5 Things I Learned through 30 Days of Yoga

30 Days of Yoga sounded pretty manageable at first, especially for someone like me who was already practicing 4-5 times a week. I figured I’d have few days of sore muscles and a few days where I struggled to find the motivation to go but I was up for the challenge!

Little did I know what I had gotten myself into…

The month of yoga taught me more that I could have ever expected. The goal was 30 days straight of yoga but as long as I completed 30 classes in 30 days it would be considered complete.

So what did I learn in the 30 days?

1. Listen to your body – it knows you best

Some days everything hurts. Other days you have enough energy that you feel like you could conquer the world! Each day calls for a different practice. Personally, I prefer vinyasa flow classes and power classes as I find it easier to reach my state of calmness through the intense physical activity. However, I grew to appreciate the benefits of yin yoga and meditation. There were days during the challenge that I knew my body wouldn’t be able to handle a physical class so I instead attended a yin or mediation class. It was there that I was able come to appreciate the different styles of practice and that each yoga style deserves to be a part of your regular practice routine.

2. Yoga is just as mentally challenging as it is physically

Whether it was the mental challenge of convincing myself to go to yoga or to remain present during class, I was challenged mentally throughout the 30 days and I wasn’t expecting it! I was prepared for the physical challenges but the mental aspect was surprising. It forced me to evaluate my thoughts and to recognize where and how I was struggling each day. Thankfully, I had the support of my roommate to give me the extra push to go when I needed it (and I did the same for her!).

3. Be kind to yourself

Some days your balance is perfect, other days you can barely stand up straight with both feet on the ground. This is a great lesson to learn because it applies both on and off your yoga mat. When things go well, celebrate. When things challenge you, work to improve instead of letting it hold you back. Some days of the challenge I had to recognize my limitations and remind myself that being there and trying was more important than holding the pose.

4. If it feels like work, chances are you won’t want to do it

Adding pressure to something you enjoy can take the enjoyment out of it. Some days I found myself dreading the need to go to yoga after work. The pressure of knowing I had to go impacted my outlook on yoga. I realized I enjoyed yoga much more when it was a choice to go rather than a requirement. I knew I would need to continue to find the desire to practice every day or risk losing interest all together. Thankfully, I now have a better understanding of my yoga practice and why I practice so I use that as my inspiration to continue to practice.

5. Remember why you started

For me, yoga is my ‘me time’. I can escape reality while I’m on my mat. I may not yet be able to completely turn off my mind (and I think I may always make ‘to-do’ lists in my head during savasana!)  but the moments where I lose myself in the flow are what I treasure the most from my practice. Recognizing the positive impact yoga has on me has deepened my interest in yoga and will continue to be my inspiration for continuing my practice.

Some of the 30 Day Challengers at our celebration class!

I hope this post won’t scare you away from a 30 day yoga challenge but rather inspire you to take the opportunity to learn more about yourself through a daily practice! Although I don’t plan on completing another challenge any time soon, I know that I will use what I’ve learnt through this challenge to continue to improve not only my practice but also my daily life.

Namaste

 

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An Afternoon in Montréal

I’m a pretty spontaneous traveler (at least when my bank account allows it!) so this trip was only just an idea 3 days before it happened!

Looking ahead at the weekend I realized I didn’t have any plans and the weather was looking iffy so I thought, “why not use my ViaRail Youth 150 pass and head to Montreal for a day?”

Within the span of an hour it went from an idea to being booked so there was no turning back!

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After super smooth and quick trip (despite a slow down as we entered MTL due to extra rail traffic), I arrived at 2pm and set off to explore.

Right after leaving gare centrale (the main train station in downtown MTL), I stumbled upon a parade! Turns out it was Carifiesta, a celebration of Caribbean heritage in MTL.

 

I stopped to watch some of the parade – the costumes and dancing were so cool to see! But we were suddenly hit with a downpour! It didn’t seem to damper the spirits of everyone celebrating though as I could still hear the party continue as I took cover inside a store.

I shopped until the rain let up (no complaints here!) and then started my walk towards Mont Royal.

On my way, I passed through the University of McGill campus admiring the old buildings and architecture.

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Despite the earlier rain, the humidity lingered and I quickly realized how hilly MTL is!

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I also completely underestimated the climb to the top of Mont Royal so I was a very (un)attractive sweaty mess at the top. Next time I’ll know better than to sprint my way up the stairs!

BUT THE VIEW! It was SO worth it!

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Panorama view from Mont Royal
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Best part of solo travel? Asking others to exchange photos!

The climb back down Mont Royal was much easier! I was able to refill my water bottle (much needed) at the bottom of the hill and then set off to explore some more.

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I wandered the streets with no destination in mind. I saw all of the flags currently lining rue Sherbrooke as part of the Open Air Museum to celebreate Quebec’s 375th birthday, walked past the MTL Museum of Fine Arts and enjoyed various street art installations.

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I was looking for a place to grab a tea when I stumbled upon Leaves Cafe. They’re a vegan cafe and have the friendliest staff! My iced match latte and chocolate chip cookie were delicious and I had a wonderful conversation with the barista about my upcoming trip out west. She shared all of her favourite spots and insiders tips with me (she used to live in Vancouver – what are the chances?!).

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After my refuel, I found myself at the Basilique Marie-Reine-du-Monde. What a beautiful church! I was lucky to catch the end of a mass and be able to hear the organ play.

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I now had about an hour until my train back to Ottawa so I walked a few more blocks to the Olympic building and took some photos with the Olympic rings!

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Did  you know that Canada has hosted the Olympics 3 times? 1976, 1988 & 2010

I made it back to gare centrale in time to catch my train – which left on time but was delayed only 5 minutes into the trip to allow another train to pass. This is something I’ll have to get used to for the trip out west as it’s a frequent occurrence!

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Writing away on the journey home

The afternoon in MTL was a wonderful way to spend the day but I definitely recommend spending more time in this beautiful city!

À la prochaine Montréal!

A Cross Canada Train Journey – Coming Soon!

The countdown is on! In less than a week my sister Maddie and I will be setting off to Vancouver by train!

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Maddie & I at Winterlude, Ottawa, 2017

This will be the first trip we take as just the two of us and I know we’ll come back with a million memories, a billion photos and an even closer relationship.

I’ll be doing my best to post updates on Instagram throughout the trip but you’ll have to wait until I’m back with a computer for my blog updates!

Here’s our current itinerary:

Thursday July 13th – Train from Toronto to Vancouver

Monday July 17th – Arrive in Vancouver by train, ferry to Victoria

Tuesday July 18th – Ferry back to Vancouver

Friday July 21st – Train to Jasper

Saturday July 22nd – Arrive in Jasper

Monday July 24th – Train from Jasper to Toronto

 

Have a favourite place in any of the cities we’ll be visiting? Send me a message or comment below!

My favourite place in the world

I figured it would only be fitting to make my first blog post about Bermuda! I lived in Bermuda from 1996 to 2005 and it’s had a huge impact on who I am today. Bermuda holds a piece of my heart and always will!

Growing up on the beach and being exposed to different cultures explains my love of the ocean and summer weather as well as my interest in travel.

My last visit to Bermuda was in 2009 – so I’m way overdue for a trip back!

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Flying into Bermuda is always breathtaking! From the air, you can see that Bermuda is actually multiple (138!) islands and not just one singular island. I guess now would be a good time to also mention, although this is blogged as a Caribbean destination, Bermuda is actually in the mid-North Atlantic Ocean!

Arriving at the airport is an experience within itself. Planes are boarded an disembarked from on the runway, there are no tunnels connecting the airport to the plane doors as is common throughout North American and European airports.

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It’s also your first taste of Bermudian architecture and the abundance of beautifully coloured buildings!

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Outside the airport, you see your first example of the British influence on the island – a red telephone booth! There’s still a handful of these around the island, though most just remain as photo props because who still uses pay phones nowadays?

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The British influence carries over into driving – you’ll be driving on the left hand side of the road on the island! Not to worry though, unless you rent a moped you won’t actually be doing the driving as rental cars are currently not available on the island. It’s still an experience though to be a passenger in a taxi or on a bus as you drive down the left hand side of the road!

Bermudians are known as being extremely friendly to each other and tourists! It’s considered rude across the island to not say hello to people when you enter the room, get onto a bus or before you even start your work day.

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The most well known guy on the island was Johnny Barnes. He spent every morning at a roundabout near downtown waving and greeting everyone as they made their way into work. He would spend about 6 hours each morning exclaiming, “Good morning! I love you!” to each passing motorist. Unfortunately, Johnny Barnes passed away in 2016.

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Frangipani

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Bird of Paradise

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Oleander

Bermuda has a variety of flowers across the island. Three of my favourites, the frangipani, bird of paradise and oleander are shown above. So many of the flowers on the island come in a variety of colours and you’ll soon have your favourite ones to spot as well!

One of Bermuda’s classic pieces of architecture is the Bermuda moongate, pictured below. The moongates are made of local limestone and are said to bring good luck. Legend has it that if a newly wed couple walks through a moongate holding hands they will be blessed with good luck and happiness. But why leave it all to the couples? It’s something for every visitor to the island to do!

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Moongate at Fairmont Hamilton Princess

On our last visit to the island, we stayed at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess which is centrally located in the downtown area of the island. There’s a free ferry for guests that connects it to the other Fairmont hotel on the island and allows easy access to their private beach and puts you within a very short walk to one of the most popular public beaches – Horseshoe Bay.

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View from the rocks at Horsehoe Bay Beach

Horseshoe Bay was my favourite beach growing up! We spent nearly every weekend at this beach as soon as it was warm enough in the spring! And we’d even visit throughout the winter – just without the swimming (unless it was Christmas Day or New Year’s!).

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Little (tanned!) Jenn on top of the rocks at Horseshoe Bay

Locals and tourists alike will climb the rocks at Horseshoe Bay for the incredible view of the beach. After each hurricane, this climb becomes a little more treacherous so be careful as you may your way up and down the rocks.

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Sergeant Major fish

If you’re spending any time in the water at the beaches, you’ll likely experience some of Bermuda’s aquatic water life! Take the chance to go snorkling, scuba diving or helmet diving while on the island – you won’t regret it!

Well there you have it – a little taste of my island home! I can’t wait for my next trip back as writing this blog post has brought back so many great memories 🙂

Until next time,

J