Posts Tagged ‘Yoga’

Posts Tagged ‘Yoga’

To The Roof of Africa!

8.12.2010 | 3 Comments

On January 1st, 2010 I started my journey with this blog entry:

I am going to climb a mountain. Well, I’m going to walk up one, anyway.

I haven’t done anything like this before. In fact, I can probably count the number of times I’ve gone hiking, and I know I haven’t been camping more than half a dozen times. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m getting into. I’ve watched videos about climbing this mountain. I’ve submitted questions about the climbing of this mountain to semi-popular websites. I have bought (although not yet read) books about this mountain. I feel about as prepared as someone who listens to a song on the radio and then starts hiring roadies to prepare for a world tour.

In August of 2010, I am going to fly to Tanzania, Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a way to raise money for the Delta Hospice. The Hospice holds a very special place in my heart, and it is my absolute honour to take on this journey to fund raise on their behalf. But this will be no simple journey. Oh no, this will be a flat-out epic.

Aside from the parent-induced membership in Brownies and Girl Guides, I have managed to avoid the outdoors quite sufficiently for about 30 years. I am the anti-camper. I do not like being cold. The sound of rain drops falling on a tent is nearly trauma-inducing. I would rather be in prison than a sleeping bag. (Some of you more astute readers may be able to pick up the subtle hints I am dropping in regards to my views on outdoor life). To climb Mount Kilimanjaro means that I will need to… oh, man… camp for 10 days.

And so, purely for your entertainment, I am going to allow you into my world as I train for this adventure. For the next seven months, I will allow parts of my life to become an open book, and permit you to laugh, cry and shake your head in total disbelief as I attempt to turn myself from Robyn the Indoor Princess, into Robyn the Sobbing Mess of Outdoorsy Semi-Competence.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!

And today, on August 12th, 2010, I am boarding that flight to Tanzania, Africa knowing that $10,000 $11, 850 has been raised (so far!) for the Delta Hospice Society.

I hiked once, twice, three times and four, five times, six times, and seven

I trained

I attempted to camp

I ate, ate, ate, and ate, and ate, ate, and happily ate, and ate, and ate, shamefully ate, ate, ate and attempted to explain sarcasm, ate, and ate, and ate, and tried to avoid eating, and thought about what to eat, and ate.

I fundraised, and had help with fundraising

I was sponsored and sponsored again

I was humbled

I remembered.

This has been an incredible journey on the way to having an incredible journey. I learned a lot about myself in these past eight months, and I learned a great deal about the power of human nature and the strength of community kindness. This whole experience has left me awed. And I am grateful for it. Thank you for letting me share it all with you. This became such a personal blog, and I’ve met some very wonderful people because of it.

And so today, I leave this blog in the capable hands of Chris, who will update it as often as he hears from me. I’m not sure how or when I’ll be able to make contact, but please know that it’s a priority for me to be able to keep you posted.

I want to thank you all so very, very much for following me and for reading this blog. It means more to me than I could ever express to know that I’m carrying your support and kindness in my heart as I scale that mountain.

And guess what?

I’m crying.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!




8.09.2010 | 3 Comments

Last night while Chris was off doing guy-type things like watching football and getting laminated, I decided that I should pack my backpack and see where I’m at.

Yeah, I did a mock-pack a couple of weeks ago to look at space and weight, but last night I packed for real. And I totally cried my little face right off.  Hrm. That will make it very difficult to climb a mountain, I am sure.

I’m so nervous. I’m nervous, and I’m scared. I’m the type of person who likes to have all her ducks in a row, and who likes to know what’s coming next. I don’t have that with this. The one place where I really need to have it, and it’s not there.

I think I just have too many stressors in my life at the moment, and it’s taking a toll. I need to calm down, breathe, relax… I need to embody a yoga class, really. I need my brain to slip into a nice, long Savassana or something.

But no time for that now.

Three more sleeps…


The Best Part

4.16.2010 | 1 Comment

After a far-too-long hiatus, I went to yoga class on Tuesday at Open Space Yoga with Michael. It was a core yoga class, which I find easier than Hatha for some reason, so I knew I could take it easy. I have been genetically blessed with strong abdominal muscles, so I take to core work pretty well. In fact, it’s my favourite part of any type of training. I’m one of those weird people who actually looks forward to Boat Pose.  I think the fact that my mom put me in all sorts of sports when I was a kid really helped my body to create and maintain solid abdominal muscles. If all it took were strong abs to make it up a mountain, I’d be carrying Mt. Kilimanjaro up Mt. Everest!

… not really.

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway… in the core yoga classes, we do about an hour of conditioning work before Michael says the magic words: “It’s time for Savassana”. He dims the lights, puts on some soft music, and we all lay there like lumps of conscious brain matter. I do love my Savassana… it’s a personal space, one where you’re relaxing, but conscious of the fact that you’re relaxing. There’s no worrying about what to eat for dinner after class, or what you need to do at work the next day… it’s just your own time to honour the space and the time that you are in at that moment.

I’ll tell you what happens when I do Savassana – I imagine that I am in Dog Heaven. Really.  I have a rustic cabin there, with a lovely porch housing a gently swaying hammock. The porch overlooks a broad, green field that is gracefully cut through by a wide, slow, clear river. There is a tall, full, green forest beyond the river, and the whole field is in a valley, where snow-capped mountains ambitiously touch the sky. There are flowers in the field. And there are dogs.

Lots and lots of dogs. All they’re all happy, whole, healthy, well-fed and endlessly loved. They play together, and lap from the stream, they run up to me so that I can scratch their fluffy, soft ears and every so often, I imagine… a bacon tree! There are at least 3 dogs fat and happy under the bacon tree.

All of the dogs had a best friend on Earth, and they are waiting in dog heaven to see that friend again. And while they wait, they can look into the stream and see happy memories of their best friend. There are lots of wagging tails in my dog heaven.

Always beside me on my porch, swinging in the hammock and softly dozing with me is my dog Jake. Jake died in 2007, and it was a very sad time. So during Savassana, as I am laying comfortably on my mat in the Open Space studio, I am actually laying comfortable on my hammock, being nuzzled by a snoring, warm, fluffy, 4-legged version of love. It is Paradise.

I have finally learned that it is ok to say goodbye to Jake when it is time to return from Savassana, because I know that I can come back anytime. I give him a pat, slide off the hammock, and leave him there to sleep, and to drink the rest of the lemonade on the table.

But the best part is yet to come. After Savassana comes to an end, we all sit quietly on our mats and take a moment to reflect inward. We bring our hands together at Heart Centre. We exhale and lower our heads. And then, with our heads bowed, and with a sincerity so true, Michael gently says my very favourite phrase:

“Bring a smile into your heart”

I smile, and I feel it in my heart. My chest warms, and that warmth spreads through me like a waving colour. More often than not, bringing a smile into my heart brings tears to my eyes. I am so grateful for that moment. It is the best part of my yoga practice.

Yoga. For the good of the body, the peace of the mind, the memories of your dog, the warmth in the heart.


Lean Mean Fluffy Machine!

2.10.2010 | 0 Comments

It really is remarkable how a few days off of exercising can make one feel rather puddle-esque. I’ve been laid up for a couple of days now, taking time off of work, running, yoga, and life to just heal. About a week ago my arthritis started giving me problems, and for the past three days I’ve been on crutches and taking medications to allow me at least a little sleep at night.

That being said, as I look down at my wee muffin-top flopping over my pants, I shake my head in wonder at how little time it takes to go from lean, mean, hiking machine to puffy, round, love-lump. I’m really looking forward to getting back on track with my exercising. I know that I’ll be going hiking this Sunday, but to ensure that actually happens, I need to take another night off. No yoga for me, I’m afraid.

I’ll admit to you now, that I really haven’t been eating well of late. I’m eating too many processed foods, and it makes a huge difference in how my body looks, works and feels. It really is remarkable how all those easy-snacky foods that are stuffed in the bottom drawer of my desk at work make such a large impact on, well… my butt. My love handles are getting pretty over-developed, too. This is not a good look for me.

I think I need to ask my personal trainer, Cara, to make up a new eating plan for me. That could help. The first time she made me one, I felt amazing after only three days on it. After about a week, I noticed that my pants were getting quite loose. About three days after that, my belts didn’t fit. And so when I went to see Cara the next day, she added a couple ‘cheat meals’ to my eating plan, because she really wasn’t expecting my body to react so quickly to the new eating regimen. I have to admit, it was kind of frightening how much weight I shed in so little time. Just goes to show that filling up on bad stuff, leads to bad stuff filling you up.

I think I’ll call Cara right now…



2.08.2010 | 0 Comments

On Sundays, I usually go for a 3-5 hour hike with my good friend Ali, somewhere in the great, beautiful awesomeness that is Vancouver.

Saturdays and Mondays, I get on my treadmill for at least an hour and a half.

On Tuesday nights, I go to the crazy (but incredible) Core yoga class at OSY.

Wednesday nights are when I attend my Hatha yoga classes at OSY.

And Thursday nights I go to my extremely difficult (but fantastic) personal training class with Cara Thien.

Every day of the week starts with me walking Jenn and Luna for about 30 minutes, and every day of the week ends with me walking Jenn and Luna for about an hour.

And as tough as all this physical training is, the hardest, most tiring, most brain-draining part of this whole adventure… is planning the fund-raising gala. It’s the one thing (aside from altitude sickness) that stresses me out the most. It’s almost head-explosion worthy.

I like having things planned out pretty far in advance, and not being able to do that with the Kili Gala is really quite difficult for me. It was good to *not* hike with Ali yesterday, as we just sat down and chatted about all of our upcoming find-raising events a bit.

This is way more work than I thought it would be.


My Hips Don’t Lie

2.04.2010 | 0 Comments

Last night at yoga, I was very clearly given the hint that I needed to be honest about something…

This past Autumn, I was experiencing a great deal of pain in my right hip. This leg had always been a bit wonky, and as a kid I thought it was rather cool that I could move the joint around in weird ways, and have it make awfully disgusting popping noises that caused friends to recoil in horror. It was also very handy in getting me out of 9th grade gym class on more than one occasion (sorry, Mrs. Salt!). So, when I was having pain in my hip one day a few months ago, I wasn’t concerned. I knew it would go away. It didn’t go away.

For seven days I was limping around, stubbornly waiting for the pain to magically disappear. It got to the point where I was I was having so much discomfort, that I wasn’t sleeping, and was having moments of extreme nausea and vomiting. That was when I knew something was really wrong.

By this time my very patient mother was chauffeuring me to and from work, so she dutifully drove me to the UBC hospital emergency ward on a physiotherapist’s recommendation. Now, I must say this: the UBC emerg is absolutely amazing. I went in, registered, and was called in less than 10 minutes later. An initial exam was complete, blood work was done, I was given pain medication, and was seen by the doctor less than 15 minutes after that. I was taken to x-ray (after the pain medication kicked in), and the x-rays were ready about 20 minutes later. There was barely enough time for my comfy, fuzzy heated blanket to cool off!

When the ER doc came to see me, she told me that the x-ray showed that I had considerable calcium deposits in my hips, the right one especially. They had been there for a long, long time, and were indicative of arthritis (something that runs in my family, anyway – gee, thanks mom and dad). I had to stop my personal training, something I had been really enjoying doing 3 times a week. I had to stop running. I used to run 10k every other day, and now I couldn’t take a step. Everything came to a grinding, unhappy halt in my life. I felt really, really… old.

Over time, the pain went away, but my hips always feel “tired” now, like I’ve run a thousand miles or so. And now, as more time passes, I am slowly introducing things back to my life: training, running (walking), yoga, and climbing the world’s largest free-standing, snow-covered equatorial mountain. You know, simple things like that.

In yoga last night my right hip decided that it really had done enough work for the day, and just gave out. No more strength, no more listening, just pain. I was totally embarrassed at being forced to show my limitations. I was frustrated and, of course, I started to cry. (Again, I must really thank Michael for the soft, dim lighting in the studio). Michael quite keenly noticed my distress, and came over to gently speak with me. As I tried not to blubber away too loudly, he simply told me to stop, and to go into Savassana. I put down my yoga strap, sighed in frustration, and bit my quivering lip. Michael, the angel that he is, brought me over a tissue and a lavender scented eye pillow. I quietly snurfled away in embarrassment, while people around me were happily pretzling themselves into yoga bliss.

So, after speaking with a kind friend, I decided to tell you all the truth. Here we go: I am climbing a mountain with over-active tear ducts, a fear of camping, a loathing of the cold, and a wonky set of hips.

See you at the top.


Secrets and Lies

2.03.2010 | 1 Comment

So, I went to yoga last night, and you would not BELIEVE what Michael did!!

Just kidding, Michael.

Ladies and gentleman… The Protein Bar Taste Test – Part 6

Exhibit G: Bio X

Brand: BioX – Protein Blast
Flavour: Creamy Peanut Fudge
First Ingredient: Pro Blast Fusion (Our unique protein blend consisting of: 100% cross flow microfiltered and ultrafiltered whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, soy protein concentrate, whey protein hydrolysate)

Well, this is hands down the most pretentious protein bar I’ve come across. “our unique blend…”, “cross flow microfiltered…” blah, blah, blah… BioX, please stop patting yourself on the back for having your own ‘unique blend’ of pretty much the exact same thing that every other bar has, and please start creating a product that is somewhat more, you know, ummm… edible.

I will admit that I had a great deal of difficulty trying to describe the flavour of this bar, and so far all I can say for sure is that it tasted kind of like a glob of natural peanut butter dropped onto a wet rice cake.

I actually had to check the expiration date to make sure it wasn’t past due! It wasn’t. Hey, you know, it also kind of tastes like those little Quaker Corn Bran cereal squares! Buuuuut, only if they were jammed full of Silly Putty.

I was actually getting nauseated as I was taking little bites of the Bio X to try and describe the taste. My friend who was with me at the time found this to be rather entertaining, and was delighting in the rapidly changing colours, (and goblin-esque distortions) of my face.

Needless to say, after forcing down about an eighth of the Bio X, it became intimate friends with the nearest garbage pail, and I became intimate friends with a Snickers bar.



Yoga Schmoga

1.21.2010 | 0 Comments

Last night I went to Open Space Yoga to attend the first class I have been to in about a year’s time. I was a bit nervous, to be honest. What if can’t do the poses anymore? What if I forget how to do the Sun Salutation? What if I am standing in Tree pose and then fall over, knocking another student over, who in turn knocks another student over, who knocks one more student over, and that student hits their head on the wall, gets knocked unconscious and has to go to the hospital? What if I look over at other students and get jealous that they’re all way more bendy-bendy then I am? Right now, I am about as flexible as an empty cereal box. What if they… laugh at me?

I must admit, I was way more unprepared for this class than I had thought. I felt like a frozen marshmallow… being hit with bricks… while encased in a paper bag. I stumbled my way through the class, and was so very grateful for the soft lighting, given that my face was beet red from embarrassment.

I also quickly realized that I had forgotten the importance of, you know, breathing. Breathing is apparently a very key part not only of yoga, but of basic existence. I remember that when I started yoga a few years ago I was shocked at how ineffective my breathing was. I had absolutely no idea how to breathe properly. It was a very strange sensation to be awakened to the fact that for the past 30 years I had been breathing wrong. I blame my mother.

Even though it will be challenging, I am very happy to be back in the yoga studio. Just that one class really showed me how stressed out I am right now. I had no idea. I have a lot on my plate and feel pretty darn overwhelmed. It will be nice to have a chance now to stop, breathe, reconnect and focus on a regular basis. This sponsorship from Open Space Yoga is a gift in so many ways, and I am grateful for it.

And hey, if nothing else, I’m pretty sure that whole breathing thing will come in handy when I’m climbing Kilimanjaro, right?


My First Sponsor – Open Space Yoga

1.14.2010 | 0 Comments

2007 was a bad year for me. And when I say ‘bad’, I mean ‘horrendous’. And by ‘horrendous’, I pretty much mean ‘epically unfathomable’. I’m not entirely sure, but I believe the anonymous sympathy cards I was receiving were coming from Country Music songwriters.

I had a lot of support from family and friends during that time, and it meant a great deal more to me than I could ever express. However, I knew that I needed to try and heal myself from the inside out, and decided to explore some new avenues for doing so.

I signed up for a nice, simple Yoga 101 class at Open Space Yoga in Ladner, and was pleasantly introduced to owner/operator/instructor Michael Rudd. He is a very real, very gentle man with incredible heart. I was wary of taking yoga at first, as I wasn’t sure I wanted to become one of those soft-speaking, all-lightness-and-good women who float instead of walk. I can proudly admit now that I am in no way exaggerating when I say that yoga changed my life.

It took about three months before I was able to get through an entire class without crying. The studio was so welcoming, and the yoga was so peaceful that I was able to release a heck of a lot of hidden, crammed-down emotions. Why had I not done this before? I mean, aside from the healing and the peace, yoga really helped to tone up my physique and it made me see that I, in fact, had no idea how to breathe. Yoga gave me life.

Last night I received an email from Michael at Open Space Yoga. He had seen the article about me in yesterday’s Optimist newspaper, and he wanted to show his support. Michael has very kindly offered to sponsor me by generously donating classes to me until the day I leave, as a way to help me train. He has also offered to conduct a fundraising class to help raise money and awareness for Hospice in the name of this climb. As I admitted to him, I will admit it to you: I totally cried when I read his email. I COULDN’T HELP IT! It is just such an amazing gesture of giving and support, and one more reason why I love the people in this community.

Thank you, Open Space. Thank you, Michael. For the many good things you’ve brought to my life, and to the life of this community. Your support means so very, very much.