Practise Makes Perfect

Practising yogaFLIGHT and finessing our flying for the photo shoot this Friday has been such an exciting journey. But one thing that we’ve been lacking is an outside perspective on our practice. So we came up with the idea that a gym with mirrors would be a great way to solve our dilemma. It so happens that less than a mile away, a lovely gym in Oshawa called Platinum Family Fitness has a gorgeous space with mirrors lining 2 walls. That’s exactly what we’d been seeking! With two hours of in-your-face body flight, we’re so much better geared for Friday, having seen where we could make improvements, with optimum visualization of the lines and alignment that visually is more appealing, safer and and more graceful when in the midst of yogaFLIGHT.

Yoga On and Off the Mat


I was wanting a change from my regular bodyweight cardio workout (aka Callisthenics). Something different but intriguing, pushing my comfort zone but enjoyable. So I tried for a bit of variation and actually did a full yoga workout DVD (I have a challenging time trying to keep focused on a yoga DVD …. it usually takes me out of my body which is polar opposite to what I usually like to achieve with a yoga practise). Rodney Yee’s ‘Advanced Yoga‘. I was actually quite inspired, even though I had a great deal of difficulty with some of the arm balancing poses. However, I kept up the difficult poses, laughing through the falls, flat on my face and butt.

Learning to play through the trials and tribulations of daily life, both on and off the mat  ~ whilst not forgetting to breath, can be such a huge obstacle at times. But today I said: ‘Why not?!’

Note: This photo of slaDE and myself is not part of Rodney’s actual DVD, but rather shows how playing with ones balance can be a fun challenge, especially if it is beyond ones comfort zone or regular routine! 🙂

Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown, Day 4

Today began with learning a complex and long performance flow created by by Eugene and Jessie. Layer upon layer upon layer of seamless dynamic moves and intricate weaving of acro yoga techniques with a dance and yogic flair. Sutble, fierce, challenging but oh so beautiful. I partnered up with the beautiful and talented Laurence … so competent in fact that she was equally skilled as both flyer and base. Working with me (an inexperienced acro flyer) is an incredible challenge as it is … but Laurence was patient, kind and solid as a base. Although I have dabbled as a base the past four days, I am nowhere close to providing the necessary caliber of stability needed to safely hoist people through such maneuvers as ‘Star’, ‘Around the World’, ‘Ninja Star’, etc. The trick to getting to this level is practice, practice, practice. Wish I had someone more my weight and height to play and experiment with on a regular basis. The afternoon revealed a mini-workshop with Jason Nemer of acroyoga.org on the basics of successful handstands. Again, lack of mobility and strength in my shoulders left me wanting for more …. I’m learning that both daily core and shoulder strengthening and building is becoming necessary in this lifestyle of more advanced acro yoga (or what we call yogaFLIGHT). Time to redirect my focus.

The ending of our weekend climaxed with a boy vs girl Creative Process. With a quick 30 minutes to prepare our staged act, we stepped in to ‘the Cypher’ and rocked our performances with giggles and fire … the penultimate throwdown before an informal acro-jam. Personally, I was hoping for more flow practice after the throwdown with Eugene and Jessie. But as with all endings and beginnings, the flow of their structure is what I make of the time and interaction within the context. So perhaps I was expecting more of myself. However, feeling somewhat reticent with my new-found knowledge and skills, I sat back shyly whilst the more experienced acro-yogis soared through delicious flows and experimental flights in their acro-jam. Sometimes just watching can be enough. I am however yearning a deeper connection with an acro community. Time to investigate the Toronto scene whilst we’re in the area for a few months!

The evening was spent cooking and dining with our hosts at ‘Chateau Yogi’. Paul and Bryce had the perfect kitchen and patio space to enjoy a twilight potluck of personalities and stories. Of course, I enjoyed finding the beauty in photographing shadows, light, people and textures.

 

Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown, Day 3

Morning review, B-girl afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed the morning review. The past two days have literally flown by, with so much to remember through each flow sequence, let alone a whole day of advanced learning and techniques that can only be felt through experience and not specifically a workbook of moves. It’s been quite the blessing to have such high caliber of instructors, teachers, trainers, acro yogis (both base and flyers). To learn from the best has been phenomenal but also a frustrating and sometimes emotional experience for me. I am the least experienced flyer here and the advanced level of the manoeuvres we have been doing has challenged me beyond any expectations of what I came into this throwdown with. My ego took quite the brutal turn today and that’s where the emotional aspect came into play. I felt quite unworthy and inadequate with what I’ve brought to the table. The beauty and grace and skill of the people we’ve met is phenomenal. I feel somewhat out of my element, but have always been encouraged through this process by Jessie and Jill, two sensational instructors. Collin and slaDE have also been encouraging , and it’s been great to fly with other people as my base. I’ve even grown more comfortable in my skills as a base. Something I wasn’t certain I’d ever see … I suppose you can say that my tool-belt per se has expanded considerably! And the friendship base of our craft has grown exponentially. Today I really learned the importance of providing a safe effective spot vs a reluctant uncertain spot. The role of the spotter is imperative to the safety of the base / flyer partnership, especially with such advanced asanas as we’ve been trying. And regardless of the skill level of the duo, a spotter has been used 98% of the time here. I certainly find safety and comfort in that backup.

The afternoon brought its own set of challenges. I discovered that B-girling wasn’t really my thing (break-dancing). I was quite klutzy and clumsy in my dance efforts, and felt the need to step back from the less than joyful break dancing strength routines. My shoulders have certainly proven to be a painful challenge from the beginning of this intensive 4-day workshop. slaDE fell naturally into the rhythm and moves of this genre, and I enjoyed photographing the others in the throes of their bliss. It was truly lovely to watch, but finding the desire and need for my own space, I managed to steal away for a walk amidst the Place des Arts, photographing the people immersed in the ‘Just For Laughs’ festival. A fitness contest called ‘The Ego Games’ was especially amusing to film. Some great photos from a Sunday afternoon follow.

10% in your life is what happened to you and 90% is how you react to it.
 ~ Lou Holtz

 

From there, our group shifted to the home of Jessie and Eugene for an evening potluck extravaganza. A delectable yummy assortment of food and people. But as I find happens when good times are had, the time flies by, and with a 45 minute + commute back to our host’s place, I was wanting to find time for a cold shower to reduce my core temperature, and make my way off to bed before midnight. 6am comes awfully early and quick with less than my desired 7 hours of restful sleep.

Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown, Day 2

Day 2. 

What an incredible creative process today was! We were given a partner to work with as a ‘chameleon’ within a set time frame of 25 minutes, coming up with a routine of sorts that contained spontaneous acro yoga moves that made our heart sing and worked with both partners strengths and weaknesses. I’m learning that being the base on some of these intricate looking transitions is actually attainable to me. Like a shoulder stand. Sha-wing! Today my body is extremely sore and weary, but my energy levels far exceeded that of yesterday. The afternoon workshop on Acro and Capoeira was fascinating. Capoeira is another form of dance that seems way beyond my level of experience and strength. But at the same time, it’s still so neat to witness the combination of martial arts, dance, athleticism and music intertwine with the skills of acrobatic flight.

Being today was our monthly mas-iversary, Hubby and I ate at an amazing Thai restaurant in a Mall food-court, as recommended by Eugene. Who expects to find stellar food at a food-court within a Mall? Not I. But a highly unexpected treat to be sure. If in Montreal and craving yummy and fresh Thai food, made to order, go check out ‘Restaurant Cuisine Bangkok‘ @ 1616 Sainte-Catherine Rue West. Authentically delicious!

The Acro jam in the park was very educational for both slaDE and myself. I finally feel as if I am understanding the beginnings of the move otherwise known as ‘Ninja Star’. Eugene and Jessie spent time with us, breaking each move down in to pieces. I’m enjoying the more advanced moves so much more now that I am feeling confidant in my abilities with each passing day. Hallelujah!

 

Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown, Day 1

Day 1 at the Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown should instead be called Acro Yoga Bootcamp extraordinaire. WOW. I am so out of shape, but I simply adored and loved every moment of flying and the body aches. Today I learned the valuable lesson of having a spotter …. it makes all the difference in safety and confidence, for me, in performing these highly advanced acrobatic moves.

 

What an incredible day! A vibrant, body wrenching, core engaging, spirit flying, confidence building, soul-inspiring kind of day. I surprised myself today by pushing my perceived limitations and thoroughly immersed myself in the acro yoga challenges gifted to us. I flew slaDE really well, surprising myself at the diversity of postures we attempted successfully and achieved wholeheartedly and with beauty. It was an incredible experience to delve in to the realms of such advance postures … shoulder stands, etc. I made the error of not snacking enough during the morning, so by lunchtime, my body crashed and I was oh so tired during our lunch break. Nourished, we returned to the studio and I spent a good long savasana revitalizing my spirit before the afternoon ramped up our energy levels. I’m finding that my body feels weak and weathered through much of the strength moves, but I am pushing my envelope and taste-testing the challenges thrown our way. The afternoon ended with a surprising burst of aerobic strength moves rattled off that pushed my limits of strength and agility. I was so weary. But despite my fatigue, I still found incredible joy and energy in photographing the unfolding events in the ‘Place Des Arts’ square where the ‘Just for Laughs’ festival was in full swing. I love the colour and character of this city … Montreal, the home of never-ending summer festivals!

Although I craved to attend the acro jam in the park this evening, my body declined the invitation and instead decided to shut down regardless of wants or desire. We returned to our hosted haven with a throbbing heat hanging heavily in the air. Despite the intense temperature, we both literally collapsed in to a deep comatose sleep for several hours. It felt amazing to listen to my body’s needs. My shoulder is suffering greatly (thank goodness for ice packs and arnica), and the pain of my broke finger is outrageous. It felt like a crazy maneuver to indulge a steaming hot epsom salt bath in 33 degree Celsius weather, but the healing powers of the salts were dearly needed. An ice pack on the head helped to keep me cool thankfully.

Trying to be present and in the moment, so I am taking each day as it comes, listening to my body, and letting the moment of flow guide me from one moment to the next. We’ll see what tomorrow brings! Time to crash and rejuvenate for tomorrow’s exciting challenges!

Our Home For The Summer

Oshawa and yoga. Not something I particularly had in mind for the summer. But after spending the morning with my sister (who attempted yogaFLIGHT for the first time!), we made our way from Alliston to Oshawa, a small city just east of Toronto. Why Oshawa you might ask? Well, slaDE and I have been brainstorming about places to establish roots for the summer, and his friend Dawn (whom we met at the Yoga Conference several years ago) has a small brilliant home yoga studio — Breath of Light Yoga — with a long driveway that her and her partner might consider renting to us for the summer. It seems almost too good to be true, but we’ve set a dinner date for this evening, in the hopes of establishing a summer residence whilst helping out Dawn with her new business.

Having arrived early in to Oshawa, we set up our slackline and worked on our balance poses. Such a challenge for me, klutz that I am :). But yet, I will continue to play in the hopes of bettering my skills at core & body stability, steadiness and sure-footedness.

Dinner with Dawn was fabulous. Her partner Craig had been called in to work, leaving the three of us speaking well into the night, discussing spirituality, yoga, web presence of our work and business marketing. It seems like we will be a spectacular fit … such an amazing opportunity for us all. I’m pretty excited about the summer, and what potential it will bring.

A Day for Childhood Adventures

Ever since I was a wee little lass, I have enjoyed the magic of Walt Disney and the spirited fire and thrills of amusement parks, whether they be centred around Hannah Barbara, Walt Disney, Pixar,

Marvel, Universal Studios, etc. Childhood fantasies of flight and motion, superhuman powers, of movie magic, amusement and freedom has been a consistent theme in my dreams (probably from my first prepubescent visit to Walt Disney Florida at the tender impressionable age of 9). Perhaps that is where my desire for all things flight (i.e. my skydiving and private pilot licenses) emerged from?

Part of coming to Florida this year stemmed from my desire to visit the new Harry Potter exhibit at Universal Studios. Zephyrhills was a new dropzone neither of us had jumped at before. And the potential combination of exploring the two really sparked my enthusiasm for Airstreaming in Florida. Today was the zenith of my excitement …. Universal magic lay at our fingertips, accompanied by our two Alumapalooza friends Lisa & Brett (local Floridians close to the Tampa area). The plan was to spend the daylight hours at Universal and then meet up with our friend Said for further adventures around Orlando.

Being just a big kid at heart, I was all over the idea of purchasing an all-day pass to both Universal Parks. Why not explore both whilst here??!

Magic unfolded …. Harry Potter came alive through ride upon ride butted with sinfully decadent butterbeer sensations.

Secretly, I could spend the whole day in this one portion of the park, but many worlds beckoned us with their enchanted lights / sights / sounds and thrilling rides. Marvel Comics, Dr Seuss, Hogsmeade, Shrek … so much to see and do, but with very little time (considering the long lines for this off-peak quirky busy Wednesday and early evening closing of 6pm).

A fan favourite for Brett, slaDE~ and myself: ‘The Rockin’ Rocket’ where one can choose their own music for the ride of magical proportions, dizzying speeds and monolithic heights. It was our last stop before the park closed with only a 15 minute queue (our first ride wait time was about 45 minutes). What a brilliant fantabulous day. And to top the evening off, Brett treated us all to a quick ’snack’ at the infamous Emeril’s restaurant. Divinity in a bowl :). YummY!

Aircraft a.go-go

One of the novelty aspects to skydiving is the ability to jump out of different types of aircraft. As long as the flying apparatus can get to altitude safely, skydivers are pretty happy campers.

Of all the vehicles to altitude that I have been blessed with the opportunity to leap from, my favourite to date I think has been the Lockheed Super Constellation. Doors on both sides at the rear of the plane, exiting at the speed of a small jet. My first skydive (a static line round parachute jump made on October 6, 1991) was made out of a Skyliner — like a Skyvan, but with the exit being a side door rather than a rear ramp.

Here at Zephyrhills during the Christmas boogie, they have 3 Otters (a left hand wide door to exit from), 2 Skyvans (a rear-facing ramp that one can run and dive like superman from) and a local visiting helicopter that takes jumpers to an exit point of 5,000 feet for $58 . Wow, what a selection! Spoiled skydivers we are :).

yogaFLIGHT on the Outer Banks

Thus far, our experience of North Carolina has been amazingly incredible adventure, sharing the journey with both old and new friends, generous in their hospitality, graciousness and spirit. It’s hard to believe that just under 3 weeks ago we left Canada. We didn’t expect to spend this much time in North Carolina. But I am so happy that we stopped to smell the roses, allowing for the opportunity to explore the State and discover the people more fully.

We started our morning off with a bike ride around the Wright Brothers Memorial. We knew that today was our last day in the area (on this trip anyway), so I really waited to revisit the Kill Devil Hill monument and Wright Flyer jungle gym. I took notice of the thickening clouds before we left, but really didn’t think that the rain would affect us, with only an hour out on the trail. Wrong! On our return from the Monument, the rain started to pelt us with growing fury. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at my silliness for not bringing rain gear along with us. I actually enjoyed being caught mid-ride, delighted by the fresh smell of rain and nature as it soaked us to the core.

What started as a suggestion for a yogaFLIGHT demo with our hosts David & Kelly, at the yoga studio which he works out of (Outer Banks Yoga and Pilates, owned by Michelle ) turned in to a spontaneous complimentary yogaFLIGHT workshop with 11 participants wanting to play and fly! What a fabulous way to bookmark our trip here on the Outer Banks.