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Monday, December 29, 2008

I Did Not Escape Unscathed

There I was, almost a week ago (ha!), writing as though I was some how going to be able to ride out the wave of Christmas and just observe as the boats all around me were bobbing in the swelling sea of emotions and concerns. I must admit, I was impressed that I had made it to the 23rd of December, no less, without an injury, without symptoms of the stress of the season. That was the calm before the storm, my friends, the calm before the storm...

I was on the right track and it appeared that I had what it takes to make it through the holidays without emotional outbursts and displays of intense feeling. However, this was not the year for me. I have lived to tell the tale and that is the redeeming feature of this little story. But that's where the good part ends.

I will not even go into the details of the nightmare that was my Christmas with family because we've all been there, we've all had those scenes, those ways we've been that we regret, things we've said we wish we could take back, and those promises we've made about how it's not going to go like that again. And I can add on a positive note that all of my relationships are intact and I'm on great terms with my family, where really very little of this drama unfolded. I saved most of the good stuff for my partner and our private little hell we call home. And we're also okay and even good. But it wasn't fun or easy, those few days.

One of the things I got for Christmas was one of Anthony de Mello's books, Awareness. I've been listening to him on youtube all morning. It restores my balance, my understanding, my forgiveness for myself and the others around me. His words give me strength to carry on, oh yes they do.

The main thrust of his message is the same thing the Buddha says, who he says is the one that put it the easiest, but that all of the great teachers said basically this...

"The world is full of sorrow. The root of sorrow is desire. The uprooting of sorrow is desirelessness."

And of course, he goes on. But there's the message. If I'm upset it's because it's not going my way and my way is the thing I'm attached to. Just drop it. Okay, okay.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's So Predictable

Christmas time is hard for so many people and having "break downs" around this time are predictable. So while I was at CHEO yesterday (I teach yoga in the eating disorders program) and I saw someone who had graduated from the inpatient program (too sick to go home) to the day program (living at home but come to the hospital to do program and school work) but was back on the inpatient side I did a double-take. "Wait a second, you were in the day program, what are you doing on the inpatient side," was what I thought in my head and then it occurred to me, "it's Christmastime."

During my two minute break between classes I checked in with my former husband about picking Remi up and some other stuff and he was just losing it on the phone. I took a breath and reminded myself, "it's Christmas." I know it's not personal at the moment. Everybody's having a hard time.

When I got upstairs to do the inpatients group right after my little break, I got another surprise of two former eating disorder program graduates who had wound up right back where they started, although one of them said she knew she'd just be there temporarily. "For a tune up," I suggested.

Some weeks ago the hospital called me to tell me they probably wouldn't be needing yoga classes on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve this year - things were pretty quiet and most of the kids would be going home for the holidays. As we agreed yesterday, I'll be back on Wednesday seeing as how when we made that decision, things were different. We didn't know who would wind up being back in the program, needing some support.

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As for me, I just know now that things are going to be tougher. There's just more turbulence right now, but the plane's still going on its trip. Or the waves are choppier, or however you want to look at it. But I'm aware that it's happening and it really makes it much more okay. Plus, nothing was going to be as bad as this past November was and I'm over that now, so bring on the Christmas holidays! Bring on family, bring on siblings! Bring on in-laws and former spouses! I'm totally ready. I've got my breath, I've got my witness consciousness, and I think I might have some Bailey's around here someplace...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Day of School

It's Remi's last day of school and she's been counting it down for days. "In a couple of days I'll be able to say, 'tomorrow is my last day of school.'" And then last night, "tomorrow is my last day of school." She got up at 6 am this morning. Six o'clock in the morning, that's how excited she was that today is the last day of school. "Today's the last day of school." She was dressed, she made her OWN lunch, and was out the door early. Oh, and happy. Wha?

In my training at Landmark Education I learned that it's not the past that makes you who you are in the present, but rather the future you're living into. I see my daughter do that all the time. When she creates a powerful future for herself, she pulls herself towards it, or perhaps she lets it pull her. She has energy, she moves effortlessly towards her goal. It's something to watch.

I need to create a future of a tidier home today. I'm sitting in a pile of wrapping paper and juice boxes, newspapers and bills, winter boots and puddles on the floor.

I've been reading about people forgoing Christmas this year and not having presents and less stuff and all of that. And I'm so loving buying gifts for my family, especially things they need and have requested. I loved wrapping gifts for my next door neighbours and giving them to them yesterday. I found out this morning they couldn't wait and had to rip open a bit of the paper to see what was inside. (My Little Pony is a huge hit next door.) I have a lot of fun at this time of year. It wasn't always like that, but lately I've really enjoyed finding the right gift and putting some thought into its purchase and wrapping. Remi made soap for everybody and that was fun!

I was thinking of making a cookie cutter that was yoga-related and then doing cookies for everybody in my class but I didn't do that. I guess there's still time, but it's not going to happen. There are always things on my list that don't get done, but at least there are a bunch of things that get crossed off too. It feels good.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Helping out the Economy

I'm doing my best to keep our economy going - both the big companies and the little guys as well.

Today I did a total impulse purchase of what I believe may be the best Christmas present ever so far for my daughter and it wasn't cheap. I bought her cross-country skis - shh, don't tell her yet. And I knew that if I bought her skis, I'd probably buy myself some skis too because she's only 10 and that's too young for me to drop her off and leave her to ski by herself.

I called Tamsin to find out the place to go for skis because I really don't know anything about skis. She suggested I check out Fresh Air, MEC or Trailhead. I ended up going to Fresh Air because. I don't know. Just 'cause.

And I go to the back and ask for some help and of course, wouldn't you know it, I'm the guy's yoga teacher but I don't really notice at first. He said he figured I'd be the best ski try-er on-er his had because my balance must be good, which it was, so at least there was that. He even knew Remi's dad because he's taken classes with him too. So at least he knew that Remi was skinny and had an idea of what kind of skis to get for her. We had to make it up because she wasn't with me because this is all going to be a surprise because she's still suggesting she believes in Santa Claus and I don't want to be the one to blow it.

But c'mon. She's 10. John figures she's just saying she still believes because if she admits she knows then the presents will stop. That's what his niece did at any rate.

So I've got the perfect Santa gift, which in our tradition includes the gift being somewhat major, and it's unwrapped and is the first thing that gets seen on Christmas morning (plus the stocking). I'll tell you more about our traditions later, but for now I've got the situation being that my parents are in Constance Bay and that's far. The skis won't fit in the car with Remi without her knowing about them, which means there has to be a separate trip to my parents without Remi. And I'm not sleeping over (read an earlier post), so someone there will have to be trustworthy enough (and I believe they are) to set up the skis so it looks like a valid Santa gift.

Then what about my skis? Santa gave her those too? At this point she's the only one who gets a Santa gift. Santa all of a sudden starts giving adults presents but just her mom? I don't know. I'll have to make something up.

Anyways my next class starts in just over an hour and we still have a bus strike plus it's rush hour so I've got to give myself at least 45 minutes to do a normally 10 minute drive or I've got to hoof it, which means go in 10 mins. Bye.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tightness in the Fast Lanes

Wow. This combination of OC Transpo Strike Pose with Seasonal Weather Pose (with the variation of Uncleared Roads) all while doing Christmas Shopping Pranayama has me noticing the tightness in my Fast Lanes.

Good thing gas got cheap.

Anyways, I feel bad for people trying to make a living by people coming out to support them - hey wait, that's me too. If people don't come to class I don't get paid, so this is lousy for my Christmas planning too. Nevermind, I'm diversified and have some classes that are flat rate so I don't have to worry about numbers of students, just about getting myself to class, which is definitely something to consider given this new set of circumstances.

But they're just circumstances and I'll be in class, don't you worry.

Good thing I like my new car so I really don't mind spending extra time in it. I have seat warmers too, so it's not that bad ;)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Winter Tires

I did it. I bought winter tires for the car and I actually got them on the car. Whew. In the past with the Echo, I just drove through all seasons on my all season tires. Then I shifted my mentality from surviving to thriving and bought a new car. I have to say I'm slightly back into the surviving mode as everything that has happened since I bought that car has been an economic back slide and "survival mode" is all around me. It's tough to try and be in "thriving mode" at the moment.

But I'm doing it. At first I resisted. When the dealer told me I could get a winter package for 900 bucks that would be tires, rims, and they'd store them for me I told them in my mind to go take a hike. I didn't anticipate the situation with Quebec making winter tires mandatory by next week and how that would impact Ontario tire supplies. I didn't foresee our dollar dropping like crazy, which before had me imagining driving down to the States to buy tires.

So when I called Canadian Tire on Saturday night and found out they had 4 rims that would fit my car but I'd have to get myself to Barrhaven, I put my pedal to the metal and hightailed it to the 'burbs to get me some rims. They banged around in the back for the weekend. I'd heard about some tires that would fit my car on Friday. He thought he could get them. Maybe by Monday or Tuesday.

Today everything went like clockwork as I pulled in on time at my dealer to have the first oil change and inspection (I actually bought a used car as you may recall so the service came quickly). I settled down to wait for the shuttle and then changed my mind. I told them I'd wait for the car rather than sit in a snowstorm on the shuttle. I got back to marking some more Yoga Teacher Training exams when they called my name. My car was ready!

I called my new tire friend to see if he could meet me early and wouldn't you know it? I had winter boots on my car and an oil change before 11 am. I still have a few papers left to mark, they could have taken more time!

Driving today with winter tires feels less like thriving than just plain being responsible. Cars ahead of me were swerving and sliding and I was kicking along throwing up snow behind me as I plowed through the streets of Ottawa. It feels good and safe. I realize that's a state of mind as we never know what's going to happen. Lots of unsafe things happen even when we've taken precautions. But sometimes I have to live by that old saying I use frequently, "trust in God but tie up your camel."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not Yoga

Okay, so this is definitely not about yoga. I don't think.

Here's a gun specifically meant to be fired by people who are handicapped by arthritis or muscular dystrophy or other things. The article says "it's both a medical device and a firearm," and will conceivably be covered under people's prescription plans because it's being considered a Class 1 Medical Device by the FDA.

Ahmisa means non-violence. I guess this means that now everyone in the United States can practice Himsa if they want to. Forget about the Palm Pilot, here comes the Palm Pistol.

The world really is going to hell in a handbasket. I'd better read yesterday's posting again.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happiness is Contagious


Yep, it's finally been scientifically verified. How you behave has a significant impact on others around you. And the people around you have an influence on you too. I heard it on the news on Friday - maybe it was an effort on the CBC's part to present some good news for a change - and the gist is that happiness is contagious. You can catch it from someone being happy around you.

What I like about this article is that they get that it implies personal responsibility. The mood you are in has a profound impact on your kids but not just on your kids, it might have an effect on your kids' friends' moods. It impacts not just those you know, but even those you don't.

So being happy could be a discipline that you choose. When you notice you're not happy, choose to be happy. Sort out what needs to be sorted out and take care of what you need to because sometimes being not happy is a signal that something's out of alignment, and then get back into alignment and smile :) It makes a difference.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Keep Your Heart Open

I used to live in a "spiritual community" and I forget sometimes that it's not always like that out in the world. I still keep with me that feeling that I got by living with a group of people practising being conscious, which for me was a positive experience. There was something about being surrounded by good intentions and real experiences of trust and openness that I take for granted in my "normal life" out in the world.

For a while I've been meaning to listen to a bunch of recordings I've hung onto. They're cassette tapes and I've got them in a bag and I resist throwing them out every time I move or do a big cleaning. I recently set up an old stereo that has a tape player as part of it and this morning I listened to an old Kripalu Yoga Teachers talk. It brought back lots of memories as it was recorded as a response to the community about being with struggle, which was happening back in 1994 when things unexpectedly went wild for everybody as it was revealed that the guru had been cheating with money and with women in the community. It was actually much worse than that, but that's the gist.

In this recording, Gayatri read a Bapuji quote about struggle and she sang a song. The quote was long and inspiring and was a reminder that our struggles are there for us to become stronger and that to be born in the Kali Yuga means we're all born as warriors. Our lives from birth to death are made up of struggle and it's through overcoming the struggles that the yogic siddhis appear as results. Basically, what doesn't kill you will make you stronger.

And then she sang an old classic, "Keep Your Heart Open." It was so Kripalu circa early 90's. "Keep your heart open, remember the love, that we are love, and love is all there is..." I sang along...

We do need more love in our society. Yes, it's there, but it wouldn't be overdoing it to bring a little more loving to the surface, to our daily lives.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I've got an "itis"

I've been wanting to deny it but lately it's been biting me hard. In the thumb, in the shoulder, and in the elbow. I have crackberry thumb. I hold tension in my shoulders. I'm sore!

So here I am typing - bad idea. I need to rest it apparently. Rest my whole arm. Yea, right. Years ago I switched my main computer's mouse to the left side because I'd done too much "clicking" on my right side. That solved it.

But this year when I was doing the Thai Massage course I must have injured my thumb and then my computer and berry use didn't let it heal. I've also been doing sun salutations on a carpeted surface and there's a new thick carpet on the riser in the Earth Room at Rama Lotus, which for sure does not help.

My doctor even gave me a prescription for a massage! I have health benefits now, so I figure I'll use 'em. If I can only find time to make an appointment...

Monday, December 1, 2008

At Least November is Over

Whew! I made it out of November! The last day of November turned out to be one of the best days of the year, so I suppose the whole month may have been worth it.

A stressed out yoga teacher isn't what you want I suppose. Although it's all relative. Add that to the list of things Yoga Teachers are or aren't supposed to be. We're definitely never allowed to be stressed right out. We're not allowed to have injuries but if we do we should for sure heal quickly. Our bodies' magic powers are supposed to be able to kick in so we recover super-fast.

I made plans for Christmas yesterday and that feels so good to have out of the way. My partner and my mother both have their birthdays on December 24. (That tripped my daughter up a while back when she was only 8 - "you mean he's 60 something?") Our old dog, Zahra is pregnant and due around then, my parents moved to Constance Bay, and John's family live in Navan. We considered not seeing my parents on Christmas Day but my daughter made it clear that would not work for her. So we worked out a plan that will include a visit out in Constance Bay Christmas Eve - a brilliant sleep over for John's birthday in Kanata - back to Constance Bay to see my daughter at her grandparents' and then head out to Navan for 3pm on Christmas Day.


I'm excited that a) it's planned at all, b) it's planned weeks in advance, c) there were no tears or yelling, d) it includes something special for me and my honey, not just family duties!

Taking a weekend off was so helpful to my creativity and general demeanor. I'm doing that again soon. Sometime later this month!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two Days in a Row - Priceless

I took two days off in a row. I would highly recommend to anyone that they have this luxury of two days, side by side, to flow with family, to shop, to do whatever you want to do. I slept in, I planned meals, I noticed my body relaxing.

I felt weird at 7:30 this morning because I wasn't teaching my Hatha Intermediate class. But then my daughter crawled into bed on one side and my partner was already on the other side, and I knew there was no price I could put on that. Even though those quiet moments only lasted a few minutes, they were so precious and not normally possible due to my teaching schedule.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Peaceful There




I have a friend in South Africa who sent me a link this morning to this place in the Karoo, which is the farm of some mutual friends. Antony is a major-meditator and his wife is one of the most warm and welcoming women in the world. They have this crazy farm that is so gorgeous to my Canadian eyes. A meditation barn, a well that's run by a windmill, a grove of trees, lots of sheep... One time I was there we were counting the sheep as they were being rounded up to get their vaccinations. What a place.

The guest area has no electricity. It is so quiet. And at night the stars jump out of the sky. The night sky in the Karoo is so unforgettable. Watching the Milky Way from the southern hemisphere leaves me speechless. In the guest room I remember they had little mats made from old plastic bags and candy wrappers. Totally african.

If you ever have the chance to do a meditation retreat, I would highly recommend travelling to Poplar Grove to do it. Their website now says bring your own food. I remember buying an ostrich egg from the local stand so we'd have enough scrambled eggs for everybody. And the milk is fresh every morning. Warm, unpasteurized, yummy.

They advertise that they provide nothing. No electricity, no traffic, no noise, no light pollution. Wow. It brings back such wonderful memories. If you ever have the chance to go, I don't think you'd be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mindfulness



I was having a chat with an old contact in the 'biz and I told him I had led a stress reduction session to the cops last week and he said, "I used to lead a lot of stress reduction courses to guests at Kripalu and also to corporations when I was a consultant." I asked him if he had any materials he could send me because I'm always looking at improving the session. He suggested I look at Jon Kabat-Zinn's book, "Full Catastrophe Living," as that's what it's dealing with. I told him I have it and I'll go get it off the shelf.

I haven't read it through again yet, but I thought I'd Google Jon Kabat-Zinn and see what he's up to. And sure enough, he's up to something and it's even at Google ;)

These are the sounds of home to me. If you have time to listen to the whole thing, you'll have an idea of where I come from. But really, you'll have a sense of what meditation is about and some of the benefits that can happen. It's the same with yoga. It's about living a full life, not perfecting a practice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Yoga has been banned in Malaysia

Yep, Malaysia has banned yoga. Sometimes I really wonder about people. They've also banned gay sex and women wearing pants. Aargh.

Apparently there are other ways to work out and you could just cut down on eating fatty foods to keep healthy. Wha?

On the other hand, if this is the kind of thing they're promoting as yoga in Malaysia, perhaps it should be banned! (Looking for warm personalities paired with toned physiques...want to make Malaysians look better...)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sleeping Pose

I had a pretty good sleep last night considering everything that's going on. I think I'm in good shape for today and for the weekend. What a relief!

The other thing about sleeping though is that I'm having to do a whole new sleeping pose. Let me explain. I have always slept with my arms over my head - not up in the air - but flat on the mattress or pillow, just above my head. On my back - my arms are over my head touching the wall or headboard; on my belly - my arms are under the pillow reaching towards the wall. I've done this forever. (One long period of notable exception is while I was big and pregnant and for a long time afterward where I couldn't lie on my tummy.)

Lately, I've been having discomfort in my shoulder and down my arm. My sister warned me that I shouldn't sleep with my arms over my head. I heard her but didn't do anything about it. I finally spoke to my doctor about the pain in my arm and he determined I have some kind of tendinitis in my hand from repetitive strain and that my shoulder discomfort could for sure be exacerbated by sleeping with my arms overhead. Bummer!

The had pain began in the summer when I was doing the Thai Yoga Massage training and I got injured by not doing the moves correctly. Those little injuries haven't had time to heal and my typing and blackberrying, heh, and all of that, makes it difficult for those little tendons to get the rest they need.

As for the shoulder, I'm trying to correct myself while I'm sleeping, but it has resulted in some restless nights. A whole new level of awareness - being aware while I sleep! Noticing when I'm out of alignment while I am actually sleeping and then making an adjustment. I could tell I was doing it and I was getting sleep at the same time. Cool.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stressing about Stress Reduction


I got an email yesterday asking me if I would be available to lead a session on Friday afternoon during a training that I'm already participating in as a yoga teacher. I led the session on Stress Reduction a couple of times a couple of years ago and it pays well and I enjoyed it in the past, so naturally I said yes. The main glitch that came to mind is that I already have another client at that time, so I contacted them and worked out an arrangement to teach them another time, which required getting my daughter some child care. That got all sorted out tonight and that was really the least of my worries as it turns out.

Leading a workshop takes some planning and handouts usually, and I was already in the middle of doing that for the big workshop happening this weekend - finishing up the details for the yoga teacher training this coming weekend. I figured I'd just look up my old files and review what I'd done before for this Stress Reduction session of 2 and a half hours. I knew they were on the old computer. What I'd forgotten is that the old computer needs to hook up to an old monitor and we put our last old monitor out on the curb many months ago. So my old computer has files on it but I can't see them. I had backed them up but then wrote over the back up ages ago, too. Hmm. Best Buy was going to be open for another 15 minutes, maybe I could go and get a digital-to-analog monitor converter dongle. Maybe not.

Then I checked the messages on my cell phone. A few days ago I got a message from my contact inviting me to teach a different session than he described in the email. Uh oh. I called his cell right away but haven't heard back yet tonight. I *could* lead this other session theoretically, however, leading a workshop takes some planning and some handouts, like I said. I have neither planning nor handouts for the session he mentioned in the VOICEmail. I have other planning and handouts for the session called Stress Reduction he mentioned in the Email. On top of it, he said in the VOICEmail that the guy who usually teaches this part is gone for the year and would I like to do it for the year. He hadn't mentioned that in the Email. So this had better be a great session on Stress Reduction or whatever it's on.

Meanwhile, child is home and loud. Partner is home and now has cable. Home is small. I am busy. I would suggest to my clients who are looking to reduce stress in their lives that they say no to squeezing in just one more workshop inside of a week of workshops that doesn't even include a single day off. Good thing I have a big buffer. I get to practise breathing and feeling and all that.

Oh, and an earlier email today that said could I send my power point presentation over asap. I didn't use a power point presentation in the past! I used newsprint! I hope that'll fly. I guess I'll stop blogging now and start typing out the slides. I did find the files in an archive on my notebook computer, which I had smartly put there a couple of years ago.

(That's a picture of Luc I took years ago right as he was retiring from the Mounties. He was the one who got me the job that led to this workshop happening in the first place and will be in Hawaii by the time I'm leading this thing on Friday. After reviewing these old photos I'm quite certain I'll have a killer slide presentation for the RCMP on Friday.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Novembrrr is Hard

I haven't posted in a while not because I don't have anything to say but because November seems to be a hard month and doing anything is extra-difficult. I can look back at Novembers past and see that there has been a pattern of rough times in this month. The tan on my feet of my sandals has finally worn off. Christmas is looming and all the details that go with that are starting to creep in. The days are very short. (I've been calling them "cute" in class.) Winter is about to begin. These are of course, just circumstances and don't necessarily mean anything. Lots of people have a great time in November. I'm just noticing that often in November I am more melancholic and tired.

I hear voices in my head, mostly it's my own voice, reminding me to breathe into sensations and lengthen my breath. I review my classes to myself so I can shift how I'm being and have a great day instead of waiting for the day to be over so I can go to bed again. It's up and down.

My trainer's like, "where's positive-thinking, energetic Jamine?" I feel grumpy and pessimistic and sore and have little motivation to do much. But I Keep On because I have things scheduled and slowing down and doing nothing is not an option I'm giving myself.

I escape to vacation websites and book fantasy trips in my head. "What if we went away next weekend?" "How about just you and me go away over Christmas?" "Let's pack up and rent out the house and just travel like I used to." And then the voice comes in, "Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote a book that sums it all up, 'Wherever You Go, There You Are,' so don't move so fast into a new situation." So I close my eyes, imagine myself anyplace I want to be, realize it won't really matter and being where I am is the best place. Talking myself down from the tree and coming down to reality.

So this is when I need to use those teachings I've got more frequently. It's when things are hard that all of that stuff comes in really handy. When things are going well, who cares? I'm glad I've got a big toolbox of stuff to help me out in Novembrrrr.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alternative Yoga Spaces


Megan wrote in her blog yesterday that she's been practising yoga while she's away in Toronto and how it was to do yoga in a gym when she's used to doing yoga in a studio.

I was thinking today of how my Wednesday classes aren't in traditional yoga spaces and how we make it work but sometimes it's funny. Like at the City Hall in Gatineau today at lunch, I walked into the room where I normally teach and there was a big ladder in the middle of the room. No guys around, just the ladder. So we moved it over to the side and got on with setting up our class. Then someone in a security guard uniform was present for our OM because they got stuck in the class just as we had begun and I figured we'd just OM while she was there. I could see the look in her face as she was fumbling for the keys that it was a bit awkward to have 20 people sitting down cross-legged on the floor with their eyes closed and that OMing was going to give her something to talk about for a few days.

After the class finished, some guys showed up in jeans and boots to move the ladder back to where it had been before. I remarked to them how I didn't know that guys would be in there with a big ladder wearing boots and they admitted didn't know there'd be yogis sitting on the floor in bare feet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Office (Part 1)

I say Part 1, because I figure it's going to take at least one more part to make The Office happen.

In about 25 minutes, someone is going to show up here at my place and help me make sense of my office. She's a good friend. And for her to offer her valuable time to help me do something I should be able to do by myself is super-generous. I'm scared. I feel sleepy. I don't wanna. I am embarrassed. I am excited.

This needs to be done but it's one of those things that I can't seem to do on my own. It requires too many decisions or something. It asks me to look at things about myself I'd rather not. But it's getting in the way. I live with other people and they would like to share this space with me but I take over. And I spread out and around.

I said earlier that I think I'd put things away if I knew where they went. But I don't know where stuff goes in here. And it's my space!

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It's a couple of hours later and I am pleased to report that much progress has been made! And I feel better, not lame. I have homework. And she's coming back next week! What a gift.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Now is the Time for Yoga

"Now is the time for yoga," is the first of the yoga sutras (teachings of yoga by Patanjali) and says so much about yoga and life. Now is the only time for anything really. It's always now but we get confused and obsessed by the past and the future, but really it's all just now. (Listen to Oprah and Eckart if you want to hear more about it.)

Another way to consider it is, "now that you've finally realized your way of doing it isn't working, it's time for yoga." Like you can't do yoga when your big ego is in the way or is guiding you. When you approach yoga with a state of mind that is curious and anticipatory, you're more open and receptive and can get on with the job. When you think you know everything, yoga's not going to happen.

But seriously, now is the time for yoga. I've got to get dressed and ready for a full day of yoga teaching. So now really is the time for yoga and I'd better hurry up!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Against yoga

Recently it was announced that yoga will be banned in Malaysia. It is threatening to Muslim values and culture.

I read this letter from a Muslim yoga teacher. If I weren't typing with 1 finger I'd have way more to say but if you know me, you can probably imagine some of it. Here's the letter, which is supportive of yoga (and is written tomorrow if you're paying attention), in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Teaching with my Watch On

Hans came back from Switzerland the other day and he brought my watch back, all sized up right. I don't normally wear jewelry, period, but recently I started wearing a necklace I bought while I was at Omega. I had a ring I wore that my daughter and I got matching but then hers got messed up in a fall at school so I stopped wearing it. I bought a ring earlier in the summer that I liked a lot but then it reminded me so much of Mindi that when I saw her, I just gave it to her.

I used to find having anything on me was a bit distracting while I was practising or teaching yoga. But for the past little while, I've really enjoyed having something on my hands or around my neck while I'm teaching. I'm not sure why. I guess I just like looking at it - the piece of jewelry or whatever.

So the other day after I got my watch back, which must have just been yesterday, no Monday night, I taught with a watch on. And it's not my usual beep-beep watch, it's a pretty watch. And today, gorgeous today, I walked back from Hull where I was teaching and I stopped in at the African store on Clarence partly because I was feeling all Obama, and also just nostalgic (my daughter was born in South Africa, so she's African American too, but not the kind you normally think of) and I got myself a nice ring to sort of go with my watch. If you like jewelry and you like it at low prices, you might like some of what they've got at Giraffe ;)

I haven't taught or practised in it yet but I'll give it a go tomorrow. If I get too-too distracted I'll just back off from wearing the bling while I teach, but for now it's kind of nice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Stuff in the Air


I don't watch much tv. I don't subscribe to cable and for the past couple of years I have actually been borrowing one of my parents' old tvs. Recently they recalled their tv because they're moving and they'd like to have the spare one back. When my daughter came home and saw the empty space she was like, "when are we getting a tv?" So anyway, we went shopping for a tv yesterday and wow, what a difference there is in tvs now.

I draw the line at cable. We have an antenna and there's plenty to watch between CBC and what we call the CSI channel. And now we have TVO Kids again, which the last tv couldn't pick up. But this new tv has some sort of digital capability that the other tvs didn't have and we get CBC in HD (high definition) and whoa, it's like you could walk into the tv into some sort of other room and be with the people in their conversation. And this is a signal coming (for free) THROUGH THE AIR.

When I teach yoga, I often teach an exercise called "prana hands" and I mention that there's energy around us and sometimes if you pay attention you can feel the energy in your hands and you can feel a ball of energy between your hands and it goes from there. I mention that there's stuff in the air and if we had the right receiver, we'd be able to pick up different signals. We'd get tv channels, songs on the radio, documents on our computer, all that kind of stuff, THROUGH THE AIR. I know this isn't new but I still get impressed.

So what else is available through the air? What other kinds of receivers can we be that could pick stuff up? There are all kinds of subtle signals out there that we can't see, but if we have the right kind of receiver we'll pick up. Some people are psychic and pick that stuff up. Some people notice "the vibes" in a room. What other kinds of signals are there? I'm sure there are loads.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sun Salutation in a Hallowe'en Costume



I did show up to my class in my costume. But I took it off to teach the class. It was fun though, wearing such a big dress. I enjoyed how it felt and I think I could get into wearing clothes like that more often. My daughter hopes I'm kidding. (I am.) For fun before the class I asked Ananda to take a video of me doing a sun salutation, so here you go.
video

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en


I'm sitting at the computer researching how I could write a little mobile yoga application for the iPod Touch and the iPhone and it is definitely going to take me a lot longer than I thought. There's a lot involved and I don't have any Mac buddies sitting near me or even at the end of a phone. I'll keep at it though.

It's Hallowe'en and I'm not sure if I'm going to teach yoga tonight in a costume or not. Probably not I guess, eh? I remember teaching in costume quite a few years ago, but that was a night that my sister and I were leading Partner Yoga too. I had put on fake nails before my 5:15 class and by about 5:30 my fingers were killing as the glue dried and the nails began to pinch each finger. To get them off without ripping off my own nails would take a 5-15 minute soak in warm water. So I put up with that feeling for the first class and got a few off before the Partner Yoga class began. A night I'll never forget.

Speaking of warm water, I don't have any today - neither hot nor cold. The City turned off the water at 8 - in time for my daughter to brush her teeth and get off to school and for John to have a shower and get off to work - but not in enough time for me to do my thing this morning. So it's 11 am and I haven't had a shower and it's not the end of the world, but it's getting close. I'm thinking about where I could go to take one. The Champagne Bath is across the street but chances are their water is off too seeing as how this is King Edward construction-related. It makes me aware of my normal routine and how comfortable I am in that. I like a shower first thing you know? And if I can't have it and I still have to teach and be with people, it's a bit, ah, it makes me feel a bit off. If I had no shower but I was camping or hiking or something, that would be even normal, right?

I'm sure I'll find a shower before I have to teach at 2. And I may even wear a costume to teach my class at 5:15.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yoga on the go

I am typing on my latest gadget. It's going to be short because this is a bit laborious to be honest. I love the touch (itouch), but I'm more excited by the possibility of coming up with a little mobile yoga app. Meditation app too. I'll let you know of I ever come up with something worth mentioning. If you can help me, let me know!

In the meantime the itouch is pretty cool. I couldn't do this with my Blackberry :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yoga in the Dark

Tonight while I was leading the Hatha Intermediate class at Rama Lotus, there was a black out. The lights went out, the music stopped, and it got very quiet. And that was kind of cool. The Crystal room was pretty packed and we all just sort of stopped for a sec and noticed that it was dark and then kept going. I could hear in the halls that it was quiet and that the other classes were continuing too.

Doing yoga in the dark gave us the opportunity to totally let go of performance and competition and it was pretty neat. A class to remember for sure.

It was fun that something different and out of the ordinary happened.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's a Good YTT

The weekend is over. We had the first weekend of the Yoga Teacher Training at Rama Lotus this past weekend. I was nervous for a few reasons but I'm all better now. I think it was a hit, like it always is, and we're on the right track.

I honestly believe yoga will teach itself if you let it. You point people in the direction of the teachings, give them the space to practice, and I maintain it doesn't matter who your teacher is, you'll learn yoga. My sister thinks I'm not giving myself enough credit as a teacher when I say that, but I think it's true. The yoga will come out if you just put a group of people together and have them focus on it.

So even though it's intense and a lot of work and takes my time and I don't see my kid or my man and all of that, it is so much fun to be with people when they're "getting it" that it's so worth it. Don't get me wrong, I'm paid as a teacher to do this, but it's a big job to hold the space for 38 people and make sure it's all running smoothly. Even when my phone rings in class. Yep, my phone rang AGAIN (it happened last YTT too) during class. I've requested a key to the office and if I can leave my stuff in there it would make a difference...

Anyways, it's a good Yoga Teacher Training and it's off to a good start.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Yoga and the Other Person

The Yoga Teacher Training at Rama Lotus has begun and there's lots of stuff happening already and it's great. One of the things that came up is about how sometimes when you start something like yoga it can be challenging if you're in a relationship where the other person isn't as into it (if at all) as you are. For some people it can feel like there's distance created and it can become rather alienating - for the person doing yoga because they want to share their new passion and connect about it, and for the person having to hear about it, it can seem weird and they just don't want to hear about it.

I maintain that practicing yoga can bring you closer to everybody, not just to other yogis, and that it really shouldn't cause alienation at all, rather the opposite. But sometimes along the way that doesn't happen and there can be tension and things can be tough as it seems like you're going one way and your partner is either going the other way or just staying put, leaving you alone on your journey.

This morning it feels like I'm heading off in another direction. I'm working weekends, I'm up early and my partner is working late so he's sleeping now. I feel like I never see him. He's stressed about work and I think he should meditate to get relief but do you think he wants to hear about that from me? "Uh-uh" is right. Am I stressed? You bet. I have this fantasy that he'll get up with me early to share a coffee before I head off to teach my class. But he was out 'til 2 volunteering at the old church at some late night event.

I guess I'll just have to stick to my own meditation practice, hold on for this part of the bumpy ride as the first weekend of the teacher training comes to a close later on today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Voting Pose 2


I'm a dual citizen of Canada and the United States. So I get to vote in two elections. But for the American election, I have to vote by mail because I live up here. I got my ballot yesterday in the mail and I actually cried. I was so moved by the fact that I get to participate in something so huge, something that is going to make such difference in the world, I expect. But it's not even that. It's more like being star-struck. It brings me in a closer relationship those guys I see on TV everyday. Like I'm somehow involved. And I guess I am. Clearly I am. I think it's neat that I get to vote in that election. And here you can see who I voted for - I don't mind.

On another note, the Yoga Teacher Training at Rama Lotus begins tonight. I'm excited and nervous. In the past I was hardly nervous because I was just a teacher. Tonight I'm the "lead teacher" and I guess it means there's more pressure on me, more responsibility to make it an awesome training. It has definitely meant more paperwork so far...

Santosha is also having a teacher training starting. How I know this is because I bumped into David Jewitt at The Table when I stopped in for lunch. (I also bumped into my mom and brother, which is totally random. My mom is never out for lunch and I would never bump into her on the street.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sorry, Hans

Hans brought me a watch from Switzerland and it's a bit too big. So I haven't worn it and he said the next time he was going, he'd take it back with him and have them adjust it for free. He called me this morning to remind me that he's leaving soon and if I don't get him the watch today, I'm out of luck. And I know I put the watch in a special place but I can't find it!

I live in a small house. There really aren't that many places to hide things. But it happens. For instance, this morning while I was hunting for the watch, I came across the charger for my camera battery - the one I was looking for back in August before going to Omega! I haven't taken many pictures these past couple of months because I couldn't locate the charger. I found the case the watch came in but not the watch.

Hans might think this is a sign of disrespect and make it mean that he shouldn't give me presents anymore. It doesn't mean that. The truth is, it's not personal and I am equally confused about where a wide variety of things are, some meaningful, some not. I'm an equal-opportunity mis-placer.

What I'd like to have is this: a place for everything and everything in its place. That would be so awesome. Then I'd know where everything goes because it would have a place. And if it didn't have a place, it wouldn't be in my house or else I would make a new place for it. Wouldn't that be great? I'd be organized and tidy and I wouldn't have to make decisions every five minutes about where to put stuff because it would be pre-decided and I'd just place it back where it belongs. Ahhh.

I know some of you out there can totally not relate to my situation. You've told me! And I know some of you are in similar situations.

I will continue to look today for the gorgeous watch that a very dear friend gave to me. It is very lovely and he was really super-generous to give it to me. I will be even more embarrassed if I can't locate it before the end of the day. Sorry, Hans.

---------
I found it! I reviewed one of the places I had checked but this time I looked more closely and sure enough, it was there. See Hans? I take really good care of things! I keep them safe and in secure locations where I can retrieve them when I need to.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Time to Yoga

I have to get out the door in a minute or two or else I'll be rushing even more than I wanted to. I like to get to places just in time without any overlap. But sometimes I do go earlier and it feels pretty good not to be in a hurry on my way. It feels awful to be late, so I don't do that very often.

Today I've decided to walk to Rama Lotus. It takes just over half an hour unless I run for parts. I want to walk. So I'd better head out now.

Here's a link to some people I was at "yoga school" with. I mentioned Todd the other day in class because I've been playing his CD "Bija" a lot lately. He chants the sounds of the chakras and it's beautiful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Temples of the Divine

So I was going to write about how I was inspired this weekend going into St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal and how it totally shows how the church is an expression of the body and how we really are walking, breathing temples of the divine spirit but something's still on my mind from this morning.

I teach yoga at CHEO in the eating disorders program. This morning someone mentioned that there's an 11-year old boy on the floor who's not in the program. He's in the hospital with ED and he's 11. Just that itself brings tears to my eyes. What is going on that such a little kid is dealing with disordered eating? Even the person telling me, who is dealing with herself was surprised and disturbed.

Yoga is a place where people with disordered eating issues can hang out. There are all sorts of unsupportive practices in yoga where people with ED can hide. I remember getting sick during one of my trainings in India and I had lost a lot of weight through illness and I got back to my classes and my teacher told me that was good for my practice. That completely went against what I had learned about yoga back in the States (funny, eh?) and I looked at the guy like he was crazy. I probably told him I thought so, too.

So knowing that yoga, with its images of skinny bodies and kriyas and fasting and other body-oriented rituals, could be very unsuppportive to people dealing with eating disorders, I am very conscious to bring out the part where we're all sparks of the divine living in bodies that are actually temples. And that however we are is really great. We're made in all shapes and sizes and everything else.

And it still gives me a knot in my belly to know there are kids in Ottawa ritually starving themselves.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voting Posture

I did my voting exercise today. It is a different kind of stretch. It requires looking at how things are and comparing them to how I think they should be and seeing how off that is or how close. Things are as they are, right? I mean, that's how things are. And today, the way things are is that we get to vote. So I voted.

It's part of the pose we have in this democracy. I look at where I notice sensations and get curious. I'm curious about the economy and the environment and my family and war and getting older and our young people and lots of things. I know others are curious about those things too.

Do the voting posture - you have until 9:30 tonight!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Coloured Glasses


Last weekend I went to Montreal with my daughter, Remi, who attended the Landmark Forum for Young People. The kids' version is like the adult one, but shorter. (They have less past to put behind them.)

When she got back, she was describing to John one of the exercises they did and she drew this diagram. It's illustrating that we wear different filters and then we get used to looking out of them and we don't notice that we've got a filter on. I think someone had a big stack of glasses and they put them on and ended up with a whole bunch on and things looked pretty grey and dark. When they took the glasses off they could see how things really are without their filters.

Anways, I just loved the diagram. She did another one too that we wiped off but if I can encourage her to draw it again, I'll snap a picture.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Yoga Competition

I'm not sure exactly what's going on in Ottawa, but facebook tells me there's a few more yoga centres opening. That's exaggerating a bit because I did hear about it before the facebook postings, but facebook has become a place where I get a lot of advertising messages now so that's where I see it more.

There are three new ones opening this month that I can think of and I'm sure there will be more happening as people fulfill their dreams of being yoga teachers and opening centres. (And, of course, once people can franchise and duplicate a successful yoga business and repeat it in new markets.)

Personally, I've never had a desire to run a yoga centre, so I stand back and watch and listen to the conversations around space and square footage and all that. Somebody's gotta do it, but it ain't me.

I've seen people say they're working at two places, and I think back to a time when I was asked to sign a contract that said I wouldn't work anywhere else and I didn't go along with it. I wanted to teach where I felt called to teach. But for people running a business, they need their teachers to be loyal and exclusive so they can have something to offer that's special to them. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't - it all depends on the context.

The teachings of yoga are free, however, the running of a yoga business is not. There will be some competition, vying for the same students in a particular neighbourhood, or type of style like yoga classes done in a hot room, for instance.

It gets competitive naturally. And there's something about yoga being competitive that seems so un-yogic. And at the same time, that's how it is, which is yogic - to look at how things are and allowing them to be that way.

Ottawa has an active yoga market. Yoga has been here longer than it has been in lots of places. And Ottawa will sustain a lot of active yogis who want to practise in group settings because we could all just stay home and practise our postures alone, which is how it's been done for most of history. But we don't, we like to come out and be with other people and learn from new teachers and get tips and tricks on poses and breathing exercises. This means yoga centres will be in business for a long time, which is awesome. And there will be new centres moving in and eventually the market will be saturated and centres will close their doors and students will shuffle around. It's just how it goes. Competition is natural and is a "default setting" and overcoming the urge to compete but rather thrive from within, not from comparing ourselves to what's around us, takes practice and discipline.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Toothbrush Meditation

So I got a new toothbrush the last time I went to the dentist. It's pretty fancy too, for one that they give away. It's electric. It spins and it makes my teeth feel like I've just come back from the hygienist. And it has a little timer on it. I believe the timer goes for two minutes. I've made a little promise to myself that I'll go for the full two minutes. I mean, c'mon, it's not that long and it is an easy way to take care of myself.

Well, what do you think happens? I try to finish early! I catch myself thinking I don't have time and I'm going to stop and I don't really need to do it, I'll do it later and all sorts of things come up. And then I relax and I get into a pattern with my brushing. Top teeth, bottom molars (I know they all have names - perhaps I should learn them?) and I enjoy it! But sometimes I go unconscious and I'm thinking I'm done, when I'm not. It's just like what happens when you meditate. Or rather, when I meditate.

I remember back to when I was first really learning about commitment and for me, that was when I chose to live at Kripalu, being celibate for a year and living in that community and everything that would go with it. The person who was helping me with my application told me, "when you make a commitment, the first thing that shows up is where you're not committed." Totally! Being committed doesn't mean being perfect. Being committed is a practice. That was news to me.

I'm committed to brushing my teeth. It feels good! And sometimes I'm in a hurry. I want to get to some future moment. And then I breathe and relax and calmly brush my teeth and slow down!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Meditation on the Treadmill

My sister and I both meditate. So after our weight training and it's time to get on the treadmill and do a little cardio, my sister reveals her mind. "I've got more important things to do. I'm tired. I can't stay on this machine. I've got to leave now. Surely that's enough time. I'm only doing 10 minutes." It goes on and on. And it's not a drag to hear her because she says it while she's aware. So I know she knows that it's just her mind doing its thing. And it's funny.

After a while her mind goes quiet. It has nothing left to say and her body just keeps walking on the treadmill. Mine too. We talk, we walk, we do our thing, and we know our minds will complain at the beginning and then they will get comfortable. It's like a dog making its bed. It is all fidgety at the beginning and then it settles down and has a nap.

That's often what happens when you sit down to meditate. The mind comes up with a hundred different better things for you to be doing. All of the to-dos that need to be done right this minute show up. And then discomfort is there too. "I can't do this. My knees are sore." Whatever. And if you know that is just part of the deal and don't buy into the story, you get to sit and meditate peacefully. Or you get to do whatever it is you want to do because the obstacles on the path to meditation or the treadmill or to cleaning your office or starting the project or anything you can think of, have all been well-documented by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras thousands of years ago. People are people and we're all going to not want to do stuff we really want to do or think is good for us to do. The mind comes in and tries to sabotage our efforts. If we recognize the signs, we can pursue our path knowing those thoughts will pass. If we get caught up in those thoughts and believe them, we'll stop our progress and take a diversion for a while. No problem. Eventually we'll come back to the path and try to make progress again until we're stopped. And we'll start again. It's inevitable...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me



This is a funny video that my friend, David Cronkite, made for me. I'm 42 today. It still feels great! Hooray for the 40s!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happiness


On Sunday I read a bit from Anthony de Mello's book, The Way to Love, a book I've mentioned a few times for sure in class, at least once on this blog. He says that we're already happy, we just need to remember it and get rid of the attachment to things and recognize our happiness. Someone after class said it reminded her that there's no "happier" that we're just happy and that there's no striving for it. It's just to scrape off the layers of things that prevent us from noticing our happiness that's already there.

And someone else sent me a page from Tara Brach's book about happiness (that's what the image is). How it's just there. There's nothing to do but notice it. How refreshing. There's not a 10-step process to achieving happiness. It's already ours. It's there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good-bye to the Echo


In a few minutes the Echo's new driver is going to come and take it out of my parking place and drive away. I'm actually keeping it insured for him for a couple of days with my plates on until Toyota Financing can get their paperwork straightened out. I discovered that when you want to buy a car from them, they do things super-fast and paperwork takes no time at all, but in this case, it can take a week. Hmmm.

Anyways, something funny happened on Facebook the other day. I had put my status down as, Jamine is "going to have one less car tomorrow" and someone who I know is an environmental guy commented and wrote, "good for you," or something like that. I laughed. What a spin! I think he thought I'm reducing my carbon footprint and being more environmentally conscious. Ooops. If you've been reading my blog you'll know I ended up with 2 cars because I bought an extra car completely on impulse (although entirely premeditated). "Ooops, I have an extra car, now what?" And I'm not keeping the Echo, I'm getting a bigger, heavier car. After last winter when I actually lost a few bucks because I couldn't get to teach a class because I couldn't get my car out of the driveway, I figured heavier may be the way to go. I live in a wintery climate, non?

When I bought the Echo I had just started working at lululemon full time and I needed a car that would be so reliable because I had to make it across town to pick Remi up at the bus. When I started there I was committed to parenting the way I wanted to, which included being with her after school, so I ended early some days so I could get to the bus on time. And that car always made it.

I also bought that car when I was living in "survival mode." I just always did the most basic option and to do anything above was a stretch. I know on the Echo I added a painted bumper and the central lock thingee and I was like, "I'm going to pay an extra 10 bucks a month for that?" And I did.

It took a while for me to really get that I could be a single mom and take care of myself and my daughter without outside help. I wasn't sure that I could do it for the longest time. It took a while before I could relax and know that I had enough and was okay. I bought her new clothes but I didn't buy anything for myself. We still don't have cable TV (or a dishwasher for that matter). I would read articles about how people could save money by doing things like not buying coffees out. I always drank coffee at home. Going to Starbucks and wasting 4 bucks seemed like just that, a waste. So I realized I was already doing those things to save money and I got a bit scared. I was already living so close to the edge. I didn't have a buffer. What if I got sick? What if I didn't have a steady job or enough yoga classes?

As you're aware, it has all turned out. I still get a bit scared and reading about the economy collapsing brings that up too. But what I have now is faith in myself. Faith that I'll figure it out. Faith that I can work enough to have what I need and more. I am strong and can take care of myself and my little family!

So saying good-bye to the Echo for me is not about getting a new car. It's about saying good-bye to a way of life that had me living so much from a place of fear and needing to survive. It's letting go of old patterns and stretching into new places. Living a life of thriving and freedom. That's what I had wrapped up in that Echo and I'm letting it go. (He's on his way over and I'm giving him the keys!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Trainers

I have a trainer. I pay him to tell me what to do. It's not like I couldn't stay home and run up and down my own stairs and do sit ups and then go out for a long (high-intensity, of course) walk all by myself, of course I could. But I'm old now. I know what I will and will not do on my own. And I will not do strength training on my own. So my sister and I actually split our trainer. We know we need some support and we're willing to go get it.

I taught someone today and she said she knew that she needs me to come to her place and help her do the yoga because if she goes to a class, she'll try to do stuff that could hurt her, and she needs the support of a teacher and she's willing to pay me to come over. I get it!

I've reached an age where I know that there are things I could do and that loads of other people are doing for free, and I'm willing to pay for them anyway. And I've seen enough to know that I do lots of things on my own that other people pay other people to do (computer stuff, for instance).

What a relief it is getting some coaching and support for things you could be doing on your own. We're not going to be able to do it all. I used to try so hard to do everything all by myself! And then there are times when it's good to buckle down and get things done on your own and be more self-sufficient (uh, housecleaning comes to my mind). So it's a balance.

Having a coach or trainer or teacher is a real privilege. (Thanks Scott!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Partner Yoga is Coming Up


Partner Yoga is coming up soon (September 26) and the questions have begun about bringing someone's boyfriend who's never done yoga before. "I want to get my boyfriend into yoga. Can I bring him to Partner Yoga?" Every Partner Yoga session has somebody's boyfriend who has never tried yoga before.

To be honest, I'm not sure if doing Partner Yoga translates to signing up for regular yoga classes. It's so different in PY. There's a lot that's different in PY than the normal variety. For one thing, there's a good chance you'll have an opportunity to lift your partner up in the air during PY. I've considered removing that move from the repertoire but people invariably request it if I try to leave it out, so we do it. Or try to do it. And there's the rub.


How does "date night" go afterward if you "try" to lift up your partner and it's unsuccessful? There's a lot going on - "I'm not strong enough," from the lifter. "I'm too heavy," from the liftee. Of course, I encourage people to be fine with however it's going and I'll tell you right now I don't give my sister an airplane and I don't make it mean I'm a wimp or she's too big. It's just not workable for me to lift my sister up the same way she can lift me up. But I know that it can be a touchy subject and might bring stuff up that's not what you're expecting when you're signing up for a fun night of Partner Yoga. And for sure, that's not happening for everybody, but I'm pretty sure it's happening for somebody. I don't really dwell on it or comment at all, but I'm sensitive to it.

Check your calendar and see if you can come out to PY! It really is a hoot...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Yoga at the Y


Earlier today I was reading some other blogs and came across this recent post about Yoga at the Y and how great it is. And it got me to thinking!

I am a teacher at Rama Lotus and have been for 6 or 7 years. I go in, I teach, I leave. People come, people go, prices go up, stuff happens, and I'm still in there teaching. I used to wonder why people would go to a yoga class at all seeing as how yoga is free and people can do it at home by themselves and before I lived in an ashram I'd signed up for a series of classes and this drop-in model wasn't in my world. So yoga's free and people can do it on their own but studios have to charge because landlords don't donate their space for yoga classes. (I've asked on occasion, but they won't go for it - they charge a lot.) So then yoga costs something. The Y can charge a little because they're a big business and a charity and have lots of cash flow and it's way different than a little yoga place, which even Rama Lotus is by business standards. Buying in bulk reduces the cost and I know classes can cost below 10 bucks if you've put enough on the card.

And then there's the teachers. I've written before about what people think yoga teachers are supposed to be and I guess charitable should definitely be on that list. Which I think most teachers are as most teachers don't make that much for what they do. So most yoga teachers also have other jobs. Some yoga teachers can get by teaching open classes, but most really can't. There are some very big classes at Rama Lotus, and the person teaching that particular class will be well paid for that class, but most of the classes are small and you could make more teaching at the Y than teaching a daytime class to a few people at Rama Lotus. So teachers generally don't do it for the money.


The length of time for a yoga class has always varied. And it varies on various things. I'm not sure why Bikram began doing 90-minute classes, but he did and Rama Lotus got Bikram classes happening thanks to Luc probably 10 years ago, and then other classes would be scheduled in a similar way to suit the space, I suppose. At Kripalu our classes were 1 hour and 15 minutes for some auspicious reason. Some people get an hour for lunch so a lot of classes are that length, which is what the Y does. They're running on an hourly schedule. Most of the classes I teach outside of Rama Lotus are an hour too, it's enough most of the time. At Omega, the staff classes are 2 hours, so it just depends.

What to wear to yoga has changed over the years (I talk about that on my web site, capitalyoga.com.) I don't think it matters what you wear to yoga but some people do and it can be like a fashion show in some classes. Those great clothes are also very comfortable usually, which is why Chip started lululemon, at least that's what he told me. Doing Bikram in cotton is totally allowed, but usually uncomfortable. I used to wear my bathing suit with shorts on top. Doing non-hot room yoga in cotton works great and that's what most of us wear. (Ashtanga would be an exception as it gets just as hot as a Bikram class in Ashtanga if you're working and there are people in the room!)

When yoga becomes a fitness class it loses something for me. If I want to work out, I go to the gym. If I want to do yoga, I do yoga. It helps me connect to myself and stretch and have quiet time with myself and it feels good. And then it's worth the money, unless I'm doing it on my own!

One of my teachers wrote about offering yoga for free and what happened to him. In our culture if we don't pay for something we don't value it. That's a generalization, but it fits here. And even if there were free yoga classes, they'd need to be outside because indoor space costs something. I've had really cheap classes at people's works and people don't show up. Charge a little more and people come because it's a bigger investment. It's like marketing anything - you have to find the right price, which may be more rather than less. I'm not saying yoga's over priced, but to be honest, I don't know, because I'm not trying to run a yoga centre.

Doing yoga in a dedicated yoga space is also a nice thing to do. I teach a lot of yoga in gyms and dirty floors and places that aren't dedicated to yoga. It's great to be able to teach yoga in a yoga studio. The lighting, the sound system, the props, the whole space has considered yoga. Doing yoga in a gym works, but it's not the same.

Teaching yoga and holding the space for 1 or 50 students, is a privilege and it takes something to do that. It takes a lot of mental energy to do it and it's also something that can be rewarding to the teacher once they get over being drained by it! But it's not something that you can do 8 hours a day. Not leading big classes up at the front. It's something you do for short periods and then you have to do something else. And if you're working all day and then teach yoga at night or stop and do it at lunch, chances are you're not doing it everyday or it will eat up your free time.

Yoga's great and it's awesome that there are affordable classes and classes in dedicated yoga spaces, and private classes. There's a kind of yoga for everybody. And there are good teachers at all levels. One's not better than the other. Yoga's not a competition! Not even the classes or spaces. There's room for free yoga and $15 yoga and $100 yoga classes. Context is the key.

(I grabbed the pictures from my website. I scanned them from the book, Yoga for Americans.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Paradise by the Dashboard Lights


Let me start by saying that this is not a picture of the dash of my car. I don't have my own picture of the nighttime dash of my car yet, but my car does something similar. I didn't drive the car at night before I bought it. Last night, after teaching at Rama Lotus and then heading over to Santosha for Leona's wild Journey Dance, I turned the dash lights on. "Aaaaaah," sang the angel choir. I'd forgotten that VWs go purple at night. If I'd remembered that a while ago, this car thing would have been over and I wouldn't have had to drive anything after the Rabbit. The other too cool thing is that to open the hatch, you push on the VW logo. It's like a bat-mobile!

Today I'm driving to Montreal and gas prices or high and it's like, "should I take the Echo or the Rabbit? Hmm. Let's see." As if! It's a fun little question that I won't have for much longer as I am quite certain the Echo will find a new driver very soon.

This morning on CBC Overnight, I heard an interview with a couple of doctors on the Australian program. It was so fascinating, I perked up and I'm going to look them up now. They were talking about the "plasticity" of the brain and how people with OCD, for instance (that's obsessive compulsive disorder) can through, using their awareness, notice that the thought they have about the germs on the doorknob (or whatever), isn't useful and know that the thought is basically stuck in their brain, and move their thoughts to something else, that they will actually rewire their brain. The whole interview was really excellent. It reminded me of A Beautiful Mind, and how that guy learned which voices were the ones not to listen to and even though in the end he could still hear them, he didn't pay attention to them and that allowed him to live his life.

Yoga deals with this of course, and so does Landmark Education, which I've always considered to be jnana yoga, the path of knowledge. The thing that they said in the program that was really cool was that the mind and the brain are separate. There is a mind that operates outside of the brain, or beyond the brain. Have a listen if you have time...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now I'm Nervous

I realize that why I do these kinds of things is for the little dramatic thrill it gives me. It's exciting! Here I am picking up a new car that will use more gas than the car I'm currently driving and I wake up to hear, "Canadians will be waking up to the highest gas prices they've ever seen, as prices shot up overnight more than 13 cents." (Gulp.) Prices had just been coming down!

Hopefully there will be some calls about the Echo for the same reason. The ad isn't showing up just yet, but supposedly it is going in today. I'm having a funny feeling about it though and will call their office as soon as it is open.

I've got a meeting this morning about the Yoga Teacher Training and then it's yoga, yoga, yoga, until tonight. One of the groups I teach today is the cops. They are such a hoot. These guys are required to take my yoga class as part of their leadership training. And they actually have to take it twice. I don't om them in and we don't do "happy baby" pose, but they do all the other stuff. I think their favourite is the relaxation though. One time I had a guy tell me after the class that is was the most relaxed he'd been in 20 years. "Dude! This is available to you everyday! Don't wait another 20 years to get relaxed." And it can't even be that relaxing as we have to do the class in a big gym with other people working out on machines while we're occupying most of the space. It's not the most relaxation-conducive yoga space. So could you imagine how it would be if these guys were doing yoga in a dedicated space and had incense and music and stuff?

But we start where we are. That's the only place to begin. So if it's the floor of a cold gym, we start there. If we can't touch our toes, we start there.

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It's after 8 and I checked. My ad is there. Whew!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

2 Cars

I already know that some of you think this is a bad idea. I also know some of you think this is a good idea. Most of you don't care either way, but here's what's going on. I still have the Echo. The ad comes out tomorrow in the Auto Trader. Someone who had it out yesterday for a spin is "probably" going to buy it or rather, lease it. That's what he said this morning. I figure if he was probably going to do it, he'd be doing it, so I'm not counting on that happening.

I do not doubt that I will be getting rid of my car any day now. And I've been waiting to get the Rabbit for a week and Saturday I am going to Montreal for the day and I'd really rather go in the VW than in the Toyota. So I called up my dealer and told him to get that car ready for tomorrow. I called up the insurance lady and told her to insure both cars.

So for a short while (I hope it's short!) I will have possession of 2 cars. That seems totally decadent but it also feels totally cool. A choice of car. "Hmm. What do I feel like driving today?" "I call the Rabbit!" as Remi would say.

I am already committed to the Rabbit. I'm getting it anyways. And I'm sure I'm going to sell the Echo when that ad hits the streets. So why wait?

It does feel a bit like gambling, I'll be honest. But I think it's a safe bet. The worst thing that could happen is I keep paying for the Echo a bit longer than I need to. And that Echo is cheap! I think it will go sooner rather than later. But it is a gamble I'm taking.

There's so much else going on - this has been such a great distraction. The teacher training is starting up again in a few weeks and that is a lot of work. When I was nominated to be the "lead teacher" I don't really think I knew what was involved. Plus, now it's not the same teachers teaching seeing as how Catherine split to go do her own thing in Hintonburg, so it's not even us just doing what we did before. It's all new! It's the new and improved Hatha Yoga Teacher Training!

On another note, I started a new class at a place where I've taught for years and most of the people are beginners. How fresh! I love beginners. They laugh at my jokes, for one thing. And they're just starting out with yoga. Like I say, it's usually the beginning of good things. Most people don't say, "I started yoga awhile back and then things went downhill from there." Yoga practice marks the beginning of an upward trend.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wax On, Wax Off &%*#@


At the end of the last post I mentioned that I was going to Turtle Wax my car. What a loser.

If you haven't ever waxed I car I would recommend that you keep it that way. It's not worth it. Plus, apparently there's liquid wax you can use.

So I start applying the wax to the car and the instructions tell me to let it dry. I've got an applicator that reminds me of something you'd use to put on cake make up and I rub the entire car, save for the roof, which I couldn't reach thank god, with this little round sponge. By the time I get around to where I'd started the stuff had dried and I figured I'd get it off with an old towel and I started to rub it off. Rather, let's say I started to rub, because it didn't come off that easy.

I figure I just need to lean into it a bit. I started using techniques I'd learned in my recent Thai Massage course - using my body from the centre, not just rubbing with my hands and fingers. I'm still a bit sore as I type this btw. I started to get nervous - I'm not going to get this done in time. The phone will start to ring any minute because my ad is going into Auto Trader soon. (As it turns out, the ad won't actually appear until the next Friday because they still operate as a print magazine.)

So I rub more and use my elbows and I'm trying to get this wax off my car. I call for help. Maybe Ian can come back with Remi and they could help. Maybe John could leave work early and help. No chance. Hans - he'll help me. I give him a call and sure enough, he's nearby and can help me get the last door and the trunk. We were working so hard we didn't even chat.

After that I ran into the house to change my clothes to hurry up and get to yoga class. Whew.

Then it rained. I woke up to see all the beads of water doing that cool drippy thing they do when they're on a freshly waxed car.

The phone's not ringing yet about the Echo. I'm getting the odd bite from the kijiji ad. After placing the car ad in I figured I'd try to sell my vacuum - I wound up with an extra one after an impulse purchase at Costco. That sold so fast. Wish the car would hurry up.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Personal Ads for Cars


I just posted my ad up on Auto Trader. It feels vaguely familiar doing that. It totally reminds me of online dating personals. I had to describe the car, its features, all those little details and then the photo. I took a few good glam shots but in the end it was the basic side on shot that I posted. (Here's another "head shot" that didn't make it.)

The features of my car...hmm. It's "lady-driven." Can we say that? I mean, I am a lady I suppose and I did drive my car. But that's probably non-politically-correct to say. I didn't put that in the Auto Trader description. It is "cheap." There are no extras on my car except for the painted bumper and this central locking thing I paid for so that I could open all of the car doors at the same time so I wouldn't need to open my door, then reach inside to open Remi's back door; same thing for closing the doors - I could do it with my key or a button on the centre part so I wouldn't need to walk around the car each time. It has no air conditioning. How do you put that nicely? You will sweat in that car. I would reach over and roll down the passenger side window to get the air flow through. It does the trick a lot of the time, but when you're doing 100 km/hr + it actually causes drag and slows the car down. Oh well. So much for fuel efficiency - which this car totally has. (I think the Echo is as fuel efficient as the Prius - it's just that the Prius is pulling a lot more weight around.)

I had new tires put on today at Canadian Tire and they checked it out and said it was good. I took it through the car wash at Esso and later on I'm going to wax it! I bought some Turtle Wax, which gave me memories of the Price is Right and Bob Barker for some reason.

Now I just wait for the phone to ring. Right? It's weird. I said I think I like selling cars and that could be a sideline profession for me. Now I'm not so sure.

I can see why people don't like doing this. It's like that with online dating too. It felt weird at the beginning. But then you get used to it. I did. And it worked for me in terms of finding a great relationship - I bet it will work and finding someone who wants a long-term relationship with my car.

At some point I'll have to blog about my other latest diversion, which is perfume sampling, but for now this will do. I hope this is over soon!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

No Bunny

I was supposed to be picking up the Rabbit a couple of hours ago but that didn't happen. It's on hold while I make arrangements for the Echo. The friend of a friend isn't going to be able to come with with enough credit to get the car out of my name and I've stopped being creative about how that could somehow work out. If I could find the charger to my camera, I'd take a picture of it and put it up on Auto Trader right now. I'll do that shortly...

There was a bright light yesterday when my VW dealership called and said that maybe they could buy the car from Toyota if it were worth it. They appraised it a full $500 more than Toyota did itself, but still a full couple of grand from what I could probably get for it on my own and for sure what I owe Toyota for it.

My friendly VW dealer said my best bet would be to sell it privately. So I'm going to try and do that while the Rabbit waits for me.

This has been so interesting. I think I might even like to give selling cars a try for a while. A yogi car salesperson. I'll start with trying to sell this car at cost - no profit needed - just my cost would be a victory for me. I get uncomfortable in negotiations sometimes and I don't like the process of going back and forth. This will be a good stretch for me. Sell-my-car-asana.