Saturday, 25 February 2012

Phoenix rising: Finding the right tea to kickstart your morning

Here in the glorious metropolis of Halifax, the bus strike is still in full force with no end in sight. For me, the main consequence of this is that I have had to improve my relationship with the mornings.

As I have mentioned before, it certainly takes me a while to get started in the mornings, but my cat has been a great cheerleader thus far. If my alarm doesn't quite do the job, she is all to happy to jump on me purring loudly, and maybe even giving me a love tap or two to the face. Much like this. Thankfully I usually wake up before she has to break out the baseball bat :)

Once I get up, however, my internal fire is in need of smoldering, and what better way to do this than to brew up a cup of tea! Below is a guide to finding the right tea for you depending on what the day has in store. Of course, as any alchemist knows, you must start with the black blacker than black if you wish to make your philosophers stone correctly, so we shall limit our focus to unflavored, black teas. I'll be using teas from Davids tea as my reference point.

Assam Banaspaty: A rich and malty tea with a hint of sweetness made in India. When steeped, it has a delightful red color. For the full experience, add a little milk/soy milk and a dash of sugar. That's how the locals drink their tea. A fine choice for any connoiseur or aspiring yoga practitioner.  

Davids Darjeeling Blend: A personal favorite of mine! This tea has a rich, complex flavor, with hints of the mountain air, and woodsy elements as well. A perfect blend for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Imagine yourself looking into the distance taking in the breath taking scenery of the Himalayan mountains for the full experience. Add milk and sugar as needed! Use it to help you reach the pinnacle of your life or acquire a new perspective, or to enjoy a great tea...whatever floats your boat :)

English breakfast tea: The perfect start to the day for those wishing to find the right balance in their life. A classic blend with a rich, yet simple flavor. It is simple, yet elegant. Here's to finding the right balance! Lovers of all things classic and timeless, unite!

Kenyan Tinderet: It's made with lightning, real lightning! A tea for those seeking gratuitous amounts of energy, or wishing to run as fast as Kenyans. This fine, earthy tea with hints of honey is made in the Tinderet estate in Kenya, where lighting is indeed quite common. Harness the awesome power of nature's light show, and have sweet rave parties in your stomach. A shockingly good tea that'll leave you thunderstruck! AC/DC tickets not included.

Nepal black tea: for the ethically minded individual that enjoys a sweet, rich flavor, that is handcrafted to perfection! Part of the proceeds from this tea go to community programs that help schools, the elderly, and underprivileged families.  Give a gift to those in Nepal and your taste buds. That's what I call a win-win! A staple on my shelves for years to come!

Orange Pekoe: The classic of classics. This IS your father's tea, and probably his father's, and so on ad infinitum. For those who love nostalgia and the good old days. Old faithful, orange pekoe, will never let you down. Take a sip and enjoy the memories.

Lapsang souchong star: For those of you that enjoy singing kumbaya by the campfire, a fine cigar, or a single-malt whiskey, this is definitely the tea for you. Furthermore, it is the ideal tea to get your internal fire going on overdrive. Take a sip of this tea and watch your worries pine away. It has a richness and complexity that truly has to be experienced to appreciate. Taste smoke on the water in a cup. Mmmm, deep purple.

And, finally *drum roll*

Wild black Yunan: Looking to connect with the knowledge of the ancients? Then look no further than this tea. It has been grown in the same manner for thousands of years, and, if you are observant enough, you can almost taste the tradition. Okay, maybe not, but you can definitely taste the woodsy, clean air, and delicious. sip this tea and connect with the stillness of time and the natural world. Always remember your roots.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dan's gym

Until about two years ago it had been a life goal of mine to own an operate a gym. I first started my exercise journey at the tender age of 14. My friends and I would often spend time at my friend DD's house doing all sorts of things-basketball, hockey, baseball, and other things young kids should do. In his barn, he had a spring with handles on the end that his father used to work out back in the day. All of my other friends were able to bend the handles together easily, but I was always smaller and weaker than they were, so I struggled with it immensely. One day I will be able to bend it, I told myself.

I didn't really make any changes that would help me achieve this goal at first, but I kept trying to bend that bar whenever I was there. I came closer and closer to bending it each time in spite of my lack of training. I'm sure that puberty supplied the gains in strength, but determination probably didn't hurt either. I did not want that piece of metal to defeat me.

I eventually managed to bend it successfully after months of trying and felt a great degree of satisfaction in doing so. However, there was no higher notch for the bar, so my strength gains stagnated for a while until I started watching Dragonball Z. The awesome strength of those cartoons was inspiring to me and caused me to start my quest to become like Vegeta, my favorite character from the show. He would always train extremely hard to get better than kakarot, another character in the show, who would always outdo him. This irritated Vegeta as he was the prince of all Saiyans, the race of both he and Kakarot, and so should be the most powerful. Pride was certainly his main motivating factor, and that was certainly true for me as well. I think I saw something of myself in him. Some dormant power that I had yet to tap into.

My grandfather gave me a pair of 10 lb weights that he had in his house and I started doing as much as I could with those weights and did plenty of pushups and situps. Eventually those weights became a little too light and I upgraded to 25 lb weights (Incremental progress was a foreign concept to me at the time!). Of course, I struggled immensely with these weights, but the desire to be like Vegeta pushed me to new heights. One upgrade led to another and eventually I had a weight bench that allowed me to do dips, leg extensions, preacher curls, and bench press and off I went with those exercises, doing them all the time and adding new ones as I went along. Eventually I even surpassed my friends who had always been stronger than me, and then a few of my friends started flocking to my basement to start working out with me. Thus, Dan's gym was born.

We would work out almost every day after school and slowly but surely we started to "get ripped". We all progressed substantially and it wasn't long before we had to upgrade Dan's gym. At it's peak, we would lift weights until we felt like we were about to burst out of our skin and then push harder. By the time high school rolled around, we were all stars in gym class.

Sadly, I went to university and Dan's gym died off. I did, however take my training to the next level in university and ended up getting quite strong. At some point though, the lift things up and put things down side of myself started to wane. I had achieved far more than I thought possible and it was time for a new challenge. My friend dragged me to a step Aerobics class and I was a regular for a solid 5 years. I still lifted weights on the days that I didn't do step class, though.

Fast forward to today and I have hardly stepped foot in a gym since November 2010. The days of trying to prove something to myself are over and the days of trying to understand myself have begun. At some point I realized that I had been trying to beat a metal bar for nearly a decade. I had chained myself to it and continued to add links to the chain as time went on. As with many chains, it became tangled along the way and I am now in the process of removing the links one by one so that I am no longer bound by the chain. In the words of the beatles, it's time to just let it be. Adios, metal bar!


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Thighs of steel

It's been 9 days since I could last ride the bus and I must say that it has been smooth sailing so far. I carpool with my boss 4 days a week and spend the rest of my time close to home.

I've been doing a colossal amount of tutoring lately and, since my normal mode of transportation no longer exists, I have to walk from meeting place to meeting place and back to home base.

I've been logging an average of 4 km a day and my thighs are toning up quite nicely! This makes my hamstrings, the opposing muscle group, relatively more open than they were before and I am definitely noticing a difference in my yoga practice. I can fold forward much more easily and everything else seems to be coming along nicely as well.

I also made a yoga playlist for myself and it has definitely taken my energy to the next level. Yesterday my energy and focus were through the roof. It was an amazing experience. For some reason, the song bring me to life by evanescence does exactly that! I feel like sharing the playlist, so here it is:

1. Angels- Robbie Williams
2. Come Undone- Robbie Williams
3. Don't look back in anger-Noel Gallagher
4. The warrior-Scandal
5. Rolling in the deep-Adele
6. Bring me to life- Evanescence
7. Set fire to the rain- Adele
8. Come Clarity- Inflames
9. Beneath the surface- Dream theater
10. Far from Heaven- Dream theater
11. open arms- Journey
12. Faithfully- Journey
13. Name- goo goo dolls
14. One- U2
15. Walk on- U2
16. Fields of gold- Sting
17. I will- Beatles

I am quite happy with it so far, but it's could use one or two more songs to bring it to the proper duration. I'll figure that out though.

Now that my thighs and hamstrings are happy i'll be looking forward to hitting the map 6 days a week as planned. Hopefully your tea drinking and or yoga journeys are going famously.

Walk on,


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

morning people

Everyone knows someone that is unnecessarily energetic in the morning. They are known as morning people. They can often be found singing in showers, talking to their groggy and overtired friends on the bus while they stare blankly into space half paying attention to their chipper friends conversation about...something. I have never been a morning person, so I can't recall any conversations I've had with morning people.

I am a space cadet most of the time, but I am the king of all space cadets in the morning. I need colossal amounts of tea to get me going...that and about 90 minutes. I am a little pokey in the morning to say the least.

However, now that the buses are on strike in my city, I need to get up at 6 am every morning so I can be ready to hop in the car with my ride at 715 am. No fun at all. It is getting easier, though and I can even recall vague details of some of the conversations that are had on the 45 minute morning commute.

It is amazing how much you can accomplish in a day when you wake up before the sun. When I get home I am actually done for the day since I have so much time to kill throughout the day! I never thought I'd say this, but this waking up early thing might not be such a bad thing.

I'll need copious amounts of tea to kick start my mind, but I think I may be able to pull this off after all. Perhaps I'll even greet people with the occasional "Top of the morning to ya."

Live long and prosper,