Tiny yoga people

It’s almost the end of the school year. That means kids who would rather be out playing soccer than doing math worksheets and teachers who would rather be running than grading papers. There’s a crazy energy in the air. It’s like we can all smell the summer holidays.

My students, understandably, are driving me nuts. They’re great kids, but they are hot and tired. They come in after recess all sweaty and sticky. I find myself annoying, always asking them to wash their hands and to stop talking, so I can only imagine what they’re thinking. But, like I said, they’re great kids, so none of them would ever tell me I’m annoying.

I decided we needed something fun, yet calming, at the end of the school day. I suggested yoga. We’ve done it before, and they enjoy it, so they were pretty enthusiastic. I love watching them, they make me laugh every time!

We started off with some cat/cow breathing. Some of them had their knees pretty close to their arms, and wouldn’t move, even when I explained table pose. Their cat/cows were pretty shaky and they kept falling over!

Then, they lifted their tiny butts in the air for some downward dogs.

Nice little child’s pose break.

When you work with kids, they want to know your favourite everything: colour, food, animal. My favourite animal is a giraffe. Every time they see a giraffe in a book, they show me. They draw me pictures of giraffes, who are usually pink. When I told them we would be doing my favourite pose, one kid asked “Giraffe pose?” So cute! Sadly, there is no giraffe pose (that I know of). I meant tree.

I’ve got a pretty strange look on my face here. One of the kids was taking pictures, and his sense of timing wasn’t that great.

Cute little warriors.

We tried dancer pose. The had lots of fun with this one. One little girl even had her tongue sticking out, she was concentrating so hard!

A little more child’s pose to end the day.

Namaste, tiny yoga people!

My tree pose obsession

Tonight I went to a class with Natalie, who is not only my favourite teacher, but one of my favourite people as well! My friend Suzanne and I have decided to make this a standing date because if we wait until the day of, one of us usually can’t make it. It was such a great class! It’s a beginner class, but even though I’m not a beginner, it’s not easy. We did balancing poses while standing on a block. See, not easy.

This got me thinking about tree pose. It’s my favourite balancing posture. If you’ve been reading any of my posts about yoga, you might have noticed that I really like tree pose. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, before I knew what tree pose was. Just hanging out, doing the dishes, talking on the phone (back when the phone was on the wall and you had to stand in one spot). My sister does it too.

I thought I would share my obsession. Sharing is caring. Several of these pictures, I’ve posted before, but never all together.

Tree pose in the water. Yes, that’s me. My hair colour changes often.

Tree pose on the roof of the cottage. That’s my dad and my uncle fixing something.

Tree pose on the dock. Added challenge, the dock was leaning to one side.

Tree pose in a tree. Yes, I’m leaning on the branch. It wasn’t too steady up there.

Tree pose on a log. My eyes are closed. There were bugs, maybe that’s why.

Bikram tree pose. Why is it different?

Tree pose with Amber and Julie. Humm, I always stand on my right leg.

So you see, it’s always the right time for tree pose. If you’re having a bad day, break out the tree pose. I promise, you’ll feel awesome, even if you fall!

Happy Rainy Day

When was the last time you enjoyed rain? I mean, really enjoyed it? From outside, not from inside a nice, dry, house looking out? It had been a while for me. Then today, I got caught in a storm with 19 kids. How can you not enjoy that?

We went out for a field trip to paint mugs and bowls for father’s day. The weather was calling for an afternoon storm, but it was bright and sunny when we headed out, so I just assumed it would be ok.

I was wrong.

While we were painting, it started pouring. And this was no sissy rain either. Big raindrops that bounced when they hit the ground. Louder than the kids.

I love storms. When I was a kid, my mom used to tell us storms were like movies and we would open to door to watch the show. I try to do this with my students, because so many of them are afraid of thunder and lightning, and I want them to be excited instead. I think it’s working. Whenever the weather reports call for a storm, the kids tell me as soon as they get to school, just to see my reaction. Last year, we had a really big storm one day and we all turned our chairs towards the window and watched “the show”. Some of the kids even mentionned it today. (I have my students for three years, so they have lots of time to get used to my quirks!)

So back to today’s storm. It rained really hard for about 15 minutes, with some thunder and lightning, then the sun came out, so I told the kids we were leaving right away. The sun was pretty much just an illusion, because as soon as we started walking, everything turned grey again. When we heard thunder, the kids actually clapped and cheered! Thankfully, there was no lightning.

It was only a 10 minute walk back to school, but about halfway there, it started to rain again. Kids really know how to enjoy everything. They were looking up, jumping in puddles and squeeling. How often, as adults, do we walk in the rain without thinking What’s this doing to my hair? These are new shoes! I’m getting all wet and dirty! I did have to tell the kids to hurry up, however, because as much fun as it was, we had to get back to school.

This is what they looked like. Me too, actually.

When I got home from work, I fell asleep on the couch. I hardly ever have naps, and when I woke up, I remembered why. I was cranky and I just moped around. It’s not good for me to mess with my sleeping schedule. After a while, I couldn’t stand myself anymore and I decided to go for a run. I kind of wished it would rain again so I could get my happy feeling back. About halfway through my run, I realized I felt better and didn’t need the rain. Obviously, that’s when it started to rain! It was only a sprinkle, but it was like the universe was telling me “I hear you!”

My run inspired my picture of the day. The prompt was “a number” so I went with number 2 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. (yes, I know the numbers 101 and 1001 are messed up.) I’m not sure I’ll do it this week, but it will definitely be soon!

If you want to check out all the pictures from my challenge, click here.

Don’t forget to embrace the rain!

The road to headstands is paved with pillows

If you want to flip upside down, you’re going to fall a lot before you get there. I’m very motivated to one day do a headstand. Or a handstand. Or anything that gets me upside down. But that means I fall down all the time.

I read on someone’s blog that she wanted to do a handstand one day, so she did crow every day and practiced cartwheels in the park. I don’t remember which blog it was, or I would post a link. I thought this was a great idea. Well, the crow part, not so much the cartwheel part. You see, I can’t do a cartwheel. I never could. When I was a kid, I spent entire summers trying so hard to get my legs up as I wheeled myself around, down a hill, on the beach, in the grass, everywhere. It just never worked. I’d be willing to try again, but I’m way more self-conscious now.

So, back to crow. I now have a yoga mat set up in my spare bedroom, so I decided to try doing crow pose every day. I usually look like this.

But sometimes, more and more often, I actually get into it, and stay there. Not very long, but a few months ago, crow wasn’t even a part of my practice, so I’m pretty happy with myself!

Then, today, I went to a really great power flow yoga class with Todd. We did a lot of poses to build strength. One thing I really appreciated was that it didn’t feel as hot as it ususally does. I do love the heat, but when you’re trying new things, it’s nice to feel the heat a little less. I was still melting, but like a popsicle, not lava.

We did some kick-ups (I think that’s what it was called) to practice getting into a forearm stand or a handstand. We had our arms or hands on the mat, looked down, kicked up one leg, then the other, before bringing them down. In my case, it was more momentum than anything else, but I liked the feeling of having more weight on my hands or arms. When the whole class was doing it, we sounded like elephants trying to Riverdance, but it created a great energy.

I didn’t do anything perfectly today, which is why it was such a great class. I had fun, I laughed, I fell. I’m really enjoying where I am in my practice. I’m happy about that, because wishing I was somewhere else would just make everything a lot harder. Bring on the inversions! (And the pillows!)

The Tao of Pooh

“What’s this you’re writing?” asked Pooh, climbing onto the writing table.

“The Tao of Pooh,” I replied.

“The how of Pooh?” asked Pooh, smudging one of the words I had just written.

“The Tao of Pooh,” I replied, poking his paw away with my pencil.

“It seems more like the ow! of Pooh,” said Pooh, rubbing his paw.

“Well, it’s not,” I replied huffily.

“What’s it about?” asked Pooh, leaning forward and smearing another word.

“It’s about how to stay happy and calm under all circumstances!” I yelled.

“Have you read it?” asked Pooh.

Have you read it? That is the first page of the amazing book “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff. I bought this book about 10 years ago, because it was about Winnie the Pooh, but I didn’t make it past page 26. It was too philosophical for me, but now, I’m loving it. It explains Taoism through Winnie the Pooh and also Winnie the Pooh through Taoism. They are one and the same.

Pooh is presented as the Uncarved Block. He may seem simpleminded, but he is always happy. He doesn’t over think, he just is. “When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in your way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.” -page 20. So you see, we could all learn a great deal from Winnie.

Owl is presented as the shcolar who is so concerned with knowledge that he doesn’t do anything else. The opposite of Pooh, really. I think knowledge is good, obviously, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Then there’s Rabbit, who’s Clever.

“Rabbit’s clever,” sais Pooh thoughtfully.

“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”

“And he has Brain.”

“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”

There was a long silence.

“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.” -page 15.

Piglet is worried and nervous about everything, never able to just be, because he might be doing it wrong. Eyeore is pessimistic and negative about all that surrounds him. There’s also Tigger, who is unable to control himself. He  didn’t like Kanga and Roo at first, because they were different. It’s very interesting to see yourself through these characters, who seem so innocent and childlike. I like to find something about myself in Pooh, not so much in Rabbit, who seems very Annoying.  I think there’s a little part of all the animals from the Hundred Acre Woods in all of us. Once you are able to recognize that, you can work with what you like about yourself and what needs more love.

I could quote the whole book, but I think I’ll end with this one.

“Tigger is all right, really,” said Piglet lazily.

“Of course he is,” said Christopher Robin.

“Everybody is really,” said Pooh. “That’s what I think,” said Pooh. “But I don’t suppose I’m right,” he said.

“Of course you are,” said Christopher Robin. -page 65

Pink Lake

I had the most amazing day today. I went hiking with my friend Suzanne around Pink Lake. Can you believe there’s actually a lake called Pink? Sadly, it is not really pink. It’s this pretty, green-blue colour. Apparently, it has an unusual colour because of a lack of oxygen in the water. And something about the different layers of water not mixing. Also some kind of super-algea or plancton, or something, that eats everything else. Whatever. It’s really pretty!

This lake is only 10 minutes away from my house and I had never been there. It looked pretty big, but it only took about 45 minutes to go around. And that’s with stopping to take plenty of pictures.

This is us just before we started our hike.

Apparently, it was very important that we stay on the path so we wouldn’t mess up the ecosystem even more and turn the lake purple or something. We did our best, but when we saw this platform, we just had to stop and do some yoga. That meant that the person taking the picture was off the path. Since it was in towards the trees and not the water, I’m thinking we’re ok. If not, it wasn’t us.

Most of the path was kind of like a boardwalk, with railings, to keep you from going too close to the glow in the dark fish, or the magic seaweed or whatever it is that makes the lake shimmer. We took advantage of these railings to pose for more pictures.

After we made our way around the lake, we found another trail that had really cool trees. Well, all regular trees and one awesome tree. It looked like it had a little fairy house inside. At first, I thought I could fit in the hole, but I think I would have gotten stuck and had what Suzanne called a “Pooh Bear moment”.

We also did some yoga on a log. I think it could really catch on as a new kind of yoga. It makes postures more challenging, what with the balancing and the swatting the bugs away, all while not falling off the logs and into the leaves.

Tree pose on a log.

Warrior one on a log.

Eagle on a log.

After all the yoga and the hiking and the posing for the pictures, we had a snack and a wardrobe change at home, then went to see an Imax movie about polar bears. The movie was great, if a little sad, what with us humans pretty much wrecking everything for the polar bears. There was a scary part too, when a really hungry male polar bear goes after two little cubs. I actually put my hands over my 3D glasses so I wouldn’t see, but the momma polar bear growled really loudly and that was that.

We then went out to dinner and had drinks on the patio. Nothing tastes more like summer than a beer outside.

After all that, we decided to go to Chapters because I wanted a particular book. I am doing a no-spending challenge, but I had decided to allow myself this book. However, they didn’t have it. I was tempted by a copy of the Bhagavad gita, but since that wasn’t the book I was looking for, I didn’t buy it. I have an Imax teacher pass and I had a gift certificate for the restaurant, so this whole wonderful day was free!

Today was such a perfect summer day, I think it means summer has officially started. Even if it really hasn’t, not officially. Happy summer!

Update overload

When I started blogging, I didn’t think I would be writing about so many different things, so I didn’t have any categories for my posts. Lately, I’ve been noticing that I’m getting lost on my own blog, so I created different categories. To categorize all my posts, I had to edit them. If you follow me, you have probably received about a million e-mails today! Sorry! I figured it would be better to do it all in one day than to drag it out and do a few each day. I’m done now, I promise! Only e-mails you will get will be new posts! Have a great day!.

Summer couscous happiness

Ever have one of those days where you bring your lunch to work, then you look forward to eating it all morning? I had one of those days today! I made a couscous salad last night for dinner and I had leftovers for lunch today. I am very proud of this recipe, because it’s the first (and only, actually) recipe that I’ve come up with on my own. And not just “I have a recipe for spaghetti sauce” kind of thing. I tried different ingredients, quantities and everything. I even wrote it down so I can make it taste the same every time. It’s that good. It tastes like summer.

Citrus couscous salad


– 2 cups couscous

– 1 1/2 cups orange juice

– 1 boneless chicken breast

– 1/2 cup sesame seeds

– 1 cucumber

– 2 large oranges

– 6 tbs olive oil

– 3 tbs lemon juice

– 3 tbs orange juice

– zest of 1 lemon

– salt and pepper

1. Bring orange juice to a boil. Remove from heat and add couscous. Stir, cover and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Cut chicken breast into bite-size pieces and coat with sesame seeds. I like to put the sesame seeds in a bag, throw the chicken pieces in, and shake it up. The seeds will stick to the chicken. Cook in 2 tbs olive oil. (I like to use lemon-infused olive oil, but plain works fine.)

3. Peel and cut oranges in small pieces. I like to take off the white bits too.

4. Cut cucumber into small pieces. I usually leave the peel on, as I like the crunch, but the one I used yesterday was not so pretty.

5. Let couscous and chicken cool.

6. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, orange juice and lemon juice with lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. I know I said 3 tbs of each juice, but really, go with what you like. You want about 1/4 cup of dressing.

7. In a large bowl, mix everything together. (Trust me, go big. You’ll avoid a mess.)

It’s best to let it sit for a while in the fridge, until everything gets cold. However, if you are starving when you make it, like I was, have a small bowl right away and come back later for more! It makes a lot, so you have plenty for your lunch the next day. Enjoy!

My meditation minute

Meditation is a scary word. I don’t know how to meditate. I’ve been hearing the word for years, but it’s always been something that other people do, not me. From what I understand, it’s the practice of quieting your mind. I’m not sure I understand how to do that. So, you see, meditation is not for me.

Or so I thought.

Last week, when I went to Ichih’s yin yoga class, she talked about how to start a meditation practice. She said to set up a mat, because if it’s there, you’ll do it, and if it’s in the closet, you won’t. Then every morning, just sit. Start with one minute, then add one minute every day. It takes 40 days to form a habit, so it’s a kind of 40 day challenge. I do love a good challenge!

I decided this was something I could try, because it didn’t seem too intimidating or impossible. I have a spare bedroom, so I thought I would set up my extra mat in there. However, the room looked like this.

Thankfully, I had the day off yesterday, so I moved some stuff around, got rid of lots of things I don’t need, including the computer desk, and ended up with this.

I was pretty excited and even tried out my new space with some of my favourite poses.

Last night, before I went to bed, I got all my stuff ready for morning, so I wouldn’t feel rushed. It’s only a minute, but it’s a mind over matter kind of thing. I thought I’ve got this.

I am not a morning person. I got up this morning and stumbled to my mat. I was rumpled, grouchy and sleepy. My meditation went like this.

I want to sleep! Suck it up, it’s only a minute. I’m tired. I can’t sit up straight. I feel all slouchy. Maybe I should wear my purple dress. No, my pink t-shirt. Has it been one minute yet? My back hurts. Ok, concentrate. On what? My foot’s asleep. Do I have a meeting today? Breathe in, breathe out. Ok, that’s it. I’m done.

It was so hard! I’m not even sure I did one whole minute. I really did not expect it to be that difficult. But, I did it. I got up, and I sat. This meditation stuff is not for sissies. I think it’s ok that it wasn’t easy. If it was, the rewards wouldn’t be as great. I didn’t feel any different today, but I’m not expecting magic, either.

I’m going to try doing this every day. I’m not sure I’m ready to add one minute a day, however. I think I’ll focus my energy on having one really good minute every morning, before I try to make it longer. I don’t think it will work if I try to do too much at once. It will be impossible, then I’ll give up all together.

Do you have a meditation practice? Any tips for a meditation minute that will leave me feeling enlightened and energized?

Long weekend bliss

In Canada, it’s a long weekend. My friend Julie is getting married in the summer and she asked me to go with her and her bridesmaids to Montreal to look for dresses. Montreal is only two hours away, and it’s a great city, so I said yes! The only thing is that I’m still doing a no-spending challenge, so shopping was out for me. I decided to go easy on myself and spend on restaurants and stuff, otherwise I might as well have stayed home!

The drive there was great. It was nice and sunny, we had lots to talk about and it went by really fast. The first place we went to was a dress warehouse kind of place. I thought this might be my first challenge, but nothing really caught my eye, so it was all good.

Then we went to a grocery store called Adonis to get some food for lunch. That place was crazy! There were so many people and everyone was just pushing around. I felt like I was in another country all together. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, but we did get some great food. We went to one of Julie’s friend’s place in the city, where we would be staying, to have lunch.

After that, we took the subway downtown for more shopping. Again, not as difficult as I had imagined to control myself. We also took the opportunity to take yoga poses in random places.

Subway warrior.

Funky lamp-shop yoga pose. Be careful where you put those feet. You break it, you buy it.

Not a yoga pose, but a really great picture, also in the funky shop.

We walked around, drank iced drinks, people watched in cafés and enjoyed being away from home. There are no thoughts of all the things you have to do when you get home when you’re not actually going home. We went back to our home base and ate a wonderful meal. Thankfully, we got enough food at the crazy grocery store earlier, so we didn’t have to go back.

After dinner, we felt really stuffed, so we went for a walk and saw the sunset on Laval, the city across the river. We also had chocolate cookies.

Some of the girls hung out by the water a little longer, but Steph and I had discovered a tree that really needed climbing. Did you know it’s quite possible to climb a tree even while wearing white pants? So much fun too.

Tree pose in a tree.

Sloth pose. I highly recommend it.

The other girls joined us and we had a little tree party.

The next day, we went shopping some more. We found the bridesmaids dresses easily enough. In the same boutique, however, I saw it. The perfect dress. The one that had my name written on it. Up until that point, it hadn’t been too difficult not to shop, but this took all the willpower I had. I didn’t buy the dress, which I am very proud of, but after that, I’d had enough shopping.

Three of the girls wanted to keep shopping, but in different parts of the city. One girl wanted to visit a museum and I wanted to do anything that was free. We decided to split up for the afternoon and meet up later. I had a wonderful time walking along the old port and having a beer while listening to street performers.

By the time we all met up, we were tired, sweaty and happy. We were all ready to be heading home. We stopped along the way for some ice cream, but they were out, so that was disappointing, but we did have time for some truck stop yoga.

The trip ended with a Mamma Mia sing along in the car. Good food, good friends, good times and a surprising burst of willpower. Bliss.