Thankfulness

Today is Thanksgivings. I have so much to be thankful for.

On Friday, I went to Montreal for a work conference. It was so-so, not worth getting up at 5 am. However, afterwards, six of us went shopping. We had a blast trying on clothes, finding things for each other, driving two hours there and back. We sang, laughed and acted like a bunch of little girls. I love days like this, be it with my work friends, my yoga friends, my forever friends or my new friends. I am thankful for my friends.

On Saturday, I went to a yoga class that was much too difficult for me, because of my ever-present glute injury and very low energy level. However, just before class started, the teacher asked us to think of three things that we were thankful for. The first thing that came to mind, no doubt because I was on my mat, was my ability to practice yoga. I may be temporarily injured, but I am still strong, healthy and free to practice whenever I want to. I am thankful for yoga.

In my family, we celebrate Thanksgivings on Sunday instead of Monday. It’s all about being together, enjoying each other’s company. In the middle of nowhere. That’s right. We celebrate Thanksgivings in a cabin in the woods with no electricty or running water. About 60 of us cram ourselves inside the small cabin, spilling out onto the porch and under a tent, to be thankful we are a family. This is not some weird Canadian thing. I don’t know any other family that does this. This is just us. I am thankful for my family.

This is the middle of nowhere.

This is the middle of nowhere.

Me and my momma. Everyday, I am more and more like her, for which I am thankful.

Me and my momma. Everyday, I am more and more like her, for which I am thankful.

I am thankful for a family full of kids.

I am thankful for a family full of kids.

I love fall.

I love fall.

Tree pose. In the forest. Get it?!

Tree pose. In the forest. Get it?!

Yoga with Elizabteh, one of my most favourite people ever.

Yoga with Elizabeth, one of my most favourite people ever.

The frog is like this.

The frog is like this.

Thnaskgiving dinner is about to happen.

Thnaskgiving dinner is about to happen.

So much to be thankful for. I am one very blessed girl. What are you thankful for?

You don’t take a photograph, you make it

I enjoy taking pictures. I’ve never called it photography, because I know there’s more to it than pointing and clicking. Sometimes, my snapshots look good, and usually, they capture the moment, which is what I’m after. Sometimes though, I know what I want the picture to look like, and I can’t do it. I can see the picture in my mind, but it doesn’t come out the way I want it to.

I’ve been wanting to learn how to take good pictures for a while now. It’s number 47 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. Writing this blog has made me want to take a photography class even more, since I don’t think a blog post is complete without photos. So I did it. I signed up for an 8 week photography class and the first one was tonight.

I’m not sure if I learned anything new tonight, because it was pretty basic stuff, but it was interesting. Oh, I did learn something. Out of the millions pf people who buy cameras, only about 4% will take a class to figure out how to use their camera properly.

Speaking of new cameras, I bought myself a treat. After Christmas, there were amazing, a-million-percent-off sales, and I got a new toy. It’s a Canon Rebel T3. I’m still not sure exactly what that means, but several people had the same one as me in the class tonight.

Isn’t it lovely?

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It has all kinds of fancy buttons and it can do pretty much anything, like stop time and levitate. Ok, so maybe not, but that’s what it feels like now, because I don’t know how it works.

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I guess it’s a good thing I’m taking a class.

I bought it a few weeks ago, and I didn’t want to wait until class started to learn how to use some of the fancy functions, so I went to see my cousin Annie, who is a photographer. She gave me a crash course and I tried to take pictures where the backround is blurry. It made sense when I was there. Now, well, I think I forgot part of it. Maybe I can go to my weekly class and also have private lessons.

This is my favourite photo taken with my new camera, so far.

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I also like this one. I didn’t take it. (Obviously. I’m in it.) Annie did. I love how the big kids are interested in the gum from my purse, while the little one is all about the wallet!

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I’m looking forward to playing with my new toy and sharing some lovely photos! My assignment for next week is to take a picture of a tree. Humm. I wonder if tree pose counts?

Moksha Yoga

Since I found my yoga home, I haven’t been going to other studios very much. Since I became a member at Pure, it doesn’t make much sense to pay another studio for classes when I have unlimited yoga at “home”.

However, Friday night, I went to a karma class with my new friend Emily at the Moksha studio. It was only six dollars, and the money was going to charity, so I was good with that.

I had never done a Moksha class. From what I read on the website, it’s a series of standing postures and then a floor series. It made me think of Bikram, but apparently, Moksha teachers are encouraged to put their own spin on things. I figured for six bucks, I had nothing to lose.

My first impression of the studio was not that great. It was a beautiful lobby, but we were greeted with “Last name?” No hello or anything. We were then asked if we had pre-registered online. We hadn’t and class was full, so we were put on a waiting list. I had no problem with this, since it was not their fault, however, they told us at exactly 7:30 that there was room for us. Class started at 7:30 so we made a mad dash to the changing room, dumped our stuff and tried to be discreet as we entered the hot room. It was the most crowded room I had ever seen. There was no room for us. Finally, the teacher found us spots, but it was the most stressful moment of my day.

My spot turned out to be right by the door. Class started in savasana. Try to relax when all you can imagine is someone walking in and smashing the door into your head. We did a supine twist and were told to cactus our arms since there was no way we were stretching out. I didn’t even have room for cactus arms. I looked like some sad, unwatered house plant.

When the standing series started, I was pleasantly surprised. We did a lot of poses I really enjoy, like tree and eagle. People seemed to really be struggling, but to be honest, the room did not feel that hot to me. The poses felt a little easier than normal, probably because I’m used to flowing between each pose. Obviously, poses like chair and standing splits weren’t a walk in the park, but I didn’t need any breaks.

We actually got a savasana in between the standing poses and the floor series. I wasn’t as worried about a possible door/head collision, but I was still thinking about it.

The floor series was ok. Some cobras, table where you reach back with one arm and hold on to the opposite foot, then some core stuff. More savasana, then the teacher told us to take all the time we needed before heading out. This made me laugh. I could just imagine myself not moving from my spot in front of the door, telling people “I’m not done being zen here. I’m taking the time I need. Please wait.”

I enjoyed the class, but I’m not sure I enjoyed the studio enough to go back. It’s ok, I have Pure, so I’m not yoga-homeless!

I don’t think I can, I know it!

Yesterday, my friend Dominique, who is participating in the same 30-day yoga challenge, asked me “How did you do a full 30 days of yoga last time? It’s only day 5 and day 30 seems so far away.” That’s a great question, and something I asked myself many, many times during my last challenge. I don’t have the perfect answer. I think it depends on a lot of things: why you’re doing it, how you manage your time, what you’re willing to let go of during the challenge (I vote for housework).

I realized I have an advantage here. I’ve done this before. I know I can do it! That’s not to say it’s going to be easy. Combining back to school with 30 days of yoga is not perfect timing. Then again, there is no perfect time. If you wait for everything to fall into place before making a change, you’ll never do anything.

One of the many things I love about this challenge is the e-mail I receive every morning. It’s got yoga options for home practice, nutrition tips and challenges and info about holistic healing. The first thing I do every morning is check my e-mails. It starts my day off right.

This morning, there was a little comic in the e-mail that really made me smile. I wanted to be on that top step.

Today was day 6 and I was headed to a power flow class with Jen. I told her I was a little tired and to take it easy on me and just have us do tree pose. I also whined to her and Amber about all the dragon and gecko pose stuff going in their studio. They didn’t seem too alarmed. Jen and I decided to take a picture before class, to avoid the sweaty yoga hair look.

Jen asked me if I wanted us to start on our fronts or our backs. I said on our backs because I really enjoy butterfly pose. I even know the sanskrit name, supta baddha konasana. I did have to google the spelling though.

I wasn’t really as tired as I thought, because class rocked! The intention I set for myself was to have fun with it, and I did! We did  tree pose, and lots of flowing. Then, we did dragon pose! That thing is following me around! I know it was part of the sequence we were doing and that Jen didn’t just throw it in there to mess with me, but still, yuck. The first thing she said to me after class was “Sorry!” It’s ok Jen, I forgive you.

One good thing did come out of this dragon catastrophy, however. We did a pose I’ve been calling flying crow, but from my googling, I’ve found might be called scissors or simply one-legged arm balance. I fell over many, many times, adding to the fun aspect of yoga. Then, I held it for about 2 seconds. Success! I had been working on this pose early in the summer, trying to do it every day. Maybe I’ll try that again.

This is not me. One day it will be.

After class I hung out with Jen until she had to teach her next class. That’s another thing I love: combining yoga with being social. I’m not going to be going out quite as much during this challenge, but it doesn’t mean I can’t spend time with friends. For some people, yoga is very personnal and quiet. For me, it’s about laughing and having a good time, among other things of course!

If you’re thinking about doing a yoga challenge, or any kind of challenge, tell yourself you can do it until you believe it. It works like magic! (But please, teacher me is asking you to spell correctly!)

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!

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.

Yoga withdrawal

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been to a yoga class? Well, actually, just a few hours. But before that? A week! One whole week. That’s like 6 months in dog years (or something). I’ve been fighting a cold and I’m still sniffling and coughing, but nothing could keep me away tonight. You see, I have been going through yoga withdrawal.

This is a very serious condition that happens when you go from doing yoga several times a week to not a all. There are certain signs to look out for.

1. You start doing yoga poses in random places.

– Tree pose while doing the dishes.

– Warrior 1 and 2 while standing at the copy machine.

– Dancer while hanging out in the park.

2. You become very impatient.

– At work.

– While driving.

– While watching random reality shows.

3. You feel like something is missing.

– That’s because something is missing. It’s called yoga.

So tonight, I decided I’d had enough. While my heart might have been in it for a hot flow class, there was no way my body would follow. I decided to go to a yin class. The best yin class ever, actually.

I picked up my friend Julie and I was so excited to be going to class that I could not stop smiling. Also, Julie and I were wearing the same top, which was not planned, but still fun.

When we got to the studio, I was still pretty hyper. I smiled and told everyone how excited I was to be there. Ichih, the teacher, told me she was excited that I was so excited. Happiness is definitely contagious.

The class was wonderful. It was exactly what I needed. It was yin, so no forcing or holding, but still challenging. A true yoga hug!

I think I used being sick as an excuse to be a little lazy. There were a few days where it would have been impossible for me to go class, but I think I might have felt better sooner if I had done more yoga. Also, I could have avoided the awful yoga withdrawal. Be careful, it could happen to you!

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!

Yoga challenge, last day!

I did it! I still can’t believe it. Yesterday was the last day of my 30 day yoga challenge. I did yoga every day for 30 days. That’s just over 35 hours of yoga.

Since it was our last day, Julie and I decided to do two classes. Last time we did two classes in one day, we took the day off and had a two hour break in between classes. This time, it was after work, back to back classes.

We were so excited before class, because on day one, this day seemed so far away! It seemed almost impossible, on some days.

Our first class of the day was powerflow with Amber, which was perfect, since our first class of the challenge was with her too! If you want to do a challenge like this, find a place where you are comfortable and get to know your teachers. It makes a huge difference. Get to know the other people who work at the studio too. Chances are, they’re pretty awesome!

Also, don’t wait for a good time. This was a terrible time for me to do a 30 day challenge, and for Julie as well. But if you wait for the perfect time, you’ll never do it. It’s better to try for 30 days and miss a few, than not to try at all.

At the end of savasana in Amber’s class, she mentionned that two girls had just completed a personnal 30 day challenge. That’s when it hit me. That’s us! We did it. We’re so cool! I was so excited at that moment, because I always did one day at a time, and now it was like reaching a finish line.

After that first class, we relaxed for a while. We also had a snack.

Then, we did a yin class. Since it was the last day of our challenge, I did dragon pose instead of sitting it out. I didn’t like it any more than usual.

The girls at the studio really are wonderful. They even had a gift for us, which was so nice of them! We got tops with the Pure Yoga Ottawa logo. I think we look very pleased with ourselves, our new tops, our whole experience.

I thought I had learned a lot during my first week of yoga, but I learned a lot more after a month. Here are some things you might learn if you do yoga every day for 30 days.

– You will learn to love downward dog. Also, your heels will come down more.

– You will realize you might never be one of those super-bendy people. You will be ok with this.

– You will become really motivated to one day do a headstand. It doesn’t matter if it takes a while.

– You will realize that even if you miss your favourite tv show, you will be happy.

– You will be proud of what you can do. Hello, tree.

– You will never be able to use “I don’t have time to go to class” as an excuse again.

– You will figure out how to balance work, yoga and a social life. You might have to give up on housework.

– You will learn the importance of the buddy system. I couldn’t have done it alone.

– You will discover what type of yoga you love best. Hot yoga all the way!

There were some days during the challenge where I was super motivated. There were some days where I only went to class because of the challenge. But that’s ok, the challenge got me there and that’s what counts. Some days were easy, some were hard, but I never thought of giving up. I’m glad I did it all the way. I feel more amazing right now that I have in a long time!