Have I been the change?

When I started this 30 day challenge on September 1st, I was in it for the yoga. When I heard about a challenge happening at Pure Yoga Ottawa, my favourite studio, I jumped on the chance to participate. I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was more to it than doing yoga every day.

I received daily e-mails filled with motivational quotes and messages from Megan, the creator of this amazing challenge, videos and tips for at-home practice from Megan and Mike, another teacher. There were nutrition tips and delicious recipes. I discovered new ways to prepare old ingredients and new foods to try. There was information about holistic healing. This was new, and interesting to read about.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my body is tired and needs a rest from daily practice, at least for a while. However, my mind and spirit will miss the daily motivation and encouragement. For this, I am sad to see the challenge end.

This challenge coincided with going back to work. Last year, I found the back to school period to be very difficult. I felt like there was always something more to do. I never had enough time to do it all. Once I realized I couldn’t do it all, I relaxed and enjoyed my work a lot more. This year, I was afraid of falling into the same trap. I was happy to have a reason to leave work at a reasonable hour, to take some time for myself and to have a way to find peace every day.

I realized one of the things I love the most about yoga is the quiet moment that comes after giving all I’ve got. Taking child’s pose anytime feels good, but taking child’s pose after going through several flows, side planks and chair pose is bliss. I was thinking about this during class today, when Megan said something that struck a chord with me. She said The vinyasa of our practice mirrors the vinyasa of our lives.

During a class, I might feel happy, frustrated, proud, discouraged, tired, curious, scared and blissed out. I feel these same emotions during my daily life. I try to approach challenges in my practice with an open mind and lots of laughter. I am trying to do the same with the challenges in my life. This is the change I did not know I was looking for. So yes, to answer my own question, I think I have been the change.

Today was day 30. It was the last class. I went to Megan’s class, which was perfect, because I started this challenge with one of her classes and also because without her, there wouldn’t be a challenge. I was very proud of myself for seeing this through all the way to the end. I got all 30 stickers on the board! Yes, they’re all pink.

I was also very happy to do this class with Jacynthe and Dominique, who are both collegues and friends. We did this challenge together and it definitely contributed to the motivation to make it to class every day!

And finally, it was great to meet some of the other challengers. We have become a community, linked by our desire to be the change. Thanks so much Megan for giving us the chance to find the best in ourselves. Namaste.

Run for the cure

This morning I participated in a 5k run for “Run for the cure” to help in the fight agains breast cancer. Ok, it was actually a 5k walk, not a run! I haven’t been running lately. Participating in a 30-day yoga challenge meant I had to chose, I couldn’t do it all. It was still lots of fun and we had a big team, called Pink Power. It started off cloudy and I was hoping the rain would hold off, but as soon as we started out, it started to drizzle. Not pouring or anything, so it could have been worse! It was like being at Niagara Falls, where there’s a mist everywhere. There were 10 000 people there, all wearing pink!

Now I’m off to the final class of my yoga challenge. Lots of people from the challenge are going to be there, so it’s going to be one big yoga party! I can’t wait!

Teddy bear headstand

My 30-day yoga challenge is coming to an end, and I’ve learned two very important things. More than two things, actually. But here are two of them.

1. I love yoga (I knew this, but now it’s reaffirmed. Again.)

2. I love other things too. I love running, reading, baking, my friends, my family. I haven’t had much time for any of these things for most of September.

This past week has been the most challenging. Motivation was down and grumpiness was up. Last night’s class was a perfect example of the low-energy practice that has been annoying me. On my way home, I told myself to suck it up. There were only three days left to the challenge and I had two choices: finish kicking and screaming (ok, more like whining and dragging my feet) or give it all I’ve got left.

I chose option 2. (Not finishing was never an option.)

With this new determination to just enjoy myself and make the most of it, I went to a power class with Laurie after work. I love Laurie’s classes.

When we did crow pose, she said we could bring our head down and stand in tripod. Then we could bring our legs up into a tripod headstand. My first reaction was “No way! I’ll smash my head into the floor and that will not go well with the whole fun vibe I’ve got going on here.”

I hesitated for just a second, then I went for it. It looked something like this. (The placement of my legs on my arms is a little off, but I took these pictures when I came home and I was trying to do it fast so I could shower and eat. I was starving!)

First crow.

Then teddy bear headstand. How cute is that? (The name, not my butt up in the air.)

I’m actually a little disappointed in this picture, because it looks nowhere near as awesome as it felt. During my pity-party practice last night, I had an Eeyore moment during standing splits where I thought “I’ll never do a headstand.” This pose made me realize that I’ll get there one day. I tried lifting my legs up off my arms, but they were not moving. One step at a time!

The yoga diaries

Last Saturday, I was sick and I did not go to yoga. I know! Crazy. But I needed a rest day. I want to make up the missed class, but I haven’t done it yet. I’m thinking Saturday’s my day.

I haven’t been blogging much, because yoga has taken over my life. I do realize it’s day 27, and I’ve been doing this for close to a month, but this week it felt like I had even less time for other things.

I thought I would give you all a little update, since I know you’ve all been dying to know about my classes!

Sunday

I felt better than Saturday, so I went to a yang/yin class with Edith. The yang part was obviously the most difficult, as I kept thinking “It’s so nice and warm in here, I’d really like a nap.” Also, when I had my head upside down, like in downward dog, I couldn’t breathe. Fun stuff. Also very attractive. Yin was bliss.

Monday

Power class with Jen. I was a little worried, even though I felt better. However, I worried for nothing. It was a-ma-zing! It had been almost a week since I had enough energy to actually enjoy a power class. We did dragon (yuck) but also that awesome arm-balance thing that I can actually do now! Only for about 3 seconds, then I fall over, but still, it’s fabulous!

Tuesday

Low-energy day. When I got up that morning, I had great plans to do two classes, but as the day went on, I realized that was not going to happen! I went to candlelight yin with Mark and it was just what I needed.

Wednesday

I also thought this might be a two-class day, but I had a headache at work, so I decided against it. It was yin again, this time with Ichih. It was the yoga hug I didn’t know I needed. I felt so much better after class.

Thursday

Today, I had a grumpy practice. I thought I had more energy and motivation than I actually did. So when class started and I realized I would rather be crashed on the couch than at a flow clas, it was kind of a shock. I tried to shake it off, but I was kind of like Eeyore. I sighed my way through chair pose and sat out side plank. Near the end, we did eagle and dancer, and although my balance was not great, it made me feel better.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is more Winnie the Pooh like, and less Eeyore like!

Recharging my batteries

I’m sick. I’ve been kind of avoiding this reality all week, but there’s no escaping it now. It’s just a cold, so it could definitely be worse. No fever, no aches and pains, I’m just tired and stuffed up. Also, I sneeze a lot.

I’m like this kitty plus sneezing and coughing.

This morning, I was supposed to participate in a yoga mala, which is 108 sun salutations for the changing of the seasons. I did it for srping and summer, and I was excited to do it for fall, thinking I could do it for winter as well, then I would have done 108 sun salutations for each season of 2012. The event was meant to take place on Parliament Hill, so outside. It was raining all day yesterday, and was calling for rain this morning, so they cancelled the event last night. I was disappointed, but I think it was for the best. I’m not sure how long I would have lasted in the rain this morning!

I decided to go to a noon class at Pure instead. Well, I woke up at 11:30, so I guess that wasn’t meant to be either. I needed sleep and I think I need a day of rest. Right now I’m watching Maid in Manhattan in my Barbie pyjamas (yes, Barbie. I love Barbie and true love lasts forever.) I’ve got my box of Vicks scented tissues and a cup of tea. For now, this is what I need.

I might try to get to a class later today, or maybe I’ll just stay home and do two classes on another day when I feel better. We’ll see!

What if sloths did yoga?

You know those days where putting on your shoes seems like so much work and you would rather buy new clothes than do laundry? Today was one of those days. It wasn’t a lazy day on purpose, it was more because of lack of energy due to a cold and small children driving me a little crazy.

On a non-challenge day, I would have stayed home and not gone to yoga. Since it is day 20 out of 30, I couldn’t very well miss it. I decided to have a nap, then I asked myself “What would a sloth do?” This was not a good question, because obviously, a sloth would have said “Forget yoga. I’m just going to hang here on my tree. I don’t even come down to pee.”

I made my way to the studio, warned Jen about my sloth-like energy level, then tried not to fall asleep on my mat before class started. I realized I was more like a baby sloth, because they have a little more energy than their parents (I’m guessing). A baby sloth would have made it to class, but might still fall asleep. Plus, they’re way cuter.

This was me on my mat. I like to think my nose is a little smaller.

Jen’s class was awesome. It was more on the chill side that I expected. Not that it was easy. I tried to wimp out on bear pose, but Jen saw me. I was hiding out in the back corner and I kind of looked like this.

I actually did better than I thought I would. I got dizzy at one point and had to sit down, but mostly I felt good. Tired, but happy to be practicing. I ended the class with more energy than when I started. Such is the power of yoga!

The great pumpkin adventure

I don’t like pumpkin pie. There. I said it. I know it makes people think I’m weird, but I think pumpkin pie is weird. I don’t like the texture. Also, it’s a vegetable. In a dessert. Because I don’t like pumpkin pie, I’ve always thought I don’t like pumpkin anything. However, last weekend, I picked some very beautiful, very orange pumpkins in the garden.

I washed the dirt off, then cut one in half. I scooped out it’s insides. (I was planning on roasting the seeds, but I forgot about them and they kind of all stuck together. It was a little icky looking, so I threw them out.) Then, I placed each half in a baking dish and poured about an inch of water around them.

They went into the oven for about an hour at 350 0C, then I scooped out the edible part. Voilà, roasted pumpkin. That’s it. Nothing else to do.

I did this yesterday, then put the pumpkin in the fridge. Today, I pureed it and froze some of it in half-cup measures to use in the future.

Then came the fun part. Pumpkin scones. I figured if I wanted to check to see if I liked pumpkin flavoured anything, it was best to test it out in one of my favourite things ever. Scones.

I used this recipe and they came out tasting marvelous! They taste like fall, spices and Halloween. Ok, maybe not Halloween, but they’re really good! I made mine bite-sized, so I baked them for 8-9 minutes.

I brought some in to the yoga studio tonight and left with an empty plate!

Baking these put me in a good mood. I wasn’t in a bad mood, but I had kind of a grumpy day. I’ve been feeling a cold coming on all week and today it made sure I knew it was here to stay for a few days. It was one of those days where everything and everyone annoyed me. Being annoyed all day, while sniffling, is exhausting.

The scones made me feel better, and then yoga was perfect. It was yin and it was heaven. At the end of class, we chilled out in pentacle pose. I’ve only done this pose a few times, but I love it. You lay out in one big X with a block under your sacrum. I felt very relaxed and just let go. Then, I got a rare blissful moment where I let go even more when I thought I wasn’t holding anything. It was amazing and I think I gave a little sigh of happiness.

When I came home, my kitchen had that sweet, happy, baking scent. Bliss.