Aug 282016
 

As part of my yoga teacher training it has been extremely important to build my own practice at home to ensure that I do poses and breathing as I learn in training. However, sometimes I lack motivation on my own or I find it challenging to set aside enough time each day to practice at home.

For some reason, I have no problem setting aside time to go to a yoga class at the Bodytree Studio throughout the week. What I find interesting about this is that often I hear people mention how difficult they find it to start attending a yoga class for the first time because people are not usually very social in a yoga class. Thus, new attendees may feel intimidated, especially if they think their level of yoga is “not that good”.

This is interesting on many levels. First, yes, it is indeed true that most yogis tend to keep to themselves in a yoga class. Not because they are unfriendly, but because by the very nature and philosophy of yoga, it is an introspective activity. The whole point of doing yoga is to lose the ego and sense of self. When we hold poses, we are about pushing ourselves to new limits, not really about comparing ourselves to others in the class – though this does happen. So, it is easy to see how it might look intimidating to someone just starting or trying to make friends through a studio class.

Also, let me highlight again that yoga is not about comparing our ability to do poses with others. However, inevitably, a new attendee or even beginner to yoga will feel self-conscious about his/her skill at holding particular poses. In a mixed level class it can often feel as if no one is actually a beginner, but the truth is that everyone is always a beginner no matter how long one has been practicing yoga. It is a practice and each day is a new day. Therefore, there should be no comparisons that someone seems more flexible or more advanced than someone else. It is our egos that get in the way of this and create a sense of isolation in a class.

Finally, I would like to remind us of the meaning of yoga. It is union. Union with others humans, union with the world around us from the animals, plants, earth, universe and union within ourselves from our bodies and our minds. It is for this reason that I prefer to do yoga in a class than at home. It is a feeling of union with others. Although we may create a sense of solitude in our yoga practice – even in a class – there is unity in the flow of practice that we do together as one human race spreading peace and love to the world.

~Namaste

~T 😀

 Posted by at 12:49  Tagged with:
Aug 272016
 


_From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction_ by Robert Olen Butler

Sooooo I must admit that I have little recollection of reading this book. I recall the title and author’s name, but even when I looked at a review to try to refresh my memory, I do not remember it at all. 

I imagine it was suggested either by a writer friend or just popped up from a Goodreads scan. I do like to read books about writing and am always looking for ways to refresh my skills. However, it is a bit sad to think this was a recent read that I do not recall. Perhaps if I flip through some of the pages it will come back to me. 

Thus, I am afraid that I do not have more to share on this other than the fact I read it and the title remains memorable even if the content does not. 🙂

~T 😀

 Posted by at 21:18
Aug 242016
 

power

_The Power of Your Subconscious Mind_ by Joseph Murphy

This summer really required some reading to get a handle on my mind and my reactions to situations that were beyond my control. Rather than focus on what I could not control, I decided to look into the areas that I can.

Our subconscious minds are very powerful and attract what we spend most of our time thinking about. Therefore, learning to focus on not only positive thoughts but also results rather than NOTs took some work. For example, repeating to yourself “I will not eat bread” generally causes one to eat bread, because the mind is attracting the salient part of this sentence – eat bread. 😛 So, it took some restructuring of what my mind says. However, over time I found that creating thought patterns like this were effective and not only brought about a sense of calm within myself, but also to those around me.

Dr Murphy walks through the various areas of life that we generally worry – finances, relationships, business, etc. – and offers alternatives to thought patterns that do not serve us. He also discusses taking out “I” in mantras where it may be difficult for us to visualize a reality such as “I am wealthy.” There are lots of variations to wealth and for each person there would be a debate on how much is required to fulfil this. Instead, he recommends simply saying “wealth” to attract it in limitless amounts.

I found that using a series of mantras was effective whilst swimming as it can sometimes be a bit tedious to do laps, but with mantras being repeated so as to create the new positive thought patterns, the laps went by quickly. 🙂

Since I was doing this for most of the two months of the summer that we were staying at our friends’ place, it has now become a bit of habit to think in this way that I no longer focus on ‘mantras’ per se, but remind myself to calm my mind.

If you have interest in the mind, brain and patterns this is a very interesting read. Some might find it dry, but it is actually written in a way that it is quite easy to flip the pages. 😉

~T 😀

 

Aug 232016
 

As I walked each morning my route from the guesthouse to the yoga villa in Bali, I would pass the same people and greet them with a smile and “Good morning.” In a very short time it became a familiar routine that I greatly looked forward to.

I would pass a small family temple and the residents were often outside washing or chatting alongside the small, dirty channel that flowed with water down the street. As I turned onto the main road, I would pass stores setting up their wares or food for the day to be sold or offerings on the ground for those who had passed. Sometimes there were already customers ready to purchase what was on offer, but still the people would stop and smile to say a brief “Hello”. Old men would be sitting on their ‘stoops’ watching the numerous motor bikes and cars speed by taking in the busy street in front of them. Some would simply stare while others would give me a slight smile and head nod to greet me. By the time I would arrive at the villa, I felt as if I had just walked through a family village and I was a part of it.

(offerings)

(Payogan Temple)

(main road)

(neighbor temple grounds/home)

(my route from drop pin to blue dot)

The truth is that the Payogan area is filled with members of one family. My hosts explained that the guesthouse where my yogini-mates were staying was run by cousins on his wife’s side. Others along the road were probably uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and the like. Still, strangers still felt a true sense of warmth in their smiles.

Different to Thailand where tourists often feel as if they are only liked for their wallets, the Balinese, or at least the Ubudians, never gave that sense. While it was easy to pick up on their intent by their friendly line of questioning:  “How long are you staying?” “Where are you from?” “Do you already have a plan for your trip?” “Do you need a driver?” 😛 , it always felt genuine somehow. Funnily enough, everyone was willing to be a taxi for the right price!

These small encounters, though brief, really made me stop to consider all that we have to grateful for. Even not having AC, electricity or hot water for the past month has given me a new appreciation for such luxuries that are so easily and readily taken for granted. My hope is that when such luxuries do return to us, that we will still stop to acknowledge warm smiles, kindness and generosity as well as get out into the ‘fresh’ air away from our first world privileges and enjoy the simpler things in life.

~T 😀

Aug 222016
 

Ten months ago when I decided to embark on my yoga teacher training journey – on a day when I had taken a day off work because I needed a ‘mental health day’ to escape the dread of going to work each day – I had no idea how I was going to make a retreat to Bali work as part of the course. However, I knew that something would work out and went for it.

Nine months later, having quit my job thus freeing me from any other obstacles to heading to our yoga retreat, I was on a plane to a place that goes beyond expectations.

In 2011, (almost five years ago to he day) I spent about 20 days in Bali’s southern area, Kuta, which is tailored towards tourists. The time then was different in terms of why I was there, who I was with and my stage of life. This time, I was in Ubud, which is well-known as being more traditional and a yoga-center.


Although I did not have that much time to be ‘touristy’ on this trip, I have to say it was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have had. Getting to know my yogi compatriots more was a major highlight along with finding my gem of accommodations at the Manada Guesthouse.


The yoga itself was a common thread for us, but not necessarily the central aspect of the retreat. How can this be, you ask, wasn’t it a yoga retreat after all?


Yes, it was. We did do a lot of yoga, teaching and learning of anatomy. However, each individual person there grew whether it was physically, mentally or emotionally. This growth occurred within the person, but because of the unity of the group. We discovered things we liked about each other, things we didn’t like about each other and overall how to accept each person just as they were despite likes or dislikes.



So, it was indeed a beautiful and excellent time away. It was also a good break away from the summer stresses and a chance to take a bit of a breath from reality. 😛

~T 😀

Aug 102016
 

If I have learned nothing else this summer, it is that I cannot really plan and most especially cannot control ANYthing. 😛

With that said, there are some things that I can plan and do. Tonight (early tomorrow), I leave for my Bali retreat as part of my yoga teacher training. I am being asked to teach a couple of times during the week with one ‘day’ as mine to lead. Since I have not been teaching lately and have not gone to a studio class for over a month, I am a little bit apprehensive about it. Also, there will be some people there whom I do not know, so despite my general preference to not teach large classes, this is exactly what I will be doing.

The nice thing is that I have had advance notice, meaning that I can actually prepare a bit and plan. Also, I have some flexibility in what I am teaching allowing me to use my own flavor/style, which is good as it gives me comfort. Having just completed putting together the outline, I feel as if there is a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders, heart and mind.

Despite my teacher and others telling me that I should learn to go with the flow and not need to plan so much, I think that just does not work for me. It goes back to my post a while back about respect for different ways and needs of people. By telling me to go against my nature, I am being disrespected for how I do things. I do not go around telling people they should learn to plan more – even if I think it! 😛

So, now, even if I have to make alterations, at least I can comfortably arrive at the retreat and spend my energy getting a feel for the group again and settling into the social aspect of the retreat rather than fretting about what I need to teach. 😀 I have a sense of security in the minimal planning that I can do.

Sometimes the lesson is in embracing what is within our reach and finding peace in controlling what we can without worry about trying to control beyond our reach.

-T 😀

Aug 092016
 


After two months the fur balls are back!

One reason I have never been a fan of boarding cats for long periods of time is that one never really knows what goes on in the boarding spaces. It was not an easy decision to put the cats into boarding at all let alone for so long, but circumstances required it.

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital pet care center has a good reputation in the city, so I just took everyone’s word for it. I admit I declined offers to check out the place first as we really had no other options.

From the human side, they are indeed a good center and very flexible and helpful. This is a rare thing to find in this city.

However, two months is a long time for kitties. Also, I am not sure if they were kept in separate spaces or not, but they have returned to me much altered…. 🙁

Before, the two slept together always and while fought when playing generally got along just fine.

Now, Pippi (peppered) scowls, hisses and screams whenever Mia (black) gets too close. Pippi also has some kind of crazy cat cry now whenever she has her moment, which is unnerving. Both are a tad skittering with us humans, though that has gotten better in the last 24 hours.

So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that as they settle in to the new space and get re-acquainted with us and each other everything will return to normal.

In the meantime, it seems that Pippi is in recovery mode sleeping quite a bit where she can and Mia is a little like a stoner staring off into space most of the time. 😛

The good news is they are still curious and naughty jumping on counter tops and going where they shouldn’t! 😉

~T 😀

 Posted by at 18:33
Aug 082016
 

Every time I think that I will have an extra moment or that we will have some extra funds it feels like something else comes up. In some cases the extras are negative and sometimes they are positive. It is definitely hard work to focus on the positives and to not get bogged down in the details of unimportance.

Today, it is my time that I am struggling with. There is some sense of pressure in needing to prepare for my trip as I am leaving in two days. It is almost hard to believe that this Bali Retreat is actually happening and that it has come. When I started my yoga certification course, I had no idea how I was going to make it work as I had not yet decided to quit working full-time. I left it to be sorted out later and it has! Still, I am trying to make sure that I catch up with people, do my tutoring sessions to have funds for the trip, run errands, etc.

So, while I had planned to have a bit of an easier and slower morning today, it has not quite worked out that way. However, my focus is on the fact that I do have an hour or so to post, write and generally take a few deep breaths. I actually had time to do a 25-minute meditation last night, which was a huge relief as I have been out of practice and need to be able to do 45-60 minutes for the retreat… 😐 Plus, this morning, I had to run an errand out at Yas Mall, so I combined it with a morning yoga class there as they are doing Ladies Mondays with alternating weeks of yoga and mall-walking. It worked out perfectly so that I could get in a free class on top of doing my errand. 🙂 Also, it was a nice chance to meet a few new people and make contact with the instructor.

I am realizing how all these little activities contribute to various effects later, so I am trying not to take any of it for granted even though it presses a bit upon my time. I need to learn to just relax with my idea of a strict schedule – even more than I already have! It is only myself who gets stressed and it is only me who it matters to overall, so, yes, deep breaths and a smile!

Sometimes we all require a shift in perspective to see that there are reasons for our unexpected extras whether good or bad. There is alway something to gain if we just look for it and keep plans flexible . 😀

~T 😀

 Posted by at 12:21
Aug 072016
 

Yesterday I mentioned that we have been going to the gym. One of the things that we decided upon when we made the decision on our new place was that we would get ourselves to the gym and lead a more active life. M has definitely needed to get back into shape to avoid middle-age belly. 😛

So, starting August 1, we hit the gym with just one day off, which is great!!

I had been considering what kind of routine I want to do since every day on the treadmill might not keep me motivated. Once the weather gets nice again, I will try to go to the Corniche to run rather than staying on the ‘mill; however, in preparation for that I am trying to run/walk. This serves as my cardio workout every other day.

While I am usually a free-weights person – mostly because the machines scared me – I decided to try out the different machines that are on offer. Now, I am hooked! On the other days, I do a circuit on the machines focusing on all parts of the body – abs, legs, arms and repeat. What I love about the machines is the balancing of strength as I really notice now how much stronger my right side is than my left, which is strange given that I am left-handed. So, hopefully now I will balance out the muscle strength. 🙂

Also, now I am determined to tone my stomach to a defined four-pack if not a six. The ab machines are not too painful, but definitely provide me with a workout. Already, I can see a slight difference. If nothing else, I can also get rid of my slowly forming muffin-top. No 40-year-old wants that! 😛

Someone suggested that I might like crossfit, which is true. However, I am not that competitive with others and do not really like to kill myself with the workout routines. I like to just push myself enough until there’s a bit of pain or sweat and then back off. It’s enough for me, so with regular yoga mat time on top of the gym, I think I will be doing just fine with the fitness – don’t you?

Just in case, (and for my reference later) here’s my routine:

Circuit days:
*5min warm-up on elliptical machine
*abs machine 1 (cross arms and sitting crunch with weights – starting weight was 20kgs 30-40 reps)
*arm machine (pull 20kgs 40 reps)
*leg press (40kgs 30 reps)
*abs machine 2 (laying crunch with 1.5kg weight 20 reps)
*arm machine (pull down front and back 25kgs 20 reps each)
*leg press (thigh press 20kgs 30 reps)
*repeat abs machine 1
*arm machine (either press up bar weight only or push out machine 20kgs 20-30 reps)
*repeat leg press
*repeat abs machine 2
*100 jumping jacks
*30-50 jump rope
*plank 30-60 seconds or as long as I can

*yoga to stretch and release muscle tension

Treadmill days:
*25-30 mins with intermittent running starting from 5mins and building up.
(Goal is to be able to run for about 30 mins straight, which would be around 5km, I think…. Eventually, I’d like to run the length of the Corniche and back which is approximately 12km round trip….)

There it is – my fitness life at the moment!

~T 😀

Aug 062016
 

Another day missed for posting and I didn’t realize it because my schedule is all out of whack right now. It is probably going to be this way for a few more weeks until after I get back from Bali for my yoga training retreat. However, in the meantime, I will try to adjust to a new routine.

So far, we have been doing reasonably well with going to the gym each morning – yesterday was a rest day, though. 😉  It feels nice to get up straight away and get the body moving as this is more my style of starting a day. 😛 M is starting to enjoy (may be a stretch?) it as well since the gym is just an elevator ride away. This weekend we have even worked out the health club use, so I think he is even more convinced to shower there each day, but we will see once the week begins.

Still, due to trying to get the apartment organized I have been a little off my schedule, which can have unsettling effects on me. Thankfully, we are just about finished with everything now. There are still a couple more boxes of books to get through and then there’s the dilemma of my academic books, but in general we are as organized as we can be until M’s stuff arrives from his storage.

Furthermore, I have started tutoring again. This time, instead of tutoring in English, I am tutoring a group of four young students in Japanese! Yep, you read that correctly. It has actually been quite fun and it is so nice to have students who actually want to learn. Since we have lessons three times a week for two hours, this also breaks up my schedule; however, at the end of last week I made our time later so that I can still have the mornings to get what I want done.

Finally, since we are getting up to the gym, this means that my yoga mat time needs to adjust along with meditation time. So, starting tomorrow, I am going to give getting up around 5am a go so that I can have about an hour to meditate before the gym. I do have to prepare for the retreat week as well, so it will be good for me to have this become the way I start my day. I have been missing the mindfulness time and noticed that my mind has gone back to flitting to and fro rather than staying focused. While I am still fairly calm these days, I need to be sure to take care of my mental state to keep calm and positive through this period that is not yet finished.

So, overall life is good and the new routine will come. Once I am back from my ‘holiday’, life will return to ‘normal’ or as normal as it can be for us. 😛 Breathe in, breathe out!

~T 😀

 Posted by at 16:47