Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Ashtanga Journey - Week 2

28 Nov - 4 Dec

Settling into the rhythm that is Canggu now. Early nights and even earlier Mysore mornings. Fernando wanted me to finish early so I can assist with the headstands so it's an even earlier start at 6.45am. It's not difficult to wake early here. I get up automatically before 6am each morning. Even on my day off which was quite annoying as I so wanted to sleep in! I'm enjoying my early starts as the shala is nice and quiet, and Lala comes around just before 7am and we get to help each other in Prasaritta Padotanasana C. Sometimes, it's a bit disruptive to my flow when I'm asked to stop to assist but I don't mind that much as I get to learn more in adjusting.

Afternoon sessions at Fernando's are coming along real well. This week was about adjusting the seated poses especially the Maricasanas. It takes quite a bit of technique and sometimes just brute strength but there's a fine line to know when to stop before we hurt someone. That's why these one on ones are so good. We get to implement what we learnt during the led afternoon classes with real students which is simply amazing.

Assisting in the afternoon led classes

Sunday session with Sara - we went through the same process as last week. Sara becomes the student and Rebecca and I took turns to lead her through the sequence and adjusting. We continued all the way to Navasana this time. It was my first time leading anyone through the seated poses and it was a great refresher to verbalise the sequence as I lead her through the standing poses. Confidence is definitely building and it's so useful to call out the poses in sanskrit. Definitely makes me remember them better.

Learnt about the 3 bandhas. We tried some kapalbhati pranayama and some nauli kriya. Didn't get the hang of it at all as I have no idea how to control and isolate my transversus abdominis. Sara said we could do some kapalbhati just before our practice to strengthen our uddiyana bandha.

My personal practice is improving so much and my body is really opening up. Right hip is opening more in supta kurmasana and my back and shoulders are also opening. Fingers are creeping up in kapotasana, from halfway of my feet to touching my heels! Was such a shock to touch them. Granted my elbows were not connected to the floor and I don't get to touch everyday but the opening it's doing to my back is amazing. Backbends have not been easy for me so to be able to do that with Fernando's assistance was just humbling. Fingers are slowly closing in for my right pasasana too. Working towards getting into the posture myself. It will come.

Haven't really gotten up to much other than yoga cause the days are short and the practice plus one on ones plus assisting takes up most of my time. Sean recommended a healer that does massage and bekam (cupping). He was real good but it was definitely NOT a relaxing massage. The bekam didn't hurt (it just looks like I've been abused) but the massage hurt like hell. My entire right side was tight. Felt like I've been hit by a bus the next morning. Thank god it was my off day. Was in no state to do any yoga :P


Oh, and we went to a 1 1/2hour  Ecstatic Dance event at The Practice. Real interesting experience. It's exactly like a rave party - but at 11am without any alcohol or substances. Just partying to the music and being high on life. Cool experience.


Poke poke - Hawaiian delicacies

Nalu bowls - Too pretty to eat.

Some of the healthy yummy food I've been eating here in Canggu.

That's about it for my second week here. Till next week then.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Ashtanga Journey - Week 1

20 - 27 Nov 2016

It's been one whole year since I've written anything here! Started off with good intentions but life just got in the way. It's the same with my journal that I brought to Bali. Wanted to pen down my thoughts and learnings each night but it's been a week in Bali and I only managed to fill 1 day. Maybe a weekly post would work better, we'll see.

So anyway, I'm back in Canggu to do an apprenticeship of sorts with an Ashtanga teacher I met in July, the last time I was in Bali to do my 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training (which was an amazing experience in itself that deserves a whole post but I was too busy enjoying myself that I didn't manage to pen down anything!)

First morning back and it was straight to Mysore class at Serenity Eco Guesthouse. Since it was my first day back, I did Primary and that was enough. I was happy with my practice, slowly easing myself back into Canggu and the new environment. They have a new shala so that took a bit of time getting used to. I missed my old shala here though but hey - non attachment. And it was so good to see Fernando again and his strict no nonsense voice as he led some beginners through the sequence.

Serenity Eco Guesthouse

Every other afternoon, Rebecca (the other apprentice) and I would go to Fernando's house for one-on-one sessions where he will go through the postures in Sanskrit, the vinyasa counts and how to adjust properly. The first adjustment he taught was adjusting in Prasarita Padotanasana C. It was a little scary at first as I wasn't sure how much pressure and how far I can take someone but I'm getting more comfortable as days go by.

Evenings, I get to assist Fernando in his led classes and that's a great opportunity to practice on so many types of bodies. When I am practicing, I tend to zone in and not pay attention to what others are doing around me so it was really helpful to be able to see what the common issues are that people face in various postures. Most days I assist alone as Rebecca assists in the class before me but Fridays and Sundays, we get to assist together which I enjoy more. The first time we did it together was quite messy cause we moved about too much. The second time was much better as we just took care of our sections and helped when we were needed.

Assisting in Fernando's led class at Serenity

Friday morning I went to Seminyak Yoga Shala for a full Primary led class in Sanskrit, led by Sara, Fernando's wife. I always enjoy led classes as they are a good refresher cause we tend to pick up bad habits. Truly enjoy flowing next to Rebecca as I can pick up certain moves she does between the vinyasas that I skip (like the lift).  

Today, Sunday, was my best learning day so far. Morning started off with a wonderful practice at Seminyak Yoga Shala with Sara. I got to flow next to Rebecca again and got adjustments by Sara. I got given the next posture (Supta Vajrasana) in the secondary series, which I'm super grateful for. My sprained ankle is still healing so I did a modified version instead - holding on to Sara's hands instead of my foot. Sara got me to assist Rebecca in doing supta vajrasana as well. She's so flexible and bendy that it was super easy to assist her.

Sunday afternoon's session at Sara'a house was truly invaluable. Sara became the student, and Rebecca and I took turns leading and adjusting. We called out the poses by its Sanskrit name and led Sara through the sequences. Sara purposely did some weird poses so we could adjust her. It was my first time ever verbalising the entire standing sequence plus pose names so that really helped in gaining confidence and gave me a taste of what it would feel like to actually teach. Super super grateful for that session.

My personal practice is improving as well. It's been only a week here and I can feel my body opening up due to the warmth and daily practice and adjustments. Supta kurmasana is getting easier - this is not an easy pose for me - right hip is still tight but I managed to slightly cross my legs with my hands barely clasped. Marichyasana D and pasasana (only one side - still can't catch the other) are also beginning to feel effortless. Slowly but surely, my body is starting to open in kapotasana. Walking towards my heels in urdhva dhanurasa is still a long long long way away. It's so inspiring to see Rebecca catch her ankles and Bart his heels - such bendy backs - my turn will come eventually - I'm working towards it!

Other than yoga, I've made some amazing connections with some amazing people. The most significant connection I've made is with Lisa from San Diego, California. You know how you feel comfortable with certain people, requiring very little effort to bond? With her, conversations were easy, small talk wasn't needed. Her bubbly personality and infectious laugh were like rays of sunshine. Felt completely relaxed and happy around her. She left today but I'm glad we spent almost a week together.

Here's to you my Bali soul sista

By the way, I'm staying at Yana Guesthouse, a very affordable basic but clean and cozy guesthouse run by the lovely Yana who is like a mum to all her guests. They hire out scooters as well so that's convenient. I got a Honda Vario for a month. Haven't named her yet though. Any ideas?

Lisa and I braving the monsoon rain on my Vario

So glad I managed to pen some experiences down. Fingers crossed I will do this at least once a week. Till the next post.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to make Kambucha (fermented tea)

So in this post I would like to tell you how I make Kambucha tea. I would not say that I am an expert in kambucha making but I've made a few rounds already and it has all turned out alright so I'll share my method with you.

What is kambucha?

First things first, what in the world is kambucha? I was first introduced to kambucha when I stayed with an Air BnB host in Wellington who was into organic whole foods, yoga and healthy living, all the stuff I'm keen on too.

Kombucha is simply fermented sugary tea. The fermentation is from some sort of bacteria or yeast called SCOBY or "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast". The scoby eats the sugar in the tea, transforming it into a fizzy, refreshing and very healthy drink full of probiotic and other goodness that your intestines will love. The closest way to describe the taste is like apple cider, without the alcoholic effects.

What is scoby?

To make kambucha tea, you have to get hold of some scoby for yourself. The easiest way is to ask your friends who are into health foods. I'm sure you will find someone into fermentation in the group. If you really can't find any scoby, you can make your own scoby.  I have never tried so can't help you there. 
Scobys are rubbery, slippery things with brown trails hanging from it. It looks kind of disgusting really :) Think of it as the 'mother alien' making 'alien scoby babies' which are the layers under it. Once you found someone who has scoby, ask them to give you a layer of scoby and you are on your way!
My pet scoby

Preparing the tea

I use 2 jars for the kambucha making process. Use glass jars as scobies don't like metal. Try the second hand shops for a cheaper option or jars can be purchased at a knick knack shop. 

Put around 10 tea bags of black tea into a large jar. My jar is about a foot and a half tall. I add 2 extra bags of green tea just for fun. The scoby needs the caffeine to feed so using pure green tea won't do. Add in roughly 7 table spoons of brown sugar. For my smaller jar, I use 7 bags of black tea, 2 bags of green tea and roughly 5 table spoons of brown sugar. It doesn't matter really how many bags of tea or sugar you add. The scoby will eat whatever you put in.

Add in boiling water and leave it to brew.

Adding the scoby

Once the tea has cooled (you don't want to kill your scoby in hot tea), add in the mixture the scoby was living in, which is the old kambucha. This neutralises the acidity of the tea to provide a better environment for the scoby. It doesn't matter how much scoby you have as it would grow according to the food you feed it. 

I have recently experimented with adding in a few strawberries and raspberries for added flavour. Totally up to you.

Scoby in the jar of tea

Cover your jars with a breathable cloth, date the jar and let the scoby work its magic for 7 - 10 days.

Kambucha in the making

Bottling your Kambucha

Let your kambucha brew for around 7-10 days. The warmer the temperature, the faster it brews. You can test it after 6 days and when you are happy with the mix of sour and sweet, you can start the bottling process. I usually like mine after 10 days. 

You have to save your scoby for the next kambucha batch so scoop your babies into a bowl (remember not to use a metal ladle!) and pour some kambucha in with it. Pour the rest of the kambucha through a sieve before transferring it into bottles.

Plastic or glass bottles are fine. It's just like beer, where it will still fizz in the bottles. I've got a blog post about brewing your own beer too. The kambucha will still brew in your bottles as there are tiny scobies working their magic so the taste might change to a more vinegary taste if you keep the bottles too long. 

Bottled goodness

There you have it. Brewing kambucha is super easy so why not give it a go? 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Gaining Financial Freedom

Over the weekend, as I was browsing through FB before I got out of bed, I came across this post from a traveller who in just 9 months, have gained financial freedom and is travelling the world, all because he took a leap of faith and invested in an online business.

I've always wanted to travel the world and not worry about cost or paying off my mortgage, etc so I thought, if he could do it, so can I!

I've made a commitment to revolve my life and follow my dream. Interested in gaining the same financial freedom? Have a look at this video and see how EASY it is. See you on the inside!

To my financial freedom!
ok latest update. The company was going through a merge and my sponsor was busy speaking at the launch of the new merger so I wasn't getting the support I wanted. Have since ceased to try but who knows. I might revisit it in the future. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spring skiing on Whakapapa, Mt Ruapehu

tried learning to ski for the first time ever 2 seasons ago. Coming from a country that has the same temperature all year round, snow was such an alien concept! 

Started with some ski lessons on Whakapapa Ski Area, Mt Ruapehu. Mt Ruapehu has the largest commercial ski area in New Zealand. As a beginner, I will definitely recommend at least one lesson with a professional as although your partner or friend knows how to ski, they are not trained in teaching. Lots of relationships can be saved with a first ski lesson. 

My hubby is actually quite a patient person so I was lucky in that respect. After 2 lessons at Happy Valley, the beginners area, he took me all the way up to the top to try to gain my confidence. The opposite happened as I cried on the way down cause I wasn't ready lol! Lesson : step by step next time! He persisted and 2 years later, I can finally ski!!

Mt Doom in te background

Spring skiing is pretty awesome on Mt Ruapehu as it has a longer season compared to the south island ski areas. Spring skiing is also warmer but there's still heaps of snow on the ground. Mt Ruapehu is a great place to learn due to a range of beginner trails up on the mountain. I personally love the Waterfall TBar area - perfect for beginner skiers. And how can you beat having Mt Doom as a backdrop??? Scenery of the surrounding Tongariro National Park is just awesome!

Isn't the scenery just gorgeous???

Yup. Make your days count. Live life to the fullest. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Wedding Day - Joleen & Jerry Get Married

Weddings... It's always a funny day this one. Butterflies in your stomach and last minute panics with bursts of bridezilla moments. I think I did quite well (well, in my mind at least I wasn't a diva).

The morning started out quite cruisy really. My 3 bridesmaids (maid of honour Melanie, sister Edeleen and cousin Alicia) said they've got everything sorted and I fully trusted them. There's nothing more I could do except to let things go and just enjoy my big day.

We got to Wairakei Resort at 9am so my girls could do some last minute set up with the tree. Mel did my makeup and Jess Wall did my hair. Love both my makeup and hair btw, the girls did an amazing job.

Getting ready...

My handsome Daddy xx
The pics made it look so calm but by the time we got to getting me into my dress, we were frantic as we were running late and my guests had been sweltering for 20 minutes under the hot Taupo sun. At least it was better than windy rain and cold!

We finally got me all laced up and down to my handsome daddy. Oh he looked radiant that day. So happy he's walking me down the aisle xx

We walked in to none other than Ed Shereen's Thinking Out Loud which I so love because of his beautiful lyrics of mysterious ways people fall in love and how they will keep on loving each other till they are 70 (and beyond...). I was gripping my dad's hand very tightly as I was feeling so nervous and excited at the same time.

It was a magical feeling walking down the aisle, passing all my family and close friends, to my handsome husband to be. Quite surreal actually.

Daddy gave me a peck on the check and handed me over to Jerry. It's happening!!

If you are ever looking for a celebrant, I will highly recommend Belinda de Lautour from The Wedding Angel. She will take care of you from the beginning planning stages, and hold your hand all the way until the end. She was so amazing. Made our ceremony so beautiful and personal. I couldn't help it. I teared up and mucked up my makeup after our vows when Belinda was doing the blessing of the hands.

Tearing up *sniff*

Pronounced Man & Wife

We performed a beautiful sand ceremony where we poured two different colours of sand (red representing me and black representing Jerry) to symbolise the coming together of our two cultures and individuals as one - and as the grains may not be separated, so would our lives be intertwined forever.

Sand Ceremony

Mum closed the ceremony with a touching reading and it was all over and done in half an hour. Felt like time had passed so fast! We had some amazingly fun shots with the bridal party by our lovely photographer Krystle from Bespoke Photography. Love love it!


It was on to speeches and a BBQ lunch before the next round of guests arrived at 2.30pm. Jerry's soccer team, my colleagues and friends shared our day with us as we cut the cake, did a yam seng and had our first dance. Thanks to best man Ray for getting Jerry to agree to the first dance!

Yam Seng!!!

Our guests xx

Check out all our pics here...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pre-Wedding Pics in Taupo

It's been ages since I wrote in this blog. A lot has happened since 2012!

Jerry finally proposed at 23:05 on the 23.05.15 (on my birthday) at the lovely Chateau Tongariro.

I said YES!

At first I wanted to do our pre-wedding pics in KL but I didn't think Jerry would like being in a suit for hours in 30 degrees much. We decided to take our pics in Taupo instead with the lovely Krystle from Bespoke Photography as our photographer.

Loving her photos xx

View the rest of her pics here...

In front of Taupo's Floatplane

At the Taupo Harbour