25 Nov

Goodbye Lifestyle Family Fitness

This week is my very last week teaching yoga at Lifestyle Family Fitness, a local chain of gyms here in Windsor, and I’m pretty sad about it.

I had two to three regular classes at the gym with a core group of regular students that challenged themselves to get stronger, were open to trying new things, and were dedicated to their yoga practice.

I had a reputation for being a challenging instructor but over time I was told that my classes were getting a bit easier (though, still, not quite easy). They weren’t. The yogis were just getting stronger. . .

. . . And it’s been fascinating to see the gradual changes in their strength, mobility, balance, and most of all their focus. I learn something new from my students every time I teach and I am going to miss them.

I’m not leaving by choice. Well, not exactly. The gyms will all be taken over by GoodLife Fitness on December 1 and I may have had the choice to stay on as an instructor with GoodLife, but I haven’t. Their requirement of exclusivity would have limited the number of classes I can teach in a week, and it would have prevented me from teaching in other areas around the community like the prenatal yoga classes, the AAA hockey team, and the one-off workshops that I love teaching.

So this Sunday will be my very last class with Lifestyle and I want to thank all of my students and the community of excellent yoga teachers with whom I shared the schedule.

I know I’ll see everyone’s beautiful smiling faces around in other yoga classes throughout Windsor’s small and tight-knit yoga sangha.

Last Week at Lifestyle

23 Nov

Links for a Sunday Morning

Every tool is a weapon
First Marathons and Extramarital Affairs – Runner’s World

The year before starting a new age decade prompts unexpected searches for meaning. People are more likely to run their first marathon or contemplate an extramarital affair.

The Persistent Myth of the Narcissistic Millennial – The Atlantic

One could argue that every generation seems a little more narcissistic than the last, puffing out its chest and going out into the world with an overabundance of self-confidence, swagger, even a bit of arrogance. These traits are simply hallmarks of early adulthood. . . Overconfidence is how people muscle through the big changes.

The Cost of Getting Lean – Precision Nutrition

Make no mistake, there are real trade-offs as you attempt to lose fat and improve your health. Consider how to get the body you really want while living the life you really enjoy.

Balancing Work and Life in 4 Quadrants – Marketplace

Consider work/life balance on a matrix with four quadrants, a customisable gauge of happiness and energy.

An Uncommon Guide to Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain – Summer Tomato

The holidays are challenging for everyone on the eating front, and self-compassion goes a long way toward letting you come out healthy and happy on the other side. Don’t let one or two frustrating events spoil the entire season.

2014 Good City Index – Good

A celebration of the 50 cities around the world that best capture the elusive quality of possibility. Each will share an underlying ethos of citizens creatively engaging with their surroundings with the expectation that, with a little work, things can get better.

10 Idioms from Around the World That You Probably Don’t Know – Dashburst

Whimsical illustrated infographics to share unusual idioms and their meanings from around the world.

Can’t Sleep? Maybe Thinking About Evolution Will Help – NPR

“In our culture, we have this very fixed idea that you should lie down and go out like a light. One of the problems with insomnia is that people become very anxious about it. If they relaxed, went with the flow, and perhaps took a nap during the day, maybe it would help.”

14 Nov

Nudity at a Japanese Onsen

An onsen is a hot spring that is used for communal bathing in Japan. Sometimes the water is pumped indoors at an inn, sometimes they’re natural outdoor springs, but regardless they are very popular among the Japanese. The Japanese love their onsen.

I discovered that, as with all things in Japan, there is a strict set of rules to follow for communal bathing in Japan that is nearly ritualistic to keep the bathing experience pure. The bath is for soaking, not for cleaning and thus. . .

-You must wash your body and your hair before entering the onsen and rinse thoroughly.
-You must not bring a wash cloth into the onsen.
-You must not use soap in the onsen.
-No splashing please!
-Bathing in any sort of swimsuit or clothing is frowned upon. Yes, that means naked.

Paul Cezanne - Large Bathers

I was cautious not to knowingly defy any rules while vacationing in Japan, because I respect their culture of obedience and conformity for the greater good.

But I badly needed to clean off the sweat and dirt from walking in the scorching temperatures all day, and communal bathing was the only option. . .

. . .thus, off went my clothes.

I’d love to say something romantic like “as I let my yukata fall to my feet to expose my body, I was immediately liberated” but, let’s be honest, I was way out of my comfort zone.

I started out by quickly showering myself next to a foreign girl wearing a bikini that made her look out of place. Then I joined the group of women in the bath, all of us nude.

I was more self conscious about etiquette than about my body with a million questions running through my head:

Am I doing this right? Should I tie my hair back? Can I make wrapping my arms around my chest to cover my boobs look natural? If I just stare down at the water does it look like I’m staring at the other women’s ladyparts?

But the women were very pleasant and welcoming and deeply engaged in a natural conversation. No one appeared to be uncomfortable so I tried my best to let my apprehension wash away with the water.

There is a saying in Japan, hadaka no tsukiai, which means ‘naked friendship’ that refers to both the literal nakedness as well as philosophically stripping away of formalities which provides an openness that allows people to get to know each other a little deeper.

That’s not the type of thing that exists here in the West. Here, physical nakedness tends to make us feel exposed in a way that makes us want to stay anonymous, hide our personality, and keep to ourselves. As I mentioned in my last post about spa nudity, the veil of anonymity is powerful. Nudity doesn’t bring us together, it drives us apart. It comes with shame and discomfort and even embarrassment.

It all makes me question, once again, how it has come to be this way?

Are we afraid that our bodies aren’t quite right because they don’t look like the images of bodies that we see in print and on screen? Are we afraid of being judged for our appearance? Are we ashamed?

When we feel that we need to cover up the implication is to immediately associate nudity with shame. The implication is to make us uncomfortable being naked, even among those of us that are normally confident with our bodies.

I’d love it if we could all take a page from the Japanese’s book and be open to the concept that communal bathing can strengthen our sense of sorority with other women, be one more place where we can socialize and get to know each other, and make us feel more comfortable in our bodies (not less).

11 Nov

Games & Shows

One sweet weekend begets another, apparently.

Yellowcard Tickets

Friday night I finally got to see Yellowcard in concert after, like, a decade of wanting to.

Yellowcard - Crofoot Ballroom, PontiacClose your eyes and sing for me

They’re currently on tour with Memphis May Fire which is a metalcore band and not exactly my musical preference but I don’t mind the screaming as much when it’s live, plus their lyrics are really uplifting.

Yellowcard - Crofoot Ballroom, PontiacRock that fiddle, Sean

Yellowcard followed up and since it was a double headliner show, they didn’t play for quite as long as I’d have liked them to and missed some of my favourites like Dear Bobbie, Be the Young, or Southern Air. But they did play all the most popular songs plus a bunch of the best ones from their new album, so it was great overall.

I had an awesome time and now I have the concert bug and am itching to go to another concert. Who’s with me? Anyone? . . . anyone?

Saturday I raked leaves. It’s not worth discussing. As usual, we had a lot. 40 bags worth.

Last week I won four tickets to see the Detroit Lions game on Sunday afternoon, so I rearranged my schedule to make it happen.

Lions TicketsA weekend of holding tickets up to my face and looking suspicious

I was really excited to go. I’ve learned a lot about football since the last game I saw 2 years ago and while I’m not one to sit around all day watching football on TV I do appreciate a live game. Apparently my football-loving family is rubbing off on me.

I brought my friends Kyle and Tina along, in spite of Kyle hating the Lions and Tina knowing absolutely nothing about football. We made quite the audience.

After fighting traffic across the border, we managed to squeeze in a delectable brunch at The Hudson Café on Woodward Ave. and make it to the game for the second quarter.

Hudson CafePregame Brunch at Hudson Cafe

If you watched the game you know how exciting it was, the whole way through.

Basically Stafford clinched it with a touchdown pass in the last minute of the game. That’s how the Lions do it.

Lions GameMe and Tina and Ford Field

Between the concert and the game, my vocal chords were exhausted and I was surprised I had any voice left by the end of the weekend.

I might have caught a football bug too. Shhh. . . don’t tell my husband Winking smile

09 Nov

Links for a Sunday Morning

A Natural Fix for ADHD – NY Times

Recent neuroscience research shows that people with A.D.H.D. are actually hard-wired for novelty-seeking — a trait that had, until relatively recently, a distinct evolutionary advantage.

The loopholes that help bad habits block happiness – LA Times

The No. 1 habit change that people say makes them happier is to make their bed.

The Art of Not Working at Work – The Atlantic

The proportion of people who say they never work hard has long been far greater than those who say they always do.

The Perfect Body – Dear Kate

A showcase of women who are often neglected by the media and traditional retailers, in underwear, as a response to the Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ campaign.

7 Sobering Stats About Violence Against Women in Canada – George Strouboulopoulos

Half of all Canadian women have experienced physical or sexual violence.

. . . just let that sink in you guys.

How the Raptors Redefined Their Brand and Took Toronto by the Throat – Globe and Mail

The manifesto embraced the things that have always seemed as if they were negatives: “We are the North side, a territory all our own. If that makes us outsiders, we’re in.”

Why Your Cat Thinks You’re a Huge, Unpredictable Ape – Wired

Your cat just doesn’t know how to connect your negative reinforcement with his behavior. This is because cats evolved as solitary hunters with little need for reading social cues, especially those for behavior modification.

Building Better Athletes With More Sleep – The Atlantic

By the end of the extra-sleep period, basketball players had improved their free throw shooting by 11.4 percent and their three-point shooting by 13.7 percent, a degree of performance enhancement that one associates with drugs or years of training—not simply making sure to get tons of sleep.

07 Nov

Four Things

My fam hopped on the Frozen Hallowe’en bandwagon this year. We hosted a keg party the night after Hallowe’en with nearly 30 people. Everyone* was in costume having an awesome time**. My sister, niece, husband and I went as Queen Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, and Princess Anna from Frozen.

There was a prize to be won for best costume but we forgot to have the ‘best costume’ vote, so the prize went unclaimed. Which means I claimed it. So there.

Frozen Hallowe'en CostumesElsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff

Me as Princess AnnaMe as Princess Anna

*nearly everyone
**at least they seemed like they were having an awesome time

Also, these Zombie Brain Hallowe’en shots happened again. And I think I drank most of them. There’s something about curdled Bailey’s that people don’t find appealing. I can’t understand why.

Zombie Brain ShotsZombie Brains Shots – tastier than they look

Today was Yoga Pants day at the office, and all was right with the world. I had the chance to teach a couple of 20 minute yoga samplers which were overall well-received with only minor amounts eye rolling and incredulity.

I wore my samurai yoga pants which were not quite as well-received. Specifically my very stylish boss said “I can’t even look at you in those pants.”

Well, in that case. . .

If only they were business casual I would wear them every day.


Yoga Pants in Action (not at work)

I watched my last high school football game of the season. Matt coaches the St. Joseph’s Lasers senior boys team who played in the semi-finals tonight.

The game was so exciting and the team played with so much heart and effort that I even found myself cheering in the sidelines (something I rarely do). Their determination made the loss a very emotional one. The whole team was sobbing after the game with tears on their faces out of sadness for the loss and sadness for the sport being completely over for many of the boys. . . but for the rest, bring it next year boys.

.Lasers FootballNice night for a football game

30 Oct

Hollaback Street Harassment Video

I’m mad. I hate being mad, but here it is.

I’m sure by now you have all seen the 2-minute Hollaback Street Harassment video of a number of street harassment experiences of a woman who spends 10 hours walking the streets of New York. If not, click here.

It has certainly brought street harassment into the spotlight.

The point of the video was to show what street harassment is and to let men know that, hey, by the way, not all woman like someone shouting ‘hi beautiful’ at them in the street. Or even ‘have a nice day’. It may seem harmless to some but what they may not know is that it makes many women uncomfortable and even afraid. The point of the video was to bring awareness to the fact and maybe encourage men to think “oh, maybe I shouldn’t shout at women in the street”.

But judging by the reactions that I’ve seen on twitter and facebook, it seems that in an attempt to inform men about what makes many of us feel unsafe, we’ve managed to trample on men’s fundamental right objectify women. They’re in an uproar that they can’t “be friendly” to women on the street. And of course the woman in the video is a bitch for completely ignoring the men who harassed her.

Here’s the thing: there is a vast difference between a courteous hello to a passerby and street harassment and when you’ve experienced street harassment you know that the intention is anything but courteous.

I live in a small city now. In fact, I live in an even smaller town butting up next to a small city. When I walk down the sidewalks or parks I am overwhelmingly pleasant and the people I encounter tend to be neighbours. I catch people’s eyes and say hello. Sometimes I even mutter something about the weather. I almost never feel like I’ve been harassed or objectified. I almost never feel like I need to walk away quickly or pretend like I never heard what people say.

Things were vastly different when I lived in a big city and my main form of transportation was my own two feet. All the hi there‘s and have a nice day‘s and smile!‘s did not feel like pleasant interactions between two civilized individuals. Their intention was clear and they felt like harassment. The words were often spoken with an appraising gaze (or stare), a rubberneck, and a tone that implied “I think you’re sexy and I have a right to say so”.

Sometimes I found it funny, other times annoying, but overwhelming I felt uncomfortable. And I’m not a person who is easily unnerved.

I quickly learned that the best way to handle these interactions was to completely ignore the men. Responding with pleasantries resulted in unwanted conversation with the catcaller that made me even more uncomfortable. Responding with an angry glare or comment resulted in unwanted confrontation that made me feel even less safe. Pretending that I didn’t hear or see anything was the only option.

That is the whole point that this video is addressing. Women want to feel safe and comfortable walking down the street and you’re making this hard for many of us. We’re suggesting that this isn’t the best way to interact with women in the street. We’re telling you, blatantly, that we don’t like this. Please stop.

 

If you really do have the best of intentions when you shout “hey beautiful” at a woman in the street then you’ll respect that it’s not always well received. You’ll understand that your right to make those remarks should not trump her right to feel safe. You’ll respect what you’ve just learned. You’ll stop.

While I’m mad that many men are responding so harshly to this video my heart is uplifted by all the men who have had positive response to it. You are our advocates and we desperately need you. We’re trying our hardest to make all men understand what we’re going through with street harassment and all forms of harassment and objectification but we need men on our side to help us make the message clear. If men tell other men it’s not okay, maybe they’ll listen.

Please share this with those who feel that the street harassment video is “an attack on masculinity”, or represents women’s “irrational fears”, or showed men who were “just being nice”.

And also share this:

America’s catcalling madness - from Salon

[Potential street harassment is] always context specific, which is something that a lot of men who are mad right now don’t seem to get. Women know the difference.

And this:

6 Things You Might Not Think Are Street Harassment – Bustle

For someone to argue about the relative threat level of the words themselves is to completely signify a lack of understanding about where the real perceived threat comes from. In other words, if you tell a woman that an act of “harassing” wasn’t, in fact, “harassment”, all you’re saying is: “I don’t understand anything about the experience of living your life.”

29 Oct

Yoga Bingo: Fun, Challenging, and Fruitful

This article is a guest post provided by Anna Nixon.

If the popularity of games like WiiFit and Dance Beat teaches us anything, it’s that the best way to get (or stay) fit is by having fun. At the same time, achieving the wellness you desire is all about challenging yourself and pushing your limits, and with a quick game of Yoga Bingo, you and your fellow yogis can accomplish this.

Yoga and bingo have more in common than you might think, often lending themselves to different causes throughout the years. For example, while a yoga event is currently being organized in support of breast cancer patients, Free Bingo Hunter also reports that bingo games for Breast Cancer Awareness have also been organized. These two activities come together in Yoga Bingo.

Conceptualized by Maria Finnegan Fitness, Yoga Bingo is a fun and easy game that tests your knowledge of yoga positions and challenges your resolve as it puts you in a competition against your fellow yogis. Playing the game is easy, as all you’ll need are some plain bingo cards and some markers or bingo chips. List down 24 different yoga positions, and use a bingo card generator to create several sets of bingo cards from your list of yoga positions. Next, make the bingo call cards by writing down the positions on strips of paper and putting them in a box that you can draw from.

Once you’re ready to play, hand out the Yoga Bingo cards and start drawing positions from the box. Whenever a position is called, the players need to perform them, and then mark them off on their bingo cards with markers or bingo chips. The first to finish a pattern on their card wins the game. Sure, there’s no guarantee that playing the game regularly will help you nab first place in the Yoga Asana Championships, but it’s a great way to practice all the different yoga positions, and even challenge yourself.

28 Oct

Weekend Do-Over

I woke up this morning, Monday, thinking it was Saturday so my week has started off in grand fashion. I slept in an extra 10 minutes, feeling exhausted and thought, “well, at least it’s deload week.” I guess I just want this week to be over. This weekend was active enough for me to need another weekend from my weekend.

Friday

Friday night my friend Santina and I went to an Acrobatics Workshop put on by the Sky Society, a group of local performers.

Acro Workshop (6)I’m flying!

They showed us how to work with our bodies and our partner’s to perform acrobatic stunts that involved balance, counter balance, climbing on each others’ backs and legs, and virtually flying. We semi-joked they would make good party tricks. They kinda would.

Acro Workshop (13)What a nifty backpack Santina makes.

I think I enjoyed being the ‘base’ partner rather than the flying partner, but back-bending while perched on Santina’s feet and chin-standing on her back were pretty, I must admit.

Saturday

I taught my usual AM yoga classes and then hosted a Prenatal Yogassage workshop at Breathe Pilates Studio. I was a bit nervous to teach it (as I tend to get when I’m teaching something that is not my normal class) but I think most of the women enjoyed it and the feedback was positive. The class involves really relaxing poses with lots of props and a team of massage therapists who give each woman a massage while they are in the poses. I mean, who doesn’t love a good massage, amiright? My friend Katie who is in her second trimester was in the class and we got to have lunch together at Taloola afterward to catch up. Saturday night was date night. Matt and I made Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. I had put Swedish meatballs on the menu for the week because I was so sure that Matt and talked about craving them but he swears he didn’t. Regardless, they’re delicious. I tried a new recipe from Saveur (you can find it here) which, I think, turned out better than previous recipes I’ve tried.

We spent the rest of the evening with Tim Hortons’ hot chocolate and treats (a chocolate chip cookie for Matt and cruller for me) while curling up on the couch with Bagigis watching Dark Shadow. I like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp but this movie was just mediocre.

Sunday

After teaching at 8:30am I met up with my family for breakfast at Cora’s to celebrate my Nonna’s 91st birthday. 91. She’s amazing. As soon as the Detroit Lions game ended (rather remarkably too), I dragged Matt to the park play catch with me and take advantage of the warm day and crystal clear skies. Later that afternoon, I took even more advantage of the weather by doing yoga outside among the sunshine and fallen leaves before heading off to teach again. Outdoor Yoga My 5pm class was PACKED which I haven’t seen in a long time and was so excited about. So excited, in fact, that I got the class into a mid-practice dance party as I blared Walk the Moon’s Shut Up and Dance. Some were totally into it other had faces that betrayed their “This is supposed to be yoga, not Zumba” opinion. But once you’re in it, you’re in it, and I was all in. Of course, Sunday night involved eating biscuits and watching the latest episode of my favourite show, Downton Abbey which is always my favourite activity of the week. So, yeah. . . With such a fulfilling weekend I’m not quite sure why I woke up today thinking it was Saturday again. I must just want to do it over.

26 Oct

Links for a Sunday Morning

It Doesn't Get Easier

What Will It Take to Run a 2-HOUR Marathon? – Runner’s World

The perfect sub 2 runner will have the most efficient VO2 Max, will be short and light, and will set the record on a cold day in Germany or Poland.

Canada’s Coverage of the Ottawa Shootings Put American Cable News to Shame – Mother Jones

The broadcast was deliberative and deferential to the facts even when they were sparse. Exacting and painstaking, but never slow or boring, Mansbridge weighed the credibility of every detail, constantly framing and reframing what we knew and, most crucially, how we knew it.

When Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Celiac Disease – NY Times

Recent studies have strongly suggested that many, and possibly most, people who react badly to gluten may have a more challenging problem: sensitivity to a long list of foods containing certain carbohydrates.

Going yoga: Columbus Blue Jackets add diversity to training – Fox Sports

The classes the team hosts each week focus on exercises that open the hips to address the demands on those muscles from all the skating in practices and games.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed. – Slate

Does an abstain-for-now message work better on young teens than the abstain-until-marriage message did? New research from the Wellesley Centers for Women shows that yes, a comprehensive sex-education program that includes messaging about abstaining for now produces impressive results.

Why Kids Sext – The Atlantic

“Our only way of being alone was to do it over the phone. It was a way of kind of dating without getting in trouble. A way of being sexual without being sexual, you know? And it was his way of showing he liked me a lot and my way of saying I trusted him.”

Stretching Doesn’t Work (the Way You Think It Does) – Breaking Muscle

In reality, we are not lumps of clay that can be molded by persistently tugging on things. This is because our nervous systems are running the show. That means that unless you are under anesthesia your ability to stretch at any range is determined by your nervous system’s tolerance to that range.

Why So Many Women Are Crying at the Gym – Time

For a generation of stressed-out working women, exercise is as much about emotional release as it is physical training.

One-Fifth of Detroit’s Population Could Lose Their Homes – CityLab

“Don’t you think the best way to stop blight is to keep people in their homes?”?