2018

And so it has taken me yet another festive season (CNY this time) and 1 draft to finally get back blogging once again. Not becoming a good habit when one of the major goals/intentions that I had in mind for year 2018 was to break out of my major writers/bloggers block and start writing again ……

Pretty much the same way on how 2017 was (having to deal with endless frustrations, distractions, disruptions, drops in energy levels etc.) …… the same themes continue to carry over into 2018 as January simply just whizzed by me (in a good and not-so-good way). With the bulk of the frustration being not being able to actually start (let alone see progress) on major goals/projects that I intend to work on for year 2018.

And not to mention the toxicity around me (mainly my current work environment) and coming to the realisation that there are people in my midst who enable selfish behaviour and make excuses/justifications for it.

And there are also days when I just want to retreat into my own tiny little shell away from the world/from my obligations, day-to-day responsibilities …… the disconnect is real.

And also making space for the things I want / desire, and manifesting them.

As I focus more on my personal self care (in the form of taking work breaks every now & then, daily meditation, going for a yoga class / home practice, catching up on my Korean dramas/varieties, giving myself a dessert treat every now & then etc.) …… I also worry about how long the underwriting requirements for this major case continue to drag out as clearing it will mean that I’m closer to my target. The $$ aside, I will get peace of mind and perhaps finally get down to booking that 2 week long holiday that I have been wanting to take since last year. It is not that booking this holiday now will dent my bank account significantly …… but it is more of the concern that in the event of worst case scenario, I will need to spend more effort to ‘catch-up’.

Perhaps I worry too much at the back of my mind / in my subconsciousness. It is just like I had that one moment of hesitation (as feedbacked to me by Z and by Teacher C) when attempting a drop back into wheel pose (yoga) for my very 1st time during BackBends workshop last Christmas Eve. The hesitation could be lack of trust (in myself) …… it could also be fear within me that I will actually fall on my back (since it was such a big pose that was completely new and somewhat terrifying in the 1+ year that I have been practicing yoga). As I write/ramble on in this space – this clarity becomes clearer as I keep writing.

Ever since meditation has become a daily habit of mine, it has deepened my consciousness and self-awareness as I find myself constantly thinking about issues such as self-compassion, finding & speaking my inner voice/truth, creativity/ideas and since last Friday the practice of non-attachment (one of the 8 limbs of yoga). Came across this Wheel of Intentions by Kimothy Joy on instagram and felt that it sums up very well my hopes/aspirations for year 2018 and beyond.

2018-02-02 16.36.57

Ending this long blog post 1 minute to 0400 Hrs, and at the end of it all, feeling more of a emotional release. Catharsis through writing never felt better. And at the same time, inching 1 step closer to finally breaking out of that writer’s block after struggling pretty much with it for the whole of 2017 🙂

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Christmas Weekend

Felt like ages since I last enjoyed a long weekend that went into a public holiday on Monday.

In fact, the Christmas long weekend began early for me starting from Friday (22nd December) which happened to be Winter Solstice. Since we made plans to eat out this year for Winter Solstice – it felt right for me to sort of take the day off and have an early start to the long weekend 😀

And so dinner @ Peony Jade was the 1st highlight. We opted for their signature ala-carte buffet dinner so that we could sample the various items on their menu (as versus to being restricted to a set menu of 8 to 10 courses) …… and out of 60 items on the menu, we sampled about 18 in total (not including desserts). It was a good experience and most importantly, time spent together doing something as a family 🙂

And then the weekend where I finally got to do not just 1 yoga class …… but at the same time a yoga workshop as well – my 1st yoga workshop after practicing for the past 1 year.

First up – back to 75 min Power class after a sort-of hiatus from tougher classes. Once again, same as when I previously attended K’s class, it was an arm-balance class where we become Crows + also exploring transitions into Tripod Headstand and EPK2.  Slight difference was since it was the Christmas season, and K was back at Yoga Lab for the 1st time in a while, the theme for the class was on ‘Community’ and coming together over the festive season. Even ended up striking a casual conversation with my mat neighbour as a result of this intention. Real moment of truth for me once again as I need to continue to build on both my arm strength and core strength, although I skipped some of the transitions due to slight throbbing tension headache on my left side *sigh*. Despite the challenging, and hot & sweaty class (due heat generated from within from practicing arm balances), for the 1st time ever, I went into a sea of blue (and flashes of green) at the ending Savasana …… which meant that my throat and heart chakras were at work – a recurring theme for me throughout this last quarter of the year!

The calories burned came in handy as it was Christmas gathering with the girls (or more accurately half the group) afterwards. Class at CBD / Telok Ayer worked out well into my schedule as it was 2 MRT stops from Telok Ayer to Fort Canning via the Downtown Line. Got the sushi that I set out to get at Medi-Ya @ Liang Court before heading down to G’s place next. Smaller, cosier gathering that was very last minute put together, but nevertheless left all ‘bad’/’negative’ feelings aside and had a good time with the food and fellowship …… especially when such gatherings are rare these days.

Side Note: The Lemon Cheesecake Z baked was so good that I had 2 helpings *gulp*

And since I had done 1 class on Sat afternoon, this meant that I could sleep in as planned (or else I would have headed out to Yoga Inc earlier for a class before workshop). Got up at 945-ish, which was not very late still …… BUT since workshop is at 1330 Hrs, did end up lapsing into a bad habit of dily-dalying around the house, and ended up leaving my house only at 1215 Hrs. Reached Bugis MRT a little after 1, and decided the best plan will be to grab a bread from Four Leaves (since I only had 2 small buns for breakfast) and hop onto a cab/Grab to Guillemard (since Bus 7 / 197 will take a while arrive based on SG Buses app and I will most probably just reach on time). However due to some miscommunication, the 1st Grab Driver I booked cancelled on me (the human jam at Bugis Junction basement also meant that I could not get up to level 1 taxi stand fast enough) …… dropped the idea of getting a bread and instead, proceeded to quickly book another Grab drive that thankfully got me to Guillemard with 5 min to spare 🙂

As mentioned above, 1st time doing a yoga workshop proper (signed up for it since Z happened to have signed up too) …… and this Christmas Eve workshop is on backbends. Thankfully, unlike arm-balances and inversions, backbends are a less weak aspect of my practice, no doubt helped a lot by the #survivederica Thursday backbend classes that I do every now and then (the tough drilling really did work!). As this Ekhart Yoga article eloquently puts it – Open Your Heart And Release Your Spine! In a typical back-bending class – we open up the front body (and spine) physically and eventually open up our hearts emotionally. Which sounds about right as I experienced my heart chakra (green colour) at work the day before in class, and after that put aside my misgivings/grievances for a while and managed to have a normal conversation even with L during the gathering. Back to the workshop proper – it was more of a 2 hour class where the warm-ups and prep poses are more in slow-motion, with various explanations in between the poses/drills which may not be possible in a 60 minute class setting. It was a good 1.5 hour worth of warm-ups and prep poses before the peak pose for the day – Wheel, Forearm Wheel and Dropbacks! The shoulder mobility exercises helped greatly, as this time round, I managed not to experience any strain on my right wrist. The 1st Drop Back was scary though as there was some fear and hesitation within me (when trying something out of my comfort zone), but managed to get into it thanks to ‘some support’ later in the workshop. Another asana that I will keep working on come year 2018!

After which, it was time for some much needed food (only had 2 buns for late breakfast and no lunch, which somehow worked well for backbending workshop) and catch up time with Z. Didn’t manage to eat at The Masses (as that was our original plan for Christmas catch-up) …… ended up instead at Wild Market and later at a new coffee joint Caffè Vergnano 1882 Singapore at South Beach – which was nice, cosy and not crowded.

After a busy weekend, Christmas Day itself will be a ‘slow-living’ day as I intended to just catch up with my drama backlog, and do some reading …… only to end up taking a long afternoon nap thanks to the hot weather!

Doing Things CORRECTLY

Had a *ahem* health scare throughout October & November before it finally cleared by itself.

While grateful for seeing ‘the light’ at the end of the tunnel at the end of this health scare, however the issue played havoc big-time with my body (and mind) as well.

Suffered very bad energy blockages which affected my moods/outlook a fair bit, and impacted my business/work productivity as well (October was a new low in terms of work activity). Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was stressed out by my current office environment (TONS of negative energy / issues sprouting out left, right & centre – toxicity at work) and to a certain extent – various mis-behaviour/inconsiderate/unmindful behaviour causing this horrible ‘imbalance’.

Of course, I can count on a ‘kick-ass’ yoga class by one of my favourite teachers E to put things to right again – which was exactly what happened last Tuesday.  First things 1st, the teacher is not a ‘god’ or miracle worker for that matter, but practising with a teacher whom you can resonate with is so important in one’s yoga journey. As much as the teacher can guide, we still have to do the work – on and off the mat!

The decision to do a hip opening 101 lunchtime class (versus a more challenging Power Class the night before that I booked and later cancelled because was not feeling up to it at all in body & in mood terms) was probably one of the best self care decisions that I made myself in recent times. I generally have quite ‘open hips’ in asana terms, which brings me back to the title of this post – Doing Things CORRECTLY.

Specific to Teacher E – his/her classes have a strict emphasis on alignment and doing it ‘correctly’ as an important part to foundation and practising safely. In terms of the hip opening poses covered – it means legs spread mat width apart (and beyond mat width) in malasana (yogi squat) …… which is painful when the 3rd extension came about, and the knees started to ache BIG-TIME. The ache didn’t get better as we were required to go full stance (read: really wide legs) in Warrior 2, and in Crescent / High Lunge, and essentially in majority of the standing poses. Seriously, a hip opening class never felt THIS HARD before, as we were holding various standing poses for lengthy periods of time. The ache was real post class, and really felt it all the way after lunch and back in office.

But surprisingly, the next morning I woke up, my body never felt better …… and amazingly, the knee ache went away. This is important as I tend to have sensitive knees (e.g. knees will start to achne when I hold chair pose for beyond 10 breaths). I guess doing hip openers not only lead to emotional release (especially when you have been holding A LOT of negativity in your body system as explained above), but also the fact that the teacher requires you to do everything CORRECTLY in class makes the class much tougher, but the payoff / reward in return is tenfold and even more. Of all things, it took for a hip opening class that focuses a lot more on lower body work (as versus to a strong Vinyasa / Power yoga class) to re-set the body and mind towards a more optimal condition again. As the article states

In this way, practicing hip openers is a way to cleanse the body and welcome renewal.

To take it one step further OFF the mat (and into our daily lives), when we set our intentions correctly, and apply the correct fundamentals/foundations to the various issues we have to tackle – be it at work, in our financial planning, in inter-personal relationship management and other relevant aspects of our day-to-day living …… we will live a much more productive and satisfying life, there will be less complaints/screw-ups that we need to deal with (which is what I’m struggling with right now).

Something so simple and yet so hard to put in actual action indeed.

Witch’s Court

Finally didn’t have to wait till end of the month or 2 months later to log in another blog entry 😛

And also for once non-yoga & food-related entry 🙂

Some time back, I was regularly watching Korean dramas, to the point that I even had a page on this blog to specifically ‘track’ the dramas that I have watched / plan to watch etc. …… until my viewing habits gradually shifted towards varieties which requires less energy and time to ‘chase’. Another reason was also that it’s not that much fun watching already-telecast dramas when spoilers are all over the internet.

Until recent stresses and frustrations here and there got me re-thinking about my evening routine again, and viola, drama watching came back into the picture again! After reading around soompi / dramabeans for what’s currently in the K-Drama scene …… decided on Witch’s Court.

Somehow or another, it is always more ‘fun’ catching up with a drama ‘live’ as opposed to watching backlogs 1 month later (see above) as there is the added excitement of knowing how the plotlines gradually pan out.  As much as it is not a hallyu wave drama with idol/top star casting, more importantly the acting is decent, and the cases interesting enough in spite of a rather vanilla villain lurking in the background.

As Witch’s Court subject matter primarily deals with sexual assault crimes, ironically in a case of reel mirroring the real life – the recent news has revealed impropriety of a famous Hollywood studio mogul and of Kevin Spacey as well.

The upside of it all –  I have something to look forward to on weekday evenings which includes prowling soompi forums for live recaps, catching up with the drama itself later on my tablet/laptop. Since the main female lead (Jung Ryeo Won) was in the classic ‘My Name Is Kim Sam Soon’ a good 12 years ago (year 2005) – it got me keen to re-watch this drama again as well. Will see what comes next then.

Pause

Yet again another 1 month ‘break’ of blogging before finally managing to get down to writing/blogging something yet again before October comes to a close. As I was telling C in the office the day before, that time passes really fast when you least sense it ……

Over the past 2 months, had many ideas to blog about food, yoga …… only to have this writing/bloggers block continue. Definitely a recurring theme throughout year 2017! And an area that I really need to work more on as this writing block is not just limited to this blog alone, but also in my work/business outreach and in my daily journaling as well.

Back to the theme of ‘Pause’ – had pretty grand plans to do a solo beach retreat / getaway, only to have perfectionism and procrastination get better of myself. Had originally targeted to leave last week of October, and as I’m writing now – we are IN the LAST WEEK OF OCTOBER!

Guess solo beach retreat / getaway is not going to happen anytime soon as I have opportunities to write more business for this last quarter of 2017 before banding year close. It will happen one day when all stars align again.

Beach Retreat Phuket

Be it Phuket or Koh Samui or Okinawa, no harm putting up a picture as a form of goal visualization for the future. Will also update my vision board with this picture as I intend to do a Version 2 Vision Board sometime down the road as well.

A quick note on my yoga practice – the main thing that I write about these days (if I ever get to write that is) …… slowed it down quite a bit for the past 2 to 3 months due to struggling with various strains (hip, lower back, right shoulder rotator cuff) and struggling with my energy levels. It was pretty telling when I totally stopped doing Core and Power classes since mid-July onwards, until the Deepavali holiday last Wednesday (18th October) when I finally got myself to a Core class. Struggled big time with the drills – which was precisely what I needed to get stronger once again as I go into more difficult poses/asanas.

Guess that’s all for now as versus to a long rambling entry 😛

Food Mission 2017: Fishball Story

Finally catching up to some of the interesting / exciting food that I have been checking out in year 2017 so far.

Heard much about Fishball Story of this young hawker who went into the business of selling handmade fishall noodles – which arose out of a passion for food. I did not manage to check out the stall from their initial humble beginnings at Golden Mile Food Centre, and subsequently their move to NUS UTown and their 2nd outlet at Timbre+. However, recently I read online that they have moved to a coffee shop at Geylang Lor 28, and is now open from 10 am all the way to 2am. Moreover Lor 28 is within vicinity of Yoga Inc Guillemard. Which means I had to go!

And so one rainy day after Sunday morning Yin yoga, I made my way down to Lor 28 for this ‘legendary’ fishball noodles.

The stall located right inside the Hungry Bee coffeeshop.

Very extensive menu that includes the original fishball noodle that they first started off with, and a premium fishball noodle with more ingredients (additional fried fish skin and fried beancurd in fish paste).

Since I walked all the way in the heavy rain to try this, might as well go for the Premium Fishball Noodle – which is still affordable at $6 per bowl.

Pretty decent portion-ed, 4 fishballs, fishcakes, plus the fried fish skin and fried beancurd you see inside the big plate. Didn’t not take any more videos/pictures after that as I was very hungry after all that walking in the rain.  Just like what majority of the reviews online commented, the fishballs are 100% handmade with yellow tail fish meat – which is bouncy and great on the bite without having the flour-like taste that is common for machine made fishballs.

While the fried fish skin and dumpling further enhances the entire presentation of the noodles, however the main differentiator between good and great fishball noodles would be the sambal chilli. The sambal chilli, which I believe is handmade from scratch as well, is very fragrant and gives the noodles a real punch.

This was definitely so good that they were awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in year 2016, although they were not in for year 2017. Not that it really matters that much to me – Michelin or No Michelin, it is still one of the best fishball noodles I have ever tasted.

Furthermore, I find it really inspiring that Douglas Ng as a young hawker rose to the challenge and has made a success story out of himself, and at the same time, contributed to continuing the legacy of Singapore’s unique hawker culture – check out this fantastic Vulcan Post write-up. Food outlets like Fishball Story deserve our support definitely!

Details:

Fishball Story

Hungry Bee Coffeeshop, Lor 28 Geylang                                                                                                    Opening Hours: 1000 Hrs to 0200 Hrs (next morning)

Timbre+ #01-14                                                                                                                                           Opening Hours: 0800 Hrs to 1800 Hrs, Monday To Friday

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/fishballstory/

This Is Why I Do Yin Yoga

Have been struggling not only with stress, but also poor energy levels, disrupted sleep. It got really bad last week as I got drained out by various stuff at work and with certain people.

Thus I decided its time for a Sunday morning Yin Yoga that my body really needed – as versus to the Core class I was intending to do (or any asana based class for that matter).

While Yin is not a sweaty type of yoga class (as versus to a more intense asana based class or Hot Yoga), after 5 weeks away since my last Yin class during the Hari Raya Puasa long weekend – even holding supported pigeon pose (with bolster right under the hips) for 3 min becomes challenging ….. let alone the straddle splits that the class was in for a total of 10 min! That’s why we say it is more difficult to do the basic things correctly and consistently …… as versus to aspiring to nail that fancy looking inversion / arm balance.

Am thankful that I listened to my inner voice and opted for what my body really needed – nourishment …… as versus to building strength (Core Class). Felt that I started the day right with an early start, body immediately felt better post Yin, enjoyed yummy fishball noodles for lunch, came home and got in a much-needed nap guilt free …… and had quality sleep to end off the weekend proper.

And to end off this blog post, a very insightful article courtesy of Yoga Journal on why we should make time for Yin Yoga

10 Reasons to Make Time for Yin Yoga When You’re Too Busy

Some points / extracts from the article that really resonated with me. These are more of the ‘intangibles’ in addition to physical benefits such as restoring the range of motion, and lengthening the muscles and fascia via holding poses.

…… Yin is an introspective practice that offers a chance to turn inward and nurture the calm, quiet center that is innate in all of us. It is a practice in stillness, patience, and non-reactivity. Through yin yoga we become adept at self-care. We become better listeners with practice tuning in; we become wiser as we get to know ourselves from the inside out; and we become more curious about the world through the exploration of our own inner worlds.

This is why I LOVE travelling to Guillemard studio for Sunday morning Yin. It feels really calming and soothing for the body and mind to ‘Yin’ to the rustic surroundings of the studio, and a great way to wind down the week.

…… The yin practice forces us to slow down . Yin poses’ long holds offer a chance to marinate in stillness. When you allow yourself to stay present and experience the near-imperceptible shifts that occur while holding a yin posture, time opens up. Deadlines, commitments, pressing matters, and to-do lists fade to the background, leaving tremendous space for rest and renewal.

…… Yin yoga cultivates balance. Your own health and wellbeing is a balancing act. If you look at the yin/yang symbol you will see that the white and black forms are in perfect balance. Many of us live very active (yang) lifestyles and leave little or no time to foster the quiet, introspective side. Over time this can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Through the yin practice we can restore equilibrium and feel whole.

YES to this. Our daily lives already involve a lot of rushing, timelines and deadlines. And to a certain extent, this can even extend to the physical asana practice when some people constantly preach to you that going faster and sweatier is the way to go. There has to be a time where our practice also needs to take a step back and slow down …… And the same applies to life too.

And the bits on self-compassion and sitting in with our emotions is also very true.