Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lots I Could Write About

There's a lot on my mind and a lot I could write about. That's usually the case, come to think about it. I could write about attachment and how sweet it was when my daughter accidentally deleted all of her dogs on Nintendogs for her DS. I honestly don't think I've ever seen her soooo sad. Grieving the loss of her virtual pets. Very, very sad. She came around and the next day the loss didn't seem so bad. By yesterday she was even grateful because she learned something about her machine and how she could make new pets and get rid of them when she wanted to.

I could write about non-attachment some more and how we're all excited about the Sens and see if we can be happy that they're in the playoffs and not let the fact that they've lost two games take away from the enjoyment.

I'm also thinking about food and how I've gone all unconscious about eating and how I'm glad I wear a lot of spandex because that way my clothes don't care, but my other clothes have gotten a lot smaller so now I'm back on a conscious eating program and am encouraged. Company is stronger than will power!

But after reading Megan's blog again, she mentioned lip balm and I realize that that's my topic for today. I went to my coach, Joyce Hardman's, yoga class this morning at Metta Massage & Yoga Clinic, and afterwards I went to the Pharmasave, which is right downstairs. I wanted to get some of my favourite lip balm from Bonne Bell. I looked at Shoppers last week and couldn't find any, which totally surprised me. As a yoga teacher, I talk a lot for an hour and a half and I don't like to reapply lip balm during the class if I can help it, and I also don't like to have that cakey, gummy, whitish line on my bottom lip either. Hence, the Bonne Bell stick. It's hard for me to keep track of them and they aren't always where I need them, as a result, I've resorted to other lip balms that are lying around that I either received as stocking stuffers or bought in the hopes of topping the Bonne Bell. The last one I bought by mistake was a Nivea stick that I thought of returning because it was so bad. I kept it around as a last resort and used it this morning while I took a class and promised myself I'd treat myself to some new lip balm after class.

So that's what I got. A new Bonne Bell lip balm. They don't have my old shiney favourites that were around when Remi first started getting into it 6 years ago. But they've replaced it with others that seem to do okay.

When I'm teaching a class I've got enough going on in the room - people, poses, lighting, music, fan - that I don't need to be worrying about my lip balm as well. But it's comforting to have it on and if it's not right it feels funny and can actually distract me while I'm teaching. So I've become attached to lip balm.

One of the ingredients in most lip balms is something hydrogenated and I wonder if that's probably not a good thing, and I suppose I probably eat a lot of lip balm over the course of a month, but it feels good. I hope I'm practising ahimsa wearing lip balm and I'm not doing damage to my arteries, but I'm not really sure. I've asked a couple of people about the trans fats in lip balm and noone seems to know or to care really, for that matter.

So here's my new lip balm. It felt great during my lunch class at BTI. Held up. Felt comforting. That's what I want in a lip balm...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beginner Mind Yoga

I teach a Beginning Yoga class on Tuesdays and Fridays and we call it "beginner" but it's a bit of a trick. It's really for anyone. The people who are more intermediate or advanced know that. So to welcome beginners it's called "beginner yoga" and I think it does the trick.

Anyone can do yoga. If someone tells me they can't, I tend to get a bit argumentative and it's hard for me to not get excited. I'll keep working on that...

Everyone can do yoga!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

We Ran in the Rain

So I get to the starting line this morning and meet up with Remi and she's not wearing her Crocs! I said, "I'm wearing mine because you said you were wearing yours!" But her dad talked her into wearing sensible running shoes for our 2K race. So there I was, running in Crocs. As it turns out, it was raining enough that there were big puddles and I didn't mind that I was in rubber shoes with no socks on. And I don't believe I was the only participant wearing rubber clogs in the race. Mind you I may have been the only adult doing it, but still, I didn't feel that bad about it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


So I'm wondering if I should support Remi and run in my Crocs too? We double checked when we picked up our race kit that we'd be able to attach the counter thingee to her Crocs. Sure enough, it won't be a problem as we'll just attach the plastic piece through the holes in the Crocs. That way we'll be fine rain or shine!

Yoga Before the Run

Tomorrow I'll be running with my daugther in the Family 2K Run/Walk. It starts at 11 and my Intermediate class finishes at 10:30. Hopefully it won't be raining and I'll be able to whip up on my bike and meet her at the starting line...

She wants to wear her Crocs to run in...

I'll stretch along with my class to get ready for the run!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Okay, site's back up

So the site is back up and will be up for a bit. I'll need to upgrade mambo or find another program to use and then get a new template. Not a bad idea! So there will be some changes coming up to the site.

In the meantime I'm teaching yoga today at CHEO to some kids there and here's a video you may enjoy of Remi (my daughter) at her violin recital on Saturday.

Site's Down

My site came down last night at 9 pm. Now I've got to switch from yoga teacher mode to web mistress mode. I love being a web mistress, don't get me wrong, but this was not how I had planned to spend my time! My friend who's helping me with my site is still asleep in California so I'm waiting for him to get up and give me a few key pieces of information I need to get the new site going...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ahimsa Means Non-Violence

Non-violence is a funny word. People who are really into non-violence don't like it much because to say "not violent" is not quite the point. It's peaceful or friendly, kind, easy-going, harmless, things like that.

So in yoga, non-violence includes not hurting other people physically. It extends to not even thinking bad stuff about other people (or teams, as the case may be). It also means not hurting yourself in your yoga practice by overdoing it or by judging yourself negatively.

I heard someone once say that if you're conscious you won't do harmful things to yourself. If you're conscious you won't overdo things that would lead to pain, again, whether in thought or in action.

By practising the yamas and niymas (see the side bar), we become more conscious. When we're more conscious our energy is freed up and can flow and we have more presence - we're more aware and less reactive.

I'm going to practise ahimsa tomorrow when I'm watching hockey. I'm going to have my preference for a Sens win, but not be attached to the outcome. I'm going to practise ahimsa tomorrow when to go to my daughter's violin recital and sit with her father even though I can't say we're really getting along, and enjoy and celebrate her accomplishments. Ahimsa's a tricky one because it's everywhere and there are so many opportunities to practise...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Like you're standing inside a giant jar of peanut butter...

If you've been to one of my yoga classes you may have heard me refer to a move otherwise known as "hip circles" as "like you're standing inside a giant jar of peanut butter, scraping out the sides." And it's funny because I can remember the first time I heard it and it still seems to do the trick.

At the time I heard it, Yoganand was a "renunciate" and was wearing orange robes at the front of the class of SLTs (spiritual lifestyle trainees). I took him pretty seriously and when he said that about the hip circles I cracked up. Years later we were across the hall from each other in yoga training in India and weren't as serious but I'll never forget that day.

One time recently I was teaching a private lesson with someone and trying to describe to her how to get the hip circles going and it seems she wasn't getting the hang of it. So I suggested that she imagine that she was standing inside a giant jar of peanut butter, scraping out the sides and then she totally got it.

When I teach kids I don't use the peanut butter reference because many of them don't get it. My daughter won't eat peanut butter on principle - it's dangerous and can kill people. The Costco purchase of a big jar of organic peanut butter is going to last for years at my house at the rate it's going...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hockey Night in Canada

I haven't been a hockey watcher in years. I started watching a few months ago just because...and it's been fun. I've gone to a couple of live games at the Scotiabank Place (one regular season, one playoffs) and it's been an interesting practice for me of participating in our culture here while at the same time having my yoga filters on.

Like going to live games - I noticed the energy of the crowd - so much prana in the room! And having everybody focus on one thing - the concentration is palpable. Watching the patterns of people during the intermissions and practising patience getting out of the parking lot - just some of what I thought about while I was at the games.

Now that we're into the next round of the playoffs I'm having a chance to practise non-attachment. I've gotten attached to the idea of the Sens winning and I notice while the game's on the oohs and ahhs that the crowd makes and I'm feeling the same way (when the game's in Ottawa like it is tonight). I want them to win!

But when I find myself in a bar turning on the siren light when we win a goal, I feel a huge amount of culture shock. This hockey season is fun but it's not really my scene. I'm enjoying it and I can see why it's so popular, but if this was my last season of hockey and I couldn't go to another game, I guess that would be okay. I'm not really attached to hockey, but I think I'm probably pretty attached (no matter how hard I try) to someone who is attached to hockey. Attachment by association perhaps?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pranayama at the Spa

I'm reading through some of the final exams right now for the yoga teacher training, which is completing this weekend and one of the papers mentioned Sitali pranayama and it made me think of something practical you can do with that breathing technique.

I went to le Nordik last weekend, happily escorting 3 women who had never been yet. It's fun to take people who have never been because it can leave a really big impression. They'll be thinking of you forever :) Anyways, one of the things to do at the spa is to be in the steam room for a while. It gets hot in there and it can make it hard to breathe. So what you can do when it gets too hot is to use this cooling breath. You inhale through your curled tongue and exhale through your nose. If you can't curl your tongue, inhale through the sides of your mouth so you sound like the Sens' coach, and exhale through your nose. It cools you off!

If you're too hot, you should get out of there before you pass out, but if you think you could last just a little bit longer and want to really be able to stand under the cold water fall, then try this breath!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Know I Say Some Crazy Stuff in Yoga

If you've ever been to one of my yoga classes there's a good chance you've heard me say something like, (and this is going to be hard because I'm going to try and imitate myself here), "Your body is like a car or your house. And you're in it." Or I've said, "have you ever been on a site and your cursor has a tail on it of sparkly things? Well your prana is like that." And even reading it now I don't think it's that crazy but today I heard myself talking during a class and honestly, I crack myself up.

I want people to get yoga. It's so useful. For health, for mental stability, for problem solving, for relationship building. So I'll say lots of things in different ways to try and explain how I understand yoga. And sometimes I think I make sense. And other times I realize that people aren't paying attention to me anyways. That's going on a lot of the time, I know, but at least if I were caught talking I'd like it to make sense.

To be honest, I'm not even sure what I said. But I know I was going out on a limb. I want to reach the people in my class so they can know yoga is so much more than getting a good stretch!

I want to bring yoga out of the ethers and the puffs of incense and lay it at the foot of your bed or on your kitchen table. Put it in your ipod. Send it to you in an email. Yoga's current. It's now. It's not some old, dead philosophy. It's alive!

Am I reaching again?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Landmark and Yoga

After my yoga class tonight I met up with some friends who have all done Landmark Education courses. Torsten was reminding me that one of the things I said to him that made him want to take the course was that Landmark was like yoga. And I stand by that. It is the essence of many of the yogic teachings I've learned over the years. It's about being present and taking responsibility for yourself in your life. And creating the life that you want to have - or realizing that you are the creator of your life already and taking responsibility for that.

It's an empowering curriculum of workshops if you're interested in doing something different. I don't know anyone who's gone on their own who was disappointed. I do know of some people who were sent by their employers and didn't dig the course, but I don't know of anyone who paid for the course themselves and didn't get something out of it that was worth it.

If you research Landmark Education on the internet you'll read lots of negative stories and all I can say is that wasn't my experience or that of anyone I know and I highly recommend the courses to people I know.

There's a language of distinctions that are made in Landmark that make communicating about matters of the heart more satisfying. Yoga talks about living a full life and so does Landmark. There are many parallels and if you want to know more about it, just ask me! Or just trust me when I say it's a valuable set of teachings that are completely complementary to the teachings of yoga.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Yoga and Heart Rate

So it turns out that the low heart rate thing I mentioned last week is a sign of a strong heart if you're an athlete and a sign that there's something wrong if you don't exercise. Even though I feel like I'm lazy I guess I'm probably quite active and active enough with yoga to make my heart rate be at a low resting rate.

I went to the gym again today. I'm lovin' it! It's definitely not a yoga environment, but it's a way for me to be in my body, feel strong, and focus and deal with stuff. Like I'll be on the treadmill, committed to 20 minutes, and watch the excuses come up. "I did extra walking earlier." "Someone's coming over soon and I should be there." And I watch myself try to squirm out of my treadmill just like my mind does when I'm meditating!

I was telling the meditating group Sunday morning that how we behave when we're meditating is how we behave in other areas of our lives - not just when we're meditating. So to watch how we are when we're challenged is to know how we are when we're challenged and don't notice. It's good to see how we are when we're uncomfortable.

My yoga group is about ready for me. I'm at CHEO and the girls are finishing up their snacks and we're just about ready to go...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Soft and Strong

For some of you this is going to sound like a little nothing, but for me it was a big deal to actually go to the gym all by myself and work out without someone with me. I imagine how much courage it must take to go to your first yoga class if you haven't ever gone before.

Yesterday I went and got on the treadmill and tried to figure out how to use it. I'm pushing buttons and trying to get to that place where you can enter your weight and I finally get it and read the chart and try to get my heart rate to the right spot. Turns out that with the yoga my heart rate is low and I've got to try and get it up higher to meet the chart's suggested rate for someone my age. I was concerned that I have the heart rate of someone trying to work out in their 60s. Yikes. I'll have to do some more research on this.

Then today I actually went around and did the "weights." Wow. I don't think I've ever done that before even when I used to belong to a gym 12 years ago. I think I always gone with someone. So I've entered a new era!

Even though this is a gym I like, it's still not a yoga scene. Even though Trainer Andrew is into Deepak Chopra and all that, there are still TVs on, music blaring loudly, and the sense is we're there to get something accomplished. Fair enough. I tried to keep my movements connected with my breath and notice sensations and stay present. And I had a good time! I like the idea of being strong. Feels good!

On another body note, as I mentioned before, if you know me, you know I'm frugal :) So I recently experimented with doing my own waxing. And I'd seen those Veet "wax virgin" commercials and although I don't technically qualify as a virgin, I really hadn't given home waxing a strong go of it. So the past few weeks have had me trying different brands (I do not recommend the Veet and actually returned it to Shoppers where they happily took it back, well aware that it doesn't work), and ripping strips off my legs. Just sensations. Worse than the band aid effect is the stickiness. There I fewer things I like less than being sticky. And sugar wax is super sticky.

For years I didn't shave at all. Didn't want to, didn't have to, didn't care to. And then I got tired of the looks and as a yoga teacher being up in front of people, I decided I'd go along with our cultural norms and not try and educate anybody and just enjoy participating in our culture in this way!

Anyways, I'm still working with the home waxing and it's going okay but one of the reasons I didn't continue waxing when I tried it many years ago is because I get ingrown hairs and then my legs look like this and it's a lot of work to properly exfoliate (like picking out individual hairs with tweezers). And tomorrow I'm going to le Nordik. No biggie, I'm with friends, but I tell ya, this body hair tradition we've got going in this culture is so time consuming! I'm not even going to talk about the bikini zone.

I want to be soft and strong. That's what modern women are supposed to be, right?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ॐ नामा शिवाय

I'm testing out a feature this site offered - devanagari!

So that says Om Nama Shivaya, which is a mantra that means "yea for god."


Yea for Ottawa!

You might think I'm saying "yea for Ottawa" because the Sens won last night. I'm happy for us/them about that, but that's not why I'm saying "yea for Ottawa." I'm saying "yea for Ottawa" because of the cool gym that I just joined yesterday that is practically right across the street from me and is cheap cheap cheap!

I'll back up. I am not a gym type of person. I am a yoga type of person. A long time ago when I lived in the States I joined a gym for a couple of months and went a few times. I did that while I had a full time job at Omega and found that first of all, it was culture shock to go from the hippy-granola scene of Omega to the nearing "redneck" scene of Red Hook, New York, and second of all I didn't like it and didn't want to go there. So my working out at the gym didn't persist and instead I rode my bike to work a couple of times a week (very hilly!) and walked a lot and did yoga. So that was, like, 12 years ago.

Then just over a year ago after I stopped working at lululemon, my sister said, "why don't you come with me to the gym where I go and we'll work with my trainer, Rick, together?" So I started going to this private gym on O'Connor and "worked out" with my sister and Rick (awesome trainer if you need one). I say "worked out" because it was more of a "visit" than working out. We did weights and stuff, but I couldn't tell you much about what we did because we were chatting. Rick would hand me some weights and say "lift this like this" and I'd just do it. I don't know how much I lifted or what we did really. But I liked how I felt stronger and how I could carry my sleeping daughter out of the car and into her bed without feeling pain the next day.

I had also gotten into running a few years ago partly because it was something I could do when I wanted to do it (a very important value of mine!) and it didn't cost much. I noticed that my running practice got easier and I could do my route that I like without stopping and I just felt good.

Then my sister changed her time at the gym (Personal Health Fitness) to a time I couldn't go and I also realized she wanted to get back to her own time with Rick as she wasn't getting as much of a work out when I was there, and there I was on my own.

I started running again after a break when it got really cold in February and March and by the end of that month when I started up again I felt a lot of pain in my knee! Not what I had before! What was different? Hmm. Same shoes, (Tamsin said I should get new ones), same route, same me. No weight training. Guess I'd better get it together and get back to doing the weights.

If you know me at all, you'll probably know that I'm frugal, let's say. So paying someone for something I should be able to do on my own is difficult for me to do. I started asking around, "what gym do you go to? What does it cost?" While it was still freaking cold out I was calling around different gyms and finding out their prices. Goodlife wouldn't tell me how much they charge. Not even a ball park price. I was thinking, "what is the closest gym to me?" And I thought that the Goodlife gym at the Rideau centre was probably the closest. I broke down and went in even. Yuck. Sorry if that's your gym. I even considered making it mine. I would have to wait over half an hour to talk to someone before getting a PRICE. I thought maybe I'd come back later.

While I was at the St. Laurent complex waiting for my daughter in her drawing class I noticed they had a gym there, which was the first hint I had that there were CITY GYMS. I didn't know! I'm not a gym person so it was not in my reality! It was only $7.50 to drop in. I asked if there would be people there to help because I really don't know how to use the machines and stuff. I was making my plan to go there when I was walking down King Edward and noticed the flags outside the Champagne Bath that said "Boxing Training." "If they have boxing training there, maybe they have other training there," and I went in. The person was on the phone and I was on my way somewhere so I just picked up the flyer that said "Weight Training Hours." What do you know? It was right here all the time!

I called them when I got home and set up an appointment with a trainer, which is FREE when you join the gym. I joined for $22 a month. Beat that. I know some people with jobs get free memberships and stuff but for the self-employed this is quite a find.

So I go there yesterday and meet Andrew, the trainer. I was afraid I'd be meeting someone in university who wouldn't understand my 40-year old body. Nope. Andrew's 9 months older than me. I know because we talked about stuff. He takes some breathing lessons with Vishva to help him with his running. He's into Deepak Chopra. He's an inventor and designed some labels for the machines that help people understand how to use them. (I asked him if he could do it for yoga poses. We'll talk.) And the gym is small. There are a few people there but it's not busy and it's a low-key place.

And it's a City of Ottawa gym. A B gym actually. So it's cheaper. Love it. Going back again today.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Music is the Point

Before going to sleep last night I heard a couple of minutes of a show on CBC radio that had someone saying, "the point of music isn't to get someplace, otherwise the orchestra would play one big chord and everyone would applaud. The point of dancing isn't to get somewhere - it's the dance." I was speaking out loud to myself, "Yes! Yes! That's it." And then I found out it was a repeat broadcast of something that had been on Ideas in the past, a story about Alan Watts.

Alan Watts left a load of teachings behind when he died. They're available here and many of them are recordings of his lectures. I love listening to recorded teachings.

I went to sleep feeling that, "yeah - it's the dance - my life is the point, not some achievement in the future, but as it is now," which of course I already KNOW, but to really FEEL it and GET that sense is such a treat because I don't walk around with that insight all the time. I think about a future place. When my house is clean. When my daughter is well-behaved. When I can take a vacation. When I get my running body back. When I'm successful. THEN I can begin living life again. Which is so besides the point!

To wake up and really LIVE that this is it. This is the point. All of my challenges and obstacles are the steps in my dance. All of the people I see each day are part of my concerto. That feels so close to living the way I am meant to live - that this is not my "practice life," but my REAL life.

Welcome to a Wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

It's not supposed to hurt

So if yoga is hurting you - either when you're in the class or the next day - I'm afraid to say it, but you're not doing it right. There's a way to get a stretch, and sometimes that will have a burn and sometimes you'll feel the next day like you stretched places that you haven't for a while, all normal stuff. But if you're skilled in how to use proper alignment, etcetera, then you can do just about any pose safely and without pain during or after (like leave the arms out of your triangle like I'm doing in this picture). That may mean your expression of a pose is shall we say, modest? However, you will still get the benefits of the pose even if you do it just a little bit!

Read Sam Dworkis' treatise on pain. He's an awesome teacher and taught me so much about pain and how to practise yoga while you're in pain or deal with chronic pain issues.