What you should know about skin care

When you pass your mid 30s there tends to be a significant change in the quality of your skin. Reality check: It’s called aging. The alarm rings, you press the panic button. You have to do something about it ASAP, but there’s so many products out there that promise the same (eternal youth) that you don’t even know where to start. Nobody enjoys aging. Even guys. It’s sad but true.
Sounds familiar? Before you start buying and trying expensive skin care products randomly let me share with you what I have learn about skincare through the years. From the perspective of a very practical person and not a beauty blogger.
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The basics of skin care

Before I start I have to confess that secretly I have always wanted to be a columnist in Glamour Magazine UK. The research, first hand experience, opinion. All I gathered reading and was told by the therapists that did my facials over the years. I’m delighted to sum it up for you today like they would do in Glamour.

MYTHBUSTERS 1- The first thing to do is to buy a good cream

The first thing you need to do is to learn what are the things in your life that affect your skin, daily. Starting with water intake, sun exposure and proper cleaning.
– FACT 1 – Creams don’t go very deep down the skin, so what comes from the inside or gets much deep inside makes a bigger impact.
– FACT 2 – Sun exposure accelerates aging, and so does smoking
– FACT 3 – If your skin is dirty from the exposure to pullution whatever product you use will not go work much. Because It will not penetrate.
How is that for starters? I’m the kind of person that really needs to understand the “why” fore buying into anything so here’s the why. After writing this article I realized that there’s actually some truth in what we might know about skin care from advertising but It’s just a all over the place.
What you need to know are the basic principles, steps and products. The musts and nice to haves.
(Cut the crap take me to your list!)

MYTHBUSTERS 2 – Good skin care is important to look pretty / handsome

This one is half true actually. The most important thing to look good is for your skin to be HEALTHY and that to be honest is above pretty.  Your skin has the memory of an elephant and whatever you do when you are young will eventually show as you age.
That includes crazy things like putting oil on your body for tanning faster instead of SPF (we have all done that haven’t we? 🙂 You won’t see the effects of the damage immediately, but they will come, with time and aging.
Awareness about skin health should start in your 20s not once you pass 30. So please send this to your nieces, cousins etc.

Skin care routine – tried and tested

If it wasn’t because I live in Asia I don’t think I would care that much about my growing crow’s feet, but oriental women my age look so much younger than me. It’s hard not to notice, they are everywhere 😉
They don’t age much until they are 50 or so, and then … well then, they seem to become grandmas all of a sudden. Nobody is perfect. One thing they really get is how to stay out of the sun no mater what lengths you go to…

Image from the NYtimes of women in China with Burkinis and Facekinis

1- The best anti-aging cream ever is sun block.

People back home wonder how I don’t have a permanent tan living in the tropics. Simple. I stopped tanning, it’s bad for you. End.

You actually just need 15 min outdoors to get your daily dose of vitamin D, a bit more of you are dark skinned. Over exposure to the sun is very dangerous. Western culture teaches us that a nice tan is a sign of health, and a pale face is a sign of illness, while Asians on the contrary praise fairness as the ultimate beauty quality.
For me, when my face is tanned I see my usual dark circles are less noticeable, the redness of my eyelids blends in with the rest and my cheeks get a natural blush. That’s a fact, I think I look prettier, but it’s also a fact that if I don’t keep tanning this glow doesn’t last. It’s a temporary illusion, so better get used to the real me instead.
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I did the whole roasting by the pool for the whole summer thing. Also the tanning bed thing before summer, the no need SPF at the beach because I want to tan faster, the carrot juices and the oils. It was when I was not even a teenager but now I have an ever growing legion of moles in my body.
Some grew juicy so I had to go get them checked and removed. I’m healthy and I’m lucky that I am so far. Some others are not so lucky. My friend K is not so lucky, but she’s doing fine.
I had no idea what I was doing back then, nobody knew, so let’s raise awareness about skin cancer now. WATCH THIS VIDEO
I used to think that sun screen was just for sunbathing by the pool or to wear when you are at the beach but now I wear it daily. Think about it. We spend more time walking around in the open in our everyday lives than sun bathing during a holiday.
 TIP 1 – CHANGE YOUR DAILY MOISTURIZER TO ONE WITH SPF.
Do it now. It takes very little effort to be protected against wrinkles and against the damaging effects of the sun. Tell your better half too. My lovely boyfriend (now Fiance!) The Troglodyte has that wonderful Irish complexion. A mix of alabaster and freckles. He recently realized the rosy cheeks were not part of the package. It was the tropical sun. Now he lets me nag him with the creams.
I started using this one from Olay Total Effects 8 years ago. It’s really good value for money because it’s also an enriched cream. The texture and the smell are really lovely. You have it also with a hint of color.
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When I first came to Singapore, I promised myself I would not fall into the trap of being a make up slave, even if everybody in my office wore make up daily and I felt underdressed.
I decided I would have to deal with my face the way it actually looks like when it’s raw because getting used to seeing improved version of yourself daily only leads to disappointment when you see the ugly truth. I mean the real you.
I have to confess I only fulfilled that promise partially. I discovered tinted moisturizers like Nivea Q10 CC cream. It’s an anti wrinkle cream with color and sun protection. The Q10 worked very well on my body and it turned out very good for my face too. I love the light texture, how it makes my skin soft and plump, gives a healthy color and has SPF 15.
It’s inexpensive and does the all the jobs. You can’t hardly consider this make up, right? am I saved? 🙂
When I feel like spending a bit more I absolutely love Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer. It’s got higher SPF (20 vs. 15) and It’s invisible once it sets. It’s finer than Nivea and it absorbs very easily. You feel what you are paying for. I bought the non oily one for those times of the month (AKA PMS) but I really should have gone for the one below, the illuminating one. It’s heaven.

2- Be water my friend

Hydration is essential to skin health. Everything that dehydrates you (coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, sun bathing, dry weather) is bad for your skin.
I would plug an IV daily and pump in a full bag of that magic hydrating syrup the have at the hospital if it wasn’t because I have a horrific phobia to needles  I’m sure it’s cheap. When I was hospitalized my skin was glowing, it looked full and fabulous. No matter how sick I was. Maybe that’s why pregnant women look so glorious after delivery… It’s not joy, it’s that saline solution!  😉
TIP 2 –  DRINK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER
My doctor told me to forget about the 3 liters, that I needed 5, so check how much your body needs. Remember that having frequent headaches and fatigue might be a sign of dehydration.
If I may add, drink mineral water. Not just the so called ‘drinking water’, ‘bottled’ or filtered tap water. Unless you live next to a great water source (when it’s like mineral water coming out of the tap) or you have an industrial standard water purifier, chances are your water is treated and stripped of all the goodness, for safety reasons.
I tried years ago having at least 500ml of Evian a day for a month, and it showed on my face immidately. The minerals do make a difference to me, and mineral water is also softer to the palette. Lighter, not so hard. Most governments have a website where you can find out the quality of the tap water you get so do a check if this concerns
 you.
Nowadays I drink even more Evian than 500ml a day. I can taste the chlorine in the tap water and I hate it. My only problem is that importing water to Singapore from France feels like a very snobbish and non eco-friendly thing to do.
Unfortunately buying mineral water from the nearest possible source to reduce my carbon footprint is not possible in this country, . Fiji and Evian are the most popular brands so I get some consolation in the fact that there’s massive imports happening and it’s not juts me. Read economies of scale.
I recycle the bottles and also carry around my own small water bottle that I fill with the big ones, but if I had a tank or a tap of Evian at home I will be a much happier and hopefully younger looking girl. Shame…
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3 – Relax your face

Our gestures affect our wrinkles in the same way our sitting habits affect our posture. Yoga helps with the second one, but for the face, try take some time every day to consciously relax the muscles on your face. Having a meditation app with a body scan will do the job. You can try Calm for free here or download the app.

I love meditation and relaxation. I loved it since my science teacher in primary school decided that we would do it once a week. So I highly recommend it. In fact I’m currently working on my first ever meditation workshop. Yahoo!

TIP 3 – MASSAGE OR RELAX YOUR FACE OFTEN TO REDUCE ACCUMULATED TENSION

Relax the the temples, the eye lids, the cheeks, the jaw, the mouth, and down to the neck and shoulders too. Just sink into your chair for 10min a day to give a break to those eyes that skint a the PC for way to long. To that jaw that accumulates so much frustration.
Try to stay away from your phone screen too. This one is hard I know, but again, squinting contracts the muscles and that leads to wrinkles. Unless you are heavily Botoxed of course. I’m actually going to start a collaboration soon with the guys from Bagby to create phone free spaces so stay tuned!
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I also own own of those little ReFa devices to massage your face, with rollers. The best comparison I can find to tell you how this feels, well, it’s like when you clean your ear canal with a cotton bud. Read near to sexual pleasure. It relaxes your facial muscles like a professional facial. My tip: do it to your partner, and then say it’s swap time!

Have you tried ReFa's top 3 best-selling products? PM us why you love them!#ReFa #ReFaSingapore #MTGSingapore #MTG #EnhancingBeauty

Image from ReFa Singapore

4 – ABC = Clean, tone and moisturize

Here comes the meat. The holy grail of my facial routine is to always do this. And here you have the products I that I use or have used. Some are cheap, some more expensive.
I have tried dozens through the years and now I only switch when one stops working. That happens because we change, our environment changes, so we have to observe how our bodies react and adjust. I have mixed skin, some parts more oily some parts dry, so also see what works for you.
THE BASIC ROUTINE
– Wash everything off your face before you go to bed.
– Balance the PH of your skin with a toner after washing and before applying moisturizers, else they are not so effective.
– Use an eye cream, because the eye area is thinner and requires richer creams
– Consider a serum, because moisturizers don’t reach so deep
– Get night cream, because skin cell renewal happens while you sleep
– Give your face a break once a week and don’t wear make up.
– Scrub your face to remove dead cells once a week

I don’t claim to have perfect skin but every time I go to get a facial (once every 3 months I have to confess) the therapists praise my skin condition, so something I’m doing must be working… even if I see the crow’s feet so obviously.

 

PRODUCTS FOR CLEANSING

My oldest skin care buddy is actually Clinique’s Take the Day off make up remover for lids and lips. We go a long way back. So long I don’t even want to mention. I tried others, I keep this one. No more going to sleep with your make up on no matter how drunk you are! I blockes the pores and leads to spots.

I also use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser daily when I shower, and have been doing so for at least 10 years. It looks I’m not the only one apparently. Some celebrities are fans and also praise the gooey stuff. It’s a soap-less, fragrance-free thick gel lotion, and can be used as daily face wash and as a balm form rashes, to sooth your skin.

It removes make up with a cloth or cotton wool, or just rubbing and rinsing. It’s the most skin friendly product ever invented, and you can buy it for 10$ in any supermarket or pharmacy. It’s highly recommended for people with highly sensitive skin too.

The ultimate trick is to mix the Clinique make up remover with the Cethaphil in the shower. It’s a 2 in 1 face wash and they go well together. Put both in a container with a pump (if you don’t have go to Muji) and voila you got yourself a life hack! If there’s any leftovers you can put some make up remover on a cotton disk and finish the job out of the shower the traditional way. Going to bed with the make up on can be a thing of the past with this little tip.

When I need a deeper wash I use a soft foaming gel from Galenic that removes stubborn oils, and for exfoliating I use Akin facial scrub with natural walnut and bamboo. It smells lovely of cinnamon.

PRODUCTS FOR TREATMENT

  • Toner

Toners are the forgotten cousin of skin care. I broke up with them because of Clinique’s 3 steps clarifying lotion. It has done some damage to my perception of toners and to my skin at the time. This was the first wash-tone-moisturize set I ever used. The soap was great for oily teenage skin, but it became too harsh as I grewp up. The toner was simply abrasive and the dramatically moisturizing lotion was like putting raw cocoa butter on your face. Sounds lovely, right?

The therapist from St Gregory Spa, at the Park Royal hotel in Singapore (where I go for a facial every once in a while) once told me:  ‘If you don’t use toner, the mismatch of PH between the water you use to wash and the cream, makes the cream so much less effective’. She was sooooo right. I tried it. Wow! Then my mother introduced me to spray toners and the two ladies have given me my faith back in toners.

TIP 4 – PUT YOUR TONER ON A SPRAY BOTTLE

A simple spray bottle makes the whole experience so much more convenient and saves you cotton disks. If your brand of choice does’t come in this format but a spray bottle from Muji

I have to confess I’m not very loyal or even consistent with this one, but here’s my product recommendation. Clarins Chamomile Toner, Aesop Parsley seed, NuSkin NaPCA

  • Eye cream

There’s only one cream in the eye department that I have seen a radical difference with. That’s the ARTISTRY™ Creme LuXury Eye,  but the moment I stopped using the effect was gone. And I had to stop because It was just too expensive…

It’s only available through Amway direct sales but lately you can buy anything online, in Amazon. At 150$ per bottle you really feel the price and the results that come with it. In firmness, fullness and dark circles. Out of all Amway products I tried I was only impressed with the LuXury collection. The eye cream and their face cream too.  I highly recommend as a rich night cream.

A few others have been OK so far. Clinique All About Eye Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage when you need refreshment and both versions of Dermalogica: Age Smart MultiVitamin Power Firm that has a lovely velvety texture and smells of berries, and Age Smart Reversal Eye Complex 

After cleansing and toning apply eye cream or eye serum and tap slightly with your fingers to activate circulation and facilitate absorption.

  • Serum

This is probably one of my favourite skin care products because I can really feel it working. I love Bobbi Brown’s Intensive Skin Supplement when I’m on dry weather, but Nuxe Creme Fraiche De Beaute Serum is inexpensive and works better in the tropics.

Forrest Essentials India makes this lovely Advanced Soundarya Age Defying Facial Serum With 24k Gold gold that smells on sandalwood. It’s very oily but I use it instead of a night cream every once in a while and when I wake up in the morning my skin is plump and glows. Aesop’s Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Serum is also divine. I’m a huge fan of the botanical aromatherapy theme of the brand, but the price…

Remember that the serum goes after the toner and before the cream, because it goes deeper with its oil or gel texture, getting in through the smaller and more narrow holes.

  • Face cream

Earlier I mentioned that a cream to use for the day should have SPF and that I prefer the ones with color, so I’m going to go straight to the night cream in this section. The holy grail of night creams is SK-II. Stempower was the previous one that I have, now they call it SK-II RNA Power but it’s a refined version of the same. I don’t put it under day because It does not have SPF and you will need a separate cream for that, which I think it’s too much hassle.

They have a Rich Cream version for night but this is good enough and doesn’t feel like a mask. The eye cream is good too by the way. All are quite  expensive. I can only advise you to buy the big pot and at the duty free shop in the airport, but it’s 220$ minimum. It does last, you need only a bit every time, so it’s worth it.

Only the Artistry LuXury face cream, from what I have tried, can be put at the same level as this one.

There’s hundreds of options for face creams. I think that’s why probably people think it’s the first or most important think to buy. Just in a quick trip to Sephora, a department store or the duty free cosmetics area can drive you crazy. Remember that a cleanser is actually more important.

I have tried many face creams in the Duty free, as part of my super moisturizing routine to survive long lights . Including the outrageously expensive ones like La Mer (500$ a bottle) and La Prairie (1,800$ a bottle), and I did not feel much difference at a glance. I’m sure they work better with continuous usage but for that price it better give you instant youth! I can’t afford them anyway so let’s leave it here.

 

NICE TO HAVEs

There are many other products out there related to skin care. I do not want to call this a miscellaneous section but I do now know how to classify them, except they are not essential but nice to have. Here’s a few I have used:

  • Dermalogica Phyto Oil – you could say this is a Serum, but it’s like a dry oil. I usually blend it with my daily tinted moisturizer to give it a treatment boost, and sometimes when I’m not going out of the house I just use it instead of cream. It’s one of those things that you just have to try to see the difference. It goes under your skin and plumps, softens in an few seconds. A bit like an instant boost that’s very visible. Magic! That’s why I love it. Thanks to Laura Kee from Le Petit Spa for the tip!

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Once upon a time in Japan, somebody noticed that the hands of the ladies that brew Sake were incredibly clear soft, white and smooth, whereas their faces really showed their age. 30 years later, the rest is history. This facial water is the signature product that made SK-II famous, the most awarded bestseller, that has over 90% PITERA™, the main ingredient, that comes from fermenting rice… I’m guessing.

You can also put this in the treatment section under serums because it’s used like one but it’s a special one you could say. I have tried it long ago. I liked it I did not love it. Maybe I was too young to see the difference but I have friends, Asian friends, that swear by it. Maybe it doesn’t work the same for Caucasian skin… It evens your skin tone which essential means it whitens.

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NUTRITION TIPS

What you eat, obviously affects the quality of your skin too. My beloved Glamour Magazine UK published a article about Vitamins for skin care before me, so I might as well just redirect you there. Learn what Vitamins are responsible for what when it comes to your skin.

In a nutshell:

Collagen is made by Vitamin C. This one deserves an entire chapter. There’s no such a thing as too much Vitamin C, because the body disposes the excess in the urine. What’s interesting is that It’s more effective if you eat it than if you put it on the skin but like the article says: “skin is the last organ being addressed within the digestion process, so there was a gap of a ‘topical Vitamin C’ formulations that work efficiently within the skin’s metabolism.”

Vitamin E is another one of my favorite because it’s hyper moisturizing and makes my skin instantly smooth. Most Palmer’s products have it. Body Shop used to have an entire range of Vitamin E, but they don’t have it in Singapore shops anymore. Sad face… It works great for dry skin and to reduce and prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

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To sum up. Like my doctor said, when it comes to vitamins you are good to go with one multivitamin and fish oil, but if you eat a lot of salmon like me you don’t even need the fish oil. If you live in a country where food is fresh, no imported, not GMO and organic you can probably take anything your body needs from a good balanced diet.

In Singapore the cost of eating ‘that well’ is astronomic so we will stick to the vitamin supplements and the salmon sashimi for now.

 MEDICAL / FACIAL TREATMENTS

If the world of creams is crazy the world of facial treatments is bananas. All those branded terms and jargon confuse me all the time. Daily care doesn’t mean you don’t need a professional treatment every once in a while, and well, admit it, getting a facial is a bit of a treat, isn’t it? This is a small glossary of what I learnt about facials.

  • Sharplight skin rejuvenation- Using IPL (Intense pulsed light) to reach the deeper layer of the skin and promote collagen creation. Cold or warm therapies also do this. You really see the difference, quite fast, but needs a few treatments to make a massive change.
  • Microdermabrasion – it’s basically ‘fancy’ for scrubbing your face with a special machine. It’s either a strawberry shaped rotatory metal head with sand paper, or a vacuum tube with sandpaper on the edge. Objective? to remove dead cells and promote better product penetration or products, and cell renewal. To do once or twice a year I would say.
  • Medical grade facials – The difference between a normal facial and a medical facial is that the first one is applied by a beautician and the second one by a dermatologist, using medical tools and products instead of cosmetics. Read stronger products and stronger treatments. These are the people that also do invasive treatments like fillers and Botox. For people 40-60 this is much better use or their money that normal facials, but for 30 year olds is a bit of a treat at 500$-1000$ a session.
  • Laser/chemical peelings – This is an extreme cell renewal method that basically uses chemicals (read a mild form of acid) or laser to remove (burn) the upper layer of the skin so you grow a new smoother one. Seriously consider if you have acne scars. I would say this is more a once off thing do do if you really have a serious problem. You will be red for a good two weeks. Celebrities love it. It’s like growing a new face.
That’s all folks! I hope it was useful.
This is probably the most difficult post I ever wrote, but it was due! Now hydrate yourself in and out, eat well, take vitamins and stay out of the sun!
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to reach out and share tips. I would love to hear from you.
Until next time!
XoXo

 

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About passion and changing career paths. The weaving diaries – Chapter I

Yesterday I opened my Sparrowebites Etsy shop. I have made a good amount of weaves since I took my first course a few months ago to it seemed it was the time. I have a notebook full of notes for future projects and a basket full of yarn. Of course a thriving Weaving Pinterest album too. But am I ready for this? Where is this going?

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After a 13 year career in marketing I became a Yoga instructor, and now I consider myself an aspiring weaver. One doesn’t replace the other. I’m all of the above. They might seem random and disconnected paths but they are not.

Nevertheless I think some explanation is needed to understand how I got here.

It’s all about passion. OK that’s not new, so here comes the breakthrough:

Passion doesn’t have to be one thing, and It doesn’t have to be THE only thing you do. Passion is a feeling, and feelings change overtime.

We hear all the time that for a career path one should find that thing they are passionate about and follow it. It seems to be the current mantra. The truth is that only 3% of people doing that succeed (according to research by 80,000 hours.org )

Being good at your job doesn’t mean that’s the thing you are most passionate about. It’s a job, it needs to cover the basics of not hating it, and pay the bills. This TED talk was a real eye opener for me.

 

Powerful, isn’t it? This gave me reassurance that what I’m doing,  to explore and experiment, keep trying different things while I take a break from corporate etc. That’s healthy and necessary. And that I can be a multidisciplinary professional.

From a marketing perspective going many different ways made me feel a bit insecure. It’s called positioning. It’s easier to say: this is what I do and why I do it well. But is that it? Wait a moment. I’m not a product, that’s why I always found it very difficult to apply that to myself. The concept of personal brand probably comes from here.

That’s probably how I ended up with this website that seems a bit of a mess but in reality it’s about me and the various aspects that define me. The communication, the branding, the aesthetics, the mindfulness, the wellness, the helping others and the creativity.

A person is the combination of many sides and skills. I agree It’s just easier to make an impact when you focus on just one, but that’s also reducing your chances of success. Launching the weaving shop might give me another avenue, but this time, for the first time, it really feels like jumping into a pool blindfolded.

You can’t really see how deep it is, so it’s hard to predict if you are going to end up going in the water with a graceful dive, or an embarrassing belly flop.

It’s just because it’s unknown territory for me. That’s it. End of the fear. Passion is the feeling that made want to start this and that’s why I decided to go ahead whether people like my weaves or not. Like I did with the blog, and with the Yoga before.

What happens next, I don’t really know. I believe it in. I love it! and only time can tell if I succeed or not to make it my main source of income or just one more (or just a time pass :-). I will definitely give it my best ideas, my creativity, my structuring, hard work and my analytic skills.

If you look at celebrities for example, there are many that are known for one talent only and then keep the others low, on purpose or not. Very honestly (and without sounding arrogant) I would not want to define myself like that. Simply because I think I’m good at many things, and most importantly because I think I have the ability of becoming good at whatever I put myself into.

I secretly always wanted to be a journalist in Glamour magazine and try different things to just write about them and tell others. That’s how this blog started. I could always say that weaving is part of my experimenting phase, and something to write about, but I look at my work and I feel really proud! I think it’s pretty and that’s the whole point. I hope others find my weaves pretty too!

Until next time!
XoXo

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Jellyfish – Beach Collection. Available in Etsy

 

 

5 things you can do every day to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the opposite of going in autopilot. Gulping a cup of coffee on the go from a take away container is not the same as sitting down, leaning back against the chair, and sipping your coffee bit by bit from a porcelain cup.

Apply that to life and you will see things differently, feel differently and think differently. You will likely realize that you don’t need more to be more content. You just need to go deeper.

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Paying attention to the little things that surround us becomes very hard when we are rushing from one errand to another, from one to do list to another. It’s like trying to see the landscape from a bullet train.

We live in an overstimulating environment here in Singapore,  and it does get to you eventually if you don’t consciously make an effort stop going with the motions.

 Mindfulness practice is about taking some time to be in the here and the now. When you are doing something or when you are taking a break. 

It’s putting your mind and focus on it. Here and Now. Not in the past (too much of this causes depression), not in the future (too much of this causes anxiety) and not in your imaginary thoughts (too much of this causes delusion).

The good news is that you don’t need to go to a course, download an app or read a book to do it, although it helps to start the habit. If taking time off to do nothing and meditate is impossible for you…

There are things we do every day that can become your mindful moment.

You don’t need a lot of time, just a few minutes will do.

MYTHBUSTER! Meditation is not putting out all thoughts, It’s to focus your attention into one thing for a longer period of time. The mind keeps jumping like a monkey from one thought to another in a matter of seconds, unless we give it something to entertain it for a while. Lack of thoughts (meditation) is the result of the effort, not the effort itself. Mindfulness is a mediation technique.

 

Here’s 5 things you can do to make every day more mindful

1- Do not do multitask when you eat.

Focus on your food. Not your phone, or your laptop or even the person you have in front of you. We eat minimum 3 times a day so there you have 3 possible mindful meditative moments.

I have an ability to go into ‘meditation mode’ at certain moments (read getting so absorbed into what I’m doing that I forget about everything around me) and one of them is when I’m eating.

Sometimes I’m so into my food I stop hearing what My Lovely Boyfriend the Troglodyte says. So instead of taking me out of my moment, he stares at me and the faces I do, the noises I make, and he says; ‘I can see you are really enjoying that’. Mindful moment for him, mindful moment for me. Double check!

I had this article half written when I went to a mindful eating workshop by Tansy Boggon at Balanced Living in Singapore.

The most valuable thing I learnt is that digestion starts in the senses.

I always thought the first step was chewing your food properly but when we smell the food, we look, we touch, we heard anything related to the food experience, our body starts preparing to receive the food. The brain sends signals to the digestive system to start producing the juices that help digestion.

Therefore eating without thinking about eating makes it more difficult for the body to digest food. There you go. Two benefits for the price of one! I just can’t resist a bargain. Try paying attention to all the details around your eating experience. It can be your daily mindful moment.

(SHORTCUT: I don’t want to read more about your life now, take me to number 2)

I have a student that has lots of digestive issues. I went to have lunch with her once and she literally hoovered what she had in front on her. It took me 3 times more to finish my soup than for her to eat her eggs ben. If you do the same try this.

Next time we go for lunch I will ask her her look at the food for 30 seconds after it arrives. I will try to make her smell and touch the food even, to tell me what she perceives. Then I will make her mentally plan how she’s going to eat it by asking her. Where to start, how to divide etc. Hopefully that will give her body enough time to prepare.  If the Tea ceremonies in China and Japan take about 45 min. I think we can take a good 30 min. to eat our meals properly.

You can be social when mindful eating, just take be aware you can’t do two things at the same time, and slow down to take turns. My Lovely Boyfriend the Troglodyte and I make it a point to have a proper sit down home made dinner several times a week. That’s our mindful eating moment together and there’s 50% talk 50% silence. The rest of the days I’m guilty of rushing it often, but hey nobody is perfect.

One thing I don’t barge on is my tea or coffee moment. It’s my special moment. Add a nice biscuit to it and I’m a happy camper. If you love coffee or tea you van make it your mindful moment.

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Coffee here and coffee there #ootd

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2- Acknowledge others

Do you pass by the same people every day and don’t ever say hi? Do you know your neighbors? To answer these questions you probably need to ask yourself first if you pay any attention to the people that surround you.

People watching in a cafe is a good option. The ones in the crossroad between Orchard and Scott’s road (Marriott Hotel, Prive, Starbucks, Overeasy) give you a view to a great deal of people, but I think this should be taken a step further.

It’s easy to use things for your mindful moment, but if you do it with people it has a double effect. On you and on them.

Just nodding, smiling or say hi to passer by makes the person do the same to you. It can be a bus driver, a neighbor you don’t know. A construction worker, gardener, cleaner. You can even venture to mention something you notice about a receptionist or a clerk. Something not related to the task in hands.

Here’s  3 recent occasions I saw myself doing that. Paying attention to the people around me, noticing the differences and mentioning those to them to give acknowledgement.

  • Post office. I found in the Singpost office in ION a bubbly Malay lady that used to work in the Tanglin office, and wear braces. I commended about the change of office and the braces. You should have since her smile (post braces)
  • Gardeners. To decorate my house warming party I picked scraps of leaves from the mountain the gardeners make in my condo. I went to them an explained my intentions. They were happy to help me. They are usually those invisible people making everything look tidy, so I took the time to talk to them, ask them about the job, hear them.
  • Guards. Every other day I pass by the house of the Prime Minister on my bike. It’s a shortcut I take to work. There’s always guards at the door. The special Nepalese forces. They have different hats depending on the time of the day and weather. I tap on my imaginary hat as I pass by and give them a thumbs up or something. It must be really boring to stare at the same wall all day every day. The poor things.

It’s incredible how little attention we pay to strangers. I was recently in a Yoga Workshop by New Angle Yoga, Hands-on assists where we did very interesting exercises. It was about helping students feel the Yoga postures better, and to raise the awareness of the need of support and the role of a supporter. In Yoga and in life.

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Trish and Julie from New Angle Yoga

At some point we were asked to walk around the the room randomly and at the sound of the gong stop and look at what we had in front. For the first three rounds we all looked at objects in the room. Then the teacher asked us to look at the person you have in front instead. We all sadly noticed the objects before the people.

Then she made us stare at them for a full 30 seconds, felt like an eternity. It was intense but it did the job: Engraving the message in our brains. Kudos to Trish.

 


3- Take 5 min to rest outdoors.

Oh the great outdoors… There’s no such thing in Singapore but you can still find solace. Whether on your way somewhere or just coming back home, just pause, sit down and pay attention to what you have around you. Close the eyes if possible and listen to the sounds. If not just stare vaguely at a point far away.

This is another bargain. Mindful and a tried and tested creativity boost. When we de-focus we access the subconscious mind and ideas arise. It’s like switching of from the running commentary of the outside and inside our mind and boom! The magic happens.

When we are waking up or about to fall asleep is when we have more access to our hidden mind. That’s why power naps work so well to boost creativity.  I learnt this from Carlos Pomeda in one his workshops.

You can find time to do this for example at the bus stop. Put your phone down and look at the surroundings. Notice the signboards the plants the floor the sky. Look up and down, left and right. Notice everything that you can see from where you stand. How many buses stop there, check where do they go. Notice the houses or buildings you can see from the bus stop etc. If you don’t know what they are ask yourself what could they be or imagine them inside.

Detailed observation is a great tool for mindfulness.

You could do this at your work space too or pretty much anywhere except when you are sitting on a plane, but it’s better to do it outdoors, just for a change and a breath of fresh air.

Noticing  food, noticing people, noticing your surroundings and also why not also noticing your own body? Yoga Nidra, also known as Yoga sleep, awake rest, is also a very powerful way to induce a meditative state with a simple body scan sequence.

 

4- Journal before going to bed.

I recently started doing this, after reading an article in UK Glamour Magazine about list making its negative effects and bullet journalists.

It’s not writing your diary like when you were a kid. (Dear Diary: Today that cute guy in class looked at me. OMG! I think he likes me. I hope I didn’t blush) Bullet journaling is about keeping it short.

A good thought generates a good feeling, a food feeling triggers creation of serotonin hormone, that one makes our brain happy. Yoga’s Pancha Kosha theory (and in a nutshell the entire body mind connection hoo-ha) is this by the way. In a nutshell.

Just write one thing you are thankful for each day, before you go to bed.
Don’t over do it or you will end up like this…

Take a moment to notice that you are here in bed now, writing THE good moment of the day and being thankful for it. Recalling the day, looking for the good, choosing the moment, recreating that feeling, will all help you focus on something else that’s not what you need to do tomorrow but watch out!

Don’t get too caught up on the facts but stay with the feelings and the now. 

This is something great to do with your partner too. Just ask him/her to tell you one good thing that happened today before going to bed.

I use the Thoughts and Reflections Journey from Typo that has one page for day with 3 sections, so you can fit 3 years there. If one day you forget you can always turn back the pages and write what you remember.

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Image credit : Katie Te

5- Observe nature.

Nature is amazing, really. The shape of a flower, the variety of plants, the leaves, how tall trees are, how incredible it is that water and air magically turn in to matter. Think of the space they take and how significant plants are. They are all around us and they are a feast for the eyes.

I’m a very visual person so this works wonders for me. Like mindful coloring. Any art and music can fall into this same category. Call it appreciation of beauty. Pets and kids are also fascinating. Like wild creatures (I wish I had done a boomerang video of this fella)

One of my students told me she likes the trees here so much that sometimes she even stops the car to admire them and take photos of them.

I love the lush vegetation in Singapore, it makes me awe every single time. The jungle is just amazing and intricate enough to keep your eyes entertained in every detail and switch off from the rest. Look at the colors the shapes the size of the trees and you got yourself a mindful moment.

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This is the view from my balcony. It makes it easier!

I hope this helps! Pick your thing and stick to it for a while. Like the muscles, the brain requires training. Don’t be frustrated if you can’t lift a 10Kg dumbbell with one arm on the first day at the gym.

Until the next time! Xx

Namaste.

Letting go of Miss Independent

It’s Monday morning, 9am. I’m sitting on my balcony having breakfast and listening to the soft sound the rain makes when it falls on the canopy of trees that surrounds me.

Last night my morning class was cancelled and I rushed to book a slot in my Yoga studio for a morning workout. I went to bed thinking: Great! I can finally get some time for my practice! and it’s with one of my favorite teachers! Then the rain happened this morning… and it hypnotized me and convinced me to stay at home and enjoy the moment. I happily cancelled my plan of rushing and I’m set to spend the morning listening to her soundtrack.

Her, yes, because I think the rain is a She.
The rain nourishes life,  and so do women.

I’m staying home (and probably order Uber Eats for lunch) because I deserve it and becase I can. Like my Lovely boyfriend The Troglodyte says, I’m not a fan of self praise, but the truth is that I worked my ass out last week, and didn’t get much rest over the weekend so this morning I’m staying home, to nourish my soul and to get nourished by the rain. I deserve it.

And I can. Yes, I can. I can I can I can. I have to repeat that to myself several times to shake off any possible the sense of guilt for doing nothing. I can because he provides. I can because while I was happily wrapped in my pillows and duvets he was silently getting ready to go to work. Very early. I actually must.

I must because what woke me up today was not the sound of the door as he left the house but the smell of the cigarette he had for breakfast.

Those little things he does to “calm me nerves” like he says, tell me he’s stressed, but he will hardly ever complain. He’s going through hell at work. I know. He’s doing all of that so that We, so that I, can have this life we have. So I let go of Miss productive, of Miss Independent and I stay home to enjoy, for him, for us.

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I don’t really need to drag myself out to fulfill a series of tasks I had planned myself, for myself . I do it a lot and It’s completely self inflicted. I do because time is a terrible thing to waste and because there’s always a million things to do in the house. But in reality It’s to make myself feel useful because that’s something that gives me a kick since I do not work the in the corporate game anymore. Call it withdrawal symptoms.

It’s really me just finding fulfillment in the task achieved, not in the moment enjoyed.

The woman that has been working since 16 just to have my own income and not have to ask pocket money from my parents. She’s quite dominante in my brain, Earning it, and being able to spend it without justification, without second thoughts, has been part of my nature since that first job in the gift shop. I was actually brought up like that, to be Miss Independent. I guess part of my mother didn’t want me ending up stuck with my father like her.

For a very long time I dismissed the importance of her nourishment role. I was very masculine in my approach to life. Nevertheless, enough time as Miss Independent has showed me too many women role models that ‘made it’ in my environment, that also had serious guilt and failure issues on the nourishment side. Call me old fashion but I did get the call of human nature that told me there was a conflict, and going against it has a price to pay.  God knows if the business drive will come back. I just couldn’t do it any more, It was time to tune into my nourishing side.

It’s very hard to let Miss Independent go. It takes trust in your partner and to make deaf ears to your Miss Independent girlfriend’s warnings. Including the one in your head. It’s also hard to find balance.

My corporate life payed me well to put up with a lot of crap, but I didn’t have to think of money ever. My new sponsored status means thinking if I’m going to get this or that with my boyfriend’s money or eat on my savings. I can’t think of it as OUR money yet. That’s a part of me that’s still holding on to Miss Independent. I’m always concerned about abusing his kindness.  I do not make a lot of money teaching Yoga part time, even if it’s really fulfilling, and It’s hard to monetize the value of my home making versus his job.

The fact is that I keep striving to be even with him, when I know it’s never going to be even in that way. It has to be whole as the sum of both our efforts.

It’s getting chilly here. I grab my mustard cardigan and a cup of tea. This is a rare moment in Singapore and I’m going to allow myself to soak it all it, because I can now. I listen to the rain again. I hear the gardener sweeping the floor with a straw broom. He’s deaf, he can’t hear the rain, and yet he seems to be singing to some tune in his head. He talks to the trees, he talks to the birds. I’m not even going to stand up to make the bed.

It’s generally hard not succumb to the temptation of over planning to maximize my day.  I have time now, and I want to make the most of it and be useful, but today nature made a conspiracy that’s too hard to resist.

I still have not decided how long this break from corporate life will be but it’s clear it will not be forever. I will not be able to slow down to enjoy Me time as much soon enough. I will not be able to do all those things that keep me busy and fulfilled either.

A friend of mine always says that she doesn’t know how I stretch time. I can give 3 classes, run several errands, be social, bake a tray of muffins and make dinner all in one day. The answer is that I’m a planner. I have the skills, dedication, hard work and commitment of a corporate soldier. I’m known to make things happen. It’s so programmed in my brain that here I am writing about how hard it is sometimes to let it go and enjoy Slow Living.

How much we try to justify it when the world around you is on the hamster wheel and you just came out of it. I stare at them with a mix of ‘should I be going back’ and ‘look at them the poor things running all day rushing to no where’.

Regardless of what I do professionally, the Slow Life has the days counted. When children come this will be over, for a VERY long time. Better enjoy it now.

 

I want to teach yoga, but I also want to contemplate and write, and I want to weave! I finally found something artistic to express my creativity that I can actually execute myself and not just design and order. It feels fantastic. Maybe a new business opportunity!

I don’t want t go back to to corporate but I do not have a solid plan ahead either! That’s what makes it very hard to truly relax and let go, permanently. 

Until then I shall stay home more, at least times like this when I just can’t resist it. I will stay home to enjoy what he can’t, and nourish myself so I can nourish him.

Together we can be even. It’s not me versus him. It’s US.
There goes Miss Independent.

Why having good Yoga clothes is important, and where to buy them in Singapore

I get it all the time: ‘Oh you have such nice Yoga outfits, but Yoga clothes are so expensive!’ First, thanks! Second, yeah I hear you!

Yoga clothes are my work clothes, so It’s something worth investing on for me, but they do cost a fortune. That said, I think it’s pretty important you have appropriate clothing as a Yoga Practitioner too. That’s why I’ decided to write this for my students.

As a Yoga teacher, on a busy day I would use 4 changes of clothes. The Essential Yoga Capsule Wardrobe I made for my Teachers Training will not even last a couple of days but have a look there for inspiration.

 (SHORTCUT – cut the crap take me to the list)

A bit of background- Traditionally in India Yoga is practiced in loose cotton clothing that covers the entire body. You know what? That’s pretty much the clothes they wear on a regular basis so no hooha here.

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Image from jeffvonderschmidt.com

From a Western perspective this is not a really comfortable attire. It’s not even necessary to cover yourself so much, even more when the weather is hot. I had to do Yoga in this type of clothing called Salwar while I was in Rishikesh, India, because it was compulsory. I did it with respect and pleasure but I was hot, soaked, tangled and at moments frustrated.

I now understand why famous men yogis are always nearly naked, but that’s not allowed for women, right?  I will not go on with the topic of discrimination this time, but I shall continue to write from my own perspective, because that’s why this is my blog 😉 hehehe.

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BKS Iyengar – Nearly always on speedos

Is it worth investing in good Yoga gear?

The answer is YES.

Even when you are not a Yoga Teacher? Still Yes.

I am known for lecturing my fellow Yogis (and now students) about the importance of having appropriate Yoga specific clothes and gear. They are expensive, but they are worth it. I wrote all this to explain why.

But before we start, look at the photo of Iyengar again. Now imagine the seam of your shorts cutting through the flesh of your groin… or worse even… the stitching bursting open in the class (based on a true story). You should have at least one set. I rest my case.

On the Eco side of things, buying cheap and cheerful comes at a price for the environment.  Disposable clothing from big chains generate consumption and also more rubbish in the dumps.

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What’s so special about Yoga clothes?

Yoga clothes are adapted to the needs and requirements of the practice, and they need to be good quality to endure it. That all comes at a price. When you start you obviously don’t want to make an investment in case you and Yoga don’t along, but once you have regular practice you will notice that there’s a difference. A big one.

THE PANTS –

The leggings need to stretch 4 ways so that they don’t squeeze anywhere, in any posture. If that’s not the case they will pull or dig into your flesh when you pretzel yourself. The stitching might even end up coming off. This is based on a true story. I have hear that tearing noise in class before.

The definition of Asana = Yoga posture by old sage Patanjali, is to be at ease. One can’t not be at ease when uncomfortable. The leggings also need to be high rise and have a wide waist band. They sit nicely on top of your hips, and don’t slip down showing your underwear. This also avoids the famous muffin top effect.

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Here’s Lena Dunham having a laugh about the muffin top effect. (dailymail.com.uk )

They need to be completely opaque too. I will never forget the face of my students when I mentioned that I could see their underwear in downward dog sometimes because their leggings are sheer… Thank god that’s an only women group and they have a sense of humor.

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Yes, that’s pretty much what it looks like 😉 Image from Photobuket

Most importantly, your Yoga pants need to breeze. You will sweat, a lot,  and if your leggings don’t help evaporate the sweat or the fabric is too synthetic, you will cook in your own juices. When we do Yoga we release toxins in the sweat from the internal organs. It’s not just sweat. This can also give you rashes, itchiness, pimples or even make you feel suffocated and unwell. My advice is go cheap on the tops if you need to because they only cover you torso and the rest is aired, but invest in good bottoms.

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Lululemon Align pants are the lightest and more breathable of their range. They are so soft they feel like you are not wearing anything… but they are 100% opaque. No matter the quality, the lighter the color the more sheer possibility there will be, and the more they will show sweat. Always test in the fitting room before you buy. Do a down dog or a forward fold. Use the mirrors and your phone to check if you need to.

FOR MEN, good pants are even more important. When I did my first boys class it was with my friends’ husbands.

I was a bit conscious about ‘things’ coming out accidentally, so I told them not to wear football/basketball shorts without long fitted underpants. No running shorts, no sheer briefs no speedos. I made them wear double layer to avoid embarrassment (on my side because it seems they really couldn’t care less). There were jokes circulating on the topic for a while… but I achieved my mission.

Imagine, they would have come to class like this… Jaysus!

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Image from Doyouyoga.com (don’t miss this article please!)

A while ago I bought a good pair of Lululemon Yoga shorts for my dear boyfriend the Troglodyte.  They have small slits on the side, a flexible waist band, they breathe and stretch but keep things cool and in place. They even a vanity fly, and side and back pockets. All the perks! He absolutely loves them. If not so much for Yoga, they are used often as lounge wear. I think my friends’ husbands have chances of getting  a similar pair for Christmas this year. These are the latest Men Yoga Shorts from Lululemon.

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Disclaimer: This is not my Dear Boyfriend the Troglodyte


THE TOPS-

Two things to be considered when buying a Yoga top. That it covers and holds the bust completely, and that it doesn’t roll down.  When going upside down you don’t want your boobs ejecting and your belly showing, right? Yoga tanks are usually made of a material that’s non slip. The top will stick to the pants and no matter what you do it will stay there. Running tops on the other hand will slip and roll down, but they are cheaper, so you can always make a fancy knot on the back like this and go on (if Lululemon says It’s cool we do it don’t we?)

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They make very nice Yoga bras these days with lost of crisscross straps, but do they offer the right amount of support for you? That’s something to consider, even if you think you are not very busty. Try them on and do a test. Jump or go upside down to see if your bad boys stay in place.

Lululemon (of course) also make Yoga t-shirts for men, but they are not so essential in my opinion.  My dear boyfriend the Troglodyte has one, and he uses it to sleep only. No wonder he does! It’s the softest thing on the world! I’m afraid I’m not going to stop him from using it as PJs. No no no. It’s great to hug!

Jokes aside, for guys, a regular dry-fit t shirt or tank does the job because they can tuck it in. But for us ladies, tucking in a top when you are wearing leggings is not so cool.


THE MAT –

Don’t forget about the mat! A good Yoga mat is a long term investment but it’s worth it. If you don’t have a good a mat you should consider buying if you are committed to your practice. Here’s why:

  • Good mats don’t disintegrate if you toe nails accidentally scratch the surface coming from downward dog to high lounge (Based on a true story).
  • They also don’t soak your sweat and stink after a few uses (no further comment needed)
  • Most importantly, they allow you to push through your hands and feet without slipping. This way you don’t fall, and you can actually do the postures properly.
  • Good Yoga mats are dense and they are heavy. This is to provide a cushion for your knees and writs, protecting the joints.

If you are new to Yoga you can get a cheaper version to start with. A lot of my students go for Gaiam premium mats. They are available in Singapore in Lazada  and in Qoo10 but think they are a bit pricey for the quality, particularly if you compare to the US prices in Amazon.

Most end up going for a 25$ mat in Cotton On Body because it’s easily available and looks a bit better than the ones in Guardian or Watsons (supermarket ones). It’s Ok… but don’t be sorry to throw it away in a month or two. That’s if you don’t get tired of picking up the debris after the class before that time.

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Image from Reviews.com article about The Best Yoga Mats of 2017

My advice is that you consider a good Manduka or Jade Yoga mat if you are serious about your practice . These are my two favorite brands, but if you want to know more options have a look at The Best Yoga mats of 2017.

I got my first Manduka mat when Pure Yoga Singapore renewed their mats in the Orchard studio, about 7 years ago. To my delight, they decided to give away the old ones away to the students. I don’t know how old my first mat it is. I can’t imagine how many times it has been used and washed… but after one good scrub and some disinfectant it is in semi perfect condition. I’ve had it at my parent’s place since. It’s my holiday mat now. Still standing and still does the job well.

Side note: I usually just wash my mats once a week in the shower. Wiping them with mild soap and a giving them a quick rinse.

You can find Manduka Mats in Singapore in their shop in 313 Sommerset, in Isetan, in Pure Yoga and in Touch the Toes.

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Image from Jade Yoga

In my opinon, Jade Yoga mats actually have better grip than Mandukas. If you have sweaty hands like me this is a game changer. Some people find them too rough though. Different people, different taste!

I also find that when Mandukas are new they have a sort of finish coat that makes them less porous. Later, after use and wash they are fine, but at first you don’t get that grip.

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Credit: leena_mun

Another option if you are budget concious is to buy a travel mat and put it on top of a cheap mat. It’s basically like a rubber sheet.  The one on the left is is the Eko SuperLite from Manduka. They come in many different colors.

I find they have more grip than the normal mats and they get even more grip with use. I bought all mine second hand to ensure they are seasoned.
This is actually what I use for my classes.  I’m always on the go and I can carry them in my handbag with 1,000 other things. The downside is that I have to use small towels to protect my knees and writs because Ii doesn’t provide any cushioning at all.

Where to buy Yoga Clothes in Singapore?

This is always the next question. My rule of thumb is that if you know exactly what you want (model, brand, color, size) first check in Carousell if anybody is selling it. The amount of stuff they have in the platform is AMAZING. Finally there’s an eBay in SG that works wonders!

They have second hand as well as new stuff. There’s individuals selling and also small businesses . Look for acronyms like BNWT (brand new with tags) or BN (brand new) to describe items. I buy a lot here, new and second hand. A good wash removes all traces of the past.

“WHERE TO SHOP”

  • Lululemon is probably the top brand of Yoga clothes. They have two shops in Orchard Rd, Takashimaya and Ion. They are expensive but if you are getting your first basic pair of black leggings It’s s worth the money. They will the last forever.

INSIDER TIP! They have a permanent sales rack hidden near the fitting room. Stay focused. Don’t look around! Just go for the rack. That’s the place to get some juicy discounts up to 30%. Also, Yoga teachers get 15% off even on sales items.

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Lululemon sales rack in Ion Orchard – 3 March 2017 (Image:  my own)

  • Vivre active. Is a local brand with online store and shops in Wisma and Bugis Juction. They are cheaper than international brands but in quality I give it a 8/10 because not all items are there yet. Note that they have Asian sizing so expats might end up on a size much bigger than their usual. Don’t let it put you down. I love the tops but some of the leggings are not so breathable. What I love more is the initiative of setting up such a business. You can read about it here.
  • Pure apparel. In every Pure Yoga studio there’s a shop with Yoga Gear. They carry a big selection with brands like Onzie, Liquido Active and their own brand Pure Apparel. The Liquidos here fly off in a blink. So if you like something buy it or it will be gone the next day. Their own brand is of high standards and nearly as high in price as Lululemon (minus the cool/design factor most of the times). Check them out in Takashimaya, Chevron House and Asia Square. Members get 10% off.
  • Touch The Toes. They have an online shop as well as their outlet in Haji Lane. You will find brands like Teeki, Manduka. The place has the biggest range of mats and props in town. Here’s a tip if they happen to read this some time. Not having the .sg domain made me dismiss your site many times when doing online research.
  • Isetan in Shaw house has a huge sports section with Manduka, Rumi and other brands. This is more for window shopping because they mark up the prices a bit higher. Also they have all Yoga clothes from different sports brands in one single area. It might sound silly but that’s not the case in many department stores. Others that classify by brand and you have to go hopping from one to another.
  • Gap. Gap Fit is there fitness line. It’s only available in Vivo city if I remember well. They don’t have a huge range by the quality is good and the price decent. I have both leggings and tops from them and I’m very satisfied. Old navy seems to belong to the same group as Gap and have nice Yoga clothes but you can’t get them in Singapore.
  • H&M. I think It’s better to go to the cheaper shops after you have touched the good stuff, then you will be able to find the jewels hidden in the piles of hay. There’s a lot of choice. And a lot of it not good. Trust your fingertips and go for dark items that will not sheer.
  • Cotton On Body. The active wear range of the Australian brand has been a great success. I pass by the shop in Wisma often and they have new collections coming out all the time, with funky designs.  I’m not a fan of their leggings because they don’t breathe well enough for me. But go for the tops and bras without a doubt. The touch here is important too. Not all items are the same quality. Rough Yoga clothes can give you rashes if you have sensitive skin. You twist an turn in them rubbing you all the time.
  • Forever 21 has a pretty decent active wear selection. The one in Ion Orchard has all the sales items, and the ones in Vivo City and 313 Sommerset have the newer collections. . I find them quite soft to the touch but I’m not a hug fan of the black and neon trend they seem to love. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just not  their target audience…  I love their soft bras though! The low support Y bra. I would get them in every color possible.

You might be surprised not to see some usual suspects of sports clothes here. Of course brands like Reebok, Underarmour, Nike, Adidas, Puma etc have Yoga Clothes now but even these giants sometimes don’t get the basics right. The texture, the cut, the waist that doesn’t make muffin tops or move down,  the 4 way stretch… not all items meet these standards. Even Stella McCartney’s Adidas Yoga line is not always convincing to me, and it’s even more expensive than Lululemon.

ONLINE SHOPPING

Just for your information, you can buy Yoga Clothes online in the following sites. I found all online execept InZone5. I met the ladies in the last edition of Boutiques Fairs . these online but I have not tried. So I can’t give my opinion

 

My point is made. With some proper Yoga Clothes and a good Yoga mat, I can asure you you will enjoy the practice more. I do not get any commission out of endorsements, so I hope this really help!

Until next time, Namaste!

Xx

PS: Here’s a bit of indulgence… my Yoga outfits Pinterest board.

My Fat Suit – A story of weight loss and weight gain


Imagine falling asleep one day and waking up three months later with 10 kgs more. That’s pretty much how I felt after weeks in my pajamas, nursing some sort of tropical pneumonia I got at a Christmas party.  Suddenly the brain fog was gone. I felt alive and energized. I wanted to exercise, go places… and then, I discovered The Fat Suit.

I had put on so much weight that my rolls were on the way of everything. I couldn’t bend forward doing yoga because there was something unfamiliar blocking the way between my chest and my pelvis: My pregnancy like belly. I never had much of a backside and now my butt jiggled like jelly as I walked. The feeling was so foreign to me it felt like I had put on butt implants. Sitting was fun. Like having a chair cushion made to measure. It was amusing at times and at times disturbing, but my lovely boyfriend The Troglodyte was more than happy to welcome my new Latin Ass to the family.

My thighs now rubbed each other when I walked. Reminding me with every step that they didn’t use to do that in the recent past. It was entertaining to discover the changes. There was like a soft padding all around them that had a life of its own. Nigella Lawson once described the perfect texture for her peanut butter cheesecake as inner thigh wobble. Perfect analogy. The inner, the outer, the front and the back. It was all wobbling like a gorgeous cheesecake.

For months I could not see the weight accumulating. I was too busy being happy. I was having fun and enjoying life. Going out with my friends, making new friends, dating and falling in love with The Troglodyte. Eating and drinking the same copious amounts he gulps should have rang a bell. I’m half his size and have a fourth of his fitness level. It was not surprising that I put on weight. It was simply not important.

It was going take a while to get used to. My brain did not have any recollection of the new volumes so it still thought I was my usual weight. The brain fog was gone it could not process the changes fast enough so I found myself hitting the furniture in occasions.  It was a bit like having an Audi A3 all your life, suddenly changing to an A4 and drive around hitting every curb. I have to admit it was pretty hilarious.

I was wearing a Fat Suit I couldn’t take off.  I was fat and happy, bubbly like Bubbles DeVere from little Britain.  Very much willing to celebrate I was finally felling well. Champagne for everyone!

It was just a few extra happy pounds. But as you can imagine, I didn’t fit in ANY of my clothes. Strangling bras and panties are the closest to Chinese torture I have ever experienced. When I had to go shopping for a new size of everything, I found myself caught in a dilemma. Should I invest on a new wardrobe or not? Am I really an ogre like Princess Fiona from Shrek and I was just under a spell all this while? Or was this the actual reality? Where did all those tiny clothes hanging in my closet come from? and why where they bothering me so much?

Let’s rewind a bit.

A year ago I was 10kgs lighter. I was super super skinny like I have never been in my entire life. I had lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. Some weight that I wanted to lose, and some I didn’t want to lose and went away anyway. I always thought it was temporary, that I would go back to my normal weight. So I stopped thinking about it or doing anything about it.

All my clothes hanged on me like sacks. I did not look good. I looked sick. I had severe anxiety, hyperthyroidism, and digestive problems. My eyes were sunken. My cheekbones protruded out of my face.  I sometimes didn’t even wear a bra because there was nothing there to hold. My butt was flat. The skin on my face was paper thin. To the point that my dermatologist suggested I get fillers to look better. Yet, a lot of people were so willing to praise my figure and discover the key to my epic weight loss . What diet did you do? What was the magic formula? It was body shaming, but I could not tell them that. I was not aware back then.

The constant body remarks I was hammered with, slowly killed my appetite and wounded my spirit. It was presented to me as a challenge, a chance to try something I have never done before. Something we could do together. How fit could I get, how thin could I get. I never thought my body needed massive renovations, but I did have my insecurities like everybody else. Manipulators prey on insecurities and feed on your frustrations. I jumped to it half heatedly, more to learn about something that was important to HIM than anything else. But HE, the man that treated waiters badly, never had enough. I was never enough. I was never trying hard enough or was committed enough to having the body he wanted me to have.

I lost appetite for food and appetite for life. Why did I jump in? To prove myself I have will power? No. It was to feel accepted by somebody I loved that obviously didn’t love me back in the same way.

When the the body shaming and the relationship finished, I decided to buy a bunch of fancy expensive clothes in celebration. I wanted to feel pretty, attractive and desirable again. Something I had not felt for a very long time. And it did the job. It helped me feel normal again.

Months later the fat suit materialized itself all around me to everybody’s entertainment. I felt happy, I was healthy and even felt sexy, but It seemed the weight was the thing people noticed the most. I found strangers and familiar faces staring and my belly all the time and asking if I was pregnant. ‘I’m not pregnant. I’m just fat. Get over it!’ – I used to tell them. It was like a constant reminder that something was wrong with me, but there is really nothing wrong with me anymore. I have a healthy functional body that allows me to do anything I have to do. There is something really wrong with them, and by them I mean society. We need to teach our children realistic body standards.

What really bothered me at the end of the day is that the tiny clothes were very beautiful and I just wish they were my size. I like beautiful things. Will I go to an extreme to fit back in them? NO. I don’t know if I will eventually sell them or keep them as a reminder of those times. The fact is that It’s really not that important. 

 

 

In-flight guided meditation

meditation

I always prefer to take night flights, but when a day flight is unavoidable, killing 12h on a plane can get a little challenging. The in-flight entertainment system could be your salvation, but if you fly a lot you will exhaust the options soon. What to do then?! Keep calm and meditate.

If you think about it, being alone on a plane for a long period of time is a bit like a spiritual retreat. A chance for some introspection, to get some “me” time and put your head in order. There’s no internet, nowhere to go, not much to look at, no interruptions, you have nowhere to go but inwards. What does it sound like? YES, meditation.

If you are afraid of flying or just stressed by the whole thing, this meditation can help you get in good spirits for your long flight. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed even if you are a frequent flyer. The packing frenzy, the traffic, the check-in queues, that moment when you don’t know if you will get away with those 10 extra kgs in your luggage… Then security scans, shoes off, shoes on, immigration, customs, waiting, boarding, placing your luggage in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you, fasten your seat-belt and switch off all electronic devices…

You made it, now it’s time for YOU to SWITCH OFF

In-flight meditation

Settle in your seat. Make sure you are not cold. Place a pillow or blanket on your lower back and sit up straight, but relaxed. Plant both feet firmly on the floor, rest your hands on your thighs and gently take a few long, deep breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth with a releasing sigh. Keep your eyes softly opened and gazing slightly downwards, to the pocket with magazines in front of you. This elongates the neck and facilitates relaxing the muscles. With each exhale try to remove the tension of the whole of your body. Do this 5 times at least.

Now start to breathe only through the nose. Observe your breath and resist the temptation to control it. You are just a witness of that phenomenon that happens without you even thinking it  Close your eyes gently and use each breath to scan your body from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. Each breath goes through that specific area like a healing wave and releases any accumulated tension. Let the tension leave with the exhale.

Relax your forehead, the muscles around your eyes. Feel the cool air entering the body through your nosetrils and notice how the air feels warmer when it leaves. Relax the sides of your mouth. Let it open slightly if that’s it’s most relaxed position for you. Unclench your jaw and your teeth. Relax the back your neck,  the front of your neck, your throat and collar bone.

Stop a little longer on your shoulders, for four to five breaths. We hold a lot of tension there. Once you are ready and at your own pace, move your awareness down to the chest. Notice the air first fills some areas of your lungs and then others. Do not inflate your chest. Remember you are just an spectator. Your breath is breathing you, you are not in control. Your whole body is breathing and it happens without your intervention. Leave the belly soft, letting it inflate and deflate naturally with each breath. Make it stick out softly, nobody is looking, nobody cares. You are alone in your own air bubble floating over oceans and continents. You don’t hear the noises around you anymore. It’s just you and your breath.

Go down to the belly. Feel it rise and fall with each breath. Stay here if you wish. Feel your arms breathing too. From the shoulder, the elbow, forearm, top of the hand, back of the hand, fingers. The whole of the arm. Do the same with your legs. The back of the thighs, the front of the thighs, the calves, the shins, ankles, top of the feet, toes. Feel the soles of the feet in contact with the ground. Feel the vibration, your whole body is breathing. Keep our whole body in awareness. With each breath feel the air run through you as if you where a sponge. From the top of the head to the soles of the feet. Stay here as long as you wish.

Congratulations! Just by reading this you have already felt the bliss of meditation. You have probably scanned your body  with each line and unconsciously followed the instructions. You might feel sleepy, then sleep. You might feel calm and content, or energized. There’s no magic formula. You are feeling whatever it is that needs to be felt right now in your body.

When you reduce external stimulus the senses stop bothering the mind and it goes quiet. I have my brightest ideas in those moments. Starting the flight with this simple meditation had me writing posts for the last 8h. I think I’m over India at the moment which is very appropriate! I feel calm and inspired, my head bubbling with ideas.

It doesn’t always go this way though, and there’s nothing wrong with you if that’s the case. Keep trying if you are keen. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Calm.com has some nice free audio meditations you can download to your phone before a flight. If your inner Buddha has gone out fishing and your inner jumpy monkey is in charge, check out 10 things to do to entertain yourself on a long flight. Coming soon.

Until then, namaste, and safe travels!