Category Archives: Vivian Law

Halloween- a creative occasion

Love or hate Halloween, I think we can mark the day by being creative. I’ve gone through various phases in life where I was really into trick or treating, coming up with a costume as an adult, and now I enjoy seeing and hearing about the costumes the kids I know come up with. I’ve put together Halloween themed playlists for my classes the past couple years and have really enjoyed the creative process so much.

Better than new years resolutions, Halloween provides an opportunity to be creative in who you want to be for a day! I’ve discussed the book Atomic Habits a couple times this past week and the one takeaway message I carry is to find identity for the habits you want to build. Always a good exercise to consider what kind of a person you want to be- have some extra fun today, Happy Halloween!

Falling asleep during meditation…is OK

I was introduced to body based meditation back in phys ed school where we were shown a variety of mind body practices. We did a body scan during the class while lying down and I fell asleep pretty much every time! I was also caught nodding off in class sometimes where my classmates were concerned for the health of my neck in how much it bobbed up and down quickly.

Even with many years of meditation practice behind me, it is still a significant risk for me to fall asleep during meditation while lying down. It amazes me how easily others in the field of yoga and meditation will diagnose me as exhausted and not doing the meditation properly. Having tried for 20 years, I have come to accept the possibility of a little snooze and enjoy feeling great afterward. The point of meditation is to relax, so snoozing a bit IS evidently changing your state to one of serious relaxation.

This month, I shared some meditation recordings at a class I covered and I would like to share them here:

https://music.apple.com/ca/album/celestial-sleep-healing-sound-for-rest-and-relaxation/1538626410

This 20 minute meditation with the crystal bowls is incredibly relaxing and useful if you are ever up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling asleep again.

https://books.apple.com/ca/audiobook/seven-masters-one-path-course/id272362167

The John Selby book is an excellent easy to understand book on meditation. This audio book makes the practice more guided and accessible.

Apparently it is best that you remain awake during non sleep deep rest or yoga nidra, and honestly, sometimes I fall asleep and that’s ok, especially if you wake up feeling great.

The mind needs constant taming, and this is where daily mindfulness practice makes all the difference. Making a daily effort to practice even just for a few minutes IS the way to learn and improve.

Tina Turner Chanting

I was saddened to learn of Tina Turner’s passing last week. She was a great positive influence. I saw her in concert for her farewell tour. I knew some of her music and decided to get some tickets at the last minute and they were in the last row of the Air Canada Centre. She was an incredible performer, so I looked further into her music and watched the film What’s Love Got to Do with It. The only good part is her resilience and how well she did in the end. I read her book I, Tina, which was even more harrowing. She credits Buddhist chanting as the practice that helped her find her resolve to leave Ike.

I read her other books and additional books she referenced on Buddhism. It does have a positive effect, although I can’t say I’m a strong adherent of the practice of chanting. Either a gentle movement practice or more quiet stillness seems to suit me better. I did listen to a variety of chanting material and put together this playlist a few years ago, featuring Tina Turner:

https://music.apple.com/ca/playlist/chanting/pl.u-KVXBxxvT9zBLym

The main mantra is Nam myoho Renge Kyo and I found a slower, easier to follow version with Deva Premal. The meaning takes some interpretation and I will not presume to truly know, although I understand the repeated chanting aids in purifying the mind and spirit.

Happiness is fleeting

I’ve been reading a couple books on happiness this month. I seem to give a lot of advice on how to be happier, so it was nice to confirm the strategies in a book like the Blue Zones of Happiness. The quiz within the book and available to take online is great with helpful, actionable tips one can put to use right away: https://apps.bluezones.com/en/happiness

Another book, the Happiness Trap is premised on the unreasonable expectation that we should feel happy all the time ineffective behaviours many of us have to avoid unpleasant feelings. It really is a good goal to become more resilient and better able to handle various situations in life and all the emotions that may come. It is also easier to be more peaceful and resilient when we are living with purpose, which may take a little or a lot of work to find. Even when you are certain of your purpose, it is alway a concept that is worth revisiting and refining to be better-

Music Speaks

My interest in music developed from a young age. I enjoyed playing musical instruments and getting a Walkman with headphones was the coolest thing ever. I did have the sense from even that young age it was obnoxious to blare music in settings where it may disturb others. Speakers on the beach is not okay when others are within hearing range, especially with the vast amount of nonsense produced and consumed. Music has the capability to influence our mood and shapes perception of our surroundings. There’s music piped in at the grocery store!

I understand that Spotify playlists are popular and used by many. I stand for human curated music and I’m not a fan of algorithm driven music selection. Any music you hear at a class with me is specifically chosen by me on Apple Music (@vivian_law). I’m a music aficionado and I get inspiration from other humans, not algorithms. The autoplay feature on Spotify has yielded maybe one song out of a hundred that I enjoyed, so it is not a feature I appreciate at all- in fact it feels like force fed mediocrity. The Release Radar is something I give a listen and works a lot better for me than autoplay.

With exposure to more genres of music in my teenage years I found myself offended by vulgar lyrics. Friends who have known me since then were subjected to my pontification on ill effects of listening to such nonsense. I sounded like an old person back then and now that I am an older person, my sensibilities have not changed at all! No degrading lyrics are played at my cycling classes. We take requests and the policy is each rap song is matched with a country song.

Music is a form of subliminal messaging that we choose to expose ourselves to- so I recommend that we all be mindful to what messages we might receive in what we listen to and allow children to be exposed to.

The Good Gut

I listened to this podcast earlier this year and found the gut microbiome research presented to be very informative and read the book the Good Gut shortly after

https://hubermanlab.com/how-to-enhance-your-gut-microbiome-for-brain-and-overall-health/

https://sonnenburglab.stanford.edu/research.html

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/317191/the-good-gut-by-justin-sonnenburg-and-erica-sonnenburg-phds/9780143108085

The Good Gut is a book I recommend to anyone interested in learning more about their digestive health. It is easy and enjoyable to read with doable, practical research based advice given by the scientists themselves. One of the recommendations is to eat fermented foods such as yogurt on a daily basis. There are various foods listed including sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. I have been able to implement eating yogurt on a more regular basis. I started avoiding yogurt in the past decade or so, because the lower fat content and increased protein with ‘greek’ style yogurts was causing stomach upset. I tried coconut yogurt in earlier iterations and it was awful! I am pleased to report that coconut yogurt has improved immensely and I can recommend a few- Presidents Choice Organic Coconut Yogurt alternative and Riviera coconut milk vegan delight are a thinner texture yogurt and Simpla is a tasty, thick texture.

Digestive health is a daily maintenance project that you can monitor easily by observing what comes out the other end after eating and digestion. Choosing more vegetables and fruit, being conscious of eating enough fibre, being hydrated and having a bit of extra help with friendly bacteria in fermented foods goes a long way in improving and maintaining digestive health. Eating healthy food is one part and digesting, assimilating, and absorbing nutrients is the other part of the equation and having the right balance of friendly bacteria makes the process smoother from one end to the other.

Jacob’s Ladder, Versa Climber and Assault Bike

I have the pleasure of working at the Toronto Athletic Club and a few months ago, I came up with the idea to do a quick workout that wasn’t ordinary cardio. I went on the Jacob’s Ladder, Versa Climber and Assault bike for 5 minutes each. It was challenging, I was sweating, and it was a little bit fun! Fun to do three different whole body movements. Of course, an outdoor mission would be even better, but this is a good indoor alternative that doesn’t require travel. It is important to give our bodies different challenges and stimulus to stay fit for actual real life activities. The Jacob’s Ladder you can improve by going faster and increasing your reach. The versa climber you can increase your vertical reach and improve the coordination of your arms and legs. The Assault bike, you can improve your efficiency. The concept is simple- just try a different physical activity!

Canada Day

Summer is finally here in Toronto and nothing like Canada Day to show some gratitude for where we live and all the privileges we have. I’ll be making playlists with Canadian artists all week long in celebration. I’m certainly grateful that fitness is back in action having lived through 2 years of virtual shutdown. Having the option of virtual meetings is a real positive result of the past couple years. Real life meetings, human interaction is such a welcome return. July also marks my start date as a fitness professional, this year being 22 years of ‘service’ which I feel incredibly grateful for, as I love what I do has only grown in that time. Happy Canada Day!

Hour of Power- Stages Cycling

After a lot of consideration and talk, we completed the Hour of Power ride this evening at the Toronto Athletic Club. Our group had tested our functional threshold power (FTP) at a previous time and I had always wondered if that theoretical number translated to actual performance. When my FTP was calculated with a 20 min test, I felt very confident I could produce that power for an hour. When my FTP was calculated in February with an 8min test, I felt a lot less confident about my capabilities.

Armed with some very well selected tunes, we did a 15 min warmup and hit varying intervals of 95-100%, 100-105% set to the selected songs. I backed off and took a few ‘breaks’ of less than 1min here and there. Turns out I was able to complete the 60min with an average power that was 3 watts below my FTP, so that was a wonderful surprise! Our field test was a success. The ‘theoretical’ maximum power that you can ride for an hour, is a REAL thing provided that you actually push yourself during the test!

Circumstances don’t make a man, they reveal him

Circumstances don’t make a man, they reveal him. This is a quote from a Wayne Dyer that came to mind this week when discussing how to handle difficult times in life. It’s easy to make plans to guard ourselves against failure and heartbreak, but it doesn’t serve your highest good in the long term, as that strategy limits your growth and opportunities. Taking the attitude that you are being ‘tested’ by your circumstances allows more growth, learning and character building.

Dwayne the Rock Johnson also has a similar quote: When life puts you in touchy situations don’t say ‘why me’ just say ‘try me’

I laughed out loud when I saw the quote, as it takes a playful and tough attitude towards coping with situations. When we are tested we need to be better by taking the life lesson as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.