Tag Archives: Bikram yoga

What Would Patrick Swayze Do?

I have plantar fasciitis which when you tell some people, they back away because it sounds ugly and contagious.  It’s just inflammation of the connective tissues on the sole of the foot. It’s a common ailment amongst runners and fat people which is hilariously poetic because in order to treat it, you either have to stop running or lose weight.  Runners gotta run and eaters gotta eat so plantar fasciitis better heal itself or else you might have to go out and buy $800 orthotics.

My condition came about last month walking the lumpy roads of Rome in flip-flops for over a week and when I got home, I could walk no more.  Now when I get out of bed, a searing pain shoots up my heel and I’d have to tip-toe to the toilet.  I’ve had this before after I pronated my way through a marathon 14 years ago and I know how long it takes to heal…months!  And as they in Game of Thrones, winter is coming.  I’m going to have to wear real shoes soon.  I have ignore it, just shoot me if you see me wearing Uggs this year.

“Mother, you need to go to a doctor!” says my daughter as I hobble around the house.

“No!  Doctors don’t fix anything!  They shuffle you around to “specialists” and you will always end up getting a parking ticket just to find out all you need is an ice pack!”

“Then put on an ice pack!”

“Ugh, I can’t be bothered.”  The Internet says to roll a ball or a bottle under the sole the foot to massage it.  There are half a dozen tennis balls under any given piece of furniture in my house and yet I also can’t be bothered to do that.

What doesn’t kill me only makes me stoic.  Am I a self-imposed martyr?

When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, for some reason I would only get my period once a year in the summer time. When I did get it, it would last two weeks and I would be double over in pain, like there was a burning ball of fire somewhere in my reproductive system. And let’s not even talk about the gushing flow because I know how you hate gruesome bodily fluids.  No doctor could figure it out.  Finally when I was 21, one genius medical practitioner came up with an obvious solution.

“Go on birth control pills, it will fun,” they said.  It would regulate my cycle and I would become a real woman instead of a vessel for some Satanic spawn.  I lasted three months and I became a monster, as though all the estrogen I had been lacking came on at once and you certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be there when it did.

Anyway, flash further back to the summer when I was 18 and working at my dad’s company in an office full of menfolk, I got my annual period in the morning.  I ended up stuck in the washroom, doubled over with horrific cramps. My dad had to drive me home.  He thought I was faking it or being a total wimp or something. “This is not normal,” he kept saying, “You don’t go home for something like this.” No this is just really embarrassing, so I ignored the cramps the next day and sucked back the Midol. My dad fought in World War 2 for God sake.

Pain:  Deal with it.

Even though I had a wacky menstrual schedule that no doctor could explain, I was able to conceive much to everyone’s shock and my horror. Of course now that I am old and my eggs are rotten, my uterine lining sheds regularly with every waning moon…hilarious joke, troll ovaries.   Anyway, my  pregnancy went smoothly and my lazy-ass lady parts actually got its act together and created a baby without any glitches.  I did go through the birthing process without any pain management because the roving, moronic intern at St. Michael’s Hospital was an asshole.  Long story short:  He assumed because of the dodgy neighbourhood the hospital in that I was a crack whore and my baby would be born severely underweight and needing methadone. I would have rather experience endless hours of fiery ball-of-hell contractions than have that douchebag in the room.  After I told him to fuck off, he craned his head into the room, “Do you want an epidural?” he asked before my actual doctor arrived to catch the 8 pound butterball that took her sweet time sliding out.  NO EPIDURAL!!!  

Pain: Please stop,  I will pay you.

Fast forward 10 years later to 2003, I’m in East General Hospital having my wrist X-rayed.  Two weeks earlier I had fallen off my bike, trying to get on it after having a few tequila shots at a beach party.  I landed on my ass, and used my right hand to break the fall. I heard a loud crack. I hobbled home, bike in tow and I think nothing of it the next day.  I have to learn how to drive standard because I had just leased a Mini Cooper and I am taking my real estate courses and my Phase 2 exam is in 3 weeks.  It hurts my wrist to shift gears and I keep stalling the car, I can’t find the sweet spot and I am a big mess.

“I think I might have broken my wrist,”  I say this out loud in the ladies locker room at my gym.  It’s a week after I fell off my bike.  My wrist is swollen.  And not to mention what happened to my tailbone, I have to hang my ass 6 inches off the back of Spinning bike seat otherwise I feel like I am being sodomized by a bulldozer.

“If you broke your wrist, you would know it,” one woman says.  Another genius….yes, a light goes off when you break a bone and tells you that you need to go to the hospital.  Pro tip: Never listen to advice from a naked bitch with a towel turban on her head.

When things just got worse, I went to the hospital and got an X-ray.

“You know,” said the orthopaedic surgeon to the daft cow,”you could have saved yourself a whole lot of trouble if you had come in right after the accident, we could have set it in a cast then.  Now we have to operate and reset the bone, otherwise you’ll be in for some very painful arthritis in the future.”

Pain:  Sometimes it knows best, let it speak.

And I didn’t even have the guts to say anything about my aching tailbone, that bitch is just going to have to shut up and behave. My wrist injury actually thrills me.  An operation!  How exciting!

After the operation, and then getting the cast off, I started taking Hatha yoga classes and later Bikram yoga to become more mindful about my body and learn how to heal itself.

A couple of years later, I saw Bikram Choudhury speak in one of those hotel convention halls downtown and teach one of his classes.  During Q and A, some woman, maybe it was me, asked him, “How long does it take for the pain to go away?”  He just looked at her like she was a frog on the highway and said, “When you are dead!”  Oh how I laughed, and then cried.

Pain: Seriously?

Today I hobbled to the gym.  Since I got back from Italy, I have missed all my favourite classes and come in at a different times so I don’t have to see anyone.  I haul myself in the whirlpool and put my foot on the jets.  It hurts so much!!!! I hate being a baby about this. One guy I knew used to whimper and moan about every canker sore and hang nail he had, like he was going to die any minute.  Once he had a splinter that he let fester in his foot and he hobbled around for a month before he would let someone pull it out for him. Dude, I have gravel still stuck in my elbow from when I scraped the pavement on my bike (again with the bikes!) in grade 8.  Grow some balls, I said to myself.

So I got dressed in my gym gear and made my way to the battlefield where I ran into Douglas, my very favourite gym buddy.  Douglas is a octogenarian who routinely plays two hours of tennis after a spin class.  Every day.

“Where have you been, Freddy?” (that’s my gym moniker).

“Oh, I have plantar fasciitis,” I explain, “I’m taking it easy.”

“I had that twice, on both feet. I got it playing squash.  There’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to keep going,” he says.

“But it hurts!”  There is not enough wool in the world to pull over his eyes.

“Suck it up, Freddy!”  he laughs maniacally and saunters away.  Pro tip:  Always listen to an 80-something year old man who can Zumba in the front of the class without missing a beat. So I carry on.  It is what Patrick Swayze would do.

Pain:  You are my bitch. Tomorrow, we spin!








Sleepless in Toronto

The first rule of Insomnia Club is do not talk about Insomnia Club.  The second rule is whatever you do when you are tossing and turning in the middle of the night, DO NOT go on Facebook and check out the green dots and see who else is on-line.  But you will anyway.  Third rule, DO NOT start chatting with the green dots, they could be in a different time zone and will not understand your middle of the night psychotic ramblings.  If they are in your time zone, unless they are up waiting for the limo to take them to the airport, they are also insomniacs and you should never fraternize with someone who can’t sleep when you can’t sleep.  The conversation will be pointless and will create even more anxiety and before you know it, you will be cyber-poking each other to death.

The collective energy in the air these days is so angst-ridden, I’m surprised anyone can sleep through what’s going on.  The world has become smaller because we are constantly bombarded with world events and tied to social media like it was an umbilical cord.  Not that long ago,  we would have watched the news on tv at 6 o’clock, clucked and tsk-ed while we had our cocktails, then turned it off and had dinner with our families and chatted about what happened in our day (ok, not really that idyllic, but that’s how it should happen).  Now we are living with a tsunami (and pardon the metaphor) of information during our walking hours.  We all  know what Charlie Sheen is doing right NOW because if we’re not following him on Twitter, the media is and reports all his rantings.  He is the poster child of a modern anxiety disorder.  And we all have an opinion and I have just this to say:  Wait until he wakes up from his sleepless delusions and has to chew off both his arms when he realizes his “goddesses” are merely garden variety mall skanks.  I can hardly wait. 

But how do you deal with all the anxiety?  I asked around and somebody told me B vitamins.  Oh how I laughed.  In earnest, I think the best way has been to practise yoga.  I go on Bikram yoga binges but on the most part I do Hatha yoga at the gym.  Yoga teaches you how to detach which as a concept seems maybe counterintuitive when it comes to honing your self-awareness.  But the fine art of detachment is the best way to deal with those pesky thoughts in the middle of the night that keep you ruminating and obsessing about things that don’t really matter.  Buddha says that attachment is the root of all suffering so yeah, try to free your thoughts and sleep will come.  Eventually.  And stop following Charlie Sheen on Twitter (note to self).

Me So Hungry

I’m tired of  figuring out what to eat and when to eat it.  I’m also tired of this daily yoga crap.  Today is Day 26 of the 30 Day Beaches Bikram Yoga Challenge and guess what I did?  I skipped it!  So send me to the bowels of Hell,  I will double up on Tuesday and go at 6am and then at 5:30pm, just  watch, I’ll do it.  The thing that makes me crazy is scheduling feeding times.  An empty stomach and yoga are best friends, once you have something in there, even a fig newton, things go awry.  Today I just want to stay home and not move.  The G-20 has all Torontonians in a state of submission.  And who doesn’t love a diversion?  A medium-sized earthquake, a gathering of world leaders blocking off the downtown core, and a new burger joint in the hood and I’m a happy camper.  The latest hamburger stand in question is called The Burger’s Priest and it is causing much controversy around these parts, ie. my house.  It’s a tiny place with a few stools located east of Coxwell on Queen.  Like Burger Shoppe and  Great Burger Kitchen, the priest burger uses organic meat (ground an hour ago!), but unlike the other two, The Burger’s Priest doesn’t have a whole lot of excess theme toppings other than onions and ketchup.  The default burger is a cheese burger and there is a thing called The Option.  You can put The Option on your burger or you can have The Option if you are a *vegetarian*.  I want to keep The Option a secret so you can be as surprised as I was.  Spoiler Alert:  It’s a Portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese and deep-fried in batter.  When I first found out, I had a culinary boner.  I know from past experience, cheese and mushrooms are visually foode porn.  And I also know anything can be deep fried.  But when I actually ate it, I was spooked…maybe these two should hang out elsewhere.  The Olive Garden, perhaps. The burgers are delish, absolutely, but they are petite.  In their petiteness, they are probably the correct portion which is the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand…NOT giant Tarot Cards, or Godzilla’s mitts.  Get used to it, Fatty.  My Jugheaded son, Freddy, will have to order two or three to be satiated but it is the perfect size for my daughter, Evangeline, who is waffling on being a *vegetarian.*    And when I frame a word with **, I am curling my hair and brushing my teeth.  Me, I am happy eating anything with fries, ie. the devil’s starchy fingers.  These ones are the skinny delicate “frites”, the kind that come without guilt because you barely need to chew them.  Also, you can park at the Liquor Store, pick up some Devil’s Pale Ale to wash it down and go to *Confession* the next day.

My Own Personal Ashram

Day 4 of Beaches Bikram Yoga Challenge:  30 hot yoga classes in 30 days, 90 minutes per class, that’s 45 hours of moving meditation, folks.  I am only one tenth of the way there and I have already lost my sense of humour.  If anyone needs to hightail it over to an ashram, it’s me.  It’s all about my inwardness serving my outwardness.  I have to learn not to react so much:  stop fidgeting, breathe through the nose while ignoring the snot bubbles, stay still, be calm.  The lesson is what not to do is as important as what to do.  So, I have been thinking about what colour I’m going to paint my living room.  Last week I was at the new location of Le Papillon on Eastern at Coxwell, check out their website here.  The interior is really spectacular, in particular the yellow they use as accent walls.  I swear it is that mimosa colour was Pantone’s colour of the year 2009.    I am going to try to match this with some Benjamin Moore shade (sparkling sun).   Now the old me would have painted the entire room that colour but I have learned restraint in my yoga practise.  It is about finding the perfect off-white for the room that will set off the strip of yellow that I will paint above the fireplace.  It turns out there is some use for all the boring greige and taupe that exist in the interior design world in stodgy old Toronto (I’m looking at you, Brian Gluckstein). The calm of the neutral palette makes the colour have more impact, just like the savasana in yoga makes the postures stronger.  Just go along with me, there’s 26 more days left.  For more jolts of colour, I found a store in Little India called Rang, click here and look at all the pretty things:

Rang, 1413 Gerrard Street East    

Diana at Flohaus also visited a store full of colourful Indian decor accessories called Liloo at 734 Queen Street East, click here to see inside.  “Pink is the navy blue of India,” said Diana Vreeland in 1962.  I say bring more India to Taupe Town.  I’m going to add some fuschia pillows to the greige couch and some turquoise drapes, or vica versa…it will be my Ashram Room with a Nintendo and Wii, I’ll post the before and after photos!

Kristin’s Hot Spot

What is all this yoga, yoga, yoga?  It’s everywhere you turn, you can’t throw a dumbbell in a gym without hitting someone sitting cross legged with their eyes closed.  They are the yogis and they are taking over the cityscapes, they walk amongst us, on subways, in coffee shops with their yoga mats rolled up like machine guns.  We scowl at them and they smile back serenely, as though their higher power can control the weather.  They are young and old, rich and poor.  In fact many of them are celebrities.   They love to go on talk shows and have the host fawn over them about how young they look.  It’s not the Botox, Restalyne, or dermabrasion they talk about….it’s yoga!  Here’s the proof:

This is Raquel Welsh:

and Madonna:

sorry, my bad, this is Madonna:

and even Lindsay Lohan:

Actually, I’m not entirely joking….Lindsay is attempting “Awkward Pose” and she doesn’t even know it.  In fact, most of us do yoga and are unaware of it, when we breathe and stretch.  Yoga is the state of union between two opposites, mind and body.  I stumbled into my yoga practise Lohan-style a few years ago after I broke my wrist and cracked my tail bone trying to get on my bike after some crazy beach party that included tequila shots…..dumb dumb dumb, I know.  But like with all acts of stupidity, a lesson will follow.  It’s as though the gods were watching me and trying to point something out because my accident occurred right smack dab in front of The Beaches Bikram Yoga studio.  For months I would walk by and say to people:  “This is where I broke my wrist!”  Finally, I decided to actually go in the place.  I had taken yoga before (in a church basement with Peakfreans and tea served afterwards)  so I wasn’t a virgin, or so I thought.  When they called it “hot yoga” I assumed they meant “groovy.”  It turned out hot means 106 degrees.  And it also turned out not all yoga is the same.  I later learned there are different kinds of yogas, some examples Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, and Bikram.  Bikram is a method of yoga created by Bikram Choudhury as a series of 26 postures and practised in a heated room in front of mirrors….yikes!  The yoga practise http://www.bikramyoga.com/ has studios all over the world and it is taught by instructors who have to go to special teacher’s training for two months.   Bikram, who is still around and in his 60s, has some cultivated eccentricities that would rival Joan Crawford’s and her stance against wire hangers.  It is Bikram’s way or the highway and what ever you do, don’t wear anything green.  I had the priviledge of attending one of his seminars when he came to Toronto a couple of years ago and yes, he’s crazy but he’s also really cute and funny.  I respond well to bossy people because I am the youngest of 4, and I learned early on that doing what you’re told is the first phase of detachment which is an important element in practising yoga.  Being forced to curl up in a ball and be my brother’s footstool while he watched The Brady Bunch was my first foray into the discipline. Bikram is 90 minutes and following the dialogue is really all you have to do.  Some of it is counter-intuitive, like no fidgeting when sweat is dripping in your ear and only breathing through your nose when it is blocked. Every time I go, I learn something new and old , and borrowed and blue. In fact, I might marry Bikram.  I have been going 6 years to the Beach studio and I now think of it as an oasis and a sanctuary.  The studio is bright and spacious and the people that run it are fantastic and friendly http://www.bikramyogatoronto.com/ .  If you can do this in the heat, you can probably do almost anything.  It does a lot for your flexibility (a millimeter at a time) but it does do more for the mind than you could imagine.  “It’s so boring,” some people complain.  Conquering boredom is one of my greatest achievements that I learned through yoga.  The litmus test is that when I go into an office waiting room, I don’t automatically lunge for a dog-eared 4 year old copy of Golfer’s Digest.  I can just sit and stare at a point in the wall and think about nothing, which is a good thing because spend an hour in my brain and you’d be trying to sedate yourself.  I encourage anyone and everyone just to try it, $20 unlimited for a week….it’s cheaper than basic cable!  Oh, and now when I walk by the joint, and having long forgotten about my broken wrist, I say : ‘This is where I do my yoga!”  I am yogi, hear me roar.