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Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Party's Over

It's official. The party's over. My fat pants have gotten tight. I've definitely had a lot of fun - eating, drinking, sleeping, playing - and it seems like not much else is getting done! I don't really worry about it but then it is on my mind. I'll have to go out and buy new clothes if I don't rein myself in. I really don't like going out and buying new clothes. I'd rather not.

This has been a wild year. I started out miserable and sad (and skinny) but determined to have things turn out and they did! I'm ending it fat and happy and purring with how good life is. And I know it's not the circumstances that count - they really don't - but they're fun to monitor and play with if you're not too attached. I wasn't too attached this year and I remained committed to what I thought I wanted and I wound up with something that really pleases me.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's Hard to Be Quiet!


I had one of the best days EVER today.

I LOVE le Nordik. Many of you know that. If you haven't gone, please, please, please, take yourself to le Nordik. It's like 12 minutes from my house. I can't stand it, it's soooo great. Anyways, one of the things that I find interesting about le Nordik is that people are asked to be quiet. Like don't talk. Whisper if you have to in certain areas, but in others, simply be quiet.

Do you think people are quiet? They are so not quiet. We can't stand to sit there with our people and just BE. We need to chat. We need to chit chat and small talk and giggle and have fun and that's great. But what would be awesome is to take a few minutes to just be quiet and be awake. So people are at le Nordik completely ignoring the requests to be quiet. Me too. And I'm noticing that I'm not complying with the request and just noticing. And it makes me think about how hard it is to do something so simple.

Meditating is one of the easiest things you could ever do. And it works! And yet, people find it so difficult. So hard to sit still for 10 minutes, half an hour, or even just five minutes! We won't do it. Some people do and that's great. I think of it like brushing your teeth. Once you get in the habit of doing it, you'll do it on your own no matter what and many of us will do it more than once or twice a day and you can't stop us! But it can take years to get into the habit - my daughter's 9 and I'm still reminding her to brush her teeth...

There's a show on Tapestry that I'm listening to about meditation. If you have some time and would like to take a listen, here you go.

Oh, and after the spa experience, we had lunch at Les Fougeres. Wow. And the day continued and included a nap and I must say, what a treat it was!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yoga is a Privilege



Yoga is a privilege. When I forget that I am losing sight of what's going on. I think it's a right, I think people already know and just don't do it. So many people don't even know. It's a privilege to know about yoga and to be able to practise it is a true honour. Not everyone has that.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Keep Up Your Practice!

It's Christmas Day and a lot of people may be skipping their usual practice today. Don't skip it altogether! It's okay to do an abbreviated practice - and even if it's delayed, like you do it tomorrow - but don't go a few weeks without your practice if you can help it.

If you didn't get my yoga DVD for Christmas, there's loads of free stuff on the web. Search on youtube or find something you like to inspire you to keep practising!

Peace, out.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Nothing's Wrong With Christmas

You know, for years I've listened to this story society tells about how Christmas has gone all commercial and how it's lost whatever it used to have that made it all warm and fuzzy waaaay back in the day. How it's all about buying presents now rather than what "really" matters and people are stressed out and blah blah blah. I'm not buying it anymore.

Christmas is a time to be generous. If we were normally generous people, being generous at Christmas wouldn't be bad at all, in fact it would be a celebration. But the fact is, most of us are not generous. We think we're generous types, we'd like to be generous, but really when it comes down to it in our day-to-day interactions, we maybe think about being generous and then we're not. We do not put out as a society. In fact Canadians have been measured to be some of the least generous as a population when it comes to giving to charity.

What happens at Christmas is that we're asked to be generous and it hurts. What comes up is where we are not generous and having that revealed to ourselves can be painful. Maybe we don't spend our money appropriately throughout the year so we could be giving back along the way so it wouldn't bite so hard in December. If we were doing random acts of kindness and springing Our Favourite Things on our friends in June, doing a little something-something in December would be natural and fun.

And it's not about the stuff. Our lives are so full of work and busy-ness that to spend more time at Mom's or to visit our relatives or attend parties occurs for us as massive to-dos. But if we've been visiting regularly and hanging out throughout the year, then Christmas isn't a chore, but another opportunity to get together and play!

Nothing's wrong with Christmas. And nothing's wrong with people either. People are people. Most of us don't like each other and don't really want to be with each other once we're adults. (I'm exaggerating, but not much.) We don't want to lend a helping hand or do something extra that might cause us to have to give up something - an episode of a show, a few minutes of sleep, a few bucks.

And I don't believe for a second that this is a modern problem or that there's anything new about it. If we could hear from people in cultures across space and time, there would be a grumbling about whatever the name of the holiday is or the event is that asks us to be generous. If you've been generous all year, Christmas is a blast. If you haven't, Christmas is a drag. Check it out!

So Christmas really is a pose. A pose that stretches the muscles of generosity and kindness. For many of us, those are pretty tight muscles as we've been contracted all year long. Christmas asks us to stretch in this way, so my suggestion is find the places you feel the most and breathe into them. And then add this stretch to your regular practice so you can feel more comfortable in it. Watch what happens!

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas shopping!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Yoga as an Investment in Comfort

I've said this before, but it's time to say it again. Practising yoga reguarly can really allow you to be as comfortable as possible. There are other things that may come in the way of your being comfortable, but practising yoga can help you be as comfy as you can.

Someone asked me after a long car trip if I had some exercises for them to do so they didn't have a sore back anymore. Sure. Do a regular yoga practice. That's the exercise for a sore back. Not certain poses, not just specialized stretches, but a full-out, all-round practice. Regularly. Once a week, but twice a week makes an even bigger difference. More than 5, you'll have less noticible benefits perhaps.

I was listening to Dr. Geoff Outerbridge in the last class of the teacher training, he said that the period after Christmas is his busiest time. What happens is people take a couple of weeks off of their regular practices of fitness and training and then their bodies go out of shape faster than they get in shape and people return to the level of training they had before they went on holidays. The result is more injuries, hence more need for the chiro!

So even though my Tuesday evening classes will not be offered for 2 weeks in a row, it's important to keep your practice up. Keep stretching and working so that your body doesn't begin to hibernate with the season! Make your investment in your practice and it will pay you back generously.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Loose Ends

When I listen to my story of what I have to do and how practically impossible it's going to be to get it all done I think it's just me.

Get winter tires (I waited until the last minute and now it's practically too late for that and I make myself wrong for not getting them sooner and my punishment is going to be that I drive in my all seasons all winter.)
Get a new washing machine (The guys arrived yesterday with the new one but they weren't allowed to install it because mine are stacked and they checked with their boss and they couldn't make an exception so we had them take it back and called Sears to get a refund. So now I have piles of clothes and will have to go to a laundromat - might not sound like a big deal but I am so not ready to go there. So I make Sears wrong and I'm going to show them by buying a washing machine someplace else like that's going to fix it.)
Buy and wrap Christmas presents that are affordable and meaningful (I'm so behind and on top of it my mom and my fiance's birthdays are both on Christmas Eve. And I refuse to get it done in a mall in one shot.)
Get my Christmas cards done, like really (I did start and some are close to having stamps on. I make up for it by writing fast and having Remi scribble something so at least people know I tried but I feel like a fraud because I didn't say much of anything.)
Clean up the house so people can come over and I'm not mortified (This hits hard at this time of year because people are really coming over and I get found out about how really disorganized I am. I want to try and hide that so I push more stuff into my bedroom making it a place I barely want to be and then we just survive in there until after the holidays when I can spread the mess out again.)

I know you have lists too of things that are your personal pile of loose ends and unfinished business. Christmastime tends to highlight all that kind of stuff as it asks us to pack in more things to do inside of our already tight schedules.

I'm going to breathe, tackle the things on the list that are important to me, relax around the things that are not going to get done, and inside of all of that, be present to the people in my world who may be going through something very similar. Perhaps we'll be able to look at each other and take a rest in each other's gaze. ;)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Transformation

The point of yoga is transformation, not physical fitness. Yoga invites us to know our true selves and let go of the dreams, the plays, the stories about how we think things are and be present to how it really is.

Sometimes we get fit doing yoga but being mentally and emotionally fit is even more important. Studying yoga is quite different than reading about yoga. Studying yoga enhances one's physical yoga practice by deepening one's knowledge so as a person is doing yoga, they're more aware of what's happening and what they're doing. Reading about yoga doesn't bring you an experience of yoga like studying yoga does.

The yoga teacher training addresses this and teaches a lot about the yogic scriptures, but the most current study of yoga that I can find is offered through Landmark Education. They don't call it that, but I recognize the yoga in it. And some people think yoga is weird and don't want to do it and there's lots of different kinds of yoga and if you're reading this chances are you don't think yoga is that weird. Just like how yoga used to be weird and people had stories of levitation and gurus and incense and stuff, anyone going to a class in Ottawa knows it's pretty normal. Same thing with Landmark Education. I'm talking about it a lot right now because I'm immersed in it by choice at the moment and I'm getting some feedback from people who haven't taken any courses but think they know something about it from reading about it. It's like reading about yoga. Not the same as doing it. Once you get into it, it is so not weird. Or the weird parts are not bad but are actually fun.

Anyways, if you're someone I've invited to come and see what I'm up to and you happen to have read stuff about what I'm doing and you've become skeptical, please consider you're not really getting the picture by the stuff you've read. And yoga is maybe not for everyone - although I can't imagine who couldn't benefit from some style of yoga - the work of transformation offered through Landmark Education may not be for everyone, but again, I can't imagine who couldn't benefit from this education. I haven't met anyone who did it who didn't like it. Really.

Just like the yoga practice we do helps us in other areas of our lives, help we're going to need over the holidays, the tools you get from Landmark Education will help in other areas of your life. Really.

Someone said recently they would like me to offer coaching. I think as a coach my suggestion would be to go do the Landmark Forum, get the tools, and then we can start our work. Without "joining" anything, but rather having a set of tools that so far that I've only become really familiar with through the study and practice of yoga and are brought current and totally accessible through the education offered at Landmark Education. If you have more, know of some others, let me know. I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inspired

I came back from the weekend in NYC quite inspired. That's one of the benefits of doing the training. And I find that my life is just always going better when I'm doing one of the Landmark Education workshops. The inspiration seems to carry over into other aspects of my life.

I ran across this page tonight and I wanted to post it. In the posting from August 6 there's a video section and in the fifth one down there's a short interview with a doctor named Bert Peterson. He came yesterday to share about his leadership role in the Self Expression and Leadership Program. Blew me away.

He is a surgeon and in his FREE TIME is a leader in the Self Expression and Leadership Program. He has opened up clinics in the Caribbean and in Africa and was really inspiring. I thought the course I am taking took up too much of my time (at the beginning - I'm over it), but he is just one example of someone living a really big life. Check it out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Travel Pose

Sometimes we do poses that aren't the kind we get taught in a class on a mat. We may not even know that we're doing these poses. But if you step back and consider some of the things you do as yoga poses, you can make adjustments so you have proper alignment and you can pay attention to your breathing, so that rather than being drained by what you're doing, you can actually be energized.

For instance, many of us hold the pose of sitting at a desk for a long time. Today I'm going to hold the pose of sitting in a car for 10 hours (hopefully not more than that but with the weather as it is, who knows?). I'm not going to pretend that I get energized by 10-hour car rides, especially in snowy conditions. But I'm going to be open to the possibility that I could pay attention to my posture while I'm in the car and notice my breathing and perhaps when I arrive at my destination I won't be completely drained and exhausted.

This is the third weekend in my Introduction Leaders Program through Landmark Education and I'm excited. I'm also a bit bummed because it's in NYC and it would be fun to shop and see sights and more than that, visit Mindi in Connecticut, but the course is so tight that the breaks are really just long enough to eat something and get back to the workshop. So even though I'm in NYC, I could be anyplace...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Work Out

Today I got what feels like a total body work-out by walking from my house to my yoga class in Hull in my heavy winter boots in the snow. Wow. On top of it I got lots of sensations on my skin as my face felt like it was being slapped by the wind and when I finally warmed up as I was teaching the class, my ears were burning. It was fun.

So I was on my way to teach the class and I decided to walk, precisely so I could get some exercise instead of driving my car there, and along the way I noticed someone I thought I recognized. We were waiting for the light to turn at Sussex and Murray and sure enough, she had been in my yoga class yesterday for the first time. So that was neat and we walked across the bridge to Quebec together. Along the way someone was heading the other direction and she had taken the yoga teacher training that graduated this spring. After my class was over, I walked past the Museum of Civilization and another yoga person waved hi.

There is a lot of yoga going on in Ottawa/Gatineau. And I feel very comfortable here in this city!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cold Yoga

Well there's "hot yoga," and today I led "cold yoga." The poor guys at the Canadian Police College. They're on a special course, most of them away from home taking a 3 week Senior Police Administrator's leadership training and they get yoga as a special treat and the gym there us unheated. Freezing cold it seems. It's hard to relax when it's cold.

So today we did lots of sun salutations and standing postures and I kept it going pretty quick so they didn't have time to cool off too much. I even wore socks for most of the class myself. First time for that.

But what a drag during the relaxation. It's difficult as it is being in a non-yogic setting, let's call it, but with no heat, it's asking a lot. They seemed to enjoy the class still, but I would have liked them to have had a chance to really relax a bit more. Oh well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Yoga for Kids

Today was the last day of my yoga series in my daughter's Grade 4 class during their gym time on Wednesdays. It went really well. We only have about 20 minutes so there's not a lot we can do, but it seems to be enough. Today they were graded again (yikes) and I think they all did well. We did some partner poses, as I had promised last week that we'd do today. It was a laugh.

I've had a few adult student-yoga teachers say they want to talk to me about teaching kids. I'm not sure what to say. I don't necessarily have special training in teaching yoga to kids, what I have now is plenty of experience. The thing with teaching kids is that quite often they are in a non-optional yoga class setting, in which case they almost have more to do with groups that are suffering non-optional yoga than in being a group of kids. That being said, different aged kids will be able to do different things with yoga.

Really young kids are mostly just playing. They are constantly moving as long as they're awake and they love routine. So if you have them regularly, once you figure out what's going to work with them keep doing that. They'll come to count on it. Adults are like that too in general :) You can get little kids to participate by asking them lots of questions and having the poses be things they can relate to like animals and other objects. I also found having someone else with the kids like their teacher, was critical to the class going well. If I was by myself with a bunch of kids I hardly knew it was much more difficult and would end quickly. I also learned a lot about engaging with kids by watching their day care teacher work with them.

Older kids can balance and begin to be more steady and actually look like they're "doing" some of the poses. They may be able to connect their movements with their breath and are usually quite impressed with themselves and each other when they can get into more challenging poses. Again, the presence of another teacher is often really useful and helps keep them on track and feel safe.

Teenagers are a special bunch depending on who's with them when they're doing yoga. The context people are doing yoga in is so important and will alter their experience so much. You can get people really into being in their bodies but at the same time, really afraid to do that. A teenaged body can be a super-scary place, so just beginning to encourage people to consider that they are a safe place is a good place to start. They also appreciate the challenging poses but have often discovered what cool things they can do in other settings like gymnastics or dance or whatever other class.

That's just a general run down. Today the Grade 4s did a full body relaxation. It was quicker than what I teach out in the grown up world but much longer than they've ever been able to do before. With the really little guys, if they could lie still for a few seconds as a group, we'd done well. These 9-10 year olds were really steady and able to concentrate. I mentioned to them that as Grade 3s this wasn't something they were able to do. It's neat watching this group grow up...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Blogging Right Before Yoga

I'm actually at the class. Got a quick connection. I wanted to mention there are free meditation classes at the church in Westboro. One of my favourite teachers ever, Joyce Hardman, is leading the group. Check it out. It's on Mondays.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Against My Religion?

I had somebody in a non-optional yoga class not participate in class the other day because yoga was "against her religion." Wha? How can stretching and being in your body be against your religion or against anything for that matter? You may not feel like it, but how could it be actually against something? I'm still scratching my head.

I wonder if her not participating was more that she didn't want to do it rather than it was technically against her religion and she was perhaps using that as an excuse. Like not having the right clothes or having your sore this or that or whatever we say to not do yoga. (Personally, I'm "too busy," most of the time.)

Nevermind. So let's say it is actually "against her religion" to not do yoga, like not stretch and be in her body. It gets me to thinking. From this side of it, it seems ridiculous that it could be against anybody's anything to not be able to strike a pose and hold it or not. Taken out of context, doing yoga can mean a lot of things to people including worshipping many Gods (which it totally does not), to some sorts of blasphemy by saying we're god instead of someone in particular is God, that we're not capable of being, and it could be misconstrued in many different ways.

But everybody thinks their "practice" or "path" is accessible and if only other people could see it for what it is, they'd get it too. There are things that Jehovah's Witnesses do that I can really relate to (my best friend in grade school was JW and I'd go over for lunch on Wednesdays for "bible study" and that was fun), and there are things that Muslims do, especially in the Sufi traditions, that really resonate with me, and sometimes taken in another light, those things can seem weird or "different."

The truth is - people are people. We're people. We've always been people. We'll probably always be people. And how we are is fairly predictable. (I realize I'm getting old when I say this!) Especially if our neighbours are on a path as opposed to just doing their own thing, what our neighbours are doing that we think is weird, is something we could totally relate to if we took the time to check it out.

When people think yoga is weird, I figure they just didn't have yoga in a context yet that would make it seem normal to them. Given the chance to have yoga in a "normal" context, people will embrace it and at least let go for a bit of their judgements of it. I'm in the same conversation with my Landmark Education stuff. If people have the right context for it, it makes total sense. Without that, and taken in the wrong light, it can seem weird or strange. Not to me, but I see how people can see it that way.

If you find someone in your life who has beliefs that you think are weird, consider for a bit that if you were to look closer, those beliefs may have something in common with beliefs you have as well. We're all wanting the same things, ultimately, in life. It's not tolerance we're after, but rather a real sense that we're brothers and sisters on the very same path.

John and I often joke that if aliens landed we'd all get together as humans and let go of our religious differences. We'd band together so fast and drop all sorts of issues we currently have. Like I often say, little problems go away in the presence of a much bigger problem.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Yoga Evaluation

Now, I'm a yoga-teacher-teacher, so I know that there's a time for evaluation in yoga, but today I was caught a bit off-guard.

I am teaching yoga to kids at my daughter's school during their gym period for 4 weeks. It's a lot of fun and I've had lots of challenges dealing with this group, so it's a complex situation. Today I go in and the teacher tells me he's going to be evaluating the kids in the class today. "What?!" I'm thinking to myself. He quickly added, "for participation," and I didn't freak out. I started the class and I thought I really want to set them up to win and do well so how can I help them out here. I don't think I did much differently but I made sure I was clear about the instructions and made sure they followed up on what I'd told them to do because the teacher had said he was looking to see if they did what I told them to (yikes). The class went really well as they knew they were being observed and seemed to mess around less than usual.

And as it turns out, they all got an A+ I was told by one of the kids after school who asked the teacher. Phew! Can you imagine failing at yoga? We had square dancing when I was in elementary school and I'm sure we were evaluated on our alamain lefts and dosidos, but I didn't really notice at the time. So I learned today that I could perhaps run their class each time like it's going to be an evaluation class. Make things super clear, wait to see that they're doing what I told them to, and have a real sense of purpose when I'm working with them. Having a guy stand around with a clipboard, taking notes, would probably help too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Going to Yoga is Tricky

You know, going to a yoga class can be a bit tricky. If you've never gone to a yoga class, sheesh, that's crazy-ticky! But even if you've gone before there are certain things that are variables and how you deal with them is well, it's how you deal with them.

I never really know who's coming to my drop in classes at Rama Lotus, which I've been teaching for 6 years as of today, pretty much. I still don't know how many people are coming, I still don't know who is coming, who's not coming, I just don't know.

So sometimes people ask me, "when's a good time to come when it's not packed?" They think Tuesday nights are always packed. Let me tell you, the best time to come if you don't want to go to a packed class is the week following the class that was packed. People get scared off. They don't come back for a bit. And then there's room! And that's not always true either. But there seems to be a pattern.

Another night that's not generally packed in my class is if there's bad weather or a hockey game's on. Come to class, you'll have lots of room.

And then there's the case of the good old teacher-switch. I usually warn people when I'm not going to be there a few weeks in advance but if you haven't come to class in a bit, you won't have heard me tell you that, so you won't know and you'll come all surprised that I'm not there! That happens sometimes, but not often, as teaching yoga is my livelihood, so I don't skip classes because I have something better to do or I don't feel like it. Teaching yoga is my number one thing.

Now, if you're doing a class like Bikram or Ashtanga or even Hot Yoga, you pretty much are going to get whatever it is that's gotten in those classes no matter who's teaching it. In other styles of classes it is often more teacher-dependent as to what's going to happen in the class. So going to a new teacher can be tricky, because you don't know what you're going to get. Some yoga teachers ask you to do some pretty strange things. There's this one teacher who has you do this energy stuff with your hands and she calls it "prana," weird. (That's me. We do that in the intermediate class a lot.)

Laurie subbed for me while I was away in NYC for my Landmark Education Introduction Leaders Program (which I'll be away for again December 15-16 and February 1-2 btw) and she found out that we warm up a lot more in my class than in her class. So teaching someone else's class can be a bit tricky too. I know when I'm subbing I feel a bit strange and I try to get a sense from the group how I'm doing and I can't always tell and people in Ottawa don't exactly always speak up and help you out as a teacher. And sometimes they do and I really appreciate it when you do!

So anyways, I strive for quality control in my classes and without knowing who's coming I'm always left with this unknown variable - YOU - and I do my best to make it a safe, predictable, count-on-able experience every time, and sometimes you're going to be too close to someone or you may touch someone by accident, and things may happen near you in your space that I didn't count on. And I'm sorry about those things - I want you to have a good time! And I can't tell if it's going to be packed or not. Keep coming and maybe you can figure out the pattern and then you can tell me. I'd like to know too!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dog Boots

I didn't buy any yet. We tried some on her last week but none fit. This morning on a last walk with Luc before he's off to Hawaii we saw a dog about the same size as Zara totally decked out with boots, a coat, even a hood, which I figure was probably unnecessary as it's not even freezing, nor snowing, nor raining. Anways, I went out to the dog store to buy some more raw food, because that's what she eats as per my mother's instructions, and that's what I'm out of. But the store was closed. Oh well, we got a walk.

Although it is not raining, it is still wet out. So when we came back in I rinsed her off because unlike with bigger dogs, she gets completely soaked on her underside because she's so close to the ground. And she gets dirty. And she's normally white.

So I think she's going to need a coat and some boots. I didn't really approve of the dog coats I saw so I'm actually in the process of knitting her one. Yep, I'm a knitter too. She's pretty good about letting me try it on her and I'm doing in the round so there are these sticks all poking out but she stays still and I test and see how far I have to go. I'll take a picture to show you.

I don't think I'm going to do dog boots on my own though. And I think she's going to need them. Soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Megan's Blog

Megan shared in her blog yesterday about my blog. I want to say something about Megan and her blog - she doesn't pretend. When we go around pretending like we're not sad or bummed out or depressed we deny ourselves what's really going on. In the Landmark Education terminology, which is kind of jargony but makes total sense to me, you be authentic about where you're inauthentic. And that's the best place to be. Being real about where you're at.

And when Megan shares her story and her victories I'm with her. I learn too. I heal my sadness too.

If you're sad, you can be sad and just breathe into it and sometimes it passes. But you don't breathe into it to make it go away, it just will when it's done. It's the practice of pratyhara - taking your senses inside. It's on the way to meditation.

Yoga time...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mind or Body

I was having lunch the other day with someone who's done yoga with me (I hardly know any other kind of people) and we were talking about the benefits of yoga and how it really helped her out after surgery. She reminded me about how yoga is so great when you get older because flexibility and range of motion will have a bigger impact on your quality of life than previous fitness levels. She said even people who were runners and worked out don't do better than the general population, but that people who are flexible are able to get around much better.

I shared with her about one student I have who has Alzheimer's and how he doesn't seem to remember me and I remind him regularly that we're doing yoga and that all the money in the world isn't going to buy that guy's mind back. It's really hard on his family, especially his wife to see him that way. My friend asked me if I'd rather be in a fit body and have lost my mental faculties or keep my mental faculties and lose my body, and wouldn't it be frustrating to be in body that can't do the things it wants to.

It didn't take me long to answer at all - I would have a preference - my mental clarity is really important to me. That doesn't mean I don't value my body and don't get me wrong, I really hope I don't have to make that choice! And I also don't know what's going on for my guy - his mental clarity might be super-strong but he's not able to communicate - it might not be at all how I imagine it. Nonetheless, for our conversation, for the way we had it over lunch that day, I chose to keep my mental clarity rather than physical fitness.

Our bodies inform our feelings to some degree, but it's really our minds that determine the quality of experience we're having. Strengthening the mind through right knowlege, through meditation, concentration, reflection, self-study, all that good stuff, is useful at sharpening our experience of life so it comes in crystal clear and we have an experience of being truly alive. All the fitness in the world won't give us that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Meditating with a Dog

It turns out this little dog knows how to meditate! Okay, probably not, but she sat still on my lap (I'm telling you, she's part cat) for my whole meditation and didn't move and just stayed there. No twitching or jiggling or distracting me at all. Talk about a companion dog! She kept me company... Now maybe she stayed so still because we took a walk for an hour getting Remi to school this morning and it was cold and wet all the way, but I like to think she's a good meditator!

Monday, November 19, 2007

I'm Not This Body, But...




That starts off the little prayer we used to say at Kripalu for a while, "I'm not this body but the embodied spirit itself..." and it's all fine and good when it applies to us. But what about when it's something else, like a dog?

I am not really a dog owner. I have been in the past, but that was mainly by default, like it belonged to my family and although I would take responsibility for it regularly, it wasn't really my dog. I could basically come and go as I pleased. Growing up, we had many different dogs, none of which were my choice, I'd say. I wanted a regular dog and we always had "special" dogs. Like whippets and then a bichon frise. (Sometimes in the winter I'd walk the whippets and people would say I was starving the dog and I should feed it more.)

Since being on my own I've mostly only visited pets. When Remi got to the age where she noticed, I agreed to small pets, which ended up including a rat (Buddy) and a hamster (Hammie). Remi's been bugging me for years to get a dog but I've maintained that she needs to be old enough for me to leave her alone at night so I can walk the dog, so the minimum would be 10. She's 9 now and I'm not exactly a single mother anymore so the situation has changed. And then there's my mother...

So my mom's living her life's dream of beginning a dog breeding business, which I totally support her in doing, however, she's going to need a little help as she's living in a 2-bedroom apartment at the moment and she has 6 dogs. The City of Ottawa by-laws say she can only have 3. She wants to be a breeder so bad. A breeder of these tiny, white dogs called Bichon Bolognese. One of her dogs was given to someone out in the country. That left 4, but then she imported one more (little Allan) and she was back up to 5. She said would I consider keeping one until she moved into a house. I replied, "in an emergency." If I wanted a dog, I'd have one. And it probably wouldn't be a little white puffy dog.

Then I thought about it some more and I thought if she wanted us to try having a dog then I'd be willing to give it a go. I'm allergic to most dogs (these are supposedly hypoallergenic) and John didn't want to get a dog and Remi of course loves the idea. I really don't want to pick up poo and pee in the house but I was told she's paper trained and goes outside too. So last night we brought home Zarah, who happens to be the sister of the dog I had earlier this year, Dominic, who's now off in the country. Zarah has spent most of this year in Holland being raised, but my mom managed to work a deal to bring Zarah into her fold. And it turns out today my brother took Rhea, so my mom's down to 3 in the apartment, which brings her within compliance of the by-laws.

If she's paper trained she didn't show it. But other than that Zarah's soooo cute and we're all crazy about her. And this is within 24 hours. John says we can keep her. Remi's loving her. I love her and think she's actually part cat. But I didn't see myself with a fluffy, white dog. And I looked at her earlier today and thought, it's not personal. Her body is just her body. Who she really is as a dog is the embodied spirit itself and if she's not in a Lab's body, that's fine. She's who she is in a fluff-muffin package. It didn't take me long to get over it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Practice, Practice, Practice

I originally typed "practise, practise, practise," because the context of "practise" is usually something you're supposed to DO or be in action around. In this case I mean practice as a noun, because I'm thinking of different kinds of practices people have. Most of us reading this know of yoga as a practice. It's something you do and you show up when you like it and when you don't. But I was thinking today about other practices we have in our lives...

I read the paper this morning and there was something about 2 muslim women in Ottawa who went to visit a synagoge to share with the people there about their faith. Religion is a practice.

Then a friend of mine called from Toronto to ask me a mothering question, and again I thought, parenting is a practice.

As I was getting ready to go to work to teach yoga, I reflected about how work is a practice.

There are many areas of our lives that are practices - areas we work on and in and keep showing up and learning about ourselves in the process. There's health, diet, finances, relationships, education, and loads more. We're all involved in many practices. And some of those practices are on paths that are shared by many others - we can find people on the same path who share a similar practice as us and we can get inspired or talk to people who've gone further along in the path than we have and can help us relax and know what to expect. We can share with others who are coming up behind us on the path and help them, warning them about the obstacles and encouraging them when they navigate their way along.

What happens when we continue with a practice is that we begin to love it. Love it for showing us ourselves and who we really are, or being a place or a way that we can truly express ourselves. And sometimes we get attached to our practices or our path and we think it's the right path and that other people who have a different practice are somehow missing something if they are not on our path or share our practice. Worse than that, because it's natural to want to share our practice with others, especially when we love it so much, is that we make other paths and practices wrong.

Like the muslim women who went to the synagogue - they were motivated to go because they had been experiencing other people putting down their practice and not really connecting with it as an alternative practice, but as a threat and something to avoid and not respect. By sharing who they are in their practice, they were able to relate to the other people on a similar path - people practising their religion - and connect with them on that level.

So if you have a practice that really speaks to you and you know that it's good and righteous and wonderful, that's so great! What a treat to find something you connect with so strongly and that brings you such joy. We need to trust that others who are on different paths are able to have similar things brought forth in their own practice without making them or their paths wrong.

And have you ever noticed how if you take steps to clean up your practice in one area of your life the other areas are impacted as well? My grandpa guru used to say with reference to the yamas and niyamas, which are also practices, that you just have to pick up one flower to get the whole garland.

So don't be attached to your practice but stay committed! There's a difference. Committing will keep you going deeper, allowing you to notice and respect other practices and keep you out of suffering and being attached will, well it may in time lead to misunderstandings and suffering...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Luc's Back

My buddy, Luc, is back in town. Luc inspires me because he's basically retired and he spends his time in spiritual communities doing interesting things. Some of the things I've done too (like work at Kripalu and Omega) and some of it I haven't done (like live in Hawaii and do the deeksha training in India). I don't meet many people in my daily life anymore who are wandering around doing that kind of learning and teaching. When I lived in those communities, I met people doing those types of trainings and teaching all the time. Now I don't come across people doing that very often. So it's nice when he comes to town so I can get a "hit" of a more non-traditional path.

On another note, I've been in the Landmark Education training for a few months and it's only yesterday that I checked out the new introduction to the Landmark Forum on their website. It's awesome! If you get a chance, take a look. I'm doing a training to be able to lead the "introduction."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another New Computer


I was inspired by my DVD to take another look at the Macintosh. The guy who did the DVD, the very awesome Richard Tardif, used a Mac to create the DVD. It looks really good and I was impressed with the DVD opening sequence and how you can choose chapters and stuff.

John, my boyfriend, is working on a slide show for his work and was having some difficulty with the program he was using on his PC and I suggested we try it on a Mac and see if that would make a difference. Well, now he never wants to use the PC. We've only had the Mac since Saturday and he's really sure we're keeping the Mac and that he'll never work on the old computer again. The software is beautiful and intuitive and it's what a computer should be, really.

When I first moved into the ashram I spent 3 months cleaning rooms and being on the house hold crew. Once I was clear that I was staying on I was "hired" (we were all volunteers) to help administer a computer network and train the teachers in the Programs Department how to use computers. I thought that would be funny seeing as how I didn't know much about computers, but my "boss" said he'd show me and I ended up learning a lot about Macs. I used to say that sitting in front of the Mac was like sitting on a couch - it was so comfortable to use. I didn't even know what "Windows" was at the time and I enjoyed using the computer.

At Omega we didn't have Macs but used PCs, so I found out what Windows was and said goodbye to the Mac for a long time. When I arrived in Ottawa I was tempted to buy a Mac but they were more expensive than PCs and the network where I was working wasn't real supportive of Macs, so I stuck with the PC.

This computer is so sweet and lovely. I'd been dreaming of adding a Mac to my home network for sometime and even tested an iMac a couple of years ago only to return it to the store for a few reasons. The price has come down now and the system is smooth. It's all quite gorgeous, actually.

Now there's a line at home to use it. John wants to work on his projects and Remi wants to use Photo Booth to take silly pictures of herself.

It feels yogic to me to have a Mac, since I spent so much time on it when I was living in a yoga centre. I think it almost counts as sadhana (yoga practice) to work on the Mac!

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Program at Kripalu

I just got an email letting me know about this new program. It looks really great. So many of us finish school and really don't know what we're doing. This program addresses many of the things I was looking for after university and are why I went to Kripalu in the first place after school.

How many of our kids would benefit from a program that asks, "are you ready... to experience yoga as more than just a class at the gym? to commit to taking part in a community that demands the best in you? to make things change - starting with you?" I figure many of us could benefit from spending some time working on those things.

"For young adults ages 18-22, the program curriculum includes Self-Study and Contemplative Traditions, Meaningful Work, Effective Communication, Healthy Living, and Financial Awareness."

Wow. Good job, Kripalu!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Teacher Training has Begun

The Yoga Teacher Training at Rama Lotus began this weekend and I'm really delighted to be a part of it. Teaching a group of highly motivated students is quite different than teaching non-optional yoga classes although the material is the same! (That's not entirely true as in the YTT we're going into way more depth, but it is the same stuff.)

When groups of people get together for trainings of this nature, things happen and some of it is stuff we like and some of it is stuff we don't like. Resistance will likely show up at some point. Then we get to practise being with ourselves in a way that can really make a difference. It's when we're in resistance that we tend to bother the people around us, not when we're moving ahead.

Removing the obstacles by observing where they are and getting them out of the way is a useful practice. I say this because I'm in a course myself that goes for 7 months and I am experiencing resistance there too! The obstacles are what can blow the whole thing - all the great work you've put in, all the great ideas and plans - and it's important to know that they're there.

We acknowledged the resistance on Friday night as the course began and just suggested that it might come up. Even though (especially because) we're doing yoga and people are spending the weekends doing what they love, resistance will still come up. It doesn't matter what we're doing really - just trying to get together and honour our commitment will have the places where we're not committed show up.

So we don't need to pretend it's all "nice-nice," just because we're practising yoga. In fact, practising yoga can be like hauling out the trash, because you're removing the parts that aren't you and getting them out of the way, and sometimes those parts are smelly and are not part of a picture people have of themselves as yoga teachers/practitioners.

Ultimately though, practising yoga, digging deep and working on yourself will make you nicer, or seem to, because your obstacles will be reduced or you'll be well aware of them, which has a similar effect because to acknowledge how things are is about as good as we're going to get - perfection as an ideal isn't real. Knowing what stops you and being honest about that has a calming effect on the people around you, ever notice that? So you may not get "nicer," but it will seem that way because you'll be able to be with reality, which includes the people around you, who are the ones that get to decide whether you are nice and good to be with or not.

Anyways, the training has started and I love watching the transformation that happens as people begin to get yoga and get themselves and create a group that lifts the whole community. The bonds that are formed in the YTT support the whole centre and go beyond it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Life Was Easy at the Ashram

The thing that was most difficult about living in an intentional community practising yoga, was the part about it being so "alternative." But really, things were so easy in comparison to "normal" life. Sometimes I wonder how people do it, really.

We're supposed to work 40 or so hours a week for someone else (usually) taking at least an hour or so a day just to get back and forth to work. Then we're also supposed to have time to eat well and exercise now, what are the numbers? like minimum a half hour a day. We've got to get enough sleep and keep our homes clean and have hobbies to keep ourselves stimulated. If you've got kids, well, I honestly don't know how you're supposed to do it all.

I figured out a long time ago that I didn't like to go for a bike ride. I liked to ride my bike to someplace I was going. So I made sure the things that I considered really important to do were just built in to my life. I teach yoga for a living, so I have to maintain my practice and my job supports me in that. If I had to work all day and then come home and in my free time go to a yoga class, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make it regularly to class!

And spending time with/raising my daughter - I purposely chose to work from home and to teach yoga so I can be home with her and go to her school functions and volunteer in the classroom and really be there with her as she grows up. I became a La Leche League Leader and supported other moms in attachment parenting, which is sometimes considered to be alternative although it seems like common sense to me.

I see people who work too much and don't take time for themselves and end up feeling used and tired and not sure of what they're doing anymore. I feel that way too sometimes - I work 6 days a week and fill my life with learning and volunteering and I'm busy too - so I built it into my life to reflect and take time for myself.

I'm still scratching my head and wondering how we function as a group. As our family members age and move in with us or as the facilities for our brothers and sisters are reduced people will take on even more responsibilities and have less time to cook properly and exercise and sleep, while working for wages that may seem grand in other places but don't go far in our expensive society (yesterday I paid the Sears guy $80 to tell me my $1000 washing machine was going to cost more to repair than to replace).

So I do my own practice and I offer back what I've learned and keep myself inspired, hoping that I inspire others as I do my job, and I hope that we're taking time to ask ourselves what really matters to us and are we attending to those things in the midst of all of our busy-ness and task completing.

There is always going to be more to do than we can get done, there are always going to be more people to be helped, more tidying to do, more projects to finish, so what we can do is practise being satisfied right where we are. We run around solving problems as if they're going to go away. We're always going to have problems! If we practise being right where we are with what we have and what we've created around us, we can practise being present and in that, be satisfied. Be content right where we are. From there things will fall away that don't matter and what does matter will be highlighted and appreciated.

Need help getting present? Listen to 3 minutes of a guided relaxation and get yourself into your body! (It's on the right hand side of the page.) You can take it from there :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Meditators are Cool

I led a meditation workshop this past weekend and today in class almost half of them showed up in yoga class. Right on! Yoga and meditation are totally related and the benefits of yoga are ultimately the same as those for meditation.

There are some differences of course, but basically they get to the same place. What I'm talking about would take much more than a short blog post to get at and if you know what I mean then you already know!

The yoga teacher training is starting up again on Friday and one of my favourite things we do is go over Patanjali's yoga sutras. I love when people start to get into that stuff and how their yoga practice seems to take a new direction when they begin to "get" the sutras. We learn about muscles and anatomy and postures and alignment, but the path of yoga really leads us to inner peace and understanding. It leads us to meditation and to ourselves and all that. It's quantum physics! Experiential quantum physics, that's what it is.

I love that I get to teach yoga and meditation as my job. It's great. If you haven't learned to meditate yet, get started, or if you want some help, my Learn to Meditate workshop is happening at Rama Lotus on Sunday, December 2 from 11 - 1 :)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Still a Mystery

Well, I've retraced my steps and I have not run into my power cord or to the owner of the power cord I have in my Targus backpack. Oh well. Guess I'll have to order a new one!

So I have a bit of cold and I'm taking lots of cold stuff for it - oregano, Cold FX, ocsillium or whatever those little tiny homeopathic pills are called, chicken soup, rest, vitamin C and even some zinc. My neighbour told me to drink ginger. I know it will pass and it's not even really that bad. I've had way worse colds. When I teach yoga and I'm not feeling 100% it doesn't seem to matter. I still feel me inside and I actually get energy from teaching the class.

I teach 3 classes on Mondays and I really enjoy them. The first class is at Rama Lotus, which is drop in format, so I'm not really sure who's going to show up. There are some regulars coming to that class now so it's getting a bit of a flow and there are familiar faces. The later classes though, have the same people week after week in general and they know what they like and I get all kinds of requests. They'll ask me at the beginning of the class, or in the middle, or whenever the mood strikes them. It's actually a nice change to have a group that talks back!

Today I skipped a side in the leg cradle move and I got called on that so quick! I think I probably hardly ever miss a side of a pose and I figure if it happened in a big drop in class no one would tell me, but in the little class they'd let me know straight away. Maybe I'm underestimating my drop in classes and maybe it's really that I hardly ever skip anything people are expecting, but it was funny to have such an attentive group. Whoops! Guess my cold did get me in a fog after all...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Power Cord Mystery

If you've come to almost any of my yoga classes then you know that I bring my computer to class. I mostly use it to play music in classes because I have my playlists on the computer and there are speakers built in and I love having it with me, so I bring it along.

Yesterday morning I noticed that the power cord I was plugging in to my computer was a bit different and I thought that was odd and that maybe I hadn't really looked at the power cord in a while and it is an HP and well, it must be mine. I plugged it in and it didn't stick in all the way and I thought maybe I'd bumped my computer and that it was getting loose as that computer is well over a year old now. (Can you see my mind working hard to have this make sense?) I left the computer plugged in a walked away from it for half an hour while I did some other work. When I came back to it, the unit was super-hot and there was a smell of burning electronics or rubber or something not good when it comes to your second favourite computer.

So I "get" that this is not my power cord. I'm looking at it and I realize that of course, it's not my power cord, but it is someone's power cord and it is not going to charge up my computer. This is Thursday morning and I start back tracking thinking about where I've been that I could possibly of swapped my power cord. My Wednesday lunch time class was in Gatineau and I don't even bring my computer, so that can't be it. Tuesday night I was at Rama Lotus for 2 classes in a row so if I hadn't had the right cord that night my battery would have died because I played music for both of those classes straight through.

It must have been at the hospital Wednesday morning. So I call and they don't have mine and they can't think of whose power cord I have. Well, there's a mystery for you. I have an HP power cord and it is really not mine and somewhere out there is mine.

Tamsin (see photo above) told me about "universal power cords" yesterday and I figure I may have to resort to that so I go online. They're like $80 in the US and the price on the Staples site is $149 not to mention that they're out of stock at the time of this blogging. Aargh.

If you happen to have my power cord, could you please let me know asap? Maybe my theory of swapping it on Wednesday morning is wrong and it's out there someplace just waiting to be plugged in!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Perfect Yoga Sequence

When I was doing my early yoga training I came across a number teachers who seemed to claim that they had found the yogic secrets and that their sequence of postures was from a lineage of people that dated back thousands of years. Usually it was not an unbroken lineage, however, and the current teacher/guru just reached back in time and recreated the secrets of the ages or heard it in messages sent via dreams or visions.

Then I met Sam Dworkis and I said, "Sam. You're a senior teacher and you've been close to some serious yogis. What's the truth? What's the 'best' yoga sequence?" Sam looked at me and replied, "Do some standing poses, some floor poses, some forward bends, back bends, and some twists." What?!? He didn't try to sell me on his version of what the "right" thing to do was. Because there is no "right" thing to do.

Whatever gets you to class. If you go because you think that sequence of poses will work magic, then go and do that sequence. Whatever gets you to the path will be fall away anyhow and you'll be left with yourself and your own practise.

Today at lunchtime yoga someone mentioned to me that there's a country singer named Sam who sings a song that says, "the secret is that there's no secret." Yoga's everywhere!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No One Really Cares if Your Body is Stretchy

Okay, maybe if your body is super-stretchy we care and we'll even pay to watch, like in Cirque de Soleil. But in general, no one really gives a ____ how stretchy you are. Chances are we won't even find out how stretchy (or not) you are because we aren't doing yoga together.

Today someone who was in the room I would be teaching in told me in response to me suggesting he stick around for our yoga class, "my body doesn't stretch that way." Aaargh!

Let me say this again, it doesn't matter how stretchy you are. If you breathing, you can do yoga.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stretch 'em if you got 'em

I had a chat with someone yesterday who has come down with a serious back condition that she thinks may be related to sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day for 10 years. Do you think? Maybe? A lot of us get really focused at our work and it's hard to pull ourselves away from what we're doing.

After being hospitalized for the condition, this acquaintance is back at work and is now trying to get up every 45 minutes and walk around a bit. Many workplaces offer lunchtime yoga (I know because I teach those classes!). If you have a chance to stop during the day and give yourself a stretch and do some extra breathing, do it!

If you need some support, go to my website and click on the recordings. There's the 3-part breath and 6 movements of the neck plus a relaxation. You can get my DVD and do some of the exercises at work - just play it on your computer!

On another note, I graduated yesterday from Level 1 of Boxing through WBK. I'm proud. I have to stay in Level 1 (I didn't pass to Level 2 but they say it usually takes 2-3 rounds of Level 1) and that's just fine with me. It's a fun workout and I like that I have some accessories. Boxing gloves are cool.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Yoga Video - be careful with this one

I was watching this video today and it has some great things in it.

It also has some things to watch out for. If you're young and fit and are stretchy then doing these exercises will be fine and fun. If you're over 35 or are new to yoga or have injuries, doing what this model suggests will quite possibly frustrate you and possibly injure you.

Sam Dworkis has a great article about how yoga teachers need to be careful when teaching people who haven't been doing yoga for a while. Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seven Random Things About Me

Thanks to Megan, I have been charged with sharing seven random things about me. I'm nervous as I write this. I want to get good things to share with you that will surprise and entertain you while keeping my privacy :)

Since I'm a yoga teacher, I guess I'll see if I can come up with some good yoga random facts...

1. I can do a headstand in full lotus. But you'll never see me do it because I don't show it off in yoga classes. Okay, you'll rarely see me do it. Every once in a while some of my students will get me to do my "bragging pose," and that's it. I guess for a yoga teacher it's not that impressive, but for me, who considers herself a regular gal, I still get a kick out of it.

2. I was in charge of heating up an auditorium at Kripalu when Bikram came to visit to show us his style of yoga. It was tricky because the air conditioning kept turning on to handle the heat coming on. I rented a heater to pump hot air into the room from outside but we all would have died if that method was used as it was kerosene and just bad. In the end we plugged in little space heaters all around the room and with a hundred bodies in the room we heated up just fine.

3. I met Mother Teresa in India. But you already know that so I'll think of something else. I used to be the manager of lululemon in Westboro. It seems so funny now. At the time I liked the idea of doing something yoga-related and businessy but I like teaching yoga better. I still have lots of clothes from that era - they last a long time!

4. I'm not a vegetarian. A lot of people figure yoga teachers are supposed to be vegetarian, but I'm not. I have been. I was vegetarian while I was living at Kripalu and Omega too. When I got pregnant I felt like eating meat and that's when being vegetarian ended. When my daughter was old enough to eat food we would have been thrilled if she only like vegetables and turned her nose up at meat but that's not how it went. She could suck all of the meat off of a chicken bone and loved chewing pork fat and well, we're not vegetarian here.

5. I have a sanskrit name. When I was at Kripalu I chose to become an initiated disciple of Yogi Amrit Desai. He have me the name "Sunali." For a couple of days afterwards I was saying my new name and would say, "Swanili? Sulini?" until I got it right. There's a common name in India - Sonali. I was in India with my guru and we were hanging out and chatting and I said, "Gurudev...I see the name 'Sonali' here and I you gave me the name 'Sunali.' What's the difference?" He simply said, "Sonali, Sunali, same thing." Pssssssss. All the air going out of my big special name ego. (It means Golden Girl, by the way.)

6. My house is messy. I figure as a yoga teacher I should have a clean house that would show you I practise "saucha," or purity. I struggle with letting things go and I have way more things than I need in my house. It's an area I'm working on.

7. I never wanted to be a yoga teacher. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but it wasn't my intention to become a yoga teacher. I went and did it as a thing I felt called to do, but I didn't see myself as a teacher. Certainly not of yoga! I still don't! Maybe that's why I don't take it too seriously :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

I Guess We Made a Point

I'm back at that place I wrote about below in between classes and someone in charge said, "you can't do yoga in the hall," which I think was more like, "you can't keep doing yoga in the hall," and they're going to fast track finding a new space :) I suppose it doesn't have good "optics" to have a yoga class in this program and then not provide space for it. It actually made the class fine and my students did the full program even though it was mildly public. I really acknowledge them for being brave and flexible! It's not an ordinary yoga class to begin with and then to have it continue to be "non-traditional," well, it was a lot to ask.

When you want your yoga, you'll get your yoga.

I was teaching a class at lunch time today and I noticed that I was more sore than I usually am and just noticed. After the class someone asked me how my weekend was and I remembered that I went bowlikng on Saturday. That's why I'm sore! I have not been bowling in really a long time and I understand now why my neck and shoulders are tight!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You Can Do Yoga Anywhere

I have a place I teach at that I don't want to name and see if I can tell the story ... so here goes. I've been teaching this special group for I guess a year now, maybe a bit longer, I'd have to check. Over the summer we were moved around a bit and had the classes in different rooms, pushing furniture to the side and making do in various rooms. We finally were able to do the classes outside - in fact, it was my sister who implemented that while I was away during the summer - and doing yoga outside was working great and the weather was really cooperative, so we didn't have a space issue until recently when it started turning "Fall."

Monday was the first day we needed to stay inside and Monday was a holiday so the place was quiet. I suggested we do yoga in the hallway because there was enough space for all of us and it worked out great. I played some tunes, we used a corner, and it was really quite okay. It reminded me of when I lived at Kripalu and we came up with this idea that everyone on staff should be able to do yoga at the same time everyday. As it turned out, we didn't have enough program room space for 350 people to do yoga at the same time and some of us ended up doing yoga in the corridors, which was different and actually quite fine. The hall my room was on was one of the corridors used for yoga so if I was sick or skipping yoga for some reason I had to stay in the room until our sadhana was over - until that whole "doing yoga at the same time" thing fell apart. But that's another story.

So I'm back today working with my group and there's no space and the woman who does the bookings for the space is home sick and it's a bit of a deal and we end up just using the hall again. The people in this class are such troopers. Today's not a holiday and people are walking around and eventually, through, our yoga class and we're only 6 people in total. I let some of the people nearby know that we could hear everything they said and once they understood they got quiet. A couple of people involved in the program found themselves with no choice but to walk through our little class and I figure they probably got the message that the yoga classes need sufficient space. We've been making do for a long time and this probably really highlighted the situation.

And the other thing is that it is a total reminder to me that you can do yoga anywhere. You don't need special clothes or mats or space or anything. Anybody can do yoga. And yoga can be done anywhere. As this group did its final relaxation with the busy-ness in the background I was reminded of the luxury that many of us have to practice in dedicated spaces and what a treat that is. But when you don't have the right space - don't give up - make that space and see what happens. It may surprise you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Beryl Bender Birch

I'm on Beryl Bender Birch's email list and she sent me a link to this article she liked where she was interviewed. I was just reading it and I think it's great. Her voice has such wisdom and reason. She makes sense of difficult ideas.

I hope you enjoy this interview with her.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thanksgiving

Birthday season has passed, my daughter turned 9 this past week, and now we are in the season before Hallowe'en, that being Thanksgiving. I'm about to leave to teach my Sunday class in a minute, so this is brief.

I'm the type of person who can be grateful at the drop of a hat. Lots of times I forget to be grateful, but when reminded, I can easily come up with things to be grateful for. Recently I was feeling a lot of love towards my boyfriend/partner, whatever we're going to call each other, and I told him I was grateful for his ex-girlfriend who he'd been with for a long time, for taking such good care of him (that doesn't really capture what I meant but it's that idea). And yesterday I had the opportunity to tell her that. The context was right and I wanted to share that with her. She received it and said that was one of the nicest things I could say.

On another note, there's a workshop coming up on November 4 that you should check out. http://icfc.ws/ is the address. It's the India-Canada Friendship Circle's last gathering of the year and the topic is really exciting. Click on the link to read about it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Time Managment is Yoga Too

Some of you reading this may know that I'm up to something that's pretty wild right now. I live in Ottawa. And I'm taking a course in Montreal every week pretty much. This week I've been in Montreal twice for the course. What it is, is the Introduction Leaders Program and I love it. And it takes a bunch of time to spend a bunch of time in Montreal. (Which is part of why I'm taking this course - so other people will hopefully be able to take some courses in Ottawa, but we need to have people trained in this course first. More on that some other time.)

And this weekend is my daughter's 9th birthday party. It's a slumber party. So that's happening tomorrow night. And on Sunday, I'm teaching yoga as usual and then my meditation workshop from 11-1 at Rama Lotus. Fortunately, my sister has agreed to sleep over on Saturday so she and John, who lives with us too, will be able to handle the morning time with the kids.

On top of all of that, Remi went all zen-like and wanted all of her stuff tossed out. She wanted it out of her room, out of her life, and she was pretty clear that she wanted it to happen right away. So my birthday evening was spent clearing out her furniture. I had people over who could help lift that stuff up some stairs and out onto the porch. I thought I'd do the right thing and call the Diabetes Association to come and pick the furniture up. They were booking for the end of October. Wha? So on Tuesday my sister and I put it out on the street and by the time I came back from teaching yoga, it was all gone.

Being the keeper of my daughter's memories as I am, I am more sentimental than her and I thought I would regret just simply tossing all of her stuff out so I have been going through it. I took 3 boxes of books to the school today to drop off for their book fair in November. That was fine. But there is still tons of stuff in the hall way that needs to be sorted so the garbage can go in one place and the other useable toys can go to another place. Maybe some of the slumber party guests can take the good stuff with them...

On top of all of that, I'm a procrastinator. So I like leaving things until the last minute. And the pressure helps me. So I did a lot of it today, but there's more to do. I expect to get home around 3 am and then I'll go to sleep and in the morning start to take care of the rest before the kids arrive at 4 to make a big mess all over again.

This is a stretch. And earlier today I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and like maybe I'd taken on too much. But I made sure I got enough sleep over the past few days and I really think it's going to be fine. And I'll take a lesson from Remi - just throw stuff out - get rid of it. Some of the toys we receive as kids are keepers, but mainly they are consumables and should be used and then let go of...

I'm letting go of being a pack rat... (wish me luck!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's Hard Doing Things That Are Good For You

I know it's hard to do things that are good for you. It's hard to keep doing yoga when there are so many other things pulling at you. Without mentioning which hi-tech company I go to on a weekly basis to teach yoga, I can say that even signing up and paying for a series of classes won't make you stop work and take care of yourself. That's happening at the moment - people get busy and then eat lunch at their desks and get wrapped up into crises at work or whatever and then think they can't stop and take a few minutes for themselves. So they skip class. Ever happened to you?

Knowing that yoga is good for you and knowing that it will help you in other areas of your life won't make you do yoga. The only thing that will get you on your yoga mat is you.

I was at a presentation last night in Montreal, A Special Evening of the Landmark Forum with Will Steel, who was very entertaining. At one point he asked the room of 350 if anyone felt they were overweight or out of shape. Most everyone raised their hands. Then he asked if anyone in the room knew what they needed to do to get into shape and/or lose weight. Everyone knew. Eat less or eat right, and exercise. Everyone knew that. Noone was shocked that that's all there was to it. Everyone KNEW what to do about it. But there's a difference between knowing what needs to be done and doing what needs to be done. Right?

And I know things take on a life of their own. Stress lives on in us like it's an organism of its own and wants to survive. We get used by things that we wouldn't allow ourselves to get used by if we were paying attention. But we're not most of the time, we're just run by our programs. That's why yoga can be radical. It gets us out of those programs and into the present moment. Sometimes when that happens there are changes that need to be made and we can't go on living our lives the way we have been. We start to think for ourselves. Lots of workplaces and living places don't want us thinking for ourselves. And most of the time if we're honest about it, we don't want to think for ourselves. We want to be told what to do so we don't have to figure it out.

I invite you to take the risk and be inside yourself and look around at your life. It's going to change anyways. But see if you can notice anything about your life that's working or not working. Yoga increases our awareness in general - when the lights go on in the room, everything gets lit up - the things we like as well as the things we don't like. Go ahead, turn on the lights...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Birthday Season

It's birthday season in my family and it gives me a chance to reflect and notice how things change.

Today's my birthday and in a week it will be my daughter's birthday. (Not to mention it was my step-father's on the 19th, my grandmother's on the 20th, Remi's dad on October 9 and it goes on.) But when I was younger, my birthday was a special day. Things happened on my birthday and other things didn't. It wouldn't have all been unusual to take the day off work because it was your birthday. Who works on their birthday? It's a special day! (I didn't get into taking my birthday off but I know lots of people who do...)

But there was always something different about my birthday and that has become less and less so and my birthday has become more and more like any other day.

Perhaps it is because my daughter's birthday is so close to mine and for her the month before and the month after her birthday are all tinged with that birthday-ness.

Maybe it's because I'm like so totally present, man, that I'm where I am all the time if it it happens to be my birthday than that's what's happening but it's really not different than being on the bus back from NYC or wherever. What-ev-er.

I guess it's probably because I'm getting old(er) and time has a different quality to it. When a year is a smaller fraction of your life than it was when you were younger, it's maybe less significant and for sure it seems to go by faster. I mean, there's closets I don't get to in a year. A year can go by and I haven't cleaned out that drawer I was meaning to. Know what I mean?

Maybe it's because I have some resistance to having a birthday that makes it so it's like any other day. I try to down-play its importance so I won't have to face the things I said I'd do and haven't done yet, and face the new wrinkles and grey hairs that mark the time. I like to think I don't mind getting older...I really do feel better now than I have at any other time in my life! But perhaps there's some underlying sadness about being closer to the end.

Perhaps I'm not making myself as important in my day, now that I'm a mom to someone who's having a birthday in a week, (and she will not let me forget it), that I have taken a bit of a back seat in the birthday department and have just let her have all the birthday fun. That sounds sucky and like I'm a poor loser. I don't think that's it.

Plus, now that I am a mom, I am well aware that the birthday for the kid was really the mother's birth day. Giving birth with my eyes wide open, with the intensity and uncertainty that surrounded that event was definitely a day I was involved with. Remi got out of my body that day but she sure had been around for much longer than that. Her personality came through while I was lying down in a way that made her uncomfortable and at other times as well. So the birthday really was my day at the time. Or rather, it was our day, as we needed to work as a team to have her arrive safely, as she did, right on our bed in Johannesburg with 2 midwives standing by along with her father and aunt.

The birthday season has maybe just matured and changed a bit. I still notice it's my birthday and I tell people, in part to make it real for me so I don't miss it. And I still look forward to opening my presents and eating cake this evening!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yoga Subs

I think being a yoga sub is a tough job. I'm going to sub a class this morning for Lynne Cardinal, who's a well-loved and highly respected teacher in Ottawa. I don't take classes with Lynne so I'm not totally sure what they do in class. I got a rough outline from Lynne about what people expect and I'll follow that and do what I do.

I know that sometimes people who sub for me have a tough time. In my beginning class at Rama Lotus especially because there's a set routine and I've been teaching it that way for years and people get attached. So someone coming in has a tough job if they don't know how I normally do things.

Being a substitute teacher in a class like Bikram isn't so much a big deal because the teachers are all trained in exactly the same thing. Most teachers around aren't trained in exactly the same thing, which makes yoga classes interesting and with lots of variety.

I've heard from my regular students that it's nice to have a substitute every once in a while so they get to do something different. I teach what I like and what I know, and there's waaaay more out there, so it's good for people to get some exposure to other styles. But when you get yourself to a class expecting it to be one teacher only to find out that it's another, it sometimes doesn't feel so great at first...

Well, I've got to head off to be the "sub" over at Metta this morning!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Best Moment is Now

I know I've written about this before on my website, but it's time to mention it again.

I was on a bus back from a training in NYC via Montreal. The bus was noisy, it was a bunch of people who all knew each other and there was just a lot of noise and vibration and smells and I was uncomfortable and dying to go home. It was late, as we left NYC around 7 pm and didn't get to Brossard until 3, so yea I got home at 5 am. I was not a happy camper. But while I was on the bus a thought occured to me. "I'm pretending that there's some future moment that will be better." When I got that, I had a little chuckle to myself and resumed meditating on the bus as sleep was virtually impossible for me.

To be fair, when I came home and curled up into a warm bed with someone I love, I checked it out again. "Hey, do you know that while I was on the bus, I was pretending that there was some future moment that would be better!" And if I'm honest, it was better, but just as fleeting. But the me that noticed myself on the bus and the me that noticed myself back at home as in the very same place.

The main point is you don't have to suffer. I don't have to suffer in a situation that isn't going as I'd like it to.

I hope that makes some sense because I've got to stop typing and run (bike actually) off to teach some more yoga today!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yoga minds

It's a new school year. This week I met Remi at the bus after school at the day care where we used to teach yoga together. The little kids getting off the bus before her (two schools get dropped off here) and the kids saw me and talked to me about yoga. "I did yoga this summer!" "I can do yoga!" "Are we doing yoga?" We haven't started up yet - the building the day care was in is being demolished and they just moved to another building. But we'll start up again soon.

I'm pleased when kids get a good impression of yoga even if they don't "do" yoga. Maybe one day they will and they may have a good impression of it...

On another note, I teach yoga at CHEO to the eating disorders program, as you may already know, and I think that group has become my favourite group to teach, especially the inpatient program. I see them twice a week, which is more than I see anyone else, and it's the same people each time unless they're progressing out of the program. Today one of the girls celebrated her 16th birthday and we did poses she requested. She wanted to do partner poses and the wind relieving pose (read below for the "flarp" story) so we had a great class and wore hats and had a good time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

DVD Factory


So I've been so pleased with my ability to finally, Finally, let the DVD out into the world, and yesterday I was making new DVDs, burning them on the computer - please keep in mind this is my own DVD - and I wanted to get some ready for today. So I opened up the file for the insert, because yes, there is going to be a great insert with pictures of the poses and I might even come up with a poster so it can be easy to follow along - and my printer was out of ink.

I have a hand-me-down beast of a printer that uses special ink. It's some sort of Xerox, too-heavy-for-me-to-budge, workhorse of a printer that eats wax ink even if it's not printing anything and yesterday afternoon it said it was out of ink. As if. It didn't even print spotty up until then. It totally had ink, but it would not spit out a page. "Give me what you've got. Isn't there a button I can use to override your internal message?" Nope.


I called my stepfather, who gave the printer some months ago. He agreed with the printer. When that thing says it's out of ink, it won't put out a thing. Which turned out to be good news and bad news. The bad news was that I have a useless beast practically full of ink (because I did add more wax chunks to it except for the yellow one) and wasn't able to print the labels for the DVD. But the good news is - I felt justified in buying a new printer! People are going to want this DVD and I want it to look good. So it's going to need a label on it rather than the handwritten "Jamine's Yoga Class" I'd been doing up until now.

I squeezed in a trip to the printer store before my lunchtime class and got that thing home, installed it as far as I could until this message showed up. "You don't have enough privileges (or something like that) to install this printer. Contact your administrator." Huh? I AM my administrator! It's me! You're talking to her! But I was this close to being late to teach my Monday lunch time Beginning Hatha Yoga class in the Sky Room at Rama Lotus, so I stopped futzing and ran to class. I really wanted to spend more time with that printer and get it all set up, but of course, I couldn't. I'm in between classes right now and I can tell you that my mouth is watering at the thought of getting home to that new printer.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Yoga in Chairs

You can do yoga in a chair, for sure. Sometimes you need to do yoga in a chair because doing yoga on a mat or even a spot on the floor is not appropriate. Sometimes you're in a seminar and start to get stiff. Sometimes you spend 3 hours in a car to get to a workshop where you will sit for 5 hours and you need a stretch. Torsten and I needed a stretch last night in our Landmark Introduction Leaders Program in Montreal. So we did a little chair yoga.

Here's what you do...sit up tall in your chair, pressing your sitz bones down and elongating your spine. Breathe. Even a little ujjayi breath can bring you present quickly. Then do some version of 6 movements of the spine. Any order is okay. You can turn in your chair and look behind you one way, and then the other way. You can reach up and go side to side with your torso a la Half Moon. And placing your hands on your thighs you can try a vertical cat/cow. If you want to go on you can bring a leg up, holding your thigh into your torso and swtich. Another stretch is to cross one leg over and bend forward. Switch sides. Those moves got us through until 12:30 when we got back into the car to return to Ottawa.

I've led Chair Yoga workshops and there are loads more moves I could show you if you ask me. Just because you don't have a mat and aren't all dressed in lycra, doesn't mean you can't do yoga!

On another note... The DVDs are being shipped and are $20 and if you contact me I'll get one out to you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Yoga Outside

A lot of people think it would be great to do yoga outside. And sometimes it is great to do yoga outside, but often doing yoga outside is distracting for a number of reasons.

The number one reason yoga is distracting when you do it outside is bugs. There are bugs outside and when I teach outside, there is usually some time spent clearing bugs off of mats or making sure bugs are not going to be coming onto mats and like that.

There's also noise to deal with. When you're outside, depending on the group, the sound travels differently than inside and sometimes my voice doesn't carry as well as the truck backing up or the nearby lawnmower that starts up once the class has begun.

Then there's people. Passersby. People on phones, yelling as they walk by. People doing frosh week activities. Today's class was special...I'm at CHEO, so we're on the grounds of a hospital, and we're teenaged girls (except me I know), sitting on yoga mats, just as I'm saying, "and there are people around but chances are they won't be interacting with us," the point being they could just relax and know there are distractions but they can go inside and focus, some guy walks up to us and asks me if I have a spare smoke. A spare SMOKE! We're right outside doors that have no smoking signs and again, obviously engaged in a small group activity that did not include him, an activity that promoted health indicated by our exercise mats, and he comes up. Just after I had finished saying no one's going to interact with us. I said, "you must be joking," and with that he walked away. We all had a great laugh out of it.

Careful doing yoga outside...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tae Bo-Bo

Last week I was at Costco and I was debating whether or not to get Wayne Dyer's latest book or Billy Blanks' newest Tae Bo DVD. I didn't want to get both because that would just be too much. I wanted to put my hand on Wayne's book and just get all of the knowlege without having to actually do the reading of the book. And I've seen Billy Blanks' stuff around for years but have never bought anything by him. He's even been faculty at Omega some years ago and I thought I'd take a listen.


I started his program that has this "amped" helper. Accelerator maybe. And I did it for a couple of days and it was fun. I felt really goofy doing a work out in front of my TV. I even had my spandex pants on and was working up a sweat. But the "set" I did on Sunday killed me! I had to put the accelerator down and just do the moves without the 3 pound workout wand. Crazy stuff. I was always uncordinated in aerobics classes and I felt a bit off in the virtual gym.

I must have done something wrong though because I hurt my shoulder! I didn't notice it right away but yesterday and today my shoulder has been killing. So I have a Tae Bo bo. :(

I think I'm taking it back to Costco. Maybe I'll trade it for the Wayne Dyer book. Or the organic bread I like get. Or maybe just get my money back and put the money towards renewing my membership at the gym, which ran out at the beginning of the month.

Billy Blanks sounds like a neat guy. I watched the interview with him and checked out his website. But he's not here in Ottawa. I like taking classes in person and being with people live. Bye-bye Tae Bo.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Flarp

If you don't know what Flarp is, you're going to know now. Flarp is a "noise-making goop."

So Wednesday, I'm teaching one of my favourite groups, the teens in the EDP at CHEO, and one of them says, "Jamine, are we going to do wind-relieving pose today?" And I said, "sure, we can do that." There we are lying down holding a leg into our torso, and one of the girls starts making body noises, let's say. And I have encouraged these girls to let 'em rip when they need to and gosh, there's one of them doing it now. My, she really has some awful gas. Wow, that's pretty serious. Hope she's wearing...then one of the other girls starts giggling and before you know it, they're all laughing and it's revealed that Sabrina's got some Flarp and is using it. Ha ha. The joke was definitely on me.

That was funny. I got to try it too. We talked about whoopie cushions and other toys that make good sounds and how to get the most out of them. Flarp in a yoga class. Look out. (I mentioned the incident to one of my classes for the patent office and someone said, "I'd hate to look at the patent for that stuff!")

Farting happens in yoga. It's going on and you know it. It's just one of those things...