Take it to the next level

Last summer, I resumed freestyle lap swimming after a hiatus. I’m purely a rec swimmer and will never be super fast, but I still want to cut my 1000-meter time, 25 minutes. “What’s a ‘decent’ 1000-meter swim time?” I asked my yoga student who does triathlons. Here’s her paraphrased answer: It depends. A fast swimmer will take 15 minutes or less. A slow swimmer will take 30 minutes or more. Most of us have a comfortable speed. Swimming is not like running (at least to me). The time difference between my fastest and slowest swims is about two minutes, but I … Continue reading Take it to the next level

Yoga… and the rest of your life

A few years ago, I was walking along the seawall at Kitsilano Beach. There’s a segment where the seawall separates the path from a drop (Six feet? Eight feet?) to the beach below. A friend I’ll call MJ dared me to walk atop the seawall. It’s encouragingly over a foot wide. But would I risk toppling from a height greater than my own? “Hold my hand,” I said. “Then I’ll try it.” “That would be only for practice.” “You’ve got to be joking. No thanks!” At that moment, a man and his dog approached us from the opposite direction. The dog–a short-legged … Continue reading Yoga… and the rest of your life

Reading, doing yoga, and other “essential” activities

Last month I found myself at YVR, awaiting a flight, oddly without anything to read. I skimmed the magazines and books, noting the jacked-up Canadian prices. Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club, which I recognized from a review, caught my eye. Flipping through the book, I saw a reference to Somerset Maugham’s The Painted Veil, which I’d read in June. He’s one of my favorite authors so, on a whim, I bought Schwalbe’s memoir. It turned out to be a gem (definitely worth my $20). Schwalbe’s plot is driven by his mother’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, but the … Continue reading Reading, doing yoga, and other “essential” activities

Hilo, my hometown

After a month on the road, I’m finally returning to Vancouver (and blogging). On leaving the island of Hawai‘i, here’s a shout-out to Hilo, my hometown. For a beautiful coastal town, Hilo is remarkably untouristy, thanks to its average annual rainfall of 130 inches (which doesn’t preclude lots of hot, sunny days, believe me). Among my favorite spots is playing in water with kids, getting on some of the best inflatable stand up paddle boards and letting loose! ( Wait that’s not a sport! )  Lili‘uokalani Park, a sprawling Japanese-style garden overlooking Hilo Bay. People come here to picnic, play with … Continue reading Hilo, my hometown

Aches and pains: My favorite home remedies (Part II)

Here are my favorite home remedies for routine tweaks and twinges–and a word on the psychosomatic factor. RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) Rest. The best and simplest remedy is hardest for me to comply with. When I notice a twinge or tweak, what do I do? I might ratchet down, but short of full R&R. When I attend class and the teacher says, “Does anyone have anything to report?” I tend to underreport. Then, instead of forgoing the class sequence, I adjust my intensity accordingly; there’s a big difference in doing a pose at 75% versus 85% versus 95% capacity. I admit … Continue reading Aches and pains: My favorite home remedies (Part II)

Aches and pains: Are you “injury prone”? (Part I)

Last month, eight colleagues and I faced our Intro II assessment for certification as Iyengar yoga teachers. Before commencing, the assessors asked us about injuries or health issues: “Do you have anything new to report?” When my turn came, I said, “Nothing new to report.” I entered the exam “healthy.” Secretly, however, I knew my real answer: “Nothing new, except the usual stuff.” In other words, even 100%, I’m always aware of my potential trouble spots. In the past decade, I’ve sustained one major injury (rotator cuff tear) and a bunch of little tweaks and twinges. I tell myself that … Continue reading Aches and pains: Are you “injury prone”? (Part I)

Are men really less flexible than women?

I recently read two articles on that apparently rare specimen: the male yoga student. In an undated Yoga Journal article, “Where Are All the Men?” Andrew Tilin, considers why men aren’t naturally inclined toward yoga. In a December 22, 2012, New York Times article, “Wounded Warrior Pose,” William Broad investigates whether men risk injury doing asana. The takeaway from both articles (whether true or not) is nothing startling: Men are naturally less flexible than women (although even researchers “can’t specifically link it to differences in hormones, musculature, or connective tissue”). Men are more likely than women to sustain major injuries from yoga (women sustain more injuries overall, … Continue reading Are men really less flexible than women?

Regular practice in de-cluttering, yoga, and being a good aunt

After my thorough New Year’s de-cluttering, I was quite satisfied… for a few days. Then I saw books, notes, pet fur, and fresh debris re-invading my immaculate space. Banishing clutter is not an occasional project—it must be regular practice. I’m reminded of a yoga teacher’s anecdote three years ago, which I cited in Clearing the clutter. When San Francisco yoga teacher Joe Naudzunas‘s truck was totaled, he had to empty it out. It took longer than expected. “Do you clean your car regularly?” he asked. “Or do you let junk accumulate in it? Do you use it as another closet, just … Continue reading Regular practice in de-cluttering, yoga, and being a good aunt

Taking stock of the year

Whether New Year’s Day is a big deal or just another day to you, it probably prods us all to take stock of the past year. Imagine one of those “Major Events of 2012” articles written not about world news, but about your life. What would that list include? Of course, life comprises not only major events, but day-to-day work, relationships, activities, chores, and habits. The stuff we do most of the time. Maybe it’s the little things that really color our years. I keep a list of books I read for fun. In some years, the list is regrettably … Continue reading Taking stock of the year

Time to move on

Clean out closets. Purge paper files. Erase hard drives and recycle old Macs. Dozens of housekeeping tasks have been nagging me for months. Finally, with 2013 breathing down my neck, I’m getting rid of this baggage. It’s been weighing me down. But, while I’m inclined toward neatness and order, discarding stuff is painstaking. Why do I keep things that I don’t need, barely like, or rarely use? Why is it hard to let go? Seriously, why keep two pairs of running tights that never quite fit? CDs downloaded into iTunes? Jewelry once treasured but now not my style? Travel guides … Continue reading Time to move on

Mixing yoga and sports

One of my yoga students, “Sara,” does endurance sports. Before her annual summer triathlon, she stops attending yoga classes as she ramps up her training. Time is limited and she believes that “loose” muscles are diminished in strength. Another student, “Chris,” will celebrate her birthday next year by running a marathon. Swimming was her original sport, and she’s a lean mesomorph body type, with tight shoulders and hips. Now that she goes on long runs on Sundays, she’s forgoing her Monday evening yoga class because she needs a post-run “total rest day.” These cases got me thinking about yoga, sports, … Continue reading Mixing yoga and sports