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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blog is Moving

Hey! My blog is moving to my website, www.capitalyoga.com, which has been my website for a long time but I hadn't updated it in a long time either. It's now up and running although it's encountering some "stuff" as it's going up. So look there for the latest posts beginning with today's post, Integration.

See you there!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meditation - with Interruptions

I thought I had it made this morning. I was sitting in my old meditation spot (it's a bit more comfortable than my "new" meditation spot) and I was at the end of my meditation feeling pretty satisfied with myself. This morning I managed to hear the running and noise from upstairs and hear the trucks and cars outside and not fixate on how I need to move to a different part of town or a different town or a different country.

I just let the sounds be there and was good with myself and could feel I had just less than a minute to go when my front door went flying open and someone came running into the house. In my neighbourhood it could be anybody running into my house.

But it wasn't, it was my daughter. Thanks to this morning's freezing rain in Ottawa her field trip to the Senate was cancelled and she wanted to wear jeans so she came home to change. She was with friends so the energy was that of a 12 year old multiplied by at least a thousand. So my little meditation vibe came crashing down on me. It's quite alright and was even kind of funny. She was gone almost as fast as she'd come in and my allotted time was up anyhow.

I mean, it's nice when things can be all soft around the edges, but sometimes it's not. Life's kind of like that.

Yesterday on CBC'sTapestry I heard part of a conversation about living a spiritual life in the city (Soul in the City) and the challenges that come with it. I could totally relate to the teacher and if you have the time, I think you might enjoy taking a listen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Assumptions

One of my Facebook friends posted this video last week and I was moved by it so much that I showed it to the yoga teacher training group last weekend. It speaks for itself so if you want to watch it you'll get the message, which is basically, everybody's dealing with something, so be gentle.

To facilitate movement in life we make assumptions about events and what is good behaviour and what is poor behaviour and then we react accordingly. We do this in larger groups and that becomes our "culture." But the truth is that unless we get in a little closer, we don't know why someone is doing what they're doing. Until we remember this though we often react by doubting ourselves - What did I do to upset that person? Surely I did something or else they'd call me back or keep writing or they wouldn't do that thing that we find out of line. Sometimes it goes the other way and we get mad at people, assuming that they know the impact they're having - why did he do that? Doesn't he know that bothers me? Don't they know that's not okay? And when people's behaviour seems off to us, we get all on our high horses and make judgements so we can be right and our world can make sense.

One of the things that yoga does after time is it takes us to a place of seeing ourselves so closely that we can be surprised and humbled by our own humanity and weaknesses and at the same time, open to our massive capacity for compassion and love for ourselves and all of the people and beings around us.

Sometimes people are responding to what we're doing and it's a great time to check ourselves and notice the impact we're having on the environment we're in. Sometimes people are being rotten and it's best to reduce our interactions with them if we can.

Noticing when we think we're right about someone or recent events or other incidents can clue us in to when we may be making assumptions. That's a good time to ask ourselves what else it could mean and give the people in our lives the benefit of the doubt without rushing to judgement. After that we can take action by responding accordingly.

May All Beings Be Happy :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beginners are Tough

I warn people during the teacher training that leading to beginners is harder than they think. Leading a beginning yoga class takes some skill and understanding that leading to people already used to a yoga practice takes to a different degree. At first it seems counter-intuitive - beginners can't "do" as much because they have a lot to learn, so it'll be easier. It's not. Trust me.

Let's look at a beginners class...

People coming to a beginning yoga class often have not done yoga before (there are lots of exceptions as I have had the same people coming to my beginning yoga class for years) and so they are coming for a reason. Do they have a physical issue they want to correct? Did someone recommend yoga? Chances are they're coming because there's something wrong and they want to fix it. They've heard about yoga (who hasn't?) and they want to give it a try.

So the teacher is going to need to be familiar with typical issues people come in with - sore backs, being overweight, tight hips, lack of sleep, arthritis, injuries, knee pain - etc. And the teacher has got to be willing to NOT deal with those things. Be aware of them but not treat them. Everybody wants a simple exercise that they can do that will help their back, neck, belly fat, whatever. It does NOT exist and the teacher needs to resist the urge to fix people. We need to be prepared however, to accommodate their situation with alternate moves so they can get themselves into the poses without further injuring themselves.

Then we have to deal with the fact that people in beginners classes have not already been doing yoga in general (see above for exceptions). People who are not already in a habit are going to possibly be harder to "convert" to a new habit than people who are already in a stream of doing that thing. Same is true for getting books read or other habits in place - how many books do you have on your shelves that you started reading but didn't get through? It really takes something powerful to get people to keep coming back to yoga.

If you've got people in your class with pain and they start a yoga class, chances are they are going to start feeling more of their pain at the beginning and this can be an unpleasant process. As people get more aware of their bodies, they get aware of the discomfort they're in and to get over that and be willing to be faced with it weekly or however often the class is, and it's tricky.

Sometimes people are super-motivated to come to class because they've had a huge change in their lives like being diagnosed with cancer or is losing someone close to them and they will do anything to relax and try to line things up because there's a lot at stake. So they're serious, they don't want to mess around and they don't feel they have time to lose. Those guys need to be handled so gently and offered such a big space to relax and be - holding space for people while they're grieving is a tall order. Once you're trained in doing it it's an immense privilege, but along the way, the yoga teacher can come face-to-face with her own inadequacies and unresolved fears and grief, too.

Moving along...

Beginning yoga students tend to do what you tell them to do as best they can and will try to copy the teacher. If you're a new yoga teacher there's a good chance you like yoga, you're "good at" yoga and you've been doing yoga lots longer than your students. If you go up to the front to demonstrate your full version of the pose, your students are going to knock themselves out trying to follow you. It takes something for the teacher to be aware of her full expression of the pose and resist the urge to go there while guiding her students. It's one thing to inspire and motivate them, but the line is so fine as not only will your students possibly hurt themselves copying your form, they'll think they're supposed to look like you, the teacher, and they're not. They're supposed to look just as they are.

I had an experience this summer while I was at Omega where a famous workshop presenter buckled under the pressure of leading to a diverse group. Her workshop basically fell apart and I was called in to help pick up the slack in the yoga teaching area. When I asked her what happened, she said that the group had so many different expectations and were at all different levels and she didn't know what to do with them. "That's my speciality," I told her as I took her group off of her hands and led the last couple of days' yoga classes. At that moment I realized that even though I'm not the fittest, stretchiest, hottest yoga teacher around, the experience I have from being with beginners wherever they are at has translated into a skill that is useful to me everyday when I teach.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Life


In Ottawa, recycling goes out every other week, so if one week you put out plastic and metal, the next week you put out paper. And although I'd done a bunch of clearing out before last week's garbage, the stacks of paper had been waiting for many days patiently on the back step for me to put them out.

I came home after yoga last night and began the process of putting the garbage out and then I was face to face with my resistance. Even though I had already decided that my old Who songbooks and magazine articles were ready to go, when the time came to actually put that stuff out on the curb I still wanted to hang on. I considered retrieving some of the notes of great ideas I've had that were in the pile.

Fortunately I have some company around this stuff right now and I was able to have a short conversation about the kind of life I want. I am so ready to have things change. Holding on to this old stuff is the old ways trying to survive.

As I get older I get even more sentimental as each item reminds me of another time and place or brings back memories of people I used to know. As sweet as those moments of memory are, I feel loaded down by the storing of the stuff. I feel faster with less stuff. I feel clearer. Healthier even.

Patanjali's yoga sutras talk about reincarnation. I'm not sure what I believe about life after death but I live like it doesn't matter. So the way I use the yoga sutras is to view reincarnation as happening within this very lifetime. Old ways of being dropping as new ways arise. I've experienced it myself. This conscious letting go of old material stuff is in a way walking into a new life with my eyes open, my arms outstretched (when they're not folded against my chest), saying yes.

(And in less lofty terms I'm just cleaning up after myself :) God forbid I get into an accident and you guys have to come and make sense of my stuff and try and figure out what was important to me versus what I just hadn't gotten around to throwing away...)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Letting it Go



I mentioned a post or two back that I'm doing spring cleaning a bit late. I figure I'm doing last year's, make that the spring of 2008's spring cleaning, oh who am I kidding? I've had junk that seemed valuable that I've been holding onto for years so it actually is not surprising that I have mixed feelings about seeing some of that stuff go.

Here's how I like it to happen. I like to identify the things I'm ready to have removed and have a good friend take them away, preferably in their own car to a place I don't know about where I'm not going to see the stuff again. I imagine the objects that I stored in their pristine condition will go to new homes like cats that are delivered to an animal shelter. I mean, they all get adopted, right?

What I don't like to happen is for me to have to put the stuff in my car and drop it off somewhere. That's not my preference. I'll do it, have done it, will do it again, but it's not the best. I'm not sure what I don't like about it but I know it makes me a bit squeamish.

Sometimes in the past, I've had friends put bigger things out on the curb and even though it's not garbage day, due the neighbourhood I'm in, those things invariably get snatched up within an hour or two. I'm always thinking, what if it rains? Then that "thing" I've saved will be ruined. C'mon, could we get over it already?

My friend, who's been helping me with this round of clearing stuff out, has not gone so far as to drive my stuff away, but he has helped me load my car and has put things out on garbage day. And guys, I don't have a big place, it's not like this is tons of stuff, but it's a lot of stuff. He says I should follow the process, be responsible and aware the whole way along, blah blah blah. And I'm like, "couldn't you just take it to that magic place where formerly-important things go?"

So the other day after garbage day when I saw a guy on a bike wrestling with my old ghetto blaster, I just about lost it. First of all, I thought we were taking electronics to the recycling place, which we had done last week already. Then I wondered where that had been stored and if the guy had come to my back porch and taken it before I was ready to give it away. Or did it go on the curb on Tuesday night and he was just getting his hands on it now? "Luc!" I later queried, "where'd you put that ghetto blaster? How come some guy on a bike has it?"

It didn't matter. By that point I was laughing my head off. If I wanted to make sure it went to a good home, I had proof. It was not a pocket-sized unit. He was a small man on a small bike riding past the homeless shelter. He was super-motivated to take that thing away and as I walked past him struggling to balance with it on his bike I knew he couldn't know that we were performing an invisible transaction.

(He's got a red backpack on and the tape player - double deck! - is in his left hand. The top picture I pulled from the internet as I did not take pictures of the unit before it left.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Just Because You Do Yoga, Doesn't Mean You're Better

Sometimes I run across people who think that because somebody does yoga, that they're supposed to be better than other people. Like because they've practised relaxation that they should be more relaxed. Sometimes it's the other way around - people who practise yoga and meditation think that they themselves should be more relaxed and have their problems fade into the background.

Guys, just because you practise yoga, doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean you'll be nicer or happier or more peaceful or free from illness or disappointment or somehow you'll get out of doing LIFE. Just because you take care of your body doesn't mean you're not going to die. I know it's hard to think that we are the way we are sometimes, but it's how we are. It can change. But sometimes it doesn't.

If we go to yoga practice thinking we're going to change something, like we're going because we're broke and if we could just fix ourselves a little bit then everything would be okay, we are for sure going to face frustration.

If you practise yoga, you may want to be quiet about it. Other people's expectations rise and they figure that you're going to somehow magically rise above worldly issues of jealousy and attachment. Or you can shout it out to the world that you practise and you're okay and so are they, even when things don't work out, because sometimes they don't.

Yoga is a path of inquiry. Sometimes along the way what we find transforms us. And sometimes it doesn't. The practice is to keep going in the face of doubt and dislike of what we find. The practise is to embrace our humanity so we can embrace others' as well. Eventually, there will be some progress. And if you don't see any, you may not be on the path. Keep practising!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spring Cleaning (late version)


You know, we all have our areas of unconsciousness. We have places where we could do better and our friends if they got close enough, might scratch their heads and be surprised that we do "that." Like they'd expect us to do better. Some of us eat a lot of junk food. Or we swear. Or we stay in jobs that just keep us secure but we really want to be doing something else. Some of us keep projects around that we mean to do. Or we keep weight on we mean to lose one day.

Well over the years I've written about my office and how it's a tight spot for me. I've had smart people come and spend hours helping me get it in shape. And then it goes back to where it was before they helped me out and usually a bit worse. It's like going on a diet and then gaining all the weight back and then some. You know?

So I'm writing now while I "should" be fixing up my office. Someone's coming to stay for a bit in that room. And he's excited to help me move things out of there and to the curb! Being a good friend, he's seen my faults and weaknesses and doesn't give me a hard time about it.

Here's a link to some pictures I took of Luc a few years ago for your amusement.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reading the Journals

Part of my homework as a yoga teacher training teacher is to read the homework students turn in. Part of their homework is to journal on the yamas and niyamas (see sidebar if you forget what they are).

I am always so inspired to read people's struggles, victories, notes to themselves, notes to me and Kat, musings, drawings, everything. It always leaves me feeling good, to being in a place of "possibility." I look forward to reading a pile of journals, to deciphering the handwriting, to putting the name to the face in the early days, to listening in close to a story.

The big feeling I'm left with after reading people's journals in the exploration on the yogic path is LOVE. I'm moved by our courage as people to face life's struggles. I'm impressed by people being right where they are even if that place is uncomfortable. I giggle at the funny parts. I breathe through the tougher parts. Sometimes I'm moved to tears by people's embracing of their own humanity.

It reminds me that the practice of the yamas and niyamas is so critical to the path. The alignment of your asanas is secondary to the alignment in your life. When we connect to our own lives and what's really happening for us, it allows us to be connected to other people and events in our lives.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Portable Yoga




This week saw the release of a new app that actually appeared as a blip on the world's radar that my little company made. That's Happy Hips Yoga with Tania Frechette. When I looked up "yoga" in the app store on my new iPad last night, Tania's was the first thing that popped up. So cool!

In response to that, we immediately dropped the price of Yoga with Jamine and Louise's Hot Yoga to $1.99 to see if that price will move them a bit more. Sorry if you paid more - it's definitely worth it! - we're just trying to find the right spot where we can hold the pose and let the energy flow.
And of course, there's still the free app, if a buck 99 is too much to try.

More apps will be coming out as we can get the content from people and get all of the bugs fixed. It's been an interesting process and I'm definitely impressed with the products we've turned out. As I sit here in an apartment in Gatineau sitting on the floor with shag carpet listening to the click click of my programmer's keyboard, I reflect on how far we've come. It's been amazing to watch my dream become a reality!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Radical Thoughts

I had a sort of insight last night that I doubted as it came through - this is sometimes how I feel when I get a message delivered to me via my higher self. I've been thinking a lot about life on the planet after watching that video I posted a few days ago, and consciousness as I tend to do, and now I'm training my brain everyday with these exercises, and it got me to thinking that wouldn't it be amazing if everyone on the planet worked together towards making life better on the planet? Here's the thought that came through - people on the planet already are working together.

What? Yep, we are already working together towards making life better on the planet. But what about war and greed and fighting and corruption? Those are things that are sort of a side effect of our progress and over time those things will fall away as it's time and we mature. Sort of like brothers and sisters fighting. They just do until they grow out of it. It doesn't mean they won't grow up to love each other and work together.

Hmm. That message surprised me. It didn't make me feel like I should stop trying to live a better, kinder, smaller, bigger life. It just had me sort of relax and feel that people are good as a whole. We are doing what we can as group to do better for everyone. Along the way it might seem sloppy and as new information arises new action will be taken and we are doing the best we can. When we feel like we aren't it's just that we're looking at it too closely and if we pull back, take a different view, we'll see that we are already working as a team.

Every once in awhile I get sent a zinger of an idea like that and it challenges me. Challenges my belief system. Causes me to step back and consider. What if this is what it looked like for everyone on the planet to be working together towards a better life and better conditions for everyone? Then I wouldn't have to resist what is. I could just know it's part of the process and keep working towards freedom and health as I do my best.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Travelling Inexpensively


I love to travel. I hate flying but I love where flying gets me. The trouble with going someplace on a plane is that it usually ends up being expensive. This weekend I saved some money but I still had that "going on a trip feeling" as I headed out towards the Ottawa airport early in the morning. I turned off the Airport Expressway before reaching the airport and onto Hunt Club where I found myself at the door of the Mushfiq Music School for an early morning performance of Indian classical music meant to be played early in the morning.

I found out about the gathering because I'm on the mailing list of one of my old students whose husband brings world class musicians to play for Ottawa's fans of Hindustani music.

Due to the early hour there were few guests in attendance. I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't been to this place before, but the email had a few details of the performance, which made me think I'd want to go. I asked a couple of people if anyone wanted to get up early and go on an adventure but the answers came back no. I quickly decided I'd just go by myself, and there I found myself, basically in the basement of this guy's house, tears streaming down my face, sunlight streaming across the coloured leaves in the back yard, as I listened to Anol Chatterjee in from Kolkata and the Hashimy brothers, originally from Afghanistan, performing world-class morning music meant for the heart. They were playing directly to me. Bliss.

Another cool thing about the concert was that it included brunch. I found out I'm not the only one who prepares pancakes for her students as I chatted with the musicians and guests in the kitchen drinking masala tea and learning about their music school. When I asked when their next performance is I found out it's this week as Mushfiq Hashimi will be a part of the Taxi Stand Jam on Thursday night at the Arts Court.

The next time an email comes across my path like that I won't hesitate for a second. The trip was short but so deep, plus I saved quite a bundle on airfare.

The first video is Anol with other musicians and the second one is the Ottawa-based musicians in a concert in Toronto a few years ago.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

This Life - Thanksgiving

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.


I watched this video a few days ago and a couple of times a day since then. There are a number of things about it that are moving - the fact that they did this amazing feat, the relationship the parents and kids have, the ease with which they do something our ancestors would not be able to believe - and for me, something happens when I see the view of space with the awareness that it only took just over an hour for that balloon to achieve those near space heights.

I mean, I've seen space views before, but what this video did for me was provide a bridge between where I am now to where that place is. Other space views have seemed impressive but somehow disjointed because there was something missing for me. This one captures it and allows me to imagine that space so much clearer.

I'm going to bring it around to yoga teaching because that's what I do. I've often felt that many of the teachings about yoga are so lofty and so out there that people can't see the bridge, or the link to how they could have those teachings alive in their lives. A recent book I've found this in is Rajarshi Muni's Tenets of a Spiritual LIfe. In one part he talks about how aparigraha, or non-attachment can result in yogis being able to pee on a rock and turn it into gold, that's how non-attached they can get. Hmpf. That seems not likely and the teaching becomes not useful for me in having more non-attachment in my life. When we practice the yamas and niyamas in a more grounded, practical way, we can see results in our own lives. Simple practices might be letting go of actual stuff that we don't need anymore. It might seem really basic, but it can have amazing results.

While we're on the yamas and niyamas and today's Canadian Thanksgiving, we could talk about santosha, or contentment. Counting our blessings or thinking about the things we're grateful for can help us into a place of santosha. Santosha isn't the same as being happy. For instance, you could be dealing with an immediate loss in your life and to think you could or should be happy in that place is probably a bit harsh. What you could do that would seem perhaps more realistic and closer to what I think santosha is, is somehow be content or not suffering yourself while you go through the pain of the loss. Grief isn't a happy place usually, but it can be a place where we are content even amidst the turmoil of life's circumstances, we can tap into the gratitude we have for our own lives, for life itself, which brings us all experiences, both the unpleasant as well as the pleasant ones.

When I see the video I've posted here, I feel such an intense (almost double rainbow intense) sense that this is my one life. And that the way things are going on this planet, because yes, I'm on a planet as the video reveals, is just one way they could go. We have a thin layer of atmosphere. A small space where we can live as we are and not need equipment to breathe. In that space there are other creatures and gardens and lakes and it makes me so grateful to be given the opportunity to experience life on this planet, besides the fact that it's the only one I've got, it's profoundly beautiful.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Working on my Brain


I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this in the past, because I found it fascinating that researchers have discovered that the brain has a sort of plasticity to it and that things like yoga and meditation can be helpful in maintaining and improving the brain's health.

Dr. Norman Doidge was in the news recently as his documentary about the brain's ability to change, even as we get older, was shown on CBC. I find it really interesting and my experiences with yoga and meditation have shown me that beyond a doubt, the biggest factor in determining the quality of my life at any rate, is what's happening in my mind. There are many things that contribute to that including my physical health and my surroundings, but if the brain isn't healthy, then things won't be as great as they could be, in my experience.

I followed a link on his site that took me to a brain fitness company and I ordered the product. It's not cheap at all and it's sort of in beta in my opinion, so I wouldn't say it's ready for everyday users on their own, but it's been pretty interesting. One of the principles that Norman Doidge mentioned is that the brain keeps thinking things and I think I heard him say, "thoughts that fire together, wire together," so what we think about sort of forms a rut and then we're trained into heading in the same direction by habit. I would call that a Samskara. Sam Dworks, my yoga teacher, taught me about this with yoga and injuries and how the brain gets wired to send stress signals a certain way, which is why we tend to get stressed in the same way repeatedly. More on that on his site.

One of the things that struck me this morning on a short walk though was how I'm training my brain to remember better and be sharper and at the same time, I'm aware of so many things that I feel a sense of longing to forget. I don't want to remember that I'm going to die and so are the people around me. I don't want to remember that even though I moved into the house I'm in 7 years ago as a temporary measure that it's likely this is where I'm going to live for the rest of my life. I don't want to remember I'm behind in an assignment I gave myself. I don't want to remember that I'm probably not going to have anymore kids. I don't want to remember a whole bunch of stuff and I can't help it. So there's a part of me that feels comforted by the promise of a diminished brain as I get older. Fortunately, that's not the part of me in the driver's seat and my sense of health and well-being is stronger than that little scared, sad place.

I have a hunch that training my brain to be as healthy as it can be, which includes eating well, sleeping well, practising yoga and meditation, and having good company, on top of these computer fitness exercises, will help to fend off those feelings of wanting to forget and help me be happy right where I am with everything I have in my life, as well as everything I don't have. I'll let you know how the program goes as I progress through it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Biking in Ottawa

I'm listening to a guest on the radio this morning and she's echoing what I've been feeling about biking in Ottawa that I had to interrupt my morning routine to shout it out on my blog.

Bike paths are beautiful and nice for leisure riding but if you're trying to get someplace on a bike (like from where I live to where I teach), you're taking your life in your hands. If I want to ride safely in my neighbourhood I either need to get on the sidewalk at times, breaking the law, or take up a whole lane, which gets me yelled at - GET A CAR - (don't you know I HAVE a car and LOVE it?), or get touched by busses, yep right where a woman was hit the other night I was grazed by a city bus while I tried to hug the curb. Or I'm asked by the city to come right into the middle of it all (see Rideau, or how about that bridge outside of Sears) or my bike lane comes and goes without notice.

So I've had it. I'm not riding in Ottawa anymore. And I like to ride my bike. It's been in the hills of the Hudson Valley. It came with me and rode along the sea in Cape Town, pumped up dusty hills in Johannesburg, all while I was pregnant. I like to just ride my bike to get places. But I'm not willing to have the emotional upheaval that comes for me when I face riding in Ottawa.

I fear for my daughter on her bike. I love that she knows how to ride but the thought of her riding legally from Sandy Hill to the Market could give me heart palpitations.

Until Ottawa makes it safe to be a cyclist on the city streets, I'm not doing it. I'm taking my car.

There's a meeting about it tonight at the Museum of Nature at 7. To do anything other than fund biking infrastructure would be foolish for our city.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Watering Your Plant

Let's face it, if you don't water your plants they'll wither and die. Unless your plant is out in a habitat where it gets rained on the right amount and it taken care of by its environment, it will need some care.

Most of us are like house plants and we're not in an environment that naturally sustains us. We have to remember to water ourselves. And unless you're a great indoor gardener, you might not notice it's time to water the plants until they start to show signs that they need to be watered.

Living the way we do in our culture means there's a lot of watering that needs to be done. We need to take vitamins, even vitamins that replace the nourishment we'd get by just being exposed to sunlight. We need to go to a gym to mimic the exercise we'd get out in the world if we had to work that way. We have to schedule social activities so we make sure we're not bored and that we're being stimulated and having fun.

Sometimes we will have missed something that needs tending to and will only notice when that particular plant starts to wither. What does it need? Sleep? Company? Exercise? Meditation? Nutrition? It's hard to know when it's not obvious.

Some indoor plant problems get solved by just moving the plant to a different room. So we have holidays and go on vacations to breathe different air and get different light.

As we age we have to be on top of what's in our indoor garden and keep a special eye out for plants that may be withering. And again, we may not notice until something's out of sorts. As a parent I'm providing what I think is needed for my daughter, but listening for feedback from her, making sure she's thriving in all areas that I'm aware of and adding water or vitamins when I think I notice withering.

Different people need different amounts of watering and it's not always obvious. Yoga is what we do that helps us thrive. Surviving is okay; it's ordinary even. But thriving and growing is what we're aiming for.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wrapped up with a Bow

Sometimes I'd like to be done with something. Like health. I'd like to be complete with health and just have it handled. I'd like to achieve fitness. I'd like to collect yoga poses and just keep them. Even a manicure. I'd like to pay for a manicure to be done professionally and just have it be done. Shaving, waxing, enlightenment, same thing. But all of these things require maintenance.

It's as though I'd like to just pause life. Just take a break over here. Have it wrapped up for a bit with no more todos and all my calls returned and bills paid and boxes checked off.

I'd like to earn the educated badge. Just know something and not have to relearn it all again next week. I'd like to know the software rules and have them not change. How about Facebook? Couldn't it just stay the way it was?

Everything's changing and growing and moving and sometimes I feel like I can't keep up. And we can't keep up with all of it, we really can't. This is where surrender lives. We have to make peace with where we are knowing that stuff, life, is flowing all around us. In addition to letting go, we also have to have effort to be focused and participate and know where we want to go, or just have the discipline to go where we've been told to go.

In yoga it's called, Abhyasa and Vairagya. Effort and focus, and on the other hand, non-attachment and letting go. It's a balance.

Sometimes I'd like it to be out of balance and just be done! I know it's not realistic and that I need to bring some tapas to my practice in that moment. I'm just sharing something that shows up in my awareness sometimes...and I have a feeling you know what I'm talking about!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Birthday Pose Again!


Wow, it seems like I just wrote about this pose. I mean, I think I'm wearing the same shirt as the last time I wrote about this. It comes back again so fast. I checked. It's not the same shirt, although it very well could be because neither of them are new, but it's the same colour, because I have adopted grey as the colour of this decade. So far. I wear a lot of grey! I like it! It goes with a lot of things! Jeans, other grey things, black, just to get started.

This year the birthday pose feels pretty comfortable. I'm feeling good with myself and where I'm at. And the places where I'm not feeling good about myself and my life, I'm gently judging and keeping an eye on as opposed to attacking them and blaming myself loudly. I'm quieter to myself about my judgements. I'm more compassionate with myself. I have been through a lot in my life and I'm going to go through a lot more if I have my way. And so compassion is the theme of this birthday. And with compassion for me, there's the freedom to have fun. So I'm having fun this birthday.

I got woken up around 6:30 on a morning when I could have easily slept in for another hour (see - I'm already more relaxed that I can even sleep in until 7:30) and I didn't get mad when this friend knew that I was probably sleeping and just wanted to make sure that they were the first one to wish me Happy Birthday.

I am also taking today as an opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff. I took two boxes of books to my car a little while ago. That's a big deal for me. The present I'm giving myself this year is giving stuff away. Yep, I've arrived at maturity where 'tis better to give than to receive.

Oh well. I'm leading yoga this evening and I'm looking forward to that. If you're not doing anything and you're reading this in time, please come!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Power of Water


"The power of water." That's what the woman at the clinic said when I returned to get my blood work done this afternoon. I'll back up.

I haven't blogged in a while. There's a mix of reasons for why I haven't been blogging but one of the things that's going on in the background is I've had low iron, ringing in my ears, and now pain in my joints. The joint pain has been going on for almost the past month. It's not unusual for me to have pain in my joints, but this is noticeably more than in the past. I went to see my doctor and he said it's osteoarthritis and get used to it. My 44th birthday is coming up this week (gasp) and I guess it's just my age and yea, get used to it.

I've been corresponding with a friend who's still at Omega and he reminded me of what he's going through with Lyme's disease and something went off in my head. "Joint pain is a symptom of Lyme's." I've known enough people who've had it to know I'd want to treat it early on if that is something that I had. I don't think I do but I wanted to rule it out.

So I went to see my doctor this morning, he's great - I get in to see him right away, and he fills out the requisition for blood tests and off I go. Since I was there he decided to add other tests for arthritis indicators not just the Lyme's disease so I figure it's a good thing I went.

I arrive at the clinic and I'm happy to see who's working because it's someone I recognize and my experience with her is that the needle's not bad and I'll be okay. I hop up on the chair, roll up my sleeve, and get ready. It won't be bad. I've had her before and she knows what she's doing.

She taps and pokes. I make a fist and release. I do that a couple of times. She sticks the needle in and waits. Then she asks me, "have you had any water to drink today?" Water? I don't actually drink water in the morning except in its more potent, coffee, form. "No I haven't had any water." Well, my blood won't come out. Jamine's blood won't come out.

She said she'd try something else and that got me to thinking, so I asked her, "what if I go away and drink something and eat and come back because honestly, I could totally do this at another time." She knows I want to run away and she's already filled out the paperwork and to cancel this is a chore. "What if I promise to come back?" She agrees. She said it takes TWO HOURS for water you drink to get into your veins. Interesting, eh?

I come home, drink a bunch of water, eat a sandwich and wait. When I went back in I rolled up my sleeve and she decided to go for the other arm. She punched my veins a bit and then she stuck in the needle. The blood flowed out no problem. "The power of water," she said.

Lesson learned - drink water. If I don't drink water my blood isn't flowing as much. So toxins aren't moving out. Healing properties aren't moving in. Things are sluggish. Drink some water!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Partner Yoga

My sister and I led Partner Yoga on Friday night as we've been doing off and on for the past nine years or so. I love the group that shows up for Partner Yoga. There are often some keen yogis, some people looking for something fun to do on a Friday night, and invariably somebody's bringing their boyfriend who's never done yoga before.

This Friday night someone else showed up. It wasn't a big deal at all but it was interesting given why I started this blog in the first place. One of the guys who showed up I'd met before through an online dating site. It was well over a year ago and we didn't date, we only met one time but it was funny. I didn't go up to him and draw attention to the fact that we'd met before. I didn't know what his deal was with what appeared to be his happy relationship and I thought it would be rude so I just said hi and left it at that.

It reminded me though that it's been awhile since I've branched out into the dating realm. I sort of recoiled a while ago and have stayed in that position. I get nervous and weird so I've just left it out for what I suppose is a long time.

It was nice to see someone showing up and obviously having fun with his partner in my class. One of these days I want to take a Partner Yoga class rather than give it ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Neighbourly Interactions

If you've read my blog for awhile, you may remember that earlier this year I had a bunch of uncomfortable interactions with some neighbours regarding some chalk drawings which landed us in the newspaper with colour photographs. Well, the other night the doorbell rings and it's the same neighbours. It's not what you think. It's worse/funnier/sadder depending on how you look at it.

These same neighbours hit my parked car. Not only hit it, but dented it. Not only hit it and dented it, but did that to the tune of a thousand dollars as the estimate I got at the VW dealership indicated in writing. Whoops.

They could have not said. They could have made me wonder for a few days who did it and how it happened. They didn't. They let me know right away, which I really appreciate. I wasn't even upset about it - I was totally upset about the chalk drawings and all of the implications - this was nothing. If you've read my blog or been in any of my teacher trainings, you'll also know I love my car. LOVE my car. So I'll fix it. They'll pay. It'll work out.

Living close to people will likely include being in relationship with them. Sometimes, something will happen and things don't go the way we want them to. And if we're in relationship long enough, things may go back and forth.

Sometimes yoga postures prepare us for the other things that happen in our lives. Sometimes we do group poses and a number of us will hold a pose together. BunBunboobooasana, for instance. It's not a big one, but it's one we get to hold as a little group for a couple of days.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Reading


I know it's late in the summer, but there's still time to do some reading. I've made it even easier by posting a link to the book that you could read! And it's free if you're reading it this way. It's a classic and has practically become a yoga textbook. It's one that any student of yoga should at least know about if not have read all the way through.

This book refers to a lot of the mystical, magical things that go on in other cultures, that our western culture doesn't always see or recognize. It's something to look into and refer to even if you don't get to it all right away.

It still feels a lot like summer here even though September started today :)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Holy Moly

Things got quite out of hand. I didn't have a stable internet connection for weeks and I didn't do anything about it because I was quite in the middle of teaching a yoga teacher training program and didn't care. That's all handled and I'm back to almost normal.

Teaching yoga to people who are really into it has got to be one of life's greatest gifts. It's so great to share the teachings of yoga to people who are eager to learn.

Some of the highlights from the last teacher training for me: that people felt safe in the big group. That people got a lot from practice teaching. That people had fun and laughed a lot while we were all cooped up together for days on end. It really was fun.

So now that it's over and the next one hasn't begun just yet, I'm back to my own meditation and self-learning. I'm always perusing www.swamij.com's site for nuggets and in fact, I even went to Expedia.ca to check on flights to go for another visit. I picked up Stephen Cope's book and even though I'd told him while I was at Kripalu that I hadn't read his book, I felt compelled to read more of it, especially after it practically threw itself off the shelf the other day. I especially liked the part about where Buddhism and Yoga intersect. (See page 275.)

Last night I watched this documentary on the Buddha Boy, which I found to be really interesting. There's so much we don't know...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Should I Blog or Talk to My Higher Self?


I'm running almost late here this morning as I prepare for the yoga teacher training. I have a bunch of things I want to do in the morning and I have to choose between them. I like to blog, I like to eat breakfast, I like to journal, and like that. Some of you know I have access to a voice I would call my higher self and I've even named her Gurubelle. During the teacher training last month I got into a practice of "talking" to that voice for a minimum of a couple of minutes everyday and writing down what it says.

You might think that if you had access to your higher self there'd be a halleleluja and that would be the end of it. It's not like that though. I don't let her blog, I don't do what she says and maybe someday I'll explain why. Just trust me when I say I don't always want to hear her voice. (It basically ruins my plans.)

So this morning I found myself wondering if I should blow dry my hair or talk to my higher self. As you can see from the picture, I got my hair done. And now that I've told you about it, I still have a few minutes before I have to leave and I'll check in with her and see what she has to say...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back on Blog

I went away for a bit there. Something had happened and connecting at my computer was feeling not good while I was away so I just didn't do it. I noticed I wasn't blogging and I noticed that I wasn't checking my email and that felt okay. The good part was not having the yuck that seemed to be waiting for me whenever I sat down to write. But that was over a week ago and I'm home now.

I've been on vacation and working somewhere else for a change, which apparently is almost as good as a rest. All of that included much yoga. Now that I'm back, much yoga will continue to be included starting this morning when the yoga teacher training resumes.

Something happened last week that surprised me and made me value my skills and his helping me relax right now in light of the fact that I can't seem to find the document that I worked on a few weeks ago.

A famous teacher came unprepared to lead her workshop for 5 days. Like really unprepared. Not only was she unprepared, she was completely unable to wing it in any fashion that had her participants feel satisfied. I was called in as a yoga teacher to help beef up the content so the remaining participants would be cared for in a way they expected, so that helped a bit and people were grateful. But really, it was a disaster.

After having come from that experience so recently, I feel pretty confident that Kat and I are going to be just fine and that we probably will find the latest version someplace before we start and even if we don't, we know what we're doing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Late Night Drama



Okay, it wasn't that late, but it was drama, and boy, was it hilarious. I've seen a lot of performances at Kripalu in my time, but the one I saw tonight knocked my socks off. Okay, I wasn't wearing socks, but you know what I mean.

It was the evening entertainment by someone who's leading a workshop here with her husband on creative writing and other things I suppose, and her performance was especially for the people in her retreat but the rest of us got to tag along.

She did this show called "100% Happy 88% of the Time." It was funny all by itself but it was made funnier by the diagrams she had projected during the show, a number of which I've made myself over the years so I could TOTALLY RELATE. I love it when that happens. Makes me feel so good in my world.

On the other hand I've had other late night drama, again not really that late, which comprised of emails with a friend over the past couple of days where we totally do NOT RELATE and it's been discouraging and draining and reminds me of how insufficient many of these communication media are, especially in the absence of actual human contact. They can of course, enhance live contact by being a substitute in the meantime or can even work to entertain us when the person we're chatting or texting (or facebooking as was the case with my daughter earlier this evening when she was sitting right next to me). But this isn't a blog post about that.

It's about how you should click on the link to this woman's site, Beth Lapides, and follow any of her links. She was brilliant and funny and yogic and irreverent and curious and hey, is she starting to sound like anybody else you know? Yea, but she was even better.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Yea, my hair's pretty oily


I had an amazing massage today with loads of oil. It was an ayurvedic massage that was supposed to be among other things, good for my brain. I'll let you know. I'm at Kripalu for a couple of days and my old roommate still works here and she gave me this amazing treatment.

We're heading into our first night this evening and I'm sitting in the cafe area reading my email when one of the students from the current Yoga Teacher Training program happening in Ottawa is sitting right across from me! The yoga world is so small.

It's nice being here in many ways. As a past resident I get to come and stay for a few days for nothing every year. I don't always take advantage of that, but this year I got lucky and the availability I had matched up with theirs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Warms My Heart

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Yoga and Meditation class last night but especially to the gang from the current Yoga Teacher Training program. You guys have a special connection with each other, which could be felt in the room, and it made it such a different experience than usual, where people don't often know each other. Plus, you told me you read my blog so I thought I'd give you a shout out and say hi.

I have a good friend who's a teacher in the States at a high school. She teaches a lot of people who have to be at school, not who want to be at school. She's feeling drained and way less inspired than when she started. I lead mainly to groups who want to be there, but I regularly lead to small groups who are mixed - there are pockets of people who "have" to do yoga. It's a real treat to lead to anyone and I get that my job is a privilege, but I love it when the folks who are there are interested in the experience.

I was thinking last night about how in the past, some of the yoga and meditation teachings were only taught after the student was turned away at first. The teacher would not open the door or tell them to come back in a month or a year or some long time. I used to think that was for the student, so they would be really sure they wanted to learn and were willing to stick it out. But last night I was thinking about it from the other side and how that process would make it really satisfying for the teacher! Having students who really were ready and who wanted to learn would be a blast. (Which is why leading yoga teacher training is the so awesome.) Sharing stuff with people who want to hear makes the info come across easier and with more light.

I was thinking other things last night too, about how the yoga with meditation class tends to have more men in it than some of the other asana classes and some of us talked about that last night afterwards. I think a lot of guys are drawn to meditation and need a place to practice - poses too - but meditation is tougher in many ways. We all need it, or could use it, but that class has a good mix, telling me it's touched a chord or has a comfortable blend.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

YTT PM Teaching Moment


I wanted to post this to Facebook but it wouldn't go so I'm putting it here.

The Most Powerful Alignment Details

I would have to say that by far, the most important details when it comes to alignment in yoga practice, are the yamas and niyamas. Hands down. Without a firm foundation in the yamas and niyamas, it's not going to matter if your leg is straight in Triangle or your sitz bones are even in Dandasana. Granted, you start where you are and if where you are is in a pose it may lead you back to your life and to the yamas and niyamas, however, our culture (and probably not just ours) loves to leave the yamas and niyamas behind like they're some archaic remnant of earlier teachings. Not so.

The yamas and niyamas are so current and so powerful that it's no wonder people shy away from them. When people start practising non-harming and telling the truth and simple things like that, their lives change. And nobody wants to go to a yoga class and have to start changing their lives. We don't want to start being considerate of others or stop stealing office supplies from work. Who wants to be responsible for their own pain and peace of mind? Nobody! We want the government to take care of it or other people or start a new business or find the right partner, maybe even in the next yoga class we go to.

If your yoga teacher doesn't know what the yamas and niyamas are or hasn't had a practice of them that they can tell you about, I'd say you might be in a stretching class. I'm just saying. Because lengthening your hamstrings and relaxing your shoulders really isn't going to make a bit of difference without them.

After being a part of the teacher training for years now, I can confidently say that the most transformational piece that people get is what they see about themselves through the practice of the yamas and niyamas. That's the part of yoga that will blow you away and make you so grateful you were led to the practice in the first place.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Attachment, refined


So in the conversation around attachment, it's bound to come up that we don't always know where we're attached. Yesterday's tidbit was to notice where you're attached and that's actually a way to let go of attachment, or the problems associated with attachment. And so the question is, "how do I know where I'm attached?"

A good way to notice where you're attached is to look at where you're unhappy. If you're not sure about that, consider what you complain about. What do you go on and on about or chronically complain about? If you're not sure, ask your friends or people you have spent time with. That complaint will be a site of attachment.

Then you notice you're attached there. That attachment is blocking your happiness. Knowing the attachment is there sometimes is enough to cause some space. "Wow, I just noticed I'm unhappy because I'm tired. I'm attached to being energetic. Good to know. I can drop this one right now and just be tired and do what I have to do and get more sleep later."

Other times knowing you're attached at that spot doesn't make a difference and the attachment stays there. "OMG. My relationships have sucked. I'm blah blah blah. He was blah blah blah. Will I ever blah blah blah? Will it ever go away?" Or maybe your friends are attached, "my business blah blah blah; my partner blah blah blah; my job blah blah blah; my health; my back; my money; blahdeeblahblah."

On the one hand, that's life. Too bad, that's where you're attached, relax, get over it, be attached, don't worry about it. On the other hand you may want to dig a little deeper if that attachment is the source of a lot of pain. It depends on what you're going for, what you're willing to do, what you want in the moment. And knowing that, is going to take some familiarity with yourself in places already examined in the previous Yamas (see side bar for quick references or come to Living your Yoga or the Yoga Teacher Training with me and Kat - we love dealing with this stuff).

Remember that areas where we go into pain and reaction are unconscious places. Finding those places while we're unconscious will be difficult. Our thoughts will wander, we'll get sleepy, we won't want to look anymore, we'll get distracted. It's normal. So keep going to the places you feel and breathe into them. Same thing. It keeps coming back to the same thing. Being present with what is. Read the beginning again for the instructions in finding out where you're attached, which will lead to this being present everybody's talking about.

Eventually, after you've done it for a while, breathing into the sensations, locating your attachments, you will be so bored with the process. The sensations will be familiar and you won't even want to go there anymore. Something else happens at that point but going straight to it won't work. Going through the attachment at its site, source, physical location, is important. Then you can use it as a jumping off place, but only once you've gotten to know it and what you do with yourself in that place a bit first.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Attachment, reviewed


Over the years on this blog, I've written a bit about attachment. And again, it's that time in the yoga teacher training where we've hit Aparigraha. And again, I want to read the class some passages from Anthony De Mello's book, Way to Love.

The way to really practise non-attachment is to notice where we're attached. That's sort of the only way. Just notice where we're attached. In yoga practise it's like breathing into the places we feel. In meditation it's like leaning into the sharp points. In Landmark Education language it's like being authentic about where we're inauthentic. And that's how to become non-attached. It's how to allow. It's how to be present. Go to the things you feel and let them be there. There's nothing to do afterwards. Things will either fall away or they'll still be there. You won't have to do anything.

Non-attachment is such a goal and people sometimes don't like to admit where they're attached. Your friends and family know what you're attached to. It's not something you can hide. And it's often annoying, especially if we're attached to people being a certain way for us. We might think the amount we're attached to someone is a gauge of how much we love them, but that's not it. It doesn't feel good to be loved when there's so much attachment around it. Going the other way, it isn't relaxing to love someone with lots of attachment.

The reason we practise the yama of non-attachment isn't because it's the right thing to do. It's because it frees us up energetically. To stay attached takes energy and drains us. Practising all of the yamas and niyamas is to let things go, open the energy channels, increase our health, things like that. That's what the yoga's for. It's not to burden ourselves with rules and things we should do. It's about freedom, union, balance, and what that takes is looking at where we're not free, where we're out of balance, and not making ourselves wrong or feeling rotten about that, but using those as cues to move us in the direction we want to go.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yoga Teacher Training is a Good Way to Look at Your Life

The title just about says all that I mean to ramble on about here. The yoga teacher training is a good way to look at your life. It's a time to reflect on the yamas and niyamas (see sidebar for quick explanations) and to see what our life alignment is like. At least, that's how I see it. If your internal alignment is off and you don't even know how to find it, your external poses won't be of much value.

So our group is starting to heat up. Kat and I are helping keep the structure together, to support the container that people are doing their work in. It's hot for us too.

Co-teaching is a pose as well. Many yoga teachers rarely get a chance to co-lead a class or a workshop for a variety of reasons including that working with someone else mean you're working with another person and people have stuff! In my co-leader, Kat, I've found someone I can be totally myself around and I can let her be as she is and we share our knowledge and our space and I think if I had to be in space ship with anyone where I'd have to spend years with someone, she'd be in it. Oh wait, I am on a space ship called Earth and she is in it and so are you and all of the other people...I'm hearing a voice from Kids in the Hall or some show say this :)

Anyhow, the teacher training is in full-swing. If you ever want to take a look at your life and you don't even want to be a yoga teacher, I think a yoga teacher training would be a good way to do it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're Back


The Mother Daughter Yoga workshop at Omega went really well. I think. The feedback I've received has also only been good (if there are other kinds I haven't received it) and we enjoyed it. We'll do it again next year. Or maybe even earlier. The stuff that happened was amazing.

One of the best things for me about the workshop was what happened for me and Remi and how we got to spend time together and be with each other. I'm sure it was like that for other mother-daughter pairs as well. The yoga was interesting, but the real value was in the opportunity to do something physical, that connected us to each other, as well as spiritual, which got us into our real feeling bodies, and the appreciation that we got during an exercise designed to give good acknowledgement. I think it worked.

On the way home she let me hold her hand a bit. Any parent of an older child may relate to how it feels to have your once-affectionate kid get affectionate with others and not with us anymore and to have that return, even in the context of a workshop where it's an exercise to do an assisted relaxation or just a moment in the car - it's totally worth it.

So much has happened. So much new insight. Old insight. Old friends. New people.

And then there was getting home. I made wicked-time on the drive home only to get to my landline's voicemail and see that my doctor's office had called. The message was for me to call them back because they wanted to set up an appointment with me. With me? They never do that. I recently had a baseline mammogram and a pap smear, plus some blood work the other day. The blood work was so recent, it couldn't be about that. It had to be about the cancer that I had. So I had all night to not sleep about that before my teacher training started this morning. Not to mention just some of the last-minute arrangements, let's call them, for the yoga teacher training, which kept me on the phone for much longer than I was expecting.

I'll have you rest at ease with me tonight knowing that it's not cancer or AIDS or anything like that. There's something about my iron they want to talk to me about. It's not urgent. Phew. Remi's gone to my mom's to wait for the new puppies to be born. I think I'm going to sleep much better tonight.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Integration


Things happen so fast here at Omega. Zoom zoom. It's a time to slow down but at the same time things speed up so fast - it's hard to explain. It's a cooker, that's for sure.

The details would be juicy and interesting but I don't care to write it all down. Just trust me when I say I've been through a few interesting awkward moments over the past two days - I'd call them asanas - and just like asanas are designed to do, I feel that some things have been integrated.

The Mother-Daughter Yoga Workshop has gone better in some ways than I expected and not as well in others. The space we're teaching in isn't really a first choice for a mother daughter yoga workshop, but we're making it work. Leading some teachings on the philosophy of yoga has been really fun. Just being with mothers and daughters has been fun, too.

One of the things I practiced the most over the past 48 hours is being in my body and witnessing sensations. Going right back to the basics. BRFWA. (That's breathe, relax, feel, watch, allow if you don't already know!) In our session this morning on Santosha (contentment) we came up with that as a practice as well. So there's been a theme. When we practice BRFWA (pronounced "bur-fwa") integration can happen. Integration strengthens and aligns us. It's like digesting our experiences. If we don't digest our food, we get backed up and things get super uncomfortable and we assume all sorts of crazy positions to try and find relief. Same thing with emotions that get backed up. We can be doubled over in pain, with relief just around the corner if we let the stuff out.

Anyway, we've got one session left in the morning, we eat lunch, and then we're headed back to Ottawa. The yoga teacher training intensive starts on Monday morning at 8 am!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Fire - I'm in it


Our workshop is going to start tonight. We're looking forward to it even though it's totally hot here at Omega and I feel like I'm melting.

In the meantime, some of my personal stuff from the past has come up for some healing! So I'm uncomfortable and I'm noticing patterns that don't serve me and I'm tired from not sleeping and I feel pretty rough. Luc reminded me it's not personal and not to make myself wrong. "Self-observance without judgement," he kept reminding me was one of Swami Kripalu's first teachings.

So I've been pulling out my tool kit as the uncomfortable feelings have surfaced. I'll be more comfortable once I start teaching - there's a refuge for you - and I've been grateful for the encouraging words from friends. I'd so rather be unconscious or take a pill or have a drink or do something that might make this discomfort go away. Alas, the teachings are all to breathe, and feel and stop thinking about it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Big Breath


I'm up really early. I'm excited. Today I'm driving to Omega and tomorrow I'm leading a weekend workshop there for participants for the first time (I've been teaching yoga to staff there for a few years). It's Mother Daughter Yoga and I've been a bit nervous about it.

My daughter came up with the guidelines for who should be in the workshop over a year ago. She's 11 now. She wanted to be with like people. We made the age suggestion between 8 and 16 years old. That's a really big range. We'll be doing some partner work and if there's a big size difference, the poses will work differently, and this we know because we've led the workshop many times in town. But just for an afternoon, not a whole weekend.

I imagine there'll be younger girls who will still hold hands with their moms and cuddle up and there will be older girls who will be sitting with folded arms and would rather be somewhere else (I'm thinking of my own kid - my co-leader!) I imagine there will be moms who are hoping they'll get to cuddle with their early-teen and will be disappointed when they won't get to touch their kid outside of the class (that's how I'm feeling!).

By building the workshop the way I have, there are natural ways for the moms and daughters to connect with touch as well has have time on their own. I'm really hoping it goes close or better than planned but I'm nervous that it won't and I'll be struggling to keep the workshop on course rather than just gently nudging the outline, the way a pilot keeps redirecting a plane in flight.

When I get to Omega today I will be among my friends. After working there for years a long time ago and in more recent years coming down for shorter stays, I've got a number of people I'm connected to who are there on staff. So I'd be excited to go down to Rhinebeck even if I weren't leading a workshop. But to go down as Faculty, that's something else. It's a Big Deal in my Little World.

I wrote to one of my friends down there yesterday and mentioned that I was a bit nervous. He said he gets nervous beforehand and that even last week, Elizabeth Lesser was nervous before leading her workshop. So I'm in good company. I know it's normal to feel excited and/or anxious.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Vasudhaiv Kutumbikam (Happy Canada Day)



When people start getting all "my country's the best," "this is the best country to live in," "God save *this country,*" I get bit uncomfortable.

Today is Canada Day. It's awfully close to the 4th of July, which as everybody knows is "America Day." And it's the day that Canada celebrates its birthday, which happened only 143 years ago.

I subscribe to the belief that the world is one family. In sanskrit, that's "Vasudhaiv Kutumbikam." I'm not sure how I got that - maybe because my parents adopted a child, they took in people for holidays that didn't have other places to go; maybe it's that I lived in an ashram where that was the motto; maybe because I travelled a lot when I was younger and made lots of friends from other countries? I don't know.

But what it means for me is I don't like to say this is the best place. It's the place. It's the place I live, this space we've agreed to call Canada. I'm grateful for a lot of things I have here in my little life in Canada. Today something kind of cool happened. I actually saw the Queen of Canada. She's also the Queen of England and some other places, but for the first time in my life, I saw the Queen in person. Up close even. It was just for a few seconds, but it was pretty moving.

That woman's face is on all of my money. She just may have the most published face of all people in the world, and she's a woman. I was moved when she went by.

In any case, while we're celebrating Canada's birthday, I'm reminded that I'm connected to a whole planet, not just this country. It's not the best. It's one of many. Like loving one's children, there's no better kid, they're all loveable. Canada is a loveable country for sure.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yoga App Poem


I want to tell you about the new app that was released last week by my brainchild, Capital Yoga Publishing, but I'm also feeling a bit poetic so I'll see if I can use my words differently. If you feel moved, snap your fingers. (I think this might be the first poem about an app...)

A new yoga app was released last night
pictures, sound, stretches will delight
your arms, legs, torso, organs
spine, skin, what rhymes with organs?

A portable, mobile, current invention
to take with you to your next convention
in Toronto, or Russia, or even online
these poses will go with you every time
on your floor, your carpet, your hallway, your lawn
plug in your speakers and press play to go on.

The app is not free it is something that costs
just the price of one class or less it is thought.
Please "Like" your yoga teacher by buying her app
even if you only play the end to take a nap.


----Jamine Ackert Tuesday, 10:05

This was inspired by the new release of Louise's Hot Yoga late last week and I hope you like it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fringe Review

Friday's here and I was confirming with Remi before she headed off for her last day of Grade 6 which plays we saw when over the past week of the Ottawa Fringe Festival. With her help, I was able to retrace my steps and come up with what I think is what happened because the past week has become a blur of days. She hasn't seen as much of the Fringe as she wanted to because her Grade 6 Social Schedule had many conflicts with the Fringe this year and well, Grade 6 Rules.

Here's what I've seen so far (in the order I saw them):
Mixing Boal
Billy Stutter: An Irish Play
It's Just a Stage
Every Job I Ever Had
The Peter n' Chris Show
Wild Abandon
Shadows
ACTIONABLE
Seeking...
Misadventures of a Massage Therapist
MAL
Capital Poetry Rocks the Fringe
Phone Whore
The Sputniks
The Last Straight Man in Theatre
Heart-Strings
The Duck Wife

Each play has been reviewed at Fully Fringed in case you want to see what people are saying. There's a whole weekend left to see plays so please go out and experience some of the Fringe Festival!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Movers and Shakers


My daughter's Grade 6 graduation ceremony was held yesterday at Rockcliffe Park Public School in the Big Gym. It was a lovely ceremony complete with awards to the best athletes, and scholars. Right in the middle of the ceremony there was a big commotion. It sounded and felt like a plane was taking off underneath the building. It might have been the subway except for the fact that we were in Ottawa and there's no subway here. Given that the school is attended by many important people's kids, it might have been a bomb. It was a "something" for sure and people started getting upset.

During the shaking I actually ducked for a moment, in case something was going to come from the ceiling. It lasted about ten seconds and then it stopped. People started yelling and those near the doors ran out. I was with my sister, my brother, my mom and my ex-husband. We were all pretty calm wondering which exit we'd go out. It turned out Remi went running with her friends. Nice one! Once outside I checked my Blackberry and sure enough, the twitterverse was abuzz with the earthquake news.

We'd just been in an earthquake that measured about 5 on the Richter scale.

People were pretty shaken but the kids were great. The whole school has a system and they lined up in their classes and the parents milled about and then we went back in. We finished the ceremony, declared the Class of 2010 to be real Movers and Shakers, had some cake, and packed up and went home.

Just the other day I tweeted, "look up. you're on a planet. let go for a minute," or something like that. We get so caught up in our lives and our games and our situations and we forget that we're on a planet. This planet it spinning and moving so fast but it does it in a way that doesn't make us feel sick. We can't slide off - I've tried - we can't fall off - gravity is like this and this is how it feels to be on this planet at this time.

As the shaking was going on I considered for a moment that "something bad" might happen and that things would change. I'm really glad that something bad didn't happen yesterday. I'm happy to go back to the games I was playing and the stuff I was working on. But I'm doing it today with a fresh reminder that I'm on a planet and things can and will change at any minute.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yoga and Clown


It was just about a year ago that Scott called me a clown. He meant it as a compliment. He's a clown and he recognized my clown.

I even took a clown workshop last summer and found that indeed, I have some clown. As I recall, I got myself into a bit of trouble after that workshop because I really let go of a couple of filters and said things people weren't used to hearing and I had a bluntness that came with my clown. But my clown didn't go to bed at night - she stuck around.

Yoga is about letting go of what's not you. Clown is also in part about letting go of what's not you. Letting go of inhibitions, filters, concepts, and more. Clown challenges the edges of the container. Good yoga does that too. Busts the container open or even obliterates it.

If you've been in the presence of some good gurus or teachers and you're familiar with clown, you'll see the similarities. They don't play by the rules - or rather, those are their rules - they don't play by the common rules.

I squash my clown when I teach. I think I really get the Jack-in-the-Box idea - that box is kept closed under pressure. Turn the crank enough and out pops the messy clown. I squash my clown a lot of the time actually. We all do. It makes things civilized.

I just came back from a clown show at the Fringe Festival. It was really inspiring. The main thing I got was that the performer found relief in her clown. She found her clown and it brought total relief to her. My clown rattled a little as I left the show. I hope I can keep the lid on it tonight while I lead yoga and meditation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

If you like going to yoga classes...

If you like going to yoga classes, you might be someone who enjoys going to see live theatre. Someone asked me yesterday if there's something wrong if you like going to theatre but you don't like going to yoga, and I said, "yes." Obviously, I'm kidding. But I do think that there's something about the live aspect of going to yoga that carries over to going to live theatre.

I'm not really a theatre buff. I'm more a fan of the Fringe festival because of how spontaneous it is and how creative and courageous the people are who participate, creating a real sense of community. Some of the actual plays I like and some I wish the seats were a little higher so I could lean back and have a little nap. I'm just saying.

Interacting with people can put you on the spot. Unlike in a movie theatre setting when it's unlikely that there'll be too much interaction, the theatre can ask you to participate. Same thing with some yoga classes. There are classes where you know you won't be put on the spot and others where you may be asked a question or used as a demo or taken to a new place.

I'm going to go lead my yoga class now - it's live. If you want the app, you can stay home and download it here!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the Thick of the Fringe Festival


It has really started. This year the Ottawa Fringe has added a kids component. It's going on behind me in this picture. You drop your kid off, go see some shows, come back and see your kid perform a show. What a great deal! The kids are having a blast.

I saw three plays yesterday and one the day before, so I'm on my way.

If you like live yoga classes, you might really appreciate live theatre. Anything can happen...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Fringe - It's Live! It's Inspiring!




The Ottawa Fringe Festival is starting today. It kicked off last night with a VIP party, which I was invited to attend because I'm hosting someone from out of town. The party was fun, although it was pouring rain, which maybe dampened the group in more ways than one (yuck, yuck). (It was so wet that there was a gigantic America-shaped puddle at the end of the driveway I spotted on my way out.)

One of the great things about the Fringe is that it's live entertainment (or it tries to be entertaining). So much of our lives is virtual, compartmentalized, anonymous, one-way, passive, etc., that to take the opportunity to be out in the world, with people, where things may go wrong (!) is becoming unusual. Films, although I love them, are perfected in studios, crafted in editing suites until they are so far removed from real life, which is probably part of why we love them. Theatre at this level on the other hand, is done by people, one person at a time, live, with spoken voices in life-size shapes.

At the Fringe, you can mingle with the performers at the Courtyard or outside their venues. Your ticket payments go directly to them and they are often happy to meet you and thank you for being their patron. Hanging around the Courtyard almost guarantees someone will try to woo you to their show - it's blatant marketing and it's fun being appreciated as a customer on such a base level. "Pick me! Pick me! Come to my show!" It's so totally self-expressed, which is another part of why I love going. I love to hang out with people who are up to something and who are fully self-expressed, or self-expressed lots, because I'm sure there are people there who are still holding back!

The other thing the Fringe does is it asks for what it needs from the community. "We need volunteers! We need people to open their homes to out-of-town performers!" They've made it easy to hear what they need and they have an easy path to volunteering and helping out generally. Their system seems to work well.

To me, that's following a yogic path of moving from surviving to thriving. This is a group of people that overcome their circumstances and conditions - the festival started because performers couldn't get their shows in the traditional venues for a variety of reasons - and they've managed to create from nothing something that is exciting, that offers people an unbiased opportunity (the shows are chosen by lottery) to put on a show, that pays for their travel across the country in some cases, and adds value to the community they're in.