Six things on Sunday.

Not a lot of fitness going on in Balser-land these days. Soon. In the meantime, here is a bunch of other stuff going on:

1. I got a new phone.

YES! iPhone5s for the win. My contract was almost up, so I successfully negotiated a new free phone as part of my new contract. It is so much faster than my old phone and the camera is so much better. I might stop hating photos now.

2. I joined Instagram.

Obligatory Instagram cat photo.

At least the photos I am now uploading to Instagram no longer suck. I’m still not entirely sure about Instagram, but I am giving it an honest effort. Follow me @Booksin140. I do not understand taking photos of your food. Or selfies. I am officially old.

3. I went to the beach.

And made a fire. It was good times. I totally recommend going to the beach on a weekday evening. It’s beautiful and calming and hardly anyone else there – the opposite of most weekend beach trips.

4. I downloaded a pedometer app.

photo

I downloaded it on Friday and though the magic that is an iPhone, it back-dated my lack of fitness to make me feel bad about myself. And am now obsessed with hitting 10,000 steps a day. It’s hard, y’all. It also means carrying my phone with me ALL THE TIME, because I don’t want to miss any steps. I’m becoming a ridiculous person.

5. I think I want this iPhone running case.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.48.00 AM

I never take my phone with me running because it’s big and annoying and the best place I’ve found to keep it is in my bra, where it’s still awkward and uncomfortable. But with this case, the YurBuds Race Case, I could have my phone with me, use it for my music instead of my iPod, use it for track splits, have a communication device on hand and maybe, maybe, start taking the obligatory on the run photos so many other bloggers do. Plus, I kinda like the idea of being balanced: water bottle in one hand, phone in the other. It’s $29.99 and I saw it in Canadian Running. Thoughts? Would it actually be useful or would I hate it? Someone send this to me so I can review it! That’s how this blogging thing is supposed to work, right?

6. Three of my friends had babies last weekend.

Seven days later, this still blows my mind.

 

 

Eat. Pray. Love. (Fitness) Adventure.

We arrived in Bali!

We arrived in Bali!

Wow, my brain and life have been on warp speed since god only knows, to say the least. It feels like this anyway. Really, it all started back in August when my life took a dramatic turn – I lost my part-time job, discovered mold in my apartment, was struggling to find some kind of balance between my desk duties and teaching at MYD, and found myself struggling personally on a number of different levels. To say the least I was stressed. Stressed out with so many things. But oddly enough it was my marathon traning that kept me sane. Marathon training and Cecilly.

See Cecilley and I signed up for another retreat with Jackie many months ago, but this time we were going to Bali! I offered to help Jackie and Julia with the organizing and planning of the excursions for this retreat, therefore I had to go! But both of us were in need of some serious balance at this point in our lives. Little did I know then exactly how much balance I really needed. It was after all the above series of events unravelled when I really felt stuck. I needed a serious change. It was then that Cecilley and I decided to pack our bags and book a one way ticket to Bali. She quit her job, I left the studio (but on a temporary bases) we now had nothing holding us back! It was time to leave the comfort of Toronto and see the world! I have never done any extensive traveling in my life, this is a huge first for me (and for her!).

So hello from Bali! And sorry for the lack of posts on my behalf! Thankfully in my absence Erin has been keeping busy while I’ve been busy planning my next whereabouts. But I promise to keep you all in the loop of my traveling, working, and trying to find ways to be healthy and fit abroad. Right now I am settled in Ubud, Bali for a month. To fill you in on the Bali portion to our travel plan, Cecilley and I will be WWOOFing on an organic farm and plan on making a visit to the greenest school in the whole world, The Green School.

Now that I have a much better understanding of what brings me balance (running being one very important thing, more on this later) I feel better about so many things. One being a better blogger!

Pay-what-you-can Thai Yoga Massage

Rachael Kess is a long time teacher at Moksha Yoga Downtown, she’s one bright and genuine gal who sure knows her stuff. Teaching for 5+ years, Rachael is wise beyond her years and now that I’m working weekends at the studio I feel like the luckiest girl in the world spending hours upon hours chatting away with this fine lady.

Beyond being a superb teacher, Rachael is also a masseuse of the Thai Yoga Massage, which she offers at Moksha Downtown. I had the luxury of experiencing her “magic hands” myself  and holy moly I was taken to another planet afterward. As athletes,  we put our bodies through mega stress! And I mean mega. So a great way to thank your body for the copious amounts of stress we put it through is yoga or stretching or — you guessed it — a massage. I found this out first-hand, thanks to Rachael’s greatness.

 

This is Rachael. Isn't she the cutest?! And I stole this photo from you, Rachael, I hope that's okay.

This is Rachael. Isn’t she the cutest?! And I stole this photo from you, Rachael, I hope that’s okay.

 

Rachael is off to travel the world soon (so sad!) which means there’s limited time for pay-what-you-can thai massage. But you should check her out while you can. Tell her I sent you. You won’t regret it — and your body won’t either.

 

Grow Your Yoga

525209_10152581345260276_1605621674_n

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?!

Yoga. Surf. RawFood Day #6

My Costa Rica recaps: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 and Day 5!

After the day of rest and an evening fashion host put on by our every own Ezmy and Kristi Soomer. (My surfing parter in crime. Hi Kristi!) Kristi has her very own clothing company encircled. Kristi was also on the last yoga retreat with Jackie and Brendan back in March. When I think this is what came from her experience, I’m reminded that yoga does amazing things.

 

Tequila shots are raw, right?

Tequila shots are raw, right?

 

Day 6:
Jackie started our morning off with a creative vinyasa class. I always love a good Jackie creative vinyasa, and this was no exception. This class was the was the full version of the sequence Jackie guided us though the day before everyone arrived. I really enjoyed the flow of class and felt much stronger today than the last. That is until we attempted this twisted crow pose, or whatever Jackie called it! Afterward, I was ready for more surfing! I was invigorated and wanted to hit the waves once more. But if had I known what lay ahead, I wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic.

I took the morning surf crew out again to have extra beach and Nosara time for the afternoon. When we arrived at the Nosara Surf Academy Kimberly informed us today was the day! We were going beyond the break! We were catching the big waves! Oh no.

Paddling out the the brake is exhausting. You paddle for so long, pop up over waves, turtle dive under others until you reach this area of calm waters. Then we sat. You sit on your board and wait until the right wave comes along. Until that moment hits our heart is pounding in anticipation of the thrill of riding the wave back to shore. I did this! I actually rode the big waves, but with the highs come the lows, and the with the lows comes fear.

When you’re up on the big wave that’s when you need to find the sweet spot and let everything come together. Because when it doesn’t there is a world wind of water beneath you ready to toss you around and around the moment you fall. This is called the Washing Machine. And it’s scary. You are tossed in every direction. You have no idea which way is up. You have no idea where your board is. But it’s what makes surfing that much more exciting.

My surfing buds, Kristi and Mandy, both had their share of the Washing Machine too. We were all shaken up and needed a release. Alcohol was that release. Hey, we survived a very intense surfing moment and it was Kimberly’s last day of coaching us. These drinks were drinks of “Oh my god, I’m still alive!” and “We love you, Kimberly!” The other drinks were not part of my plan…

 

What have we done?!

What have we done?!

 

Once the surfing crew came to meet us, more drinks happened and then the raw food cleanse was broken! I ate a veggie burger. A cooked veggie burger. At the time, I felt awful about it. But when I think of it now, I realize that didn’t die and I deserved something for my insanity of a surf day. Plus these yogis are amazing people and friends I will carry with me forever. Oh, that day in Nosara when I almost died and drank my fears away, good times in Costa Rica!

 

Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #5

After a brief break, my Costa Rica recaps are back! If you missed them, read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4!

 

After a full day of being tired and complaining because surfing wasn’t my best, the next day was even tougher. I faced some major fears, and broke my raw food cleanse (I had a very good reason, I promise!) and really brought the awareness to myself that I can choose my own choice. And so the real journey begins…

 

I'm still happy to surf no matter what!

I’m still happy to surf no matter what!

 

Day 5:
Today began with qigong meditation and practice with Kevin. I was still sore from my 3 days of surfing in a row, the thumping and shaking felt great when I actually lifted my arms to do it. My body was stiff and I needed to shake this out. Even the slightest sensation of my heels thumping into the floor shook all the way up my spine and through my jelly like arms and legs. Really paying attention to parts of the body, as Kevin guided us through class, I could sense the parts that were sore and the parts of my body that needed special attention. I moved though class as best as I could, but it was tough and tiring. Where have I heard that one before?

Afterward, once the post qigong kicked in, I was ready! I was invigorated and wanted to hit the waves once more. I took the morning surf crew out to Noara and decided we would stay in town for the afternoon. And why not, the sun was hot, the water was warm, it was grand. Surfing today, for me, was mediocre. The waves were choppy and my pop-ups (or lack of) where hurting. I wasn’t standing on my board nor was I catching good waves. I guess you can’t win them all. Kimberly taught me the push up which you do over the smaller waves as your paddling out. You literally do a push up on our board and the wave goes under your belly and over the board. It’s not as hard as it sounds, unless our arms were dead like mine.

 

Time to go home. This picture was taken by Patrick, thanks Patrick!

Time to go home. This picture was taken by Patrick, thanks Patrick!

 

Today’s surfing was rough, so was yoga and so was the evening yin class with Ezmy. We did a lot of good things however – lower back, and hamstrings, oh my! Kevin played music for us again which did relieve some of the tightness in my hamstrings. Thank goodness this evening was our free night. I clearly needed a rest.

 

Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #4

Happy New Year! Let’s go back to January 1st, 2013 — day 4 of my yoga retreat. 2013 is the year I deemed as the year of big change. And it will be I’m going to be a yoga teacher remember?! That’s the plan. I’ve been sending this energy out there, to the universe, for I don’t know how long! And now I feel as though my stars are aligning. In the fire on New Year’s Eve, I burned fear and self doubt, and with that comes letting go of regret. I think back to where I was in September when I almost decided not to go on the retreat. But Jackie knew this decision wasn’t coming from my heart. It was fearful and worry clouding my mind. Thankfully, I listened to myself (and to Jackie’s advice) because I would have lived with this regret for a very long time.

Day 4:
2013 started off in the most perfect way I could imagine: vinyasa with Jackie! Jackie took us though a sequence focusing on lots of hip openers and back bends. It was the start of a brand new year, time to ring out all that stale energy! This class was extra special. My body moves to the smooth rhythm of Jackie’s words, I don’t just hear Jackie’s instructions I feel them. Ohhh I have shivers thinking about it and how I’m going to offer my class and practice to future yogis. It’s exciting stuff!

After class I meet my new surfing best friend (hi Mandy!) and two very lovely ladies for Moksha Downtown (hi Maria and Cathy!). Maria will be accompanying me to LA. She was also accepted to the Moksha Teacher Training. I am so overjoyed by this whole experience.

That afternoon, before hitting the waves, I went for a (very) quick run. I was in Costa Rica! It was hot! And I needed to conserve my energy for surfing. I ran for a good 20 minutes to Black Sand Beach. Erin’s training for a marathon and I am determined to run a marathon too. So I went for a run.

I blame the stupid run for what happened next. But in all honestly, when have I ever surfed 3 days in a row? Umm never. My arms were like jelly, sadly I was not the surfing superstar I had played up to be. I was tired and drained and I could not pop up on my board if my life depended on it. And today of all days Kimbo (the head surf instructor at the Nosara Surf Academy) was in the water taking pictures! I do not have documented footage of me on my board. This saddens me a great deal.

Everybody go surfing!

Everybody go surfing!

Back at the our yoga headquarters Ezmy lead another amazing yin class. My battered body and sore arms need the stretching and tenderness. The surfing yogi lives a hard life!

That evening Kevin gave a super interesting talk on the 8 Limbs of Yoga. So much I have to look forward to. And that, my friends, is how I spent New Years Day 2013.

Beach time! Happy New Year to me.

Beach time! Happy New Year to me.

Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #3

Another sunshine filled day, another morning I woke to howler monkeys. (These guys were going to take some getting used to.) Despite the early wake-up, I was pumped for surfing and pumped for the evening to come! It was New Year’s Eve and the reason I was in Costa Rica, to celebrate 2013 with strangers, Jackie, and my fellow Costa Rician yogis from the Moving into Stillness retreat. Who needs alcohol when you have the beach, the jungle, and a giant bon fire?!

Day 3:
Kevin began our last morning of 2012 with more qigong meditation. This involved more shaking and more thumping — every joint, limb, muscle, everything! — we were shaking out a whole year of stress, sadness, and anything that didn’t serve us. It was time to let go and get on track. I was preparing for a whole new year of change!

Kevin then guided us through a vinyasa flow class to follow. His attention to detail and the manner in which he teaches is truly remarkable. I am a huge fan of this teachings, and see why Jackie is too. I felt strong and fluid this morning. A great feeling for the new year to come, lots of positive energy was surrounding me. I could feel it!

 

Jackie, Kevin, and Emzy!

Jackie, Kevin, and Ezmy!

 

That afternoon was surf time! And, of course, surfing rocked. I worked with my surf coach Kimberley once again. This time we moved on to an advanced surfing technique to get out to the big waves faster: the turtle dive. Basically, you tuck and roll under the wave before it crashes into your face. I was exhausted by the end of it. Surfing is a lot of work for a little high. But it’s totally worth it! I was riding my own waves again and I wasn’t feeling afraid. Success!

Evening yin was lead by Ezmy once again. Another fantastic class — yin always is especially after surfing — but this one was cut short due to the New Year’s Eve festivities. After dinner, we gathered in a group and wrote down, and then shared, our fears, goals, thoughts, and resolutions for the year to come. Retreats blow my mind with the emotion and pure honesty that comes up. The therapeutic side reveals itself in a healing and accepting way. It’s absolutely amazing. People break down walls and open up, it’s a beautiful thing. We then partnered up and stared into each others eyes for 10 minutes. The uncomfortable and unsettling fidgeting took place, but ease and curiosity then took over. The power to look at someone, really look at them, can tell you a lot with out having to know or talk to them. Then we shook it all out! Just like I have done before.

Everyone then marched to the beach in silence and burned the things that came up we didn’t want to carry with us into the new year! It was invigorating to throw a piece of paper in the fine. But I believe it was the start of my big change for 2013.

 

Happy 2013!

Happy 2013!

Yoga. Surf. RawFood: Day #2

Need to catch up? You can check out Day 1 of my yoga retreat here.

After a peaceful sleep at my new jungle home, Hecienda De Sol, I got cozy with my four roommates and made sure I knew where the important amenities were located: the practice room, the bathroom, and the dinning hall. I woke up that morning to the Costa Rician sunshine in my face and the sound of howler monkeys ringing in my ears. It was clear, I was in the jungle now!

Day 2:
Jackie began this morning with creative vinyasa. Boy, have I missed Jackie. But to my surprise the lady leading the morning meditation was not Jackie. Nope, it was Ezmy! Having arrived late the night before, we did not get to meet Ezmy at the opening circle. I was so intrigued by Ezmy the moment I met her. She was light and fun and couldn’t be more happy. And Ezmy saw my blog post about her and Mosksha LA! I knew right then and there Ezmy and I would be friends.

Jackie worked our hips this morning. Despite not practicing with Jackie for months, my body knew exactly what to do, even if my brain did not. I’m not the only who misses Jackie. The whole Moksha Yoga Downtown crew can attest to the change. We all miss you, Jackie!

After class was beach and surfing time! Before the retreat Jackie assigned me driving duties, today would be Day 1 of driving the dirt and narrow roads to Nosara. Luckily, all went well and we found the Nosara Surf Academy in no time.

 

Let's go surfing!

Let’s go surfing!

 

My instructor for the day was Kimberly, a hard core surfing gal from Florida. I was petrified. But by the end of Day 1, though, I as paddling my our waves and riding into the beach like a real pro. Must have been all the practicing from last time? Or maybe I’m a natural?!

 

The beach is this way.

The beach is this way.

 

That evening was a Kevin-inspired yin. We thumped, we stretched, and moved our joints around in many different ways. It wasn’t the yin I was expecting, but the “after” feeling blew my mind. Kevin knows his yoga, and knows how to express the feeling of yoga in an energetically stimulating way. I can not wait to visit Kula in NYC. After dinner, Ezmy gave a talk on the seven chakras of yoga.

The next day was New Year’s Eve and something special was in store for us. 2013 was going to start off great.