My life as a pretzel

I miss writing about yoga. Lately, I’ve been writing about other things. Dresses, Christmas, rainbows. Great stuff, but it’s not yoga. I know you’ve been thinking it too, so here it is. My life as a pretzel (actually, it was just part of a class, but whatever.)

I went to a power class at Pure today right after work. I can’t often get away for the 4:30 class, but I think it’s my favourite time to practice. My work day is done, but I haven’t been home and crashed on the couch yet, so I’m still awake and energized (well, somewhat).

Class was with Jen. I love her classes because she always has something to distract me from the fact that I actually am tired. We started with some flowing. Lots of flowing. Like a river almost. Or maybe that’s just how sweaty I was.

On a side note, a bandaid on your foot during a hot yoga class will fall off. It’s a fact. But first, it will stick to your towel and get stuck between your toes. Just so you know.

After a blur of triangle pose and lots and lots of warrior 2 (warrior 2s? warriors 2?), the pretzeling started.

Now, when people have no clue what yoga is, the image they come up with is someone twisting themselves into various pretzel-like positions. This is not what yoga is about, although some poses involve a bind. In these cases, it is acceptable to use the term pretzel.

The first pretzel was bird of paradise. I like this one, especially if I’m standing on my right leg. If I’m standing on my left leg, it’s more like a chicken than a bird of paradise, but one side is better than none. I can get my standing leg strait (the right one), but the leg I’ve got my arms around hasn’t quite made it up.

I look like the first picture. I’m working on getting to the second one. I got the picture here.

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The second pretzel was a new one for me. You start off in bound extended side angle, just like bird of paradise, but instead of bringing your foot up to the front of your mat, you bring it about half way and get into a bound half moon. Yeah. Crazyness. I almost kind of got it. I think. Sort of. On the right side of course. I couldn’t get my whole foot up, just my heel, but the heel is the heaviest part of the foot, so I’m almost there!

bound half moon

Can you see how close I am? It’s amazing. That’s the power of yoga.

Baby it’s cold outside

This has been one of those weeks that wouldn’t end. My birthday was on Monday, and that was definitely the high point. After that, it was a long blur of sneezing, a runny nose and waking up each morning to realize it wasn’t Friday yet. On top of that, I lost a student today (but then I found her). I kind of felt like this all week.

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But today was Friday and that meant I could relax. I missed yoga. I didn’t go all week because I was sick. I felt much better today and I knew yoga would make me feel almost human again.

Walking into the hot room was the best part of my day. It was so cold today! Winter is definitely coming and I can see myself going to yoga more and more, just for the heat! It was the first time all day that I actually felt warm. Then hot. Really hot.

Class was amazing. It was a flow class, which was great. I’m not sure I could have managed a power class. I did a toe stand, then actually made my way into flying crow! It felt awesome. I tried to take a picture when I got home, but sadly, my inner crow was asleep. Or maybe dead. I fell down pretty hard and I think I squashed it.

This is what it looks like. Yes, yes. I looked as awesome as this. Ok, so maybe not. My head tends to get pretty close to the ground and I’m not sure what my back leg looks like. Also, I can only do it on one side. But I felt like I looked like this.

flying crow

I know, I’m fabulous. Namaste!

135 minutes

Since my last post, four days ago, I did 255 minutes of yoga. 135 of those minutes were today. But who’s counting?

As predicted, this past week has been crazy, busy, exhausting and challenging. It has also been fun, filled with laughter and special moments. My favourite was the first grader who told me “Before being in this class, I dreamed of having a teacher like you!”

I couldn’t go to class last night, as I had a parent-teacher meeting. It’s not actually a meeting, it’s more of a presentation and it drives me nuts! I don’t like speaking in front of large groups of people.

Today, however, I more than made up for my missed day. I did two classes! I totally rocked day 14! I had planned on taking the day off to make a wedding cake for tomorrow. However, last week while talking with the bride, we realized she wanted something that kind of exceded my cake-making abilities, so she asked someone else, and I was left with an empty day off. It didn’t take me very long to figure out what to do with it.

I went to Jen’s powerflow class at 9:30. We did a lot of bear pose, which is a good one to know if you’re in the woods where there are no bathrooms and you have to pee. We didn’t do dragon pose because I begged Jen to keep it out. It was great doing yoga in the morning, when I wasn’t tired from work or anything else, really!

This is a picture of Amber, Jen and I on day 4. I don’t have one from today, be we always look the same after yoga: sweaty and smiley.

In between classes, I went to Starbucks for a latte and a muffin. It was raining and it made me want to head back into the hot room to warm up.

I did Amber’s vinyasa class at noon, and I was a little tired. My chaturangas were more of the belly flop variety and my knees came down a few times in plank. At one point, with all the ups and downs, I kind wished I hadn’t eaten the muffin, but that passed and I gave it all I had. My intention was to do what I could and enjoy myself and I did both.

I had done two classes in one day before, and I forgot how much I enjoy it. I wish I could do it more often. I will do it more often. It makes me happy.

Rainy day yoga and cookies

Yesterday was day 7 of my 30-day yoga challenge. One week! I did it! I feel great. The only parts of me that are a little sore are my shoulders, from all the arm balances I tried to do on day 6. Every time I feel a twinge, I remember how much fun I had falling all over the place.

I went to a 7:30 flow class last night with Sacha. I’m not sure if Friday evening classes are good for me. I forgot my mat, so I borrowed one. Then I went to get set up and realized I had forgotten my water bottle as well, so I had to buy one. This made me a little worried about what would happen during class, but it was amazing! Sacha was great. We flowed, of course, but we also did a lot of balancing postures like dancer’s pose and some standing twists. I arrived feeling tired and frazzled, but I left energized and happy.

This what I looked like when I arrived.

And what I looked like when I left.

Today, on day 8, I went to a noon power flow class. I wanted to sleep in, but I woke up super early and could not get back to sleep. So much for that. The class was with Jen and it was fantastic. I pleaded with her to not make us do dragon pose and she didn’t! Woohoo! The class was still pretty intense and near the end, we did some weird, fun, one arm, one foot balancing thing. I can only do it on one side, but I like it!

As per usual, my spectacular visual.

It was pouring rain from the moment I woke up this morning, so I figured it was the perfect day to spend in the kitchen. Along with the yoga in this challenge, we get nutrition tips with yummy recipes every morning. When I log on, I click on that’s day’s link. However, I realized I was reading it all, but not actually making anything. The tips and recipes involve a lot of ingredients that I never use, so I don’t have them on hand. I’m trying really hard to not feel rushed all the time with work and yoga, so I haven’t taken the time to shop all week.

I’ve been looking at the website one day at a time. I know I could click on day 9 when I’m on day 8, but I always waited because it felt like one of those advent calendars, where you get a chocolate every day. Instead of chocolate, I’m getting healthy advice. This wasn’t helping me be prepared, however, so this morning I broke down and looked ahead a few days. After yoga, I stopped at the health food store, which is right next door to where I live. I stocked up and came home ready to attack my recipes.

Chocolate chip cookies

My appartment is starting to smell like the hot room, with my sweaty clothes and towels hanging all over the place. What better smell to replace that with than freshly baked cookies? This is not a challenge recipe, it’s from my friend Edith‘s blog. There is sugar and butter in these cookies, but I figured if I eat one every now and then when I’m craving something sweet, it will keep me from scarfing down a chocolate bar in the car on my way home from work, so they’re an investment in my health. Also, I used arrowroot flour, which was new for me.

Zucchini hummus

This one is a challenge recipe. It’s like regular hummus, but with raw zucchini instead of chickpeas. I made mine extra-lemony, because I wasn’t sure I would love the zucchini flavour. I usually only use zucchini in brownies or cupcakes, so this was definitely a change. It’s very tasty and I’m glad I tried it!

Tomato soup

Rainy days are perfect for making soup! I always make a huge batch of this soup and freeze it in round containers for lunches. The containers have to be round, because we eat soup in bowls and bowls are round. It’s perfectly logical, but it makes people think I’m weird. The recipe is pretty simple (it’s not from the challenge, but it’s really good!)

– 3 cans of diced tomatoes

– garlic and olive oil to taste

– fresh thyme

– piece of parmesan cheese

– 3-4 medium potatoes

– 1 cup of cream

Brown the garlic in the olive oil, then add the tomatoes and potatoes (cut in small pieces). Add fresh thyme and cheese. When the potatoes are cooked, blend it all together, then add the cream. That’s it, you’re done!

I went for lighter cream than I usually use, to make it more challenge friendly and it still tastes great.

Protein smoothie

I am a protein powder newbie. I’ve never used it. Kylie, who’s giving us the nutrition tips, suggested brown rice protein powder. I used to make smoothies all the time, until I developped an intolerance to bananas. I know, that’s weird. I find the texture of a smoothie without a banana to be very strange, so I tried tofu and it worked out well. I havent made my smoothie yet, but I’m ready for tomorrow morning. I even froze green tea with lemon into cubes to use instead of regular ice. Can’t wait for breakfast!

All in all, it’s been a perfect rainy day and now I’m more prepared for the next week of my challenge!

I can’t do this, but I’m doing it anyways

Today is a holiday in Québec. Good thing, too, because I have to go back to work for three whole days before I’m off for the summer. I really needed a long weekend. Haha, ok, enough with the being funny. As you can tell, I’m pretty happy to be almost free!

I haven’t been to a yoga class in two weeks, what with the heat, the dressing up as Cleopatra and the end of the school year. I was aiming for the 9:30 class this morning, but that turned into the 12 o’clock class. Much better.

First of all, I forgot my mat, due to the fact that my brain has started to replace the yoga info section with the many ways to keep calm and not throw your students out the window on the last day of school info. Hopefully, my brain and I can go back to the yoga zone soon, as I will not see my lovely students untill September.

When I walked in to the hot room, it had that hot-yoga smell. And no, it’s not a yucky, icky, sweat smell. It’s more of an “ahhhhh, I get to spend an hour on myself” smell. Ok, there is a bit of sweaty mat smell in there, but only a little! I felt like I did the first time I walked into that room. Two weeks sure can feel like a long time when it’s two weeks without yoga.

The class was powerflow with Jen, and it was hard! But, “good hard” as Jen puts it. The first part was the most difficult. Going through the vinyasas and holding plank pose, I felt like I was starting over from the begining.

The second part was just as hard, but also lots of fun. We did crow pose and I’m happy to report that I held it for the longest time ever, in my whole life. I really have no clue how long it was, because there was no way I was going to try counting on top of all the balancing and the avoiding of the falling on my face. I just know that, not only did I get both feet up, I found some stillness and balance. Woohoo!

Then, Jen said that if we were comfortable in our crow pose, which I was (how amazing is that?!) we could try jumping back into chaturanga. Well, why not? I tried, and ended with the most amazing face plant of my life. Really, it was quite spectacular. Then Jen suggested that I try only one leg, to see if that helped. I guess face-planting doesn’t have a sanskrit name. I tried again, with one leg, and was rewarded with a spectacular belly-flop. I mean really, it was quite the accomplishment. No one else can belly-flop quite like me. Not today anyways. To be fair to myself and my attemps at all this crazy jumping stuff, not many people tried, so I was pretty proud that I gave it a shot, even if the results were less than perfect.

After this wonderful display of my falling abilities, Jen got us (well, again, not many people tried) to do flying crow pose. I’ve tried this before, and it’s not pretty. But I figured I was on a roll, so why not go all out. Well. In between the falling, the slipping and the slow-motion tipping to one side, I did it. Kind of. I still had my back toes touching the floor, but I kind of got my other leg up on my arm and held it for maybe half a second. Success!

Jen said that once I get the feel for it, I’ll be able to do it. I actually believe her, because she got me into my first wheel, and now I can do that pretty easily.

Last time I tried to get a picture of Jen and I, they got stuck inside my phone forever, so this time, I used my camera!

I cannot wait untill my holidays, when I can do yoga every day, sleep in and go to the beach. Bliss!

Just add water

It’s been really hot the past few days. I live on the third floor, so there’s no escaping the heat. I’m not complaining, partly because I know this is just a taste of what’s to come!

Yesterday, I was supposed to spend the day with a friend, but she drank too much wine at a wedding the night before, tsk, tsk! It was such a beautiful day that I couldn’t just stay in. It might have been a good idea, since the end of the school year is close and that means lots of papers to grade and report cards to fill in. Yuck. I decided to go running along the canal instead.

It’s very pretty but it can also be quite smelly. The water’s not stagnant, but it doesn’t move much either. I saw a guy doing stand up paddling. I really want to try that. Maybe not on the canal thought. I’m pretty sure I would fall in the water several times and canal water is yucky.

I hope he didn’t think I was a stalker.

Going running along the canal was also number 23 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I put it on the list because it’s one of those things I always said I would do, but never actually did.

Today was another hot day. Since it was Monday, I had to work, but Julie and I decided to go have lunch at the marina. It was much cooler there and we had a nice breeze. Lots of ducks, too.

I forgot my camera (I know, strange!) so Julie took some pictures with her phone. She took one of me eating my lunch. My skirt is kind of blowing up, but I’m still decent.

After work, I wanted to test something out. If it’s 40 degrees outside and 40 degrees inside the yoga studio, is is still hot yoga? Or is it just yoga? I wondered if I was crazy going to hot yoga on a day like today, but I was going to be hot no matter what I did, I figured it might as well be something fun.

Turns out, hot yoga is hot yoga, no matter what the temperature is outside. It was a great class. It wasn’t as hot as usual (31 degrees) and the fans were on, but I still got plenty sweaty. It was a fearless flow class, where the ultimate goal is an inversion. We worked on handstands. That stuff is hard! My hands and arms were so sore! I can still only lift one leg at a time, but I kind of hop around and pretend I’m a cirque du soleil performer. It helps with the motivation.

When I got home, it was still pretty hot, so I decided to have dinner at the beach. I grabbed a few things and put on my swimsuit. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, the first time I put on a bathing suit in the summer is a slightly traumatic experience. I didn’t think I would go swimming, but I wanted to be prepared in case I got the urge to fling myself into the lake.

I ate, I read a little and dipped my toes in the water. It was windy and perfect.

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I guess I’ll be getting more water!

30 x 30 challenge

Challenges work for me, otherwise I get lazy. Someone mentionned this challenge to my mom, thinking I might like it, and I do! It’s a 30 day challenge for the month of June. Every day, you spend 30 minutes in nature. It’s a David Suzuki thing. David Suzuki is a Canadian nature superhero. He’s been green since before it was cool. Kind of like Kermit the frog.

Here is a short video explaining the challenge.

I talked to my friend Julie about it, and she’s interested too. That’s good, because it’s always better to have a challenge buddy. However, we live in the city and neither of us even has yards. We decided to make it a 30 minutes outside challenge, not necessarily nature.

I have to admit, I kind of got off to a bad start as I did not spend 30 minutes outside today. It’s raining and it’s cold. This might turn out to be a fair-weather thing. I’m hoping it motivates me to go running more often.

On a side note, I went to a really great, hot, hot yoga class tonight and I learned something about myself. Every time I do chair pose, I fix my hair. Or I need a drink of water. Or I adjust the straps on my top. I do the low sitting part, but I bring my arms down. Maybe I have weak arms. Or maybe, just maybe, my arms are fine and my mind is going “Oh no! Arms are so heavy. Better let them fall.” I can’t say I’m looking forward to chair pose, exactly, but I’ll be ready for it next time.

The teacher in me really wishes lolcats would learn to spell, but they’re just so cute!

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!)

Yoga favourites

When you do something a lot, you discover what you like and what you don’t like about it. Some days, I’m so in love with yoga that I would tell you I enjoy everything about it (well, maybe not dragon pose). But really, I play favourites.

Favourite pose: Tree!

Favourite style/type: hot yoga.

Favourite workout clothes: Tops with thin straps and little support. (I don’t need it!) So easy to move around in. Also, below the knee leggings.

Hello Kitty here is totally rocking my kind of outfit.

Favourite class length: 1 hour. Sometimes longer is ok, but usually, after an hour, I look forward to the end of class.

Favourite spot: Second row, with no one in front of me. I like being able to see myself in the mirror, but I don’t like being really close to my reflexion.

Favourite thing to do during class that’s not actually yoga: Laugh! I fall over a lot, and it’s either laugh or get frustrated. Laughing works for me!

Favourite drink after class: Grape powerade, but not every day.

Favourite snack to eat after class: Anything with peanut butter. I’m not usually a peanut butter nut, but something about yoga makes me crave it!

Favourite part of class: When the teacher says “Let’s flow”.

Favourite thing to tell myself during class: One day, I will do a headstand! That and, It’s almost over! Depends on the day.

Favourite music: Right now, it’s “Somewhere over the rainbow”, the Hawaiian version. That’s the song that was playing during Jen’s class when I did my first wheel.

Favourite thing to think about during class that’s not yoga: food, especially sweet things like cupcakes and cookies.

This is so me.

Favourite teacher: Well, I obviously can’t pick just one! It really depends on what I need that day.

Natalie, when I want to laugh, smile and feel the love. Also for when I want to remember why I fell in love with yoga.

Amber, when I want to feel like a rockstar who can do anything and really push myself.

Jen, when I want to try new poses and feel like a superhero.

Ichih, when I want to feel peace, love and happiness.

Edith, when I want to feel like a class has been designed with me in my mind.

Todd, when I want to feel like I’m getting a massage.

Favourite thing about yoga:

Namaste yogis!

Happy, happy me!

I am happy today! Why, you ask? Lots of little things.

I just got back from an amazing, hot, kick your butt, crazy, Amber takes a minute to count to 10, core flow class. I was not sure I wanted to go, because I stayed late at work, I was tired, blah, blah, blah. But I got my butt there and rocked it! Well, ok, maybe I sat out airplane. I was dizzy. It’s kind of funny how I’ll get dizzy or thirsty or really need a break when it’s time to do airplane or standing splits. I’m always saying “I love balancing postures!” when what I really love is tree. Can’t we do more tree pose, people? Come on, it makes me happy!

This photo was not taken today, but it represents how I feel pretty accurately!

This is good, considering I this is how I felt last week.

Another thing that made me happy today was doing an art project with my students. Guess who the only one to spill paint was? Yes, that’s right. Me! It was ok, because the paint was red and so was my dress, but some of it went down my leg and the kids got all excited saying “It looks like blood!” I wonder if I should be worried about this.

This is one student’s “practice” painting. She’s six.

I’m also pretty pleased with myself, because today is the start of the second week of my no-spending challenge. So far, I haven’t bought anything that’s not on my list of essentials (food, rent, car, yoga) except sunblock. But really, who’s going to fault me for that? It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. I guess I usually buy a lot of crap I don’t need.

So there you have it. Proof that Mondays can be good!