Evolve your practice

Today was the first day of my third 30 day yoga challenge. The first one was a personnal challenge I did with my friend Julie and the second was a fundraising challenge. This one is a studio challenge. Pure Yoga Ottawa, my home away from home, is hosting this amazing 30 day awesome-fest.

To make the rest of my challenge feel easier, I started off with the hardest yoga class ever. Ever. Ok, maybe it wasn’t that hard, but I haven’t done yoga in weeks because I was sick, and it was super humid on top of being hot, so it probably felt harder than it was.

Anyone who thinks yoga can’t be a cardio workout should talk to Amber. We did about a million warrior one-chaturanga-updog-downdogs, quite fast and timed to some awesome upbeat music. If it wasn’t for the music and the fact that there were other people around, I might have curled up in a little ball and passed out.

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After class, there was a little presentation for all the challengers. We got to hear a naturopathic doctor speak about nutrition and how to stay healthy and hydrated during the challenge. She also gave us a gift certificate for either a naturapathic visit or a massage/salt scrub/acupuncture combo. I’m probably going to go with the massage combo, it sounds amazing!

We also had a massage therapist talk to us about how to assess our bodies and prevent injury. It was all great information. Then we all took a picture together. I’m in the front row, third from the left.

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Amber and Jen, the owners of the studio, gave all us challengers awesome goody bags! There was a tank with “evolve your practice” which is the studio’s new tagline. Also, a water bottle, some electrolyte drinks, a power bar, a lululemon headband, a voucher for free tea, yoga tune up balls, mat cleaner and other fantastic goodies!

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All in all, it was a great start to a 30 day challenge! I’m looking forward to the next 29 days!

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.

I can’t fight this feeling

Day 9 out of 30 and I’m still loving it! When I started this challenge, I was worried I would drive myself nuts trying to cram too much into one day, but I’ve been pretty good about leaving work at a decent hour and making time for myself to relax a little at home, either before or after class. The week to come is sure to offer up it’s own challenges, however, as I have a birthday dinner, a parent-teacher meeting and a wedding cake to make. I’m trying to do all I can over the weekend to be prepared for the week and keep from going crazy.

This morning I went to a yang/yin class with Edith. It was a wonderful class, because just as I was starting to get a little tired and hot from the flow, we transitionned into a yin style practice. I’ve gone to the studio every day, so I have 9 stickers! As you can see, not everyone goes to class, some people opt for a home practice or another form of activity.

The flow part was great, although twisting in chair pose was tough. My arms felt heavy in most of the poses, like warrior 2 and crescent lunge. It’s like my body knows it’s Sunday and it’s trying to tell me to just relax and read a book.

The yin part started off with a nice long child’s pose. Bliss. Then we did dragon pose. Arghh! I don’t know what’s up with this pose lately. I feel like I’m always doing it, yet I don’t like it one bit. Edith was telling us how important it is not to fight the pose and fidget, but all I could think was “Let me out of this torturous pose!” A better title for this post might have been “I’m fighting this feeling with all I’ve got”. Part of it is physical, because, as one of my teachers says, I’ve been “blessed” with tight hips. However, most of the resistance is in my head. I’ve gotten so used to disliking this pose and the way it makes me feel, that as soon as someone says “dragon pose”, I tense up. I’ve got 21 more days to this challenge, so I’ll try to work on it!

On a more positive note, I did not lock my keys inside my locker this week, so added bonus there! Although, I don’t actually have a lock anymore, so I don’t have keys either, but whatever. Also, the girls at the studio bought some lock cutters because someone else did the very same thing as I did! This makes me happy because now it’s not just me.

Edith and I after class. She’s wonderful.

After class I came home and made a smoothie using protein powder for the first time. It’s got raspberries, strawberries, orange juice, tofu, green tea and brown rice protein powder. I’m not sure about the texture. I can taste the powdery texture of the protein and it’s not going down quite as fast as my smoothies normally do. Maybe I’ll cut the serving of powder in half until I get used to it. I know lots of people add kale to their smoothies, because it’s some kind of super-food, but I’m taking it one step at a time here!

Now I’m off to get myself ready for the week ahead, and hopefully do a little bit of nothing as well! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Some like it hot

I started my 30 day yoga challenge a few days ago, and it made me realize how much I missed the hot room! I was an on and off yogi over the summer, but I am so happy to be back.

Yesterday was day 3 and I went to a noon power flow class with Amber at Pure. I was happy to sleep in a little and I might even have gone to a later class, but since it was a holiday Monday, there wasn’t one. It was a kick-ass class.

The energy in the room was great. It was a packed class and along with one of my favourite teachers giving the class, some of my other favourite teachers were being students. I just love practicing with people I admire, like Jen and Edith. The class was not easy (I don’t think Amber knows that word) but it was fun! The hour flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it. Except the core stuff.

Here I am with Amber and Jen, who are just awesome! Also, I am very sweaty.

Tonight, day 4, I was planning on going to a power class. However, it was day 2 of being back to school with my very small, very demanding, very energetic students, and I was exhausted. I changed my plans to a later yin class. I was just about to leave when I had a feeling I should check the schedule to make sure my mushy, kids-took-all-my-energy brain had the right information. Well. I was wrong. There is a yin class, but it’s later than I thought. It’s from 9 to 10 and I’m worried I might fall asleep on my mat if I go. If I don’t go, however, I’ll do a home practice. There are dangers of falling asleep there too.

If I do go, I have to leave in the next 10 minutes, so you’ll have to check in tomorrow to see how this turns out!

Lock me up and throw away the key

Yesterday was day 2 of my 30 days of yoga challenge. Day 1 kind of kicked my butt, since I had not practiced in so long. My legs were feeling it (still are, actually) and I had a mild case of yoga brain. Well, I thought it was a mild case. Turns out it was a full blown attack!

If you’re not familiar with yoga brain, here is the short version: Yoga brain can be defined as a state of hazy bliss, following a yoga practice. The symptoms, which include forgetfulness, smiling and almost walking into traffic, usually appear after several days of consecutive yoga. However, a return to the practice, following a long absence, will usually result in extreme manisfestations of said symptoms.

Warning, people suffering from yoga brain look normal.

I was looking forward to class, I got there on time, chatted with the girls, then went into the locker room. Here is where the yoga brain took over. I got my mat, towel and water bottle, then put everything else in the locker, locked it and realized my key was inside the locker. The locked locker.

I told Edith, the teacher, and she said we could call someone after class and not to worry. I knew she was right , so I tried to forget about it. The first half of class was a yang style practice, so I flowed, downward dogged and upward dogged and basically tried not to fall over. My brain was pretty busy trying to keep up with my body, so I didn’t think much about the locker incident, as I started referring to it.

However, the second part of class was yin. Once I got in a pose and tried to let go, my brain had more time to wander and wonder if someone would actully come, it was a Sunday after all. I also realized I was not surprised I had done this, I was more surprised that it actually had not happened before. This is classic me, along with walking into walls, waving my arms around and hitting people when I talk and forgetting where I park my car.

I tried to enjoy the rest of class, as I really do like yin. Edith is a great teacher and I always leave her classes feeling happy. We did pigeon, and she said that we store feelings of hate in our hips, so we shouldn’t be surprised if some emotions came up. I thought this was a little silly. For about 10 seconds. After that, I wouldn’t say I felt hate, but I was thinking how dumb pigeon pose is and wondering why we couldn’t do a nice supine twist instead. The longer the pose lasted, the more ridiculous I thought pigeon was. Happily, when we came out of it, those negative thoughts went away and I felt great.

After class, Edith said she would try calling another student, who lives close to the studio and would probably have lock cutters. His number was nowhere to be found, however, and we thought we would have to call a locksmith. This was not good as I would surely have to wait, and pay lots of money for someone to destroy my lock and generally acknowledge what a spaz I was.

We decided to try walking over to see if the other student was home. He was, and he had lock cutters! Five minutes later, I was free! Well, my stuff was. I decided to have confidence in people and assume no one at the yoga studio is out to steal my stuff, so I’m not getting another lock. My brain has done this once, who knows how long it would take for it to happen again.

All’s well that ends well, but remember, beware of the yoga brain! It can strike at any time!