Thursday, October 29, 2009

Meditation Retreat over Hallowe'en

I get to go on a meditation retreat this weekend and I'm getting excited. Having been to meditation retreats in the past I think it's funny that I'm excited about going to sit for hours at a time and be uncomfortable and faced with my mind and body for a couple of days. Normally, I wouldn't describe meditation retreats as fun but to me they really are. This one is going to be a little different because I'm going back down to Omega where I get to take advantage of my friends and get in for nothing but as I was informed yesterday, I need to sit in the back and keep the good seats for the paying customers. Ha!

This retreat also falls over Hallowe'en and that leaves me to wonder how the retreat is going to handle that! When Halloween falls on a night that I'm teaching yoga, I wear my costume to teach. I figure this shouldn't be any different so I'm bringing my princess costume. I'll sit in the back, alright. I'll sit in the back dressed as a vampire princess.

One year I had glue-on nails as part of my costume and I had to lead a regular class as well as Partner Yoga. Other people came in costumes too and it was fun, however, part of my costume was these nails. And the glue had dried and there was so much pressure on each fingernail like they were each being pulled off. The only way to get them off was to soak my hands for 15 minutes in warm water, which was clearly going to happen only when the class was finished. So I led the class in major discomfort and as soon as it was over I put my hands in a sink of warm water. Those memories are so clear that years later I can recall the sensations in my hands.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ancient Teachings

I just listened to Spark podcast 89 here and I'm impressed. I've always loved the show, and I think Nora Young is amazing, but it turns out she's a yoga teacher too! Did not know! So listen to the podcast to hear her lead a little pranayama and have a conversation about how the west has taken ancient teachings and tried to patent them and how India and other ancient cultures are correcting the situation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Begin Again

And so it goes. We begin again. Tonight the yoga teacher training program at Rama Lotus begins again, well this one is beginning for the first time really. The yoga teacher training has become such a big part of my life and involves all aspects of it, even my daughter's schedule is impacted as approximately every other weekend there's some YTT going on.

I welcome the YTT in my life and love being a part of the team that delivers it. I maintain that it doesn't really matter who your teacher is, if you're put in front of the teachings of yoga and there's space for you to explore, you'll get it. And every year, people get it.

A community is born tonight that will be together until next spring. It's probably the program that has the biggest "community" feel of any I've had outside of a retreat centre setting. It's a whole new group and yet there will be similarities to other groups in the past. There will be varying degrees of wanting to be in the room, there will be different backgrounds and intentions for taking the course. There will be people who will feel at home, others who will be triggered, and those people will likely trade places during the weeks of the course.

The people who tend to come to a yoga teacher training are a special sort. They are in a place of readiness and commitment. They don't accidentally walk into a teacher training. There's some purpose behind it - they're usually up to something. And that's inspiring to be in. We get to start with the first yoga sutra of Patanjali by experiencing it - "now is the time for yoga."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back from Vacation

Hey! I made it. I'm back from the vacation. And no blogging or tweeting as you can see. It was actually really nice to not have email and internet access until I really wanted it yesterday when we landed in Montreal.

Let's see...there's so much I could say. Yogawise, I didn't see any signs of yoga in Switzerland where I was. No rolled up mats in bags going along the street, no signs for yoga classes. There were a few "yoga-ish" pictures in some ads for tissues and things like that, but no real yoga presence. The birthday party I went to requested some yoga moves so the 75+ year olds did some gentle stretches after the main course and before coffee and dessert. And that's about all the yoga there was except for my own thing in my room.

I went up a big, old church steeple walk on the first day. I'll show you what I mean with this little clip. It was neat and I was reminded of how cool it is to be in such old buildings. This one was built in the 1500's I think.

And there are so many old things. The house I was staying in is over 250 years old. Here's a video of the key and lock for the house. I wanted to show my daughter what I meant.

Switzerland is quite "farmy." I don't really know how else to put it. Every little bit of extra space is used up with farming and a lot of animal farming at that. Even in Interlaken, which is a touristy town, in the middle of the old city there's a grassy area and in many cities there may be kids doing sports or a band playing or people just lounging in the grass (okay it was a bit cold for that), but in Switzerland, there are cows there. Right in the middle. In another little town I was in, there were sheep just cutting the lawn on the side. I'll see if I can post my little video of that.

What else about Switzerland? I think it would be tough being a non-Swiss person living there in a small town. I'm just guessing. I'll post a questionable image I saw and you can tell me what you think.

The people I met were awesome and friendly and the food was great and the Swiss are great decorators. Especially of gardens and windows and home decor things. Quite lovely to walk around the little villages as people really go all out to spruce up their space.

The coolest thing I think I did the whole time I was there was go to the mountains for breakfast. We got up a bit early, left the house around 7 and went up this old funicular train to the top of a mountain in Niesen. There were hardly any other people there and it was an amazing view. Then we went down the hill and off on our way. Amazing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm leaving today for a vacation. Yep, a vacation. I'm not teaching yoga while I'm gone on this one. It's a pure, planned-in-advance, vacation with a modest itinerary. What that means if you know me at all, is that obviously I'm tagging along with someone else because that is not my style. And that is part of what I'm looking forward to - letting someone else lead and I just get to show up. Love that.

Hans' dad died the night that John left. I remember it because my sister had come over to keep me company and safe from myself and had the phone with her. I was not to take any calls in the middle of the night if they came. And one did come. At about 4 am. And I figured it must be John calling but it turns out, it was Hans calling to let me know his father had passed away and he just needed to tell someone. I felt badly that I had not answered the phone but that's what happened. I did talk to him a few hours later as the news was starting to sink in but I was hardly in a position to be comforting anybody.

Hans has been back to Switzerland twice since his father died, once for the funeral, and once for his already planned spring trip. This time it's his mother's 75th birthday and he didn't want to go by himself. His girlfriend was asked but for a variety of reasons couldn't go, and then my name rose to the top of the list and would I like to go to Switzerland in October, and sure, I'm going!

So the plan is to visit and be there and eat and nap and do some shopping and visit with family and practice my rusty German and read. That's the kind of trip this one is and it feels like it's going to be a good one.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It's Thanksgiving Weekend. Just a couple of things I'm thankful for this morning...

Having a great kid who is making me Play-Doh sundaes for breakfast.

Friends who pop in and can sleep over and then be on their way with big hugs and see you laters.

Other friends who drive all the way up from old places and spend breakfast times after yoga.

The promise of Spa Day this afternoon with my kid and her buddy.

A gentle peace that has wafted in over the past little while and has stayed.

Super-health and a chance to use it.

Being a yoga teacher with a place to share the joy of yoga and being in a body.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I like to teach yoga. I don't like to do the paperwork associated with my job, however. And that's not even totally true. I don't really mind the paperwork, I just often leave it alone and wait to do it in batches. So things get left until past the last minute sometimes. Other times I'm on top of it and things are invoiced on time and papers are put away and emails are sent and I'm in alignment :)

Today was one of those days of getting into alignment. As I'm typing I'm remembering just one more invoice that needs to be sent out. It's nice having a job and direct deposit and and all of that. This isn't that kind of job. It's not a job really at all, except in a way that it's a bunch of things all cobbled together. And that's how I like it, otherwise I'd do something else.

Sometimes I think of that. If you've been reading you know I think about that. My latest store idea is a shoe store on Dalhousie. That street badly needs a shoe store in my opinion. I'd open a store and I'd call it "Dalshoesies." I think I might just do that. That would bring on more of the Administrationasana though. Totally. I figure I could still teach yoga...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Helping Out

I was at the Shepherds of Good Hope today trying to help, I say "trying" because I'm not sure I did a good job yet, in getting them up and running on Facebook and Twitter. They've had Facebook for awhile but they were set up as a "friend" but needed to be a "page" and a "cause" and we're getting that all sorted out. It's a fun way to do seva/karma yoga for me!

One of the things I asked them is what do they need? And if they can be specific about what they need, they may be more likely to get it. So it turns out that right now, they have enough winter coats but they don't have any spices and the food is bland as a result. Hmm. I would not have guessed that at all. So it's a good thing I asked. I like giving people what I have, but what's even better is giving something that somebody actually needs right now!

They also need volunteers on Sunday. It seems that people like to go and volunteer when they can see people all happy being served meals and stuff but Sunday's the day that the prep for the big meal is done and that's where they're short. So I'm planning on going where I'm needed, especially now that my gig at the Museum of Civilization is probably cancelled due to a labour dispute. Oh well. That was actually not on Sunday so it wouldn't have been in the way.

How can we know what people need if we don't ask them? And how can we get what we need if we don't ask people? It's kind of neat what can open up when we share what we have and are willing to part with, and also what happens when we share what we're up to and what kind of support we could use.

So, to be specific here, if you can consider volunteering, please call them at 613-789-8210. If you happen to have or want to go get some cooking spices that would be good with chicken, they need that too. Oregano, black pepper, garlic powder, tarragon, sage, thyme, dried parsley and chilli peppers are all on the list. You could bring them to me at yoga and I'll walk them over.

And if you've been thinking of "tweeting" please follow them and help grow their network. Thanks!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nice-Nice Yoga

Yoga has gone a bit "nice-nice" in my opinion. And first of all, let me say that I think it's fine that it has gone that way and I'm sure it's the pendulum swinging back from the other way, which would have been a bit harsh. But right now, yoga is nice, it fits neatly into our schedules, yoga studios can schedule lots of classes in a certain way because we all know what time it starts and what time it finishes. It wasn't always that way.

A couple of weeks back, I attended a classical Indian music concert. Knowing that I had to pick up my daughter afterwards and trying to make plans I asked the hostess what time the concert would be finished. She smiled at me and reminded me that the first half would probably be a bit longer, there'd be a break and they'd tell people 15 minutes but know they'd take 20, and then there'd be a lighter, possibly shorter second half. It was an Indian concert, you see. Short context for classical Hindustani music - basically the musicians work with certain rules for their ragas/songs and try to generate a certain feeling. Once they've got their groove they take the song or probably the song takes them and the audience, wherever it is going and that takes as long as it takes. There's no notes on a page as it's all improvised within certain guidelines. Sometimes concerts are short, sometimes they're long.

Yoga "classes" used to be like that too. They'd start at a certain time and then they'd end when they were done. Right now classes start at a certain time and end at a certain time - I totally make sure of that in my classes. What that provides is an ability to plan for things afterwards, to pack as much stuff into our free time as we can or want to, there's little pressure, and it's nice. And I like it like that. However, what is missing in that model is the freedom of the teachings, the poses, the group, to create itself and see where it wants to go. It doesn't acknowledge the life of the practice and that the time needed for that may be shorter or longer.

I guess, what's missing is a bit of both. Times when the classes are for practice and you know what time you'll be done and times when things are indeterminate and who knows what's going to happen but the space is dedicated to transformation. Sitting in the space of transformation can be exhausting over a long time and having something count-on-able is really useful. In the Landmark Education for instance, the Landmark Forum and other courses have certain guidelines about when they'll end but no promise to be out at a certain time, but the seminars and other meetings have a strong promise to be done on time so people can fulfill on other commitments they may have without being out of integrity with time. So some of both seems to work.

What I see in town right now is a lot of nice-nice yoga. Little yoga in the hot seat. Am I willing to be someone who creates the space I'm saying is missing? I'll have to think about that...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thoughts on a Birthday

Today is my daughter's birthday. She's 11. She told me she'd rather skip and just get to 12 but we both agreed that wasn't possible and how about just deal with 11. It's pretty good, as I recall.

11's so sweet. It's really on the way to being a grown up but with full access to childhood. My daughter notices she can pass for an Older Kid but appreciates the understanding that she really is close to Little Kid.

I find myself feeling a bit sad today. I didn't expect to. Maybe it's other things, maybe it's other circumstances, and maybe it's that my little girl isn't really one anymore. I went to school to drop off the cupcakes and she said hi and bye real fast. I went all the way to the school, like totally out of my way, and I got a "hibye." It's not new and it's not surprising or anything.

Being a mom has taken more from me than anything else I've ever done. And I love being used up. I love being challenged and having to get creative and be strengthened and taken to my edge, taken past my edge, and having to use my values and insights and having to dig down really deep to answer those challenges. I also feel free to make loads of mistakes knowing I'm a good-enough mom.

I also love the ease with which being her mom comes to me. It's natural to face those things and it's fun to see how it turns out. It's not going as planned in many ways. It's going better than planned in some. It's a relationship I don't question or evaluate. It's a part of me, it's not a stay or go or change or fix or wonder about. It's an expression of who I am in a way that's not separate. There's no question about it. That's not to say there aren't times when I don't have to modify behaviours we're doing or come up with strategies for how we're going to get through particular spots in our lives. But there's never a question that we won't get there, or that it won't work out.

I enjoy the little kid and big girl my daughter has become. She threatens to get taller than me and has declared that this is the year she's going to do it. Imagine - my kid getting to be bigger than me. I still think the whole thing is weird. And normal. All at the same time.

(Here's a picture of the cake that was made for her. The Photobooth makes it mirrored though and I don't know how to flip it, so there you go.)