Lifestyle

I hate running.

Never loved it, never excelled in it. But today, I ran my first half marathon. The only training I have are a bunch of HIIT and yoga sessions that I do on intervals about 3-4 times a week. And today, as I ran my first few kilometers, already left behind by my friends, I told myself – once I hit my 10km mark, I will call an uber and be done with it. I just wanted to let everyone know that I got into it, tried but made a rationale decision that I was not made for it.

After I got past the 10km, I told myself – maybe a few more kilometers won’t hurt – and as I walked and ran intermittently, 12, 13, 14 – I knew I was going to make it ’til the end – and that made all the difference. Today I am so proud of myself, for conquering my fear and for getting over myself and just letting go and followed where my feet led me.

As I recover in the next few days – it will be with a smile because I pushed on, proved my own self wrong, that indeed mind is stronger than matter. I set myself to fail, but realized I wanted to get there and win, and when I put my mind into it – I can do it! and I did!

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Lifestyle

How yoga saved my life

I have been on and off the mat – mainly hoping to lose weight, but this time, hoping for it to save me, and it did.

After a devastating event in my life early this year, I have searched for a place that will serve as my sanctuary – somewhere I can be safe even when I am alone. Somewhere I can be alone, but don’t feel alone. I found that sanctuary in a 64 inches x 24 inches space – in the comfort of my yoga mat.

I am no yogi, nor am I a pretzel who can do all the asanas perfectly – I try my very best though, bending and stretching every muscle to at least try to honor the pose. I go as often as I can, sometimes twice or thrice a week – I intersperse it with my circuit training and all the other intensive workout I do.

The mat and each yoga session – has helped me, at first, escape my troubles and run away for an hour from my crazy imagination and emotions that I myself don’t trust. After a while, when I have achieved some kind of tranquility within me and I have learned how to control my thoughts, yoga has helped to ground me – pull me close to Earth that I may learn how to embrace my body, and myself. It has allowed me to love being with myself and just live with my insecurities, limitations and all my imperfections.

It may sound cliché to some but it really did provide a dwelling for me – and every other day, I just yearn to get on that mat once more and just be.

Here are my favorite yoga studios in Singapore (not in order of priority):

  1. Yoga Movement
  2. Yoga+
  3. Hom Yoga
  4. Ziva Yoga
  5. Level Yoga
  6. AlphaBalance @ Tanderra
  7. Bych
  8. Como Shambhala
  9. Outta Hatha (outdoor yoga)
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Lifestyle, Travel

Yoga Retreat : Hariharalaya (Part II)

I was going through a very difficult time in my life and was searching for another yoga retreat after my eat, pray, love stint in Bali. With the help of Google, I was able to scour hundreds of sites and eventually found a retreat center in Cambodia that seemed authentic and affordable. I have found the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat, and this started my journey.

I immediately bought a ticket to Siem Reap, applied my leave and left Singapore. I thought I had it all figured out. After my very lavish, very expensive 3-day retreat in Bali, I really did not know what to expect in Siem Reap – a place I have never been, a country that was never really on top of my bucket list.

I arrived at the center with an open heart, an open mind. It is located in a sleepy village deep in the rural area of Siem Reap where life was simple and you live among the locals. I was shown to our shared dorm which is basically a big hut with six beds with a huge mosquito net and thankfully, a nicely tiled floor. The toilets and showers were shared which was not really a problem. The center itself is big with its own yoga and meditation pavilion, a small dipping pool, pockets of green areas, a massage and spa area, the common dining area, a small book corner and lots and lots of hammocks.

The schedule itself was stringent in the sense that you will be summoned through the ringing of the gong for yoga practice which was about twice to thrice a day, all the meal times and the meditation sessions in between. Everyone is required to be on digital detox – which was life changing. It just sets you free. There are also optional activities and programs to participate in during your free time. I went for the Yoga Massage workshop and the Hidden Temple Yoga Tour which were both awesome.

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The Hidden Temple Yoga tour brought us to a clearing by the jungle which was right beside the oldest temple ruins in Cambodia, not the Angkor Wat by the way. After the practice, we had an amazing picnic lunch with the best home cooked food I have ever tasted. It was just unbelievable.

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The yoga practice are not like the ones in the city which was more of an exercise than what actual yoga really is. There are no mirrors around to add up to your anxiety – just yourself and the rest of the people whose only focus is self-awareness and being in the now. The teachers are really friendly and approachable – everyone was just real and unpretentious.

The meditation sessions with Joel are just so unbelievable – it takes a while to really settle in and be at the present moment. But just the thought of you giving yourself this time to just be and meditate, is a reward on its own.

Don’t even get me started with the food. We were all on vegetarian diet that entire week. I am a carnivore, I love my steak – but that week was just amazing. It was the best cooking I have ever had. I have travelled to a lot of places and dined at a lot of fine dining restaurants – but those meals I had there  were just so real and heartwarming. I would go back to that place if only for the food.

The part I love the most was just being there. Although I was very troubled with all my personal problems, at that moment – during that week, I was at the most peaceful place and at my most peaceful state. It was life-changing just being able to have idle time to yourself, lounging by the pool and falling asleep in the hammock with a book on your lap. I wrote a lot during my stay there – I had all my emotions going and all my creativity flowing. It was as if it unblocked a part of my mind that wanted to let go, and so, I just let go.

I encourage all of you – and it doesn’t matter whether you do yoga or not at all, whether you are in search of something or you’ve found it all – make a trip to Siem Reap and go for this yoga retreat, I guarantee you that you will not regret it, at all. Do it for yourself.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a message and I would be happy to help. Meanwhile, if you want to find out more – read about Hariharalaya here.

Photo credits : Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Center

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Lifestyle

Guavapass : enough of boring gyms

It is an understatement to say that Guavapass has saved my life. It has saved me from boredom with my former gym, needless to say that my previous gym was already pretty awesome (Virgin Active). Gone are the routinary sessions trying to figure out the machines and attending boring classes – the usual Les Mills series and commercialised yoga. I have been on it for almost nine months now and have attended over a hundred classes within this period.

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It was addictive. Apart from trying to maximize the number of classes I go to – I was so excited to try each and every one of the pretty studios with awesome classes. Most of all, it has been great participating at the outdoor bootcamps and sweating it out with random strangers.

They have recently opened up their own space at Mandarin Gallery – I haven’t been but it looks pretty awesome. The more classes you attend, all the more the subscription price becomes worth it.

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Below are my top recommendations:

  1. Momentum Bootcamps – their outdoor bootcamps are kick-ass and literally to die for
  2. Ziva Yoga – the space is just surreal, it is in Tiong Bahru and has a ‘nature’ vibe to it
  3. WeBarre – fun sessions for toning
  4. AlphaBalance – they hold their session at Tanderra and Canvass. The one at Tanderra is pretty awesome. Go for their meditation and yoga classes. Just bliss.
  5. Eat, Train, Love – another bootcamp session, a little more ‘humane’ than Momentum Bootcamp
  6. Como Shambhala – nice space. My faves : their 90-min yin yoga
  7. Outta Hatha Yoga – I love their outdoor yoga classes at The Customs House
  8. Level Yoga – their yin and massage session is love!
  9. Spartan Boxing Club – their boxing sessions are tough but it feels so good afterwards. It’s a total stress buster.
  10. 7Cycle – their bootcamp is pretty rad
  11. Anthem – great space and fun spinning class
  12. Aquaspin – fun! spinning in the pool!
  13. Bounce – tried this on my own and is a great stress-reliever.
  14. Bych Yoga Hub – their space and showers are awesome. The only thing I hate is their carpetted flooring which does not give any traction at all for my feet
  15. Surfset – we only get 1 credit for this studio, but surfing on land – a totally great workout!

Check them out here: Guavapass

Photo Credits: Guavapass

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Lifestyle

Get your fitness momentum going

It is so easy to lose your momentum after missing out a couple of days at the gym – I should know, I have been on hiatus for almost two weeks. Since the start of the year, I have been religiously going to my workout sessions, be it yoga or HIIT, day in and out, sometimes up to twice a day – until the long nights in the office started and I have been on a roll (literally) ever since.
It has been difficult to get out of bed when my workout alarm rings at 6am in the morning. Even more difficult when it is still dark as the sun only rises here in Singapore no earlier than 7am. Here are some quick tips below to get back to the grind which is really more of a reminder to myself but hopefully will help you as well.

  1. Hang your workout outfit somewhere where you can see it when you are lying in bed. It is important that the outfit inspires you to workout. Lululemons are most effective.
  2. Put your phone or alarm far away from your bed so you’d have to get up to make it stop.
  3. Pack all your workout stuff a night before so you are ready to go when you wake up in the morning.
  4. Save your workout time in your calendar and take it seriously like how you would for a meeting with your boss.
  5. Look forward to that (health) breakfast and plan where you would get your coffee after your workout.
  6. Take a quick shower after getting out of bed for that extra punch to really wake you up!
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