Loosening the grip: The pain of slowing down

I’ve been missing my hatha yoga lately.  Bikram, as you know is my yoga of choice.  Work, studying, and teaching is the formula I’ve been running as of late.

Unfortunately, I’ve been practicing less and less so when I do get my chance in the hot room, I push as far as I can go.  I want sweat dripping and pooling around me.  I want to go to my edge in the postures so I can go further next time.  I don’t allow myself to sit.

Until I am forced to.

The crappy mix of little practice, lots of work, not enough rest, too much intensity has finally caught up to me in the form of  illness.  Twice.  In a month.

Naturally, I had anger and frustration, as this has taken away what little practice I could squeeze in.  I was a yogi.  A teacher.  I needed my practice.  So at first I didn’t let it stop me.  I dragged myself to class, when I could.  It wasn’t an ego thing, but more of a ‘maximize what I can in the little time what I have’ thing.  I cram as much as I can into my days, as if the days are shoeboxes being filled with old photographs.  Yoga was in that shoebox.

What I had realized after my last disastrous Bikram class, was that I have been spinning and running and working so hard that I crossed the line between dedication and obsession.  I’ve been so focused on certain goals that I had applied the same level of intensity into everything else around me including yoga.  And I’ve become unforgiving to anything and anyone that got in my way.

But like any grip that is too tight, or a plant that receives too much sun or water, intensity can be harmful.  Even Bikram says ‘too good is no good!’

It gave me some food for thought: are my struggles lately been because of too tight a grip on those goals?  Would I have more success if I eased up a bit?  Am I willing to take a chance that I’m not going to fail if I slow down a just a little bit?

My challenge now is taking a step back, see what I might gain.

Only time will tell, and I’m resisting the urge to shove that into the shoebox, too.


Humble adventures in urban gardening

Last year, I started my first balcony garden and loved it. At first I thought I was going to forego the garden this year, but the thought of a grey, dull balcony on a sunny summer day just did not sound appealing to me.

So here I am again, ready to get my hands dirty. I was a newbie (still am), and of course I made lots of mistakes.

Here are some of the things I worked with last year:

1. My balcony is very windy, so I was constantly working to keep my soil healthily moist.
2. My balcony faces north, so sun exposure isn’t as ideal as a south-facing balcony. Unless I move, there’s not much I can do. Luckily, I get part of the West sun so the afternoon sun sustains my plants fairly decently.
3. My containers were decent size but I think my plants could have benefitted from bigger pots.
4. I started my seedlings later in spring, which meant a later harvest.
5. I grew tired of the gardening chores by August, so I wasn’t as attentive near the end.

Despite my blunders, I did enjoy harvesting cherry and vine tomatoes (one plant even grew taller than me!), basil, mint, cilantro, and arugula. This year, I’m adding radishes, beets, hot peppers, Thai basil, and marigolds to the original crops. I’m considering more, but I think I have to keep myself contained before I go a wee bit overboard. My balcony isn’t that big!

As you can see, my urban garden is pretty humble. I don’t believe in spending a whole lot of money for planting stuff. I think gardening should be as accessible as it can be to encourage more people to discover their green thumbs which leads to a healthier environment. The only things I spent money on were for soil ($12), containers from the dollar store ($12), lavender and Thai basil seeds ($6 for both, which didn’t even grow!), starter plant for mint ($1.49), and a trellis for my tomatoes ($1). A friend sent me a big package of seeds that will last me ’til eternity and I used seeds from organic cherry tomatoes from my salad.

I’m also thinking of starting vermi-composting (composting using worms) to give my plants nourishment. Last year, I added dried seaweed (ground), epsom salt (diluted in water), used tea leaves, and ground eggshells to the soil every few weeks and the plants responded well to them. Imagine what good, yummy compost can do! I didn’t use any fertilizers because…well, I’m not a big fan of it.  I can’t justify paying a ridiculous amount for shipped worms so I’ve contacted local people who raise for worms for personal use to see if I can buy some from them. Plus, I don’t want 30-50 LBS of worms and castings. I have nowhere to put that.

I am reusing the containers, trellis, and have a ton of seeds left. I did buy a few more seeds, and of course soil. I used toilet paper rolls and used coffee cups for seed starters, and saving used cans as containers. I’ve offered seed exchanges, but to be honest, almost none of my friends/coworkers garden so I have no one to exchange seeds with :(. (If you’re in downtown Toronto and want to do garden/seed exchange, just leave a comment below.)

Last thing, something I am looking forward to is finally growing beets. I just love beets!

Anyways, thanks for stopping by. Here’s to a healthy growing season and hope to hear about your gardens soon.

A Quote

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” ~ Virginia Woolf

Happy International Women’s Day!!

fem·i·nist: [femuh-nist]
1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.
2. an advocate of such rights.

Happy International Women's Day!!

Artist: Mari Naomi

To all those who make the world a better place for the marginalized and the oppressed, thank you. Because of those who fought for our rights, I can vote, study, have access to abortion. Hopefully within this century, I will earn equal pay for equal work with my male counterparts.

Happy International Women’s Day!!