Archive for November, 2009

Last week it happened. I missed not one, but two yoga days in a row during my 40 Day Challenge. Lucky for me, I can make them up by tacking them onto other days…which means I will have to do two classes on two different days (about three hours of yoga each day). Can one get sick of yoga?

I was on this fantastic roll, feeling good and like I was taking control of my health and shaping and moulding a new me. Then I let that new me drop. But after kicking myself over it, I started to think about the reasons I am doing this – health, exercise, flexibility, “me” time, decreasing stress levels and for sure bloody happiness.

Friends catching up in the rain.

I blame my first miss on one of my best friends in the world. She has been doing her Masters in Amsterdam (tough life right?) and she recently came back for her sister’s wedding. With huge family obligations taking up her visit home, I had to take whatever time slot I could get or risk not seeing her before she returned to the capital of sex and legal pot.

So we reserved our Wednesday evening for hours of chatter, drinking and eating. Unfortunately I had scheduled a dentist appointment for that morning, so AM yoga was also out. And really, that’s just life. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there just isn’t going to be enough time in the day.

In the end, I think I covered off all those reasons I am going to yoga, without going to yoga that day.

Health – I had my teeth cleaned. That’s healthy right?

Exercise – my friend and I walked all over downtown in the pouring rain so that she could ooh and aah over the ‘beautiful’ high-rises so full of architectural delight, that are missing from the A’daam skyline – her words, not mine ;).

Flexibility – I did some serious neck stretches in that dentist chair. They put TV’s on the roof for you to watch, but then they hover over you as they clean your teeth so you can’t see past them anyways. How much sense does that make?

“Me” time – I didn’t need to be alone to have ‘me’ time. This night was all about me and my girl!

Decreased stress levels – Believe me, we were babbling brooks of chatter, heightened by a half litre of Kettle Valley pinot. There was zero stress.

Happiness – If you could only have seen us skipping like little girls through the rainy streets of Vancouver on a Wednesday night, great big goofy smiles stretched from ear to ear…

I don’t want to decrease the importance of this 40 Day Yoga Challenge I am on, because through it, I am building the foundation for a new, healthy me. But that night it just didn’t compare to what I had lined up. And I knew I would be back.

…just not the next day either. I had to recover from my night out.

Stay tuned to find out if I ever make up those two days of yoga before the end of the challenge. Only 10 days left!


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This woman has heart disease.

When you think of heart health, what pops into your head? A stereotypical image of a middle-aged male sporting a belly? Well, ladies, you might be surprised to hear that you or I could be just as likely to develop heart disease. In fact, cardiovascular disease is an equal opportunity killer. It is Canada’s leading cause of death among women AND men alike.

Women typically rally against “female killers” like cancers of the breast, ovary or cervix. Runs, walks, fundraisers and pink, lavender and grey ribbons abound. These are all great causes and health issues that women should continue to support and be aware of, but would it hurt to add one more? It might actually hurt more if we don’t. Because many women still think of cardiovascular disease as a man’s disease and may not be aware of their own risk factors, the disease can go unnoticed until it’s too late.

As a 27-year-old female, 5’10” and around 135 pounds, I don’t exactly look like the poster child for heart disease, but I have been monitoring my cholesterol since I was about 15-years-old. In addition to my inflexible gene, I was also given the high-cholesterol gene. When I say I have been “monitoring” my cholesterol, all I mean is that every year or two I get a blood test, get some results and nod as the doc tells me I need to do something about it through exercise and healthy eating or I may be forced to look at medication options in the next five to ten years.

I nod in understanding and stop eating Turtles chocolate ice cream for a while. I picture red wine, as I drink it, flowing through my veins, cleaning them out. Red wine is good for your heart right?? *Sigh* I can’t keep up.

But, as my friends and I head towards or past 30, I am starting to consider my health more. A few years ago someone told me that the body you have at 30 is the body you have for life. I don’t know if this is entirely true or not, but what has stuck with me is the notion that as I get older, I do have to pay more attention to my health. I will really only have me to blame in the end…and those darn genes, of course.

So, next Saturday, November 28, I am heading to St. Paul’s Hospital for a free heart health forum and health fair being held specifically for WOMEN!

Women’s Heart Health Forum & Health Fair

Saturday, November 28, 2009
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (doors open at 9:00 a.m.)
Health fair: 11:30 – 1:30
New Lecture Theatre, Level 1
St. Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver

At the forum, leading cardiac experts from the Providence Heart + Lung Institute at St. Paul’s Hospital will be speaking on:

• The journey from symptoms to treatment
• Pregnancy & heart health
• Coping with the risk factors of heart disease: a woman’s perspective
• What is a woman to do? Preventing cardiovascular disease in women

If you are interested, you can read the bios ahead of time: http://www.heartandlung.ca/women-s-heart-health-forum-speakers/.

After the forum, you can have your risk factors assessed and speak with dietitians, exercise therapists, psychologists and other experts. I plan on grilling these people about simple changes I can make, what all the numbers actually mean on my cholesterol test results and if eating twenty kalamata olives in one sitting might be bad for me…

The forum is free to the public but because space is limited, organizers are asking women to RSVP to nordano@providencehealth.bc.ca or 604-806-9139.

Share this with the women you know and take care of your heart!

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The halfway point has come and gone. Only 14 days to go…but does anyone even know why forty is the number of choice in the Semperviva 40 Day Yoga Challenge? Why not 25 days of yoga, or 11, or 72? Figuring there must be more to the number forty than someone simply deciding that it had a good ring to it, I employed my good friend Google to get to the bottom of it.

To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.

~Arabic proverb

It seems that the number forty has several historic references. In ancient texts and the Bible, it is revered as the length of time required for enacting lasting change. Here is what I found:

Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. – Semperviva

In the Kundalini tradition, kriyas are often done for 40 days as it is believed that the 40 day time period is the minimum requirement for establishing a new routine. – Stanford.wellsphere.com

Forty days has historically been a significant time period in many world religions. In the Old Testament it rained for forty days and forty nights. In Christianity there are the forty days of Lent. Forty-day cycles are very important in the Sikh religion as well. Perhaps this is because your physical body renews all the cells in your bloodstream every forty days. For whatever reason, forty days has always been a mystical period of time. – http://manashchatterjee.vox.com/

The number 40 holds particular significance in the Bible and refers to a precise number, not just a long period of time. There are at least ten instances in the Old Testament and New Testament where 40 occurs, either in years or days, e.g. it rained for 40 days and 40 nights [during Noah’s flood], Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wandered 40 years, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and was seen on the earth for 40 days after His crucifixion. – Wikipedia

In modern Christian practice, Lent consists of the 40 days preceding Easter. The dead are usually mourned for forty days in Muslim cultures. Muhammad was forty years old when he first received the revelation delivered by the archangel Gabriel. The Quran says that a person is only fully grown when they reach the age of 40. – Wiktionary

Some non-spiritual references of the number 40 include (also taken from Wiki):

  • in the Saying “Life begins at forty”
  • in the expression “forty winks”, meaning a short sleep
  • the distance run in the 40 yard dash in American football scouting
  • the number of years of marriage as the ruby wedding anniversary
  • the code for direct dial international phone calls to Romania
  • in the song “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, the lyrics state that “For forty days and for forty nights / the law was on her side” in reference to the Genesis story of Noah.
  • The Rolling Stones CD “Forty Licks”
  • “40”, a 1983 song by U2 from their album War
  • “40′” is the title of a song by Franz Ferdinand
  • lifespan of fruit fly is approximately 40 days
  • many distilled alcoholic beverages (such as vodka) contain approximately 40 percent alcohol by volume
  • the number of thieves in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, from Thousand and One Nights

So there you have it. A brief history of the number 40.


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“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”                                           Ovid(43BCE-c.17CE), RomeChild's Pose

Just as I was feeling all fabulous and like a brand new gal, I went to class and hit the wall. I did one plank, moved into downward dog and turned into Gumby. My shoulders were sore and weak and felt like they wouldn’t make it through one breathe, let alone four or five. Never have I used the relaxing, restful Child’s Pose more than on this night.

Chatting with Semperviva instructor Callie Gray after the class, she asked about my shoulders, saying that it looked like I was having a rough time. We came to the agreement that it was probably a combination of being worn out from all this new activity and having my shoulders scrunched up by my ears from carrying a whole whack of heavy groceries home the night before and from working eight hours a day hunched over a computer.

Like many people, I sometimes find it difficult to listen to my body and respond to it; instead pushing it to keep up with everything and everyone around me. I like that yoga is about the personal journey and finding acceptance for our own practice and imperfections. In this particular class my body needed rest, and I listened.

“Resting between asanas allows you to become more receptive in your yoga as it gives time for both your body and your mind to process the effects, whether physical, mental or emotional, of each movement. Rest in Child’s Pose after postures you find challenging, observing the flow of your breath, in and out.” – taken from 1001 Pearls of Yoga Wisdom; Liz Lark.

Semperviva Instructor Callie Gray, had some great advice for anyone practicing yoga, specifically to those participating in the Forty Day Challenge:

“Remember to take home the idea that everyone can do yoga. It doesn’t Callie Grayhave to be a headstand. Know the accomplishment is the intention. We all know life throws its challenges. If you reach Day 16, Day 20 or Day 27 and that’s it, remember that reaching that point has been a step towards change. Hang on to that. We tend to look at the end goal, but the road is just as important.”


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I was searching on the web today for some yoga images that I could use in my blog and I found a few that I wanted to share. Laughter is the best medicine right?

yoga comic






yoga dog

yoga spoon




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Despite the lack of chatter on here the last few days, the challenge is still on (DAY 16). Still bending, still stretching and absolutely loving it. My girlfriend commented the other day that I am glowing…and I am pretty sure I am not preggers, so it must be the yoga.

 A Force of Energyjumping people

I am really digging my new lifestyle and how great it makes me feel. I like that I can see some toned definition in my mid-section, feel like I can walk on water after class and have loads of energy to boot.

One of my personal goals for the Semperviva 40 Day Yoga Challenge was to tone up my stomach area. If I could direct my love for ice cream and beer to certain body parts I would be sending it directly to my ass. I have been happily growing it for the past few years, but in this time, my tummy decided it wanted equal attention and started storing excess for winter hibernation. I have had this fear that in the process of toning my abs and back, my bum would be lost. But so far, so good. It is amazing how much posture helps with this. With all the focus in class on lengthening the spine and protecting the lower back, I am no longer slouching in my swivel chair at work – slouching can obviously give the appearance of a little belly because everything is relaxed and hanging out.

 The increase in energy right after class is a highlight. I come out rejuvenated, pumped and ready to take on the world. This has once or twice resulted in me heading right to the grocery store to buy up every fruit and vegetable in sight for lack of a better, immediate excuse for burning it off. Despite the feeling of instant energy though, I have noticed an overall burnout. This can probably be attributed to my insane work environment lately, but I wonder if this new daily physical exertion might require a few extra winks each night…


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Tonight will be my ninth yoga class in a row. My co-worker was asking me this morning how it is going, if I am noticing any changes physically or mentally. I joked that I am a little less irritated in the morning at having to structure my day around my fuchsia yoga mat, but joking aside, have I noticed any changes?

For starters, it has just become second nature to grab my yoga clothes and mat when I head to work in the morning and, although a bit premature, I am already contemplating whether or not I can/will carry out this routine beyond the intended 40 days.

I have noticed that my mind is happily taking a break during each class. I, like many folks, am a worrier. If I run out of things to ponder and mull over in my head, I find new things. Relax is a foreign word that my brain translates only on official vacation. The rest of the year is spent jamming as many things and thoughts into it as possible. With a personal motto of living life to the fullest, I do so with such vigor that I tend to think more about what is next, instead of what is now. That being said, one of my personal goals is to take the feeling of being ‘present’ out of the yoga studio and into my day-to-day life.

I am consciously eating less crap. Even during that time of the month where I typically flourish on chocolate ice cream and salt and vinegar chips (this is a remarkable feat just in itself). Last week I was invited to Dairy Queen for a treat, and I passed. I went to a scary movie and turned down popcorn, even though at the very least, it would have been useful to hide behind.

I am bending just a smidge more with every breath. I receivyogaed my father’s denim in the flexibility department. I don’t bend. At the beginning of class, I am the one bent over waving at my feet from a distance. The good news is though, that I am noticing a difference. With every exhale I do sink a little deeper and slowly, but surely, I will get there.


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