Monday, April 30, 2007

Yoga and Taxes

I leave everything to the last minute it seems. So I'm taking a break from finishing my taxes to report that this morning I was very inspired by Tony de Mello's biography. I'm not sure what he'd say about taxes, as he's very much about living in the moment, however, I got the impression he was very dutiful and probably paid his taxes.

His articles are worth reading. Check them out!

The Sens are still leading in the 3rd period as I can hear from the TV in the other room and I'm going to get back to my filing...

It's almost 11 now. The Sens won (2-0) and I cannot get in far enough to to actually add my info. So it looks like I won't be filing tonight after all. Guess I'll breathe and meditate and deal with it tomorrow!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I work on the weekends

I'm putting a picture up of Leslie and I want to see how long it takes her to notice the picture's here. She's an awesome yogini and this pose she's doing is so good I'm sure she won't really mind her lovely form being shared with people on the "interweb."

I still have lots of ice cream left (see posting below) but I'm working at eating it all. There's still enough to share, so again, let me know if you want to have some.

I work on the weekends. Have for a long time. Occasionally I'll get a reminder of what it's like to have a weekend and I must admit, it's really nice. But it's not so nice that I'd give up being a yoga teacher to have weekends again. One of the things about teaching yoga to people is you have to teach when people have time to take yoga classes. Go figure.

I picked up a book on the table of the bookstore next to the Bytowne cinema and it was just the right book. Does that ever happen to you? I didn't take any time at all, just saw the book, saw the price, and bought it. It's called "The Way to Love: The Last Meditations of Tony De Mello." What an inspiring book to get to read during the yoga teacher training. I read from it this morning during my regular class and a couple of people asked about it and I ended up just lending it out. I got enough from the couple of pages I read. I think if he had still been alive and writing now, he would have been a blogger.

It's fun to find the teachings of yoga in other traditions. It's pretty easy to do as yoga's everywhere. So today I was inspired by the writings of a Jesuit priest.

I'm distracted as I'm writing right now. I'm writing next to someone watching Chris Farley SNL clips laughing his head off. I'll see if I can find the yogic teachings here...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Yoga Teacher Training

We've already begun the penultimate weekend of the yoga teacher training and last night I saw the brochure for the NEXT yoga teacher training beginning next November.

I love teaching the YTT because there's so much variety of the teachings and the people in the course are so into yoga and are open and intereted in learning.

Sometimes I get the sense that people are only interested in the physical aspects of yoga and when I participate in the YTT I realize that's not true.

So I'm off to teach another full weekend and I'm really looking forward to it!

(The picture is from last year's teacher training...)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yogis and Ice Cream

I was just thinking I'd like a snack and now that I don't have as much chocolate around in the house I was thinking about something else I'd like to eat and what popped into my head was ice cream! Now, I happen to have a lot of ice cream in the freezer at the moment because it was on sale at Loeb and when I went last night to get strawberries, I picked up two kinds of ice cream because they were so much cheaper than usual.

This morning I'm working on getting parts of my dvd up online so you can see them. If you were to see the Six Movements of the Spine you'd be able to see that I like ice cream because my belly is quite visible in those shots and well, you can't see it, so just trust me. So I had Reese's Peanut Butter ice cream and Mars, I believe. Yummy.

And it turns out that sweet, milky foods have been part of the yogi culture for as long as yogis have been around. When I was in India we drank buffalo milk mixed with Ovaltine and other powdered sugars, as well there were mango lassis and other sweet yoghurt drinks.

It wasn't until I moved into a yoga ashram though, that I found out I could eat a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting. And I don't believe I've actually eaten a whole pint of ice cream since then and it was along time ago now, but I know I'm capable of it. I lived in such a highly structured environment partly to let the shit hit the fan (tapas), and we had ways to act out and push the envelope that I hadn't used before. I'd used the smoking, drinking outlets when I was in university, but it wasn't until I gave that all up (for the most part) and moved into the 'shram that I explored ice cream eating.

When I was growing up if we bought ice cream at the grocery store it was all eaten for sure by the end of the day. It didn't sit around in the freezer for a week or longer, as it does now in my house. When I got my own place it was such a novelty to have ice cream still there, where I had put it! Sometimes it goes bad or just all crystallized because it's been there for so long.

Moderation is what I go by mostly. I don't think the containers I bought last night will be around for a month or anything, but I'm not going to try and polish them off today for sure. And my daughter doesn't share my taste in ice cream. She prefers sour sorbets, which is not something I like much of at all. So if you're in the mood for ice cream, give me a shout and you can share some with me!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Meditation Workshop

Well another meditation workshop went off yesterday without a hitch. I love teaching that workshop. I don't have dates yet for the next one but I should set some up soon. It's hard being a yoga teacher/experience provider and a marketing and sales rep at the same time. It seems to take different parts of my brain. I can be "on" and lead a class anytime but I will dilly-dally doing my invoices and getting paid for stuff. I'll just let it go for weeks and months and be in la-la land not really doing anything about the money but being worried about it, and therefore, drained by it. I guess that's part of being self-employed as well.

I'm on my way to the hospital to teach my special group of kids. It's a treat working with them!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Partner Yoga

Partner Yoga isn't really "couples' yoga," although many couples come to the class. It's really more like yoga for two bodies. And maybe I'd add, bodies that don't mind getting to know each other. Because sometimes partner yoga gets personal.

We do lifts in partner yoga, where you take turns lifting each other up using your feet to lift your partner up. Sometimes this doesn't make for a great date night - like if your boyfriend can't lift you up or your back gets hurt trying to lift up your partner. Lifts are definitely not the only thing we do in partner yoga but it's one of the funnest parts.

I've thought about not offering the lifts during the class so as to protect people from this potentially awkward experience and the last time couple of times I led the class I have actually asked people if they wanted to do it and gave them the option not to, and they all wanted to do it. So I figure we'll keep offering the lifting part.

The funnest lift for me is like an airplane you did when you're a kid. I like it when my sister lifts me. She's good at it - she's really strong, has had lots of practice, and makes it seem fun. I've seen her lift the trickiest cases. For lots of people, to get up into a lift is scary and makes them feel vulnerable. Karina doesn't waste any time, she just gets your hands, puts her feet in your hips at the right spot, and up you go. It's neat to watch the expressions on people's faces when they get lifted like that for the first time. It's freeing.

So Partner Yoga happened on Friday night and it was fun! We did the lifts and I warned people ahead about it and they still chose to do it. Karina joined me and it was a great night.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Teaching Anyways

If I had a job that gave me sick days, I would take one today. I feel like I'm starting to come down with a cold in my chest. I've been taking Cold-fX for a few weeks regularly and then last night I bumped up my dosage. Oh well. So much for people doing yoga getting less colds and stuff. I won't give myself a hard time about it but I know my co-teacher in the teacher training often says that people who do yoga don't get sick. Maybe I'm just "cleansing," as we used to say when I lived at Kripalu.

What's neat about my situation, is that I really teach no matter what. If I don't feel like it, if I'm not feeling great, if I've got other things I'd rather do. I still teach. And that gives me a chance to practise what I teach and to see myself in many different situations and under many conditions, and then come back to the centred space and be where I am, and it's always the same and good.

So I'm off to teach even though I'd rather lie on the couch and fall asleep. Because I know it makes me feel better to do it and it gets me into that space where I really get that I'm not my body and my feelings and I'm way more than that.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yoga Gives you Energy

I was doing some research today into the relationship between states of mind and breathing patterns and I came across an article by someone who said that meditation and other deliberate relaxation techniques actually slow down aging. It said that experienced meditators appear younger and live longer than the rest of the population.

I know that regular yoga practice gives me energy. Lots of us don't do yoga because we think it's going to take energy to do the yoga practice, but it actually gives us energy - and not just today, the day we're doing the practice - it gives us energy later on in our lives - when we could really use it! So there's a motivator.

I was talking to someone today about having kids later in life and he was saying he doesn't want to be old and have young kids because of the energy it would take. Being a mom myself, I'm aware of how much energy it can take. But there's no reason you can't feel as energetic at 50 as you did at 30. You may not be able to run as fast for as long but your overall energy can certainly stay high if you do a regular yoga and meditation practice coupled with an overall healthy lifestyle of good foods, adequate sleep, etc. That doesn't make it a good reason to have kids or to not have kids, I'm just saying that you can do things to keep your energy level high so you can do the things you want to in your life. Don't cut it short because you're afraid in the future you won't have the energy!

If you would like to try a beginning yoga class come and see me at Rama Lotus on Tuesday and/or Friday evenings. For a workshop in how to meditate, come and see me at Rama Lotus on Sunday, April 22 from 11 - 1.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Music as Meditation

Tonight I went to see another of the concerts presented by the Hindustani Sangeet Mandal in Ottawa. What a gem this concert series is. Sharda and Subra bring in world class artists and they perform in intimate settings in Orleans. Tonight's concert by Rashid Khan was in the Centrum Theatre and was well-attended, however, there was room for more people.

If you're interested in yoga, you may be interested in classical Indian music. It is designed to take you to deep states of meditation and the way a traditional concert is laid out it brings you from a quiet, calm beginning to a musical climax and then brings you back to a calm, enlivened state.

Another interesting aspect of many of these concerts is the presence of apprentices with the musicians. Musicians often follow a path similar to the guru-disciple relationship and live with their teacher during their apprenticeship. The relationship is a special one and you can see the love between the teacher and the student as they acknowledge each other during the concert. The musicians all share a bond that the audience can feel and share in with sighs and sounds.

The next concert is Satish Vyas (Santoor) on June 8. For more information contact

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mother Teresa at Easter

I caught a glimpse of Mother Teresa on Easter Sunday in Calcutta back in 1990. I didn't realize at the time how special that meeting was going to be - it just seemed like another day in many ways. I even kept a journal during that trip and if I come across it one of these days, I'll transcribe a few of the pages.

The meeting did make an impact on me though and I dreamt about it shortly afterwards and came up with a new word to describe the quality of experience. "Siquid." As in, "that was a siquid situation, meeting Mother Teresa." It is when time goes more slowly or things seem more clear. Like if you're heading into an accident or meeting someone special. It's a bit of a time warp...

I had been in Thailand for 3 months teaching english, studying meditation, and basically hanging out when my visa ran out and I needed to come up with a plan. I had to leave the country and to head to Malaysia was going to cost more than flying to India, so I went to Calcutta because it was the cheapest, closest place I could go. I had been there for a couple of weeks staying in The Salvation Army downtown and had made a few friends. We were making plans for that day, which happened to be Easter Sunday and someone said, "let's go see Mother Teresa." So we walked to her place and made it there in time for the Easter service.

There were maybe 20 nuns there and 8 visitors, at least that's what I remember 17 years later. I thought it was strange that she required the services of a priest, but it didn't bother me. I just noticed. My easter tradition includes the Easter Bunny leaving eggs, so I didn't relate much to the service.

Afterwards she received people. If I'd had a camera with me I could have had my picture taken with my arm around her. Instead I waited in a very short line to be greeted by her. She was very small, and her face was wrinkled much like in this picture or her. She took my hands in hers and looked at me and said, "Happy Easter." I'll never forget it...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Yoga for Self Defence

I don't have much to say today. This is an old classic though. If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching! I've heard stories of yoga being used as a martial art long, long ago. Maybe this is how it would look :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I Like Beginners

I was thinking yesterday about how I really like teaching yoga to beginners and that it's probably my speciality. I like teaching intermediate students and I love teaching the yoga teacher training, but there's something special about a gang of beginners that warms my heart. Then someone shared with me something after class last night that reminded me that I've gotten out of touch with my beginners because I forgot what it's like for them. For some of them.

Yoga has the power to transform your life. And I know that and I live that but I forget that. I figure everyone can do yoga no problem and that everyone wants transformation and that when it starts showing up people will welcome that and be happy and I forgot that it's not always pleasant. And although I warn people in class that sometimes they'll feel emotionally uncomfortable in a pose, I don't always mention that after they've started practising they may start to be uncomfortable in their jobs and lives. It's been a while since I reminded people that when they become more sensitive to their bodies and to their own selves that they may become more sensitive to their environment. And I think it may be good that that happens, I forget that it occurs as uncomfortable for some people.

People should know that sometimes yoga practice will open them up and if what they're doing in their lives is irritating them, they may start to notice those sensations even more. They may notice people's energy and feel that they need to shield themselves from some of it. They may notice that things they've become numb to actually bother them.

When we practise yoga we start to wake up. And waking up means becoming aware of everything - the good and the bad.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Luc Got Deeksha

Deeksha, also known as Divine Energy Transmission or Oneness Blessing is something my buddy, Luc, is now empowered to give to others. He just got back from India the day before yesterday and I've got to say, the man has some stories to tell.

I love getting together with Luc because his adventures are so fun and different than what most of my other friends are doing, and they're stories I can totally relate to. Hearing his stories also brought back memories of my own travels to India and some of the wild things that happened along the way.

But back to Luc. He experienced some energy thing last summer at Omega with Arjuna Ardagh, a fairly well-known teacher from Sweden. After that experience he signed up for the training in India, which just finished. He went to Oneness University near Chennai, south India for a 21-day process, where he received daily deekshas, got zapped continuously, had many heart-opening experiences, chanting bhajans and having many wonderful experiences. He thinks of deeksha as another tool for transformation, one that can help accelerate the awakening, raising your level of consciousness, and experience a sense of oneness as opposed to separation. Luc says, "It is actually a neuro-biological process where the activity in the parietal lobes is decreased and the activity in the frontal lobes is increased." (I'm not totally sure what this means but it sounds really good.)

So earlier today he did a little chant and put his hands on my head and gave me deeksha! I did feel a bit of sensation around my third eye while he was chanting and the top of my head felt a bit tingly while he did his thing. Luc says it works gradually and you can sometimes feel the "benefits" over time if you do it regularly. (He did it again just now before he left and we could feel it a little more this time.)

I like Luc. And I like the things he's into. I'm into them too. And I like to be a bit of a skeptic and be more conservative in my outlook sometimes. And it's fun for me to know Luc's out there investigating these phenomena. I love hearing the stories first hand.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Yoga Sutras for Kids

I think it would be nice if there was a dumbed down version of the Yoga Sutras that would be suitable for kids or even for adults who just want the basics in plain language.

What Patanjali was talking about makes so much sense and is so powerful that it would be awesome of it were more accessible. Parts of what is in the Yoga Sutras appears in The Secret. But not all of it and what's missing is what makes The Secret lacking. That includes the hard work part, which is pretty much overlooked in The Secret but not in the Yoga Sutras. Another part that is overlooked in The Secret but is also mentioned a lot in the Sutras is the surrender part. They talk about it in The Secret, but not a lot.

The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali also have the yamas and niyamas in them, which are basic enough that kids could get them. I've done a loose translation of them on this site on the right hand side. Basic dos and don'ts for how to be civil and a good person and begin the path of yoga.

I've been rereading my grandpa guru's teachings lately. He didn't talk about yoga postures at all. He spoke about the yamas and niyamas. Like, who cares how great your yoga pose is on the mat if you can't be nice to people at the dinner table? And, the progress you make in your yoga practice will show up in your relationships with people. Practice the yamas and niyamas and don't worry about the rest of it.

Good advice.