Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 105 - final prep


Wow, I don't really know where to begin to describe how I'm feeling. Generally, I feel relaxed and ready for the challenge ahead, but undoubtedly, I'm also a little nervous. I couldn't fall asleep last, although I think it had more to do with the noisy neighbours having a dinner party then nerves.

I spent the day planning out my practices in blocks of four hours. I'm not quite done yet, but I'm enjoying the process of visualizing the practice and thinking about which poses I will do when and where. I am going into greater detail than I initially planned because I found yesterday morning that the Guinness World Records actually requires me to count and document all the poses I do, which I didn't realize before. I think it's better I plan this out ahead of time. So, I need a bit more organization, but I think that's a good thing. Plus, when I get tired, I may loose creativity and will need some guidance.

I've been listing all the variations of the poses I wish to do (and trying out a bunch), because each variation counts as a unique pose. This is lots of fun. It's allowing me to stroll down memory lane and dig up ideas from all the workshops I've been to and all the teachers I've studied with from myriad traditions from Anusara to Bikram. I'm also using the Dharma Mittra and Yoga Journal websites for a little inspiration. I even spoke to Leigh at Sea of Tranquility bookstore and I'm going pick up DM's famous poster of 908 asanas from Leigh's store tomorrow so I can hang it in the studio for motivation during my 32 hour practice. Leigh is also lending me a large Nataraj (statue of Shiva) to put in the studio.

So, everything is under control. I know what I'm going to eat-- Vega smoothies, Vega bars, avocados, bananas, dates, maybe even oatmeal raisin cookies. I know what I'm going to wear-- lululemon offered me a couple of tank tops and I'll wear my favourite pants. I know whose going to be there-- as of Thursday evening, we filled our volunteer schedule thanks to Frances! I know friends, family and students are going to be there through out the practice to cheer me on. And in my heart, I know this is a beautiful transformational experience and one I am meant to go through.


(Thanks to Craig for sharing his perspective of these 108 days yesterday.
He's my rock, you know.)

* Want to sponsor my 32 hour yoga marathon and Guinness World Record setting attempt? Donations for the Stephen Lewis Foundation can be made in person at Om West on Aug 2 & 3 or online anytime until Dec 1:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 104 - Anybody know 1080 different posses? To the Library...


Hi everybody, it's Craig writing tonight's post.

Yasmin sprang this on me at about 1030pm when I was falling half asleep to Planet Earth in the office. She asked me if I would be willing to write up something for her while she finishes her last set of 6 million headstands. I'm happy to help, although I will admit that I am not the best writer and my spelling is tearable, but I'll give it a whirl. I asked " what do I write about? what should I say?" Her response was to just write about how I feel about all this 108 stuff and what we are trying to do next week. Wowzers, I could write a book rather than a blog post about all that. So here we go. I have to be honest. Better grab a soy based coffee.

This started very much the same way it is ending, quickly with little time to prepare. I was with Yasmin when she found out that the 108th day of the year was only about a week or two away. I saw her eyes pop out of her head as she gazed past everything with all the wheels in her pretty head spinning. Right then and there I knew we were in for something big. This had been an idea for sometime, but it was a part of another project that fell by the wayside and was now about to be brought back to life. We kicked around some original ideas on how to present it, but most of which would of had us selling the studio and me turning tricks to fund those ideas. We continued to brain storm. She had said that she enjoyed the Blog (when she read it) I made while I was working the Olympics this last winter. I like to think it was sort of the archetype of this blog. Daily Photos, Write ups, News, Current events, and expressing the emotional roller coaster we all ride on a daily bases, but from a first person stand point. That's where things get tricky. Its not easy to put yourself out on display for the world to see. There are nay-sayer's who think you will be showing off, which is usually fueled by these people's own insecurities. There are huge sacrifices of time needed to do this, writing isn't easy for anyone-- think late nights. There will be restrictions on travel-- thank the gods for my Iphone or we wouldn't have been able to leave town for that one and only weekend in May. A photographer will need to give up his brand new camera so that when he's not around, cause he has a life too, you can take your own 'dailies,' but bring them home and yours truly will photoshop them every night before anything else gets done, because I rule, and you need my help. (Sorry drifted there for a moment).

As far as the daily photos go, the visual part of this blog has been my favorite part. I can honestly say that I have really enjoyed having a new image to work on or set up to shoot every single day. We have had to switch things up and read literally into Yasmin's write ups, like tonight's. (Oh and I'm super stoked to get my Canon G11 back...I've missed you little buddy, but no worries papa's coming home.)

So, fast forward to today. Its been over 100 days and we are starting the last weekend of Salutations and ending it with a bang. When Yasmin first told me that she was going to try to 32 hours of straight yoga and try and set a Guinness record, I thought she was off her rocker or perhaps the heat had finally gotten to her. I was wrong on both counts, but, at the same time, I was not surprised. Yasmin can do this. Yasmin will do this. She just needs some help and I am so happy to be apart of it. I am more thrilled that so much help and support has been flowing in from you and the community. This is where I have to give a HUGE shout out to Frances Vicente and Natalie Riviere. These two angels have been doing the lions share of the work to get this thing even off the ground. Not to say that Yasmin has not been staying up way too late and pulling out her hair to gett'er done, but my goodness, Thank you Thank you Thank you, Frances and Nat! I couldn't have done it, wouldn't even know where to start. I've had the "easy" job: Keeping Yasmin grounded and not letting her freak out too much. (Here's a little inside knowledge you may have already picked up along the way. Yasmin and Craig are total opposites, which is a good thing. A really good thing. Yin and Yang, Hot and Cold, Light and Dark. Ya dig? We need each other so that each of us can archive more and in turn, gain more together. Yeah about that honesty part, I am more excited to get Yasmin back than my camera.)

Lets be serious here for a second, if you're reading this then you must be human too, and sometimes we have selfish thoughts and sometimes we need to figure them out. I have been having a rough couple of weeks myself with monster transitions in my own personal life. I've tried very hard not to feel like I am secondary to all this craziness, but to be honest I've felt eight-ondary from time to time. I like to think I'm a good bottle and that I can just put it all away, not so. So to you, Yasmin, I have and I will again apologize if I have turned your focus away from your goal. Its just that you have inspired me to set and achieve my own goals. Like we have talked about, that is a good thing. I just get a little antsy if I have to wait too long to start something. I can't wait until school is less than a week away. (I have one more semester of commercial digital photography school.) Boy, you'll be pulling me off the walls. But, you now have my undivided attention until we see this thing through. You are ready.

We are ready to (as I say) kick the shit out of this challenge. It's going to be hard, but we have everything in order and so much energy behind us, that we cannot fail. We've got everything from O2 tanks to Excel spread sheets already to go, plus an amazing group of people on board to help us out every step of the way. So lets everybody, enjoy Saturday with a big breakfast, coffees and list of last min things to grab or do before The Day Of Rest, then the Big Show.

Today's photo is Yasmin Yoga-ing with a stack of books and the internet planing out how to do 32 hours worth of different posses. I thought this would be a lighthearted image to start the weekend, and I'm driving this bus today, so I'm posting what ever I want.

Now that wasn't so bad now was it.
Thanks
Craig.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 103 - The nice things and the small hurts

I've had a really nice day.

I woke up at 7:00am next to the love of my life, which I always appreciate, did my prayers, grabbed a delicious piece of papaya and went off to teach my enthusiastic 83 year-old student, Max. Then I had a treatment with Mira, a lovely Body Talk therapist, who has been an amazing source of insight for me over the last year or so. She is so wonderful. When she pats my arm and says "It'll will be alright," she is so sincere that I immediately feel better.

After the Body Talk session, I walked over to this amazing park in NDG on Sherbrooke and Girourd to practice. It was perfect weather for practicing-- sunny, cool and breezy. I found a spot in the shade near the playground and began my practice which today focused on letting go of the small hurts I've experience in my life. Each sun salutation was dedicated to releasing any conscious or subconscious pain incurred because of the actions of a particular person or myself. So at the start of the surya namaskar I recalled an uncomfortable memory in my recent or long ago past, and then I consciously used my breath and movements to visualize cleansing the residual tension.

At times, I noticed the sharpness or the speed of my transitions varied depending on what I was thinking about and how fresh the emotional wound was, but ultimately, it felt good to acknowledge these negative experiences and then symbolically release them.

I made my way to a little cafe for a post practice veggie wrap and a wfii connection. I didn't get much work done because I ran into a good friend. We chatted for a bit then I had to rush off to ayurvedic massage appointment with one of my teachers. The massage was amazing. Just what I needed. While I was at the Ayurvedic Centre, I had a chance to chat with my teachers, Anita and Manu, who have been so wonderfully supportive of my 108 project and this big 32 hour Guinness thing. They shared some advice about what food I should eat and how I should prepare, and they told me that they were proud of me, which is special to me, because I respect them a lot.

This evening, I had dinner at a friend's house, despite my mandate to stay in this week. I'm tired now, but I think it was good for me to shift focus for a few hours and good for Craig to have some time on his own.

Ok, I apologize if this posting is so colloquial. I'm ready for bed.

Bonne nuit.





Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 102 - All beings everywhere


Things are really starting to come together. There were a few moments today that touched me greatly. One was finding out that a girl I haven't seen or spoke to since elementary school heard about my project, and made an online donation to my Stephen Lewis Foundation cause, which was beautifully unexpected.

Another lovely moment was finally doing yoga with my 90 year-old grandma. (Please don't tell her I told you her age! She'd kill me, for sure.) My glamorous and youthful grandmother lives in a retirement home. I visit her about once a week and do her nails. It's become our bonding thing. Plus, her memory is a little foggy, so she knows when I've been to see her by the condition of her manicure.

This evening we went for a little walk and she was complaining about the stiffness in her legs, so I got her to do a few stretching exercises with me, and I even got her to pose for some photos. I had fun with her. In the photo above, she is telling me, "You always do crazy things."

(If she only knew...)

* * *

Today's practice was dedicated to all the people I pass in my life without much notice.
Examples:
  • the postal carriers
  • the tax drivers that wait at the stand near my house
  • the people who take care of the Bixi stands
  • My grocer and his wife
  • the people who pick up the recycling and the garbage
  • the people who plant flowers in municipal gardens
  • the street cleaners
  • the man who fixed the leak in our roof last week
  • the owner of the cafe I like to sit and work in
  • the waiters and waitress and cooks at my favourite restaurant
  • the people who take care of my grandma
  • the people who take care of all grandmas and grandpas and other seniors
  • the patients in hospitals
  • the people taking care of the patients
  • the families of these patients
  • the police officers
  • the people in prison (my teacher's suggestion)
  • the families of the people in prison
  • the people affected by war
  • the people who are dying
  • the people who recently buried a loved one
  • the women giving birth at this very moment
  • the babies being born
  • ETC.... All beings everywhere!

It was really powerful. I was tired today, but this practice gave me the strength I needed to complete all 108 surya namaskar.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 101 - dedicated to the ones I love


At this time next week, I will be done. That feels weird.

For the last 101 days my entire life has revolved around these sun salutations and this blog. What will I do with all my free time? It will feel great to have some leisure time, but I'm not hoping this will end quickly or wishing it would go on longer. I'm happy where I am right now and looking forward to day to come. Craig feels differently. He says he's really looking forward to "having his girlfriend back."

At the suggestion of my teacher yesterday, I am dedicating my practices this week to the people in my life. Yesterday, I offered each sun salutation to a specific teacher. Today, it was for the people in my community, to you, to those who have been part of my journey thus far. I visualized each individual beside me during the surya namaskar. This brought me so much joy. I felt I could go on forever. It's a beautiful way to practice ONENESS and will be very important during my 32 hour yoga marathon next week.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 100 - A place of release and ease


I can't believe it's day 100... 10,800 sun salutations...

I feel so good. I feel grounded and relaxed. And for the first time since I can remember, I feel free from the conscious and unconscious need for approval. I have entered a beautiful space that is harmonious and pure. I full of gratitude.

This morning, I met with my teacher, who I previously mentioned said he strongly disagreed with what I was planning. Our meeting went really well. I was happy to see him. It had been a while. I knew he was going to ask me tough questions, which he did. I answered openly, honestly, and stayed genuinely positive. I felt really stable talking about the 108 days of sun salutations and the upcoming 32 hour practice. I even made him laugh a few times. He said he was basically concerned about two issues: my safety and my motivations. Both valid.

We talked about the safety concerns, and he was a bit worried because he remembers me as being quite flexible, but not very strong. I told him that in the last six months, I have been trying to decrease my flexibility and increase my strength, which I feel I have done. He said he didn't quite know how I should build a sustainable practice, but we ended up discussing a few ideas that make sense.

As for his concern about my motivations, I shared with him my sincere desire to follow my unique path of healing and self-realization to which this event has become a part of. I also said I was doing this publicly in order to raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation and to share my experience with others. Nevertheless, he, quote, "hates yoga hype." That's ok. I understand this point.

Anyway, in the end, he offered some suggestions on how I should practice leading up to next week's big event and how to make the process more holistic.

Everything in its right place.

I feel at ease.

PS I now have a fundraising page, so if you are inclined, you can sponsor me online with a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and receive an instant tax receipt:

Thank you. I really appreciate it.




Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 99 - Rumi


As with many artistic souls, poetry has always been a source of inspiration for me. I am particularly fascinated by the work of Rumi, and one poem in particular has captured my heart since it was introduced to me at the beginning of my teaching path almost 10 years ago.

Here it is:

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.


Now my loving is running toward my life

shouting
What a bargain! Let's buy it.


Gamble everything for love,

if you are a true human being.
If not, leave this gathering.

Half-heartedness doesn't reach into majesty.

You set out to find God, but then you keep

stopping for long periods

at meanspirited roadhouses.

Don't wait and longer.

Dive in the ocean,
leave

& let the sea be you.


Silent, absent,
walking

an empty road,

all praise.


These words have never meant more to me, then now...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 98 - Joys



One of the greatest pleasures this whole 108x108 project has offered me is the chance to connect with other people and to share the blissful, transformational power of completing 108 sun salutations.

Yesterday, Bossa did her first 108 and sent me a message hours later saying she was still glowing from the experience. I love hearing about other peoples revelations. It makes my heart soar and keeps me motivated.

This morning, Miranda and I were joined by Colleen and Jocelyn, two of her students. They had never attempted a surya namaskar practice before and afterward, they kept raving about how great they felt. Jocelyn said her stiffness in her back disappeared and that at one point, she felt as though all of her energy was radiating from heart. They also said that during the flow, it seemed as though all negativity in their bodies was released.

These reactions remind me why I started this project to begin with. I remember how powerful my first 108 practices were. In fact, I distinctly recall experiencing tears of amazement and realizing sacredness of this repetitive sequence after my first one. What I've discovered now is that this practice is never the same, but it is always transcendental in some way and always takes me to a higher place. I like sharing this with people and watching them make their own discoveries through the process.

I received couple of nice and unexpected notes today. My student Mary Ann sent me a "10 days left"email and said she is still keeping up with her practices of 36 a day since my first day, April 18. Also, Canadian Olympic Slalom skier Anna Goodman sent me a message today saying she's been enjoying this blog and could relate to the endorphin fluctuations I was talking about yesterday. Here's part of what she wrote:

I just wanted to wish you good luck with the whole thing. It seems like [the 32 hour yoga practice] will become a mind-over-body challenge, and I personally think that is the hardest and most rewarding part of sports for me. A lot of the time when I get overwhelmed I try to put skiing into perspective and step back and enjoy the moment, even if it is the biggest competition of my life. With the good days and the bad days, it's all about the journey and what you get out of it as a whole, and (for me) it's really not worth focusing on small bumps in the road, but embracing the great moments in your day! Which, by reading your blog, you obviously do!!

Anyway I guess I just feel like I can relate in some ways to your blog's journey towards your final goal!

Today your blog really rang a bell for me about the potential endorphin crash!! I've heard about that before as well, and I think I experience it after every ski season, but once you have relaxed a little bit and accepted and embraced what you have just gone through, there always seems to be more challenges, travels, adventures and inspirations on the horizon to stay occupied and motivated for future endeavours!!

Anna Goodman

PS I also experience a joy today when I finally figured out how to do the 'ashtang' (lowering down part) in sivanada style sun salutation. You are 'supposed' to lower knees first, then chest, then forehead, but the catch is your nose isn't supposed to touch the floor, which makes it really challenging. It felt good on my neck when I pulled my shoulders back and drew my chin in.




Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 97 - Endorphins: Highs... Lows?



My mom is concerned about me having an endorphin crash after these 108 days and falling into a depression. Have you ever heard of this? Apparently, when athletes stop their intense training programs, their endorphin levels decrease that they are susceptible to depression.

(Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that act as neurotransmitters and are released during exercise. Sometimes called a 'runner's high' their release creates a euphoric state in the body. Maybe that's the yogasm that I was talking about it previous postings.)

If this is true, my plans to do 108 days of couch surfing once this project is over may be affected! :) I'm kidding, but I am looking forward to have a few rest days after this is done. My friend Patrick predicts that I won't be able to stop doing 108 surya namaskars. However, I think I'll be ready for a change. I'm sure I'll want to continue to do a daily practice of some sort, but I'm not sure what exactly.

For a long time, I've wanted to explore how to create a series of yoga practices that would support women in each phase of their menstrual cycle. My idea is that each week there would be a different sequence that caters to the monthly hormonal shifts in a woman's body. Of course, men could also do these practices, but they would be specifically designed for women. I think this will be my next project, but it will require some testing and personal research.

* * *

My practice today was done with Bossa in her vegetable garden. It was the first time Bossa did the whole 108 practice with me. We did it in about two hours and Bossa was super proud of herself. In fact, she just sent me a text message saying how great she feels. I like hearing that.

:)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 96 - Why we do crazy things


“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery - none but ourselves can free our minds.”

- Mr Robert Nesta Marley


A discussion with some friends over tea this afternoon ignited an interesting conversation about the crazy things people do and why. My friends, Michelle and Julien, live in Sydney, Australia and are in Montreal on there way to Paris where they are starting an amazing adventure of their own. They are planning to cycle through France to Turkey then along the Silk Road through the 'Stans' and Iran toward Asia. They have quit their jobs and have no idea how long their trip might take. "Maybe a year or two or three," Julien told me, laughing.

Now, if that's not nuts, I'm not sure what is. I think they are so brave and adventurous and I'm sure they will have the time of their lives. Having told them this, we started talking about what makes us chose to embark on unusual journeys like the ones we are each approaching. Julien thinks its our inherent 'nuttiness' that makes us think outside "the box." Michelle says that we decide to do these things because it is part of our path to self realization and discovery. I agree with both, but I also think has a lot to do with our curiosities about life.

We are all curious about different things, and some people are more curious than others, which is totally fine. I, for one, am driven absolutely mad by my curiosity about spiritual and human development. Sometimes I feel totally entranced by the need to discover and learn things for myself. After all, I cannot grow through someone else's experiences. I have to grow through my own.

Having said this, I also am profoundly aware that not everyone is willing to confront big challenges for the growth opportunity, which is also ok. It's a really scary thing, because inevitably when we outgrow the shell we're used to, we have to leave it behind in order to find something more suitable.



(Photo is of my rendition of the Bellow's Breath, also known as Breath of Fire.)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 95 - The Great Unknown


I had a fantastic practice in the park this evening. At Len's suggestion, I did my 108 a much faster pace using a breathing technique called Bhastrika Pranayam (Bellows Breath). It's a slightly intense, deep in and out breath through usually done through the nose lifting the arms up and down. In the version that Len shared with me, he breathed through his mouth with the teeth almost touching and lips separated. This breath is meant to detoxify the body and stimulate the digestive fire. (Here's a link to video of this pranayam)

Also, going quickly through surya namaskar, allowed me to gather momentum and relax the muscles in my shoulders and neck, which was Len's point. He says I am holding a lot of tension there and also advised me to avoid chaturanga for a few days. My experience was amazing. I did pretty much the opposite practice as yesterday-- instead of spreading 90 sun sals over two hours, I did 81 in 35 mins. It's not what I'm accustomed to, but I feel super energized now, my neck is pain free and the headache I woke up with has disappeared.

In other news, I received an email from one of my former teachers last night. It was a reply to my email requesting his advice and his blessing for my upcoming challenge. Unfortunately, he is not supportive of me doing 32 hours of practice "and calling it yoga." This really bummed me out. But after thinking about it, I understand his point, as this is an unusual request and I haven't studied with him in a long time, so he doesn't really know how my practice has evolved over the last year and a half or so. Plus, he would not be a good teacher if he just threw around his blessings without hearing the full story of a student he hasn't taught in a while. After all, as a responsible instructor, he has to make sure his students are safe. Anyway, I'm going to meet him on Monday morning to discuss. I hope I'll be able to convince him of my sincere desire to honour the practice and myself through this silly project of mine. However, I also willing to go forth with my plans with or without his full support.

Sadly, I knew from the onset that my 32 hour Guinness challenge would insight some controversy, as do most great adventures that traverse the unknown.




Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 94 - getting advice + a four hour practice


At this time in two weeks, I will be done. I will have finished my 108 days of 108 sun salutations and my 32 hour practice will be complete. It's hard to imagine, so I don't bother trying. I'm just doing what I've done before: simply focusing on one breath and one posture at a time.

Today, I did my first planned out four hour practice without a break. It was really nice. I loved being able to linger in certain poses and really take my time. It felt luxurious. The first hour I did pranayama, mudras (hand positions), mantras, and opening postures. Next, Miranda joined me and we spent two hours going slowly through the 90 surya namaskar that remained for the day. Then, in the last hour I did the seated sequence of the Ashtanga primary without vinyasa. I ended with a six minute savasana.

As I mentioned, I'm planning on breaking up the 32 hour practice in segments of four hours or so with a 20 minute break in between. I will outline what I want to do for each four hour practice, but I'm open to modifying it according to how I feel. After all, it wouldn't be yoga if I was just forcing myself into poses simply because they are on my list. I really want to explore the subtleties of different postures and see what I can learn from doing a focused practice for so long.

This evening I met with Len Blum, co-director of United Yoga Montreal and a highly respected teacher. I had asked if he would help me plan out the eight four-hour practices. He agreed, but first he wanted to question my motivations... and my sanity. He said I seem mentally prepared for this challenge and that he was happy that I am interested in exploring the practice and delving into different areas of it rather than just plowing through a bunch of asanas for the sake of it. Len suggested that an outline is good, but that I shouldn't be too committed to it in case things come up along the way and I need to change the plan. I reassured him that I am fine with this. He also offered to be the yoga teacher on duty during what will likely be the toughest part, midnight to 8:00am. I am so grateful for this offering, as I know having someone there to help me through the night will make a big difference.

On that note, I'm going to go to bed and rest. I need to take advantage of early bedtimes for the next couple of weeks.

Please send along your suggestions. I am taking all feedback into consideration.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 93 - Preparations


Deep breath... Deep breath....

I have to confess I'm anxious about this upcoming 32 hour Guinness yoga marathon. I had lunch with my friend Jamie this afternoon to talk about it. He used to do Ironman triathlons back in the day and used to coach top triathletes, so I thought he might have some advise for me on how to prepare. His words: "I thought I was well trained, but nothing prepared me for the Ironman. I did multiple four hour runs and eight hour bike rides, but it's something completely different when you put it all together in those conditions."

Jamie also shared stories of top pro-athletes he knew that got internal bleeding from over exertion during the 15 hour race, and how his own digestive system shut down during the Ironman and he needed two bags of I.V. at the end of it.

My reaction was a big GLUP, and "Oh god, what have I got myself into?"

But after we got the fear factors out of the way, he had some good suggestions like plan out my food intake ahead of time and make sure that I have 'real food' on had as well as all the shakes and sports bars, as the balance between protein and carbs is super important for extra long endurance events. He also thought it was a good idea to plan out my 32 hour practice in segments of 4 hours, which I planned to do any way, and to speak to our teacher Hart Lazer for his suggestions. Jamie also said he would talk to his friends who are still in the triathlon coaching business.

After talking to Jamie, I contacting one of my students who is a medical doctor to get his advice. He said stimulants like coffee and tea will help me stay awake at night, which is common knowledge, but that oxygen may also help. He said he would talk to people he knows in the respirology department at the hospital to get more info for me. He also told he thinks I'll be ok and that the current state of my physical fitness as well my ability to concentrate will get me through the challenge.

So, what's next? I am still doing my 108s, but I've handed my classes over to my teaching apprentices for the next two weeks, so I can focus. I need to speak to my friend pro-triathlete and Vega formulator Brendan Brazier for his take on my nutrition. I'm booking an appointment with the osteopath, and going to see my teachers for their advise. Starting tomorrow, I am also planning out eight practices of approximately four hours, so I know what I'm going to do when. I'm also committed to going to bed early and getting as much rest as possible.

It helps to have a good support system. The people at Stephen Lewis Foundation are very excited and are helping me set up a fundraising page so people can sponsor me online and get an instant tax receipt. And my parents are being amazing. Check out this nice email my mom sent out to her friends:

Hello Friends,
You may have received my email a while ago regarding our daughter Yasmin's Yoga Challenge. She has been doing 108 Sun Salutations for 108 days and the project is coming to an end at the beginning of August. The purpose of this major physical test is to unite the yoga community by challenging people to set themselves healthy goals (physical/emotional/spiritual etc.); she was also raising money for the Can. Institute for the Blind in May; the David Suzuki Fnd. in July and the Stephen Lewis Fnd in July/Aug. Of course she is also doing it for herself; to see if she can do it. You can check out her blog (yasminyoga.blogspot.com) and read her daily chronicles and see familiar faces if you go through the accompanying photos. She is ending it on Aug.2 and 3 with the equivalent of a 32 hour marathon of yoga. She is also aiming for the Guiness Book of World Records which has established a new category for her. It is like the yoga "Tour de France". She will try to beat the record for doing yoga for 32 hours non-stop! It is held by a man, and they (G.B.W.R.) have indicated that if she, as a woman, beats 24 hours, she'll make it. But there are conditions. She has to continuously have a team of non-family witnesses; so I ask you: would you be able to help? Secondly, she is asking for funding while she is doing this.
My lovely, crazy daughter will no doubt succeed in this endeavor barring any mishap. She is super determined and focused. As her Mom, I will do everything to help her succeed, including asking you for help.
Peace and Joy,
Marta

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 92 - Debate over Traditions


So, I caught the bouquet last night. It hit me like a bullet in the chest and apparently, my shocked expression was priceless.

I'm not really into wedding hoopla, so I was quite happy to continue a conversation on the sideline and watch 'all the single ladies' fight over the bridal bouquet. But when the announcement for the toss came, the groom saw me and ushered me into the mosh pit of anticipation. I purposefully stood in the back and wasn't paying attention when the cluster of white roses somehow plowed its way through the five or six bouncing women in front of me and literally landed in my lap. Craig, who is way more traditional than I am, thought this was 'great' and hasn't stopped teasing me about it.

I like weddings. People are always happy and it's nice to have a gathering to celebrate love. Our friends, Noah and Sarah, were beaming last night, which was wonderful to witness. The food was delicious and atmosphere was joyful.

I'm still curious though why weddings are orchestrated in a certain way, because at times it seems like certain traditions are a little mechanical or forced. I often wonder what makes people want to follow traditions in general, and why they are considered so important. Is it for fun? is it for sense of belonging? or is it for other people?

Craig and I debated this a bit on the drive home from Stanstead. He's thinks traditions are good; I'm think they are confusing. I'm not against them, but it's the "because that's the way it is" stuff that I can't wrap my head around. I challenged Craig on all kinds of social conventions that don't make sense to me like wearing black at a funeral, eating turkey on Thanksgiving, tossing the bouquet and garter at a wedding, among others. He had some good points, like traditions give you something to look forward to, they are symbolic, and they create community.

In the end, we both agreed that it's up to us individuals to contemplate and reinterpret traditions so that they are meaningful to us and let go of the rest.

I'm curious. What are your thoughts on this?

* * *


As for my practice today, I did 54 sun sals before breakfast next to the river behind our B&B. It was heavenly. The birds, the wind in the trees, along with some swaying chimes created a magical symphony. I wanted to do the whole 108 this morning, but I had to cut it short because of timing. So, I'm home now and I'll be getting to the second half in a moment.






Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 91 - in the townships...


It's about 12:30pm and I'm sitting on a floral quilt covered bed in a lovely B&B. There's a wonderful summer breeze blowing through the window which over looks lots of colorful wild flower and greenery. For the first time in two weeks, I feel totally relaxed.

Craig and I are in Stanstead East, a gorgeous town about two hours South East of Montreal. We're staying at the Riversmead B&B and this afternoon, we are attending our friends' wedding, which will be a lot of fun. Craig is photographing the wedding and I going to be his "voice activated assistant. (I wish you could see this: Craig is trying to figure out how to tie his tie using a YouTube tutorial... hilarious.)

I had a beautiful outdoor practice this morning. It felt good to practice totally on my own for a change. Well I wasn't completely alone, Toby, the resident golden retriever, sat beside my mat for almost my entire 108 sun salutations.

I made a video blog to describe what's going on and how I'm feeling these days


Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 90 - elation, elevation


I can't believe it's day 90. I'm 5/6 of the way through now. Only 18 days left. Wow...

The challenge in front of me is amazing. I am so looking forward to it. Things are coming together now. I have a large digital clock which Integrated Sports is lending to me for the event and people are emailing saying they want to be involved in some way.

I hope we have a lot of people participating and I hope we raise a lot of money to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Thirty-two hours of yoga... What an opportunity to showcase and play with sequences from all the yoga traditions. It's going to be such an enchanting experience. I can feel it.

Today's practice was very special. I was with Bossa by the lake. The wind was so powerful and so energizing. I let it cleanse and free my spirit. Our surya namaskar flowed with such ease and with so much strength. We did 40 sun salutations in about 15 mins and we weren't rushing at all. We were just so enthralled in the moment.

I am blessed.


If you want to be part of my final days of this 108x108, please let me know soon.

You can sponsor me with a donation to the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
You can practice with me.
You can tell people about what I'm doing.
You can bring your yoga students.
You can volunteer to be a yoga teacher observer, a timekeeper, or a witness.
You can offer your massage or energy skills during my breaks.
You can come and say hi.
You can join our celebration on August 3rd in the evening.

I will promote any yoga studio that wants to be part of this challenge with me.

EMAIL:
events@westislandyoga.com

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 89 - oh my...

It's really late. I don't know what to write about. All day, I have been working on the supporting documentation for the Guinness challenge. I'm nervous. It's only in two weeks and there is so much to prepare...

I think I'm going to take some time off from teaching for the next few weeks so I focus on the rest of my 108 sun salutations and planning my 32 hour practice on Aug 2 & 3. I'm looking forward to being able to do yoga for such long time. It's going to be amazing.

I know I need to let go and just allow things to fall into place. It's hard, because ending these 108 days well is really important to me and I need to rely on so many people to make this Guinness Record challenge happen.

Today's image was taken at my student's dental office on Drummond, which I've been teaching in since I was 18-years-old. This evening, I managed to do a good set of 18 sun sals after our practice. (The rest of my 108 was scattered-- 18 this morning, 18 on Drummond, 54 on my friends' roof top terrace and the last 18 in my room.)

Ok I need rest. Good night, my friends.


PS Please, if you able to help out in any way, email us asap: events@westislandyoga.com or bannermanphotography@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 88 - WORLD RECORD CHALLENGE


Soon I will be at the end of my 108 days of 108 sun salutations. It has been an unbelievable adventure and a very powerful experience for me. I have made deep connections with people. I have overcome injuries and many mental blockages. I have expanded my view of what is possible in this world and I have seen others do the same. I have opened my heart to many beautiful things and I am some much more aware of my rightful place in cycle of life. I am blessed to had the support of wonderful people around me during this time, and blessed to have the inspiration to continue.

My friends, I have decided to complete what has been an extraordinary three and a half months in an extraordinary way. On August 2nd and 3rd, I am challenging the current Guinness Book World Record for longest yoga marathon, which currently stands at 29 hour and 4 minutes.

This record has been broken several times around the world, but it has never been challenged by a woman nor a Canadian. I have been in contact with the people at Guinness for some months and they have agreed to open a new category for me: Longest Yoga Marathon (Female). This is huge, because it will invite other yoginis to attempt this after me. My goal is 32 hours.

I know that trying to break a World Record for yoga is not conventional in our teachings, but this is an opportunity to expose yoga a significant way using a new voice. I want you to know that this idea has come from my heart and is fueled by a sincere desire to promote yoga for all of us, to bring together our community and to demonstrate the divine balance of shiva/shakti, yin/yang, male and female energy. My challenge will require everything the practice offers: inner strength, mental focus, physical stamina, flexibility, patience, balance, grace, and a strong spiritual connection. This an opportunity for the entire yoga community to come together.

I will also be using this as an opportunity to raise money and awareness for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, a humanitarian organization that works to prevent the spread of HIV in Africa.

I assure you, I will not harm myself during this World Record setting attempt. I am well trained, and I was taught by some of the best yoga masters in the world. And now, after nearly 108 days of surya namaskar, I am even more prepared for this final challenge, but I can’t do it alone.

Please, I need your help.


In order to authenticate the World Record, Guinness requires the following:
  • 16 witnesses for five hour blocks
  • 16 timekeepers for five hour blocks
  • 8 yoga teachers for five hour blocks
  • 8 ‘stewards’ to manage the log books and volunteers
  • Someone to be the official videographer
  • Two stop watches down to the 0.01 seconds
  • A big digital clock to hang on the wall (it needs to be in the video recording and in the photos)

I also need -
  • Yoga participants and cheerleaders to practice with me and encourage me
  • A food & beverages sponsor
  • Financial assistance from Corporate Sponsors to help cover the costs of the event (Details below)


We have contacted different media outlets about this event and already there is a lot excitement. The Guinness Book of World Records may also use our photographs and video footage on their website, in their international television programs, in their books, and/or in their dvds. So, corporate sponsors of this event will have the opportunity for great promotion.

Our three top sponsors will have the opportunity to:
- hang their company banner on the wall in the location where I’ll be practicing
- place their logo on the clothes that I will wear during the challenge
- be mentioned in our press releases
- have their logo on our websites and Facebook page
- possibility be featured in one of the Guinness’ international publications

All funds collected after the initial cost of the event are covered will be donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. (The exact cost of the event will be determined in the next couple of days.)

If you would like to make a donation or help in any of these areas, please contact Frances, who is organizing the schedule. Her email: events@westislandyoga.com



Thank you Thank you Thank you



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 87 - Some fun


Tonight I am allowing our dear Yasmin a respite from the blogging world and taking the wheel. I am Miranda, the illusive downstairs neighbour, who has now moved to St. Laurent, but continues to demand an audience with our blissful practitioner. I just had the pleasure of dining with Yasmin, her partner Craig, and a good friend of theirs, Warren, and saw the opportunity to release my duties for cleaning up and took over the blog instead (clever, eh?).

Three weeks from today marks the conclusion of Yasmin's 108 journey - one which I have been fortunate enough to participate in regularly. She bounded into my temporary home on day 21, and our friendship has grown through the sharing of sun salutations and sensational salads. Admittedly, I was intimidated by her mission at first, having only completed one set of 108 the day before I met her - irony at its pinnacle.

I felt compelled to join her on that second day of 108 for me, and the twenty first for her, appreciating the mindful meditation that 108 Surya Namaskar allows for.
After completing my second set of 108 I discovered the transcendent power of her mission and I knew that my personal journey with Yasmin had only just begun. I lent to her fresh ideas and renewed energy, and she lent me an admirable and indomitable dedication. Practicing in my home, her home, parks, and roofs, a fortuitous friendship has emerged.

Today we practiced in my new yoga studio, pumping the ageless tunes of Cyndi Lauper, allowing the electric energy of the synthesizer and her timeless voice to invigorate and enliven our motions. I relish the experience of 108 because it is never the same thing twice; it is never a monotonous set of movements. I feel continuously inspired by the burgeoning friendship that has emerged from Yasmin's 108 and honour the unity she inspires throughout the yogic community.

Returning to my city of birth to open a yoga studio has been a daunting affair but Yasmin, true to her goal of creating bridges between all yogic traditions from the onset, has been a guiding light and ready advocate for my personal mission. I could not have asked for a better inauguration into this city and to the world of yoga in Montreal.


The photo today is Yasmin in the goddess pose, surrounded by the vibrant colours of the natural rubber yoga mats that adorn my studio with nature's inherent rainbow - a testament to the myriad ways in which feminine power can be manifested.
Additionally, we recorded a video inspired by Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - allowing for a playful and dramatic interpretation of the sun salutation. And, let's face it, we had fun!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 86 - Phoenix rising


On the wall of my studio is a beautiful painting by Robina Nicol of three colorful phoenixes. It's a very special piece and highly significant for me, especially now.

I've had an emotional day, but I'll spare you the details, because I feel as though I'm on the brink of something great. Like in Robina's painting, there is a strong fire burning inside me that destroys some things in order to give life something else. I also feel a strange emergence of three powerful forces that are preparing to break free from within me-- the master light, the true sacred feminine energy, and a force that unites. It simultaneously excites and terrifies me.

I'm sorry if I sound vague. I can't really describe what's happening at this point. I have a lot of stuff to deal with right now, but I sense something unbelievable is coming. I just don't know what form it will take and when it will arrive.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 85 - World Cup & Oneness


My head is filled with World Cup Football fever. Spain's 1-0 win over the Netherlands was quite the triumph for the country, who had never played in a World Cup final before. I watched the game with Craig and my parents. I love watching soccer and it was great to see today's match along side my dad who is a former competitive soccer player and coach.

The game was so fast and so inspiring. The Spanish team was brilliant, but the Netherlands certainly put up a good fight. I am particularly taken by the thought of how hard both teams needed to work to get to this point in the tournament, and then how strong, determined and energetic they were until the end. I also enjoyed watching the victorious Spanish fans celebrate on the streets of Madrid (as seen on tv) and on St Laurent Street in Montreal as seen from our car window. This was not just a football win, but the opportunity to unite a fragile country that has experienced so many inter-cultural divisions. It's really wonderful that each province of Spain was represented on the team.

Of course, this is all paralleled in my thoughts about my 108x108 project that is still ongoing, but well on its way to being complete. I do feel as though I'm coming to the end of a tournament of sorts. I wasn't trying to beat anyone else, but I am constantly in the process of battling my own insecurities, my mental distractions, my boredom, my tensions, and my feelings of solitude. There are also the judgments and criticisms of other yogis to contend with, which mostly revolve around questions of my yogi-ness. Once I've overcome one thing, I'm on to the next personal challenge and so on. It's a never ending process, but it's getting easier, as though there are less and less opposing forces.

I know I will finish my 108 days, but I still want to see a few things happen as result. I still want to bring the yoga traditions together so that we can all celebrate the power of our practice as one united community while promoting our unique diversity. The concept of Surya Namaskar, is to honour the sun, the single greatest force we all experience on Planet Earth. This transcends most yoga traditions, just as the game of football or soccer does for the international community. I also want to elevate the status of the female yogi, who for centuries was not accepted on par with her male counterparts, nor was she allowed to follow traditional studies. Because of this, there is a lack of information on how women can use yoga to embrace their femininity and fertility. Now, women dominate the practice, at least in North America. I want to see more female Gurus and more female instructors teaching their female students how to understand their ever changing bodies and enjoy their natural cycles. I also want to see more yoga teachers practicing what they preach FOR REAL.

Yoga can change the world, quite literally, but we yoga teachers and students need to come together as ONE. We are a highly sophisticated community, privileged to the ancient wisdom of our practice and capable of changing the world with our social and environmental teachings of understanding, self-healing, and respect. If we fearlessly work in collaboration with one another, we will attract more students to the practice, make a descent living, and improve quality of life on a massive scale.

Amen & namaste.


(All photos were taken and processed by Craig Bannerman. The former in my parents' living room, the latter while driving up St Laurent after the game. And in the spirit of honesty, Craig, using the marvels of modern technology, enhanced the first image with shots of the game from press photos.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 84 - Saturdays...


I like Saturdays. Always have, always will. I feel as though Saturday offers the opportunity for anything, because there is still another day off after it.

Sometimes, like today, I bound out of bed on a Saturday morning (usually early) and then get a little confused by all my options of things to do-- do I clean my house? bake something? walk up the mountain? rearrange furniture? reply to emails? clean out that over stuffed drawer? call a friend and go for breakfast? start a new project? or practice? I'm most productive in the morning and I usually have a ridiculous amount of energy, so sometimes I try and do all these things at once. But today, after sipping a concoction of liquid iron supplement, warm ghee (for detox) and one serving of Vega Sport, I decided to start my practice before it gets to hot or I get too hungry (whichever comes first). My body felt a bit sluggish as it usually does on the first day of menstruation. Normally at this time, I would do a restorative practice with long held forward bends, but since my regular practice has now morphed into 108 sun salutations, I just went slowly the different variations of surya namaskar and took a break in child's pose when I needed it. I completed the first 54 before breakfast and finished the second half just before dinner.

I felt stiff during the latter part of my practice, but I think that's mostly because of all the walking Craig and I did this afternoon in Jean Talon Market, speaking of spontaneous Saturday adventures. We decided to go for coffee and produce. What an awesome place. I love being there. It's such a joyful place, filled with eclectic people, diverse musicians, vibrant colors, fragrances of flowers, fruits and veggies. We had fun. Craig took pictures and I played around with some postures, but I didn't actually do sun salutations.

(This photo montage is not pulled from the web. It's Craig Bannerman's original photography layout taken and processed today.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 83 - Distrubing the Peace


Today was an important day for Om West. It was first time in history that cops came to the studio because they received a complaint that we were disturbing the peace on this Friday afternoon.

That's right, my friends. The owner of the hair salon below us called the police and said that game of charades our kids from camp were engaged in was noisy and was upsetting his customers.

Now, being a yoga teacher, I am totally sympathetic to noise disturbances and our building isn't well sound proofed, but it's really quite comical that someone would go to such lengths in an attempt to keep a group of yoga kids silent and motionless on an afternoon where they were stuck inside due to thunderstorms. The kids weren't even ill-behaved. They were simply having fun playing charades and trying different balancing poses that caused some to topple over and giggle.

As for the police, they arrived at 6 pm, two hours after the last kid left, and 'interrogated' Penka, who in the middle of giving a shiatsu treatment and who had led the game of charades. She said they were polite, but I'm glad I wasn't there. I'm not sure if I could have kept a straight face during the questioning. I don't even know how to respond to these accusations. I informed my landlord of the situation and he thought it was funny and ironic that the police came to a yoga studio to tell the owner she and her students need to be more peaceful.

I'm not upset about this. More concerned for the sanity of the hair dresser, who is actually a close friend of my family's and even cut my dad's hair this very afternoon. Obviously, he was having a bad day and decided to unleash his frustrations on the yogis above. (I'm actually grateful that I now have yet another interesting tale to share with you. )

Anyway, it's finally Friday evening and I'm so happy to be home. Craig's at a pub celebrating a friend's birthday. I am enjoying some alone time listening to the rain outside and enjoying a short glass of porto given to me by a student at my inauguration party. I like port, but I can't even remember the last time I had it.

I did my last 72 sun salutations with Miranda and her friend Bree in Miranda's new loft space on St Laurent. It was steady and fluid and great to practice in what will be Miranda's Ahimsa Yoga Studio as of July 17.

Good night, friends. Try to stay out of trouble this weekend, ok? :)


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 82 - Aqua Surya Namaskar


It's a perfect day for the beach. I'm with our kids yoga camp on a field trip to Cap St Jacques, a small lake beach about 40km west of Montreal. The girls ages 5 to 13 are playing in the water and I am watching our bags. It's hot and humid again today with another record shattering high of 41 degrees. Apparently yesterday a 14 year-old died of heat exhaustion. We are watching our group closely for signs of sun burn and dehydration.

I just finished doing sun salutations in the water with three of the older girls who have been coming to the studio since they were kids. Morgan, 13 and a singer, just plopped herself down beside me. She thinks the sun sals with did in the lake were "so fun" and that they should count toward my 108 for the day, so I'm up 18.

I have only 18 left for the day. I woke up early and did a practice of 54 before 7:15 am. Then 18 with Max and now another set of 18 aqua surya namaskar, which were most entertaining. I will have to wait until tonight when it's cooler to finish up for the day.

Today, I noticed that I seem to be practicing much more smoothly. My movements are more exact and I am quickly working out tensions that, in the past, would linger for a while. In short, I feel myself responding to my physical needs sooner. When I feel discomfort somewhere in my body, I immediately modify the flow and focus on alleviating the tension. I am also trying to pay more attention to satisfy my natural urges as they arrive. This includes the urge to drink, eat and sleep. Well, I'm still working on the sleep one, but the others are getting much better and I feel better as result.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Recipe: Fresh Summer Pasta Sauce

I taught this recipe to a group 10 to 13-year-olds during our Kids Summer Yoga Day Camp at Om West. It's super easy and the kids loved it.



Ingredients--
  • 6 fresh organic tomatos
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of oilve oil
  • 1/2 tsp of evaporated cane juice (or sugar)
  • salt & pepper to taste
Using a food processor, simply blend all the ingredients until smooth. You can heat the sauce if you really want to, but I rarely do. To finish, pour the sauce over your favourite pasta, serve and enjoy!

Day 81 - Heat wave


For the last few days, we've had record highs in temperature. It's been in the mid 30s or higher with the humidity all week, which is nearly 10 degrees warmer than the historical average., and the smog is so thick we can barely see the tops of the buildings. This is pretty serious. Of course, climate change is responsible for these spikes in temperature and it boggles my mind that people still question this as fact.

Regardless, at present, the best we can do is be completely vigilant on how we can reduce our personal impact on the environment and how we can peacefully inspire others to do the same. I'm not going to run through a list of eco-tips, but I will share some ways in which we've been keeping cool these last few days.

First, I have to admit I have an air conditioner at home, but it's second hand and we only have it in our bedroom. Plus, it's only set at 25 degrees. We have been camping out here and its been kinda of fun eating, working and sleeping in one room.

What we eat also affects our body temperature. It's rather obvious, but spices and heavy cooked food increase our body heat. Spices, for obvious reasons and heavy deep fried food, as well as meat aren't advisable in summer because the body needs to produce more heat in order to properly digest those kinds of foods. Craig and I have been enjoying a bunch of amazing raw and semi-raw summer meals-- fruit smoothies for breakfast, wicked salads, avocado-cucumber gazpacho. (Check out the Fresh Summer Pasta Sauce recipe in the next post. I made it with my Kids Yoga Camp today and they really enjoyed it.)

Another effective way to survive a heat wave is, of course, to be close a lake, ocean, and/or pool. This afternoon, my student Bossa and I did sun salutations by her pool. We did the first half then had a swim. We tried surya namaskar in the pool, but it was pretty challenging. Some standing and balancing poses work well in water, and a floating savasana is like a dream... I highly recommend it.


A photo of my sun salutations with our Kids Yoga Camp taken this morning by the lake near Om West:




PS... I did get a chance to see the semi-final World Cup match between Germany and Spain, and although I rooting for Germany, Spain did score a fantastic, deep header goal, which was most impressive.

PPS... As of today, I've completed 3/4 of my 108x108 project. That's means that since April 18, I've done 8,100 sun salutations!




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 80 - Around the Sun in 80 days...


My mind has been a bit shifty today. It's been bouncing from one idea to the next and I've had some trouble focusing. I suppose this is related to my continued efforts to reorganize my apartment and by extension, my life. I'm not entirely finished going through everything, so many places in the house have piles that still need sorting and boxes that need a home. I feel a little disoriented, but I'm plodding along. Today, I managed to repair a few things that needed gluing and I finished renegotiating the space in my dressing room/yoga space, which feels great.

While I was cleaning, I was thinking about how far along I am in my quest. I can't believe it's been 80 days of 108 sun salutations. Tomorrow will be the 3/4 milestone. This project will be done before I know it and I have a lot of mix feelings about that. Part of me is looking forward to the 108th day, but another part is going to miss this routine. After all, these sun salutations, these photos and this blog are such a big part of my life. It often feels like this, along with teaching and managing the studio, is all I do. At times it's a bit isolating, but I know this will change soon.

Today's 108 was also a little scattered throughout the day. My shoulder is feeling much better, but I am still practicing slowly and leaving out chaturanga every few sun sals to give myself a break. It also helps to rest in between sets and to try to keep a clear focus.

Lately, my focus is on cultivating greater abundance in my life, which is also why I've been spending so much time clearing out my home and office and getting rid of things that aren't helping me go further. Of course part of this is physical junk, but the other aspect, which is more important is to clear out stagnant mental energy as well. To help me through the psychological mine field, I created a mantra to help me stay connected to my intention. During surya namaskar and as often as I remember throughout the day, I repeat these simple words: "I am channeling more abundance into my life to enhance my health, wealth and happiness."

(in case you didn't see Sunday's photo, here's the before picture:)




PS... People have already started asking me what I'm going to do on August 2nd & 3rd, my two last days. At the moment, my ideas are still percolating, but I'm running low on the energy needed to plan events, which is why I haven't been promoting any new community classes lately. I want to continue offering 108 or 54 practices at other studios in July, but at this point, I'm spread a little too thin. Do you have any suggestions?




Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 79 - Cleaning therapy


As discussed yesterday, lately I've been in the mood to organize things probably because Craig moved in and we now have all of his stuff piled into the apartment. I can't stand clutter. It's distracting and confusing. I never know where anything is. Now, people who know me well may find these comments pretty ironic, because I have a reputation for being a little messy, but I'm trying to change. I want to be more organized and one thing's for sure, I don't like being surrounded by useless junk, so I'm continuing the process of purging things I don't want. Today, got rid of two bags of clothing, some books and appliances that need fixing. It feels great.

When I am not falling asleep at the keyboard I will write out some un-cluttering suggestions for you based on Feng Shui and Vastu principles that will hopefully inspire you to do the dame.

As for my 108 today, I did them scattered throughout the day and in air conditioning... It is so hot and humid, I had students texting me throughout the day stating that if I was going to teach outside this evening they were going to stay home.

PS It's supposed to be hot all week. Hope you remembered the cooling breath I taught you about a month ago!

Recipe: Vegan Banana Bread

Yesterday, being my "Suzy Homemaker Day", I made this delicious banana bread with some brown bananas in the house. It's a vegan recipe inspired from my favourite cookbook, How it all Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer, and it was very tasty, so I thought I'd share it with you. (I tweaked it out a bit and changed the name.)


Banana Rama Date Bread
  • 3 riped bananas (mashed)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used sesame, but coconut would also be awesome)
  • 1/2 sweetener (evaporated cane juice)
  • 1/2 dates (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 4-5 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp backing powder
(Preheat the oven to 375F.) In a small bowl mash up the bananas either with a fork or with clean hands. (I prefer my hands.) Next, add the lemon juice, oil, sweetener and dates. Then in a separate larger bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Then add in the banana mixture and stir together until 'just mix.' Pour batter into a lightly grease loaf pan, and bake for 50 - 60 minutes. Test with a fork to see if it's cooked. Let it set for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with tea or jam or butter or something else you might enjoy with your Banana Rama Date Bread!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 78 - Organizing organizing...


I had a very productive day, but I've left my blog too late and now I'm very tired. Nevertheless, I feel good about what I accomplished at home. I did housework yoga and de-cluttering. I cleaned out my closets and drawers and made a huge bag of stuff to bring to the Mile End Mission. With the help of some friends, I categorized all my random photos that were stuffed in a drawer and mixed up since 2001.

I've become very interested in Feng Shui and Vastu, (the Indian version), and one of the things I recently learned was that remedies and medicine should not be kept in the kitchen, because this is a place for health and abundance. If there is medicines or remedies stored there, then it brings sickness into the home. So, today I also tackled my over following supply of supplements, tinctures, vitamins and minerals and did a good purge of expired products and transferred the stuff I consider medicinal, as in it's taken when a cure is needed to a certain problem.

My closet has been an over following disaster for a long time, so it was good to reorganize it and get rid of stuff I no longer wear. I even sewed little buttons on to my cloth hangers so my camisoles don't slip off. Very Martha Stewart, if I do say so myself.

My practice was scattered into 36 sets throughout the day, which was nice. Sometimes it's nice to do several practices in one day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 77 - Summer rituals


I participated in three social rituals today: soccer fandom at Cafe Olympico, a bridal shower, and my favourite summer kick-off, the Montreal Jazz Fest.

The best place to watch World Cup soccer is a block away from my house at either Club Social or Café Olympico, two little corner bistros known for their lattes and football fans. Craig and I went down to Olympico this morning to watch Germany play Argentina. It was over following with people and emotions. The spectators, some of whom donned the colors of their team, were absolutely captivated and superbly animated. And what a game. Germany played so well.

I really enjoyed sitting and watching the game. It was a nice to do something different, a good mental and physical break. Plus, I love watching soccer. It's the "beautiful game," because, for one, it's the only sport played creatively without hands. It also requires incredible dexterity, agility and stamina, and it is accessible any where in the world. In a way, soccer/football is classless. My only complaint is that there so many dramatic fake injuries. It annoys me when one player touches another from the opposite team, and then the former exaggerates their supposed foul. That's a little unsportsmanlike, in my mind.

My afternoon was spent at my friend Jackie's bridal shower. Although I have a hard time taking anything wedding traditions seriously, I have to admit that a gathering of women to celebrate one of the woman's union is a special right of passage. It's communal, supportive and loving, and something we should do more of in our society.

I did half my 108 in my living room this evening and the other half at the Jazz Festival, which closes after this weekend. I managed to find a little patch of grass and after a few sun sals, I was able to stay focused on what my practice and enjoy the live music on stage. Craig and I wanted to see this amazing guitar player named Andy McGee, but we couldn't get tickets. Click here to see an unbelieveable YouTube video of him playing.

I'm so looking forward to the rest of summer, and guess what? As of today, I only have one month left in this 108 journey, which is scheduled to end August 3rd. Everyday I am discovering new things about myself and my practice. Today, I was able to bring a much deeper level of sensitivity to my upper back, just below my neck. I don't think I ever paid much attention to this area before, unless I had pain there. I noticed that if I focus my attention on the area around C7 and keep it 'buoyant', there was much less tension in my neck and trapezius muscles.

I'm pretty happy that my practice still fascinates me and I'm so curious how I will feel when I'm done.








Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 76 - New students/Old student + World Cup Football


The morning 6 to 9 am 108 practices are finished. It was gorgeous weather today, not a cloud in the sky and warm, with a summery breeze. Perfect conditions. I think I got a bit of a sun burn, but it was really glorious this morning.

We had a few new folks joining this morning. My student Peter arrived with his two kids in tote, Eva, 5 and Jacob, 11. And you know what? Those awesome kids did nearly 72 sun salutations with us, despite our efforts to encourage them to rest. They were so determined and smiling the whole time. Eva even tried to convince her dad to stay for the rest of the practice. They really made the atmosphere light and fun.

Just before we started the last set of 36 sun salutations, I got another surprise guest, a former student who I hadn't seen in about two years. She says she's been following my journey on Facebook. It was really nice to reconnect with her. I often wish more of my old students would pass by the studio and say hello, because I remember everyone I've taught and I'm always curious how they are when I don't see them for a while.

I've enjoyed these early morning practices on the pier with my students, but I am kind of looking forward to getting back on my own practice schedule again starting tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to sleeping in past 4:30am (or attempting to anyway).

On a closing thought, did you see the Uruguay/Ghana game today? It was super intense. Shoot outs are so tragic. Being the daughter of a former competitive soccer player, I love watching the game. However, I hadn't had much time to follow much of the World Cup. This afternoon, in a juice bar on Drummond, Frances (my student/friend/employee) and I found ourselves clutching hands, wailing at the television during the 30 minutes of the game. Very emotional. Kudos to Uruguay, but I would have liked to see Ghana advance as the last standing African team, in the tournament.