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...