Goldilocks does yoga

It’s not easy to find that perfect yoga class. When you’re a yoga lover, a lot of classes will count as great, because hey, you’re doing yoga and yoga is awesome and breathe in and breathe out and tree pose and plank pose and savasana.

But often, it’s just a little too hot in the hot room. Or not hot enough. Class is too hard for your energy level, or a little too slow. You’re tired, you’re wired or you’re distracted. The teacher is leading that pose. The one you dislike *cough dragon pose*. There’s music, and you want it to be quiet, or there’s no music and you want some to help you move.

You end up feeling like Goldilocks.

Tonight, I debated whether or not to go to yoga. It’s Friday, therefore I am tired. However, I was thinking of the moment I would get to step on my mat all day, and I couldn’t let go of it just because I was tired.

I made my way to Pure, my yoga home, for Sasha’s class. As soon as I took my first deep breath, I felt like Goldilocks when she finds the bed, the chair, the porridge, that is just right. This, I thought. This is what I live for.

Sasha is fantastic. The way she speaks, slowly but with energy, motivates me. She radiates joy and calmness, a wonderful combination, if you ask me. The classes she leads resemble my own practice more than any other teacher’s class I’ve done. This is the practice I would have done had I stayed home.

We did lots of pigeons, mixed in with our flows. My hips feel delicious right now. It’s been difficult to practice with an injury, and tonight, for the first time in almost two months, I felt like myself again. It felt like my body, moving the way I know it can, making me feel that moment of yoga bliss that’s been slightly out of my grasp as I struggled to modify my poses and let go of my ego as I heeled. I still felt some pulling and twinges, my muscles whispering not to push it too much, but it was the best practice I’ve had in a long time.

At the end of class, we rested in waterfall, with hips on blocks and feet up in the air. Then, a magical thing happened. Sasha took hold of my feet and massaged each one, squeezing out any remaning tensions and worries from my body. When I settled into savasana, I felt like I had just spent a day at the beach.

My whole summer was spent in a yoga bubble. I did my teacher training in July, and even though I injured myself in August, I was still doing yoga, because I was learning, breathing, thinking, discovering things about myself and just being. I was riding the yoga wave and it was blissfull.

Then, I went back to work, and while my yoga bubble didn’t burst, it certainly got smaller. I’m not one of those people who just has a job. My work is my purpose. I’m meant to be there with those kids every day, teaching and learning. I’m happy to go to work. I don’t count down the days to the weekend and get crabby on Sundays because I have to work the next day.

Being invested in my students and my work, my “real life” bubble gets bigger while my yoga bubble shrinks. I’m looking for balance. I haven’t quite found it yet, but I’m a work in progress. I’m trying to make my yoga bubble my life, because it’s so peaceful and happy in there. It doesn’t mean I want to quit my job, it means I want to bring my yoga with me, everywhere I go. Like I said, I’m working on it.

Thank you Sasha for the amazing class. I’ve missed this feeling and I’ve missed writing about yoga. I am one happy yogini.

do-more-of-what-makes-you-happy

Yoga for the body and soul

The yoga class I went to today was absolutely perfect in every way. That doesn’t mean it was easy, but it was exactly what I needed.

I had a long day (dressed as a Viking) and received some sad family news over the weekend. I am tired, because it’s the end of the school year, and that’s not an easy time for a teacher.

I’m not complaining, these are just facts. Another fact is that I don’t remember what my life was like before yoga. How did I relax? How did I center myself? How did I quiet my mind?

I am so grateful for this practice that brings me what I need. Today, it was an hour of perfection. Not perfect poses, but a practice that was good for my soul, my heart, my brain, my body.

just breathe

And, because I can’t tease you by saying I dressed up as a Viking without giving you a picture, here it is. A Viking in a purple dress. And yes, I know they did not have horns on their helmets!

024    026

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.

016

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.

421313_430021030430586_630749915_n

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!

018

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

Monday morning yoga

It’s Monday and I’m not at work. It’s March break, that week just before spring when teachers become human again, just in time to finish the school year.

I love my job and I adore my students, but a little break is a good thing. For me and for them. They deserve a teacher who’s well rested and patient. That’s what they’ll get. In one week. Until then, it’s all about me, me, me!

I wanted to go to a yoga class this morning, mostly because I normally can’t make it until late afternoon or evening. I woke up at 5:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I was all “Go back to sleep! There’s no work today!” It took a while, but I got back to sleep just in time to wake up again for yoga.

This is probably very bad, but I didn’t have breakfast before class. I didn’t have time and I didn’t want to eat in the car, because that could have disastrous consequences during class.

I always like to notice the differences in my practice, depending on the time of day I find myself in the hot room. Now, I’m not very flexible, but this morning everything felt tighter than ususal. Is this a morning thing? Normally, I’ve been walking around all day before I practice, so my muscles have warmed up. This is my theory.

It was a flow class and I enjoyed every minute of it. Part of it had to do with the fact that it was a great class, but also, it was knowing that I had the whole day stretched out in front of me, with nothing that I absolutely had to do.

During a child’s pose break, I was trying very hard to stay connected to my practice, because it’s so much harder to get back into it if you let your mind wander too much. However, I was hungry and I started planning what I would have for breakfast (a smoothie with tofu and raspberries). However, when I got home, I wanted oatmeal with apples and cinnamon.

Now, I’m enjoying my free Monday. Bliss.

13975_490408790996299_1801587479_n

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.

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?