Climbing Mount Batur

We made it! Cecilley and I at the top of Mt. Batur!

We made it! Cecilley and I at the top of Mt. Batur!

After being in Bali for almost a full month it was time to embark on a serious fitness adventure. As some of you may know Bali is famous for it’s live volcanoes (Mt. Batur last erupted in 2000, remember that?!) which have created quite the “tourist thing to do” in Bali. I’ve had a few friends mentioned they too went on a mountain trek to see the sunrise while visiting Bali, claiming it to be an amazing experience completely worth the very early wake up call. According to every Bali guide book Cecilley and I have come across each one also mentions it’s an activity not to be missed. Given that Cecilley and I are tourists (as much as we don’t want to say we are, we are) 1) we had to follow the guide books and 2) when would I ever hike a volcano again? But there was no way we were doing this alone. Both the books, and people before us, recommend hiring a guide to take you up the volcano (which ever one you decide to climb). Some are way more treacherous then others, requiring advance climbing skills to complete, but other are far more leisure so pick the hike that best suites your climbing capabilities and interest. Cecilley and I went part way, Mt. Batur is the third highest volcano in Bali. It’s crazy to think there are mountains even the people of Bali do not climb. I’d stay away form those ones.

So right from the comfort of our little home stay, which made it all too convenient, we booked our trek. Wayan (our driver and one of the many guys you can call to organize a mountain trek for you) we discovered later lives nearby and knows the family we’re staying with. How nice! Wayan was super and pretty hilarious. I’d recommend giving him a call if you’re ever in Bali, but before you do, do your research. Given this is a tourist attraction there are tones of companies to choose from offering different treks and a variety of things to do in addition to your climb. That being said there are also companies who may try and charge you a ridiculous price for a tour. Just be aware of that. For our trek, which included a pick up and drop off right at our home stay, a guided hike up the volcano (we had two guides to our group of seven), lunch at the top, water, and a tour of a coffee plantation (with lots of samples to taste!) and a stop to see the rice fields on the way home, all came to a total of 350,000rp each (that’s $35 Canadian). This was a good deal for what we got in return. Anything more is not worth it, unless more things are included. Again, just do your homework before going and don’t be shy when asking around.

At the time I had no idea of Cecilley’s love for hiking. To say I was a bit surprised with how badly she wanted to hike a volcano would’ve been an understatement (sorry, Cecilley, I have to stop doubting you!). Continuously talking up Vancouver and how much she loves the mountains and outdoors, you’d think I’d get it when she added climbing Mt. Batur to her Bali-must-do activities long before I even considered it. I wasn’t thrilled by the idea to be honest. For some reason climbing upward freaks me out. I have a fear of falling backwards then tumbling to my death. This is very dramatic, I know. In my head hiking should not be easy and requires way more preparation then just being able to walk. What about mountain hikers and the equipment required, throwing your body over boulders and around trees and things? And aren’t you supposed to be strapped into something? And carry a pack of some kind?! Not everyone should be able to do this. It’s like running in my early days, I just didn’t get it. But the idea of seeing the sunrise won me over. That, and conveniently I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed right now. I want to be just like Cheryl. And in so many ways I feel like the 26 year-old her.

2:30am Wayan – who was too awake and entertaining given the time, and perhaps was a little to comfortable driving the narrow Bali roads one many Bingtan’s deep for my liking (provided this was after the hike) – picked us and we drove us to the mountain meeting point, after picking up a few other people along the way. We were not alone but standing in the pitch black, a slight chill in the air, I felt so unprepared and completely isolated. I didn’t bring a long sleeve shirt, I didn’t have a flashlight, I was wearing my runners, all of a sudden this wasn’t a good idea. I was going to fall to my death on this mountain. I would tumble down backwards and plunge to my death. I couldn’t help but think this would be the end of me. Cecilley would be on her own from here on out, or I’d take her down with me as I fall. I really do have the wrong idea of what hiking means. But I do know hiking up a mountain is not something to take lightly. But for some reason people didn’t seem to sweat it at all. What gives? Why was I the only one freaking out?

Look at the fog roll in! Just before sunrise.

Look at the fog roll in! Just before sunrise.

Our group began our trek to the top and our guides were kind enough to loan us some flashlights (one for Cecilley and I to share) I made sure to grab it and held onto that sucker with all my might. Hiking in the dark made my heart race. Slowly one step at a time the gravel path began to incline, then steepened out as small boulders in the mountain becoming our handles and stepping blocks. I thought this trek was for beginners! No experience required… not true. Maybe it’s just me, but do not attempt Bali trekking without previous experience of some kind. But if you’re up to the challenge then go for it.

Each stop break along the way, I wanted this whole thing to be over. I wanted to be at the top, see the sun, get the hell off this mountain and be back at the home stay sleeping. But at the same time I wanted to enjoy it, but I honestly couldn’t the entire way up. Poor Cecilley trekking behind me blinded in the darkness because I was too afraid to give up the light or come to a full stop, for that matter, she was a much better trekker than I. Once we reached the first look off I was done. We had the option to go to the highest peek which was another 15-20 minutes to climb. I was quite content staying put, but Cecilley on the other hand was not.

Oh jeeze… fuck it. So I climbed.

Finally, watching the sunrise!

Finally, watching the sunrise!

At the top the view was spectacular, but I couldn’t enjoy it right away. Realizing I still had to climb down, this trek was far from over. As the fog rolled in we were swarmed by misty grey clouds that swallowed us whole and blocked our view from everything. It was a bit chilly at the top, but not for long. As the sky transformed from black, to blueish grey and purple, then bursts of orange and pink and red and yellow pierced though the sky as the giant glowing sun appeared beyond the distant mountain tops. I was silent. All the commotion of the people around me disappeared. My fear melted away and my breath was all I could hear. I was memorized by the beautiful picture before me as it unfolded. It was totally worth the trek. This moment. That moment on that mountain in Bali. I will take that picture with me forever.

Dam monkeys. These little buggers are not cute in the slightest!

Dam monkeys. These little buggers are not cute in the slightest!

And then a monkey jumped on me! Seriously. But this was on the way back down. After eating a lovely little breakfast (banana sandwiches and hard boiled eggs, yummy!) cooked and prepared by the heat and steam of the volcano we were standing on, we began our ascend (which, to my surprise, was not as terrifying as I thought it was going to be). It’s probably because I could actually see! On the way down we stopped at the crater – the gigantic hole in the volcano – and came face to face with monkeys. These critters are not cute by any means and freak the hell out of me. But feeding them was kind of fun. That’s until one jumps on you! Then the fun is over.

Reaching the bottom was like a breath of fresh air. But as I looked back and saw Mt. Batur from the distance gave me the feeling of “Ya, I climbed that.” Right then I was glad we did this. Afterward we thanked our guides, said goodbye to two lovely German couple we met along the way (hi Stefanie, hi Jens!), then made our way home, but only after a making a few pit stops along the way (one to the coffee plantation and the other to see some rice fields). Finally after all of that I was in my bed sleeping once again. That’s all I wanted to do after a day like that. Sleep! Then I would think back and enjoy the experience later.

The County Marathon Recap

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 9.31.18 AMHoly moly, I ran a marathon!!! I am a marathoner now. And I have to say it’s a good feeling. Crossing that finish line, seeing the 40k sign on the course knowing the end was in sight, thinking about all the conversations Julie and I would be having at pretty much every point along the way, thinking about Alice and all the training runs I didn’t do, then realizing how much bloody running I actually did with the Running Room all for this one race, thinking how in the world was I feeling as good as I was? (I didn’t think that was possible!), thanking my lucky stars for living with Charlie at this point in time because I don’t think there was one thing I personally owned that I wore on race day (thanks, Charlie!), thinking how am I still alive and walking around and not sore afterward (I wasn’t sore at all really, not to rub it in), and most of all how happy I was that Erin was there to share this weekend with me. She was dead set on me having a good time which was accomplished just fine. I didn’t understand her rationale for it all, at the time, but once it was all over I got it. I realized a marathon is not just a race, but an experience, and a huge accomplishment too. So I listened to her and soaked it all in, but only after I was able to breathe normally again.

As I hinted ever so slightly in training week 15, and Erin mentioned it too in her half marathon recap, I sure did run a marathon!

A long time ago when I thought running a marathon would be fun, mind you this was at a time when I was excited about running. This moment was minutes after completing the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. It then hit me again when Erin finished her marathon. That did it for me. It was now or never (back in the spring) to decide would I or wouldn’t I? I knew I would, but when was the real question. Then an even more important question come up – after registering for Alice’s Running Room Clinic – what race would I run? Knowing I had Bali to look forward to in late October, the County Marathon was my only option… but you’ve all heard this story already.

Driving in the car with Erin allowed for some serious bonding time. I missed Erin and with all the summer craziness behind us – little sister Anne moving to town, me trying to figure out my life and working three jobs while marathon training, and Erin being busy too – we ended up spending zero time together this summer and that made me sad. But when she signed up for the half marathon you’d think I’d be thrilled, but at the time I didn’t really care. I know this wasn’t very sisterly of me, but like I said we hadn’t spent much time together and this was just another race, right? Wrong! Looking back now I’m so glad Erin was there. My race would have been completely different had she not have been there. I owe it to Erin for running fast!

Erin’s marathon (The Bluenose) was a full on family affair, which was great and what she wanted, but I could have cared less for mine. I signed up thinking I’d go alone or drag Cecilley with me, but Erin was either not impressed this this idea or just really wanted to run herself? Or maybe she really loves me and wanted to be there to support me! She did have this idea that a marathon is special and supposed to be fun. Again, I could have cared less. I wanted to run the race, have it be over, then drink lots of wine to celebrate or drown my sorrows. Either way the end of the race was looking good. I didn’t know what to expect so I didn’t want to get too excited in case the race was horrible. And I didn’t want to be down right terrified either because it could be great! Oh my running heart! Marathon’s are so confusing!

Closer to marathon weekend after Erin and I figured out all the details to our trip and my mind began to settle. Picton was super pretty and reminded me so much of rural Nova Scotia. When Erin and I arrived at our little Bed and Breakfast (thank you Erin for organizing pretty much everything!) I felt like we were living in Stars Hallow. And this made me happy! As Erin mentioned it was super close to the finish line – amazing planning on Erin’s part, who knew what was going to happen to me once the race was over. That Erin, she was looking out for me… or was just planning for the worst possible scenario? But I knew I was going to be fine. I kept telling myself that. There was nothing more I could do to prepare, so I might as well start thinking about the end instead of the race itself. All I had to do was eat, sleep, wake up early, eat again, then run very far, how hard could it be?

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 9.32.46 AMThat evening we walked the town in search of a good dinner spot. Eating a good meal was super important. We settled on a very safe choice of veggies, bread and dips, and various salads we picked out at the grocery store. I was very pleased and so was Erin. Then came race morning! Although I was nervous I kept my cool. It didn’t really matter then if I ran fast or slow or would crawl across the finish line all I knew was this marathon was happening. End of story.

Erin escorted me to the bus pick up spot in the pouring rain. Why was it raining?! Of all days to rain, the day of my race. I mean really, come on. The bus ride felt long, but I busily packed my gels away in their appropriate places in my sports bra, turned on Charlie’s Garmin and set my 10 and 1’s, packed my granola bar and salt tabs in their poaches, filled two of my (or rather Charlie’s) fuel belt water bottles with Vega electrolytes, put on my hat, tied up my shoelaces, and waited. There is a serious pre race routine that has to be done, ask any runner, it’s not just me. As I waited around for 7:45am, I paced, peed a zillion and one times, and then I called my Mommy. I got really nervous all of a sudden, but I was also ready. It was a very weird mix of emotions to have. But Mom came though for me (as usual) in these dire moments before competition.

The start was across the road from the arena we were waiting in. I put my head phones in my ears, but didn’t turn on my music. I was unsure of it’s battery power and didn’t want to waste it. Charlie, I borrowed even your iPod shuffle. Mine would not have lasted the length of the race and I didn’t charge it before hand. So, thanks Charlie!

Then I was off. The 10 and 1’s were set, I was running just fine, but then quickly realized I had no idea what my pace was let alone figure out how to see it on the Garmin. Oh no! I guess not everything can go according to plan. But I felt amazing very early on (and that I was thankful for) settling into a grove (which I didn’t know at the time was a pace pretty much on track of a 2:00 fist half). As Erin explained earlier, the half started exactly 2 hours after the full. If I stuck to the right time we’d meet and run the second leg of my race (Erin’s full race) together. And all went according to plan even trough I was 6 minutes off pace, which was much faster than then 2:20 I thought I was going to finish at. I didn’t feel slow – there were portions of the race I felt slower, but nothing to start worrying about. I was trying to calculate my pace at each water break with my walk breaks. At first I was bang on walking at each 2k, but that didn’t last for too long (I either sped up or slowed down, I’m still unsure). In my head I was never going to see Erin! But soon I’d come to realize how wrong I was.

Somehow I managed to make it all the way to 17k without needed to fuel up. I honestly felt that good. I took a gel here because 17k has always been my struggling point. But not this time! I flew on by and crused to the 21.1k where I jumped for joy having spotted Erin. The plan worked! Running 10 and 1’s was super helpful and gave me time to check in. Did I need water? Electrolytes, or a salt tab, or a gel? During training walk breaks were just that, a break! But a break I’d be dying for. During the marathon I was focused and somehow very prepared. I didn’t want the walk breaks and I didn’t feel like I needed them. This did change, however, going past 22k. My walk breaks then became something I wanted. But I was okay with that.

At 11k I took a salt tab just to keep my mind on track as I wasn’t sure if I’d keep sailing through at the pace that I was. I stuck to the pattern of water/electrolytes, salt tab, water/electrolytes, gel for the whole race. I didn’t ever want to get to the point of where I would need something, then I know I’d be in trouble. Lucky for me this feeling hit me once around 38k, also to my surprise I brought more with me then I ended up needing. At 38k I did need my granola bar fuel to change things up and to chew on something (this takes your mind away from the fact your still running and still have just under 5k to go) this I needed to get me through to the end.

The first half I found myself running on my own, then I’d catch the 4:15 pace group for a while, there was also two ladies I would try to catch – that was a fun game to play – but of course would lose whomever I was trying to catch when my walk breaks would start. I hated walking at this point! It was so fustrating getting so close to the group (or persons) then having to watch them dart off and out of sight.

It wasn’t until Erin and I started running together when my determined mind power strated to really test me. Erin, early on, lead the way and ran just ahead of me, which was very nice at fist – I knew Erin could be the pacer at this point and steer us into a 2:00 finish – I trusted her to lead me home. Together we passed so many people including the 4:15 group. Yes! We were right on track and I was still feeling great. Erin was looking great too, from what I could tell. But then somewhere between 25k and 30k things, for whatever reason, started to piss me off. Erin was in my space, I hated having her in front of me, I wanted to shake this so bad. Why was I getting so angry?! Sorry, Erin, it was nothing you did at all. I love you!

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 9.33.34 AMI was able to get it together once we approached the Sandy Banks and ran though the provincial park. The trees over hanging, engulfing us in and blocking the rain and the wind for a few kilometers, it was lovely. It was still raining at this point and continued to do so for god knows how long. But here I felt back on track! I kept telling myself at this point “Just get to 36k, just make it to 36k”. 32k was the furthest distance I’ve ever run, but my training had prepared me for 36k and beyond. It’s the last 10k that’s the real mind game. You’ve already passed the physical test. But when you know you’re entering unfamiliar territory it’s both amazing and terrifying. What happens then? Do you hit a wall and come to a dead stop? Does your body tap out and that’s it? When we surpassed 36k I got my answer… my legs kept going! Crazy I know! The real challenge for me – when I started to feel it and wanted this run to end was between 35k and 38k – it also didn’t help that the only hill in Picton (and along the route) happened at kilometer 37, which Erin kindly noted a dinner the night before. Great. But I saw that hill, and powered up it. Erin eventually caught up to me and we ran together again until the 39k mark. At this point the 4:15ers had caught us, we were playing catch and go for a little ways, until they took off which seemed like an insane distance a head of us. At the next water break I said to Erin “They’re so far ahead of us!”. “Don’t even worry about them,” was her response. Me (in my head): “Forget that nonsense! I’m catching them!” And so I did. I saw the 40k sign and booted it to the end. I ran like I’ve never ran before, catching the attention of my locals in the crowd. Note to everyone: wearing a marathon bib automatically gets you more cheers! I was feeling great! But still wanted this dam run to be over.

Then I saw the grocery store we bought our dinner at, then our B&B, and then sure enough, the finish line! One existed after all! Then I ran. I ran past the 4:15 pace bunny, through the cheering spectators and through to the finish line! It was finally over. But at that second when I turned around to see Erin crossing the finish behind me – that’s where it hit me. I just ran a marathon and thought to myself I could have gone further or need to run another one. Seriously, I’ve gone mad.

My splits were almost identical at 2:06 and 2:07 respectfully, finishing at a time of 4:14. Erin was screaming “You did it!” when I finished. “I know.” I did just run a marathon. And I did so under 4:15!

Take that 4:15. I did it. But I could not have done this all on my very own. Thank you Erin!! And Julie! And Alice, the 4:30 Running Room ladies, the Running Room clinic, yin yoga with Julia, Jackie and all my yoga teachers at MYD, and of course Lee Ann (she was the reason I could run my long run on Sundays with the clinic!). And thank you Mommy for giving me the confidence to run fast right before the race when I needed it, even though you weren’t there to see me run. Next time!

Running a marathon sure is an experience, and apparently requires a thank you speech.


Jill’s Marathon Training Week #5

Sam Sykes talks about hills. Hills are fun and hard. Yay, we'll see about that!

Sam Sykes talks about hills. Hills are fun and hard. Ya, we’ll see about that!

Hills. This was the theme of the week as we mentally prepare for the week to follow. Hill training will commence on Wednesday from now until god knows when. But, according to my training schedule I began hills two weeks prior, so really I should have nothing to fear. Ya right! Does anyone know how hilly the County Marathon is? Not that it really matters, there is no getting out of hill training with this running group. And not that the hilliness of the route really matters to me, I’m one of those people who will not look at the course route before a race – it’s information I don’t really need. Or rather want to know. I have 42.2k to worry about running, thinking about the route will just add to my reasons to worry.

I did do my hill training during week three – just as my program told me to do – and was very proud of the fact I actually did it. 4 x 600m done. And thank goodness I live so close to Poplar Plains. It makes running hills not feel as bad because knowing I don’t have far to run to get there kind of makes the process seem less daunting. Kind of.

Week 5 was, I think, my first solid week of running. I took Monday completely off from running, but this was not a off day to do nothing. Monday was a full on day at the studio! I taught the morning community class, worked the desk, practiced, then taught the evening 6pm class. It was busy! Tuesday I got the required 6k in during lunch – another day at the office another solid run on my own.

Wednesday I went running with Julie (hi, Julie). Both of us had to miss the evening clinic due to work, so we planned a running date for the morning. It was the perfect day to run. We both felt great, we had a steady tempo going and the hype of the other runners wasn’t there to intimidate us. I think this is why we had so much fun! That and trying to figure out where the heck we were going for the most part made the run that much more interesting. But that’s the thing you have to love about running in Toronto there is so much to see and too many random places you could end up, but you’ll never really get lost. We got our 10k in and I was feeling super good about it. I even ran to meet Julie then ran home, tagging on a few extra kilometres. Even better!

For far at this point in the training, for some strange reason Thursdays are not my day. I’m usually tired, I run slow, and I hate the idea of running each time this particular day rolls around. Thank goodness I had Julie again to get me through – we struggled, but we buckled down and got through it. I hate it when 8k feels long. And just like that it was Friday (my favourite day!). I had zero running to do and an event that evening I was really looking forward to attending. Alice was hosting a Yoga for Runners fundraiser where she and another mentor of mine, Vanessa Montenegro from Flipswitch Studio, tag team taught a kick ass yoga class (literally it kicked our asses!). There were prizes to be won and lots of Vega treats to be consumed, it was a good night in my yoga books.

So I just realized now that week 5 was not a solid week of running. Bummer… I did not run on Saturday. But I went SUPing (or Stand Up Paddleboarding if you will) for almost 2 hours Saturday morning. The water this day was a bit rough for my liking, that combined with my fear of falling in the lake the entire time, made me a timid SUP’er. The water looked cold, and the weather wasn’t the greatest. So I held back, just a bit.

But SUPing is my new love. I really do love it! Interested? Check out Jenn at Big City Boards and she will take you.


I wasn't doing a whole lot of standing this day. But I really can do it! The water was choppy.

I wasn’t doing a whole lot of standing this day. But I really can do it! The water was choppy.

Sunday was our long run and my first long run with the clinic. Arriving at the store was anything but relaxing. It was kinda bananas! There were so many people, different coaches pointing people in different directions, I just wanted out of there and fast. 19k was the planned route and because I couldn’t find my pace group nor did I know my pace group leader, I found the 4:00 group and ran with them. Oops. But not really! I really want to run a sub 4 hour race, but I know I should not let that be my focus for my first marathon. So I won’t think about it. The first leg of the run was awful, but getting the kinks out early on meant I left faster and stronger towards the middle and at the end. It was a much better run than I had anticipated that’s for sure. I was feeling very happy afterward.

And to end the week off right, I went to the studio for yin yoga with live music. In my training books I’d say week 5 was a solid training week after all!

Moksha Yoga Teacher Training Day #21

Today was our last and final day off of the training. So what did I do to utilize my time off? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Well not really I did get up in the morning and went to Joe’s yin/yang class with music at 9:30am, but I had a whole day planned in addition to class which included another long run to Runyon Canyon, buying groceries, making my lunch for the week and practice teaching for the following day: I was teaching again, but this time I’d be teaching in the hot room!

But let’s talk about Joe’s class for a moment. All I’ve heard nothing but great things about Joe Komar since arriving to Moksha LA and how badly I needed to take a class with him. Now I understand why. Joe has a very commanding presence in the room (it was also super nice not practicing in Studio B for a change!). Joe is gentle with this voice, but assertive with this instruction. This class was just the right amount of push I needed, with the right amount of tough yin. This was not an easy class by any means. I was blown away afterward by how “out of my head and into my body” I felt. This class was exactly what I wanted. With trainees teaching the Moksha sequence day after day, it’s hard to get into your own practice. Joe gave my practice back to me and for that I was so grateful. Thanks, Joe!

The grocery, cooking, practicing plan happened, but the run did not. I don’t know if it’s an LA thing or my brain on training, but I’ve become a baby and the last thing I wanted to do was go running in the wet and the cold. It was raining and cloudy all day. What gives?!

This is where I should have gone on my day off! The beach! But the weather was not cooperating.

This is where I should have gone on my day off! The beach! But the weather was not cooperating.

The more I didn’t run the more I was dreading the Around the Bay Race. (But, hey! We all know how that turned out!) And the day before, during our presentations, I discovered there was a 5-time Boston marathon runner (hi, Natalie!) among us. Natalie is a champion with a PB of 3:30 something, and officially my new hero.

I thought right then and there I would run the few days I have before the race when I got home. Erin will be running laps around me (so I thought)! With all the yoga I’m doing you’d think I wouldn’t worry to too much. But apparently yoga isn’t running training.

I can’t worry about this now. Now I need to rest and prepare myself for the 4th and final week of training.

Class #4: The hot room

After my gong show of a class on Thursday, I was beyond nervous for Friday morning to arrive. People were coming to the studio to practice with me. And paying for it! I feel the level of yoga I’m offering this month is worth the free rate I’m charging, but not $7.

7 people arrived for my class — a few friends and 3 of which I did not know! One lady was in town from Moksha Yoga Cincinnati. How cool! And the other two ladies are regular students at downtown. Erin, the studio manager, and Peter Ward, another teacher of mine, also came to my class. The weirdest feeling came over me when I walked into that room. It was like doing so for the first time all over again. Looking at the bodies lying on the floor, it hit me: I have to instruct them! I’m the one who has to wake them from their savasana and get them moving. When I realized that, being a teacher became real.

This is not Downtown's hot room, but you get the idea!

This is not Downtown’s hot room, but you get the idea!

60 minutes later it was all over. I survived. And no one died! Nothing bad happened. And to my surprise, I felt like it went well! I had positive feedback from the students, with a few things to work on. Breathing cues again, I instructed pranyama breathing pretty quickly (the first part of class was a bit fast) and so was the flow sequence. But I felt like it was fast too, so at least I was somewhat aware of it. When I slow down in my own body and the rhythm of class with soften.

Peter sat down with me and talked me though his feedback. I need to stick to the Moksha sequence… oops! Getting this locked down means I can then  to mix it up. But not before. I also need to get my hands on people and make adjustments. Another oops. Peter said I was gentle, and friendly, and it was easy to practice with me. Thanks, Peter! You’re feedback means a lot to me!

My next community class at Moksha Yoga Downtown is Friday, May 31st at 8:15am. Come! And you too can give me feedback!


Class #3: Thursday evening with my teachers

This class was a bit of a rough go on Thursday. Both Jackie and Jacqueline (two of MY teachers!) were in my class! I was nervous and I really didn’t want to be. I know Jacqueline and Jackie will still love me (at least I hope so!) even if I don’t teach the best class ever. But my nerves, they showed up. Big time.

But….everyone said the class wasn’t terrible. Cecilley said it was her favourite class yet, although I need to adjust my pitch at times. Thanks, Cecilley, I appreciate the feedback. Jackie said the class was good too! What? This makes no sense to me.

I felt off. I felt uncomfortable in my own body and I couldn’t get myself grounded or calm. My words weren’t flowing, I was tongue tied. But every teacher gets nervous and every teacher has their off day.

The last time Jackie, Jacqueline, myself, and Cecilley all practiced together we were in Costa Rica! And I was not a teacher!

The last time Jackie, Jacqueline, myself, and Cecilley all practiced together we were in Costa Rica! And I was not a teacher!

So things to work on: Some of my breath cues were off. Okay, that’s not so bad. It’s funny how much your own breath helps guide you as you teach. Jackie always said breath with the class. I was not breathing with my class. I also said “here” a lot. Weird. This hadn’t come up in my pervious class with Jackie and I didn’t hear myself saying the word. So where that came from I had no idea, but another easy fix once I take notice of it.

All in all, my transitions were good, however, some sides (for double sided poses) were held longer than the other. Again, if I was actually breathing then maybe this wouldn’t have been an issue. It’s okay, another excellent point to remember for next time.

The feedback was great and if anything I need to prepare myself more for classes in advance. I didn’t feel ready. My next class is in the hot room. Oh my goodness. I best be ready for this one!


Class #2: Free Yoga with Jill!

One thing I’m learning throughout this practice teaching/planning classes project – people like to work out earlier in the week. Which is totally understandable when you stop to think about it. Most people would prefer to have their Thursday evenings to do as the please. It’s one day away from the weekend and makes for an excellent night out — and now with the beautiful warm weather upon us, hockey playoffs — and that means finding a patio is much more appealing than grabbing your yoga mat.

I decided I would embrace this fact of life and take back Thursdays for myself after years spent at Downtown trading on Thursday nights. I’m running a lot more now and trying to be more serious about it. This means I will train for races and not run 30k on a whim. My goal is to run a marathon. Ideally, it would be this fall, but if Erin’s training is be any indication to the amount of work that needs to be done, I need to smarten up!  I need to create a weekly plan where I have my days to teach, practice, and run! And right now teaching is really important.

So Mondays from now on will be teaching night. Every Monday evening for the spring at 6:30pm I’m offering free non heated classes at Moksha Downtown. In case you haven’t seen it here’s my teaching calendar for May:

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My second class took place on a Monday and as expected the turn out was much better (and easier to get people to come!).  I was able to do my thing and didn’t think about what has happening. I was just teaching. It felt natural, I wasn’t crawling with awkwardness, and my students enjoyed themselves! It was a win for everyone.

Join me Monday evenings! And follow us on Facebook for all your yoga event needs. I’d love to have you in my class!


Class #1: Teaching for the first time

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What on earth have I gotten myself into? Someone please remind me again why I’m doing this? I don’t want to be a yoga teacher, who am I kidding?!

I was freaking out. I set up my very first practice teaching class a few Thursdays ago. Jackie had sent me a text moments before the class saying she was coming. Ah! Thankfully Cecilley had said she’d be there (I needed the moral support). And my friend Kara from my Costa Rica retreat #2 brought her boyfriend and a friend of hers. Oh boy, here goes nothing.

While Moksha Downtown in the middle of some major changes — renovating the studio and expanding — there is a cute little space upstairs for new teachers such as myself to practice teach. Thank you, Jackie! Jackie has basically taken me under her wing and it mentoring me in every possible way. But having her in the room made me beyond nervous. Who was I kidding I was just nervous. Period.

I felt my nerves were showing. My voice wasn’t all there and I felt my cues and instructions were quick. I just wanted this hour to pass as fast as it possibly could! But, in spite of all the weirdness I was feeling, moments of strong confidence shined. I actually felt like I knew what I was doing. And that felt really cool. When the classed ended I darted downstairs to hide. Jackie sat me down for a feedback session, which t my surprise was fantastic. Jackie said it was a great class, I was wonderful as a new teacher and she can see the qualities in me that are going to make me shine as a teacher. The words will come and the nervous will settle, in time it’ll all come together.

I have no idea what she’s talking about. I’m just glad everyone, including myself, survived!


Grow Your Yoga


Spring time tends to the the universal time to clean, rejuvenate, and prepare our minds and bodies for the warm weather to come. And why not! With the snow and cold gone for another year, it’s time to celebrate!

When I think of spring I can’t help but think of my teenage years and Nickelodeon cartoons. This tune, in particular, from Rocko’s Modern Life, defines the spring season for me. I will never be able to get song (or episode) out of my head.

Now that the cleaning fever is upon us – yogis far and wide unite! It’s time to Grow Your Yoga. Sounds great, right? You may recall the monster of a challenge I took on last spring – the Living Your Moksha Challenge – the challenge where I lived and breathed yoga for 7 weeks!

Well Living Your Moksha is back with a new name and a new attitude. Grow Your Yoga encompasses the same ideas as Living Your Yoga, but it’s compressed into a 30 day challenged and focuses on 4 of the 7 pillars – Be Healthy, Be Peace, Be Accessible, and Reach Out. All the proceeds for this years challenge will go towards the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

I just signed up. I love my yoga that much that I will challenge myself for a second year in a row to bring my yoga off my mat. As a newly certified Moksha teacher, it only made sense to take on another 30 day challenge. This is an opportunity for teachers and students to bring yoga off your mat and into your everyday life. Take from the challenge what you want and do as much as you can. There’s no pressure. This is a challenge for you to explore your yoga.

So, who’s ready to Grow Your Yoga with me?!

Moksha Yoga Teacher Training Day #20

After 20 days of training you’d think everyone would know what’s going on! We get up, we eat, we do yoga, we eat, we listen to a lecture, we eat, we listen to another lecture, we eat…but no! You need to be on your game at all times. That is, I learned very quickly, when Jeremie is around.

Our morning asana was a total trick. As the end of training draws near, I kept thinking who has yet to teach a class? Jeremie! I’ve been very curious what king of yoga teacher Jeremie would be like. Today I thought my prayers have been answered. Because this morning, Jeremie walked into the room and began class. Excellent.

But is not what happened. Jeremie had us all fooled. He (and I bet Bryde was in on it too) tagged-teamed Nava (hi, Nava!) in after instructing pranayama breathing. We were teaching the class! Each person would teach two poses then would tag in someone in to teach the next two. It was fun and also very distracting. It’s really hard to practice when you’re constantly thinking “What the hell comes next?!”

I know your tricks now, Jeremie. With Asana TBD on the schedule and your comment about this being the best class of the training. But not because of you but because of us. I’m on to you now. But with 10 days left what could possibly be in store?

But there was good news that came of this heart pounding morning. Apparently my presentation did go really well the day before because Jeremie gave me a shout out at the beginning of class. Thank you, Jeremie! All is forgiven.

After a stressful morning it's time to relax!

After a stressful morning it’s time to relax!

After class YuMee continued with more yoga history and philosophy, and again in the afternoon. We talked about the yoga sutras this time and dove into what each one represents and symbolizes in the body and in our practice. Our afternoon class was with Ezmy again! Ezmy’s partner James played the gutiar and sang during class. Talk about a magical combination. It was the most beautiful yin/yang class ever. And Ezmy kicked our butts.

Then the last part of the day was filled presentations followed by a reunion dinner with my LA Costa Rica friends and a day off on Friday. Yay! With a day of I had to go out and celebrate.

Awww Costa Rica. Very found memories of this place and these people!

Awww Costa Rica. Very fond memories of this place and these people!