Rain, Yoga & Cupcakes

Despite Montreal’s miserable weather (once again, it’s raining), I had a fabulous day. I’ve been going to bed early all week, so getting up early this morning wasn’t difficult; admittedly, I was a little eager to get to Luna for my long overdue yoga class with Bram.

What an amazing start to my day! Practicing with Bram has left me feeling happy, energized and totally chillaxed. I loved every minute of our practice, including the conversation that preceded my time on the mat, as well as my blond moment, when I forgot what Uttanasana (forward-bending) meant! I only hear this term every time I get on my mat – DUH!  Anyway, it was great to get some hands on assistance and discover a few new poses too. My body and mind feel so refreshed – rejuvenated – I think it’s safe to say that my motivation to practice regularly has come back (YAY ME!).  Bram sealed our practice with Om Shanti – this is used as a parting salutation, sending one off with well wishes. “Shanti” means “peace”. In any case, Bram and I sat facing each other with our eyes closed. Bram began chanting Om Shanti, while I sat silent, stifling the urge to laugh. I’m not used to chanting in yoga yet but would like to mention that Bram has a great voice! My how I love yoga.

After yoga, the Friendly Green Giant met me for brunch, and we hit up Olive & Gourmando, my new favorite brunch/lunch place in the Old Port. I LOVE it! Every morsel of food is homemade, and filled with deliciousness. It’s like a culinary orgasm every time – yum!

Cajun chicken w/avocados, mangos, tomatos on fabulous bread!

FGG and I then checked out Les Glaceurs, which is probably the best place for anyone who loves cupcakes. Personally, I’m not much of a cupcake fan, but I make an exception for these guys. Here are a few pics to make you salivate – I took this with my Blackberry so the quality is so-so.

Cupcakes in a lollipop format. Who knew!?

This is what I had - le choco-orange

How awesome are these? The ones on the left are chocolate chip cookie dough - not sure about the green ones.

Choco-menthe and some kind of caramel cupcake

Red Velvet

This would make an awesome wedding cake, no? For someone else of course.

We left Les Glaceurs and as we were heading to the subway, I saw this in a window – for reasons that should be obvious to my friends, I had to take a pic! Also, I immediately thought of Elly-belly:

Everyone knows how I love to flip people off so the first thing I noticed was the monkey's middle finger. The penis was just an added attraction. Then I noticed that the shop window was full of wooden penises - I have no clue what kind of place this is, and didn't go in to find out!

I'm not sure if that's a woman hiding behind the giant penis, or if it's a dude that's really, really well hung!

Lastly, I think my morning practice inspired me because I’ve come up with a name for my new music series: Mixed Tape.

And that was my day in YUL. What did you all do this weekend, and did you run into any random penises? 😀

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Pic of the Day (Sort of)

As you all know, I’m a big fan of Trey’s work. That said, the below photo may not be on my list of top ten favorites, but it  is another great idea for a runaway spot – one where I can practice yoga in the middle of the forest without interruption from TOM, Dick or Harry (but mostly Tom).  Anyway, for those of you who are interested in joining the Runaway Crew, it looks like we’ll be hitting up Zhangjiajie next (located in the southern part of China). This will of course only take place once I’m done with my Ibiza runaway. Given how attached I am to beaches and that great yoga spot in the middle of the ocean (see pic in above link), we may not run away to location #2 just yet – so you’ve got time to start saving up.  If you want to join the Runaway Crew, comment below!

Photo: Trey Ratcliff

 In other news, I’ll be starting a new category/ series – whatever you want to call it, that will revolve around music. This is something that I meant to do from the moment I started this blog, but just didn’t get around to. As you all know by now (or at least, you SHOULD), music is a huge part of my life so I’ll be sharing the musical love starting tomorrow. As of now, I don’t know what I’ll be calling this new series, or what the first post will be, but hey – I like to fly by the seat of my pants. What other way is there?  I’m hoping the new series will be more of an interactive medium, where your suggestions will be welcome and occasionally featured on this here blog 😀

Happy Thursday everyone!

 

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And Now I Let Go

I wasn’t going to write about this because yesterday, when I tried to put my thoughts and experience into words, it just wasn’t happening for me.  Thankfully, today it looks like my mental block has mysteriously vanished. What a shame! 😀

As my regular readers know, I’ve been on a quest for Zenitude (Annism!) for quite some time now. Letting go of stress, and calming my overactive brain has never been easy for me, so finding inner peace and calm, and obtaining clarity is something that’s pretty important to me. That said, along my journey I discovered that you can’t just snap your fingers and miraculously feel liberated of all your crap (especially if you own a brain that is in overdrive 24/7 – fantastic!).  There are a multitude of ways to achieve Zenitude once you’ve decided you need to make a change in your life; personally, I opted to use yoga as my tool to find both physical and mental well-being. I already work out and I figured yoga could only compliment that, if nothing else. I’ve been practicing yoga for about four years now, but it’s in the last two years that I really started feeling change happening – to feel more connected and grounded. Along the way I’ve encountered people who think yoga is for hippies, people who don’t think yoga is a ‘real’ sport, and people who just don’t think something like yoga can change a person.  I beg to differ. If you want to know why I disagree with that mindset, check out this post – it talks about my yogic ‘path.’  I’ve talked about this in a few other posts but apparently I didn’t categorize them correctly so you’ll have to read ALL my posts to find them 😉  You might also want to check out and this post – written by guest blogger Bram Levinson (a yogi!). In any case, let’s get to the point of this post already.

Yesterday, I ended up staying in all day, despite my best efforts to go to the gym. In the last month, I’ve been taking a break from everything – both working out and yoga, mainly due to a neck injury that has affected other body parts besides my neck.  At some point, I decided that it was OK for me to not work out  – and it’s OK for me to take a break from yoga, and not just because I have a neck injury. HUGE feat for me, who is typically riddled with guilt each and every time I skip a workout.  Anyway, I woke up and decided that I was going to attack my spare room, which in the last year, has become a depository for anything and everything. I didn’t realize that until I started going through papers under my desk…. and they dated back to April 2009. Oops! Truth be told, I still had unpacked boxes from when I moved back into my condo, post-flooding – those boxes had been neatly piled in a corner since September 2009 so it was about time I unpacked. You should know that when I’m stressed out and/or need to think, I go into a cleaning frenzy. For whatever reason, cleaning (and rearranging furniture) helps me process my thoughts and clear my mind. So off I went, recycling bags in tow. There was nothing significant in what I threw out, or in the things that I came across while I cleaned – nothing that would cause me to whimsically look back on a person or relationship, but at some point, I felt something happening. I suddenly felt like I was letting go – saying good-bye to something. This knowledge was powerful and very clear, and on the inside, I felt blissfully happy. Sure, there were a few tearful moments – but they didn’t last very long since I had no idea why I was tearful to begin with! Even today, I’m not sure what I’ve let go of, but I can tell you that it feels bloody amazing! I feel liberated. Nuts, right? I remember thinking “I’m letting go of the past to make way for the future.”

I believe, that were it not for my yoga practice, this wouldn’t be happening at all. I truly believe that my practice has helped me find peace of mind, clarity and joy.  It has blessed me with the ability to finally let go of the useless crap – even the stuff I didn’t even realize I might still be holding on to.  Sure, I still have a way to go before achieving full-on Zenitude, but I know that I’m on the right path because I have reaped the benefits already.

I foresee a 2011 with much change… and I can’t wait! How about you?

And what were some of your defining moments?

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Grateful. Yeah, That’s Right!

So often, we focus our thoughts on the negative, while rarely pausing to think about the positive. It’s much easier to bitch and moan when things don’t go our way, then it is to acknowledge what we’ve been blessed with. How many of you pause to appreciate the little things? What kind of things make you happy? With the holidays fastly approaching and 2010 almost behind us, it’s the perfect time for me to look back at some of the things that I’ve been grateful for this year.

– First off, I’m pretty damn grateful that I finally got off my ass and started writing again after a very, very long hiatus. I’m much happier when I’m writing – though not so much when my inspiration is AWOL, or when it’s stuck inside my head screaming to get out.

– I’m beyond thrilled that I’ve been able to deepen my yoga practice this year. While this is a work in progress, I made some great progress that really motivated and inspired me in 2010. OK, having a crushed disc in my neck currently feels like I’ve taken 15 steps backward but hey, shit happens.

– One of the things that has truly inspired joy in me this year, is my new-found clarity and peace of mind. I’m convinced that this is yoga’s doing – I am now able to see the smallest of things and feel big appreciation for said thing(s). I’ve gone from a half-empty perspective to a half-full perspective. I so rock.

– I’m glad that I finally conquered my hesitation (not to be confused with fear) about practicing yoga in a studio (What if people look at me? What if they notice my flaws? BLAH BLAH BLAH). Who. Cares. But more specifically, I’m glad I started doing Moksha (hot yoga) after a year of procrastination and excuses. Yes, that’s on hold for now but this neck is bound to heal at some point!

– I’m grateful for some of the people that I’ve met via the blogging community. I didn’t expect to build friendships when I started blogging, but have been pleasantly surprised [Hello Jill & Jo! Hello Bram – I look forward to our first ‘date’ – especially now that I know you have a hot accent! ;-)].

– I am always, always grateful for my mom & dad, despite my occasional crank factor. They are amazing, inspirational people, who have always been present and active in myself and my brother’s lives. (Hello mum & dad! Mum, don’t cry for God’s sake!).

– As always, I love my dictionary of Annisms. I am thankful that I have the ability and creativity to come up with shit that most people will never think of. My friends can attest to this, and to appease your curiosity, I shall post the Dictionary of Annisms in the New Year. Friends: please email me your favorites because sadly, I think my age is impacting my memory. What? What do you mean I’m too young to develop Alzheimer’s? :-p

– I am so very grateful that my life isn’t like a soap opera. My GOD, it’s no wonder these people need face lifts and Botox with all that drama!

– I’m thankful that I’ve learned to let go.

– Lastly, I’m thankful that I know myself, that I know who I am, and that I’m happy with me. I leave you with this quote by my friend Dr. Seuss:

 

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

What are YOU thankful for? Come on people – talk to me!

Letting Go of Judgment

A few days ago I received my latest Amazon order, which included a few books that I had selected from Moksha‘s recommended reading list. For those of you who don’t know, Moksha has hot yoga studios throughout Canada and also offer yoga teacher training.  Since I’m at a stage where I want to deepen my practice and eventually teach, I thought it might be a good idea to see what all the yogis are reading these days. Surprisingly, the list was quite extensive! To be honest, when I thought about deepening my yoga practice and teaching, I automatically assumed that this would involve a more physical process. Not so! Anyway, from the list, I picked three books that spoke to me the most- books that I felt I wouldn’t abandon out of boredom. Admittedly, I opted to ignore the two books that I should probably read first – but we can get back to those when I’ve actually read them 😀

I opted to start with Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga. In a nutshell, this book talks about how we can use yoga to help us reconnect with the ‘scared’ in everyday life, and how our ability to do this can positively impact all aspects of our lives – not just our yoga practice. I haven’t finished the book yet, however Chapter 4: Self-Judgment stood out for me. Lasater talks about how often, we don’t seek comfort in our yoga poses, but rather, we over-challenge ourselves in order to conquer the pose. According to her, ‘it is not uncommon for students to berate themselves with self-judging internal dialogue during practice.’ Lasater perfectly describes how I’ve been feeling lately; my internal dialogue has been a real pain in the ass and I think that as a result of feeling ‘forced’ to practice or work out, I’ve switched off altogether. I also realized that the bulk of my internal dialogue revolves around self-judgment, and I’m conscious of the fact that I am my harshest critic. That said, I never viewed this in the way that Lasater describes it: if you expect more from yourself then you do from others, then you have the mindset that you are better, and consequently, you must perform at a superior level. This puts things into perspective for me, because when I consider Lasater’s viewpoint, I realize that I often put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, only to achieve the opposite of what I want. This not only applies to my yoga practice and my work-outs, but it also applies in other areas of my life. I always tend to think that if I want something done right, I need to do it myself. I don’t think this means that I’m better then other people – I just have very high expectations of myself and therefore transfer those expectations on to others. Rarely do I think that someone can’t do what I ask – so in some ways, this can be good or bad. On one hand, this means that I have faith that someone can do the job, but on the other, I tend to be harsh in my judgment when they can’t. Ah-ha moment!

To liberate yourself of negative thoughts and self-judgment, you have to be aware of them; you must realize that judgment typically = blame. One of the exercises that Lasater suggests trying, is to not criticize yourself or anyone else for an entire hour. She adds a note that if that’s too much to ‘overcome’, to try it for 5 minutes. That’s quite a difference, isn’t it? 60-minutes versus 5-minutes? And what does it say about us as a society, if we can’t go one hour without judging someone?  Well, I tried this exercise and can tell you that not judging yourself or others is quite difficult. In doing so, I realized that we are prone to judgment much more often then we think – little things like commenting on or thinking about: another person’s actions, lack of action, words, perspective, attire, preferences, attitude, opinions – this is judgment, and we do it every single day without even realizing it. Why? Because our society tells us that it’s OK to judge each other.

So people, it looks like we all need to take a step back and ease up on ourselves, because letting go means that we should be accepting of ourselves and those around us, regardless of our shortcomings. It means that we should take life as it comes, and actively engage in it without judgment.

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