Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 13 - Friday night and I'm drained

I am tired. Really tired. It's been a long day. I started teaching at 9:30 this morning and finished at 8:30pm. I was all over the place today, teaching and running around from meeting to meeting, and now, I'm so exhausted I don't even know what to write about. I don't like how I leaving the blog until late, because I don't want to yammer on about how tired I am all the time, but I had no choice but to wait until I got home tonight to use Craig's computer, because mine is locked in an office that I won't have access to until tomorrow.

I know what you're thinking: "Boo hoo, she's tired. Wait until day 87." I hear you. It can't be that much fun to read all about how tired I am for days on end. I am still trying to figure out how to fit everything into my already busy life. I also need to figure out how to sleep more, because regardless of how late I go to bed I still wake up around 6am. I think my friend Ron is right, I need a campaign manager to help me organize and stay on top of things, so if you know anyone awesome who would interested, tell them to be in touch.

Ok, whining aside, I had another yogasm in practice this morning. It was great, and I realized that having great music while practicing really does it for me. I love to listen to unconventional music, because 'sounds-of-the-whales and rainforest' don't really do it for me. I like all kinds of stuff, just don't give me that soft, "relaxing" elevator crap, please. I need something with full power and depth. I'll have to post my current favourite playlists for you one of these days. In the mean time, I'd love to hear some of your suggestions. Please hit me back with ideas.

Today, I did 24 sun sals with my class, 54 with Bossa outside by the water, which was really windy and cold. My last four of my 108 today were finished on the reception floor of my studio this evening.

That's it for now. Bon soir mes amis.

Here's the photo of the day taken by a self timer:

Sun Salutation Recipe for Day 13 is the Ashtanga Yoga Surya Namaskar B. Here's the video (no sound):

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 12 - Ecstasy in 3.5 Hour Group Practice

This evening I had a moment of pure ecstacy, as in rapturous delight, during my first community 108 practice marking my 12th day of practice. I assure you no drugs were consumed. It was just a straight up yogasmic experience. The Urban Dictionary doesn't define the term 'yogasm' properly nor accurately, so I'll just explain it my way. A yogasm is intense euphoric pleasure that can sometimes overcome you in the middle of a practice. It's an eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head, moan-worthy feeling, whereby my body suddenly relaxes all of its tension, movement becomes fluid and effortless, I am free and I am wildly sensitive everywhere. I guess this is akin to a 'runner's high.' It often happens to me 2/3 of the way though an long and challenging practice, which is why I really like do the whole 108 at one time. Tonight, it hit me in the middle of our last set of 36, and it was amazing.

Hosted at the Anaami Studio on St Joesph, we were 11 people this evening including Craig, who did the whole practice. It was a good group, but I don't think I raised as much money for the CNIB as I hoped, although I haven't counted it yet so I really shouldn't say. The practice took a lot longer then I intended. I originally booked two hours for the practice, but it went closer to 3.5 hours. I guess because there was a variety of different levels in the class, and so, the pace was much slower.

We started with breathing exercises and then I asked the group to write out nine different intentions to correspond to the nine sets of 12 sun salutations in the 108. Each intention had to begin with the words, "I Am." For example, "I am alive, I am free, I am happy, I am blissful," etc. I instructed them to keep their awareness one their affirmation for the duration of each set, and to allow each of their postures to express this 'I Am' through their positioning, facial expression and emotions. This makes the practice more intense and more personal, kind of like a prayer. Mine were: I am here, I am at peace, I am happy, I am blissful, I am shining, I am free, I am inspired, I am at ease, I am moving at Godspeed.

My next 108 group practice is on Friday May 14 at the Crudessence Loft. More on that later. I am exhausted and my eyes are closing. I could fall asleep on my keyboard, so good night for now...

The Surya Namaskar Recipe for today, day 12, is the Utkatasana Salute (or Power Pose Salute). * This is another half-salutation so two of these equals one full sun salutation.

1- Begin in Mountain pose, big toes touching, heels slightly apart. INHALE, do nothing.
2- EXHALE bend the knees, lower the hips and touch finger tips to the floor.
3- Keeping the knees bent, INHALE raise the arms to shoulder height or higher. (Shoulders stay down, neck long.)
4- This is Utkatasana, the powerful pose or fierce pose. Hold for three breaths. Make sure you sit back like you are sitting in a chair and that can see your toes. Lift lower abdomen.
5- On the next EXHALATION, fold forward straightening your legs, but keeping your knees unlocked.
6- INHALE, lengthen your spine.
7- EXHALE, forward bend.
8- Two breaths.
9- Then, bending your knees to sit back into utkatasana again, INHALE raise your arms.
10- EXHALE, stand tall and bring the hands down in front of your heart.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 11 - Maybe Hell froze over, making it snow and allowing the Habs to win

The Montreal Canadians beat 2-1 Washington in game seven. Can you believe it? This city is going bonkers. I didn't see the game, as I was teaching, but Craig sent me the score half way through class and then as soon as my students began rolling up their mats, the bar down the street erupted in cheers and whistles. Cars were honking. That's when I knew Craig wouldn't be shaving his playoff beard tonight as promised.

Good for them. Despite a crappy season, this shows they still have a little fight left in them.

I'm not going to pretend I'm a super knowledgeable hockey fan, but with living in Montreal, I can't help but get sucked into the hype during the playoffs, especially when it's this exciting. Craig says that those in the know explain that the snow yesterday proved Hell really did freeze over so that our eighth place team was able to beat the best team in the league.

I love this city. We are so temperamental. There is no room for middle ground. Example: either the Montreal Canadians are worshiped or spat on, and we are addicted to this roller coaster of emotion. Our fiery culture is undoubtedly connected to our Francophone roots. I may be Anglo, but I enjoy speaking French and English simultaneously and I am a true Quebecer, born and raised. I really appreciate the French Canadian flavour of my native land. I think it make us super unique.

This evening my class was split: four Francos and four Anglos, so I flip-flopped from English to French, and as I was teaching, I thought how cool it is to be able to communicate in two languages. I admit, I am more comfortable speaking English, but I have great pleasure speaking French. Plus, I find that their are many perfect words in French that don't translate in English and vice versa.

Unfortunately, I don't write as well in French as in English. But tonight, my friends, our Surya Namaskar video it is narrated EN FRANÇAIS PAR MOI and features my student and in-studio translator, Nathalie. (Nathalie's husband, Real, is the cameraman.)

Sun Salutation Recipe: Day 11 - Ashtanga Yoga Surya Namaskar A

Oh and FYI, I finished sun salutation number 108 three minutes before midnight. I waited until I got home from the studio to do the last 24, because Brendan, who is still in town, said he wanted to accompany me. But alas, Brendan was in engrossed in computer work when I walked in and declined the practice, pointing out that the last time he did yoga it snowed a day later... Nevertheless, I completed my set, moaning and groaning, in the kitchen.

PS... I think it's important to point out the ecological progress when we see it, so here's a photo I took in the Ikea parking lot this morning.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Papaya Lime Avocado Smoothie Recipe

(good for the tummy & digestion)

1/2 a ripe papaya (it should be soft, but not squishy)
1 tsp papaya seeds
1/2 an avocado
Juice of 1/2 a lime

2/3 cup of water

1 tsp of grated ginger (optional)

1 tbsp of agave nectar or honey to sweeten (optional)
* You can also add a scoop of Vega Health Optimizer for protein and fiber-- natural or vanilla flavour works best.

Directions: Put everything in the blender, and blend it until smooth and creamy. Drink slowly and enjoy.

Day 10 - From Spring to Winter, what a difference a day makes...

Poor Mother Nature. She's been so abused and we've driven her mad. Yesterday, I was rejoicing the coming of spring and today, we, Montrealers woke up to a full on snow storm that lasted all day. It's now about 6:30 pm and the ground is covered with wet, slushy snow. I guess this means all those beautiful flowers I photographed yesterday will die. What a shame.

In concert with the weather, I'm feeling cold, tired and a little all over the place. I had an exam this morning in my Ayurveda course, which I could have been better prepared for, and my guts have been feeling uneasy since last night. But, much to my lethargy, I invented a new tummy taming smoothie this morning (I'll post the recipe next) and managed to do 96 sun salutations upon returning home from school.

I find on days like today, the hardest part is starting the practice and figuring out what to do, but once I find my flow, everything is good. After dragging myself through the first 36, I decided to do the whole Ashtanga standing series within the surya namaskar sequence, which allowed me to ground myself and focus. I finished with headstand, shoulderstand and backbends, and a much needed savasana relaxation, which I felt I could have enjoyed for 108 days, maybe years. In fact, perhaps after 108 days of sun salutations, I will need 108 days of savasana... I digress. I have 12 left and I'm saving them for after dinner, not because I'm lazy, but because I find they help me digest.

Despite my current state of fatigue, I am pleased that this 108 project is gathering momentum and I feel happy. Tonight, for the first time in a while, I'm staying home to relax and enjoy some one on one time with Craig. We're going to have vegetable soup and authentic perogies from the Polish bakery on St Viateur. We may even watch a movie and be in bed before midnight. This may not seem too exciting, but believe me, right now, I couldn't have better plans.

Today's Surya Namaskar Recipe is generally practiced after the sivananda salutation as a pre-cursor to the Ashtanga Sun Salutation A.

The Lunge Salute
1- Start in Tadasana, the mountain pose.
2- Press down through your legs, INHALE, raise your arms overhead and look up at thumbs. Shoulders down, long neck.
3- Pause. Feel a dynamic pull between the earth and the sky.
4- Then, without locking the knees, EXHALE, fold up, over your stable legs into Uttanasana, standing forward bend.
5- INHALE, come up halfway and lengthen the spine.
6- EXHALE, bend the knees and step the LEFT leg back into a straight leg lunge.
7- Hold the pose for three breaths
8- Details of the pose: Finger tips can rest on the floor or onto blocks, or hands can rest on the front thigh. Centre the LEFT knee directly over the ankle. Extend from the heel to the crown of the head.
9- After three to five breaths, EXHALE, hands to the ground.
10- Step the LEFT leg back into plank pose for a couple of breaths. Support your lower back, by lifting the lower belly in and up toward the kidneys, located in your mid-back.
11- EXHALE, bring the knees to the floor and slowly, pulling the elbows into the ribs, lower the torso to the floor. This movement is called Chatarunga Dandasana or four limbed staff pose.
12- INHALE, sphinx, cobra pose or upward dog. Legs reach back,
open the heart and gaze forwards with a long neck.
13- After one or two breaths, EXHALE, slowly tuck the toes under and transition back into downdog.
14- INHALE lengthen your spine from the crown of the head to your tailbone.
15- EXHALE, lower your knees to the floor.
16- INHALE, step your LEFT foot forward between the hands.
17- EXHALE, tuck the RIGHT toes under and straighten the back leg.
18- INHALE come up onto the fingertips and evenly extend the neck.
19- Hold the lunge for a couple of breaths, then EXHALE, hands to the floor.
20- INHALE, take a giant step forward and lengthen the spine.
21- EXHALE, fold over stable legs.
22- Keeping a small bend in the knees, INHALE rise up to standing and stretch the arms overhead.
23- EXHALE, lower hands down the centre of your body.

*NOTE: When I do this sequence in the 108 practice, I break it in two separate
sun salutations: Right foot forward first, then step forward from downward dog to the top of the mat, and the second time with left foot forward.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 9 - Time to chill, talk about Studio 54 & observe the tulips

It might be Monday, but after such a busy weekend, it is time to take it easy and appreciate spring. The sun is shining and so I decided to walk over the mountain into the city for my first class. Downtown is about a 45 min walk from my house, and it's so beautiful to walk along the paths of Mount Royal. I felt like I was in the forest in the country. Very relaxing.

My inspirational 83-year-old student Max likes it when I do yoga with him, so he can see what I'm doing. We easily completed 27 sun salutations together while talking about his heyday frequenting Studio 54 in New York. Max is a holocaust survivor and the former owner of a big fashion house that is now operated by his daughter. He is incredibly active and lives in a large elaborate apartment with a painted living room floor, bronze statues in every room and furniture from his travels around the world. I enjoy talking to him about art, food, music and the history of Poland and the Jews. My mom is Polish and I speak a little Polish, so Max, being born there, and I often stop in the middle of a sun salutation or posture to try and remember what the Polish word is for whatever we are referencing at the time. Today we were stuck on how to translate 'sleeve.'

I took a leisurely stroll home, pausing several times to capture the beauty of spring flowers with my digital camera, which I am still learning how to operate. I love walking, especially by myself. I call it yoga walking: Breathing deeply, while observing the sun's warmth on my face, the songs of the birds above, and the oily texture of the young maple leaves. Soon all the trees will be fully covered in foliage, so everyday I am watching and appreciating their grow process. Today's photos are of the flowers and buds that caught my attention this morning.

This is a photo of Bossa & I practicing on the water at the end of Ste Anne St in Pointe Claire just a block down from my studio.

Surya Namaskar Recipe - Day 9: The Sivananda Salute to the Sun


And a recipe for a smoothie I made for breakfast using the Vega Health Optimizer:

Banana Mango Vanilla Chai Smoothie
1 peeled banana
1 mango chopped (can be frozen)
1 - 1.5 cup of almond milk (can use rice milk too)
2 scoops of Vanilla Chai Vega Health Optimizer (vegan protein powder + greens + omega fats + fiber + probiotics)

Directions: Put it all in the blender and press 'ON.' Press the 'OFF' button when it's smooth and enjoy in a tall glass. (Makes two servings.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 8 - Yoga with author Brendan Brazier

Thank god, my friend Brendan popped into town and is staying with us for a few days. I need some guidance on how to space my practices and what to eat when, because, although I still weigh the same 125 pounds, my body is shrinking and several people have noted that I'm looking a bit skeletal these. It is certainly not my intention to waste away over the next few months.

Brendan Brazier is in Montreal on his book tour. He is the author of two best selling books, The Thrive Diet and Thrive Fitness, and the formulator of a vegan line of whole food products called Vega. Brendan is also a former professional Ironman Triathlete, so he is well versed in training and over training. We met a few years ago when Vega was first becoming established and the company sponsored my first yoga video. We became friends and in 2008, we toured Canada together with David Suzuki and Stephen Lewis as part of the Students for Sustainability environmental speaking tour. (Want to see a link about this?)

Brendan's advice to me is to continue having my Vega smoothies in the morning and to have another after I practice to re-nourish and re-build the body. This second smoothie should contain half a serving of Vega Health Optimizer (vegan protein + omega fats + probiotics + greens) and a full serving of the new Vega Sport Performance Protein, which means I would be getting 33 g of easily digestible, alkaline protein in one shake. He says the Sport Protein is designed for endurance athletes, because it contains glutamine, an amino acid that helps reduce healing time between workouts and prevents muscle atrophy due to over exercising. Wikipedia says that glutamine is found beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, wheat, cabbage, beets, beans, spinach, and parsley, but I don't eat meat or dairy and running around town with spinach and beets in my pocket isn't convenient. So, despite the lurid taste of this Sport Protein, I drink mixed with water or almond milk, or blend it with fruit. In fact, I should really have a smoothie now instead of the fresh St Viateur bagel sitting in front of me offering me nothing but two minutes of tasty, glutenous, white flour goodness.

It's now 7 pm. I have to close, because we are having people over for vegan feast, and I still have 36 sun salutations left. (I did 72 in the park this afternoon and Brendan joined me for 27 of them.) Today's Surya Namaskar Recipe is designed specially for Brendan, runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes. It's also good for people who sitting a lot, because the lunges target the hip flexors (groin) and psoas muscle. This is actually a variation of the sivananda sun salutation, but I'll this The Brendan Brazier Salute.

(Note: the photo above, taken by Craig, shows me stretching Brendan's heels to the ground in downward dog. If you are a runner, find a friend who is willing to do this adjustment on you, because it's amazing for stretching the calves and ankles.)

Here's a photo of Brendan (left) and Craig, the love of my life and my personal photographer. :) They were hanging out talking about cameras and software as I continued my second set of 36.

My casual interview with Brendan about his commitment to yoga:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Video of The Plank Salute with Mary Ann (day 6)

This video features Mary Ann Enthoven, my wonderful student of six years and soon graduate of my teaching apprenticeship program! Her 108 project is to do 36 sun salutations for 108 days. She wrote this note:

This is a commitment I make to myself, to me as
a future yoga teacher!

Why? Because I am me, and I love a challenge!
Yasmin is going for it, I can do that too!

Why 36 and not 108? 108 was the idea, but I knew I would not be capable of taking that time every day. So 54 it was going to be, but even 54 the first day seemed a lot.

SOoooo, a third = 36, seemed challenging enough, but also a sustainable number to me!
• Day 1 April 18th 2010; 36 sun salutations during Karma yoga.
• Day 2 April 19; 9 SS at 6 am, 27 during Core Vinyassa class.
• Day 3 April 20: 18 SS at 6 am, 18 at 6 pm
• Day 4 April 21: 18 SS at 6 am, 18 at 9,45 pm
• Day 5 April 22: 27 SS at 7,20 am, 9 at 8 pm
I am still figuring out how to best plan this journey and how to incorporate my practice into the rest of the day, especially in the morning ; my sun salutations, my walk in the woods with my friend Khéops, my meditation and my day...
This was a nice practice; I am starting to really get into it. It is starting to feel like me.
I am looking to go deeper in my daily personal practice. My goal for these 108 days is to focus * either on one area of my body, (back bends, hips, chest, balancing, lotus...) for 5 to 6 sessions in order to really improve my flexibility in certain areas of my body. * Either on one posture.
Day 5: Focus on hip openers: Goal Lotus pose
• Day 6 April 23: 9 SS at 7 am, 27 at 9.30 am during Core Vinyassa class.

Day 7 - A great day, with a dash of relationship drama

Today was great. It was beautiful outside and I did everything I wanted to do-- practice, eat a big salad, see friends, and be outside. There is just one thing left, which I'll get to later...

I had three great practices and finished the whole 108 by 4pm, which is rare for me. I did 27 sun salutations with Petr, the retired hockey player. who says he's shoulder has been feeling better, and 27 with a plastic surgeon, whose name I'm not sure if I'm allowed to use yet. (I have to say, I really like working with medical professionals, because they can answer all my anatomy questions.)

Lunch was at home with my boyfriend Craig and friend/new admin girl Tara. I made an a fennel, watercress, and pomegranate salad and
I really enjoyed sitting for a meal, which is also rather rare for me, as I usually eat on the go. (Not a good habit, I know.) The salad turned out really well, so I included the recipe is below.

After lunch, I finished the last 54 in the park my good friend Julian. (He is in my video today and in the photos above-- the photos are getting better, don't you think?) Julian and I have been practicing together for years. After hanging out in the sun eating cookies and catching up, we powered through the last half of my set by doing 24 variations of surya namaskar A (basic sun salutation from the traditional ashtanga series), 12 surya namaskar B (from ashtanga), 12 sun salutations with standing postures also from ashtanga, and we shot the video during the last six, which Craig joined us for and filmed.

I am now sitting at my kitchen table, the dinner is in the oven (bio-egg veggie quiche). It's so good to be home. Because I am often teaching at night, I don't usually get to have a proper dinner and I forget how nice it is to have a free evening to make food and eat at a table. Craig is in his office, editing photos. (He is a photographer.) I think he is annoyed with me. I haven't been around much this week, and when I am home and we are together, I have been preoccupied with working my next practice, post or video. Earlier, he stated: "This blog and this 108 thing, will only be around for three and half months, so I hope you'll be around when it's over." But, what he really meant was he hopes "we" will survive this project. Although he has been nothing but supportive of me and my venture, I know he is feeling a little pushed aside. We haven't spent much time together this week I know I haven't been fair to him, so I'll have to make some adjustments. And I need to get to bed earlier tonight for the good of my health and the health of my relationship.

On that note, here's the video of today's Surya Namaskar Recipe: The Chatarunga Push-up Salute. (Below is the recipe for my fancy fennel, watercress & pomegranate salad.)

RECIPE: Fennel, Watercress & Pomegranate Salad
As much mixed greens as you'd like
A good sized handful of watercress leaves (don't use the stems, they are too bitter)
A bunch of chopped fresh fennel root
Half a zucchini (grated)
Some chopped or grated carrots
Half-full pomegranate's worth of seeds
Sheep's feta (optional)

Dressing: Antioxidant Vega oil (blend of hemp & other great oils), Bragg's Seasoning, Balsamic vinegar

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 6 - First official community practice April 29!

Happy (belated) Earth Day, by the way. I'm sorry if I offended anyone for not making a big deal about it yesterday. Truthfully, it is a nice time to celebrate our lovely planet, but really this is something that last 365 days a year in my world. Anyway, it's past midnight here and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open, so I will keep this entry brief.

My shoulder was feeling much much better this morning, almost perfect. However, as the day progressed it started feeling tender again. I definitely need a few more days of careful obs
ervation and modifications, which I've been doing, but perhaps with not enough attention. I've noticed how important it is to keep the elbows pined to the ribs when lowering in chaturanga and to lower no deeper that the height of the elbows. In downward dog, it's also imperative to keep the ears in line with the upper arm bones, as opposed to dropping the head toward the floor, which I have the tendency to do. Announcement, announcement! Next Thursday evening, April 29 (6:30 - 8:30pm) is my first community 108 practice! I hope some of you can make it. Here are the details and a copy of the poster:
Join me in practice on the 12th day of 108:
April 29, 2010
6:30 – 8:30 pm
79 St-Joseph O., Montréal, QC
Please reserve with Joyce 514.802.0311

This guided practice will begin with breathing exercises and end with relaxation. All levels are welcome—beginners too! Participants can do as many sun salutations as they want. This event is by donation. Profits will go to the Canadian Institute for the Blind in support of their Yoga Stretch Challenge.
J'ai une mission: Je fais 108 Surya Namaskar en 108 jours

Joignez-vous à moi pour ma 12ième journée de 108:
Le 29 avril 2010 18h30 - 20h30 STUDIO ANAAMI
Appelez Joyce, 514.802.0311
Cette pratique guidée commencera avec des exercises de respiration et terminera avec la rélaxation. Tous les niveaux sont les bienvenus - débutats aussi! Les participants peuvent faire autant de salutation au soleil qu'ils le désirent. Un don est suggérer. Les profits iront a l'Institut national canadien pour les aveugles en support a leur défi "Yoga jusqu'au bout."

I am so excited to hear about some of your own 108 goals. It's a lot of fun to share this experience along with you. Today's photo, taken my Linda Stephens, features Mary-Ann & I in plank pose. Mary Ann's goal is 36 sun salutations a day and so far, she's been successful. (More on Mary Ann later.)

The sun salutation I chose for today's practice is simple and has us holding this strengthening posture for three to five breaths. Plank helps to
stabilize the shoulder joint as well as offers us the chance to build from the core, meaning stronger abdominal muscles and a more stable spine.

Surya Namaskar Recipe: Day 6 - The Plank Salute

1- Beginning in mountain pose again, INHALE and stretch your arms over head.
2- EXHALE in the forward bend, without locking your knees.
3- INHALE, lengthen your back parallel to the floor.
4- Exhale step back into plank pose: fingers spread apart, shoulders above hands, straight line running from the back of the head to the heels, and push you heels backward slightly to stabilize the legs. Make sure the elbows are unlocked, head is stable and neck is long.
5- Three - Five breaths, long and steady
6- On you next exhalation, move back into downward dog.
7- After a couple of breaths in downward, then INHALE, step, walk or jump your feet to your hands. Lengthen the spine.
8- EXHALE, fold.
9- INHALE, rise to standing.
10- EXHALE, hands to heart.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 5 - Petr Svoboda's left shoulder

The pain in my left shoulder isn't much better today, but I have a renewed respect for injuries, and sometimes I need a reminder that every injury I've had has made me a better and more compassionate yoga teacher. Today this was reconfirmed.

Yesterday while I was whining about how tired I was and blaming my lack of focus on alignment screw-ups, I failed to see how hurting my left shoulder could actually serve a greater purpose. You see, for the past year I've been working with retired hockey pro Petr Svoboda. Since we started practicing together, Petr has talked about the pain in his left shoulder to which I've prescribed chest opening postures and exercises that loosen the shoulder girdle. Although some of the postures offer temporary relief, there has been little lasting results. Granted Petr was somewhat inconsistent with his yoga this winter and his injury stems from two fractured cervical vertebrae incurred during the 2001 hockey session while playing with Tampa Bay, but today we bonded over our mutually sore shoulder and together we developed a new sun salutation. (Sorry, no photos of Petr and I today. There wasn't anyone around to take our picture, so I posted this picture of his hockey card. Once our sore shoulder relief surya namaskar is perfected, we'll do a little video for you folks.)

What I find most interesting about my injuries or my traumas is that they usually occur at the same time as one of my students is experiencing the same thing. It's as if the universe created the pain within my body or my life, so I could better understand the student and be of greater assistance in the healing process. This was certainly the case a few years ago with the compressed discs in my lower back and the sciatic pain I endured for over a year, as well as with a former hamstring strain that last more than six months. When my students asked me about injuries, I used to say, "You name it, I've had it or done it." All of it, particularly my back problems, has led me to the thorough investigation of yoga as healing science, which is why I'm now so into my ayurvedic studies.

Seeing as The Petr Svoboda Sun Salutation isn't ready for broadcast, today I'm continuing to work on the spine with the Cat Salute, although my friend Ali has another name for it...

Surya Namaskar Recipe - Day 5: The Cat Salute

1- Standing in Mountain Pose, INHALE, stretch arms over head.
2- Keeping the knees slightly bent, EXHALE, fold forward, hands to shins.

3- INHALE and lengthen the spine.

4- EXHALE, step back to all fours-- shoulders over hands, hips over knees.

5- INHALE, pause.

6- EXHALE, round the back, bringing chin to chest, lifting
navel to spine, and tucking tailbone under.
7- INHALE slowly arch the back in the opposite way by softening between the shoulder blades, reaching the heart forward and looking up with a long neck.

8- EXHALE, round the back.
9- INHALE, arch and extend the tailbone back to decompress the lower back.
10- EXHALE, round.
11- INHALE, arch and tuck the toes under.
12- As you EXHALE, shift back into downward dog for two-five deep breaths.
hands down beside your chest and tuck the toes under.

13- After two to five breaths, press down through your palms, INHALE and
step, walk or jump forward. Lengthen your back.
14- EXHALE, forward bend.

15- Feeling the feet solid on the floor, INHALE and rise to a standing extending the arms over head.

15- EXHALE, slowly lower hands to heart.

Anyone can do yoga!
Here are some facts about featured yoga student Petr Svoboda's professional hockey career:

Petr Svoboda played for the NHL for 15 years. He was selected fifth overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens and won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986.
He also participated in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, winning a gold medal with the Czech team. Petr scored the only goal in the gold medal game against Russia.

NHL points 1984-85 to 2000-01:
Regular Season
Games played 1028
Goals 58
Assists 341
Points 399

Games Played 127
Goals 4
Assists 45
Points 135
Legends of Hockey - Bio Petr Svoboda

*Thanks to Magic/Awesome Craig Bannerman for the today's photo and hockey stats.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 4: Feeling sore & cranky

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it... I'm not sure if I'm allowed to complain, since it's only day 4, but my left shoulder is killing me, I'm tired and frustrated that I can't get the scanner at the studio to work. Plus, it's 10 pm (EST) and I'm still at my studio, 30 km away from home. I taught four classes back to back and wanted to scan an image for a poster before leaving, but the stupid scanner is not registering on my Mac. I suppose I'm also grumpy because I haven't eaten since 2pm, so I think I'll put make some toast.

Today, it really dawned on me how much time this 108 challenge takes up. It's not just the practice itself, it's also the documenting of it, which is important to me. This process requires an extra one to two hours each day, in addition to the time I spend practicing. In my previous consecutive days of 108 which I did as training, I don't remember being so frazzled, but then again, I wasn't writing, photographing or planning any events related to it.

And now my shoulder! It started acting up sometime this evening, but it's never bothered me before like this. Even now as I sit, it is hurting through the bicep down to my elbow. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow, because right now, I'm not sure how I'm going to finish my last 18 of the day. I'll have to modify.

I think I've been psyching myself out this week. Maybe I'm over excited about this project and so I keep thinking things like, "What if I hurt myself and can't complete my sun salutations one day? Does that mean I fail? What if I break my leg? What if I get sick? What if I get too tired and can't teach properly?"

My mind has been spinning and spinning over these "what if" questions. I think might be rushing through some of my sets in order to 'get them all in' before midnight. And of course, in rushing, I'm more careless of my alignment and so I'm more likely to say, drop my shoulders below my elbows in chaturanga or my head below my shoulders in down dog.

My intention was to work through this project one breath at a time, one sun salutation at time, but recently, I've been overcome by the shear magnitude of what I've taken on and the responsibility to do it publicly. I know I need to chill a little, sleep a little and eat a little more. The obvious way to do this is too reduce the number of classes I'm teaching and the number of hours I'm spending doing other adminy stuff, but at the moment, I struggle to see how I can do this. I'm the sole proprietor of a yoga studio, studying at the ayurveda centre, and my bread and butter is teaching about 15 to 20 classes a week.

Ok, enough complaining. I apologize for my rant, but I can't pretend that all this is easy. (I feel a bit better now that I got some of these worries out and had some food.

I'll find the right flow and the right way to integrate this 108 into my already busy schedule, maybe with your help. After all, hearing that some of my students have set their own goals and participate in this challenge with me makes my heart soar. Today my student Yves, who is featured in the video we took this afternoon (pre-cranky, achy Yasmin), said his goal is to do a minimum of 108 sun sals a week for the duration of my campaign. Isn't that awesome? That's the stuff that encourages me, so please share your ideas.

Today's Surya Namaskar Recipe is The Cobra Push-up Salute. It's here on video, shot by Valerie Baron and starring Yves!

(Valerie is photographer and does some of the admin at the studio. This is her first debut as a videographer, so she wanted me to add a disclaimer. 'wink')

PS Check my shoulder alignment in today's photo: there's proof that I was carelessly dipping my shoulders too low and thus putting a lot of pressure on my shoulder socket! (When lowering into chaturanga, we're supposed to make sure the shoulder stays above the elbow, so not to overload thejoint.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 3 - First practice outside!

Woke up feeling under slept and a bit achy. I was supposed to teach a private yoga class at 8:30am in Westmount, so dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 in order to start my practice. However, upon receiving a text saying my student decided to play golf instead of yoga, I peeled off my leggings and crawled back into bed to sleep for an hour. But who was I kidding? I've never been good at sleeping in, let alone going back to sleep once I'm up. So, I lay there observing the imbalance in my right and left nasal passages and trying to remember which side of the brain is associated with which nostril -- if the left side of my nose is blocked, does it mean that my right hemisphere is more active or my left? After 30 minutes of mental list making and planning, I got up and started tackling a barrage of emails, which I've found is a great distraction when I'm not quite ready to start bending and twisting. Despite the computer side track, my first 36 were completed before I left my house.

Tuesdays I'm in school. I am studying to become an ayurvedic practitioner at le Centre Holistique d'Ayurveda with Anita Sharma. It's great. Anita is great. And I love the process of learning new healing techniques. (If you don't know about ayurveda, I've written a description of it below.) We started our classes with breathing and yoga. "Great, more breathing and yoga," I thought, considering the 72 sun sals left to do. But, Manu, Anita's husband, led a beautiful little practice that focused on different pranayams (breathing exercises) and joint mobility. Lot's of great stuff for older people and corporate desk bound people. (Message me, if you want some ideas of how to do yoga at your desk or on a chair. Manu inspired me.)

Driving home past the mountain this afternoon, I saw hundreds of lovely people gathering and hanging out in the park along Parc Ave, our Montreal beach without water. At first, I was set on practicing there with them, but I ended up going through the next 36 on my balcony while my neighbors blared new school Green Day. (Not my favourite tunes, but whatever.)

I'm still not done for today. I still have another 36, but I didn't want to rush, so I will do them before bed, promise.

As there's no video today, here's the break down of the Surya Namaskar Recipe for Day 3:

The Flying Cobra Salute

Look mom, no hands! This one is good for activating the muscles along the spine and strengthening the neck.

1- Standing in Mountain Pose at the top of the mat, INHALE, raise the arms over head (shoulders stay down)

2- Keeping the legs solid and knees unlocked, EXHALE, fold forward.

3- INHALE and lengthen the spine.

4- EXHALE, step back to plank pose like you are about to do a push up.

5- INHALE, pause.

6- EXHALE, slowly lower to the floor, and place the forehead to the floor.

7- INHALE and lift the forehead, chest and hands off the floor.

8- Hold here for two breaths. (Engage the back muscles by drawing the shoulder blades together, continue to look down and lengthen the neck on all sides.)

9- EXHALE, hands down beside your chest and tuck the toes under.

10- Pressing down through your palms, INHALE and lift up to all fours.

11- EXHALE, shift back to downward facing dog.

12- After two breaths in the down dog, INHALE, step, walk or jump your feet to the top of your mat and lengthen your spine parallel to the ground.

13- EXHALE, forward bend.

14- Press down through your feet and bend your knees a little to INHALE and rise to a standing position reaching your arms over head.

15- EXHALE, slowly lower your hands to your heart.


Ayurveda is a healing science indigenous to India. It has been practiced as a medical system for more than 5000 years and is still highly effective and widely used. The word 'Ayurveda' is Sanskrit for 'science of life' or 'knowledge of life span.' The guiding principle of Ayurveda is to promote balance between the five natural elements of which all matter is composed. This elements are: earth, water, fire, air and space (ether). It is believed that the pairing of certain elements create three distinct energetic compositions or 'doshas' responsible for specific mental attributes and functions in the body. Each individual has a unique constitution that combines these doshas. Most people have one or two dominant doshas. Air and space make up the dosha Vata, fire and water create Pita, and the third dosha, Kapha, is composed of earth and water.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 2- video of the Sphinx Salute

It worked. I finally uploaded my first video! :)

This is the Sphinx Salute as practiced on Day 2 in my studio with Bossa and filmed by Frances, our events coordinator.

FYI This sun sal is another good one to start the practice, as it offers a gentle back bend and stretches the shoulders.

DAY 2 - Why 108?

Day 2 in the bag!

I am super enthusiastic! (Duh, it's only Day 2...)

Nevertheless, I am thrilled and I am inspired to hear that some of you wonderful people are embarking on your own challenge. Mary Ann, my yoga student of five years and a soon graduate of my teaching apprenticeship program, is doing 36 sun salutations a day, and partner Craig announced to me last night that he will be doing 108 push-ups and sit-ups everyday. (He is currently huffing and puffing away them at in the front office.)

My day and practice went great. This morning, I did 18 sun sals by myself and then 18 with my very determined 83-year-old powerhouse of a student, Max. I completed the next 36 in my studio with Bossa, a dear friend and fabulous yogini, who is in today's video. Mary Ann, the aforementioned student, requested a practice of 27 to complete her set, which we did after meditation with my Core Vinyasa class. I joined the 7:30pm class for my last nine.

So far, the response to my crazy 108 mission is awesome, although I know there are more than a few friends and students who are questioning my sanity. Over scrambled eggs at brunch today, my old ashtangi friend, Jamie Lee, expressed his concern over me missing out on back bends, if I am only to do sun sals for next three and a half months. He has a point, so I made sure to do a bunch of arches within my sets this afternoon and will have to leave time for some
Urdhva Dhanurasanas and inversions at the end of my practice tomorrow.

Now the answer to the big question: why 108?

1 = divine power, 0 = the space that holds everything together, and 8 = the symbol of infinity.

108 is also a number that repeats itself in numerous cultures and spiritual traditions. In the yoga world 108 is considered a very auspicious number, which is why the Hindu and Buddhist malas (prayer beads) from 108 beads. Here are some more 108 'fun facts':
  • 108 is the number of Upanishads comprising the Indian Vedic texts
  • 108 is the number of names for the God Shiva in Hindu philosophy.
  • 108 is the number of names for Buddha.
  • 108 is the Chinese number representing "man".
  • 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.
  • 108 is six times the number "18" which is a good luck number in Judaism.
  • 108 is nine times 12, two auspicious numbers in Indian culture.
  • 108 is number to call in India for emergency services (as opposed to 911)
  • 108 is the number of suitors had by Penelope wife of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey.
  • Distance between earth and sun equals 108 times the sun-diameter.
  • Distance between earth and moon equals 108 times the moon-diameter.
  • 108 times the earth diameter is the diameter of the sun
  • 108 is the number of stitches on a baseball!
Wikipedia offers more details:

Surya Namaskar Recipe - Day 2

The Shinx Salute

(see my very enthusiastic and somewhat cheesy video)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 1 - THE MISSION: 108 Sun Salutations in 108 Days

Hello WORLD! I am Yasmin Fudakowska-Gow. I am a yoga teacher and 28-year-old Montrealer. I have been teaching yoga for almost a decade. I am the owner of a holistic centre called Om West located in Pointe Claire Village, about 25km west of downtown Montreal. I am also an artist, a writer, a video producer, and an activist. I live in Mile End.

Since last December, I have the dream of completing 108 Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) for 108 consecutive days. YES!

The purpose of this mission is to, first, celebrate my14 years of yoga practice and to experience an amazing transformation. Second, I want to bring the yoga community together in celebration as ONE. Together, I see us yoga teachers, students and studio owners thriving and I see us inspiring more people to reconnect with their trueness and live their passion.

Starting today (April 18, 2010), the 108th day of the year, I am doing 108 Surya Namaskar every day until Aug 3, 2010. I did my first 36 sun salutations with a full-house of students in a workshop entitled Live the Life you LOVE, which I led this weekend at my studio with I AM coach Ron Chérlius. I completed the remaining 72 in my kitchen while my boyfriend Craig made vegetable soup.

I am ready and I am excited about the next 107 days! I have been training for this. To date, I had done six days straight, nine days, 12 days and most recently, 23 days. I have experimented with different methods and I have already learned a lot about how to sustain my stamina and how to keep myself motivated. I am excited. I am confident. Each of these 108 practices can take up to three hours, depending on who I practice with, how focused I am, how much energy I have and how creative I feel, but I am prepared. My plan is to do the 108 sun salutations in three sets of 36, although when time permits, I will do the whole series in one shot.

Now, I am inviting you to join me.

I am posting this blog in order to share this journey with you, and to encourage you to set your own daily challenge, be it sun salutations, push ups, eating fresh salads, writing poetry, playing music, gardening, completing a cross-word, running, knitting, etc. Whatever is pleasurable and healing for you, I invite you to commit yourself to it for a certain period of time everyday starting whenever you say “GO!”

Lastly, I want you to share your story, your questions, and your suggestions with me here.

If it’s yoga or sun salutations you want to do, on this blog (in writing, photos and/or video), I will provide you with tips on how to practice safely, how to stay inspired and I am posting a different version of Surya Namaskar to keep it interesting. Here’s one from today:

Surya Namaskar Recipe - DAY 1

The Half-Salute (2 = 1, a good opener)

1- Standing at the top of your mat, INHALE and raise your arms over head.
2- Stabilizing your legs and without locking your knees, EXHALE and fold forward, bring your hands to the floor or you to your shins.
3- Keeping your spine long, INHALE, and rise half way.
4- EXHALE down into the forward bend.
5- Pressing down through your feet, INHALE and rise to standing, taking your arms up and overhead.
6- EXHALE and bring the hands down in front of your heat in prayer position
7- Repeat once more to equal one full Sun Salutation