Category Archives: reflections

The Bali Curse

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After 4 days of hiatus from Bikram yoga – ie just eat and play in Bali – I returned to the hot room today and felt like a wreck the moment I completed the eagle pose.

I felt nauseous, gassy and generally clumsy. I believe it is because I ate too much carbs when I was in Bali, and also the fact that I drank less water than usual with all that activities under the hot sun. I could feel the difference immediately. I was dehydrated.

My reflections – a mere 4 days of losing focus on what one should nourish the body with can damage all the hard work put in!

Moving forward, will hydrate like mad, increase my greens, cut the processed foods and bikram daily until I get the groove going again!

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Bikram 30 Day Challenge

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After a hiatus from Bikram as I went on my “Eat, Pray, Love” trip to Nepal and India in December for a whole month, I rebooted my regime by committing to the 30 Day Challenge at BYCH (Bikram Yoga City Hall).  I have just completed my 16th consecutive day and I feel really good. BYCH is a very nice studio with very friendly instructors and staff – feels like a second home the moment I step in daily.

What I like about the practice is that every session feels different even though the poses are the same. One day I could feel extremely powerful, yet another day I can feel like I have the weakest limbs ever. I have learnt not to expect anything, but just accept the way it is and just be. Very similar to my Buddhist meditation training where my teacher would always instruct me to “watch the mind, rest the mind, observe without any fabrications and simply be present and watch”. Of course, it is not easy. Concentration in ‘watching the mind’ is a challenge but when practiced often, the mind can rest more easily. From a few seconds, to probably a few minutes. And it is this ‘restful’ state which brings much bliss to the meditator.

Applying the same concept to my Bikram practice, I simply concentrate on the teacher’s instructions, and move into the poses with 101% effort and concentration. 101% is an aspiration, but most of the time I swing between 70 – 99% depending on the internal dialogue like “oh it is too hot today/ the instructor is annoying me today/ the person beside me is breathing so hard/ my legs need a rest/ i think the sweat is infecting my acne…..” and it goes on and on. There comes the benefits from mind training – the moment I lose concentration, I am able to bring the mind back to the present, and just flow into the pose with mindfulness.

I like Bikram yoga because it is an active form of physical meditation in complementing my journey in mind training. It is very hard to describe or put it to words because it is experiential. No matter how much I tell you how tasty the food tastes, you will never understand unless you taste it for yourself. The joy comes from that very few seconds of clarity when you are in the pose itself – and this joy simply follows you throughout the day.

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The Torture Chamber

Today was my 6th consecutive Bikram yoga session. And it doesn’t get easier at all. 90mins in a 40 deg C hot room with 40% humidity is a totally awful experience.

But I don’t know why I keep going back. During the classes, I felt like I hated everything. I hated the poses, I hated the fact that I had only 2mins rest (savasana or the ‘dead corpse’ pose) in between the challenging poses, I hated the breathlessness, I hated the heart thumping I swear I thought was going to go into a cardiac arrest, I hated the thirst…

But when the class ends, the hatred dissipates into a kind of bliss that I cannot describe. It follows me throughout the day.

And then I go back to the torture chamber again the very next day, trying to improve on the poses paying attention to the instructor’s dialogue, while I struggle with my own internal monologues.

“Lock your knees, lock your knees, lock your knees!”
– Yah if I could lock my knees you’d out of your job.

“Open your shoulders like a flower blooming.”
– I must be Rafflesia…wait how does a flower bloom in 40deg?

“It’s going to hurt but don’t be afraid…bend, bend, more and more till it is a 360 deg wheel”
– If I can do that I would have been in cirque du soleil and not here.

Anyway, I am still alive and will still be going back tomorrow. Bikram yoga is a love-hate relationship. It is addictive.

Try it and you will understand what I mean.

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Completed 30 Day Vegan Challenge

I am glad to announce that I have thrived well after becoming a vegan for the past 30 days!

I have no cravings for meat but I must say I do miss eggs sometimes. The other day while having breakfast with a friend I saw him eating his runny egg yolk I did waver a lil’ thinking how yummy it would be to have an egg yolk in my mouth.

That said, after one month of this vegan trial, I feel happy and energetic. I would like to stay on being a vegan as long as possible, but probably will not refuse dairy/egg products like ice-cream or cakes once in a while. Will not be that strict but definitely will stick to being a vegetarian for life. If we want to be strict about labels, I will probably be 80% vegan and 20% vegetarian. Haha.

Anyway, to all aspiring vegetarians/vegans, what are you waiting for? Just start today and stick to it! It’s not as difficult or scary as it sounds. What’s so scary about plants anyway? They have no eyes, no ears, no mouth…they don’t run, crawl or fly…in fact now I FEAR eating animals!

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Q&A on why I decided to go meatless

3 weeks have past ever since I embarked on being a vegan. While to most people it sounded quite drastic, for me it was a smooth transition so far. Over the past weeks friends and family have been very supportive, and I was asked many questions about this conversion. So I am listing their questions and my responses – if you are interested. 🙂

Q: This is so sudden. What happened?

A: It has been gradual actually. I was surrounded by many vegetarians (I am a Buddhist) and for the longest time I have been delaying the conversion. In fact it is NOT a requirement for Buddhists to be vegetarians – Buddha never said so – but in the practice of Bodhicitta (loving-kindness), many Buddhists resolve to go meatless because one of the vows we take is to refrain from taking another life. While eating meat doesn’t mean we are committing murder, the fact that I demand it still makes me complicit in the food chain. I aspire to minimize my predator pawprint so to speak. So I was still eating meat but I slowly cutoff meat and tried the pescetarian (seafood) diet. I became flexitarian – swinging around seafood and meat aimlessly, vegetarian on certain days etc.

Moreover, I am an animal lover. I have dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils and fish as pets. I interact with them daily and i don’t need to find scientific evidence to prove that they have consciousness. One of my dogs even undergone depression when my grandma passed away. I asked myself why I can eat pigs, cows, chickens and not feel awful about it, yet when I read about some cultures eating dog meat I became so enraged? Upon deep reflection, I realised I have been avoiding thinking about meat eating, and I have no right to judge dog or cat eaters.

So during Vesak Day, I told myself no more vacillating. Just do it.

Q: Then why vegan? Why so extreme?
A: Veganism involves abstaining from all animal products such as dairy and eggs. I have stopped drinking cow’s milk for a few years already. It started when I was doing yoga and my instructor told me that milk is very bad for adults because it produces a lot of mucous in the body. I thought it was bullshit. I love my milk! But I went home, researched on dairy, and decided that there are truths to it. I also visited a dairy farm and I could see cows crying. To most people, their eyes are naturally wet. To me it was tears. And I vividly remembered visiting a chicken battery farm when I was in Primary School. The chickens were stacked up high like HDB and they couldn’t move. I saw one of their legs trapped between the wires, and asked the guide whether he can help to pull the leg out of the wires, he told me “it’s ok, they don’t need to walk anyway”. His reply hit me hard. I went home and cried.

I said I will try veganism for a month and thus far I am still holding up well. I don’t sense any difficulty or changes to my body. But I think I might probably eat diary and egg products (such as ice-cream, pancakes etc) once a while after this 30-day challenge. But right now I am resolved to be vegetarian for life. Maybe I will eat eggs again, but in moderation.

Q: Don’t you feel weird or strange? Like weak?

A: Except that I think I cannot lift heavy weights as before, but I have been reading up on vegetarian bodybuilding so I think that can be managed. Otherwise, I don’t feel strange. In fact I would advice you to read “Eating Animals” and watch the film “Earthlings”. Both the book and film made me feel weird eating meat.

Q: How about your social life?

A: Please, vegetarians do go out, dance and have fun! And most restaurants have vegetarian options nowadays, it’s not an issue at all. I am not a monk! Lol.

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An encouragement

I woke up with a headache this morning, wondering if it’s the side effects of transitioning to a vegan diet. It is Day 5 and I don’t know if I’m psychologically or physically feeling weak from not having any meat.

Anyway, my dear colleagues encouraged me by going vegetarian for lunch at work. It wasn’t difficult for Z as she loves her veg and doesn’t really like meat. And she has tried vegan before successfully for 100 days!

On the other hand, A – a true blue meatarian – joined in and veg’d out fr lunch too which was very encouraging. We had lovely wraps from Salad Stop.

Thanks Z and A for the encouragement!

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I’m lovin’ it

Almost a month into my mindful diet, I have never felt more energetic and lighter than before. My face is less oily, and I am steadily shaving off the pounds. I have given up on caffeine and switched to non-caffeinated teas like green tea, oolong and camomile. I also don’t use sugar anymore, replacing it with artificial sweeteners (using very small amount) instead.

I eat 3 balanced meals a day and I don’t feel hungry. What I do is to eat very very little carbs. I snack with fruits/low fat crackers in between meals if I feel like having something to munch. I guess I will slowly eat more carbs when I reach my goal weight. I also try to exercise daily.

Colleagues asked me how could I resist all the good food. My reply to them was that it’s all a matter of perception, or rewiring the mind. Say I used to love char kway teow, and there’s no doubt that it tastes heavenly. But if one looks at the char kway teow and reflects on the ingredients that made it so tasty, he/she will probably be a bit disgusted with the seasoning used: high volumes of cooking oil, lard, dark sauce, salt and so forth. I will definitely continue to eat char kway teow one day, but so far I don’t have any craving or appetite to consume it.

As I now eat only home-cooked meals prepared by yours truly, many of you are curious about my recipes.  I get inspiration from the internet and cooking programmes mostly,  while majority is through experimentation and one will need a lot of creativity and courage (to eat one’s creation) for that. Trust me, it’s so simple and easy to prepare, and I would say my recipes are perfect for any bachelor! Look out for my subsequent posts of my soeasyrecipes! 🙂

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