Studios

Oh Lordy, Yoga For Forty – Part 1

smokefreewisconsin.blogspot.com

“Oh no, there is no way I can do that,” I respond to my best friend Brenna, the yoga teacher, when she asks me to do Semperviva’s Forty Day Challenge with her.

She looks at me calmly and replies, “why not?”.

The excuses flowed faster than a Vinyasa Power Flow class. “Well, I’m taking that night class and I have lots of homework. My weekends are tied up enough as it is. I won’t have time to cook dinners. My body can’t handle it – you know, I’ve had that sore hip for months. I don’t have a car anymore. I’m trying to find a new job right now. And I’m not good enough at yoga to do it that much.”

“Ok then,” she says unbothered, “I’m going to do it.”

In reality, if anyone doesn’t have time to do this yoga challenge, it’s Brenna with her schedule of volunteering, yoga teaching and training, overtime working, and wedding planning to name a few. Her question of “why not?” stuck with me the whole rest of the night. It’s called a challenge for a reason.

But why forty days? I asked. It seemed like an eternity. Semperviva’s website (www.semperviva.com) states, Yogic science confirms that it takes 40 days to fully develop a new life-promoting habit or to drop a current destructive habit. Knowing full well that I could use something to break the repetitive question to myself: “What am I doing with my life?” I chose to try and sustain my mind from all the foreseen opportunities within my future and focus more on the now. Something I do well temporarily, but making it last is a recurring problem.

I started off strong. The first week of March 13-20, with momentum and positivity, I counted every class with pride. A few friends and I were in it together and created a routine support network.

Slowly after week 2, fourteen straight days of yoga, I began to feel the benefits of practicing every day, but these weren’t felt without pain. Strong, rooted stiffness which I took as good pain, but pain nonetheless.

To be continued…

How to Find Free or Almost Free Yoga Classes: What Every Yogi/ini Frugalista Should Know!

How to Find Free or Almost Free Yoga Classes: What Every Yogi/ini Frugalista Should Know!

Going to a studio and finding a well qualified teacher is definitely worthwhile to help deepen your practice as well as allow you to be an active part of the yoga community. But for many of us $100- $150 per month for a studio pass is just not an option!

Here are 12 great alternatives:

1. Many yoga studios offer Karma classes that are by donation or as little as $5.

2. Take advantage of the first time rate that most studios offer to new students. I spent a year and a half jumping from studio to studio only ever paying the new student rate! This is also a great way to see what is out there before settling on a home studio!

3. Often yoga studios offer a work-trade program where you can do some non-paid work in exchange for free classes.

4. Some yoga studios offer cheaper rates for  classes taught by a student teacher.

5. Check Kijiji and Craigslist for people trying to sell yoga passes they won or purchased but will no longer use.

6. Sign up for Groupon and other group purchasing websites. Many studios have been posting passes for 50-75% off.

7. Join the Facebook groups of local studios or follow them on Twitter for updates on any sales on passes.

8. Lululemon facilitates weekly yoga classes for free.

9. Check if Meetup.com has any nearby yoga meet up groups.

10. Borrow yoga DVDs from the public library.

11. Websites like Yogaglo and MyYogaOnline offer unlimited excess to online yoga classes for a monthly rate (around $18). Many of these classes are taught by some of the world’s most well known instructors.

12. Check out Yoga Journal for free online yoga videos. I recently signed up for the 21-day challenge and have been getting a free yoga class emailed to me daily!

I hope this list helps!

Namaste!

Jessica Hamilton

Images from: www.groupon.com, http://www.benefitsofyoganow.com/shop.html

Getting Into The Flow

I am currently going through a phase where I really like Flow Yoga.

With all the different types of yoga out there you might be wondering what exactly is Flow Yoga. According to About.com Flow yoga would be classified under the broad umbrella of Vinyasa Yoga. A breath synchronized class where poses or postures are strung together smoothly. Following your instructor’s lead you are asked to match your inhales and exhales to a specific posture, flowing from one pose to another creating a very rhythmic meditative dance.

Some instructors are very good at creating this illusion of a dance; their choice in poses is well thought out, they synchronize smoothly, the inhale & exhale comes naturally and their choice in music complements the overall feel of the class.

I have run into all different types of Flow classes. That is the beauty of Vinyasa Yoga; it allows for so much diversity in teaching styles that you would never get bored. It does require you to come with an open mind as you might find it can take a few tries to get the teacher you like.

One instructor’s choice in music was not to my liking, but I learned a lot about Plank pose, and Chaturanga. I have found that even if I don’t like everything in a class, there is always something I have learned that I can take from the class.

This past week I was lucky enough to catch a Yyoga flow class with Christie Baumgartner.  She is a wonderful instructor. A beautiful soul packaged in a tiny dancer’s body; playful yet welling with good informational tips on posture and proper alignment.

Her arrangement of postures seems to flow naturally, allowing for maximum breath and ease of motion. Without even thinking, your inhales and exhales seem to flow naturally with each pose she suggests.

This is where the dance begins. She varies her Sun Salutations with enough freshness that it never seems to get dull. She builds each pose upon the previous so that the muscles slowly warm up, yet you do not feel fatigued. From beginning to end I feel as if I have been skilfully guided to achieve what I set out to do; experience my body in all its beauty of movement, to breathe with fullness and to awaken to a new sense of calm.

You can tell that Christie is very passionate about yoga, her enthusiasm is contagious. She makes you want to strive higher, not for her, but for you. To push yourself just a little more in order not to miss a step in the dance she is sharing with you.

She makes yoga fun! She laughs through-out her class and truthfully I appreciate that. Why not have fun?

I have yet to disagree with her choice in music. I literally caught myself singing along.

Even though you will sweat through-out her class, you will be so engaged that you’ll hardly notice until the end; at which time you will be very grateful for those Yyoga showers.

If you get the chance try out one of Christie’s Flow classes at Yyoga Flow Wellness on Burrard Street; I highly recommend it. She just might make you fall in love with yoga all over again.

(Source: jameswvinner.com)

Chopra Yoga Center Is Coming To Vancouver

Set to open in June 2011, the Chopra Yoga Center is an upscale, full-service yoga, health, and wellness studio conveniently located in downtown Vancouver (451 Granville Street), and just steps from Waterfront Station.

In a custom designed space, the Chopra Yoga Center will offer a wide variety of yoga classes, including hot, power vinyasa, flow, and restorative yoga in its two spacious yoga studios. The center will feature luxurious washrooms and showers, a large infrared sauna, private massage and yoga rooms, and a tranquil meditation space. Personal instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation will also be offered.

Founded by mind-body healing pioneers Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D., the original Chopra Center (located in Carlsbad, California) has helped thousands of people throughout the world transform and heal through the timeless practices of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda.

Additionally, the Chopra Yoga Center will be home to Organic Lives‘ only downtown location,
selling fresh smoothies, juices, and an inspired menu of delicious Ayurvedic snacks. Organic Lives is an exceptional local Vancouver restaurant and store serving healthy and delicious tasting raw, vegan and organic food.

Are you interested in checking out the Chopra Yoga Center and Organic Lives’ new location when they open in June?

YIN & YANG: A RUNNERS GUIDE TO YIN YOGA

With the Sun Run and the BMO half/full marathon just around the corner adding a little Yin to your Yang could be your best preventative approach towards staying injury free this season.

As an ultra marathoner and Yoga teacher I realize that stretching is a crucial part of any athletes repertoire. Over time, as we age, and especially in competitive athletics when load is applied continuously our structural frame our connective tissue and joints are ultimately the most affected. This creates stiffness, limited mobility and sometimes injury.

 So how does Yin and Yang relate to human physiology?

Yang tissue make up muscles, are more fluid-filled, soft, and elastic.  Yin tissue make upconnective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) and bones are dryer, harder, and stiffer.  By extension, exercise that focuses on musculoskeletal tissue is yang; exercise that focuses on connective tissue is yin.

Through dynamic movement and the linear mechanics of running, we place 8 times our body weight with every gait cycle; which generates a large amount of heat within working tissue. So it’s no wonder so many athletes gravitate towards adding a little Yin to their Yang practice.

Yin Yoga provides a slower, calmer method of yogic stretching that targets the joints, ligaments and fascia/connective tissue in the body. When combined with deep diaphragmatic breathing; the vagus nerve is stimulated and the relaxation response within tissue is activated, releasing new depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy can be achieved by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body through this practice.

Moreover, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine, all areas that runners need to be mindful of during their peak training leading up to race day.

As you approach the Sun Run and BMO half /full marathon create space for Yin Yoga, it’s a great addition to your taper. Try YogaFORM on Saturday mornings on the North Shore, or if you are an evening Yogi; one of my favorite spots is YogaPod, also on the North Shore, Friday afternoons and Saturday evening bliss!

 Happy Yin, to all your Yang!

Letting In The New

With spring in the air, it’s possible that you have been going through your closet with the intention of spring cleaning. I certainly have been trying my best to purge those things I no longer need.

Sadly I have a habit of holding onto things longer than necessary.  I have a tendency to attach memories to specific items making it hard for me to let go. That in itself is not a bad thing, but when you become attached to items because of memories, these memories literally become burdensome.

The Eight Fold Path

Within Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras there is an Eight Fold Path offering guidelines to cleanse the body and mind in order to lead a more meaningful and purposeful life.

The first four limbs of this path are concerned with gaining control over the physical body, fine tuning our personalities and developing an awareness of ourselves.

Over the years, with the help of my yoga practice, I have gained a deeper awareness of myself. I have found that there are certain personality traits and behaviours that no longer serve me. By following the Eight Fold Path I am striving to reach my true potential. This has not been easy, nor am I anywhere near finished. Perhaps I never will, but it’s the journey, right?

The First Limb: Yama

According to the Sutras, Yama focuses on behaviour and how you conduct yourself in life. An individual’s ethical standards and sense of integrity become very important when concentrating on this first limb.

There are five Yamas:

Ahimsa: nonviolence

Satya: truthfulness

Asteya: non-stealing

Brahmacharya: sensory control

Aparigraha: non-covetousness/non-hoarding

Sophie Legrand discussed Brahmacharya in her post titled “Browse with Moderation”. To further continue along my journey, I am concentrating on Aparigraha.

According to the Sutras, Aparigraha literally means the non-accumulation of worldly objects caused by covetousness and attachment. Looking honestly into my life, I can see that I have accumulated a lot of “stuff” which I have attached sentimental value. Holding each object in my hand, asking myself, “Do I really need this anymore?” I can answer truthfully. I come to the understanding that the memories attached to that object are within me; I do not need the object. Do you also attach memories to objects and then feel you will lose those memories without that object?

Aparigraha asks us to travel light; to let go of the old, in order to make room for the new. New possibilities await if you only make room.

I was very lucky to learn these lessons while earning my 200 Hr Yoga Certification at Semperviva Yoga.

I encourage anyone who is interested in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to search out Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison’s Meditations from the Mat. Rolf Gates approach to the Eight Limb Path is very readable.

(Source: Yoga.am)

A Day with Sadie!

A Day with Sadie!

Saturday was a blissful Sadie Nardini filled day. Having watched a few of Sadie Nardini’s FREE YouTube video’s over the last few months, when I heard that she was coming to Vancouver, I knew I had to go.

Sadie had several workshops at yyoga (various locations) throughout the weekend, but I was only able to attend the Saturday sessions at Highgate (Burnaby).

{source: www.sadienardini.com}

If you are not familiar with Sadie Nardini, she is the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga.  Based out of NYC, she travels internationally, has her own Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga teacher training program as well as retreats and offers hundreds of free videos on YouTube.

Saturday consisted of two two hour workshops at the beautiful Highgate Yyoga with some fantastic Core Strength Vinyasa yoga. The basis behind Sadie’s Core Strength Vinyasa yoga is a new way of looking at asana’s and simplifies how to use our “core” more efficiently when practicing. A practice that left me feeling it the next morning, which is the best kind in my opinion. But that’s JUST the yoga!

We all know yoga classes offer us so much more than just the yoga, and what makes us enjoy the asana even better is a fantastic teacher, which Sadie most certainly is. A real, down to earth type of person, who gives you the impression that going out for coffee with the woman would be fun and insightful all at the same time. She has a raw presence about her, and after conversations about “what is the point?”, why do we do the things we do when we really don’t want to? Why do we feel we need to please other people, when it doesn’t please us and why do we feel the need to not tell these people or look out for ourselves? She encouraged us to respectfully but honestly speak our truth, don’t give everything you have to somebody else and leave nothing for yourself.

I find that my most favourite teachers or yoga classes are the ones that give me a piece of self reflection that stays with me as I walk out the door, oh and the soreness the next morning. Take Sadie’s truth message posted on her Facebook account this morning, “THIS week, start saying what you really mean, respectfully, and yet honestly…to yourself, and those around you. Why hide, if you really believe that you’re OK just as you are, that ultimately you don’t need anyone’s acceptance to be passionate and happy and your truth is equally as valid as anyone else’s? Hmmm…”

Brilliantly awesome! Thanks Sadie for a fabulous day of learning how to move through asana’s with more ease and core strength and that little bit of self reflection I needed to start off a new month! Looking forward to your return for the Vancouver Yoga Conference in the fall.

The Amazing Seane Corne

I went to Seane Corne’s workshop at Semperviva City studio on Saturday afternoon and have been wrung out all week. Seane is an amazing teacher whose insight into the physical and the spiritual is an inspiration. So many of the things she spoke about resonated with my own practice both on and off the mat. As I looked around the room at the 150 other people there with me I could tell that what she said was as immediate for them as it was for me. She talks about planting seeds that will live in our tissues and come out when the time is right. So beautiful and so true– I know that I still carry wise words from my teachers that come out when the time is right.

She also talked about honouring our darkness and our light because both are sacred. This really hit home to me. Since I have begun to deepen my practice and become more committed to living my yoga, I think that I have begun to push all my “dark” thoughts down– censoring myself because they don’t seem appropriate somehow.

So I’m pondering how to be a yogini with a dark side.

We are all working towards love and working towards union (yoga). Some times it can seem like there is only one way, this ideal spiritual way. But being a yogini who is running late and who needs to take out the trash and do the recycling and would really just like a glass of wine is the path that I am on.

Seane’s teachings honour this path. She teaches that being who you are, whatever that is, is the way to your yoga. So it doesn’t matter what kind of yogi you are, you can come to your mat and learn how to love a little bit more.

Keeping It Fresh With A Little Heat

In the spirit of trying new things and keeping it fresh, I thought I would try out a Hot Yoga class.

Now let’s give some background here; I have been practicing yoga for about 13 years & I just starting teaching in 2009. I first tried Hot Yoga in 2003 but was hurt by an enthusiastic teacher who thought my hip could open further. It could not, and consequently I couldn’t sit cross legged for three months.  So understandably I was a little nervous heading to Yyoga on Sunday night to try out Brant Forrester’s YHot class.

First Questions

My first question upon entering Flow Wellness on Burrard Street was rather personal; during my moon cycle should I be practicing Hot Yoga? The guest experience member at the front desk was very helpful. She stated that there are many schools of thought but practicing on your first day of your cycle is not recommended, nor are inversions.  Good on both counts, I head in.

The Build up

Seated in the waiting area before the Fire room I asked a few yogis why they practice Hot Yoga. One yogi stated that he liked the cleansing aspect of the deep sweat.

Another yogi stated that he was on his 30 day challenge; having missed one day, he was catching up by taking two YHot classes. He professed that he loves the challenge and is now addicted.

Marcie, another yogi, seated with us stated that she has a very active mind and that Hot Yoga offers her the challenge she needs.

Everyone warned me I would sweat a lot. They recommended I bring a change of clothes for afterwards.

Here we go

Finally allowed to enter the studio, we set up our mats & got ready to move. First I have to say the room wasn’t as hot as I expected. It was warm but not unbearable. Although the room didn’t get any hotter, I warmed up considerably with all the movement.  There were definitely times during the practice that I felt the need to leave the room. But I just got closer to the ground in Child’s Pose and used my breath to relax.

Brant was very reassuring as he stated immediately that Yoga is your practice. As with all types and levels of yoga; do only what you can, only what your body feels is okay, not what your mind expects of you. There is no competition in yoga, especially not with yourself.

Starting us off in a deep yogic breath; Brant allowed us to get centered and comfortable with the room. Once we were comfortable, he encouraged us to try our Uyaji breathe; preformed by creating a soft sound at the back of the throat while inhaling and exhaling through the nostrils. This sound can help with focusing the mind.

Brant guided us softly throughout the practice using a combination of laughter and encouragement. Starting with postures that remained closer to the floor, we gradually worked into standing poses and balancing postures. Brant challenged you yet also let you decide the level of exertion.

The Deep Satisfaction of Accomplishment

After going through a nice sequence of postures we were back on the ground to do some stretching. Sensing the end was near I was pleased that I had made it. I have to admit that I have never felt a deeper sense of satisfaction than when Brant encouraged us to prepare for Savasana (Corpse Pose). I felt calm and relaxed; no tension anywhere in my body.

Final words

I would encourage anyone to try out a Hot Yoga class. The fear that had held me back was unwarranted, and I am glad to say I am now a big fan of Hot Yoga. I hope you will become one as well. And if not, at least you can say you tried.

(Source: life123.com)

Keep Yourself Open To Something New

If you are a long practicing yogi or new to the practice, you might have noticed that there are a lot of choices out there.

When I first started practicing yoga, there was one evening class at UBC called yoga. They didn’t even distinguish it by saying Hatha. Now, there are so many studios in the lower mainland, teaching different styles, I am sure you could go to a different class every day and not run out of options.

So with all those choices where do you start?

Price might be your starting point:

Yoga can definitely be pricey. This can be quite daunting when you are not exactly sure which type of yoga would be best for you.

There is the option of getting a two week unlimited pass. This is great for when you want to try out a specific studio. But what if you aren’t sure which studio to try out?

I feel the best option out there is the Passport to Prana card. With this card you have the option of trying out quite a few different studios. Depending on when you buy your Passport to Prana card, you might have a year to try out all the different studios registered with this program. The most current Passport to Prana card expires in July, but that gives you at least three months to figure it out.

Try the smaller studios; they can be a lot cheaper than the bigger chains. Even your local community center can offer a pass card at a reasonable rate.

Ask around:

You’d be surprised at what the universal will provide if you only just ask. Why not ask the girl walking down the street with a yoga mat on her back. I know that asking a stranger in your own town might seem a little intrusive, but hey, give it a go! I am sure she won’t mind too terribly, if you ask politely. Failing that, try the internet. You have already found us here; there are reviews throughout our site & hopefully many more to come. Be brave, search around.

Sometimes you just have to plunge in:

Be courageous! Try something new. I feel the best thing to do is keep your mind open, give yourself permission to be a little awkward. Remember to be kind to yourself and not worry so much about perfection. If you don’t like the specific style you chose, try again. Yoga can sometimes be like trying on a new pair of jeans; they don’t always fit like your old comforts, but you might surprise yourself into converting to something new.

Remember to keep it fun:

One of my favorite yoga teachers at Semperviva, Bernie Clark, reminds me all the time: laugh, have fun, you’re paying for this.

Infrared Sauna Before Or After Yoga?

Infrared saunas offer a variety of health benefits – including helping to excrete toxins, boosting your immune system, aiding in weight control, and improving cardiovascular health. They provide many benefits similar to natural sunlight while protecting you from the dangerous effects of UV radiation.

If you’re unfamiliar with infrared saunas, they differ from traditional hot coal saunas by emitting heat from infrared radiant heaters. During an infrared sessions, I usually feel quite warm – but not overly hot, perspire a bit – but don’t end up drenched in a pool of sweat. I feel like I’m warmed from the inside-out, instead of the outside-in.

Whether you are majorly into Bikram yoga, or don’t dig being overly hot, an infrared sauna session is a great way to warm up. It’s especially comforting when Vancouver winters are dark and dreary. Sauna before or after a Hatha or Kundalini class? It’s really up to you and what works best for your body.

There are a few yoga studios around Vancouver that offer infrared saunas: YYoga Flow and Yogacara Studio are two that I enjoy.

Let us know in the comments below: Where do you love to go for an infrared sauna session?

Quaint Kerrisdale

Last Wednesday, the 16th, I realized how bloody spoiled I’ve been. I started my yoga adventures at YYoga and did a tour through Semperviva as well. Their spaces are quite large with white-washed walls, cushy lounge areas, change rooms, and other amenities. I knew of smaller studios, but never had the time to really seek them out. I go to YYoga because of the familiarity (with the space and the people) and its proximity to where I do my business around town.

During the reading break of last week I was able to book an excursion to Kerrisdale Yoga. Unfortunately, I was only able to hit 2 of the initially planned 3 classes. Don’t let that dampen your mood though, because (for my part) it was a blast through and through. Situated between 45th and 46th on East Boulevard, the studio was a small walk from where I dismounted the public limo on 41st. I would’ve driven if I knew parking was relatively easy to find, but that’s neither here not there.

The studio-front. Quite attractive if you ask me, as simplicity and cleanliness reigns.

Elisa Wakabayashi, owner of the studio, took me through Yoga with Spinning. It’s 30 minutes of cycling followed by 30 minutes of yoga, both of which are not ridiculously destructive. Actually, it was the calmest yet most effective spin class I’ve had in a while. You know, instead of the hardcore sprinting that leaves you crippled the next day sorta deal. Elisa taught both parts of the class, being a personal trainer as well, and then laid out the studio for me.

She noted that a small independent studio is great in that there aren’t many “big deals,” in that the world won’t end if someone forgets something. After the hustle and bustle of YYoga, I could see clearly what she meant as the studio has a laissez-faire quality as there isn’t corporate pressure or strict codes of conduct. I’m not saying that there’s a lack of professionalism or anything, but the air is very different. At YYoga I find people tend to quickly zip about, where at Kerrisdale there’s a bit of meandering and lingering.

The all-important yoga room, which can comfortably fit about 10 people I believe.

As one can imagine, the class sizes are relatively small. Yoga with Spinning totaled 4 people excluding Elisa, and the Kundalini class was 6. It’s a far cry from the average 15-20 yogis I’m used to, but there’s something nice about a bit more intimacy. Instead of feeling the energy of a myriad of other yogis, with only 4 people it’s easier to notice your own and really tap into your comfort zones.

The yoga and spin rooms are not sealed off from one another, with a gap between the ceiling and wall between them offering a better airflow. Though it also meant it was colder than what I was used to, the cool fresh air that cycled around the studio was very welcome. There’s also more natural light here as the windows facing the back for yoga and facing the back for spin are generously sized. My first go at Kundalini was also here, and I was supposed to try out Iyengar as well. I lament not being able to make that last class.

All the props and whatzits.

Tucked in the back are 7 cycles for some spinning.

And here be the video tour, guided by Elisa:

Yogis that live in Kerrisdale probably know of Elisa’s studio, and though I travel through and hang out in the neighbourhood often I didn’t know of the studio until I jumped on Twitter. Oh, the miracles of social tools. Elisa is a blast of an owner, being very relaxed and applies no pressure on her guests. From what I noticed inside and outside of classes she has a solid connection to those that practice with her. Small groups tend to notice and remember the schedules and tendencies of their compatriots, and the community/family feelings is quite evident.

It’s a very nice space, in a great neighbourhood, and owned and staffed by fantastic people.

Passport To Prana

If you haven’t yet purchased your Passport to Prana yet, it’s not too late, they do not expire until July 31, 2011. For only $30, you only have to use it twice to get your money’s worth as most drop in fees are $15.00 plus.

This is the second year I have purchased the Passport to Prana, and while last year I probably only did use it twice, this year I’m hoping to get more use of it and am well on my way. With almost 30 locations there are LOTS of options for taking in a class here or there, however if you don’t drive or don’t have the time to venture out to some of the locations then you probably will only use it a few times.

A few wonderful friends of mine have all purchased the Passport to Prana and we use this time to catch up as we venture out to try a new studio & a new teacher and have brunch or dinner after. It’s a great and affordable way to check out new classes and studios, and especially if you are hunting around for “your” space to practice in, this is a fantastic option to get a feel for the studio and see if you want to become a member. For me, I use it to try different styles of yoga, Bikrams, Anusura, Kundalini with different teachers and get a different feel for my favourite styles.

Are you planning a vacation anytime soon? Make sure you check out wwww.passporttoprana.com and ALL the other Canadian cities plus many US cities and purchase your Passport to Prana for wherever you are going.

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