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


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!


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.