Shaking to Shine



What: An Experience of Shaking Meditation and Ecstatic Movement
When: Saturday, February 18th @ 7:30
Where: Downward Dog Yoga Centre – Downtown Location (735 Queen St. West)
Who: Darren Hall

For those who may not know, I am taking off on my first ever yoga retreat in 5 days! Holy crap, 5 days?! I better start packing and getting ready for this. Not to mention, I’m leaving the day after my birthday! For followers of the blog there are two things about me that have become quite obvious — in case you haven’t picked up on this — I do a lot of yoga, and love Jackie Szabo. So when posters went up around Moksha Yoga Downtown that Jackie was organizing a retreat in Costa Rica, I had to go. No questions asked. Mind you, I was (and still am) broke ass from flights I purchased to go home and to New York for the holidays. But, I didn’t care. I know financially this probably wasn’t the smartest plan I ever had (which I know my mother can attest to).

Oh well, the damage is done and I will be Moving into Stillness on the beaches of Manuel Antonio in no time. So where does this shaking come in to play, you maybe wondering…

Well, last Saturday upon arrival to Jackie’s 4pm vinyasa class she excitedly asked me what I was doing the following Saturday. Ummm let’s think for a second. I’ll be taking Jackie’s vinyasa class then most likely head home to polish off a bottle of wine and watch all my shows I missed over the past week. Sadly, this is a typical Saturday for me. So what was my response, “I have nothing planned, why?” Darren Hall (I know him as the crystal bowl guy) is hosting a shaking meditation at Downward Dog. Darren comes once a month to Jackie’s 8pm music class on Mondays at Moksha Downtown and plays his crystal bowls. It’s really cool. Excuse me, Jackie, a shaking meditation? After my 30 day challenge, I have developed an open mind to practices that may seem strange at first and will not judge until I try it. So, I figured why not? A evening shaking (I still didn’t understand) with Jackie and Brendan (the other teacher coming on the retreat) sounded like a good plan for a Saturday night. And apparently we’ll be shaking in Costa Rica. I better give it a try.

In my mind I created this image of what “shaking” would look like. How in the world was I supposed to make myself go into convulsions for 2 hours?! The shakers were intimidating at first, but I quickly realized shaking is more like dancing: you can do what you want and just let go. Darren played African drumming music which was rather fun to shake to. So, once I let go an let my body shake as it wanted, the feeling of both lightness and confusion poured over me when we were done. This is pretty much exactly what I said in the sharing circle afterwards. I’m sorry Darren if this was offensive, but I really did enjoy it.

So I learned shaking is an ancient practice of releasing stress and other bad stuff from the body. When you don’t move around energy blocks are created in the body (the root cause of bad things like anger, stress and disease), you need shaking to release these energy blocks. Now whenever you’re anxious, nervous or stressed just shake it away! And now you know there is a shaking cult out there doing it too.


Take this class if: you need a major energy release.



Monday Miles: Marathon Training Week #8


Well, for a non-crazed work week, this week saw my fewest number of workouts yet. However, it is my highest weekly mileage to date, thanks to an insane, pain-inducing long run on Sunday.

Monday: Zen Stretch @ The Yoga Sanctuary

Monday was a holiday in Ontario, so Jill and I checked out a class neither of us had tried before, Zen Stretch. It was interesting and left me sore for days afterward.

Tuesday: Rest

This wasn’t a planned rest day, but thanks to a fever and some severe ladypains, I didn’t have a choice. Okay, I probably did. But going to bed at 7:30 was the right choice to make.

Wednesday: 8.5k in 1:05

I still wasn’t 100%, but decided to give running a go anyway. Then my stubborn side kicked in and told me I wasn’t allowed to go home until I ran for at least an hour. After ATB, I see some speedwork in my future…

Thursday: 8.6k in 1:04

Despite taking a different route than Wednesday, I ended up with almost the exact same time and distance! Weird. This run felt better, but the monotony of running for long periods of time is starting to get to me. I need to mix this up because…

Friday: rest

I should have ran on Friday. Even a quick 5k or track work-out or hill work-out. Anything. But I didn’t because I didn’t want to. I knew if I ran long on Saturday and Sunday, I’d get close to 60k for the week, so I bailed and drank beer instead. Bad Erin.

Saturday: 11.5k in 1:33

I mapped out this route in my head and for some reason, I thought it was in the 14-15k range. I have no idea why. This is also why my pace is slower than normal — I was planning to run loooong and still have to try for 25k the next day. I ran up to Rosedale, did my favourite loop, then ran home. Oh well. It was a solid run, despite the harsh, cold wind. Is winter over yet?

Sunday: 28.1k in 3:42

So. I needed to run long on Sunday. I was aiming for 25, would have been happy with 22. Then book club decided to meet on Sunday afternoon, throwing a wrench into my plans. I would wake up as 7am to get the run in — who does that?! — or run home apres book club. We were meeting in Port Credit, so I thought this would be an interesting challenge and an opportunity to see parts of the Toronto waterfront I hadn’t seen before. Now that it’s over and I’m sitting comfortably on my couch, it doesn’t seem so bad. But while I was running? I was cursing my idiocy, cursing Lynn for living so far away and cursing every runner who has ever run a marathon and enjoyed it. Who are these people? What is wrong with them?!



All in all, I’m happy with a 57k week. Next week, I hope to top 60k and get 2 yoga classes in. I’ve been toying with trying for 30k on Sunday, but I may abandon that plan. I’m not that much of a masochist.



Stretching, all zen-like

What: Zen Stretch
When: Monday @ 11:30
Where: The Yoga Sanctuary (95 Danforth Avenue)
Who: Bodhi Batista


Being the lucky Ontario residents that we are, Jill and I had Monday off for Family Day! So we made plans as a family — Zen Stretch at the Yoga Sanctuary followed by all that Glee and New Girl and Smash that Jill was looking forward to. Why Zen Stretch? Why not? It’s intrigued me ever since it showed up on the Yoga Sanctuary schedule, but since it was always during the day, I never had a chance to check it out. A holiday Monday after a run-filled week seemed like the perfect time for it.

Bodhi was super nice and keen for all the Family Day newbies to become Zen Stretch converts. I told him I was a runner at the beginning of the class (I was still hurting from the 20k long run the day before) so every time we did a stretch that was “great for runners”, Bodhi made sure I knew about it.

Jill doing one of the harder Zen Stretch poses. Yes, this one is hard. Really.


So. Zen Stretch is weird. And weirdly hard. It’s a combination of yoga and martial arts: all the poses are based in yoga, but instead of stretching and settling into the pose, you squeeze or push with one specific muscle group for 10 breaths. Change pose, squeeze, repeat, for 75 minutes. Some poses were way more difficult than others, some were fairly easy. I think it depends on your body and what kinds of fitness you bring to you practice (just like, well, yoga). Jill and I both had a hard time keeping our bums off the ground and doing any pose that required balance and squeezing. We tried our best, we really did! But several of the elder gentlemen in the room (Bodhi seems to have a very dedicated senior citizen following) kicked our asses.

The next day, I was sore. This was unexpected, as while some aspects of the class were harder than others, overall, I found it less difficult to go through than your typical Moksha class. But I guess that’s the point of Zen Stretch. While I don’t think I’ll become a Zen Stretch convert any time soon (sorry, Bodhi!), Jill and I had fun trying out something different and getting a better workout than we realized.


Take this class if: you’re looking to mix things up with your yoga routine, just a little bit.







Happy Gravity Strength to me


What: Gravity Strength, 45 minutes
When: Friday at 12:30pm
Where: Get Spun (129 Spadina Avenue)
Who: Christie Ness

So last week being Valentine’s Day in all, what was a fit, single gal to do? Seeing I had no plans made for myself, nor did I want to impose on Erin’s potential plans…

Who are we kidding what I really wanted to do was watch Glee and New Girl and Smash in that order until we were all caught up to date. But, being the good middle sister that I am, I thought it would be best to let Erin enjoy the night with Matt and their television alone.

What was the next best option? Why, taking a Gravity Strength class after work that’s what! I wasn’t going to let being single on the one day all single girls are suppose to loath get me down. I went online and registered for a Gravity class at Get Spun, thinking my 5 class card covered Gravity classes (sadly, it did not). I did not know this at the time. Then what happens, as I’m pleasantly preparing for the killer workout that’s about to take place: class was cancelled. I guess the teacher had better plans for the evening than to Gravity train me. But, that’s totally okay (I hope the teacher, whoever it was scheduled to be, had a lovely night). I wasn’t going to let this upset me either, I had a back up plan (girls, you should always have a back up plan). Mine was a yoga class at Moksha Yoga Downtown. Yoga wouldn’t cancel on me, this I know. And disappoint it did not – more like my secret Valentine in disguise. What did my little heart burst at the sight of, but an insane amount of chocolate covered strawberries! No wonder I love this place so much.

After yoga, then dinner and a movie at home with my new roommate, I was beyond happy. And it gets better. After finding out class was cancelled Christie Ness kindly sent me an email inviting me to reschedule my date with Gravity Strength for anytime I wanted. I picked Friday afternoon, after cancelling an evening date I thought it’s best to keep it casual for the second try. Christie welcomed me to class with open arms and to my surprise Gravity training is really hard. With the primary focus on core strength (you have to engage your core in everything you do otherwise you may fall face first off the sliding seat, or backwards depending on what you’re doing), I quickly discovered my core is not strong at all. This was a big downer and rather disappointing, but, luckily for Christie, I loved the class so much I may have to schedule a third date. Even after all the trouble it put me through.

Christie was the perfect instructor and gave me a lot of individual attention. Being new to this training, I had no idea what I was doing. Christie may look nice and sweet, but don’t let the niceness fool you. You will work hard in her class.


Take this class if: you want a great total body workout.


The Awesomeness of Jesse


What: All Levels, 90 minutes
When: Sunday at 11:15am
Where: Octopus Garden (967 College Street)
Who: Jesse



Somewhere along the way of my 30 day challenge I got chatting with Nicole (a teacher at Moksha Yoga Downtown) one Thursday night about things I could do to mix up my yoga routine (including yoga quickies) studios I should go to, and teachers in the city I need to take class from. She highly recommended I take a class with Jesse at Octopus Garden. Who this Jesse was I had no idea, but if your name is Jesse you are already awesome in my mind. I have yet to meet a Jesse I don’t like: Uncle Jesse, Jesse St. James, Jesse from Gilmore Girls are all perfect examples of awesome Jesses.

So last Sunday, I rolled out of bed early enough to eat, get some coffee into me and mentally prepare for the class to come. I was really excited to see the new space on my march down to College Street. I’ve been to the studio once while the renovations where still underway and haven’t been back since completion. Boy, did I arrived to a pleasant surprise. The smell of the studio was to die for. If you love the Urban Herbivore in Kensington Market you’ll be happy to know another location exists right in the studio! Yum! The bright, vibrant, and spacious studio is just fun to look at. I checked in with my Passport to Prana (which was kind of a drag because at Octopus Garden your first week is free. Unlimited drop in classes for 7 full days. Now that’s a yoga deal, and a perfect reason to indulge at the cafe for a whole week).

When 11am rolled around Jesse entered the practice room. And we got right to work. He spoke as nicely as he looked and seemed, this is one fit yoga man. Flow after flow to twists and crow pose, to putting our legs over our shoulders and lifting off the ground, I was a beyond confused. And Jesse did all this while laughing and cracking jokes! Jesse’s humour got me though the class not his instructions. Nicole told me his classes always make her laugh, now I know why. Stunned by his yoga insane moves, I would go back just to watch Jesse do yoga.


Take is class if: you’re not taking yoga to seriously and looking for a fun challenge.



Monday Miles: Marathon Training Weeks 5,6 & 7


You may have noticed that Two Fit Girls was pretty quiet in late January and early February. I don’t know what Jill’s excuse was (*ahem*), but I had the biggest work event of the year coming up. This meant long hours, complete exhaustion and not a lot of running. (People who manage to keep up a work-out schedule during times like this amaze me. I’m looking at you, co-worker David. How do you do it?)

I am making up for this with week 7, but I am so sore. Amping up the miles this quickly probably wasn’t the best idea, but Around the Bay is soooooooo close.


Week 5

Monday: Yin yoga 1:00

As per Jill’s suggestion, I tried to squeeze in some yoga at home. It wasn’t awesome: between the cats climbing all over me, the junk everywhere (Matt and I are total clutterbugs), and just the lack of soothing space, it didn’t work. I’ll give it a go again in the summer, when I can use my backyard for such purposes (the condo-dwellers next door will loooove that), but until I completely overhaul my approach to making a home, this isn’t for me.


Tuesday: 7.4km; Hot Hour @Kula
My regular Tuesday night date with Linseed and JK! Thanks to the bananas that was my schedule this week, I left straight from work and ran to yoga. I need to get more run-commuting in my life. Efficiency. Living 3k from work is amazing in every other capacity. Except this one.


Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Rest

Oops. This wasn’t really planned, I just didn’t schedule smartly. And the two or three occasions I could have squeezed in a run, I was exhausted. I need to take more B12. Or build a suit of iron.


Sunday: 7.6km
This run should probably have been longer, but I needed to be at work in the am. Kendal kindly agreed to set our running date for 9:30am, allowing us to be first in line at 10am for PWYC soup. French onion soup for breakfast: not the worst thing in the world.

Week 6

Well, if week 5 was bad fitness-wise, week 6 was worse. Unlike week 5, I knew this week would happen. And it’s okay.


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: rest
Sure, the DailyMile chart says rest, but these were looooong, demanding days, spent running around, wearing a headset and generally feeling more important than I actually am. In my head, I am totally counting them as exercise.


Saturday: Hot Hour @ Kula
After not running for a week, I didn’t want to go and hurt myself by launching into a series of long runs. Easing back into it with a yoga class seemed like the perfect thing to do. It also meant I could hang with JK and make some awesome post-work-out book review videos. (See the latest example below. Don’t you love our healthy glow?)



Sunday: 11km, 90 minute yin @ Moksha
I needed to get a long run in, and Jill and I agreed to do yin together, then have a Grammy viewing party. (Chris Brown is still a total scumbag). I planned for 18k but, being the moron I am, I completely mis-timed how long that would take me and realized I’d never make it if I kept running. I hopped on a streetcar, made it just in time and was so relieved to be doing a much lower intensity work-out.

Week 7

And here’s where things got back on track.

Monday: 11km

I didn’t mean to run this long, but 1) I got a little lost and 2) I was feeling pretty good, so I went with it. It felt like I was making up for botching the long run the day before.


Tuesday: 5.2km
It was rainy, and I was exhausted from back-to-back 11k runs. I forced myself through 5k, came home, and did a lot of whining.


Wednesday: rest
After working out four days in a row, I was tired. I decided to give my body a break and finish the week strong.


Thursday: 10.7km
So, on Thursday, I got it in my head I could hit 60k this week if I really, really tried. I added a few kms to my planned 8k run, and began to believe I was invincible.


Friday: 7.5km
On Friday, I felt less invincible. I did, however, do a few hill repeats on this run. I need more hill work-outs in my life. Not because I liked it. (I did not!) but because ATB and Goodlife both have their fair share of hills. And I don’t want to be the person gasping on the side of the route, begging to be put out of my misery. I will go there if I need to. I am not classy.


Saturday: Music Mix @ Moksha 1:15
In order to hit 60k for the week, I needed to run 6k this day. As you can tell, that did not happen. Pro tip: hill work-outs hurt your bum. A lot. Matt and I also visited our much-more-sophisticated neighbours the evening before, where we did things like ooh and aah over their baseboards and at-home yoga space and drank excessive amounts of scotch. Scotch is not my friend. After much contemplation (aka whining), I decided to bail on my run (I wanted my Sunday long-run to be kick-ass and not a march to my death) and go to yoga instead.


Sunday: 20.1km

The longest long run yet! Yay me! ATB buddy B and I agreed to meet up for an 8k run (we did the PubRuns Rosedale loop). I sandwiched this between 3k before and 10k after to make it a long run. Breaking it up this way was nice. Runs with B go by so fast. The weather was lovely and I felt really strong the first 16k of this run. I started to break down when I headed back home at Queen and Woodbine — the legs began to act less like muscle and more like rubber–, but managed to power through.


So, we’re all caught up now. I think I can hit 60k in week 8. I just need to give up any semblance of a social life. I am okay with that, though. Considering all my conversations these days consist of me complaining about not working out enough or complaining from being sore from working out too much, I’m not very fun to talk to. Just ask Matt.



Heating up with French Onion Soup


A few weeks ago, my pal Kendal sent me a note:


Le Papillion is cooking up a vat of French Onion Soup at Jonathan Ashbridge’s Bay park on Sunday from 10-3pm. It’s PWYC and also BYOS (bring your own spoon). Would you like to meet at a location like Broadview & Danforth and finish our run at the market?


Running with a friend? Ending with soup? Does Kendal have any idea who she was talking to? (She did.) We agreed to each run solo to Broadview and Danforth — it’s 4k for her, 3k for me — then do the 5k together to the park.

I like running with Kendal because she’s faster than me. A lot faster. What’s an easy pace for her leaves me huffing and puffing. Don’t let that 6:30 pace below fool you. It was probably 7:30 alone, 5:30 with Kendal. I need to get a fancy watch so I can do math like that. One day.

I like the challenge, though, so I’m always glad when she suggests a run together.

The Sunday was cold and dreary, which made French Onion Soup only that much more enticing. We zipped along. The run itself was unremarkable (after all, I run along Queen Street East 3 or 4 times a week), but when we got to our destination we were greeted with this:

That is a giant vat of soup. I want to eat it all. (Thanks to Kendal's husband for the photo!)

So worth it. Kendal and Pierre scooped up some of the take-home jars of soup. I declined, because even though it was Pay-What-You-Can, my $3 contribution didn’t feel like enough for hot coffee, hot soup and leftovers. It’s been over a week, and I still regret this. I may have to visit Kendal and Pierre soon. For soup. And, uh, their delightful company.



The run: 7.6k in 50:00

The route:

My love for yin yoga

It’s Thursday and we all now what this means: yin yoga at Moksha Yoga Downtown!

If it’s not evident by now, I love yin yoga. A lot. And I have Moksha Yoga Downtown to thank for this obsession. I started trading two years ago on Thursday nights and I haven’t looked back. I remember my first night showing up at 7pm ready to clean up after very sweaty people. Ken, my Thursday night buddy (now the trade manager), and Lee Ann, the wonderful weekend manager, taught me everything I needed to know: times to switch the laundry, the proper water to Benefect ratio for cleaning and the technique of mat folding.

I loved every minute, but little did I know what was in store: yin yoga. To this day I’m still a regular of the 9:45pm class, even though I’ve been promoted to the 5:30pm trade time, I still stay late just for this class. I love yin yoga. And here is why.


1. The challenge:

Yin yoga is hard, at times even difficult. Although spending most of the class lying on the floor sounds pretty easy, you’re actually holding poses a lot longer. This is the tough part. Learning to sink into poses and letting your body give in is a bigger challenge than you think. I like forcing myself to give in and knowing it’s okay not to be moving around all the time.

2. The feeling afterwards:

There is honestly no better feeling then coming out of a yin class. Yes, there is a certain “yoga high” you get from doing yoga in general, but with yin it’s different. It’s more a sleepy, limber “I feel so great” kind of expression and at 10:45pm, all you should do is go to bed.

3. The stretch:

Yin is an amazing way to stretch your whole body out. The practice is designed to focus on your deep connective tissues, so basically it’s stretching beyond what you would in a regular yoga class. Opening up your hips, shoulders back and spine it’s great for flexibility. And for those, like me, who spend way too much time sitting at a desk, this yoga is for you.

4. The short-term effects:

Not only will you be more flexible within your regular practice, it’s the deeper opening you get in your shoulders and hips that gets me. I love lengthening out these parts of my body, knowing how much time I spend sitting at a desk staring at a computer. It’s great for your posture, your heart rate, breathing the list goes on. I’ve noticed changes in my regular practice which have come from practicing yin, but particularly my flexibility is the shocker.

5. The long-term benefits:

My teachers rave about the long term benefits of practicing yin, although I have yet to see any difference (and I doubt I’ll actually will) I feel good knowing I’m doing something great for my body. Everything from your insides out benefit from this yoga. I trust what they say, so I’ll keep doing it anyway.


So give yin a try at least once, your body will thank you even if it’s not right away. Yin takes time so keep that in mind.

3, 2, 1, Dodge Ball!


Winter has just became a little more fun now that The Bullfrog Ballsnatchers are back together for another season. With a record of 1-2, so far, I am determined we will finish above 50% this year.

Last fall, before I was an officially employed at Bullfrog Power, I was invited to join their dodge ball team for the Toronto Sport and Social Club. Dodge ball, really? Wow. This takes me back to high school and my huge fear of mean boys whipping balls super hard and being smashed in the face. But, I didn’t have a job at the time and nothing else to do on a Wednesday night I figured, why not? Being a social league means it’s just for fun right? This was not the case. For being a social club there where seriously competitive teams out there. Some were fun to play against others not so much, but either way I did have a blast. I got a real job and the most improved female award out of it at least.


This is just like us. For reals.


So when our captain made the call to get the team back for 2012, I was beyond excited. As fearful as dodge ball can be it is a co-ed sport anyone can play, and you don’t have to be that great at it either. Dodge, catch and throw are the three basic skills to have everything else is not important. Other sports of the caliber would include bowling and curling: both played better with a few drinks in hand. Ours usually come after the game, and this is where the social aspect comes into play. If you’re looking for a fun and easy fix to cure your boredom, or looking for a way to have some fun and meet people along the way I recommend checking out the list of sports offered by the TSS. There is a wide range to select from throughout the year and for various skill types. So you don’t have to be crazy good at anything, which is a nice peace of mind. So gather some friends, colleagues or even brave it out and sign up as an individual and go have some fun!

You may even run into me on the Dodge ball court.



January PubRuns Recap: 8k through Rosedale Valley


Warning: I was a moron and forgot to charge my phone from the night before. Booo! This means no pictures of PubRuns! This is sad because brunch was especially gorgeous (as well as delicious). But it is happy because I used my art app on my iPad to recreate key moments for you! Picasso quality, I tell you.


Last summer, a few friends and I started a running group that masqueraded as a networking group for publishing people. It is fun. If you like books and running, this is the group for you. (You are welcome to join, just email me!) About once a month, someone in the group “takes the lead” and picks a route in a new part of the city. We run it, then (the most important part!) we eat. A lot! Hurrah!

On Sunday, January 9, we decided to meet up at Broadview and Danforth to run an 8k loop through Rosedale. It had been cold and snowy all week, which meant our run wasn’t going to be pleasant, but at least we’d suffer through it together. I had a long run on my schedule, so I decided to run 6k beforehand, do the 8k loop with the girls (yes, this group is primarily female), then run 4k home. I survived this, barely.


Me, running alone. I didn't wear a lot of pink that day. That's an anomaly.


The day before I had done some Joga (and we all know how that went), ran 7k and then went out to a concert. (At the concert, I was hit on by a baseball scout and asked him a lot of questions about Moneyball. It was awesome.) This meant I wasn’t in the best shape for a long run. Thank god for PubRuns. After a painful and exhausting 6k, we took it easy through Rosedale. Well, Karen. Sarah and I took it easy. Kendal and Kate blazed a trail waaaaaaaay up ahead. But that’s the beauty of PubRuns. There will always be someone  who will run your pace. And that day, our pace was slow.


My artistic representations of Kate (left) and Kendal (right). A+ work, I say. For a primary student.


Rosedale is beautiful and low-traffic: a perfect place for a run. Karen, Sarah and I chose our future houses, contemplated how expensive having every meal delivered to your door would be (we saw a delivery on our route) and got lost twice. This, actually, worked to our advantage. The first wrong turn made our route shorter than planned. The second one made it longer, putting us exactly on track for the 8k we thought we were doing. Little did we know that Kendal had a trick up her sleeve…

The 8k loop ended at Broadview and Danforth, right where we began. But it was 0.9k to our destination: Three’s Company. While I bitched mercilessly about this (sorry, Kendal!) I was secretly glad, because it meant the final trek of my long run could be a full km shorter than planned.

Then, we brunched.



I had the tomato soup and grilled cheese. It was delicious. I have tried to replicate this tomato soup in the two weeks since. I have failed. It is sad.




The final 3k home was slow. I was stiff, cold, sore and full of food. But I ran them. Then went home and died a little.

I can’t wait for the next PubRuns.


The run: 18k in 2:21:30

The route: