Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Boss says "Go to Yoga!"

I'm pretty sure I have the world's awesome-est boss. Yesterday, he said to me "You're pretty strung out. Have you been to yoga? I think you should make the time to go."

This dude does not practice yoga at all, but he can definitely pick up on how yoga affects me.

Once again, I've not managed to find the balance. I've been going through a slammed period at work, I get the keys to my new home tomorrow, and today would've been a year ago that K and I broke up after 5 years together.

So... there's a lot going on on every level and it really felt like I was at breaking point a few days ago. When your phone's still ringing at midnight with work calls and starts up again at 7am, and when you get a 15-minute respite from work only to have to attend to new-house stuff like choose tiles with the contractor or discuss induction versus gas cookers with the kitchen guy... it's a bit hard to tell your arse from your elbow when you're going from spinning one plate to another. And when I say "you", I really mean "me".

So... I've been strung out and exhausted. In my head, I couldn't really face having to get through a 2-hour practice followed by an 18-hour day at work with full-on stress. Leaving what... 4 hours of sleep?! When I got it in my head that "tomorrow, I will go to the shala to practice even if I don't get enough sleep"... some how this would add to my stress levels and I'd end up insomniac. Totally sabotaging all plans to practice in the morning since by the time I'd fall asleep, it would be 3am.

Some meditation and gentle forward bends before sleep has helped... But I guess I'm struggling with "that Ashtangi mentality" of "Do your practice" (EVERYDAY). I can't. I give up.

In the past year since moving to Amsterdam, I've learned to be OK with where I'm at with my practice. I mean... it's been 1.5 years since I was officially given my last pose, Laghuvajrasana, in Sydney. It used to upset me that all this starting and stopping of my practice because of my up-and-down work schedule had "stagnated" my practice.

But I guess that's only if you look at it on the surface, from a total Asana point-of-view. The other things I've learned along the way include being kind to myself - not beating myself up if I've missed a practice (or a few...), and also learning to accept that people go through different stages in life and your yoga practice needs to adapt to that too.

Sometimes I wonder how much of that is STILL making excuses for not getting on the mat and how much of that is really learning not to be THAT attached to the asana part of the practice. Even if I've done just 3 sun salutations or meditated for 10 minutes, I don't "count" that as having practiced. But dammit, it all counts!

So... Granted, I have been feeling lost of late, and it was good to have had a pep talk with the boss. He basically pulled me aside and we just talked. Talked about life stuff. Talked about finding balance. Talked about how at the end of the day, it's JUST work. He was basically telling me I need to reprioritise and put yoga at the top of my list, since he could see how I get affected when I don't practice. "Even if it means you come in an hour late coz you need to go to yoga, take that time. Otherwise when you work the way we work all the time, you're gonna burn out fast."

He's a pretty progressive boss, my boss. I am grateful to have someone as understanding as him mentor me at work. Guess I needed that timeout to pause just for a bit and think about what the hell I've been doing. I definitely need a holiday, that's for sure! Oh but wait, I have to fix this house up first. Arggghhhhhhh! Hahaha.

There's a lot going on. I just need to remind myself to take it one day at a time. Sometimes it feels like I need to take it one hour at a time. Oh, and... I need to GO TO YOGA!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gas vs. Induction Cooking

Totally non-yoga post. But the topic that's been consuming me all week has been: Gas or Induction cooktop? Oh, the joys of home remodelling!!

Since I posted a photo of a pair of questionable shoes I put on reserve yesterday and got an overwhelming response of NO!! DON'T GET THEM!! from the good people on Facebook, I figured I'd also post another question to help me with my indecision of gas cooker or induction cooker?
Incidentally, those questionable gladiator-flipflop Converse here:

(HAHAHA! I think I've been well advised about not getting them?)

It all started when I wanted to get a gas cooker with a single burner on each grill. It's just easier to clean this than to deal with lugging the huge grill that traditionally goes over 2 burners. But Miele only does single grills on a glass top. Like this:

Super stylish in comparison to the boring gas on stainless steel that is the usual, no?

But then of course the Miele showroom people showed me their epic-stylish induction cooktop and explained the joys of induction cooking (more energy-efficient, safer coz no open flame, only the part where the pot touches the stove heats up. And "If you want a stove that's easy to clean, this is the easiest of them all". Blah blah blah)

My sister also said "Eric Ripert uses Miele induction, so should you." Okaaaaaay. I had to google who Eric Ripert is, so obviously this is not going to influence my decision. HAHAHA!

OK - barring the huge additional expense of an induction cooktop, my main concern is: HEALTH EFFECTS. Anybody got a clue?! Mr. Google is throwing up mixed reactions and pretty much "non-conclusive evidence since not enough research has been done".

An induction cooker works by electromagnetic waves reacting with your magnetic pots/ pans and heating them up. Some kind of (minimal) charge/ radio-frequency radiation can be transferred if you touch the pots or stand too close (like... about 30cm too close). Say what you like, but I fall into the "better safe than sorry" category and hardly use my microwave oven these days because of the same mixed reports people have had on its health effects.

Which is kind of why I'm eyeing this induction technology with suspicion too.

Anybody have an opinion on this topic, please? (Otherwise I'm gonna stick to good old gas and get them stylish gas-on-glass cooktops).

Discuss, please! :)


Monday, May 9, 2011

Casualty of Yoga

There are casualties of war, and then there are casualties of yoga. Today, I took a hit for yoga.

OK, I'm being a Drama Queen.

It's not really an injury or anything serious per se, but I've noticed an extremely peculiar phenomenon. Basically, when I've had a bit of a break from yoga and then go back to it again, the little blood capillaries in my face burst and I end up with little blood-red... er... blood spots on my face. They're not bumpy, they're just red spots under the surface of the skin. They don't hurt, they're just downright FUGLY. Especially after a couple of days when the fresh blood-red colour becomes... erm... PURPLE. Y'know, like how a bruise would react.

Actually, I thought it was just the yoga practice itself that maybe made me heat up or something, thus causing these red splotches.


It happened to me when I was in Prague too. I didn't have time to do a full-on Ashtanga practice, so would either do some meditation or pranayama, followed by headstands. Ladies and gents, I think Sirsasana is the culprit. Must be all that extra blood rushing to the face or something while I'm upside down!!

Today, I finally made it back to the shala again and just started back with Primary series only (on a separate note, I was surprisingly strong and bendy. Funny how a break from the yoga does this. Also, Hello Summery Weather! Heat really helps to open up everything!!) But I digress.

So after today's practice, I looked in the mirror after my shower and was shocked to see this FUGLINESS on my face.

I'm warning you. It's pretty graphic and not pretty.

You have the chance to stop and look away now.

Are you ready?

I've got an extreme close-up of the burst blood capillaries too.

OK, you've been sufficiently warned.

Here goes...

That's not as bad as the close-up shot you're about to see. In my defense, I can unequivocally tell you that before this morning's practice, my skin was smooth. No zits or anything. All this redness came up after practice!


... ... ...

... ... ...

Let's go!


WTF right?!

I can handle bruises, I've had them everywhere from practising yoga, but er... ON MY FACE?!?!??? I'm a little bit too vain for this.

My teacher M at the shala had spotted my Sirsasana issues. Remember my moment with Sharath? Well, I could hold Sirsasana a wee bit longer in Mysore earlier this year, but still couldn't hold it till the end of Sharath's count. Teacher M in Amsterdam spotted me in it a month ago and basically said "you need to push your hips out a lot more. You're using too much of your arm strength right now and not using the balance in the pose enough. Coz you're not completely vertical."

AHA! No wonder I was getting all tired out in it. So I've been pushing those hips forward and getting over that fear to cross the last bit that would get me completely vertical. Who'd have thunk. I suspect this might be what's getting me red-faced? Maybe?

Eww. Those photos are disgusting. To make up for it, I'm leaving you with something a heckuva lot more beautiful. Variations on Surya Namaskara. I posted it on Facebook a few days ago but it's too gorgeous not to share here. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pretty Prague

Holy Tamale. It's almost been a month since my last post?! Where'd the time go? ...I'm not even gonna make excuses. I've obviously been busy. In between prepping a shoot, I bought a flat. It felt like when I was spinning plates in the air - once I put the work plate down, the house plate had to keep spinning. Since something had to give, I suppose it was keeping up with this blog. Sorry!

A couple weeks ago, I was in Prague on a shoot. Daaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Prague is pretty. No wonder people rate it highly. You definitely get the sense that this place was once a filthy RICH boom-town. There's gilded EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE. As in... there are fancy accoutrements on the oldschool buildings, inside the buildings, and as a workmate pointed out, there are statues EVERYWHERE. In any nook and cranny they could find, a bust of a person would pop up or be built into it.

We had a wee bit of downtime on this trip (we actually had like 4 hours on a Sunday free to roam around! Wheee! Sounds sad that that was the only time we had for leisure, but that's quite a luxury when you're on a shoot!) And fortunately we were shooting in some pretty spectacular locations so we got to do some "sightseeing" while on the job. HAHAHA.

Check out the interior of the opera house. This place is bananas.

And the National Museum there's pretty bananas too!

The food was... Well... It was pretty much full of pork. I felt like I was in a Monty Python skit. Y'know, the one about the spam? Just substitute the spam with pork, pork, pork. And pork. Would you like pork with your potato-pork dumplings? Pork in your pork stew? Pork neck? Pork hock? Pork tripe? Pork sausage? Pork, pork, pork. And more pork for you?


(BUT... to the credit of the city of Prague, they actually had pretty decent vegetarian options on the menu so I was safe)

On the Sunday afternoon we had free, we made a tourist-blitz around the city. Well, just to the top of some hill to see the church and castle up there.

(We were cracking up that that looked like a medieval baseball bat. We are so cultured)

(I got photo-bombed there on the right. But as far as photo-bombings go, that's actually a pretty good shot!)

I thought it was pretty hilarious that all the tourists were stood in the middle of this amazing abbey, ALL with their cameras pointing skywards. People nowadays just can't stand still and take in the awesome wonderment before them without feeling the need to capture it on camera somehow. (and of course I'm the most guilty of the lot)

It was the week before Easter, so there were groups of ladies dressed up in traditional costume (at least that's what I think they are?) and they were singing throughout the church.

Is it odd that I LOVE this door hinge? I don't think I've seen a more beautiful door hinge in my life. And I never thought the day would come when I'd wax lyrical about a door hinge either.

This is their famous clock in the old town square. Unfortunately it was out of order, so we didn't get to watch the whole spectacle that happens at the start of each hour.

See what I mean by there are statues EVERYWHERE? I mean - they've put statues on pedestals in the middle of a wall. It's bananas.

A GORGEOUS art-nouveau building, filled with stained-glass and ornate artwork.

One of the highlights of this trip was shooting in the Barrandov studios. The Chronicles of Narnia was shot on the backlot here, and it's just pretty amazing to see soundstage after soundstage after soundstage in one place. The most famous (and oldest) soundstage here is Studio 4. It's entirely built out of wood and is basically where Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's filmmaker, shot most of his Nazi propaganda films. HOLY SHIT!!!

The caretaker here very kindly unlocked the studio and allowed us to have a peek inside this infamous place. It is still a studio in use till today. I have to say, the inside of this place smells DISGUSTING. Damp, dank, and it just smells really OLD and STALE (must be all that negative joo-joo from years gone by).

The interior is pretty spectacular though. Like a post-apocalyptic warehouse wasteland.


And then we walked round to the backlot. Yes, that same backlot where Narnia was shot. This same place was once a winter wonderland for that film, but now it's a medieval town. It's hilarious how the inside of the set really feels like you are in an old town, but when you knock on the walls, it's all wooden and hollow.

I love this shot showing you what a facade it is!!

And that's pretty much all I can share with you of the trip! The rest of the pictures can only be revealed after the spot airs. ;p

PS. Have I mentioned I'll get the keys to my new apartment on June 1? Yeah, MY VERY OWN HOME! ...Will have more rivetting updates soon of kitchen tiles and contractors. Haha.

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