Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Feeling Broody.........

Spending more time with the family has been a real treat. My nephews are adorable and I'm feeling broody with children everywhere. :) . Max is nearly 3 years old and he's quite a little character. He talks like a 5 year old kid and seems to understand a lot more than you think. He loves airplanes and talks about it endlessly; his favourite boeing 747. All I can remember is the Beluga Airbus. If you start asking me what type of car I drive, I'll just tell you it's a four wheel drive. Ha!!!
Well, on Chinese New Year day, I woke up with a sore eye. It was pretty bad! I felt and looked like Mike Tyson after a big fight. Peter was snoring heavily away and took me awhile to wake him up. That included shaking him vigorously, opening up one eyelid physically with a forcep, poking him in his ribs, tummy and back, tugging at his hair etc. When he finally looked over, he just reassured me would resolved on it's own. It didn't. My sore eyed turned out to be conjunctivitis. Sigh...............Spend a couple of hours at Ripas H. to see the doc. and got me some antibiotics. But lucky me, the swelling reduced by the next day.
Anyhow, am clearing and packing things away at the studio. Feeling nostalgic but looking forward to teaching at D'Music Motion. It'll be a fresh start.
It's been really nice taking it easy for the past weeks. Feeling completely relax and calm. Caught up with Grey's Anatomy and watched a couple of movies. Patrick Dempsey still looks fact...I prefer him to George Clooney. And YES, watched Underworld....really good. No Kate Bekinsale but still good no do watch it if you can.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!! Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Yoga in Light

The powercut lasted for a few days and it was amazing to see how dependent we were on electricity! Nearly most businesses were closed for days and some houses didn't have water supply. Supermarkets and schools were closed too.

We were supposed to have a dinner party after yoga on the 22nd Jan and I was hoping the lights would come back 'on' again. But by 5pm, I knew I had to rush out to the shops to get myself some tealights. Well, I didn't, but Elaine did. We probably lighted up 80 tealight candles. I also decided to get some batteries for the radio to get some background music going. So, at 6pm, it was already getting dim but the students were all set and ready to do yoga despite of the circumstances. It was amazing. I think the candles set an ambience of peace and tranquility that got the students in a great yoga flow from one pose to the next. Such great focus!!!

I felt a little sad that it was the last class I conducted for Seraphina in 'the' studio. But everyone has been such an amazing support and I am truly, deeply grateful.

We had such healthy snacks for the party after. Chicken quiches, water melon, vegetable spring rolls, pitta bread with humous and lots of fruit juices.

And thanks for tremendous and wonderful support I got from everyone. I think when everything else is filled with ups and downs, the only way you get through it is to count the blessings in life and to keep going forward. And yes, I will 'keep on' looking for another studio and meanwhile, I will continue teaching. Big hugs and looking forward to seeing you in February 16th.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Year, A New Start

I jumped the guns and took the opportunity to open a yoga studio. It has been challenging eversince the start, but I think the challenges were there to tell me to not ever give up no matter what. I believe things happen for a reason even if it seems unclear what the reason may be at first. I know all the undertakings in the past year has only made me stronger as a person. I may have bawled my eyes out, screamed frantically at the top of my lungs into the pillow and Pete saw the worse in me in the last two months. But now, I think it's not that bad. I'm still alive.
Day by day, I have learned to exhale all the anger and frustrations out. I have learned that everything changes and as long as I have passion for what I believe in, I will survive anything.
So, here it is. Seraphina will be closed on the 26th January 2008. I will be working freelance at D'Music Motion Fitness Studio, Unit 1C, 1st Floor, Lot 47320, Simpang 41-1-12, Jalan Kiarong, same block as Lim Seck Chong sundry shop. D' Music Motion tel no:2450341. We will start mid February.

I'm going to pack up all the floorings, fans, air conditioners, mirrors away in the garage. Save up some cash and hopefully, in the near future, reopen my studio again.

There's a special class this coming Thursday,22nd January at 6pm to 7pm. All beginners, intermediate and advanced levels are welcomed. We are having a dinner party after. Please bring a dish each if you plan to join us.

Peter said to me,"You're losing materials and four walls. You still have your freedom to teach yoga anywhere in the world and no one can take that."

Smile, Stand, Love,

Release, Chill, Let Go, Be Free,

Courage, Understand,

Words of Encouragement, Positive Affirmation,

Dreams, Truth, Journey,

May our minds meet again..........

Ashtanga within your Heart

I get a lot of students asking me what Ashtanga Yoga's all about. It's very much different from a Hatha Vinyasa flow. The poses folds in deeper and most of them are pretty challenging. I remembered practicing it in full with Sean Corne and I at tears by the end of it.

Ashtanga yoga was created by yoga master, Patthabi Jois. It consists of a set series of poses done in a vinyasa(old indian language meaning 'flow') style. The Ashtanga style stresses on Ujjayi Breaths, Mula Bandha, Uddhiyana Bandha and Dristis. Bandhas are locks created by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles (Mula) and drawing the tummy into the spine(Uddhiyana). Dristis are where your eyes gazes at, in other words, your focus of attention when you're performing the poses.

Here's a good explanation on ashtanga:-

And click here as explaine by David Swensen

About the Ashtanga Series of Poses

The first or primary series, called Yoga Chikitsa, is described in Yoga Mala. Yoga Chikitsa, which means yoga therapy, realigns the spine, detoxifies the body, and builds strength, flexibility and stamina. The series of about 75 poses takes an hour and a half to two hours to complete, beginning with sun salutations (surya namaskara A and surya namaskara B) and moving on to standing poses, seated poses, inversions and backbends before relaxation.

The intermediate or second series is called Nadi Shodana, meaning nervous system purification. It cleanses and strengthens the nervous system and the subtle energy channels throughout the body. This series is only introduced when the primary series is strong. It follows the same progression (sun salutations, standing, sitting etc.) as the primary series, but introduces new poses and variations.

The four advanced series are called Sthira Bhaga, which means divine stability. Pattabhi Jois originally outlined two intensive advanced series, but later subdivided them into four series to make them accessible to more people. These series emphasize difficult arm balances and are only appropriate for extremely advanced students.

I do feel that I create the flow in what I think feels right and good for the students. There are reasons behind following the set series of poses in Ashtanga but knowing me, I'm not one to follow rules. I believe like in life, there are different paths to follow, and it's up to us to decide what feels right. My philosophy is, 'just go along with the flow'.........................

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My favourite arm balances

Arm balances are challenging. The trick is to keep practicing and in time, the balancing poses becomes second nature to you. For most arm balancing poses, draw the belly in towards the spine, squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and lift, shift your body weight forward.

Back to the starting point

I signed the papers and placed the deposit only to have the landlord tell me the place isn't for rent since he's keen to use it for his own business. So, here I am back to the start, trying to find some place to move out to. I have decided to continue where I am right now. So, Seraphina will be closed on the 26th January till the 30th January. Reopen on the 31st January.

A little disheartened by the whole situation. It feels like I'm being tested to the limit and I feel like digging a hole, place my head in it and just stay there a while.

My mum has been very supportive. She has encouraged and helped me since I had the letter of notification

So, I am blessed to have a super mum like her.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What's the plan?

I can't believe how time has flown past so quickly. Two more weeks to go till the 26th January. Here's my plan, make a move to the next studio while renovation is in progress. Closed officially on the 26th January 2009 till 15th February 2009. Reopen by the 16th February.

Till then, all our classes will remain as normal till the 26th Jan. Any leftovers lessons will be carried forward. Make a note, we will have a gathering on the 22nd January, next Thursday at 7pm. There will be a combine class Hatha 1 and Hatha 2 on same day (22/1/09) at 6pm. It'll be a nice little farewell party to the studio here in Kiulap before we make a move to the next one. All are welcome to join, just give me a text or call to let me know you are joining us for the evening. Ps Please bring a small dish or a few drinks (non alcoholic)

Even though I have had 'this' place for less than one year, I have no regrets over it. I have met so many wonderful students from different backgrounds and am so glad to be given this great opportunity to teach. Even though the circumstances have been challenging since I started the studio, I think my blessings are tenfold. And for all this, I am truly thankful. Everything changes in life, and it's a matter of being brave and saying," I accept the challenge and I will always come out of the experience a lot more wiser.

Good luck to Raquel too. She has decided to make a move on elsewhere and will not be joining us in the next studio. She too has made some changes in her plans for the future and I wish her the best in everything. The classes will resume to my previous timetable. Please recheck the timetable in the website. Every Tuesday and Thursday classes for the Ashtanga Yoga will start at 7pm instead.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Year of the Ox 2009

Okay, my curiosity got the best of me and I wanted to know what the fortune tellers got for the year of the Ox. Wah lieu! Not nice things. But you know what, seeing how last year has fared, I think I pulled through nicely even if the year didn't come out as I expected. But I came across one site and it cheered me up cause you can't get any better than her explanation for this year's forecast. Click here

The Seasons Of Life

There are seasons in your life in the same way as there are seasons in nature. There are times to cultivate and create, when you nurture your world and give birth to new ideas and ventures. There are times of flourishing and abundance, when life feels in full bloom, energized and expanding. And here are times of fruition, when things come to an end. They have reached their climax and must be harvested before they begin to fade. And finally, of course, there are times that are cold and cutting and empty, times when the spring of new beginnings seems like a distant dream. Those rhythms in life are natural events. They weave into one another as day follows night, bringing, not messages of hope and fear, but messages of how things are. If you realize that each phase of your life is a natural occurrence, then you need not be swayed, pushed up and down by the changes in circumstances and mood that life brings. You find that you have an opportunity to be fully in the world at all times and to show yourself as a brave and proud individual in any situation.

Keeping a healthy heart

After two years service at GJ in Brunei, I have probably looked after most of my dad's friends in ICU. Lucky for most of them, they only had angioplasties to save their hearts. My dad had chest pain less than two years ago, and had a small blockage to his artery. His angioplasty scared him and he changed his eating habits after hospital discharge. But his 'new' lifestyle didn't keep for long. When he feels stressed, he would eat 'junk' food. And at my dad's age, old habits die hard. Maybe more so for men.

When my dad gets stressed, he would reach out for crisps, sweet cakes, biscuits or fried food. He wouldn't think twice about the consequences after consuming the 'empty calorific' foods. He finds my nagging a bore and tiresome. But when he gets a little heartburn, he would look guilty and sorry for not listening.

I am blatantly honest with my dad now. Whenever he starts digging his fork into complex carbohydrate food, I would grunt 'DAD!' and his hand would freeze, retrieving his naked fork back onto his plate.

But I can understand how my dad eating habits. I'm just the same. When I am emotionally happy, sad or angry, I turn to food. It was a habit to eat for comfort. I'm not sure if the upbringing had anything to do with it or because I'm so used to eating food in front of the television regardless of being hungry. I used to be healthy in my diet....... till I returned back to Brunei a few years ago. On my return, I was INDULGING in almost every food in sight. I couldn't resist the 'tau pau' 'nasi lemak' 'murtabak' 'kolomee' etc Back in UK, I wasn't interested in most of the meals served and kept my meals simple to salads and lean meat. HERE, I am just eating crisps, and whatever I can find in the fridge. SCARY!!!! And it's harder to burn them off after eating. Especially when we don't walk as much here as we elsewhere in other parts of the world.

Sooooo, lately, I make it a point of thinking 'twice' before eating any food. DO I REALLY NEED IT ? IS IT WORTH IT ?

Did it work? Well, I feel much better and less 'greasy' after eating light sandwiches for lunch. Less constipated and lighter too when I ate more fruits in a week. Cutting down on all the ice bubble teas and 'teh si' I used to drink in Grips or Wy Wy. I have gone back to my ice lemon added with a little sugar.

I am quite conscious now of the stir fried food in restaurants. Even if it's tofu. All I have to think is the one table spoon of cheap economy cooking oil they used in the kitchen and that puts me off ordering 'Char Kway Teow'.

So, when dad gets back from UK, I am going to be his house nurse and start him on his new year diet.

PS Here's some stuff on bad cooking oil and good cooking oil written by Gloria Tsang.

Cooking Oil:
How to choose a good one

Written by Gloria Tsang, RD
Published In June 2005; Updated in May 2007

best cooking oilAll manufacturers claim their own cooking oil is the best! Canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, butter, margarine and even virgin coconut oil each has its supporters. Before we conclude the best cooking oil(s), let's look at the essential - Fats 101. We classified the following fats as "good fats" and "bad fats" based on their heart-smart values: their ability to raise or lower total and LDL cholesterol.

The Bad Fats
Saturated Fats Saturated fats raise total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol).
Trans Fats Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).

The Good Fats
Monounsaturated Fats Monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and increase the HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
Polyunsaturated Fats Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Omega 3 fatty acids belong to this group.

Therefore, based on the above classification, the "ideal" cooking oil should contain higher amount of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and with minimal or no saturated fats and trans fats.

best cooking oilThe Verdict? As long as you're using fats and oils sparingly in your cooking and preparation, it would be fine to use any one of the following "good" oils. All of the following oils are low in saturated fats and trans fats. Some have high concentration of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. Choose corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soy oil or canola oil if you wish to fry foods as these oils have higher smoke point. It is best not to fry with olive oil as its smoke point is only about 190C/375F.

  • Good Cooking Oils:
    • canola oil
    • flax seed oil
    • peanut oil
    • olive oil
    • non-hydrogenated soft margarine
    • safflower oil
    • sunflower oil
    • corn oil

The following "bad" oils contain high percentage of trans fat or saturated fats. Some, such as coconut oil, even contain more saturated fats than animal products!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fruits and Diabetes

The rise of diabetes in Brunei is pretty scary. I remembered most of the cardiac patients I used to look after in GJPMC had history of diabetes 2. And even then, most of them were unaware of the foods they were supposed to eat. I was even more surprised the food offered to the patients post surgically after cardiac bypass. Back in UK, we had patients eating lovely sauteed chicken ( reduced salt in gravy) and steam vegetables. For dessert, they had a choice of 'Del Monte' bananas or small tub of dates. But I remember the meals having 'taste' to it whereas the food served at hospitals here are bland or not nutritious at all. Lacking protein or just the portion of it.

The consultants in the Cardiac Center in London were advising patients to eat fruits. They didnt' put a limit to it. Neither did the nutritionists. What I'm wondering is, why were the cardiac patients in GJ limited to less than a cupful of fruits per meal? They would be served a large portion of 'watery rice' or 'bubur' and less than a handful of chicken or fish slices with bland veggies. Most of the food would go untouched as there weren't any salt added to the food either.

When I worked in UK, patients were given food with 'taste' and encouraged to eat fruits. There wasn't a limit to it. And if the patients refused to eat, the doctors would give the go ahead for the patient's family to bring their own home cooked food for the patient. Reason is, the surgical wound depends on the patient's nutritional intake. None or little food means slow recovery.

I understand fruits have sugars, but surely I would rather the patients eat 'fructose' and be fed while in hospital rather than losing complete appetite and recover slowly or at worse catch a hospital infection due to prolong stay in hospital.

The doctors here may arguably say they need to control patient's blood sugar level while in hospital, but shouldn't they determined what was a 'normal' blood sugar for the patient prior to admission? And it's impossible to change a person's diet within one day. I think patient education would be the best thing.

Ps:- If any of you are diabetics, it's always good to eat everything in moderation and think wisely what will 'feed' your body with 'nutrition' rather than feeding the hunger pangs. Try taking meals in smaller amounts but frequent throughout the day.

I tried to google whether fruits are good for diabetics, and the best result or explanation I came across was as below.

Diabetics often ask whether it is safe for them to eat large quantities of fruit. Many people suffering from diabetes avoid eating fruit because they are worried about the high sugar content found in most fruits. Fortunately, there are many fruits a diabetic can enjoy which do not significantly affect blood glucose levels.

Good Fruits For Diabetics

Fiber rich foods are general safe for diabetics to eat because they tend to have a lower glycemic index (GI) and therefore do not spike blood sugar levels to the same extent as high GI foods. This is because fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Fiber rich fruits tend to be fruits with edible skins and seeds as it is these parts of the fruit that are highest in fiber. Fruits high in fiber include (fiber content in brackets): apples (2.3%), pears (2.1%), apricots (2.1%), blueberries (8.4%), kiwifruit (2.1%), and pomegranates (3.4%).

Fruits high in fructose, and those with high fructose to glucose ratios are also beneficial to diabetics because fructose does not require insulin to metabolize and therefore can be enjoyed by insulin resistant diabetics. High fructose fruits include apples, pears, guavas and mangoes, - all of which have fructose to glucose ratios greater than 2.

Along with high fiber and fructose levels, apples have added benefits for people with diabetes. Raw apples contain high amounts of pectin which has been shown to improve glycemic control in diabetics, reducing insulin requirements by up to 50% in some cases.

Grapefruit is another fruit which may be beneficial for diabetics. Grapefruit can promote weight loss which in turn helps reduce insulin resistance. According to the Scripps institute, grapefruit may also help control insulin levels when consumed during meal times.

Bad Fruits For Diabetics

Fruits with high amounts of glucose should be eaten only in small amounts as they can spike blood glucose levels however most can still be enjoyed as part of a healthy diabetic meal plan. High sugar fruits include bananas, dates, grapes, watermelon, and oranges.

Likewise, fruit juices tend to be stripped of the pulpy fibrous parts of the fruit and therefore tend to be very low in fiber and very high in sugar. Many fruit juices manufacturers also add sugar to their fruit juices to the extent that some fruit juices have higher sugar levels than carbonated sodas.

Dried fruits also tend to spike blood sugar levels to a larger extent than fresh fruit due to their high sugar content. Canned fruits in syrup also tend to be high in sugar and therefore should be eaten in moderation or drained of the syrup before consuming.

The close association between sugar intake and diabetes has led to a few misconceptions about diabetics and their diet restrictions. Most diabetics can eat the same foods as those without the disease, but the question becomes how much and how often. Diabetics can indeed eat fruit, and in fact are strongly encouraged to choose fruit over more processed foods high in sugars and other carbohydrates. Fruit contains natural fiber, vitamins, enzymes and other essential nutrients that diabetics need to maintain a normal lifestyle.

The assumption that fruit would be dangerous for diabetics stems from the relationship between sugars and insulin levels. Insulin is designed to break down sugars and carbohydrates, but certain foods contain higher levels of these chemicals and demand more insulin production to break down. Many diabetics cannot produce enough natural insulin to handle a high amount of carbohydrates or sugars at one time. Diabetic menus take into account the relative amount of sugars and carbohydrates present in foods, also known as a glycemic index.

The majority of common fruits have a low to medium glycemic index, which means most diabetics can safely metabolize the fruit sugars through natural insulin production. A few fruits, such as dried dates, may be relatively high on the glycemic index, but they can still be eaten in moderation. The key to eating fruit on a diabetic diet is to space out the portions over the course of a day. Eating too many sweet fruits at once could be problematic for insulin-dependent diabetics, but in general most fruits should not create a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels.

Fruits such as apples and oranges provide fiber as well as fructose or fruit sugar. It can be a challenge for diabetics to get enough fiber in their diets because many foods high in natural fiber may also be high in starch, sugar or other high glycemic ingredients. Fruit can also satisfy diabetics' cravings for processed sweets such as doughnuts and cakes. A cupful of grapes or a medium size apple between meals can help diabetics maintain their blood sugar levels without creating sudden spikes that can overwhelm an already overworked insulin-producing pancreas.

PPS:- Here's two useful websites, diabetic fruits pyramid to follow through and the latest diabetic food update from Mayo Clinic regarding diabetic diets

Happy Birthday Yeoh !

Happy Birthday Yeoh!

Wish I could be there to celebrate with you but hope you have a brilliant day! How old are you again? 50? Joke!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

"I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out for the best." Jim Henson

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
- Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Woo hoo! 2009 is here. And am looking forward to Chinese New Year! It has been such a challenging year 2008 and even though it has been a roller coaster ride, I have learnt there's always more opportunities awaiting round the corner. It's just a matter of looking out in light of it.

My new year's wishes, hoping everyone will find their own truth and happiness, hoping for a better world.

See you all soon alligators!!!!