!

At the end of my yoga class, I was happy with myself. I didn’t feel so good today at lunch, so I didn’t eat much. I only realized I was hungry during my first downward dog. It’s not easy concentrating on eagle pose when you’re thinking about peanut butter sandwiches and cupcakes (Not what I normally eat, just what I was thinking of)  but I did it!

See how Julie and I are not touching each other? That’s because we were all gross and sweaty. But we were also pretty proud of ourselves for having completed the first part of our crazy Thursday schedule!

Hip hop is not something I had done before, and apparently, I’m “too cute”. You really have to bring out your aggressive side. I usually can’t find mine. Also, I wear pink and smile a lot. This is our tough look. Intimidated, aren’t you?

One of my favorite yoga poses is dancer, and it’s definitely because of the name! Today was a good day. Can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.

How to go for a run

The awesome weather we’ve been having is motivating me to go running. This is great, because I usually start enjoying my run when I’m at least 10 minutes in. The actual getting out the door and getting started is not my favorite part. I know I’ll feel good about it later, but I usually have to bribe myself with something like this.

My getting ready goes something like this:

Check the weather.

Look for blue t-shirt.

Find only green t-shirt.

Keep looking.

Find blue t-shirt in gym bag.

Sniff for freshness.

Put on blue t-shirt.

Put on pink hoodie that completely covers blue t-shirt.

Check the weather.

Drink some water.

Find ipod.

Wonder if earbuds fall out of everyone’s ears.

Stretch.

Find keys.

Check the weather.

Go outside.

Lock door.

Go back in for sunglasses.

5 minute warm-up walk.

Ok, 10 minutes.

Find good song to start running to.

Think about getting some new music.

Start running.

Huff, puff.

Think about sore knees.

Think about bad ankle.

Stop thinking.

Run.

Run.

Run.

Breathe.

Enjoy.

Come home.

Eat a cookie.

Last fall I ran a 5k with one of my students. There was no way I was letting a 7 year old be tougher than me. How’s that for motivation? I wonder if she’ll do a 10k with me?

What’s your motivation?

30 days of yoga

Last week, a new yoga studio called Pure opened in Ottawa and they offered free classes all week. I’ve been to many different studios around town, and they are usually pretty great, but something about this particular studio just fits with me. The walls are painted bright colours, there’s music during class, the atmosphere is relaxed but fun. They had a great introductory price of 30$ for one month of unlimited yoga. Obviously, my friend Julie and I jumped on this offer and marveled at the fact that we could do yoga for a dollar a day. Then we realized that this was the perfect opportunity to try something this crazy. And so, our 30 days of yoga challenge was born! Yesterday was day one.

We went to a core flow class. Doesn’t that sound relaxing? It’s not. Did I mention that this is a HOT yoga studio? It’s 100 degrees in there! That’s 38 degrees celcius, in Canadian-speak.

This is Julie and I before class. See how nice and un-sweaty we are?

Our instructor was Amber. I like her classes, but at some point, during my 12th plank of the day, I didn’t like Amber so much anymore! She gives rest periods during class, but for every rest she offered, I took at least 2 more. Ok, who am I kidding, 4 more. Somewhere around my 23rd plank, I started to doubt the fact that I would survive, much less go on to do 29 more days of yoga.

Julie’s favorite pose of the night was downward dog.

Downward dog is NOT my favorite pose! I get that it’s a resting pose, but I like to rest curled up in a little ball on the floor clutching my towel in one hand and my water bottle in the other hand, half hoping I’ll pass out and wake up when class is over. To each her own, I guess.

My favorite pose of the night was bow. You can’t fall over when you’re already on the floor.

After my 36th plank of the night, which involved holding a block between my thighs, Amber said the magic words : lie on your back. Even though we weren’t done yet, I knew I would make it out alive. I started feeling pretty good about myself for not giving in and collapsing on the floor. I thought “Hey, I can do this for a month, no problem!”

I asked someone to take a picture of us. Just so you know, the heat in a hot yoga room will steam up your camera and your picture will come out looking something like this.

You can still see our pink yoga towels, which I was very glad to have! I recommend getting one if you don’t want to bellyflop during a vinyasa. Oh yes, that’s been known to happen. To me. Once, Julie and I even bellyflopped in synch.

I came out of class pretty pleased with myself. Also pretty sweaty. Sure, it was tough, but it was also fun! I’m looking forward to a month of yoga, even if it will be challenging sometimes.

I think our after class smiles are even bigger than our before class smiles. Or maybe it’s just the joy of having gotten through it!

101 things to do in 1001 days

In September, my friend Suzanne and I decided to write lists of 101 things to do in 1001 days. We were always saying “We should do this!” or “We should do that!” So, in keeping with the whole, “More action, less talk” theme, I got to it! I started my list on October 1st, 2011, which gives me untill June 28th, 2014 to complete it. I was very motivated as I wrote the list, and I still am, but some things might take more time than I thought! Every time I do something and I cross it off the list, I feel amazing!

Here it is:

1. This one is personnal, so it’s a secret for now!

2. Go running every day for a week.

3. Take a trip by myself.

4. Go to a burlesque dance class.

5. Send in a secret to Postsecret.

6. Read Anna Karenina.

7. Take a trip with Suzanne.

8. Take a pole-dancing class.

9. Go to a yoga retreat.

10. Go back to school to get a certificate in speech therapy.

11. Write a book.

12. Try snowboarding.

Done! February 26th, 2012. Whenever I told people I wanted to try snowboarding, they all told me I would fall a lot. That’s true, I did, but no one said how awesome it would be! I was a lot better at it than I thought, which helped! I went 4 times while we still had snow, and every time was more fun than the time before. I will definitely do this again!

13. Go to Central or South America.

14. Make a quilt.

15. Volunteer for Girl Guides

16. This one is a secret!

17. Do a tarot reading for someone.

18. Do 108 sun salutations.

19. Try to get an educational game published.

20. Watch “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn.

21. Go to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield.

22. Take a trip with my mom.

23. Go running along the canal.

24. Get a cell phone I can text with. Done! Noverber 26th, 2011. I  got one for my birthday!

25. Run a 10k.

26. Make a cd with my favourite Jewel songs.

27. Watch the X-Men trilogy in one day.

28. See a foreign film in a movie theatre.

29. Bake bread.

30. Visit the National Gallery.

31. Plant sunflowers.

32. Listen to an audio book.

33. Take a spinning class.

34. Go hiking.

Done! October 10th, 2011. I went to the Luskville Falls with my mom and my sister. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and it was so hot, it felt more like summer than fall! I remember feeling quite grumpy when I woke up that morning, but by the end of the day, I was all smiles!

35. Have a beer tasting party.

36. Go to church.

37. Make a dress (working on it!)

38. Eat beets.

Done! November 25th, 2011. I was sure I would have trouble with this one, because I don’t like beets. They taste like dirt. I was going to look for a recipe, try to hide the taste, and make the best of it! I added this to the list because I’m a picky eater and I’m trying to add new things to my diet. I went out to dinner in a fancy restaurant the day before my birthday, and I ordered a salad to start. It had all kinds of flowers  in it and it was delicious! I ate what I thought was a fried flower, loved it, and said “This is amazing!” before I realized it was a fried beet, cut up like a flower! If beets always tasted like that, I would eat them every day!

39. Climb a tree.

40. Learn how to drive standard.

41. Find the perfect little black dress.

42. This one is a secret!

43. Play volleyball.

Done! January 11th, 2012. One of the other teachers at school suggested we play volleyball in the gym after work one day. I hadn’t played volleyball in 15 years or so, and I was a lot better than I remembered! Or maybe it was that the people I was playing with were just nicer about it. Either way, it was fun!

44. Visit a province I have never been to.

45. Get an IMAX teacher movie pass.

Done! January 14th, 2012. For 15$, I can now see all the IMAX movies I want for a whole year. Not bad when you think that one movie is 11$. I also found out that it’s free for teachers to visit the museum, anytime.

46. Go on a road trip.

47. Take a photography class.

48. Give blood.

49. Make soap.

50. Go camping.

51. Read “The catcher in the rye”

52. Watch Sleeping Beauty.

53. Build a snowman.

54. Get a massage.

55. Shoot a gun.

56. Cook with tofu.

57. See or be in a parade.

58. Play Monopoly.

59. See “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

60. Make tiramisu.

61. Try a yoga-dance class.

62. See the sun rise.

63. Try a new kind of tea.

64. Do yoga on the beach.

65. See an opera.

66. Fly a kite.

67. Play hopscotch.

68. Give someone flowers.

69. Have a snowball fight.

70. Go to a concert.

71. Buy a “Dalida” album.

72. Do the hula.

Done! Sort of. January 11th, 2012. When I wrote this, I had the Hawaiian hula in mind, but I ended up trying a hula-hoop dancing class. I didn’t even know that sort of thing existed! I was a lot of fun, and a good workout too! I still want to do the hula, but I’m glad I tried hoop dancing.

73. Get my fortune told.

74. Donate to a good cause.

75. Host a dinner party.

76. For one whole day, give compliments to everyone I talk to.

77. Make a list of the books I read, up 101. (Started. I’m at 30.)

78. Read “Alice in Wonderland”.

79. Send a care package.

80. Go bowling.

81. See a musical.

82. Write a letter.

83. See Cirque du Soleil.

84. Write a list of 101 things that make me happy. (Started)

85. Go rock climbing.

86. Do yoga every day for one week.

87. Write a travel story and submit it to a magazine.

88. Fast for one day during Ramadan.

89. Send someone a card.

90. Not buy any new clothes for one week.

91. Watch the original Strawberry Shortcake.

92. Bake with kids.

93. Finish my chandelier.

94. Be a tourist in my own city.

95. Learn some sign language.

96. Sing with a group or choir. (I wrote this one while watching Glee!)

97. Attend or host a tea party.

98. Ride in a limousine.

Done! December 30th, 2011. it was my friend Caro’s birthday and her boyfriend planned a surprise, with a limo, champagne and dinner. I don’t usually like champagne, but it tasted different in a limo!

99. Run on the beach.

100. Try aerial yoga.

101. Say a rosary.

So there it is. My list. As you can see, it’s got a little bit of everything on it. 1001 days is about 2 1/2 years, so they can’t all be life-changing goals. The point of this list, for me, is to get out there and try new things and to make time for the things I love. If you have any tips or ideas about how I could go about getting some of these done, please let me know! Try writing your own list. You’ll see, the ideas will just some to you! And most of all, have fun with it!

The Bliss Project

Like most people, I have a list of things that make me happy: books, yoga, my job, anything pink, babies, sweets, traveling, family, friends, dancing. I have spent many happy hours browsing at Chapters with a Starbucks latte thinking to myself “This is the best!” Ok, who am I kidding, it’s not browsing, it’s shopping! I always buy something. I love my work as a teacher. I watch flashmob videos on youtube when I need to smile and I even participated in one last summer. I have a great family, wonderful friends. Life is good.

Then, one day, I started thinking about all the things I don’t do. What if I was missing out? What if, somewhere out in the world, was something that would bring me true bliss? I always thought I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. But what if I don’t?

I decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and like nothing I’d ever done before. I signed up for a triathlon. I barely knew how to swim, so I had a friend teach me. I borrowed my little sister’s bike and bought a bike helmet. I started running with a goal in mind, not just for fun. Then, the day of the event, I did it! Just like that. I did a triathlon. I never imagined I would do it, let alone love it! From that moment, I was hooked. Not on triathlons, but on trying new things.

Since then, I’ve tried hoop-dancing, aerial silks, hip-hop dancing and snowboarding. I’ve run a 5k.  I’ve been inside a free-falling simulator. I’ve written a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I’ve been doing lot of these things with my friend Julie and we have a facebook photo album called “Manon and Julie’s amazing athletic adventures”. I am discovering new things about myself every day. Sometimes I try something new and once is enough, and sometimes I feel like I’ve discovered something better than chocolate, like I did with snowboarding.

And so this is my bliss project: to try as many new things as I can, because life’s too short not too. I might discover a new passion, or I might not. The point is to try.