Yoga, Diggerland, and Long Weekends

May 30, 2017 § Leave a comment

Memorial Day weekend is always the best because it’s the first long weekend of the year with (relatively) nice weather! Last year, we rented a house in the Poconos with my parents, but this year, we decided to stay a bit closer to home.

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We were really lucky to basically have a 4-day weekend since Nick had Friday off. Henry had his morning preschool class, but we both went to pick him up and were able to play at the park with some school friends afterwards for a while. Above is their first band promo shot.

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It’s always so hard to get Henry to leave his friends at the park (we’re always the first to leave since we have a half hour walk home), but the ice cream truck that appeared across the street just as we were telling him it was time to go for a soft-serve search definitely helped!

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I bought a ticket for Sharath Jois‘ 7:30am Led Ashtanga class months ago, without quite realizing I’d be 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time. It ended up being a great goal to work towards though and the class was awesome. There’s nothing quite like practicing with “The Boss” himself, especially beside my amazing teacher Amy, and a couple hundred other Ashtangis. And yes, I had to get a photo with him and say hello/thank you as I’m not sure when I’ll get to practice with Sharath again! I then spent the rest of the day sitting because my hips and pelvis were so open I was afraid I might have a baby if I kept going.

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Sunday morning, we made the trip Henry’s been waiting for his whole life – the 2 hour drive to Diggerland in New Jersey!

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We rented a car and listened to “Life Is A Highway” about 100 times, by Henry’s request. (He’s really into the Cars movie right now.)

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Once we got over the initial overwhelming moment breakdown/refusing to eat lunch/sad he couldn’t bring in his own water bottle, Henry had a blast.

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Diggers, dumptrucks, and big trucks everywhere!

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He even waited patiently in line for about 40 minutes to drive an excavator with Nick. Check out those faces!

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There was a playground with a three-story slide and swings…

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…an arcade…

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…and a dumptruck ride that he’ll be able to go on once he grows 2 more inches.

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Unfortunately for us, we didn’t escape their gift shop unscathed. I mean LOOK AT THIS STUFF. We may or may not have bribed our way into getting over bedtime fights with a giant flatbed truck…

It just hit me that my due date is the next time we have a long weekend! :O My last day of work is tomorrow, so I will hopefully be revisiting this blog more often. See you soon!

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How To Practice Yoga During Pregnancy

December 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but thought I should wait until I completed my pregnancy to do it.

Over the past five years, I have really embraced yoga as a part of my life. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga for about three years and was really happy with my progress. When she learned I was planning on getting pregnant, my teacher and friend, Alana, actually pushed me to learn how to do dropbacks  because she thought the physical and mental challenge would be a great way to prepare me for childbirth. I have to agree with her, except for the fact that they are a piece of cake compared to 35 hours of contractions!

In any case, I did not want to give up my practice once I found out I was growing tiny Henry. Ashtanga yoga has its own set of rules and traditionally, it’s recommended that you don’t do any yoga in your first trimester. I couldn’t bring myself to follow this rule though; I found it actually helped my energy level and kept me from getting nauseated in the mornings. Plus I’d miss it too much! So with the help of this website and Alana’s advice, I modified my practice to be fetus-friendly.

The first things to go were the twists, headstands, and back bends. I had to keep from working my abs too much to ensure everything inside me would “attach” properly in the first three months, so the upward flow of the bandhas in Ashtanga had to be relaxed. I stopped going to the Guided Led Ashtanga classes in February or March and opted to just attend the weekday Mysore classes which are tailored to each individual and done at one’s own pace. It was nice to not have to worry about sitting out poses in a class full of people, some who didn’t even know I was pregnant yet.

I did Ashtanga exclusively, practicing 3 or 4 times a week, until I hit the 6 month mark. Then I added Prenatal yoga to my routine.

My first few Prenatal yoga classes were a lot different than the ones closer to my due date. I would do triangle pose, extended side angle, and forward folds as if I were in an Ashtanga class and the instructor would have to tell me to take it easy and do the simpler version. As my belly grew, these modified versions were necessary not only in Prenatal, but also Ashtanga. Don’t get me wrong though; Prenatal yoga had its challenges. For example, the exercise Aimee liked to do each class were wall squats while squeezing a block in between your thighs for 30, 60, and 90 seconds to simulate a contraction and that was hard work! The class was also helpful in teaching you poses specifically made for pregnancy and labour – I used a few of the poses, like a rocking squat, to deal with contractions.

Meanwhile, my Ashtanga practice had been shortened to from about 1 hour 15 minutes to 45 minutes. I’d practice up until Marichyasana A then do some restorative poses like a supported back bend, Baddha Konasana, and legs up the wall.

In my sixth month of pregnancy, I was practicing Ashtanga Mysore about 3 times a week and going to Prenatal once a week. This went on for another month and a half or so until I started getting heartburn from all the up and downs during Sun Salutations in Ashtanga and had to reduce it to twice a week, then just once. Prenatal yoga had finally become much more suited to my needs.

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I’m proud to say I managed to practice both styles up until I was 38 weeks pregnant and can’t fathom why every woman in the same situation wouldn’t practice some form of yoga. It really helped me get through not only pregnancy, but a very long and painful labour. The breathing alone is so valuable and such a powerful tool for dealing with pain. I also can’t help but explain to people who tell me I look great for having just had a baby that it must have been yoga that helped me bounce back so quickly.

When people ask me why I didn’t have an epidural, I tell them it’s because it was healthier for me and Henry to do it naturally, with a much lower chance of getting a caesarian, and also because I wanted to experience childbirth the way it’s supposed to be. Ashtanga has taught me that taking shortcuts to get to the end result as quickly and easily as possible may be fine for some people, but it isn’t the way I want to live my life.

Now, after 7 weeks off, I’m back at it. I went to my first Ashtanga Led class yesterday and although my body is quite sore today, it was absolutely fantastic. I feel like I’ve come full circle and I couldn’t be happier.

Bump Envy

September 23, 2013 § 4 Comments

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On Friday, I met up with the two lovely ladies behind the new NYC-centric mom and pregnancy blog Well Rounded NY, Jessica and Kaity. They were kind enough to invite me (and Henry) to their latest “Bump Envy” photo shoot at Williamsburg’s Videology where I had photos snapped by the talented Evan Gubernick and answered a few questions about my pregnancy so far.

You can read the interview here and while you’re at it, check out their feature on my yoga studio too!

2012: A Year In Review

January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

2012 was “The Year Of Yes” for Nick and I. We wanted to make it the best possible, doing what we wanted when we wanted, within reason, of course. This attitude led to some pretty great moments and incredible experiences. I also fell even more in love with yoga, specifically Ashtanga, and turbocharged my practice into a 4-5 times a week affair which led me into new poses I never expected to be able to do. There were sad moments this year too, especially in February, but overall, 2012 was the best one I’ve had in years.

JANUARY

– On Friday the 13th, Nick & I went to see/experience the incredible Sleep No More.

– That same morning, I danced my heart out before 10am at Creative Mornings with Girl Walk All Day.

– Filed for an LLC and made my business official. No more freelancing for me!

FEBRUARY

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– The beginning of the month, my family faced a tragedy. Jenn’s nearly full-term baby suddenly passed away a week before her due date. We’ll always remember Everett, even though we didn’t get to meet him.

– Nick and I met my parents in Jamaica for a sunny vacation.

MARCH

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– I flew to Canada for a week-long visit, where I stayed with Jenn and her family. This included lots of playing with their new puppy, Biscuit.

– I tried an incredibly challenging Soulcycle class – right after Jake Gyllenhaal worked out in the same room.

– Mad Men season 5 premiered and I fell in love with the show all over again.

APRIL

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– Flew to London for a long weekend. We got to see Nick’s client Frank Turner headline his first arena show and Abbey Road!

– I helped set a record at the World’s Largest Rainbow Parade RecordSetter Event.

– Finally bought a bike worth more than $100. What a difference!

MAY

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– Spent a weekend in Ohio for Alex and Erin’s lovely barn wedding.

– Started a subscription to Lancaster Farm Fresh weekly vegetable share and farm fresh eggs. Best decision of 2012!

– Had a quick trip to Toronto to see Frank Turner and Baroness, along with some friends and family.

JUNE

Kate, Jenn & Lisa at Risotteria

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– Saw an amazing Radiohead show in Newark.

– My sister Jenn came for a weekend visit!

– The first Long Island beach visit of the year with Kate.

– Gave a sweaty-faced testimonial in a video for my favourite yoga studio.

– Went to the Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island solo, but met up with many ex- & current TAG friends and my good Torontonian bud, Travis Bradley!

JULY

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– Took a weekend road trip to Baltimore with Kate and Bryan. Survived the worst thunderstorm driving conditions on the way there so that we could see fish in their aquarium, go to a baseball game, and eat at a Brazilian steak house.

– Celebrated our second wedding anniversary with Nick by getting massages. So goooood.

– Rewrote my NYC + Brooklyn City Guide, complete with different categories, to appease all the NYC visitors!

AUGUST

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– Went to Massachusetts to visit Nick’s best friend Mike, but we also went WHALE WATCHING! I saw humpback whales for the first time and it was one of the coolest moments of my life.

– Finally upgraded from a Blackberry to an iPhone.

– Collected a ton of paperwork and “proof of relationship” to renew my green card and have the conditional status of my permanent residency removed. Filed it myself and felt very accomplished.

– Flew to Toronto for a 10-day visit that started with a Bachelorette Party Cottage Weekend for Julia! Was so incredibly happy to spend 4 days in a cottage with some of my best friends that I only get to see a few times a year.

SEPTEMBER

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Julia and Jay got married! I was so happy to be able to celebrate with them and stand up for Julia as a bridesmaid. I was also pretty happy to partake in the best dance party in years at their reception.

– Finally succeeded in doing headstand in the middle of the room! I have still never fallen (knock on wood).

OCTOBER

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– Celebrated a great 31st birthday.

– Helped Nick celebrate his birthday and had our first joint birthday dinner ever with some of our best friends.

– Went to Chicago to see Smashing Pumpkins in their hometown!

– New York got hit by Hurricane Sandy. We hunkered down, but were very very lucky to not have any damage.

NOVEMBER

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– My parents came to visit us for the first time since we got married!

– Went to a special Creative Mornings talk by George Lois at the Met.

– Kate and Bryan got married at city hall!!! They were engaged for over 3 years before finally tying the knot at Manhattan’s city hall and now they are pregnant!

DECEMBER

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– Saw Neil Young & Crazy Horse with Patti Smith at Brooklyn’s new venue, Barclay’s Center.

– Nick and I flew to Sweden for a long weekend to see his band Ghost. We were so happy about this opportunity, even though it was a whirlwind trip!

– After a few months of practicing, I was finally successful in doing a real Ashtanga back bend!

– Celebrated Christmas with my family in Oshawa and Fenelon Falls.

– Flew home from Canada on Boxing Day then flew to Paris less than 2 days later! Celebrated New Year’s Eve by adding a love lock to Pont de l’Archevêché. Romantic!

If you finished this post, I applaud you! How was your 2012?

Back Bends

December 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

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As of this morning, I have reached two of my goals for 2012: headstands and back bends. By no means do I consider myself an expert in either one, but both scared the hell out of me to begin with and now I’m actually practicing them! This is a huge feat that I had to tackle not only physically, but mentally. Being upside down was so foreign to me, it took me about 10 months of working on my headstand (with lots of love and a bit of trickery from Alana) before I gained the confidence to get up on my own.

Alana, my cherished teacher, started me on back bends in September. Back bends begin with wheel pose in Ashtanga, but move on to bending backwards from standing up, and hand stands into back bends. I had wheel down, so my next move was bending backwards from standing up, so that my hands would come over my head and touch my mat behind me. At first, I was pretty sure I was going to seriously injure my back. I practiced bending back and breathing in a controlled manner with Alana holding my hips. I experienced the growing pains of my back stretching, becoming stronger, and my posture changing. Some say that this pose causes the practicer to experience very strong emotions, as it’s a heart-opener. I was lucky to get off easy with just a week at the end of October where I was getting angry at myself that my body wasn’t listening to my mind; I couldn’t make myself let go and touch the floor. After that, I mellowed out and set the goal to achieve this by December 31, but that I had plenty of time and wouldn’t force myself just yet.

Last week, I told Alana my biggest fear is just that the ground was so far away. I was worried what would happen to my back when I got down in that position. We came up with the solution to have me drop back so that my hands would land on a pile of blankets behind me, about 2 feet off the floor. I tried it and was finally successfully letting myself go! On Monday, Alana decided to pull away 95% of the blankets while my back was turned to them and I came down, not realizing how far I was bending. When I looked back and saw I basically did my full back bend, I knew I could do it.

This morning, I finally let myself go. I let my hands come all the way over my head and I gloriously touched down to the mat in a full back bend. GLORIOUSLY, YOU GUYS.

Moments like this make it all worthwhile. I am far from an expert and I know achieving this pose just opens more doors for me with more things to learn, but thank god! I am not done yet and can’t wait for the next step.

Watch the video below to see Ashtanga’s back bends in action:

Practicing Yoga in NYC

June 20, 2012 § 8 Comments

Those who know me well know I love yoga. I started about five years ago with free classes at my gym in Toronto and have progressively gotten more serious about my practice since then. Finding a yoga studio that’s right for you is on par with finding the right hairdresser – they’ve got to make you feel comfortable and give you what you want to make you come back. Luckily, I found Sangha Yoga Shala in Williamsburg after trying just two other studios in the city. The owner and one of the studio’s most prominent instructors, Alana Kessler, is just amazing. I’ve never been athletic in my life, but she makes me feel like I can do anything as long as I work at it. As a result, I can do things now that I actually laughed at in disbelief when she demonstrated them to me about 15 months ago.

Last weekend, I was happy to participate in the filming of the studio’s new testimonial video. Check out my moves and sweaty post-yoga face:

{Photo by Armando Zubieta}

I feel like Kermit!

April 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

After only buying $100 department store mountain bikes all my life, I finally got one that I really love today! It makes me feel like this:

Here’s to a great summer without sore knees!

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