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.

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 😛

Significance

In my previous entry, I posted this collection of stones – which were used to mark our attendance for classes at Radiantly Alive.

After blogging my previous entry (while struggling with writer’s / blogger’s block), it occurred to me subsequently that there is a deeper meaning to these stones other than simply getting 3 prosperity stones in a row and a good luck stone for my ‘last’ class at Radiantly Alive. Thus this follow-up entry.

Classes attended in the following order:

1.  Starting From Top Left – Gentle Flow at 0730 Hrs on a Monday morning (1st May 2017 no less).

My original intention was to attend the Meditation and Pranayama (yoga breathing) class happening concurrently to the studio’s signature Gentle Flow class.

However for some reason, the Meditation class was cancelled last minute, and having paid RP 50,000 for the driver to take me there – it means that I ended up doing Gentle Flow instead. I could have been pissed and simply turned back, but decided to be open and do the Gentle Flow class that I have been wanting to try (although this instructor was not my preferred instructor).

I liked the sequencing for the class – very focused on hip opening and working the spine, which left me feeling really good for the day ahead. More than sequencing / the ‘asana’ part of the class – the teacher’s main theme for the class is heart, mainly on opening your heart to a brand new day, new experiences etc. …… Thinking aback now, I guess this was what we mean by an open heart – in going into something with no expectations.

2. Top Right – Still Gentle Flow, albeit the next morning (Tuesday 2 May 2017)

And still a prosperity stone – which I believe is a reminder for me to keep an abundance mindset as always.

This class was taken by Jasmine Danino – one half of the husband-and-wife team who own Radiantly Alive, and she came highly recommended as a teacher in various online reviews that I have come across (thus wanted to do her class).

Jasmine started going into the theme of the class – which was family. She shared with the class that she was thinking about her family back home (Note: She is Peru-vian). And co-incidentally, it was a packed class, with the majority of the Radiantly Alive teaching team in attendance as well to flow along with the rest. In her words, her Bali family showed up just when she thought about her own family …… which I thought was really sweet. Personally, I did think of home for a moment as I looked forward to getting home after hols come to an end.

3. Bottom Right – Still A Prosperity Stone.

Returned back in the afternoon for some much needed Roll & Release as my mid upper back is starting to feel tired/strained after all the downward dogs 😛

Apart from the recurring message of prosperity, I think of it now as prosperity in having a ‘free’ body – and being strong and flexible at the same time. In fact, I’m looking into ways to maintain this Roll & Release routine that is good for my fascia / overall body and incorporating into my practice / daily life.

4. Bottom Left – Meditation & Pranayama

Since we had to go back to the warung further down the road to ‘reclaim’ our umbrellas (that we accidentally left behind), we went back to Radiantly Alive on our last morning for classes. Although my mid upper back felt much better after the Roll & Release the afternoon before, but I decided to skip Gentle Flow (was getting sick of doing downward dog after downward dog) and do instead the Mediation and Pranayama class that I have been wanting to do.

Not only did I learn how to get into a good sitting position for Meditation (to keep the spine straight aka above ground and not sink), also learnt proper breathing/pranayama techniques. These are stuff that I have been experimenting/DIY-ing myself over the past year, and it was good for me to learn some of these basics as I have always believed that Yoga is beyond asana practice.

Anyway to cut the story short – the teacher shared something very personal at the end of the class, which to me is the most poignant – the most important thing to do in yoga (and in life) is to show up!

May Reminiscence: Bali 2017

2 mins to the end of May and here I go to log in a blog entry (in order not to leave the month of May ‘completely blank) ……

Now where did ALL the time in May go?

Ended April & Started May in Bali – my only holiday for year 2017 so far (with plans for another one in the works). Came back to Singapore, came down with food poisoning / stomach virus (because it could be airborne as well), and spent pretty much the remaining 3-4 weeks of May (ironically the month of May is a 5 week month by itself) getting back my footing (and struggling quite a bit along the way) …… and experiencing quite a roller coaster of emotions. Somewhere along the way – had wanted to do 1 photo challenge as well but life got in the way.

And that sums up May for me!

And now for the highlights of my Bali Trip – the main title of this blog entry!

For this trip, we were based primarily in Ubud, and did not venture out to other areas (i.e. Seminyak, Canggur, Kuta etc.)

Very ‘quotable’ quotes that we spotted along the streets of Ubud

 

Not forgetting the delicious local Balinese cuisine we had throughout our 4 days stay ……

Starting right from the top – Bali Guling (balinese suckling pig) from Ibu Oka

2nd row, from the right side – Fried Duck from Bedek Bengali (which was only 5 min walk from our hotel!), Balinese style Paella from Casa Luna (easily one of the best meals we had, and fantastic blend of flavours and ingredients), Ribs from Pundi Pundi (within vicinity of our hotel as well)

3rd row, from right side – Seafood Skewers with Mash Potato from Pundi Pundi as well, Ayam Betutu (Balinese style steamed/roast chicken which looked very unassuming and took the kitchen rather long to prepare, but it was really delicious as well), Tomato Omelette & Fish from Run’s Warung (looked unassuming too but was really really delicious as well).

Weather was generally great save for 1 rainy day (3rd day of our trip). Even managed to capture a beautiful moon picture (with no headlights obstructing) after Yin Class on my walk back to the hotel.

Not forgetting the main objective of this trip – DIY Yoga Retreat. Ubud is literally yoga heaven. Which means Yoga Barn (of Eat Pray Love fame) was a must-visit!

Both myself and Z have very different objectives and ideas about our individual practices. For myself, I didn’t feel strong enough to do 2-3 classes in a day, and was intending to do like 1 physical asana class per day. Did end up having 3 days of 2 classes (out of which for 1 day i.e the rainy day we mixed 1 morning flow class together with a roll and release class, while I did a meditation & pranayama class on my last day). In the end, we were able to compromise and come to a common understanding on class scheduling and it worked out well.

Also visited Radiantly Alive – another major yoga studio in Ubud as well. Have heard about the stones that were given to ‘mark’ your attendance when attending class …… and I was really looking forward to receive them.

Below are the ones that I got for the 4 classes I attended at Radiantly Alive. Notice the pattern – prosperity (X3) + good luck (which was the last stone I got on my final day). Definitely a manifestation of my innermost consciousness as having a abundance vs scarcity mindset was consistently on my mind ….. while good luck was obvious as I had a challenging follow up to do at work.

The yoga itself deserves a separate entry of its own. Will blog if I can get over my acute writer’s block.

Ubud is also known for having lots of clean eating options, however the local Balinese cuisine (see earlier photo collage) was relatively inexpensive and too delicious to miss 😛 …… Do miss having the fresh cold pressed juices from Garden Kafe (part of Yoga Barn). It was not only fresh, but really cheap at 45,000 IDR (rupiah) – which is around SGD 4.70! A similar sized bottle from Juice Junkie goes for SGD 10 to 11 *gasp*

As much as this was meant to be retreat to rest/recharge/refresh and do lots of yoga – by the 3rd day, my mid back was starting to feel strained/tired simply by just holding downward facing dog. And so it was pretty much it, no more asana-based flow classes for the remaining 1.5 days in Bali.

Unfortunately too, immediately after touching down in Singapore, started to get the runs (which interrupted my sleep completely – when I didn’t sleep that well in Ubud) and it was full blown food poisoning post trip for the next 2-3 days that completely drained me and lost my appetite totally.

Instead of feeling refreshed and recharged …… I ended up in a really dark and negative state and being unhappy/frustrated at every single thing post trip and post food poisoning. It didn’t help also that I suddenly felt regretful of not enjoying much scenery (be it the scenic Bukit Campuhan Ridge walk or a gorgeous beach / sunset view) during the trip as well. Thankfully, I’m pretty much out of this negative state after some reflection and self-adjustment. After taking a yoga ‘break’ post trip, and despite having to rebuild my strength and flexibility again post food poisoning – am happy to say I’m getting the ‘mojo’ and enthusiasm back in my practice again, and with a stronger focus 🙂

In fact, I am thinking of a return trip next year. Hopefully by then, I will be a much stronger yogi than I am now. And if I were to return – will definitely have mountain/ridge/beach/sunset time incorporated in as well.

Skipping Over February

Finally have the time, space and energy to sit down to do a blog entry proper!

Now where did February go? Definitely the 1st time in a long while that I didn’t blog (or rather didn’t manage to blog anything) in 1 entire month and the time just went by like that ……

January ended with the CNY festive season. After which, it is straight back to work and daily life.

And yes, one significant thing that happened right before CNY was the breakdown/’death’ of my Lenovo laptop. As documented on this blog, after the initial replacement issues (when 1st bought), and an earlier breakdown of the hard disk just back in September, the Lenovo decided to hang by itself when in office one fine Monday afternoon. To cut the story short, after calling the technical support line, dropping everything down to head to the service centre at McPherson for 2nd diagnosis, and another opinion from a repair shop at Jurong Point – the final conclusion was motherboard failure. The replacement would have cost $500+ …… and thus it would be a more feasible solution to just get a new laptop instead – which is needed as I had work to finish right before CNY beckons.

And so, I bought a new Acer Swift 3 that is gold in colour for a ‘golden’ new beginning.

The laptop has been working great for the past 2 months that I have been using it – and this is my 1st blog on this laptop 😛

In a figurative way, the Lenovo represents frustration and pain through the 2 years and 4 months that I have used it. And I will be better served with a fresh start with a newer and better machine going forward. Sounds like how my life has been going for the past 1 odd years 🙂

February is also another month where I experienced numerous body wiggles post-yoga (right achilles tendon pull, tight hips, on and off wrist strains on my right). Also came down with sore throat / flu for a good part of the month which recovered, then came back again after Hot Yoga 101 (believe I caught a chill as the room as stuffier than usual which even the instructor felt so as well), which is reduced to chest cough on and off still as the virus has yet to go away 100% – which sucks!

Partly as a result of some of the ‘muscle imbalances’ that I was experiencing post-yoga, took the plunge to try Yin Yoga as I have read on some of the benefit of Yin Yoga include increased circulation, fascial release and greater joint mobility (through holding poses for 3 to 5 min long) ….. which was something I needed to ‘repair’ my body and feel good again.

After my very 1st Yin class (on Sunday morning) where the final pose before savasana was a reclining head to toe stretch (with a bolster placed right across the tight) – my hamstrings loosened immensely.  After which, I attended my semi-regular Tuesday evening Hot Yoga 101 class. Even after some pretty intense work in the class, my thighs/quads no longer have the intense post work achne (the technical term for it will be DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness) that will take me the entire evening and the good part of the following day to recover from. I have always had tight hamstrings and quads which I finally realised was a result of inadequate post workout stretching from my running and spinning days. The increased flexibility from holding stretches 3 to 5 mins is real indeed. Not to mention feeling much lighter and more relaxed for the rest of the day, and enjoying improved sleep.

I have decided to incorporate Yin to be part of my regular yoga ‘programming’ as I target to do it once every 2 to 3 weeks. Plus waking up early and going for the early 1015 Hrs Sunday morning class at Gulliemard is a great way to re-adjust my bio-clock and sleep patterns – as well as to re-connect with my body and wind down the weekend.

Before March comes to an end, I also hope to try another new type of class (most likely Hot 26) -which is part of my personal goal/resolution to try 1 new class every month.