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Benefits of Ashtanga yoga

I am going to share the differences that I have noticed since I started practicing Ashtanga yoga.

  1. Digestion is better. I noticed a big difference when I started, going to the bathroom never is so easy in the morning, sometimes I didn’t even finish my morning 1L water before I go the the bathroom.
  2. Skin is better. I was reading guruji’s yoga mala, he suggested that any sweat should not be wiped away by towel but be rubbed into the skin, it will make the practitioner stronger. I followed this and felt that my facial skin becomes just gorgeous. Many times after practice when I went to wash my face it is so clean that I almost don’t feel the need to wash. And I don’t use any cleansing product, just some water and that’s it.
  3. Purifying force working inside me. I was having some period issues when I started, and has some dark red discharge for a while, then I started practicing, that discharge is gone and my period is back on track. Also I noticed that I sometimes feel a metallic kind of odor coming from the lung when I am breathing. Not sure what that is, maybe also related to the purifying force and although I don’t understand the asanas enough to say how they are doing the magic, I know that they are designed to cleanse and purify the body. And I can feel that.
  4. Better posture. Before when i was doing heavy lifting in the gym, other times I was just so tired. I don’t even want to hold my body straight. But I always always feel so good after yoga, and I started to have a much better posture, walking with my head high and chest open.
  5. More confidence and acceptance. I don’ t know how this is happening. But I care less what everyone else is doing. I just care about what I am doing and I don’t care that much what others think of me. I learned that what they think of me doesn’t matter but what I think of myself matters the most. And it is their problem what they are thinking of me. I feel like I have better confidence in life generally. I know that I have the ability to do things well, and whichever path I chose I will be fine. And I am even thinking of chasing my dream to work as a fitness trainer. Also, I don’t find weight bothering me much. I just know that I am strong and I am getting fit, and I don’t need a number to identify with. And I will keep getting stronger.

I know that every morning when I am going on the mat, that I will feel so good the rest of the day. And that’s see what this journey of yoga keeps bringing me good stuff.

 

 

 

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the journey of yoga begins

Recently I have got back to Yoga practice. I went to some power flow classes offered at the school gym and have some really fresh understandings about yoga.

First off, yoga can be challenging. I used to think of yoga as slow and not worth doing and spending the time if I want to get the most effect in fat loss. I mean it looks like only some stretches OK? But boy can it be sweaty and engaged! Added some core work into the sequence and I am getting sweaty all over!

Then, yoga can be beautiful. Sometimes we forget that we have a beautiful body. Society feeds the image of perfect bodies into our head, we didn’t even think about it and directly believe that it is what we want too. But what we really need is to appreciate our body, appreciate what we have. While i am doing some poses like warrior two, and looking at myself in the mirror, and looking at my elongated and straight arms, I learn to appreciate how strong and beautiful I am. And some poses, although it is not challenging, it is just simple and beautiful and so balanced and elegant. I also went to some barre burn classes, which is also so beautiful and makes me fall in love with my body and what my body can do all over again.

Then, yoga is a practice. The end goal is not some headstand or really really hard poses, it is about the feeling and the appreciation and being humble. I noticed that I really want to challenge myself to harder poses, but at the same time told myself that it is not only about the poses. It is also about breath. And as long as we keep practicing, our yogi path will start to deepen and enlighten our soul.

Today in the morning, I was just listening to my heart and didn’t follow any video. I do what I want and what feels good. I started with a simple sun salutation sequence, and then gradually add in one more movement and pose each time, and I finally understand why the classes are always like this. I remembered wondering: why do we do the sequence so many times? why can’t we just directly go to the full sequence? and today I understand that we need to ease into all the poses. The first time that I did the cobra is so stiff and I noticed the difference when I did it the second the third time. It is all a process. Don’t rush.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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calm and ready

Recently I have been binge listening to “the model health show” podcast, I think Shawn has some really good episodes where he talks about training that really gets my blood pumping for going to the gym, excited to do the workouts, and more importantly, get me to realize the importance of sleep and rest and reduction of stress.

He talked about his morning routine, where I also started to implement to my mornings. 1L of water to inner bath. I feel that this is working great for me, not only did I start doing this first thing in the morning, I also make sure that I drink at least 2 bottles of water at school. I used an app called Strides to keep track of these new habits. This is really helping a lot, coz I want to be able to have a streak of keep doing those things. I also put meditation on the list, which has helped hugely.

Earlier this year, I was really concentrated on doing meditation and was spending about 30min each time to meditate both morning and evening. But I slacked on the physical activity part and got so frustrated with the weight gain. Then I started going back to my workout routine and also started meditate again, but this time, I didn’t spend that long sitting and meditation, I just make sure that everyday I do some meditation. 10min usually. And I can already see what this little tweak has changed my attitude towards the day. I always do a little visualization, reminding myself of the goals that I want to achieve and telling myself I am not giving up until I get there. I also tell myself that today I am going to do everything to the best that I can. And many times, if I get frustrated with myself, I will use the meditation time to distill and think about what is the right way to take a look at things.

I also find that sometimes, when pain comes, I just need to lie there and lie with it and wait until it passes. The other day, I had too much for dinner and I was so frustrated with myself and I was really upset. Usually I would want my husband to say some encouraging words and help comfort me, but that night, I was just lying there, although uncomfortable and really down, I lied there, then fell asleep, and then the next morning during meditation, I told myself that I am determined to make some change to this. And I am seeing good changes already.

I find that many times I put too much food in my plate, and before I can finish the whole plate, I already feel full, then sometimes I told myself I will just finish it anyway, it is not so much more. But every single time, I feel so full that I don’t want to move after the dinner. So I made a note to myself, I need to change this. And I also put this into the list of habit that I want to form into the Strides app. And I know that I want to tick off “controlled dinner” on my list. And I am so happy with the past few days that I am behaving so well. And I am really positive and confident that I really can make those changes long term.

I am happy with the changes that has happened to me recently, and I think I am reducing my stress mindfully, and I am moving through life more gracefully. Like, I can have a vegan French toast for a Saturday morning breakfast, or I can just really take a moment and enjoy the glorious green smoothie bowl with cacao nibs to chew on. How perfect that is. Sometimes we just need to stop and take a moment to appreciate the things we have.

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self talk Queen

OK so I am being a little dramatic in the title there. I will never in a million years call myself queen.

One big change I have realized in myself is that I finally start to be able to talk myself out of anxiety, anger and stress. The thread for this begins with my trip back to China. I was gaining a few pounds, and I fell really stressed out after coming back to the states. Not only because of the weight, but also because of some visa issues which had delayed my trip for 3 weeks. I was thinking in my head, I am going to lose the weight so fast coz I will be eating clean as I want to be. But then it just didn’t happen.

And I start to think about this weight issues. It seems to me that many people, if not all people are struggling with weight issues. I have friends who want to put on weight but can never manage to do it and would brag about it. I have friends who are looking so good to me complains to have put on weight and really want to lose it. I always assure them that they are looking great, because they do. But they told me that other people have told them so. Some are very skinny and tiny, but they are being very harsh with comments on other people’s body. Even Katy Perry didn’t escape the critics. There are friends who would say that they will go to the gym with me, but it never happens. We are in a culture that we are programmed to accept that we should all  be like the models that we see in instagram pictures.

I actually have a lot to say about weight issues. But I found myself not so convincing when I say them, because you know, I am not the ideal body type. But is it reasonable to let the models talk about body image, self love? It just doesn’t help, does it?

At the beginning of my vegan lifestyle, at the point where I am still deciding when to let my friends know that I am vegan, I was a little stressed out. I kept thinking to myself, what would they think about my decision. Will they think it is because I want to lose weight so badly that I decide to go “extreme”? Will they secretly think to themselves: ‘but she doesn’t even look like a vegan, vegans are skinny, aren’t they?’ It almost seems to me that I should be all the best to be a good representation of this lifestyle. I was putting too much on myself.

Around fall 2015, I was really starting to stuff myself with knowledge about vegan lifestyle, watching documentaries, finding youtubers, watching recipe videos. To one point, I was having my morning oatmeal, and thinking to myself, why are they having so many delicious food, but not me. But NO! I was having oatmeal, exactly the same as so many of vegans do for their breakfast, and it is perfect! I was just caught in the pattern that I would watch what other people are doing, but failed to pay attention to what I have. It all seem so glamorous on videos what those trendy youtubers have. But when I am having my oatmeal, I wasn’t even enjoying it, the whole time I was thinking to myself, oh my life sucks, I would want to be like them youtubers too.

I realize how bad and wrong this thought is. And I decide to go without youtube in December. It turns out pretty good. One thing it did is that it reminds me to be mindful in my own life and not get caught in other people’s life. And about the weight issues, I was still having that few pounds on my body, but I start to look at my body in a different way. I was thinking through out the years that I was struggling about my weight issues, I always come back to this weight, and actually it is not overweight or anything like that. It means that my body is just good with maintaining this. And I am happy with it. I can feel the muscles in my legs and my arms. I am capable of doing long runs like half marathon, I can do long rides of 3h. I am happy where I am.

A friend of mine once told me, your legs would be better if they are trimmed half. Of course vertically, he added. I don’t want to cause any fight, so I just laughed it off. But seriously I was thinking to myself, who are you to judge. It is my legs. I work to have those muscles on there, who are you to say that they are to be trimmed off.

Along my journey, sometimes people comment, oh you lost so much weight. But let’s be honest, who cares after that one comment. Everybody goes to live their own life. Everybody has their own business to worry about. And if I am doing all sorts of bad things to my body, like working out too long, eating too little, just to get one compliment like that, is it even worth it. NO! And of all those years of my weight gain and loss, my parents don’t love me less or more, my fiancee doesn’t love me less or more. They love me because of the person I am, not because I look like a model.

This is all a process, I understand. I have listened to other people preach about positive body image over the years, but the change has to come from within. I was so happy when I looked at my old pictures and say to myself, oh this is too skinny I don’t want that! Because that’s my true feelings and I am proud of this kind of thought. Not “OH see I look so much better when I am 10 pounds smaller”. I was proud that I have this idea popping out when I look at those pictures. And this would lead to better self image thinking patterns.

We just need to have a grownup in our mind. Telling ourselves, It is gonna be OK.

All are going to pass. This will only be a blink of an eye in my life time. I am going to feel better even my talk isn’t selected to be presented. I am not going to be annoyed by other people’s decisions. I am just taking it slow and be compassionate with myself. Good for her, not for me!

All is going to get better and better. I have faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Would you put down the phone?

You like to post instagram pictures.

You like to read novels on your phone.

You like to watch animals vs human videos on youtube.

You love to play computer games.

 

You love me too.

You filled the hot patch for me and put it in after I fall asleep.

You gave me the better looking sweet potato.

You always let me eat your noodles after I finished mine.

You are bubbly and cheerful even after I gave you my cold.

You are carefree.

 

But you check your phone all the time.

Like it had sucked the soul out of you.

When you are waiting for me in the car.

When you are using the bathroom.

When you are waiting for the dinner being cooked.

After I fall asleep.

 

And I woke up, and you seemed startled.

I can scream “What are you doing sneaky!”

I have done that.

I can also pretend to not care a bit and be cheerful.

But this bothers me.

If we are living in the same room and I still feel lonely from time to time.

 

I can drag you to do things with me.

Go biking, hiking.

But once we are home again, you pick up your phone.

Like that is your thread of life to connect the dots.

I can convince myself to admire you for the love to read.

I don’t read that much.

 

But I need more time with you.

Not just watching TV shows during meal time.

I want to share more with you.

I want to talk more with you.

 

They say: you can’t change other people.

The will to change has to come from within.

Sometimes I decided to wait it out.

But you fall into your routine of playing games and sleeping late.

We are different.

I want to do things to make my days count.

I want to go running, go biking, read books, find jobs, improve myself.

You are perfectly happy just relaxing and hanging out with your phone in bed.

I jump out of bed once I open my eyes 5AM in the morning excited to start the day.

You would much prefer lying around.

 

I guess I need some of your qualities.

I need to relax.

But I feel my urge to let others know about me.

I feel that I am all by myself.

If my most important thing in life is you, I would want to do everything with you.

But you are perfectly fine when I am asleep, you can do your things without disturbance then.

 

There is something fundamentally wrong with my thinking I know.

If it is phone or me, you would choose me I know.

But if you are not confronted with the choice, you are just happy the way you are.

 

I convince myself that I need to develop more things to do on my own.

I pick up a ukulele and I play.

But there is only so much ukulele I can play before my fingers suffer.

I pick up a book and read.

But I can only read for so long before my head hurts.

 

In my mind, there are:

breakfast, food, lab work, what do I cook for dinner, how much should I run, what new recipes shall I try out, start a youtube channel.

I am not sure what’s in your mind.

And this bothers me.

 

Technology is to be used by us.

We shall not be the slave for technology.

Please stop stuffing information in.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we live without electronics for a few days.

Just like the good old days.

 

Would you put down the phone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015 review

I think it is high time that I review 2015, fabulous with exciting changes and improvements and self discovery.

  1. Running, swimming and cycling.

Earlier this year, I started training for a marathon. I stick to the training program on Nike+ pretty well and get to a point where I can run up to 3h for 15 miles. I was running 4 times a week, on Fridays I would get so excited for the long run at the gym. I read a book about marathon training and educate myself. The whole training process is almost injury free, just some minor issues with IT band and balls of my feet. It turned out to be the problem with my running shoes. I lost a few pounds, because I wasn’t refueling my body properly. Then I increased the calorie intake and I am fine. In June, I increased the mileage to 88 miles, which I am quite proud of. Then I was back home for a vacation, and I just stopped the training. One reason is that I discovered swimming and cycling, and get excited over these. And also I felt very differently while swimming and cycling than running, it is refreshing, and relaxing. For running, I was super pumped and hyped. They are all good, I started to see the merits of different exercise. My fiancee started cycling with me and I am really happy to find him excited to go on weekend bike rides together. If we are not cycling, then we would go for a walk in a state park, go on the trail, take pictures of mushrooms after rain, frogs, water, sky. Some times we do long 3h rides, sometimes we do some hill work for shorter time. It was just a set time for the weekend that I am always looking forward to.

Then just a few days ago, I went to a ultra marathon race with 50k and 50 miles to volunteer. There is so much inspiration going on and I have my highest respect for the runners. Few are fit and lean, but the majority are not so much so. Fitness comes in all different shapes and sizes. Some are concentrated and determined, others are playful and singing and talking. Everybody has their own journey, everybody has their own battle to fight. Some are running alone, others have their husband or wife or even a group of friends to accompany along the way. Some throws up. Some couldn’t even talk in such agony. So many of the runners are so appreciative of us, they are saying thank you when they are at the aid station. You can see that they are just awesome people. Perfect dose of inspiration at the end of the year.

2.  Veganism.

I started learning about animal agriculture, animal rights and vegan life style earlier in the year. There are a few documentaries that are very informative and lead me to the decision of becoming a vegan. <Cowspiracy> talks about the environmental effects of animal agriculture, it has become the single biggest contributor to deforestation, sea pollution, species dying, air pollution, water usage, global warming. There is simply no way that the planet is going to support us the way we eat meat like now. We will be running out of resources.  <Earthlings> shows the clips and images from factory farms. It is just harsh to see how the animals are treated from the beginning of their lives. They are mistreated, tortured, confined to a small space, sitting directly next to each other. Their beaks, tails, horns, teeth are cut off soon after they are born. They are ill, sometimes going insane because of all the mistreatment.

There are people that inspires me to choose this lifestyle and assuring myself that this is possible, and this is healthy. Like Rich Roll, who is a ultra distance endurance runner and podcaster. Kristina, who is fully raw vegan promoter, artist. Steph Yu, who is 19 years old Asian girl who is going on adventures to discover and enjoy life. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who is an educator, pro veganator, advocate for compassionate living.

Once I adopt this lifestyle, it is not as what I had perceived. I thought vegan just means salad all day, but no, there are so many things to choose from, and honestly I never felt so satiated after each meal. And the best thing is I don’t feel lousy afterwards. The one thing I noticed is that I don’t have stomach pain or heartburn anymore. I used to struggle with heartburn after lunch almost everyday. Then it is all gone after I stopped eating meat. Also with the amount of fiber intake, morning bowel movement is never a problem again, 5min and I am done. I also started to learn so much things about compassionate living with the food for thought podcast, with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It helped me with my earlier transition days of how I come out, how I can explain to people my decision, how to be a joyful vegan when eating out. Beyond that, there are also so many more things like how you can help injured animals you see, how animals are treated in the film making industry. I started with the understanding of veganism to be a glamorous lifestyle, but this podcast is just so eye-opening that I know that veganism is so much more than what you eat. “Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything, do something, anything.” is one of my favorite quotes from her. You just see compassion beaming through her, and I feel like I am opening up a new level of consciousness. After all, vegan is not the end, it is a way to an end.

The decision to go vegan is probably the most important decision I will ever have made, for myself, for the animals, and for the people around me, and for the planet.

3.  Self love.

After the vacation home in July, I gained a few pounds. I was having a hard time accepting the fact. Then I started to realize that I should love and take care of my body no matter what. It is the only thing that I am in control of. I can nourish my body with good food, make it stronger with moderate exercise, and cherish it with great self compassion and self love. Whether you are comfortable within your own body shines through. I think the definition for fitness for me is not how I look, but what I can do. Of course it would be awesome if I have washboard abs. But I shouldn’t make it a default and say that if I have belly then I am not good, I am being lazy, or I am finding excuses, or I am eating too much. Fitness should come in all different shapes and sizes. At one point, I have filled my instagram with people with exceptional good physique. But then I deleted them all. I don’t need it. I already know what the society has imposed on us, and looking at the pictures would not be any inspiration but just recipe for self-loathing, and stress.

For me, I am happy with where I am now, I have a defined tricep, my leg muscles are strong, I have a tummy, but this is just the way it is. Thinking about what others think of you is stressful. Just do whatever you feel like in accordance with your value. And the truth is, nobody really cares, everyone is all too wrapped up in their bubbles to care. So if you eat so little, and exercise so much to achieve a great figure to get some compliment, think about it. I don’t think exercise and working out should be stressful, or a burden, or you feel like obliged to do because of what others think of you. It should be fun, relaxing and rejuvenating. You should enjoy the process of it. It shouldn’t be to own someone else’s compliment, It is to own you own applause, your own compassion and your own appreciation.

So before I was checking on my Nike+ all the time whether I am still ranking the first, and if I find someone before me I would go and run some extra miles. This is just not right. When I look at pictures from when I was thinner, I am thinking, oh this looks so under-nourished, like it is not even me. I am curvy, and that’s just me. After years of struggle I am back at an optimal weight, I figured this weight is just for me. No more, no less. Right on point.

Make peace with yourself. Praise yourself. Give yourself some love. Take it easy.

4. Relationship.

I am grateful with what JB did for me as I adopt the vegan lifestyle. I stopped cooking meat for him, he doesn’t have complaint. He is cheerful and joyful all the time. He is such a gem. He has taken good care of me. And I noticed his changes, he wants to go out hiking or cycling during weekends, which I had wished for. He is still playing a lot of computer games. But I decided to not intervene or try to stop him. He has his own decisions. Everyone has their own journey. Even us, even we are together, we are just companions, we can’t share the experience. So it is of his own decision what he wants to do. It might look wrong from my standpoint, but it is their own journey, and I can’t decide what is right and what is wrong for others’ way.

5. Miminalism.

I find myself not wanting to buy things. Especially clothes. I have enough clothes, they should last for so many years to come. If I buy more, there will just be more sitting in the closet, with the current selection I have, I can’t have even wore all of them.

I like to DIY, especially my food. If I can make it, I wouldn’t buy it. Actually the first time I eat almond butter, it is my homemade one. After I tried the Costco pecan cranberry sourdough bread, I am so hooked! And I started my own sourdough culture, and now the sourdough culture is almost 1 year old! I bake with them every week now. I also make my own sauerkraut, mung bean sprouts, pistachio butter, granola.

I think it is the best to use few ingredients to make simple yet delicious food. Curry is such an example. Potato, carrot, onions, tomato, lentil and we are there. Fried noodles, fried rice.

And with our decision to spend Christmas in town, it will be an awesome minimalist holiday for us too!

 

 

Sending all the love and joy! Peace.