My pictures are getting increasingly terrible. It’s like I’m not even trying anymore.
I enjoy any and all power hours, whether they are of the athletic or alcoholic. Today, my pal Sarah (hi Sarah!) and I met up for a yoga-doing and Fresh-eating date. The 7pm power class at Kula is my all-time favourite class. I love the challenging sequence and am warming up to the new Friday night teacher, Donna. High fives all around on this one.
I forgot my towel today, though, and by the end my mat was so wet I couldn’t do downward dog without slipping. Note to self for next time!
This is me at yogalites at EnergyXchange. But you get the idea.
If anyone from Moksha Downtown was wondering where I’ve disappeared to for the past two months, don’t worry. I haven’t been kidnapped nor have a fled the country. Answer #1: I was home in July for a refresh and real outdoors Digby adventuring, and for birthday celebrating (not mine or Erin’s but our mother’s)! And Answer #2: I’ve been practicing at Kula. I know! I didn’t think it would ever happen either: the day I bought classes at another studio. Shame on me.
After the few experiences I’ve had a Kula (some great, others not so much), I had very mixed feelings about the space. Right away, I knew it would not be a place I would practice at regularly. But once I let my guard down and began to warm up to Kula a bit, I forgave them for my awful Reiki experience and actually brought an intro special. Lucky for me it was on the perfect day — the day of the Bloor Street Festival — because my 30 day intro turned into 45 days! Lucky me indeed. Kula was celebrating their birthday on June 10th and to celebrate Erin and I went to class for free. One discovery I’ve made – Kula loves birthdays (as do I!) whether it’s theirs or yours, there’s free yoga for everyone!
As you know Erin and JK are Kula advocates and practice there all the time. Given how close I live to the studio — which was too prefect for those early morning 6:30am-ers — I should too. But I’m too attached to my Moksha and can’t break away from it. It’s the yoga I love. But I do love trying new places and a break from the heat and sweat is always a good thing. So the next 45 days would begin a new challenge: to stay away from MYD and only practice at Kula. I had an extra 15 days, I was planning to make the most of it.
To this day I still think of my first class with Christi-an. I fell in love. Her class was pure magic.
I made the effort to try all the classes on the schedule and try a class with every teacher. I did rather well with this, but found my schedule more accommodating to the times Jen Slade taught. Which wasn’t a bad thing. Jen is a singer and. man can she ever belt out a tune. She also has an incredible joyful personality and makes you excited for yoga. Just know with Jen, class will always a surprise. Her music classes and the Power hours were my favourites. Tuesday 10pm nighttime yoga with Lindseed was also very lovely, if you can manage to stay up this late. I also really enjoyed my mornings with Marinella. Nothing like a hot hour and a hard class to wake you up in the morning. And the days where I would do both were both fantastic and tiring.
I have to say when my 45 days were over I was very sad. I think back to all the classes I didn’t get a chance to do and this makes me even sadder. But I guess you can’t win them all. I would have done a 45 day challenge, if June 10th wasn’t the final day of my secret 30 day challenge. 75 days would have just been too much. Or would it?
So with that, I take back my sour feelings towards Kula and would recommend it to everyone. Whether you’re a new or experienced yogi, Kula offers a great variety of classes – hot, power, yin and restorative – you name it. You will find something that works to your individual practice. And with the overwhelming sense of community it really is a space for everyone to enjoy. Oh, and everyone should take a class with Christi-an and some point in your life. Trust me on this.
Thank you, Kula, for a fun and challenging 45 days. JK, I hope I made you proud.
Jen, aka JK, is often my partner in crime in book-related and fitness-related things . I’m really excited she’s decided to tackle this 30-day challenge with me and even more excited she wants to share this journey with all of you! Jen will be sharing updates about the challenge throughout the 30 days, so follow along! You can read her first post here, her 10-day recap here, and her 20-day recap here. — Erin
She did it! We did it! -- Erin.
It’s all over. And am I bigger, faster, stronger? Zen-like and unflappable? Hardly. But I think I am a little bit fuller. On the mat, my core is a bit stronger, I’m paying more attention to my back body, staying a bit lighter. Off the mat, I feel a bit more in touch with my practice and with my fellow yogis (notably Erin, our kula of two, with special guest appearances by Jill). But that fullness is also a sort of quiet confidence, a satisfaction. I did it, and I could, and would, do it again.
Though looking back it feels very ordinary, with no glamorous breakthroughs or sudden enlightenments, I realize I have learned some things. I’ve learned that exercise CAN be a part of your life every day and, usually, a good part. But I’ve also learned the value of rest, and of resting when you need it. I discovered the necessity of pacing, of balancing heated and unheated classes, challenging and restorative ones. I picked up a few tips that may change my practice too (maybe even get me up into my fantasy handstand). And off the mat, I’ve made a few changes. Thanks to reading The Happiness Project, I think about attitude more, and about how things that make you happy take effort (this whole yoga project is just a perfect example). Also thanks to THP, I’ve kept clothes off the floor of my bedroom for over 30 days now (a tougher challenge than the yoga in some respects). We know that lasting change is slow and steady, and that’s what this challenge offered, and hopefully my practice will continue to offer.
Highlight: Our final hour flow class with Jen Slade. It was open house day at Kula, and the room was packed with new people: people who weren’t so serious, who chattered, who were excited. (Yogis, for all our good qualities, are sometimes a little too serious.) Jen was even more energetic than usual (which is saying something), and brought out some partner poses and got us off our mats. And though normally my BF provides the music, today Jen had a guy playing pots like crystal bowls. He even broke out a pan flute sometimes that made me giggle. There was a moment, during savasana, with those pots singing at just the right pitch, that I just soared, felt large, all-encompassing like something in a Walt Whitman poem. Lying there with Jill and Erin and all these strangers, I thought, “We did it.” I was aglow.
Lowlight/Challenge: Total embarrassment when I accidentally crashed the Power 8 savasana, thinking it was the beginning of the class and not the end. No doubt everyone thought I was crazy. And then, as punishment for letting my blondness take over, I had to do hot core instead. Which was the second time that week, and this class was definitely the less enjoyable of the two.
So where do we go from here? Me, probably back to my 4x a week schedule, although I’m definitely open to 5, or even six. And I’d definitely be game for another 30-day challenge in the future. It’s a nice thing to do with the change of seasons, preparing for summer, celebrating the long daylight hours and the warmth that lets you leave the studio without layers. We might just have the makings of an annual tradition.
My goal for this project was above all to be grateful. And maybe I wasn’t grateful for each chaturanga pushup (or any of them, really), or for each and every practice. But I am grateful that my body could handle it, for the opportunity to do it, for my wonderful studio, for a partner to do it with, and that I did it at all.
I am in survival mode. I just want to get through this. I am stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted. This 30 day challenge only plays a small part of that, but it’s impossible to separate your life from your practice. However, I am feeling that as I write this, on day 28. Days 21-25 were possibly the strongest of the challenge thus far. It’s funny how quickly things change.
Time to recap this leg:
Day 21 (Friday): Power Hour was back! I love this class, I love the 7pm time, I love the small room. And I love sister yoga surprises. Jill and her friend Cecilley showed up to take the Power class. Good times all around.
Day 22: (Saturday): Jill and I took advantage of the Riverdale Art Walk to enjoy free yogalites. A great class. You can read our review here.
Day 23 (Sunday): Joined JK for live music flow. Jen Slade was MIA, but Elyse was a nice sub.
Day 24 (Monday): Monday is time for new things, so I gave Full Moon Yoga at Yoga Sanctuary a try. I’m glad I tried, but harnessing the strength of the moon is not my thing. I had difficulty buying into the spiritual element on this class. Really, I should have known better — it was called Full Moon Yoga, after all — but what can you do?
Day 25 (Tuesday): Post-class late night Linseed. Planks made an appearance again. Linseed, what are you thinking?
We’re almost there. Only one more of these recaps to go. I’ve run out of insightful things to say.
I think I’ve hit a turning point with this challenge. Sure, my exhausted and my hip is perpetually on fire, but I find myself, more often than not, looking forward to my daily yoga regime. (I think it helps I’ve cut back on the hot, hard classes. Yoga is now about celebrating my movement, not punishing me for it.) I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way (which I’ll share at the end of the challenge) that help. I’m also eternally grateful that JK is doing this with me, and that it’s easy to convince Jill to come along for the ride. I rarely have to do a yoga class alone.
Day 16 (Sunday): This was my second time taking Power 8 with Lesley. It’s a solid class and I really enjoy the back room (especially when they open the window!). If you’re looking for 60 minutes of power yoga for only $8, I can’t recommend Kula more highly.
Day 17 (Monday): I used my Passport to Prana to head to Yoga Tree’s 5:45 hatha flow class. This place is slick. Like, Lulu Lemon commercial slick. The class itself was fine, the service was friendly, but it wasn’t my scene. I’ll be back again, passport in hand, though. And the schedule is plentiful.
Day 18 (Tuesday): Late-night Linseed classic. JK joined me for this, and there were no planks to be found!
Day 19 (Wednesday): Silent morning Moksha again with Jill. I struggled through this more than I did last week, but I’m chalking that up to being Day 19 of the challenge, nothing more.
Day 20 (Thursday): I had a work event Thursday night, so I decided to give Yoga Sanctuary’s new 6:45 time slot a try with their hatha class. The 15 minutes make all the difference. The class was a nice way to wake up, unlike Moksha, sunlight streams into the Yoga Sanctuary, so you feel awake and alive during your practice. (I bet in the dead of winter, I’ll prefer Moksha’s dark mirrored room, so I have no idea how dark it is outside).
I’ve been singing Bon Jovi to myself since day 15 ended. The end is in sight. This is actually going to end. I will survive.
Days 11-15 saw some interesting battles. I was exhausted from so many late nights. (Writing, I swear!) And physical pain started to kick in. Part of the reason I wanted to do this challenge was because my left hip and knee were becoming enemies with running. Now it seems they are becoming enemies with yoga. So I took this stretch of classes relatively easy, in hopes that by doing so I can preserve my hip for the rest of the 30 day stretch.
What I’ve learned from this so far, though, is that fitting exercise into your life every day is doable. It’s easier than you think. It just needs to be a priority for you. I’ve always thought exercise was a big priority for me, but I was delusional. It was a little priority. Racing kept that on track. But if I want to have a dynamic, interesting fitness regime that doesn’t rely on forcing myself through challenges like half-marathons and races, I’m going to need to better prioritize fitness in my life.
This means my kitchen will always be messy and my laundry will never get done. I think I’m okay with that.
What classes did I take for the third leg of this challenge? Let’s recap!
I did some of this! It was strange.
Day 11 (Tuesday): Classic late-night Linseed. The night school/Linseed combo is working out really well. Although, JK and I have noticed that the new power offering at Kula is sneaking into other classes and it snuck into Linseed’s this week! Gentle, bedtime yoga with side planks! If I wasn’t so exhausted, I would have been up for the challenge, but I was a tad heartbroken when we did this sequence. I am getting better at the side plank, though — a nice side benefit of this challenge.
Day 12 (Wednesday): Jill and I hit up the morning Moksha silent class. I was not looking forward to another morning yoga class, but I wanted to squeeze in maximum post-work writing and I learned my lesson the week before — no Wednesday am Kula class for me! This Moksha class ended up being a godsend. In silent classes, you go through the series of poses without too many flows. It was wonderful to just do something my body knew so well and not have to think about transitions or vinyasas. Definitely the highlight of my yoga week.
Day 13 (Thursday): Since I was tired, I decided to do yin, to prep myself for my beloved power class on Friday. I figured that the am/pm yin/pm combo would be a good way to get my energy levels up. Jill is in love with the Thursday night yin class at Moksha, and even though she’s my sister and I have a Moksha pass, I’ve never been. It was fine, a nice break from my regular classes. I’ll definitely do it again, but it’s not going to be part of my regular routine soon. (Sorry, Jill!)
Day 14 (Friday): I was so excited for Power by Friday afternoon. After a class of stillness, I was ready to move. Then, at 5:30, I checked the Kula schedule online, just in case. Class was cancelled! Argh! I didn’t want to wait around for the Moksha 8pm class, so I was left with a decision: high-tail it to Kula and give restorative another go, or abandon yoga for the day and double up on Saturday or Sunday? I decided that the grief I’d get from Matt would not be worth it in the end. (There’s an endless debate happening: is the challenge 30 classes in 30 days or yoga for 30 days straight? What do you think?) So I headed to Reiki restorative and made it just in time. It, like yin, was fine. It was nothing special. I am not a fan of restorative. I learned that on Day 10. It feels like something I can do on my own. If I’m putting $$ up for fitness, I want to move. Two classes is fair amount of time to assess. Let’s find something else for me now.
Day 15 (Saturday): Jill and I went to a suspension workshop at the Flying Yogi. We had tried the demo at the Yoga Show a few weeks ago and were keen to give a class a try. When a WagJag for their intro workshop popped up, we both grabbed it. A longer recap of the experience is coming, but the general assessment is that it was interesting, and every yogi should try it once. It did make me surprisingly sore the following day, though, so that’s something!
There you have it. 15 days straight of yoga. I made a date to give Yoga Space a try, I want to do yoga outside and I want to do another outside-the-box class. My headspace is so different than it was 5 days ago. And that’s a good thing.
Well, days 6-10 were much, much better than days 1-5. I got most of the grumpiness out of my system and have accepted I’m in this for the long haul. It probably also helps that I’m not doing power power power power anymore, but actually allowing myself to slow down.
Clearly, I need more photos of me doing yoga.
On Day 6 (Thursday), I was exhausted from the killer morning hot hour class the morning before. I opted to do a hatha flow class at The Yoga Sanctuary I had never tried before. Now, normally, hatha is not my thing. When I work out, I need to be working in order for it to feel like it worth my time. But this class provided a great opportunity to reflect on why I include yoga in my work-out regime and why I’m doing this 30 day challenge. It also gave my very tired arms a break.
Day 7 (Friday) was Power Hour at Kula! I don’t know if it was the combination of spring sunlight, the long weekend among us for Christ-an’s amazing music mix, but I loved every second of this class. (Except chair pose. Because I will never love chair pose). It was a great way to kick off my weekend and get me back into a “yoga is great!” headspace. (If you missed it, JK agreed. Clearly, Christi-an is magic)
Day 8 (Saturday) was Moksha Music. I’m usually “meh” on moksha, but I make an exception for Jackie’s Moksha Music. She makes her flow sequences interesting and challenging, but not overwhelming. It was a tiring class, though, so I was glad it was the weekend. A regime of write yoga write yoga was exactly what I needed. Oh, and I ran 7.5km this morning. The run was awesome: perfect weather, lots of great friends. I miss running. A lot. This is an unexpected development.
Day 9 (Sunday) was Live Music Flow with JK and Jen Slade. It was fine. I enjoyed the challenges of some of the poses, but was getting tired. So tired.
Day 10 (Monday), I bailed on my pal B (sorry B!) due to a combo of “too much to do and oh, my cousin is in town?!” We were going to do Moksha together. Instead, I opted for the exact opposite of Moksha: restorative. Conclusion? I’m not a restorative fan. I think I’ll bail on the restorative for now (although I still need to give Reiki a shot) and just incorporate the poses that work for me into my practice outside of class. Because I may hate folding over a bolster, I love lying back on a block.
I think I’m out of the painful phase of this project. Now it’s about managing my energy levels and my time.
I’ve all but abandoned this marathon idea. I blame Around the Bay. In the three weeks since, I haven’t run enough. I’m still toying deluding myself that, despite my lack of true training, it’s a possibility, but I may drop down to the half-marathon. I’d much rather run a strong, solid half-marathon that I’m proud of than an ill-advised full marathon that could turn me off running forever or, worse, injure me. I’ll keep you updated on this constant interna debate as it rages on. But first: I need to update you on my training!
Monday: 10k I’ve discovered that if I run north to Mortimer instead of just stopping at Bloor, I can add a few kilometres to my final total. This was my first post-ATB run, a full week after it happened. It was not pretty.
I had a run planned, but felt awful and had an event after work. So I bailed on the morning run. See? This is why a marathon is looking like a bad idea.
This was almost the same route as Monday. It hurt almost as much.
A planned rest day. I enjoyed very second of it.
Friday: Power Yoga at Kula
It was Good Friday so Jill, JK and I celebrated by checking out the new Power Yoga offering at Kula. We all approved.
Saturday: Harry Spring Run-Off 8k
At the time I signed up for this, I thought this race would be a run addition to my training. And it was: beautiful day, challenging course, running friends abound. There wasn’t a lot to complain about here — and you know how much I like to complain!
Immediately after the race on Saturday, we headed up to Matt’s family’s cottage for some Easter goodness. Last time, Jill and I ran at the cottage, we did the 16k to town and back with little trouble. This was not the case this time around. We were both sore from our race, so when we saw Matt on the road to come pick us up a full 5k before we were supposed to, we bailed heartily.
A race followed by a long run deserves to be followed by a day off.
I bought new shoes the day before, so used this short run to test them out. Since they are the same make and model as my old shoes (these ones!), they worked just fine.
The run the day before was cold and windy and I wasn’t happy with it. I headed out and did the run-all-the-way-to-Mortimer trick to get a decent long-ish run in. It’s funny how runs can be so different from each other, as I felt strong the whole time and enjoyed the run.
Thursday and Friday: rest
Thursday was a planned rest day. I just got lazy on Friday because it was cold and rainy and I just didn’t want to run. I regretted this around 9pm, after I had a few drinks in me. I could have at least gone to yoga.
I knew pubruns was on Sunday, so I wanted to get a long run in on Saturday. This was going to be my true marathon test. If I could crank out something in the 30k range, a marathon on May 6 was in my reach. That, as you can tell, didn’t happened. I just wasn’t feeling it. I probably could have powered through if I really pushed myself, but didn’t see the point in that. But 18k puts me in good half-marathon position.
Sunday was pubruns day! When I got up in the morning, it was pouring. Thankfully, by the time we started running (we did the Don Valley Trail to Cherry Beach), it was just misty. Major props to the ladies who came out! We treated ourselves to brunch at Okay Okay after and that was definitely more than okay! Add the clicks to pubruns and home from brunch, and this run was longer than I expected. Yay me!
We need new people to come out for pubruns. We don’t bite! I promise.
Kula (aka my favourite studio and one Jill is slowly warming up to) just started offering Power Yoga classes! The best part? For the month of April, your first Power Yoga class is free! How could we say no to that?
See? Who would say no to this?
I haven’t done any “power” yoga since I abandoned my favourite ashtanga class for running. Translation? I was scared. JK, Jill and I agreed to give the power yoga class a go on Good Friday. I NEEDED some yoga that day. The day before, I weirdly busted out in a fever and chills (at the same time!) at work. I looked like a moron wearing two sweaters, wrapped in a blanket and sweating profusely. I also got a migraine (my second ever — I am not liking this trend), left work early, crashed at 5pm and didn’t wake up until 9am. My body had a lot of issues that needed to be worked through.
Christi-an was teaching, so we knew it would be fun and playful, but challenging. In this class, we were constantly moving, building from easier poses to harder ones. Since the class was packed (and it was most attendee’s first power yoga class), Christi-an thoughtfully threw in an extra child’s pose or two. Thank you, Christi-an!
I love Christi-an because she doesn’t overwhelm the class with “feelings”, plays fun but not intrusive music and encourages students to have fun with their practice. She was in her element in this power class, as some of the poses were DIFFICULT. But that’s the point, isn’t it? To build on your practice so the day you finally pop-up into that side-plank/dancer hybrid (which JK and Jill could do, but I could not!), you feel on top of the world. The other point of yoga is to have fun. And Christi-an made that easy.
It will be interesting to see how other teachers at Kula tackle this new offering. It’s very different from the other classes at Kula. I liked that Christi-an said the sequences would change from month to month, so the power offering won’t get boring, but will offer a consistency through which you can improve.
I won’t be taking power yoga every week. But I do plan to add it to my regular yoga routine. It was exactly the kind of yoga I need every now and then.
Take this class if: you want to push your practice to the next level — but have fun doing so.
And I’ve been lazy on this recapping my marathon training. Again. Let’s catch up, shall we?
The Sunday before, I had a bit of a break down. I was tired and sore and wanted a break from running. So I took one.
Tuesday: 12.1k, Hot hour @ Kula
On Tuesday, I freaked out about my breakdown and how it might affect my mileage for the week. So I took the (very) long way to yoga. I need to do yoga after a run more often. It’s a great balance of winding yourself up, then winding yourself down.
Because Matt and I were going on vacation on the weekend and taking off on Friday, I wanted to get my weekly long run in before we left. We were headed on a cruise (I know, we are 85 years old), and the thought of doing a long run in the Florida heat or on a boat did not seem appealing. I did the same route as my last long run, which got a bit scary in the dark. I was all alone! I couldn’t see a thing! But I survived! (I’m glad summer is coming so it won’t get dark at 7pm anymore.)
I ran 24.2km the day before. Why, yes, I’ll take a day off.
I took Friday off work to do a few errands and get a longer run in before Matt and I headed to the airport. I ran along the Martin Goodman Trail to Cheery Beach, a route that I don’t run in the winter because it gets dark and scary. It was a good run, but my legs felt tired. So tired.
When we landed in Fort Lauderdale, we realized our hotel (which we scored on HotWire) was in the middle of nowhere. It did, however, have a track that ran along the nearby highway that was about a a kilometre in length, out and back. I ran that 3 times, then did a slow loop around the GIGANTIC parking lot before giving up. It was only 4.2k, but it wasn’t pretty.
Sunday: 30 minutes of Chillax
On Sunday, we got on the boat! I’ll write about how to stay fit on a cruise in more detail in a future post, but on the first day, I did their free mini-yoga class and it was grand.
This was the week on the boat. Hurrah!
Monday: 45 minutes of yoga
The boat offered two kinds of yoga: free 30 minute classes and for-fee 45 minute classes. I decided to sign up for the paid classes on the at sea days. They were very slow classes, as they are designed for a cruises primary clientele: senior citizens. It was awesome.
(I also got a massage on this day and my body was so tense that the masseuse nearly cried. Apparently, I am a very tense person. I am not surprised.)
Tuesday: 5k hike, 30 minutes of Chillax
Tuesday was our first port day, so I signed up for a hike through Aruba’s National Park. (Again, I’ll write this up in more detail soon!) It was fun. When I got back on the boat, I did my new favourite thing: chillaxing.
Wednesday: 30 minutes of Chillax
I think you’re getting to know the drill by now.
Thursday: 45 minutes of yoga
This class was weirdly hard. The poses weren’t difficult, and the pace was slow to extremely slow, but my muscles just were not having it today.
Ha! Because I so needed it! We spent all day on a beach in the Bahamas. I expect you to be jealous.
This was the day we got off the boat and flew from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto. So if you count fidgeting in aiports as excercise, then, why yes, I worked out today.
So, one would think that taking a cruise immediately before a race would be a terrible idea. If you think that, you would be wrong! It was the best thing ever. (This may not be true for people who follow training plans correctly. But it was true for me. I’m trying to convince Matt we need to take a cruise before all my big races. So far, he refuses. But one day…) I recapped the race here, if you want to read about the whole thing! I know you do.
This week was bananas at work. Other than Monday, a day during which I could barely move, I had a work event or social event every single night. I didn’t unpack. I didn’t relax. I didn’t run. I partied, partied, partied.
I’m also freaking out about my toenails. Two of them are turning black. I can barely wear shoes right now. I’m pretty sure running this week would have been painful and caused them to fall off. Considering I’m supposed to be training for a marathon right now, I’m not sure what to do. I’ve never lost a toenail before.
EXPERIENCED RUNNERS: Is my freaking out rational? Is considering abandoning my marathon because my toes are black rational? Help me out here!
Saturday: 90 minutes flow @ Kula
I joined my good pal JK for my first post-ATB workout. The yoga class was HARD, and not just because I was still sore and my right foot was betraying me. It was hard because the teacher decreed it so. But it felt good to move again.
Sunday: 60 minute partner yoga workshop
Jill and I went to the Toronto Yoga Show (full recap to come!) and checked out a partner yoga workshop. Partner work has freaked me out in yoga classes before, but this was actually fun! (Probably because it was with someone I know, not the random person who just so happened to put their mat next to mine).
This week, I need to get back into running. Even though the break before and after ATB were both much-needed, I need to step up my game.
Now, in honour of my cruise, here is the song I sang constantly to Matt before, during and after enjoying the tranquil waters of the Caribbean: