Upside Down Business

About a year ago one of my girlfriends talked to be about something called AntiGravity Fitness. What a wacky name. You know Circus de Soleil? That’s what I had in my mind when I read about the technique…. She just got certification on the technique and asked me to try it out.

I was highly skeptical. First of all, it looks hard… but that’s not the reason why I was skeptical. I am OK with hard. But I was one of those yogis that think yoga is yoga and if I am using anything else I am cheating. However, to support my friend I gave it a try.

I went to my first class, with this young (and by the way, really good looking) male instructor, and he told us before we started the class – “We are gonna go upside down!”.

OK. I am a yoga practitioner and absolutely comfortable with going upside down… but I look around at these other students in the class (which includes mid age women, men, no judgements, but people who do not look like they work out or do yoga. And I thought… “Seriously?”

Seriously.

Inversion, is in fact the first pose of the AntiGravity Fundamental sequence. You walk into the class, as a first timer, and the first thing they do to you is to flip you upside down.

So much courage needed.

So there I went… upside down, supported by the hammock… Oh My God. It was the best supported inversion ever. I felt my spine lengthen and stretched out in a way that I have never experienced before, even I practised yoga on a daily basis. After the inversion we did some movements on the hammock, some stretches, and swinging. Yes! SWINGING! It was really fun to swing like a kid again.

After class, I asked this handsome instructor to take a picture of me, and here is the picture.

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I looked at the picture, looking beautiful… upside down.. like an aerial artist. This picture immediately become my Facebook profile pic, my phone wallpaper… you name it. I look at myself and see myself doing something that I never thought I could do.

The message is so empowering.

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One year later, not only that I am still practising this technique, I am now a Certified AntiGravity Instructor on Fundamentals 1&2, Aerial Yoga and Suspension Fitness. And everyday I flip new people upside down and bring the same empowering experience to everyone.

I also have a AntiGravity hammock at home, in which my son go upside down with, my daughter swings in it and takes her daily nap in there. Even my husband would go upside down.  It has become part of our lives in my family.

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Yoga is constantly evolving. We now use props like straps, blocks, dharma wheel, wall, to help us on the practice. The hammock will not replace my regular grounded yoga practice, but the hammock has strengthened my yoga practice. And if you are only a seasoned practitioner the Anti Gravity hammock is an amazing gateway to expand your practice.

Oh.. forgot to mention… a year later I get myself into the original pose that got me hooked, the “Chandelier”. After months of practice I can finally touch my toes to my head.

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And that handsome instructor? Now we work together as a team, as healers, bringing health, joy, and levity to as many people as possible.

“:When you open up space in your body, you open up space in your mind.” = Christopher Harrison, Founder of AntiGravity Fitness.

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*** Featured image taken at my home by http://www.beatriceleephotography.com.
*** Other pictures in the post taken in Epic Yoga studio and Epic MMA Club, the only licensed AntiGravity studio in Hong Kong. Come for a trial class at http://www.epicmma.com. You can also check on my schedule on my Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/playwithcora


My First Trail Run Experience

I had a pretty crazy week last week. I had a 4 day yoga workshop. Plus teaching my own classes. The result was I was on the yoga mat or the hammock (I teach Aerial Yoga as well) for 8 hours a day in the last few days. So when I finished my last class in the afternoon yesterday I couldn’t even think about the word “Yoga” anymore. Haha.

Sunday is my day off for teaching, and it’s also my “light yoga day”.  I usually wake up for a little bit of self practice and head off to take a light yoga class with one of my favourite teachers. However this morning when I woke up I had no slight motivation of getting myself on the mat.

As the new school year starts I am doing a small project with my son called “Try something new every day.” He is a very picky eater and also very skeptical about trying new things like new sports etc. In that spirit I decided to try something new myself. I went trail running.

OK. First of all… Not only I don’t trail run, I don’t run… I don’t even do much cardio. I do 10-15 minutes skipping a few days a week and that’s about it.

It was a community event organised by Lululemon Hong Kong starting from Wan Chai Gap Road into a beautiful shaded trail inside Aberdeen Country Park.  It was a very pretty trail covered in shades with trees, even with little streams and beautiful rocks… I am kinda embarrassed as the starting point of the trail is really 20 minutes away from my home and I have never been there.

I take a jog on Bowen Road from time to time… And during summer holidays in Japan I do jog a little. But I realised a Trail run experience is very different than jogging on a flat running trail.

We were led by experienced trail runners to look after us. I chose  to join “the slow group” which was nothing slow according to my standard. We started together as a group… and eventually because everyone’s running pace is different we kinda get separated. There were times that I was running side by side with others, and there were times I was just running alone. Unlike the flat trail, there are ups and downs. There are parts that are flat, and there are parts that you have to pass through rocks or roots of the trees. It’s almost like going on an obstacle course and you have to be quite mindful on where you go and where you step your foot.

When I was running by myself I couldn’t help but think… Trail running is just like walking our life. As your life goes on there are times where there are people around you to support you… and then there are people who just pass by… and there are time when you are just alone… There are ups and downs.. There are parts that are easy and flat, and there are parts that are challenging, that you will need to be careful and mindful and try not to slip.

No wonder a lot of people say running is the greatest metaphor for life. Normally when I run on a flat path I put myself in a meditative state and just let my mind drift. But trail running is different. I actually had to focus on every step I take. I also needed to be mindful about my tempo. Sometimes I can go faster, sometimes slower. There are times that I could push my myself a little bit more and times that I needed to ease off.

I admit I struggled quite a bit, probably because of the heat and I didn’t eat enough. Also I had a “side stitch” – a diaphragm spasm half way of the run. I was in quite a bit of pain and my heart was pounding so fast. At one point I thought I saw stars and was going to faint. I was quite surprised, as I thought I would be “fitter”. I guess after all my body was still so tired from the last few days and this may not be the best idea.  But I made it. 5km. In a little bit less than 1 hour. I was pretty proud of myself.

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” -Arthur Blank

Kinda cool. I normally get inspired by yoga philosophy and practice. It’s great that I today, not only that I tried something new, burned 500 calories… and explored a “new” natural scenery in Hong Kong… I feel inspired and my mind refreshed.

Is it the run? or is this still my yogic mind running? =)

Oh.. another inspired thought. It’s time to do some “cross training” and do some other exercise than JUST yogal, I might have found a new hobby for the fall.


From the mat to the ring

Recently I have started going back to kickboxing with my trainer again. To be honest, I like kickboxing but not as much as I love yoga (of course). I am doing it because of my husband. We usually do an hour of private session with our trainer together. It’s a great thing to do something active together as husband and wife (more on that later).

As I become a yoga teacher I have dropped boxing for almost a year, as I teach in most mornings and I just have less time to do anything else on top of my teaching schedule and own yoga practice. However as the teaching part get more stabilised I am finally finding some time to “cross-train” a little bit with other sports. And it is nice to workout with my husband again.

I am never good at this… even before. But after dropping it for so many months it’s really hard to pick it up again. I have been to 3 sessions so far (once a week) and I still move like a crab.

First in the warm up I did a forward jab and than I screamed “Aw!”. I hurt my wrist. I was probably turning my wrist down instead of keeping it straight as I extended my arm.

Then in the middle of the 2 minutes sparring, I started losing balance. Finally I said “Time out”. I told him I just found my moves really awkward and I did not feel comfortable. I asked him to slow down, explained to me all over again about the stance, the alignments and the movements before we started again.

It was much better afterwards. After the class I couldn’t help but think… How important it is to approach our exercise intelligently. Where you place your foot… How you move your arms… Which direction do you extend. They are not random moves. Once you put yourself in the right alignment your moves become natural (well.. a little bit more natural), but definitely more stable and powerful.

It makes me think of my yoga practice. For years I practised with wrong alignments (I tend to hyperextend) and was probably not caring too much about placing my hands and feet properly. Most people rush from pose to pose, especially in a flow class. Or they kinda just do their poses in a “half assed” way. Tell me if you always bend your front foot to full 90 degree angle in every Warrior 2 that you do. I admit.. I don’t.

However, when I was doing my kickboxing this morning, because I am not familiar with the movements, I gave extra interest and attention on the alignments and how I moved. From that I created strength, flexibility and power.

When I get back on the mat today, I asked myself not to go autopilot, and looked at every single basic pose and approached them with fresh eyes. Every time I placed my foot or my hand, I carefully and mindfully put them down. Every time I extended my arms, I extended them fully so my biceps touched my ears. Every pose I took my time to engage in all the necessary muscles.

Needless to say, it was an amazing practice. I walked out feeling so strong, so open, like all channels in the body were unclogged.

It’s easy to go to auto pilot mode after you have been practising for years. It’s easy to have your mind drift away. Try to approach your next yoga class (or your exercise) with a beginner’s mind. You will find some new light in your practice.

And also… be curious about anatomy.. so when your yoga teacher mention about the sacrum or the pirifomis next time you know exactly where they are.

I am going to dig out my book now.


Why jump rope?

For those of you who have been following my posts, I have mentioned I joined at fitness program called Kenzai Body a year ago and had changed my view completely on both exercise and diet. It’s a program that is based on very basic exercise that you can do with minimum equipment and eating whole foods. I will continue to share some of the wisdom I got from the program but today I am just going to share one of the exercise I picked up from Kenzai Body – Jump rope.

In Kenzai Body, for 90 days you have to do cardio everyday, and the choice of cardio is…. yes.. skipping. I remember a lot of trainees (including myself) dreading ourselves into the skipping and swore that we could not skip and tried to find every single excuse possible to avoid skipping. Eventually unless you have a really good reason like you are missing an arm or something everyone eventually picked it up after a few days.

So why jump rope?

There are many reasons to that, but these are mine.

  1. It’s efficient
    • It burns 3 times as more calories as jogging. 10 minutes jumprope = 30 minutes jogging. For busy people this is the quickest fix cardio option ever.It’s an exercise you can do anywhere with minimal equipment. And you strengthen both your upper body, lower body as well as the arms.
  2. It’s cheap, portable and convenient
    • All you need is a jumprope that cost you $15-20 (for a really good one too!) and you can skip anywhere, rain or shine. You do not need a gym, a treadmill, a pool or anything. All you need is your jumprope and very little space, even in hotel rooms. It gives you no excuse for skipping your exercise.
  3. It’s fun
    • Once you get a hang of it, it’s quite fun. It trains your coordination skills. As a beginner skipper you can challenge yourself not to trip (although you may have a few days of frustration to start). I remember how happy I was when i did 1200 skips without trips the first time. Now we I skip I challenge myself for not tripping every day. On top of that, you can also start playing with variations, with one leg, criss-cross arms, or yesterday I just tried to skip jog,

Apparently skipping has lower impact than jogging if you do it right. I have stopped skipping for 6 months and just started picking it up again and remember how great it is to skip.

it’s a great cardio during travelling… As many people go away on summer holidays and have restrictions on working out, tgo get a jump rope and give it a try!!

Spending some time with the the person who introduced me to jump rope and he was “The Skipping Man” who was showing the kids in the camp on his skipping tricks! Looks like the kids were having fun watching too!


Make your holiday workout a routine

A lot of people are going  away on summer holidays. It’s the time to have fun, relax, spend time with the family… and yes… indulge.. Emm.. It kinda depends where you go too. When I go on a beach holiday or.. like what I am doing now… spending my time away from the city and spending time in the countryside, I actually eat cleaner.

Nonetheless, it’s going to be unavoidable to have some indulgence while you are on holidays, and you definitely should. It’s no fun if you go on holidays and can’t eat anything. So slacking off on your exercise during the holidays will only leave you with more pounds.

Yea… we know it’s difficult for many people to stick to their exercise on holidays, here are some of my suggestions and tips.

  • Schedule your exercise into your day, but be realistic
    • Make time for it. But be short and sweet. Be realistic. You may not have time to do a 90 minutes workout. But 20 minutes everyday is better than nothing.
  • Plan your exercise
    • Besides making time for your exercise, plan it. plan the night ahead and find a short 20 minute workout or yoga sequence.  Do a class online (or watch on YouTube). I go on Yoogaia, an interactive online yoga class where you can take sweet 20-30 minutes yoga class from morning flow to power yoga to evening stretches. You can also watch recordings. When you have a good workout plan you would be looking forward to actually do it the next day. You can also alternate between different muscle groups, resistance vs. cardio, slow cardio vs. HIIT, and different yoga sequences.
    • On top of that keep a sweet core workout in hand. May it be 8 min ab or 47 crazy fun plank variation… Find something that interest you that you can throw on top if you ended up having an extra 5-10 minutes to top up your workout.
  •  Improvise and mix it up
    • There may not be a gym near by for your your exercise. Create a “home” routine like doing crunches, planks, or some yoga. There are a lot of exercise that you do not need any equipment.
    •  If you are going on a beach holiday or in the countryside, swimming, jogging, hiking, cycling, even walking are all great options. Stay active!

So last night, I plan my workout/yoga sequence the evening ahead. I looked up online for a routine I would like to do, and I take care of it first thing in the morning at 5am before the kids wake up.

Important note – I actually MAKE TIME for it, as I know as the day starts it will be harder for me to squeeze the workout in.

I started my day with 15 minutes jump rope. I have mentioned before that I joined a fitness program called Kenzai Body last year and got tremendous result. The Kenzai choice of cardio is jump rope, and I found jump rope a great cardio option for travelling. Like this morning, yes, I could get out for a jog but my kids were still sleeping when I did my exercise so I can’t really leave the house. So I just skip for 15 minutes on the deck outside of the house. Do you know 10 minutes of jumprope is equivalent to 30 minutes of jogging? It’s fast, efficient and train your coordination as well. It takes a little time to pick it up, but after that it is a fantastic quick and convenient cardio during holidays.

Then I did some body weight exercise and some yoga. This morning’s workout was long (90 minutes this morning) but that doesn’t happen everyday. There are days that I only do cardio, or body weight, or yoga. Again, even 15-20 minutes it adds up.

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Summer holidays can be a great time to eat clean and stay fit, even more so than when you are at work or at home… A little bit of planning and determination will get you there.

On top of that, indulge yourself moderately, and enjoy your holidays!!

Sharing with you a silly video when my daughter woke up in the middle of my yoga practice while I was taking my online yoga class.

Little girl came in when Mommy is practicing yoga….

Enjoy! =)



Project Independence – July 4, 2014

A few days ago I mentioned I joined a fitness program called Kenzai that transformed my life a year ago. I promised I would talk a bit more about it… Today, I am sharing a blog I wrote in the Kenzai blog (yes we have a blog for the Kenzai community exactly a year ago on Independence Day July 4, 2014. The title of the blog was “Project Independence”.

Here goes my “teaser” on my Kenzai story.  Later on I will share a bit more info on what exactly is in the Kenzai program, and an update on my “Project Independence” a year later!

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Project Independence
July 4, 2014 

Three months ago during our ski vacation in Niseko my husband and I decided to sign up for the Kenzai program. He would like to lose some weight, and I thought it makes sense just to do it together. Sure, I also wanted to challenge myself and thought I would try something new other than my yoga practice, but mainly, I was just trying to be there to support him.

First month into the program we mostly did our program together, then things kind of went sideways. He was traveling a lot. He had a lot of business obligations. While I was still preparing all the meals for him, it became difficult for us to workout together. Eventually, I was doing most of the program on my own. It was difficult for me at first, especially most people think this program was not for me. I also had doubts on whether I should carry on… I had my low moments… Thanks to the support of my trainer and all the other trainees in the program, I could continue the journey.

After I accepted the fact that I probably had to carry on the rest of the program by myself, I wake up everyday at 5am and do my skipping. I go to the gym (or occasionally just at home) to do the resistance workout on top of my yoga practice. I have not missed a day of workout. I cooked every meal for myself and my husband, and I followed the diet almost religiously. However, at this time, my intention has changed. I am doing the program for myself.

The 90-day with Kenzai was a big challenge for my body. However I truly enjoyed every bits of it. My body loves the clean food, and it also loves the workouts. I saw my myself transformed. My cardio strength has never been better that now I can run for 6km without panting. My arms and core are much stronger I am able to do a lot of arm balance and inversion postures that I was struggling 3 months ago. For someone who was never into exercise until 2 years ago I am now at the fittest state of my life in terms of strength, flexibility and balance.

But there is more to that. For me Kenzai is an even bigger challenge for the mind. It’s a challenge of one’s discipline, endurance, commitment, and focus. From the program I found myself becoming more organized, decisive and determined in other parts of my life. Kenzai also teaches us to share, and to care. The community factor of the program is so powerful. There is no way I could get through this without the support of everyone in the program. I love to read everyone’s blogs. There is so much inspirations and intelligence to learn from everyone’s stories. And I love to share my stories with the others. I love to blog (and I realize I can still write!) and I love it when people read my blogs. Sharing my recipes was the most fulfilling part for me in the Kenzai program.

People may still wonder what I am doing here. Here is the truth. A truth that I did not even realize until now. I have been going through a mid life crisis. Five and a half years ago I gave up my investment banking job and become a full time mother. Although I would still make the same choice again as I really want to be there for my children in their early childhood, I knew I cannot stay this way forever. I am a active and outgoing person, and I love meeting people. I am no stay home mom. I am a strong, independent person and I like to take challenges. I need my career to make me feel accomplished and confident. I think the fact that I have been a “health nut” in the last two years was a way to prove myself, but slowly it has become a big passion of mine. As the kids get older and both of them are going to school I have been thinking of what to do next. I do not really want to go back to my old job, something I was never too interested in. For a while now I have been thinking about doing something related to healthy cooking, wellness and fitness. But being busy with the children I have never really been motivated to take it seriously. Day by day passed It was getting harder and harder to get out of my comfort zone and seek for my dream.

In the last 90 days with Kenzai, not only I have learnt more about healthy diets and exercises, I have regained my motivation, my confidence and I could feel the “fire” in my heart again. I felt like I was having a “job” again. I was on a mission to share my recipes, my food prep, my insights about healthy lifestyles to everyone in the program. With the experience with the Kenzai blogs I come to realize it is almost “natural” for me to be in this space… To share, to care and to spread the gospel of healthy living. As I said, “I believed I could, so I did”. As I have proven to myself I could complete the 90 day challenge with Kenzai, I finally feel ready and empowered to take my passion to the next level.

So today, I am putting together a plan for my next adventure, in which I will call it “Project Independence”.

– I am signing up for a yoga teacher training course. By January 2015 I will be a certified yoga teacher.
– I am taking a Food and Nutrition program working towards getting a degree in this field.
– I am setting up a blog in which I will share on my views on how to have a healthy, balanced and fun lifestyle as a mother, a wife and a partner. I will continue to share my recipes, and will share everything else from yoga, exercise, beauty, fashion… Basically everything about being fit, fun and fabulous! (of course I will still blog on Kenzai Life).
– I am looking into getting more serious into cooking and continue to hold private parties . I may eventually venture out to be a private chef. I would love to hold an event for Kenzai Sapphire graduates.

Today, I see a bright and clear path going forward. I found myself again. Thank you Kenzai.

Start date of “Project Independence”: July 4, 2014. Independence Day.

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To be continued…. 


Hey I am on the newspaper!

As usual Friday is the day I talk about yoga/fitness fashion. Only this time I am not only sharing on my blog but I am on the Hong Kong Economic Times!

I did an interview for the Hong Kong Economic Times on Lululemon clothing as they open their first store in IFC Hong Kong! I shared my favorite Wunder Under Pants and Free to be *Wild” bra with all the readers in Hong Kong.

How cool is that?!

My blog post on Lululemon that I posted few weeks ago…

My Favourite Lemon…. Lululemon

Will be back on normal schedule next week on another clothing brand. Stay tuned!


Kenzai Body

A year ago I joined a 90 day body transformation program called Kenzai Body. I was not unfit to begin with. I looked pretty good even from Day 1. However, the 90 days completely transformed me. Not only made me stronger and fitter, but it changed the way I looked at food completely.

It was exactly a year ago when I finished the program… on June 30, 2014. Since then I have dropped some of the exercise and slacked on my diet… This morning I woke up and looked at some pictures and remembered how I looked like a year ago.

Time to clean up the diet… Time to pick up my jump rope and resistance bands.

More to follow about my Kenzai story in the next few days.

*** Feature picture was a picture of me on Day 90 after Kenzai Body Program.


A Warrior with Grace – “Kira Grace”

Last Friday I talked about the “Holy Grail of Yoga Clothing” – Lululemon.

There was a time when the only choice for yoga clothes IS Lululemon. All of a sudden there are so many brands around and if you want into a yoga class more than half of the students will be in printed leggings.

It reminds me of a joke.

My teacher was asking me to demo a handstand at the wall while he was demoing the “assist”. I went to my downward facing dog prep position and he asked me to raise one leg up. I brought my leg up and he went “Wow.. that was some colourful leggings it made me dizzy.”. Haha.

So what do you practise in?

I mostly practise in full or 3/4 length leggings (no crops as I have fat calves haha) with a full length tight top. I am not so comfortable with bra tops in class I am just a little shy. Loose tops are not ideal for inversion so my most practical outfit will be a pair of full length leggings with a top.

I have been trying to find some nice different looking tank tops, and recently I tried out a new brand (a new brand for me) – Kira Grace.

I have known Kira Grace for quite a while now, as early as Tiffany Cruikshank became their “ambassador” and featured herself in the “Warrior series”. This was the outfit that caught my attention to check out their website.

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However, I never really tried them out as I had a few bad experience just ordering clothes online without trying them and at the end of the day, the brand is not that cheap. So I was very happy when the local yoga clothing shop “Just Yogis” start carrying the brand and I can finally tried them on.

I got myself 3 items. The signature “Warrior leggings” of course, a red “Warrior Victoria Halter”, and a printed “Grace Yoga tights”. I really love them. They are edgy though but still very feminine. The cut is perfect and the material is tough and it holds very well. I was wearing the “Warrior Halter” with the “Grace Yoga Tights” yesterday and I got so much compliments.

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The fit is perfect and very slimming looks great in pictures.

You can check out the Kira Grace official Website here.

Kira Grace Official Website

I bought mine in “Just Yogis”. They have a shop in Sai Ying Pun where you can go try them out or you can order online through them.

Just Yogis

I am a tough cookie… and I always see myself as a warrior. Yet I always try to remind myself to bring some “softness” and “grace” into my practice and, well…. in my daily life.

This brand is perfect for me. This is what I want to be – a Warrior with Grace.

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Warrior Victoria Tank and Grace Yoga Leggings

*** Featured image featuring Red “Warrior” Leggings. Photography by Simon Lorenz at Pool Portrait.