Friday, October 19, 2018

My Yoga Journey

Everyone has their own yoga story. I'd like to share mine.

My first experience with yoga was in grade 11, during a summer program that matched up local student-teachers with a group of Japanese exchange-students on a travel program in my city for the summer. One day, one of our activities was yoga, and while they warned us that we should bring stretchy clothes, I forgot and wore jeans. But, I gave it my all. I was sore for days. I learned not to mess with yoga. I was intrigued, but felt like it was out of my reach.

Flash forward a few years later, and I was in college looking for low-impact activities to sign up for, in a bid to stay healthy and also meet new people. I signed up for a yoga class, and attended about three quarters of the classes. I didn't meet anyone, and I didn't lose any weight. I did learn that yoga was something I enjoyed, though. I felt like I could connect to it. But, I felt that I wanted to practice at home, and there really wasn't a way for me to do that at the time. (It's a long story but it involves being a broke college student more concerned with eating at restaurants than paying for yoga classes, and an extremely chaotic and messy home-life complete with unhelpful ex-boyfriend.) I drifted away from yoga again.

After I met the love of my life and moved to a different city, our home-life became more settled. We had two cats and a dog and I had a huge kitchen/dining room with space to do yoga. I took motivation from the fact that I was getting married to eat healthier and also did yoga every morning. It was the same video every time. I wanted to get better! But still found it challenging.

But, after we got married and I started to get into the daily habits and routines of regular working life, things started to slip. I stopped practicing yoga, even though I knew it was great for me and I enjoyed it. It was just too much of a hassle for me to find a place to do it, in our new apartment. The few times I did do it, my cats would really distract me from the meditative aspects of it. I found myself injured and stopped doing it at all.

Fast forward a few years, my husband and I moved to a new city again! We let go of our settled habits, and tried to find a new place to fit in, in our new community! I decided to take some community yoga classes to get back into the groove, get active, and meet people. I took beginners yoga for flexibility and I really enjoyed it. The class had a lot of older students, and people with back pain and injuries. The teacher offered modifications for those with mobility issues and I felt like I fit in a lot better than my college yoga class full of flexible and fit people. This is when I really realised that you don't need to look a certain way to be a yogi. Your yoga practice should be customized to your own needs and that is okay!

Now, my yoga practice is still developing. Even after all these years of occasional practice, I still feel like an absolute beginner. My body doesn't feel like all the other yogis look. I feel awkward and uncomfortable a lot of the time! But I am in love! I feel like yoga can now have a place in my life, without a need to feel like I need to live up to others, but just for myself.
Now, I should probably mention, that today when I do certain yoga poses, and I feel the stretch and strain of an underused body, I remember the freedom of being a child. I have come to realise that all children naturally do yoga throughout their day, bending and playing and stretching and rotating every joint. So, while I didn't know what yoga was until a teenager, I feel a sense of coming full-circle back to the strength, beauty, and innocence of childhood when I practice yoga today.

What was your yoga journey? What led you to your current practice?

Here's what I use:

Regular yoga mat: eKO Lite® Mat 68" 4mm by Manduka in Seaglass 2-Tone. I spent about $70 on this, and it was well worth it. For a long time, I used a basic, cheap, foam mat. It was fine but I was slipping during certain poses, and got sick of the colour and the texture. This new mat is literally heaven compared to the old mat. I gave my old mat to my pregnant cousin to use while she's doing pregnancy stretches. The movements are slow and easy so she doesn't have a problem with slipping. Manduka makes really good quality products and I really love their stuff.

I also use a cork block, and two foam blocks with a hollow center for gripping. I like the sturdiness of the cork, but I prefer the softness of the foam. If my hands are particularly sore, I will use the foam.

I also occasionally use straps (any old thing will work), folded blankets, and a foam roller.

What is your favourite yoga gear? Let me know in the comments!

My Simple Clean Life Journey

The impact of owning things really did not occur to me until recently.

As a child I was a pack rat. I would keep everything that I loved. I felt an emotional attachment to items. I would feel terrible if I lost a gift somebody got me. I was almost neurotic about it, to the point where I would force myself to play with a toy I got as a gift, to the point of pretending to myself that I was enjoying it, even if it wasn't my thing. I did not have a very carefree attitude.

As a young adult, I suffered through many moves with way too many possessions. Books were always an issue for me, I would hoard books. At first it was ones I would buy at garage sales or save up for the next book in my favourite series. I read most of them but as time passed, I continued to acquire more books than I read, especially considering I was still getting books from the library and buying books at the store, along with garage sales, and reading less as I got into college and reading more textbooks and articles than fiction. Another thing I would hoard was clothes, though it wasn't too bad as I didn't buy a lot of new clothes. But I hung onto every piece. If something started to wear out, I would just wear it less and less and still keep it. As if it could last forever.

Fast forward to the last year. I became aware of carpet beetle larvae in our house and went on a cleaning spree. The bugs are nasty, but for a bug problem they aren't the worst one to have-- they don't bite humans and although they eat clothes and carpet, they seemed to be only eating the stray cat hairs around the baseboards. I hadn't noticed any damage and we have never gotten bitten. But it is always gross finding out you have bugs in your house.

Around the same time I started reading cleaning blogs and organizing my stuff better and donating many items and actually following the tenet of if you don't use it, you don't keep it.

What a massive change since childhood.

Honestly I'm not a super clean person and so this is really a big thing for me to change. I tend to have a lot of clutter, piles of clothes, and don't dust or vacuum a lot. And I have always had a cat, and now multiple cats. So it's an adventure and a half for me to try to become a neat freak. I'll admit that I spend most of the weekend cleaning. Once I get caught up, though, I believe it will be easier to maintain.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Firewatch



We often play games to escape: the drab realities of our jobs, the fact that we can't actually jump very high or run all that fast, and maybe we aren't often able to be the hero in our day to day lives. Games give us the power to escape our lives, become someone else, and live another, more fantastic life, and many are quite good at doing just that. But the recent indie games Firewatch is going a step further. Painting a world that you literally step into, much more immersive than a novel or movie could be, it doesn't explain right away what its purpose is, it exists to sink into, and it lets you dive in as deep as you want. The feel of being utterly alone in a vast wilderness is palpable, as is the sense of the time period of 1989, with its analog gadgets, you can almost feel the grit coating every surface in your fire tower. Each scene is like a painting that you can step into, but the game isn't simply pretty to look at. Dangerous, mysterious, and deeply realistic, Firewatch fully takes advantage of the storytelling capacities of video games.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

we are glass

obsessed with dystopian novels, i finally found We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
it felt strangely small and closed in and intimate in its dissonance
and the observer's eye is able to see across city blocks, through glass, glass glass, everything glass
and the author's world is glimpsed through the glass, USSR 1920
prescient: bland and terrifying
dystopia = utopia = atrophy


Monday, February 1, 2016

morality and philsophy

I have always found Hume's question to be quite interesting:

"Epicurus's old questions are still unanswered: Is he (God) willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? then whence evil?" – David Hume

In philosophy we attempt to separate what "is" and what "should be", and this is one reason why a philosophical education is extremely important to develop your own moral compass.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Gender is a performance, gender is a pattern.

Gender is a performance, gender is a pattern. 

As an example, the girls start to wear cute, tight, heeled shoes. The kind that pinch your toes, leave blisters if you walk too far, but they look beautiful. The girls happily suffer for fashion because the ultimate goal of the girls is to look cute while they do whatever it is they are doing. (Yes, they want to be doctors and scientists and artists, but they need to look cute at the same time.) They wear a skirt and tights, it looks adorable. They are relatively comfortable, a little constricted. They might see the boys chasing each other and jumping over a fence. You cannot jump over a fence wearing heels and a skirt. So the performance becomes a pattern, as the less you jump over fences, the more you get out of the habit until horse-play is not something you do, and you become a gentle, feminized person. So did the girl choose the shoes because she is a girl, or did the shoes make the girl more likely to act like a girl?

Of course you can't remove social influences from the question, but if you try a thought-experiment and ask yourself if, in the wild, the female of a species would purposefully want to hinder her physical abilities to not only attract a male, but to appear pleasing to all the other males she isn't even trying to attract, I'd say it sounds like a conspiracy. It seems like it would a good bit of propaganda to get a whole half of a species to limit itself and boost the other half.

My personal experience as a youth was thinking, why would I wear heels, what if I want to run? What if I need to run... away from someone? (Who wants to hurt me, or worse....) I'm not letting these feminine trappings make me feel unsafe. It's not worth it to look like a cute angel with tiny delicate unicorn feet, even though I do want that, because I've been told I want that, I've been shown how cute it is. I want to be cute. My giant feet look big enough on their own, but I strap on hiking boots and I kick ass and I tell myself I don't care if it's not feminine. It's my right as a living breathing being with a body to not have my body be in pain all the time, to let my body move the way it was meant to. (This could also apply to bras but that's a whole 'nother story....)

I'm getting sick of feeling torn inside, sick of feeling like it's more important to look good than to get shit done. I want to be so darn awesome at stuff that I look good for that reason, not because I'm sexually attractive. I am attractive but I am also strong, and while looks do fade, inner strength won't fade if you let it grow. And there is a wild, rare beauty in a person who follows their own path.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Forever is nothing we can have

One thing that I've noticed as I get older, is how things don't last. I had this idea, as a kid, that if you hang onto something, you can keep it forever. Well, I learned that forever is nothing we can have, and you can't hang onto anything. 

How long do things last?

Certain materials do seem to last. But everything is slowly disintegrating from the inside out.

That object that you tuck into a box is going to be ravaged by time and there's nothing you can do about it. Those lotions are going to be oil-slicks in the back of your cupboard. Those spices are turning into coloured dust. Those photographs are slowly fading to grey. 

I noted, that while memories do fade as well, they last longer and are much more enjoyable to look back on than crumbling knick-knacks and stained chemises.

As I peer into the drawers and boxes and realise that the things I put in there no longer exist, I exalt in the act of fully enjoying an object in the moment, rather than holding onto it until some indefinitely-never-arriving glowing future.