Category Archives: Yoga

All things yoga because we love it.

Has it been a week already?

When you’re young, a day feels like eternity but it seems the older you get, 1 week goes by in a blink of an eye.

Highlights of the week:

Ada’s Visit
A friend from Australia that I hadn’t seen for over a decade visited.  She was in London for less than 24 hours but still managed to squeeze me in for a catch up.

I chose a restaurant near where she was staying.  It was the German Gymnasium at Kings Cross.  They serve… German food.  Ha!

Anyway, it’s in a Grade II listed building and named German Gymnasium because the building was the first, purpose built Gymnasium in England with funding coming solely from London’s German community.

The building was built in 1865 so we ate dinner (I had a German afternoon tea) inside a 150 year old building.

Yin with Sharky
Yoga which has been my life for so long, was pretty non-existent because – January.

You have to book ALL your classes in otherwise they’re all full due to all those well-intentioned New Years Resolutions people who disappear by Feb.

I managed to book classes from mid Jan through to Feb and thought by February for sure, the classes would start being freer but it wasn’t to be.

So I have spent many days not going to yoga because the classes have been booked out and I hadn’t booked myself in, in time.

Can you imagine?  Attempting to book yourself in 2 days in advance is still not long enough.  FARK!

I did manage to get to one of Sharky’s first Yin classes and I loved it.  She did a different method to the other teachers and allowed time for “rebound” between each posture.

Rebound is a savasana in between every posture to allow whatever released in each posture, to move through and exit or integrate into, the body.

The result?  I ended up getting really teary and emotional.  I actually felt emotions releasing from my body and I was so grateful to be able to feel them so I could let them go.

It only lasted a few seconds though because as soon as Tony saw me looking teary, “WHY ARE YOU CRYING?” came out of his mouth and it was so abrupt and harsh, I immediately cut off all emotions and went back to thinking mode.

I got skillz like that.

Actually, he managed to say it just like my mother used to.  I know he said it out of concern but I heard it the way my mum said it which meant “Stop being a pussy, you have no reason to cry and if you don’t stop I’ll fucking give you a reason to cry.”  That’s the mild version. 😉

So I stopped.  IMMEDIATELY.  I’ll just have to find a way to cry at times he’s not around so I can release emotions in peace.

Paris & Rome
Another week in peace.  Both boys are really happy and binky every day.

Paris does the cutest binkies ’cause he’s so chunky like a bulldog and bottom heavy.  So he looks more like a jumping goat or ram when he binkies.

Rome has started to jump on my arm and shoulder.  Last night he sat on my shoulder and every so often would turn to lick my face – cheek, eyelid, eyebrows, temple, forehead.  Then he’d jump down and jump up onto my other shoulder and tug at my hair.

I know he’s just looking for a way over the fence and using me as a viewing platform but I like to think we’ve developed a good bond plus I’m loving all my bunny kisses!  He loves kissing my nose.

He’s still incredibly mischievous, spends a lot of his time in meerkat position, listening out for what Paris might be doing and he’s completely chewed up the skirting board instead of the chew mat we gave him because he thinks breaking the skirting board will help him escape the fence.

We keep him fenced because although the more loving of the two, he’s also the trouble maker.

He is so curious he gets himself into all sorts of trouble – biting things he shouldn’t, falling off things he shouldn’t have jumped on in the first place and starting fights by annoying the crap out of Paris by not letting him have space.

The other day he fell down the stairs 3 times in one day (that I saw)all because he kept standing on 2 feet on the edge of the step and then leaning backwards.  Don’t ask.

He’s been contained in the hallway with plenty of run space including the stairs and the bathroom but it doesn’t stop him from attempting to  break the fence and looking for FREEDOM!!!

I’m also having a battle of the bathroom with him.

After a week of watching Tony and I go toilet (he’s in the hallway so we have to pass him every single time and sometimes he follows us into the bathroom), he stopped pissing and pooing anywhere but the bathroom!

He just chose to go in the shower because he can’t reach the toilet.

Unfortunately, we have to keep clearing his poo and pee before we have a shower and he gets very frustrated with us because every time we clean it, we’re effectively saying he’s not allowed to pee and poo there, and therefore he has nowhere to go toilet.

So then of course he’ll poo and pee outside of the shower as well as in the shower, using the entire bathroom floor as his toilet which makes it difficult for us to go in there and use the toilet ourselves.

I put a litter in the bathroom for him and it’s taken a couple of days but I think he’s coming around to the idea that this is his new place to go toilet because there is much less poo anywhere but the litter.

Although the chew mat I bought is completely intact for Rome, Paris’ is almost completely torn apart and non-existent.

Paris actually only chews the things we give him to chew and he knows EXACTLY which is for him and which is not.

A perfect example is that he has a cardboard box he chews on, we give them cardboard boxes a lot.  Yet, I’ve left cardboard boxes full of my eBay stock out right next to his play area without any fences.

He can walk right up to them and start chewing on them, pissing on them, whatever he likes really and he leaves them untouched!

He has identified what is ok for him and what will get him into trouble and he really has behaved himself so we’ve removed the fence and he’s running “free range”.

He actually just stays in his area!!  He’s recently started to explore under the couch but he has steered clear of the hallway and gone nowhere near the only fence that keeps him apart from Rome.

So far so good.  Unsure how long this will last but we’ll see.

Paris has also started to approach us more and nudges us for treats which is much better than running away!

Still hates getting patted but he tolerates it a bit more before running away.  He also has no problems standing on our feet when he’s begging and asking us for treats.  We didn’t teach him, he just does it.

Overall we have 2 very happy bunnies and we’re finally starting to understand their personalities.

Because only their scent is on their stuff, they’re not marking territory as much as they used to.

That means there’s barely any poo outside of their litter and hutch and they’re not pissing outside of their designated litters at all.  I knew they were supposed to be easy to toilet train!!

All they needed was to be separated and feel safe about what is THEIR space.

Our house no longer smells as bad (either that or I’m used to it) and I’m back to normal amounts of laundry.

That makes 2 good weeks in a row with them out of 5.5 weeks together.  It was a hectic start but we’re getting there!! YES!!

Last thing… last night I attempted to feed them rocket (again, I think it was my 3rd attempt at feeding them rocket, probably the 15th time to attempt to feed them some sort of fresh veg) and THEY ATE IT!!!!  That was their first ever fresh vegetable they’ve eaten.

And to test trust, I held the rocket with my mouth and had them eat it from me.  BOTH of them did it which means they’re both cool with sharing food with me.

YES!  After many weeks of rejection, I finally got acceptance.

I can’t have asked for more.  Patience, persistence, trust and love. That’s what these boys are teaching me.

And restraint… I’m learning restraint.  Sometimes I wish I could just SQUEEZE them and smother them with kisses because they’re so damned CUTE but that’s probably why they don’t let me hold them!

Here is a picture of them when they used to get along:

Paris & Rome



This is them in rapport even when separated.

Sleepy baby Paris
Sleepy Rome
Sleepy baby Rome. Notice the completely intact chew mat next to him (on the right) and our chewed up door frame (on the left). That’s just paint on the door snake.


Seriously, Tony skyped me one pic while he was with Paris in the lounge and Rome was doing the exact same thing while with me in the hallway!  In rapport, even when apart – there is hope for them yet!

Handstand – It’s the little things!

Yesterday I did my first ever handstand without a wall!

Can you believe it?  I’m so excited about it I was beaming from ear to ear after class.

So first of all, I have to clarify, I did my first ever handstand about 2 years ago.  It was against a wall where I faced the wall and I got there by doing almost a cartwheel with the wall preventing me from flipping backwards.

That is, I used momentum to get myself up, the wall as a break and held myself up by sheer will, using my heels to grip the wall so I wouldn’t fall side ways.

I have done handstands since but very rarely because I’ve been such a scaredy-cat about them.  I always think I might bust a hole in the wall from kicking too hard so every time I did a handstand against a wall, I’d climb my feet up slowly.

So, I faced away from the wall, touched my toes, put my hands on the ground, then walked my feet up the wall.  This too was a rare event because I’d only be confident doing this with someone around, in case I fell.

Also, I’d keep my toes on the wall and never take them off so I was never actually upright, always on an angle.

Yesterday however,  we were asked to do handstands with a partner.  The partner’s role was simply to touch your legs when you kicked up so you could gauge how far you had to kick to be upright.  Once you were up, your partner just had to keep your legs in place (not by holding you but by keeping their hands near your legs,  just to give you confidence that they will catch you or stop you from falling over).

I have no idea what happened.  I kicked up once, twice and then on the third time, my leg tapped my partner’s hand and the next thing I know, both legs were up and I felt like I was flying.

“You did it!” she said.

“I did it??” I screamed back.

Partner:  “Yes, this is all you!  You’re doing it!”

Me while upside down in a handstand, getting really excited:  “I AM???!!!”

Partner:  “Yes!  You’re doing great!  Are you getting tired?  Do you want to come down?”

Me:  “Um… no, but yeah, oh… yeah OK I’ll come down.”

It was the strangest thing, when I was back on my feet, my partner told me that she didn’t hold me up, that I was doing it all on my own.  It was hard for me to understand.

Here’s the thing.  When I’ve done handstands against a wall, it’s HEAVY.  My arms and shoulders hurt and tire easily.  I feel my entire weight of my body and legs all on my arms, wrists and shoulders.

However, without a wall, I felt no weight… that’s what I  meant by I felt like I was flying.  I don’t know what happened or how I did it.  I can only guess that I stacked my bones up to get the right balance.

I attempted kicking up with the opposite leg.  I was having a really hard time with it.  The worst part was that the rest of the class has finished theirs and so were watching me and cheering me on.

I think my partner had to collect the kicking leg (ie catch it and pull it up) and put my legs in line with each other.  Not as great as my first leg but I still managed to hold myself up there.

I tell you what, I’ve never in my life EVER done a handstand by myself.  Not as a kid, not as an adult.  But now, for the first time ever, I can see it as a possibility for me.

You know, it’s not the full posture and I didn’t do it by myself but it made my week.  I think that’s all you need to be happy in life.  Progress, possibility, learning new things and little wins!!


Introducing Myself and You To The Sauce (Psoas)

My first introduction to the Psoas was by Sofia Vergara, when I watched this video of her playing “5 Second Rule” with Ellen DeGeneres.

Here is the clip, though she doesn’t introduce us to the Psoas until 5:14

To any person who was unfamiliar with the Psoas prior to watching that video, she definitely said “sauce” right?!  What a strange muscle to mention.

Now I know of its’ importance, I understand why she mentioned it and I question why it isn’t more commonly known.

However,  after looking into it, it seems to be something that people write books about.  I was just one of those common people who was oblivious to the mighty Psoas or Sauce if you are Sofia Vergara!

So last night I went to my first i.flo class with Baris Yazar and died.  I’m not talking about dying like Taylor Swift fans who claim to be “deaded” when they see her either.

I’m talking about, not-being-able-to-do-a-push-up-or-a-sit-up-to-save-my-life-and-so-I-died kind of dead.

You would think having done yoga, I’d be able to do a push up right?  Well, no.  Unfortunately, Bikram yoga offers no familiarity nor acquaintance with Mr Chaturanga and my big shoulders have proven that they are simply ornamental.

Add to that my 9 weeks off of any form of exercise and me only just easing my way back into exercising 3 times a week this week and you’ll get an idea of how much I died.

Having said that, i.flo was fun and it pointed out certain malfunctioning muscles of mine.  Namely, my second and most important introduction to the sauce.  Psoas.  Sauce.  “What did I say wrong?!”

i.flo highlighted my psoas’ existence because it appeared to be non-existent.

So let me tell you what I know about Mr Sauce so far.

The Psoas / Iliopsoas muscle is important to human movement.  It’s the muscle that helps you run, jump and walk by flexing your hip.  It connects the inside to the outside and the back to the front.  It connects your spine to your legs!

iliopsoasThat’s a picture I googled for illustrative purposes.

From the picture above, you can see the Psoas major connects to the Lumbar Spine (lower back) and then comes forward to the front of the body.  There is also another muscle called the Illiacus muscle which is attached to the illium (pelvic bone) and also comes to the front.


The Illiacus muscle is shown in the GIF above, in red.

Both the Psoas major and the Illiacus muscles combine at the front and are called the Iliopsoas.  They (Iliopsoas) share the same ligament which connects to the inner pelvis.

As mentioned, the Psoas connects your spine to your legs.  If it works, you should be able to do an L-sit.  Contract the Psoas and your legs will lift up towards your spine.  Mine did no such thing.  “My sauce is weak!”

Yes, the L-sit also requires arm, ab and leg strength but the only thing that’s going to get your legs higher, will be a mightily contracted psoas muscle.  It is the secret psoas!  (Did you see what I did there?  Ha!  I’m slapping my thigh and giving myself a high five right now!)

Next, Baris said, “Lay down on your back with your legs straight and your lower back flat on the floor.  No banana backs.”  He then gave a demonstration.

I’m a stickler for following instructions but no matter what I did and how much I tried to round my back, I had a little bridge – a banana back.  There was ALWAYS a gap between the floor and my lower back while my legs were straight.  The only way I could eliminate that gap and have my back flat on the floor was to bend my knees.

psoasanteriortilt See that picture?  I got that from SequenceWiz about Stretching the Psoas and it’s a good read so head on over there for more info.

That diagram totally explains the back curvature I have and why I couldn’t get my lower back flat on the floor.  Low and behold, the Psoas is involved again!

According to this picture, the psoas has been overstretched, constantly being pulled forward and downward, due to the pelvic tilt, taking the spine with it.

The result is a curved spine, duck bum and an overstretched psoas.   Overstretched muscles fatigue easily.  It’s hard for them to contract back to normal (let alone tightly) when they’ve gone too far one way.  “So that‘s why my sauce is weak!”

So here’s some more info about the sauce.  The Psoas regulates spinal and pelvic alignment but it isn’t strong enough to do it on its own.

When the surrounding muscles such as the abdominals, glutes, spine and quads are tight or weak, the pelvic bone will tilt one way or another and the Psoas will get pulled or contract depending on the angle of the pelvis and spine.

It will, attempt to regulate but there’s only so much it can do, poor psoas, with so many things pulling it up, down, front and back.  Eventually, it all becomes too much and it can’t do its’ job, one of the stronger / tighter outer muscles will win and imbalances form in the lower body.

psoasbackpullSo my understanding now is that a happy psoas takes a lot of work.  It seems it will only be happy when all the surrounding muscles are also co-operating instead of pulling against each other.

Happy and balanced outer muscles will make for a happy and effectively functioning psoas.  Once it’s functioning happily, then it can be strengthened.

More research will have to be done on my part to figure out which muscles I need to strengthen, stretch and how but there you are.

Now that I’ve introduced you, I leave you to get to know your own psoas better.  It’s worth getting to know because knowing and understanding your psoas will actually help you work out how to re-balance your entire lower body!

Voila!  You are very welcome.

Bikram Yoga: How NOT to be a douche in class

I found this drafted blog which I never posted and thought I’d share it.  For reference, we’ve been doing yoga now for over 4 years so I wrote this over a year ago.  I haven’t come across this type of experience in a long time but we’ve all been there and it’s funny to be able to look back and see what my experience was in the past…  After reading it, I cracked myself up so had to share it!


OK, so yoga is supposed to be all about zen, accepting things, letting things go, yatta, yatta, yatta.

You’d think that after practicing for almost 3 years, you’d get to a stage where your focus is like a laser beam, your mind is empty and all you do is “feel the (life) force” every time you’re in the room.

Well, in a recent class, I proved very much the opposite.  I found myself getting angrier and angrier and repeating “What a douche!” a whole bunch of times… more than I care to count and they were probably the gentlest words popping into my head among the many more flowery superlatives hanging about and decorating my mind at the time.  They were very colourful thoughts.  The scowl on my face was so tense I could’ve used it to hold up my leg in standing-head-to-knee.

“Let me guess… the teacher was on your case?”

NO my friend, it was not the teacher.  I’ve never thought anything like that about a teacher… well, maybe once but douche wasn’t the word I used and it was only temporary and momentarily and I forgot about it once my legs stopped burning.  It’s also never happened again since.

NO, the bane of my life that day was another student.  A newbie… new as in first 5 classes new.  I know, I know… I need to exercise patience…. they don’t know what they’re doing…

But seriously, EVERYTHING she could have possibly done to piss me off in a class, she did.  One or two things?  I can let them go… I am a patient person, it takes quite a bit to get me riled up but once it happens……

The rant begins…….

This lady did every. single. one. of my pet peeves and to top it off, she even gave me some new ones.  Got to hand it to her, if there was a “Douche of all Douches” trophy, she’d get one.

Here is a list of everything she did.  It makes a pretty definitive list of everything you shouldn’t do in a class if you don’t want someone giving you a death stare the whole time.

1.  Attend with your friend and have a chat during and between postures
Talking to each other like you’re having a picnic… is a big NO NO
If you wanted to lie on a towel and have a chat then go to the beach… douche!
Most likely all you want to say is “OMG look at how much I’m sweating!” or “OMG it’s so hot” or “OMG this is hard” That’s it… there’s nothing else for you to say while you’re in there and guess what?

Sweating? Hot? Feeling like it’s hard?  WE’RE ALL FEELING THAT WAY!

Saying it out loud, distracting everyone in the process doesn’t help anyone.  Saying it over and over every few mins because you think your friend might not have heard you the first time… doesn’t work either.  I’m farther away than your friend and I can hear you.  Douche.

You’ve got the rest of your life outside of that room to talk, surely you can keep your mouth shut for 90mins?
Etiquette:  Observe Silence

2.  Spread yourself out like you own the place
This lady had a face towel about 20cm from the top and about 20cm away to the right of her mat.  Her water bottle was standing up to the left and half way down her mat about 10cm away also.  Therefore, the amount of space she took was pretty much 1.5 mat widths and we were in a class that wasn’t packed BUT it had enough people there to be crowded so that others in the room were only about 10cm away from each other.
Really?  You couldn’t move your things closer to you to make space for other people?  What a douche!
Etiquette:  Observe your space and allow others theirs

3.  Treat your space like a dance floor
Having her items placed so far apart meant this lady had to keep walking from one end of her mat to the other every time she wanted to wipe her face or drink water.  Back and forth, back and forth…. back and forth… for the entire standing series.  First she’s on her towel then she’s off the mat to the left taking a sip then she’s walking across to the right to pick up her towel to wipe her face, then she’s on the mat but decides she doesn’t want to do the posture and sits down, then she changes her mind and stands back up to attempt the posture but realises she has to walk to the right again to wipe her face AGAIN even though she just did that half a minute ago…  Do you know how distracting this is for someone practicing right behind you?

Etiquette:  Observe Stillness

4.  Keep trying to make your towel flap like a flag in the wind
If she wasn’t wiping her face, she was drinking and if she wasn’t doing that, she was moving her towel up and down the mat, she kept lifting it up and laying it down like you would do when you put out a picnic rug.  First she’d move the towel to the top of the mat, then she’d move it to the bottom of the mat, then she’d move it to the middle of the mat.. then she’d sit on it but after she sat on it, it had creases so she’d stand up, pick it up and she’d lay it out again…. over and over…. and over….. didn’t she realise that putting her foot on it would crease it?  If she wanted it straight, flat and pristine why did she keep walking on it??????!!!!!!!  Why not just lay the f*cker out and leave it!!! It’s not like she was doing anything anyway… just get off the mat and go home!  Then the towel would be straight and she  wouldn’t have to keep flapping it about so many times!!

I bet she’s one of those people at the beach who picks up their towel and flaps it about when the wind is blowing so everyone next to them gets whipped in the face by the sand that’s come off her towel…
Inconsiderate Douche!!
Etiquette:  See 3

5.  Stand directly in front of the person practicing behind you so they can’t see anything except you and your fat ass
Yeah I said it.

There’s a mirror for a reason and it’s not so you can check yourself out for 1.5 hrs.  The teacher always says “make sure you can see yourself in the mirror.”  but they also say “make sure the person behind you can see themselves in the mirror, even a little bit”.

Considering I chose that day to practice at the back, it was my responsibility to choose a spot that allowed me to see myself in the  mirror…. and I did.  I chose to place my mat, not directly behind her but to the side, and I had a person to my right and the mat racks to my left… I didn’t have much space to move.  She however, given how she spread out her mat, bottle and face towel had plenty of space to move to either side.

However, when it came to practicing, she moved her mat directly in front of mine and then stood right in the middle of her mat which was right in front of me, I couldn’t see anything except her.  She could have stood a step to the side and that would have been fine but she stood right. in. front. of me.

After set 1 of the breathing exercise… I moved my mat so I was right up against the mat racks but at least I could half see myself…. you know what she did??? SHE STOOD OFF HER MAT and again, ended up right in front of me.  What the hell was she doing off her mat anyway?… and  why didn’t she move to the right or stay where she was?

When half-moon came, I moved to the right of my mat, couldn’t see a thing and thought to myself… “just let it go, you chose this spot, now you just gotta deal with it.”

After first set half moon, a guy at the front, saw how crowded it was so he moved himself to make more space for those behind him to see themselves.  Thank you considerate human being…
I moved to the left at the start of the next posture, this time grateful that I could see at least half of myself.  SHE sees that he’s made space and moves her entire mat so AGAIN she’s directly in front of me… On the next posture, I move to the right and see….. NOTHING… just the back of her.   Again, I tell myself to just let it go.

Just accept that she’s…  A DOUCHE!
Etiquette:  See 3 & 2

6.  Drink in between postures
Drinking in between or during postures is not only distracting to others but is equivalent to eating a steak in front of a hungry meat eater who has just started being vegetarian.  Nuff said… what a douche.
Etiquette:  Show some Goddamned respect and consideration for others

7.  Lying down with  your feet facing the mirror 
Firstly, if you’re taking a break in standing series, you’re not supposed to lie down.  They say, take a knee or sit…. nobody said lie down!!!
Secondly, when you lie down, it’s with your head towards the mirror not your feet.
So of course during balancing stick… I was dripping sweat from my fingers and trying to avoid dripping on her face…  Didn’t do too well for my balancing and if she was sitting, I wouldn’t have had that problem.
Etiquette:  Your bad juju flows out of your feet.  Show some respect for the teacher and face that bad juju away from them.

8.  Moving off your mat

If she was tall, I would have forgiven her but this lady was on and off her mat non stop.  When she lay down, in the correct direction, her feet would extend off her mat because she’d place her head half way down the mat.  She moved her mat in front of mine, that meant when she lay down, her feet were in my face.  Did she move up?  No… instead she looked at me, lay diagonal and looked as if I’d inconvenienced her.  My mat was right up against the wall and her mat (where she placed it AFTER I’d moved my mat away from hers in the first place) therefore I had nowhere to go.  All she had to do was move her body up on her mat….
Etiquette:  See 2

9.  Making owy faces and massaging yourself, drawing attention

Yes she did.  She’d keep mouthing “OW!” shaking her hand or her foot or massaging herself in between all her moving around and her towel fluffing, drinking, face wiping.  I don’t even know where she found the time to fit all that in but just like a parent who yells at their kid “STOP CRYING OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!”  I found myself having to hold back so much.  All I wanted to do was give her something to say ow about… “Don’t you realise that everyone else is ALSO in pain and discomfort?  Nobody moans about it so we can keep going until the end.  YOU however are a whiney little douche who hasn’t done anything to be in pain!! So what’s with all the owy faces?  I’ll show you fucking OW!!!”

What. A. Whiney.  Douche.

Etiquette:  You’ve got the rest of your life to be a douche.  Just STOP IT for once in your fucking life. 90mins.  It’s not that hard.


Needless to say I never saw this person back in class again, EVER.  Glad to say I haven’t seen this kind of person in the studio since.  Thank God.  And, my practice now remains quite calm and peaceful 🙂  What a difference a year or 2 makes! LOL

Indoor Rock Climbing

We were at lunch a little while ago and speaking to friends who:
a) have learned to sail and went on a holiday sailing their own yacht
b) were going on an adventure trip to the Costa del Sol involving outdoor rock climbing and bouldering
c) did sculling and rowing in crazy -10’C water
and things like that and on hearing that we participate in no such adventures, they invited us to go indoor rock climbing with them because it’s a regular activity that they do.

Tony was excited.  Apparently it’s something he used to do a lot and enjoyed but he hadn’t gone because I wasn’t into it.  WTF?  I had no idea.  He’d never mentioned it to me before!  If he had, I’ve forgotten…

So, I agree to go.  I’m definitely not going to be the reason why someone doesn’t do something.  Except I’m not exactly the sporty type and I’m scared of heights.  I agree but spend the next 2 weeks in trepidation, wondering why he doesn’t just go by himself.  I think you need pairs (because someone has to belay while the other climbs) so reluctantly, I don’t cancel or excuse myself, otherwise he wouldn’t have a partner.

Now, I’ve been indoor rock climbing before – a total of twice.  Once about 20 years ago and another about 17 years ago.  I neither enjoyed it nor hated it but I do remember being shit scared when I got past a certain height on the wall and had a hard time letting the wall go and trusting the rope on the way down and I was very sore the next day, both times.

“You have to do a test” our friend told us.  “When you get there, you have to know how to tie a figure 8 knot.  It’s easy, just look it up on YouTube.”

So the day before we were meant to go rock climbing, that’s what I did.  I looked up a figure 8 knot and learned how to do it using our earphone wires.  Sweet.  All set.

We turn up at the centre and the first and only question at the front is “Are you competent climbers?”  Tony immediately and confidently says “Yes.”  I shit myself and just stare at her, I hate lying but she takes his answer to mean the both of us and tells us both to go inside.  Phew!  Now all I have to do is tie the knot.

The guy arrives, introduces himself and says, “OK, so I’ve got to test you guys.  So first of all, put this on and come over to the ropes.”

He hands us each a harness.  OMG I felt like that one time I tried water skiing and put the wetsuit on backwards because I’d never worn a wet suit before in my life.  Super embarrassing.  The harness was just as foreign to me.  Just a bunch of straps.  I stared at that harness thinking “Do not embarrass yourself. Put it on the right way.”  I actually wasn’t sure if I’d done it properly but it felt comfortable enough.  So I figured it was right.

I walk over to the ropes. “Now tie yourself in” he said.  SO… I take the rope and pretend that I know what I’m doing even though I’ve never done this before.  I trust in YouTube.  I feed the rope through the loop on my harness and start to do the figure 8 knot.  I’m pretty much at it for about 5-10 mins (it could have been less than 10 mins but it felt like AGES).  I had to take it out and do it over and over and over because I either got it wrong, upside down, too short or something.  I FINALLY get it done.  It looks beautiful just like the one I saw on YouTube  and I’m way proud of myself.
“Yes!” I think, “I’ve done it! I’ve passed.”  Phew!  I show the guy my beautifully tied knot with a big grin.

He doesn’t even acknowledge it.  I think he was getting frustrated watching me get it done and just relieved that I’d finally sorted it.  “Now clip yourself in” he says.  Huh?  Clip myself in? Where?  To what?  He hands me a carabiner and I stare at it because I don’t know where to clip it.  “Do you know what this is?”
My answer “Yes” which is true.  I know what it is.
“Do you know what to do with it?”
My answer “Umm.. yes”.  I take it and I clip it to the loop in my harness (actually not knowing if this is what I’m supposed to do with it) and then wonder what I’m supposed to clip into.  He hands me another gadget and says “Here. put this on.”
I stare back at him and say “Ummm…”
“Do you know what..”  NOPE
“Have you..” NOPE
“So you..” NOPE  NOPE NOPE.
I managed to wing it that far but this thing was beyond me and I wasn’t going to pretend with this one.  I don’t know what it’s called but it was the gadget for belaying except I really had no idea what it was when I saw it and had no idea how to thread the rope through it.

Needless to say, had the test been purely on tying the figure 8 knot and untimed, I would have passed but there was more to it than just a knot and so I failed my test.  I felt horrible until I found out that Tony failed too.  He didn’t even tie his knot properly.  Neither of us double backed our harnesses and although he clipped himself in, his belaying skills weren’t up to scratch.  WELL… that was fun! And, because we failed, we weren’t allowed to climb.  I didn’t care… any reason not to do it was enough reason for me!

But Tony still wanted to go and looked so disappointed.  So I told the guy our friends were inside and he said we could climb if our friends “supervised” us.  So, we all signed off the waiver form to say that they were supervising and we were aware that this could result in death and off we went to do some rock climbing.

The test was actually the most eventful part of the experience I would say.  The rest was pretty meh.  Surprisingly I climbed up quite easily and reached the top on all my attempts.  I was doing the easiest level, 4.   I just had mini panic attacks when I had to come down.  I never looked down.  I tried once and I couldn’t see anything but the wall (because it jutted out just below where I was) but that was enough for me.  Staring at the wall was the best thing I could do to stop any fear from creeping up on me.  I didn’t need to see just how high I was from above.  I could see how high it was when on the ground, by how much my neck hurt constantly looking up at other climbers!

That was it really.  I didn’t really go up the wall that many times.  Maybe 4 or 5 and I spent the rest of the time tying myself in over and over to practice that and I practiced belaying too.  Tony went up a few more times and did a climb using an auto-belay.  We gave bouldering a shot too.  I managed 2 climbs on the boulder and that was it, my arms felt like falling off.  After that, it was all over and we had pizza.

In the end it wasn’t as bad as I imagined it was going to be.  I wasn’t as fearful as I expected to be either.  I thought it was alright but nothing so awesome that it makes me want to go back either.  I suppose if Tony wants to go back, I wouldn’t be jumping up and down about it but I’d go with him.  Afterall, I know how to belay and tie myself in now so it’s all good!

To be honest, I never ever had to get tested on tying myself in before and I don’t recall ever having to tie myself in!! I have no idea how I managed in the past.  I would have remembered having to thread all those ropes if I had to get tied in for each and every climb.  I can only think that maybe someone else tied me in every time?  Maybe it was all clips?  So weird.

Another difference was that in my first 2 attempts, I always did “rainbow climbs” ie.  I never picked levels, I just used which ever holds there were, no matter what colour, to get up the wall.  This time, however, I stuck with the level and the colour and I did alright.

2 notable differences between the previous times and this time were that first of all, I wasn’t as panicked and clinging to the wall as much as before and secondly, I wasn’t sore the next day.

It must be the yoga.  It has to be.  Flexibility in the hips, strength in the legs and fingers and the ability to breathe at times when I would normally panic are all things I know I developed through my yoga practice.

It is a bizarre feeling to know that I can do now, things I couldn’t do in the past – that I’m actually more physically capable in my older years than I was in my youth.

Now I wonder what other things I can do because of  yoga.  Since rock climbing’s not so scary anymore, perhaps I’ll finally learn how to ride a bike.

Taking a Step Back From Yoga

So all these years of practicing yoga, talking about yoga, yoga, yoga, yoga and all of a sudden I’ve stopped talking about it.  It’s not quite all of a sudden but a gradual move towards not going as much anymore, triggered by the pain in my neck and shoulder.

After several tests and time outs, I refused to believe it but my suspicions that going to yoga was causing my neck and shoulder to hurt more instead of heal, were finally confirmed.

We went to New York and I got to experience a full week without yoga at all and for the first time in months I experienced  NO PAIN.  We ate junk food, meat, wheat – all the things that I was sure were the reasons for any pain and stiffness, I was up early, slept late, jetlagged, walking for miles in the freezing cold for up to 8 hours a day, my skin was dry and flaky from the dryness in the air, people were coughing all around me but I didn’t get sick and I had no physical pain in my neck or shoulders, even with carrying around my backpack.  My legs ached from all the walking but no pain in my neck or shoulders.

Just to clarify, we weren’t in NYC for a week, only a few days but because it was short notice, I didn’t go to yoga for a few days before, in preparation and then I didn’t go when we got back because I had to catch up on everything which meant approx. 10 days of no yoga.

So when I finally decided to go back to yoga, bam… the neck and shoulder were hurting again.  Not as much as when this first started but enough for me to take notice and it would get worse the more I went.

It’s easy to say it’s yoga in general but it’s not technically “yoga”.  There is something specifically that I’m not doing properly, where my technique is incorrect, that is causing this pain OR I’m doing it so much that I haven’t given my body enough time to recover and heal itself before the next time I strain it which then aggravates it and makes it worse.

The problem is, if it’s technique, nobody has been able to point it out to me and I haven’t worked out yet, what exactly I’m not doing properly.  If it’s not enough time to recover then I’m either pushing too hard when in class or I don’t have the nutrients I need to heal quickly or my body just takes time and needs the time off and I just haven’t been listening.

So, as with any animal reaction to pain, I am avoiding it.  The purpose of going to class and practicing yoga was to keep me pain free.  Why would I go if it’s doing the opposite?

I thought I’d miss yoga or at least get disappointed that I wasn’t going as much or not improving anymore but surprisingly I didn’t and that’s probably because there are a lot of benefits for not going.  Like for example:

  1. I don’t feel shoulder or neck pain anymore.
  2. I don’t have to do so much laundry anymore.
  3. That means that I save a LOT of water and I actually feel good about that.
  4. I also save a LOT of time and can allocate that time to accomplishing other things (Imagine what you could do with an extra 15-20 hours a week!!).
  5. We get to eat dinner much earlier instead of at 11pm/midnight which is when we normally finish cooking after coming home from a yoga class in the evening.
  6. We have time to watch a movie after dinner.
  7. I’m no longer rushing around like a lunatic to get to class or get things frantically done before I have to get to class (a different form of being stress free).
  8. You don’t have to listen to me talk about it all the time!!
  9. More importantly, I take it easy in class now and have learned to be patient with and be kind to my body – a different and necessary stage in my yoga journey.

27th Feb 2016 marked 4 years since we started practicing Bikram Yoga regularly and at this point, I’m practicing about as regularly as when I first started.  Say, 1-3 times per week.

I guess you can say, it took me 4 years to get my body to a point where it doesn’t feel it needs the yoga all the time to feel healthy and happy.

In truth and after reflection, it’s my mind that doesn’t need the yoga as much anymore.  Having gone through some serious emotional turmoil over the years, yoga has definitely kept me from being locked up in an asylum (just).  It’s not a joke, I am related to people who have been locked up in mental asylums so it’s in my genes to be crazy.  There is a tipping point and I have gone there, balancing so precariously there so I know what that feels like.  It’s amazing but there is a boundary and you can feel it – all it takes is just a tiny shove and I would have gone over and been a certified nutcase.  I was holding on for dear life  on that precipice, so close to just giving up on sanity and I know for sure that yoga helped me stay balanced there, never tipping over, until the edge became a ledge and then a platform to lead me back to solid ground again.  Terra firma.

God bless Tony, he really took his vows to heart.  In mental sickness and in mental health ’til death do us part.

I realised that going to yoga, concentrating on health, focussing on diets were all forms of me trying to gain some form of control because I felt I didn’t and couldn’t have any control over so many other things in my life.  Now the need for control has lessened, the need to go hardcore into health and yoga has lessened with it.  The physical pains were most likely manifestations of all the stuck emotions I just couldn’t deal with but at least now, I’ve got the time and mental stability to start dealing with them.

Yes, I do feel a lot stiffer these days but I also don’t feel as much pain and I have a lot more time to focus on other things in my life.  Yes, yoga still has a place in my life so I will continue to go for a stretch but I doubt I’ll be as full on anymore.  Not just yet anyway.  Maintenance and balance is the focus at the moment.  I’ve got a life time of improvement coming so why be impatient?

Right now, it’s  time I start focussing on empowering all the parts of my life that I’ve been neglecting.  I think I’ve got the physical and relationship well-being pretty sorted.  So maintaining those is key while I direct my focus onto improving other areas of my life.   Next on my list to tackle is financial well-being.  Watch this space 🙂

Shoulder update – who needs doctors when you have yogis?

Update on the shoulder – it’s actually my neck.  More specifically a nerve in my neck.

So how did I come to know this?  It surely wasn’t the doctors!  NOPE, I went to the doctors twice, saw 2 different doctors.  BOTH of them made me do arm movements to see the mobility of my shoulder.  They both know I do yoga because it’s in my records and they both asked me…. but they judged my mobility based on what a “normal” person should be able to do and of course I could do all of it!!!  SO… my shoulder’s looking pretty damned mobile and according to the doctors I’m absolutely fine!


Next, they kept asking WHERE the pain was and because I felt it all underneath my scapula and near my spine in the same region but like a phantom it disappeared when they touched any of it and I told them that sometimes it shot pain down my arm, they both concluded that it was muscular.

Guess what that means?  It means, nothing to do, you simply just sit around and wait for it to heal.  That’s it.  Take a few painkillers if the pain bothers you but that’s it… even if it’s taken 4 weeks (when they said it should take 2 weeks for muscular pain to heal) and the level of pain is EXACTLY the same (mind-numbing  levels) which means no healing has taken place at all in those 4 weeks, it’s definitely muscular and you just gotta sit it out.

To be honest I think dealing with the doctors and their conclusions made the pain worse because I was so frustrated that they refused to help me with my pain.  One of them actually said “what do you want me to do?” I wanted to scream “YOU’RE THE BLOODY DOCTOR!!! YOU SHOULD KNOW!”  Alas, the truth is, other than prescribing pain killers, they didn’t actually know.

genie aladin crick in the neck

SO a couple of yogis spoke to me after a class one day, 4 weeks into my pain, I think  a few days after my 2nd doctor’s visit.  I spoke with them separately, told them what I was experiencing and BOTH of them said “Are you sure it’s not your neck?”  Both of them had some weird thing happen to their shoulder / arm where they actually felt pain in their wrist or shoulder and pins and needles down the arm and BOTH of them found out through either MRI or physio that it was their necks!!  When they treated and strengthened the neck, all arm, shoulder, wrist pains disappeared.

So you know what we did after that?  Tony stopped massaging my shoulder and started massaging my neck each night and low and behold, the pain in my shoulder went from every day at 12 out of 10… down to only every other day and the pain level at 2!!!!!  THANK YOU YOGINIs!!!

Last time I posted, I said, if you ever have pain you’re worried about, instead of worrying, just go to a doctor… Let me take that back!!  If you ever have pain you’re worried about, go ask an experienced yogi. ie one who has practiced yoga regularly for longer than 3 years, preferably more.  Chances are, they’ve experienced it themselves OR they know someone who can help.

Neither of those yoginis were teachers either.  They were both students who have practiced yoga for over 5 years each!  So there you go.  Pain levels down without painkillers and within a few hours after talking to them.

This is my perception of what doctors think of yogis…

doctors need to do yoga

Notice how far away he stands from the yogi as if he’s going to catch a disease by touching him and yes, my doctors do look at me as if I’m mental.

I suppose I’m not helping my cause when I say things like “Well, you said it would take 2 weeks  because it’s muscular.  If it was muscular I would normally heal in 3 days, 10 days if it’s severe but I’ve now been in pain for 4 weeks so it must be something else.”  I say things like this to be helpful but they always look at me as if I’m telling them how to do their job.

What doctors (and others who think we’re all just tree hugging , wheatgrass drinking, hippies), need to understand is that the body is ever miraculous.  It is self preserving and self healing.  Practicing yoga just aids the body to do what it does, more efficiently.

So a yogi isn’t any different from any other human, they simply have found a technology to help the body perform the miracles it already knows how to do, quickly and without the drugs and they witness the miracles happen every day in themselves  and in others.

So… when the body isn’t healing within normal timeframes, then a yogi will know that it is more than likely something other than what they initially thought.  They won’t just give it more time, they’ll look at other things as well.  Damn it, I even changed my pillow!  Anyway, that’s my 2 cents worth.

I’m still waiting on my ultrasound for my shoulder btw.  I finally got an appointment but it’s not until the end of this month.

Meanwhile, I have actually had an acupuncture session (which relieved the pain instantaneously for 3 days before it came back) and have been lathering on arnica oil and arnica ointment every morning and night since, which has meant that although I feel a bit of ache at say level 1 in pain, in the morning, it’s pretty much non existent during the day.

The person who did the acupuncture on me has practiced yoga for over 5 years, she suspected it was a nerve so she shoved a needle in my hand… and voila, both neck and shoulder were fine.

The person who recommended the arnica, also a yogi of over 30 years, suspected it was an inflamed nerve and suggested I rub arnica (natural anti-inflammatory) all over the neck area to reduce inflammation so I did.

And there you have it.  Pain level is now down to 0 to 0.5 within 1.5 weeks of 4 different yogis helping me out.  2 to point out it’s my neck, not my shoulder and 2 to point out it was a nerve and having ways of sorting it out other than sitting, waiting and taking pain killers.

Of course I also have to mention the loving patience of each and every teacher letting me take it super easy in all of my classes.  This is the easiest I’ve taken my classes ever!

I am just happy and grateful that I’m practically pain free again and chances are that I’ll be completely healed before I  get to my ultrasound, so they will find absolutely nothing wrong with me.  Typical.  I bet the doctors will conclude that I healed because it was muscular and the appropriate time (2 months by the time of the ultrasound) has passed to heal!

I know for sure it was the help I got because the pain reduced dramatically and immediately.  It wasn’t the time that stopped the pain, it was the correct diagnosis of the cause of my pain that helped.

I also love that yogis always look for natural ways to help the body heal before resorting to drugs.  Don’t get me wrong, I understood that painkillers were to help stop inflammation but I knew if I couldn’t feel the pain that was supposed to be there stopping me from doing certain things, I’d more than likely do those things and aggravate the situation.

So my conclusion is that for aches and pains, you don’t need a doctor, you simply need yoga and a community of loving, caring, thoughtful, knowledgeable yogis.