Sunday, August 30, 2009

Music for Yoga Classes

One of the things I do when I'm at Omega every summer is I spend time in the Omega Shop listening to different CDs and collecting new music for my classes. They have such a great selection and I can round up a bunch of CDs, put them in a pile and then load them into a portable CD player with headphones and take a listen. I know, it's a fairly low-tech way to do it but it works. It usually takes me about 45 minutes, maybe because I have to do it without my daughter around and that's all the time I can get, and I wind up coming home with some new music to play in my classes.

This year I didn't find anything that I felt I HAD to have - maybe I rushed. But I also made a list and checked out the websites of the CDs I wanted before buying them and the thing that struck me the most was how much cheaper it would be for me to just download the songs from iTunes instead of buying the CD. Sorry, Jean (it's her shop). I took my very short list and downloaded them straight to my iPod Touch last night. It's still ten bucks U.S. an album, but I don't have to unwrap the CD for one thing (how do they ever figure anyone's going to get those things open), it's loaded straight to my system, and I don't have to figure out what to do with the CD and I won't break the case and lose it, etc.

When I'm shopping for music for my classes there are a lot of things I'm thinking about. How does this music make me feel? Of course I want to feel good with it on, so it just has to be a style I like. Does it have lyrics? If so, are they distracting? If the lyrics are loud and pronounced, it can distract people and make it hard to hear instructions in a class. A beginning class would have a different situation than an intermediate class too. Can I just let the music play? Some albums have a song or two that seem to stick out and I don't want to have to manage the music while I'm teaching. Is it current? There are some recordings I have for yoga classes that are decades old now but sometimes those synthesizers that were popular in the '80s just irritate me now. Also, music I've played over time collects memories and I like to play stuff that doesn't remind me of other times and places.

One album I put on my Like List this summer happens to be from a Canadian group, Eccodek, I'd never heard of. Here's their site and you can take a listen and see what you think. You could also just come to my class this morning at 9 and take a listen to Shiva Boom at Rama Lotus.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I don't know what happens after we die. I'd love to know, but I don't figure I'm going to know and that's okay. It does make it awkward when we're talking about the yoga sutras though. My thing about the sutras is that they are applicable to modern life, they aren't some archaic weird thing. And then it gets to the parts about past lives and reincarnation and it goes wild and then it seems to be an old text that's hard to relate to.

Unless I consider that the reincarnation is something that happens in this life on an ongoing basis. That works for me and is in fact, how I experience my life more and more, now that I've got more and more life in my past!

I've been talking to a couple of people about this recently and it seems that it does fit when it comes to past relationships. Sometimes it is like they happened in another life. One person told me she bumped into her ex-husband on the street. It wasn't long before she got that odd feeling like she'd known him in another life because she certainly didn't know him in her current life. Someone else said she'd like it if her recent ex would get out of town so he'd be out of her way and his ghost would leave too. I get it.

The way I've always operated is to be integrated so there aren't past lives in my current life, but of course, I can't help it. There are ways I've been in the past that no longer continue. There are people I've known in a former life. But for the most part, if allowed, I don't like to have ghosts haunting me. I want to be clear and complete and free to be wherever I want to be without being afraid I'm going to run into someone who's going to change my day.

I've also been working with the idea that if I want something in my life, the thing is to give it. Like an apology for instance. I heard again today that "you can't get carrots at Canadian Tire," and I know me wanting an apology is definitely not going to get me one. However, I can give an apology and then an apology would be present. It was hard and I could see where I'd been really not at all willing to apologize for something I did just about two months ago. I'm right, the other person deserved it, why on earth should I be the one to apologize, that's crazy, blah blah blah.

Well, I sat down and typed an email and apologized for what I did, for my reaction to the news, for how I behaved. I gave what I wanted to receive. Not in order for me to get an apology back - I don't expect one (I did get a response though). However, I wanted a proper apology to be present (as opposed to the kind that go, "I said I'm sorry! I messed up. I made a bad decision! I'm sorry!") and the only person who was around to give one out today was me, so I did it. When the thought hit me I totally resisted it. I did not feel sorry one little bit. But I thought about it and wondered what I could apologize for and I found more than one thing that I did that I realize had an impact and could be acknowledged. And I feel a lot better. Not back to full freedom, not the new incarnation, but I can sense I'll be born again into a new life and it's not that far off.

So if reincarnation is just me being born again every month or every few years, I get it. It makes sense. The teachings are something I can use in this lifetime, in all of these incarnations of me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Night Craziness

Today was an unusual day. Unusual in that it was non-stop and on totally from morning until night. It's not usually like that as a yoga teacher. Usually there are gaps, breaks in the day. Today was not one of those days. It was all YTT and then tonight I led my usual classes. That meant I really had to prepare so I didn't wind up totally wiped out at the end of the teacher training and still had some mojo for the evening classes, which started minutes after the training wrapped up. The class right after that chanted om 15 minutes after the first one ended.

I made sure I ate - people saw me in the hall - and I made sure to breathe during the day so I wasn't spent by the evening. It takes something to do that, and I'm pleased to say I did it. Last week I was not so successful at it. As soon as I saw Louise and saw that there was an opportunity to not lead that class, I took it. This week I planned to teach it and set myself up properly.

We talked a lot today about being yoga teachers and what some of the challenges are and how to face them. They're some of the same challenges that show up in other parts of our lives. So getting good at teaching yoga can definitely have a positive impact in other areas of our lives.

Tomorrow is graduation.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marking the Progress Tests

My pile is done. I marked half of the Yoga Teacher Training second progress tests. It was fun. It's a sign that the course is just about over. Here's me on the phone with Kat Mills, getting down to business. It's just about over. It will be a big deal for everyone. Good and sad. Happy to be back to our old lives, sad to miss the people we've been in daily practice with. Our Sangha. Our Group. Over.

I heard just a minute of Krishna Das talking about how we all act like we're separate and the people who know remind us that we're actually all One Being. That gives me comfort when I get into thinking of us all splintered and separate.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's Getting Hot in Here

I have this idea that it doesn't matter who the teacher is, if you put yoga in front of people, it'll teach itself. I still think that's true. Just create the space and set the context and let them go to it, and off they go. And of course, the teacher will have something to do with it, but probably very little, at least the way I've been taught.

This yoga teacher training groups looks a lot like how people looked living at the ashram where we did yoga everyday. I think that's a good thing. We've created a space where the heat is on and the purification can happen. I was saying to a regular student of my drop in classes the other day that the way the yoga teacher training is taught is a lot more traditional and more like how people just practised yoga, without plans to be a yoga teacher. The YTT does what "plain yoga" was supposed to do but at the end of it you get a certificate.

All of the past YTTs I've been involved with were like this as well, but this one more so I think because it's many days in a row and the pressure has built up without the usual distractions of life. It's like trying to bake something in the oven and turning it on and leaving it on, rather than turning it on for a minute and then turning it off for a day and then on again.

Some people in the course are hitting a wall. Possibly going through stuff they haven't gone through before. Some people are having memories of things that were buried. Others are tired. Plus, it is hot in the room in this August weather even with the tiny a/c going and the fans on. There's a strong sense of community there and people are well aware that the community is breaking up in a few days, when all sutras will have been presented, all final exams submitted, all practice teaches done, all topics covered.

Yoga works on your life, not just on your posture. So it's no wonder that yoga teachers get asked everything from what to do about tightness in a hamstring to how to deal with a partner at home who doesn't "get it." How to deal with family members not spoken to, to what to eat before class. How to deal with co-workers who gossip as well as what to do once it's clear the job you're doing isn't a fit anymore. The answer's always the same, so it doesn't matter that the questions go wide, which is bring awareness to it. Of course there's more, but basically that's the deal. Bring awareness to the situation. Do what increases your energy, do what takes you in the direction you said you want to go.

In the meantime, as the energy hits the obstacles, things sometimes melt down. As old patterns have awareness on them they start to shrivel and whither or sometimes they get strong and want to take over to survive. It's so curious, and predictable by now...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Workshop at Omega (Mother-Daughter Yoga)

Can I tell you how excited I am that I get to lead a weekend workshop with my daughter next year at Omega? I'm very excited. When I was at Omega a couple of weeks ago being the yoga teacher on staff, I had a conversation with someone on the core staff about possibly leading a weekend workshop next summer. (There's a big difference between being the staff yoga teacher and being faculty - to me - at Omega. Faculty get nicer housing and have a special dining room, for instance!)

Anyway, when we were talking about it I found myself feeling excited like if that could happen, that would be so great. I mentioned to a few people that I was in conversation about leading a catalogue workshop but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high because way more people apply to lead courses there than actually get to. I practised non-attachment. (Right.) So when I heard back from Jim yesterday, I lit up! Yay!

There's no need to ask me what I did to get the job or what my proposal looked like and all of that because it's only due to my connections there that I had the conversation at all. It's definitely "who you know" in this case! And "who(m) do you love?" Right, Jim? And maaayyybbee there's been some positive feedback about the classes I've led over the past couple of years and maaayyybbeee my cute daughter's bubbly personality won hearts and we would have gotten the gig anyways, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inside Okay - Machine Broken

Here's a video. I've been watching lots of videos on youtube the past couple of days now that I'm back home and my computer's in air conditioning :)

Around the middle of the video, Krishna Das talks about someone in his life in India who was in some pain - she knew it and he went to comfort her but she said, "inside okay - machine broken." We sometimes collapse our bodies with ourselves and she got that she wasn't her body. It's a neat story and I love the music, so there you go.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Oh Dear. As I wrote that I realize I have a lot more to say about this than I'm willing to type out at the moment.

So point form.

-it's better to have something good rather than something bad going on in your head
-ultimately you don't want to have anything going on in your head
-and then eventually you'll have all kinds of normal things going on in your head but you won't care either way because they'll just be there
-mantras can help this process happen, they can be placeholders for the space in your head while you're shifting the negative out
-they have more or less meaning depending on what you attribute to them
-they are vehicles to the space inside although they may have intrinsic value on their own, but this is less important than where they bring you

Did that make any sense?

Mantras are what's happening anyways - they're the things we repeat in words to ourselves. Some mantras are designed to clean things out. They're like helpers or tools that we can use to create an inner environment that's peaceful. It's like burning incense inside.

A conversation with a YTT student this evening was about whether or not it's cool to play mantras as background music. For some people this doesn't work because the mantras have so much value as sacred tools that to use them as ambience is to take away the value or drain the importance of them. For others, it's so nice to have that as input into the space whether or not full attention is paid to the mantra while it's happening.

Some mantras are like medicine. This mantra from Krishna Das makes me cry when I hear it just about everytime. So for me, it's not practical to have it playing while I'm driving or leading a class. It's not that I think it's wrong to hear it while I'm doing other things, it just calls to me and demands my full heart.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Inside Out (Pose)

Yoga practice is practice. "Practice for what?" you may wonder. Well, it's practice for your life. Life that looks like a variety of things.

The other day, life looked like me wearing my shirt inside out while I was leading a yoga class.

I noticed that I was doing shirt-on-inside-out-asasana and I paused to myself. I kept leading the class and considered my situation. "Hmm. I notice my shirt is on inside out. The tag is out. I'm definitely wearing this shirt on inside out. I am distracted by this. Do I tell my class what I'm dealing with here? No, that would draw attention to something that has nothing to do with this class. Most people probably haven't even noticed. Who cares? Maybe I could get them to look away and do a quick change. Hmm, no, it would be too easy to get caught in a bra. I'd be okay, but that just wouldn't be right. Wow. It's finally come to this. I'm wearing my clothes on backwards."

The whole thing lasted a few minutes as I breathed through the sensations and then they passed. I didn't care anymore and I didn't comment and nothing happened and even me being mortified by it passed quickly. I did take the earliest opportunity to switch my shirt around though.

So "shirt-on-inside-out-pose" wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be at the beginning. Other poses have shown up to be trickier. But it's the yoga practice on the mat that prepares me for the spontaneous yoga poses that life offers me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taking Notes in Class

I'm still trying to figure this out. Last night I led Partner Yoga at Rama Lotus. A woman came up to me at the beginning of class and let me know that she and her partner would need to leave early. I always appreciate when someone lets me know in advance that they'll be leaving before the end - that way I don't wonder about them and I'm not surprised when it happens. During the class she took notes, like copying down the moves we did. I've had that happen recently during Partner Yoga at Omega and I told those guys we're not doing a teacher training and would they mind just being present for their partners and if they want to interview me after class I'd be happy to tell them what we did. I didn't say that to this woman, I just noticed she was doing it and kept being present for the rest of the class.

When the time came that she said they had to leave by, I went over to them and mentioned that it was that time. Then something I rarely see happened. His phone rang in class and he answered it. And then they left. Wha? I don't know who they are and I hadn't met them before. Was she another yoga teacher wanting some new material? I was left feeling a bit disturbed by it. Yoga's free and all of that, and putting together a sequence can take some crafting and skill on the teacher's part that doesn't happen instantly. Sure, you could go and just grab another teacher's sequence and save yourself some time, but do it discretely or thank them for the time they put into developing the class or something that acknowledges it.

I have lowered my expectations around etiquette in yoga classes since working in a big centre with a lot of beginners. I don't gasp anymore when people flick open their mats during an om. I don't flip out if people roll up their mats right before a savasana. I don't even notice a shift in my heart-rate when someone's phone rings in class - even mine - what progress! But taking notes in class and then answering your phone on your way out early? The pendulum has swung too far the other way...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Deeksha at Omega

Luc's here at Omega doing his deeksha thing. I'm at the cafe at Omega and I'm totally distracted so I thought I'd say hi and post a picture. Remi's enjoying herself in the Photography Workshop and I'll post some of her pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

New Day

I know it's Sunday. My class in Ottawa is just about to start and I'm not there. This is one of those days that don't have a name. It's not like any other day - maybe it's like being on vacation. It's a neat feeling.

I'm in a hotel typing on my iPod so I won't keep going. I love the iPod, but I don't love typing on it!