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Archive for October, 2009

Yesterday was a scramble. It was jam-packed, it was stressful and somewhere in the day I needed to find a 75-minute window to escape to my mat. I felt like a juggler with work, family and boyfriend all part of the act…not wanting to drop any of them. Somewhere, someone was timing me with a stopwatch, slicing away the minutes from my day.

I was not going to cave in. I was going to make time for my fifth day of yoga in a row. I was not going to lose the 40 Day Yoga Challenge to myself on day five. No way.

But how?

I woke up at 6:00am Thursday knowing that I had dinner snoozeplans with my family that evening and was expected to work late on a priority project, but had been at the U2 concert the night before and just couldn’t open my eyes, let alone get out of bed and go to early morning yoga. So, I closed them and hit snooze.

During the day I was feeling a bit bad about sleeping in. My co-workers all know that I am doing this challenge, so I was able sneak out of having to work late so that I could make the 5:45pm class. I convinced my boyfriend to meet me in front of the studio after the class and we caught a cab to my parents for dinner after asking them to push the meal back an hour.

At the Forty Day Yoga Challenge launch, Gloria (owner of Semperviva) talked about how important it was to have the support of those around us and how they would love us for this lifestyle change in the end.

I was worried that everyone would be annoyed at having to cater to my schedule, but when it came right down to it, they were all super accommodating and supportive.

Now I just need to fit laundry in somewhere…

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It was a dark, cold walk to yoga this morning. Being up while it is still dark, let alone being out of the house, is something I usually avoid at all costs. The only reason I attempted to bend before my morning coffee was because I am going to the U2 concert tonight, so an evening class is out of the question.

I am supposed to be at work between 8:30am and 9:00. I would rather come in closer to nine and work through lunch than come in at 8:30. I do all my hair washing and lunch prepping the evening before so that I can roll out of bed at 7:45 and make the bus from McDonald Street in Kitsilano to Davie Street downtown. I’m lucky for my short commute, I know.

So last night I set out my yoga clothes, pre-packed a work outfit and a U2 outfit and set my alarm for 6:00am. This left me ten to fifteen minutes for morning snuggles and half an hour for staggering around the house.

It really helps to have a supportive partner or person in your life to encourage and push you to do those things you say you want to do, but might conveniently forget to do when no one is looking. My partner jokingly tells me he will kick my ass if don’t get out of bed for my intended morning class or if I show up at home after work when he knows I shouldn’t be home from yoga until after 7:00pm. Needless to say, I think he is genuinely surprised that I:

a)      Haven’t missed a day yet; and

b)      Haven’t bitten his head off…yet.

The 7:00am class today at Semperviva was taught by Ingrid; soft spoken, yet firm. Perfect for a morning stretch. She guided the class through a great series of stretches to wake the body up and get the blood flowing.

By the time I arrived at work (8:45) I was unusually awake and focused; albeit super hungry. Despite eating breakfast after class, my stomach was making all sorts of noise by the time lunch rolled around. I think I am going to have to start packing some healthy snacks to keep up with this new routine!

I don’t think I am ever going to be in love with mornings, unless they begin close to noon, but I just might be able to learn to enjoy them enough to start my days with yoga. The classes are more spacious and it frees up my evenings!

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Yesterday was rough…in a good way. I awoke to find my abdominal muscles virtually useless. They were feeling the love burn from the day before. I tried to sit up, but my body wasn’t really responding. It was intensely sore and stiff. I almost resorted to sliding feet first out of bed onto the floor, but figured it would probably be more difficult getting to a standing position from way down there. Instead, I did the ole count to three and heaved my way to my feet.

Despite the pain, I kind of wanted to do a jig. A happy little it-hurts-but-I-am-going-to-be-top-notch-in-40-days kind of jig. But, I didn’t. Instead, I got ready for work and packed an extra bag of yoga clothes and grabbed my mat in preparation for class number two of Semperviva’s Forty Day Yoga Challenge straight after work.

I find that when I am engaging in good physical activity, I crave healthy snacks like grapefruit and Greek salad instead of the greasy, junky kind. It’s some kind of unconscious attempt by my body to preserve the benefits I have just reaped from my workout, to ensure that pushing myself to the limit, mentally and physically, wasn’t for nothing.

Typically, my breakfasts consist of a medium-sized cappuccino and…well, then there’s lunch. The last two days I have avoided the cappuccino at least until noon and dined on an early morning meal of bananas and smoked salmon. Strange combo yes, but I don’t enjoy standard breakfast foods. I am not sure if my increased energy is coming from the bananas or if it’s a mental trick, but I will accept either.

Day two’s class was an evening Hatha class taught by instructor Bernie. I have to admit, I liked his style. Every time I felt ready to give up and collapse onto my mat he would crack a joke about alligators and their tough stomach muscles or challenge the class to do the pose with no feet, when clearly no other body parts were touching the ground, making this humanly impossible…unless some of the students could levitate. His encouragement, chides and tales succeeded in distracting from negative thoughts and I found myself smiling through most of the class.

I also liked the class concentration on the core. The one area I would most like to work on is my middle. I am genetically quite lean and have worked to put some meat on my bones, but in the past year or two I have gone from flat stomach to the beginnings of a female beer belly. Okay, I might be exaggerating…or not.

I can blame some of the effect on bad posture, a lack of cardio and developing terrible eating and drinking habits since finishing university. Needless to say, my mid-section is what I most want to change over the next 38 days. If yesterday’s class is any indication of a regular night with Bernie, I will be back.

Tonight’s class: Either the 5:30pm Hatha class at the Sun studio or the 5:45 Hatha class at the Sky studio.

Tomorrow’s challenge: getting up and going to a 7AM class before work. The evening is not an option as I have tickets to see U2.

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I haven’t been to a yoga class probably since last winter. My exercise routine has consisted of indoor or beach volleyball once a week and the occasional bike ride. This fall my regular volleyball team fell apart, so I have been spending more time on the couch. When I saw an ad for Semperviva’s Forty Day Yoga Challenge I knew it was what I needed – an ass-kicking back into shape.40 Day Yoga Challenge

According to the Semperviva site: “Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. The Semperviva Challenge is a great way to strengthen the body, unburden the mind, and begin a daily commitment to yourself.”

My schedule is pretty hectic and I am a pretty spontaneous gal, so I really wasn’t sure how I would actually fit a yoga class in each day…I mean that is why I have never been good at sticking with yoga in the first place. Something always came up and my excuse to myself was that the class times weren’t convenient for me, which of course, is just lame.

I woke up the morning of the 40 Day Yoga Challenge launch a little hung-over and having slept in longer than I had planned. I arrived at Semperviva in yoga clothes (you never know some mornings), equipped with my mat. No water.

I pulled up a mat near the back of the room, knowing full well this session would be a challenge, in part, due to my long break away from yoga combined with a lack of self control the night before.

There must have been at least sixty people in the room. The mostly female crowd covered the full spectrum of body shapes, sizes and ages. It was nice to see. I have been to classes at other yoga centres where I felt like the sole purpose of the class was to one-up the next gal’s cutesy outfit or ensure maximum cleavage to catch the instructor’s eye…which, sadly seemed successful.

Thankfully, this class felt comfortable, if not for all the fabulous smiles beaming around the room. There was a buzz of excitement, anticipation and anxiousness.

The class was set-up as a quadruple taster of yin, hatha, power and kundalini styles of yoga as an introduction to those styles taught at Semperviva, with each 15-minute portion of the class taught by a different instructor. I had done hatha and power classes before, so I was pretty curious to experience the other two.

Yin was a nice slow warm-up, with each asana (pose) being held for several minutes in length – which by the way, might sound easy because it is slow, but can seriously make your limbs start to shake.

The Kundalini part of the class was like a ray of sunshine. More like a combination of yoga, dance and aerobics, it was fast-paced and supported by some really good beats to inspire the body to move. A few of the people in the class were obvious fans of Kundalini and didn’t hesitate to grin and encourage those around them to feel the movement and let go.

I have to admit, there was a point where my dehydrated body almost succumbed to this ass-kicking…to the point where I found myself mapping out an exit route (in between har’s and hari’s) to the washroom in the event that I needed to go die somewhere privately. But, I turned my brain off and danced with my rubbery arms and legs and got through it.

On the way out of the class, it was great to overhear people trading names and phone numbers as instant 40 Day Challenge support groups were formed. I am looking forward to making some friends along the way…and taking my first full Kundalini class this Friday!

Goals for this week, will be to devise a daily yoga schedule that I can manage and avoid the Dairy Queen on the way home.

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Swine FluLike many people, I am sick of hearing the words H1N1, Swine Flu, Pigdemic, Hamthrax and so forth.

Is it really all its cracked up to be? If we all start kissing pigs will the world come to an end? It’s just the flu right?

My mom was sick for weeks in the summer and swore she had swine flu. I didn’t believe her. Having studied communications in university I am sceptical of information based on the six o’clock news.

To me, it felt like the whole thing was just a big fad that would be out of style by the time fall fashions arrived in shops.

Then, I woke up one morning in the darkness that is 7AM in October, to find an elephant sitting on my chest. No, not really, but it sure felt like it. No other symptoms, other than feeling like someone had either sat on our shrunk my lungs while I was sleeping.

I dragged myself into work and puttered around until mid-afternoon, before going home and climbing into bed. The next two and a half days were filled with coughing and a raging fever that resulted in me either being uncomfortably cold under five blankets, despite burning skin, or sweating out every last drop of moisture in my body. It was awesome.

As a result of the fever, my body hurt, so much so that I would rather stay in bed than drag myself 20 feet to the couch to watch good daytime television.

 Lucky for me Thanksgiving was in the middle of this, so I didn’t have to worry too much about the work I was missing. I did finally drag myself into the doctor, only to have him nod and tell me it was most likely H1N1, but I was looking and sounding pretty good and could go back to work the next day. Helpful, I know. I kind of thought they might be handing out t-shirts saying “I survived swine flu” with an image of a gal locking lips with a cute little piglet, but alas, no shirt. So, I went home and enjoyed my last day off work.

But more seriously, there seems to be a fair bit of public confusion as to what to do about this swine flu – shots or no shots, in one arm or two, old people or young people?

There was a great piece in the Globe and Mail this past week by Andre Picard, as he attempts to clear up the ‘conflusion’: Reader questions on H1N1 answered.

Other great sources of information include:

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority

BC Centre for Disease Control

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I can’t afford to go see the Dalai Lama when he is in town. I understand that tickets cost a lot because they go towards a good thing, so I try to be understanding, but it bums me out a little.

 Dalai Lama visits Canada.On the way home from Word on the Street at the Vancouver Public Library recently, I was chilling on the 22 up Cornwall when one of those important-person-convoys drove past the bus – sirens on and lights flashing.

As I turned to look out the back window of the bus, the woman behind me shrieked.

“That was the Dalai Lama.”

My head whipped back around, almost coming off, but the moving tinted window was just a bit too far away to make out anyone inside.

Damn. I was seriously tempted to jump off the bus and run down the street after the car.

“You really saw him?” I asked.

“The back of his head…and his little outfit.”

Now, I have never understood how people get all crazy and weepy when they see a Hollywood celebrity, but at this moment I almost wept at ALMOST seeing the back of the Dalai Lama’s head.

I am not a religious person, and he is not a god. He is just a simple man. Albeit one who could really teach the world a thing or two. Not about spirituality, not about the afterlife, but about compassion and forgiveness and what it means to be human.

I catch myself being angry at the lack of global support for Tibet, at the hypocrisy of our world leaders and the backwards, yet powerful ideal that is capitalism.

But anger is not productive. It is not healthy. And it sure won’t fix the wrongs of the world.

So I try to learn from him – the Dalai Lama.

Whose honesty and forgiveness make me weep.

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Whistler Readers and Writers FestivalI recently attended the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival. With a full range of workshops to choose from, it seemed like a good expense. Although, having to be there by 8am on a Saturday morning was less than ideal.

So my friend and I (both aspiring writers) agreed to meet at 6am on a dark street corner where we would hopefully find a co-op car to drive up the Sea-to-Sky. Thankfully she was organized because I showed up to a lovely warm, bright orange Toyota Yaris a few minutes late, minus the coffee, with sopping wet hair.  

Already a bit nervous at the fact that my dear English friend would not only be driving the route to Whistler for the first time, but had hardly ever driven on our side of the road, I buckled up and braced myself for a wild ride.

We got stuck behind what must have been an early morning seniors Porsche driving club just outside of Squamish, but thankfully they turned off for their Tim Horton’s and we cruised the rest of the way to Creekside in Whistler.

For $25 a session, the workshop schedule covered everything from Characters in Action to How to Write a One-Page Screenplay to Trimming the Fat.

My first session on pitching to magazines in a cold economic climate was useful in explaining how to get the most from one article by re-writing it, re-formatting it and re-printing it in different types of publications. The instructor also covered supporting materials for online publishing, such as the podcast, slide shows, video clips, sound bites and so forth. The one point that stood out in my mind was the necessity for writers to have a blog to not only provide a link to potential editors for showcasing sample work, but for the ongoing download of thoughts, stories and other creative dabblings. It was something that had already been on my radar, but after this session, it went to the top of my list.

Hence, this blog.

My other noteworthy session was on turning ideas into children’s television/cartoon scripts. Already working on a children’s adventure story with an environmental conservation type theme, I was looking forward to presenting my idea. I didn’t have to worry about getting an opportunity to speak directly to the instructor, as there was only one other writer in the session. The three of us spent the afternoon sitting around a table chatting about the ins and outs of writing scripts, finding agents, and the tight-knit community that can either help you along or put a wrench in your plans if you don’t play nice. I came out of the session with the personal email address of the instructor to send a script to once I have it ready for outside eyes, so she can help get it to where it needs to go.

That alone was worth the $25.

Don’t miss the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival next year: http://www.theviciouscircle.ca/retreat/index.php

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