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
Misadventures of a Massage Therapist
Capital Poetry Rocks the Fringe
Phone Whore
The Sputniks
The Last Straight Man in Theatre
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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Yoga Class Planning

I know there are some styles of yoga that work from a static template and others that get modified based on the teacher, but even the pre-programmed classes have to give a little based on who's actually in the class. As a teacher, you'll have your plan and then you'll be with your group and the plan may need to be adjusted.

"Planning is priceless, plans are useless," is one of the phrases I learned a long time ago.

I received an inquiry from a participant in my upcoming Mother Daughter workshop at Omega about the amount of time we'll be doing seated meditation compared to postures. I replied with something like, "we'll do some seated meditation but I don't expect it will be for too long because half of the group will be kids and I'll work with the group." Offering an hour-long sit isn't in my plan for that workshop even though some of the kids might be able to do it. From my experience, kids won't enjoy sitting for that long in a yoga workshop and neither will the grownups!

On the other side, an old student came to class last night who hadn't been in a long time, so she hadn't been to the class since I switched it from a Beginning Yoga class, which was basically the same every time, to a Yoga and Meditation class, which has a new predictability. She's someone who I knew came to the class in part because the routine was count-on-able. I let her know in advance that the class had changed somewhat and I felt a bit bad that'd I'd changed it because I knew she liked it the way it was. She did great and I think it all worked out well. In that case though, I wasn't really prepared to not do the longer meditation because that structure was established and the class had that as a theme, not to mention there were lot of other people in the class. I was committed to that plan, but was aware that it might not work for everybody.

Being committed to the plan versus being attached to it is one way to look at how it could be. For the Mother Daughter Yoga workshop I'm not even really committed to the plan but rather to the delivery of an experience or opportunities for an experience. The plan might go out the window when I see who shows up. 8 year olds are quite different than 13 year olds and their relationships with their mothers are often in different stages. So different activities may be appropriate for the group.

The trick is to be sensitive to the group and to really know your stuff so you can adjust and for extra bonus points, which will translate into a better group experience, is to make it seem seamless to your students. Taking your plan and making a big production of tearing it up in front of them isn't necessary, although there may be times when that's the thing to do! But having the confidence that comes with being responsible for your group will make your teaching experience satisfying. You'll be ready for anything.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oil Spill and Yoga

I've been looking at the oil spill and listening for messages from it. There are many but one that struck me this morning was about how strong the foundation of your practice needs to be in order to handle all of the energy that could potentially flow through you. Yoga teachings warn about the kundalini energy and tell us to fortify ourselves, take it easy, move on as appropriate and warn of the dangers of moving too quickly. Unexpected kundalini rising can be painful, crazy-making, can mess up your life, fry your system, and a whole bunch of other things.

So this oil that's coming up is energy. It's massive amounts of energy, that when channelled properly, fuels our lives and allows us to live in the world of form in fun and interesting ways. Apparently there were some shortcuts taken at the foundation that left the structure unstable. We've all tried to find shortcuts to our practice. Could we skip certain things, go ahead, do advanced practices before we're ready, avoid having a guru or mentor...

What was interesting for me was to look at the impact wasted energy has on other people. If a practitioner doesn't build a strong foundation but rushes ahead and their energy is spent and leaked and wasted, there's a huge impact that goes beyond just that yogi. Wasting my energy is a mess for my family and others around me to clean up. It reminds me of the Marianne Williamson quote that Nelson Mandela read at his inauguration and that it doesn't serve others to stay small. I'd like to add, that not only does it not serve others, it can keep them down and have a bigger impact than we can predict in our minds.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

----from A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Biking in Ottawa

I posted a tweet earlier this week that it biking in Ottawa is great for leisure but lousy for transportation. We have these lovely bike paths and they do go for many kilometers. But if those are not on the way to where you want to go, you're out on the street with the cars. Or on the sidewalks with the pedestrians.

I have an old bike. I am not a cyclist. I don't wear special clothing to ride my bike. I just get on with whatever I'm wearing and go to where I want to go. I'm not particularly fast, so taking up a whole lane, being a road warrior, doesn't always fit the situation. I've even been yelled at and told to "get a car" when I took up a whole lane on Rideau once. Getting yelled at when you're biking makes it an emotional event as opposed to just getting where you need to go.

This month, the police in Ottawa have taken it upon themselves to educate people about the fact that bikes are vehicles and need to behave that way so they're ticketing people for things like riding on the sidewalk and not having a bell. As I shoo away drug dealers and users off my steps to go get my bike I sometimes scratch my head at our priorities. Nevermind, the law's the law.

After being "touched" by a bus outside the Chateau Laurier riding on Wellington, I refuse to ride on the road there unless the traffic is really light. I ride on the very wide sidewalk, going very slowly, avoiding pedestrians and being mindful of the fact they have the right of way.

When you get on a bike in Ottawa, you're taking your life in your hands. We have some seriously crazy bike lanes that all of a sudden end, that reappear, that put you in the middle of oncoming traffic (I'm thinking Laurier to Nicholas, the bridge behind the Rideau Centre, going along Scott St., just to name a few spots) and other wild manoeuvres. Imagine taking your kid along Elgin up to the Rideau Center to ride into the Market. I'm sorry, you'd be up on the sidewalk so fast...

Other cities around the world have managed to encourage bike traffic. One of my Sunday morning regulars informed me that Copenhagen had a radical plan to reduce city streets available to cars and make them more pedestrian and bike friendly. They've continued to successfully open up more and more downtown roads to people-powered transportation. She said that Ottawa's currently in the process of reviewing possibilities for us. Talks are underway right now.

Dealing with people and their health, I'm interested in people exercising and incorporating exercise in their normal lives rather than having to carve out special time to take classes and go to the gym. I think people should be encouraged to travel by bike and not be limited to paths along the river, but be in paths that are functional so we can go safely where we want to go. I'm sure as a driver I'll feel inconvenienced if a downtown road is closed off to cars, but the possibility of riding safely would make it so I'd take more biking trips and not need so much emotional strength and bravery just to take the 15-minute ride from my house to where I teach yoga.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Birds and Tears

Yesterday morning I had to have a little cry at the beginning of my yoga class. Before teaching I'd done my meditation and had pulled Pema Chodron's book, When Things Fall Apart, off my shelf for comfort. She describes ways to use the pain of a heavy heart to come to a peaceful place. When you can't ignore the thoughts or just notice them and let them be, you can breathe into them, like take them in.

It was hard to breathe in the feelings yesterday as I had such contrasting images in my mind. The idyllic, pre oil poisoning of the region, and the newer images of the destruction of the animals in the area that are showing up now. I'm not vegetarian, I drive a car, and I'm looking at my role in this disaster. The grief was present.

I still haven't edited the video we took in the winter for a yoga DVD. I just grabbed this folder and put it out there as a slideshow as a way to remember. I was there. I admired the birds. I felt the water.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Best Part about the iPhone App Thing

The best part of this iPhone/iPod touch/iPad yoga app thing isn't the apps so much. It's not the portability of the yoga class; it's not the supporting of the teachers who create apps so they can earn money from their classes in other ways; it's not the satisfaction of having my ideas become manifest in reality; it's not even promoting yoga to people who haven't tried yet and who are yet to experience the benefits. The best part for me is how much fun I get to have spending time with the teachers who are creating their own apps.

As a yoga teacher, I'm pretty much solo. I see other teachers in the hall and we say, "Hi. How are you. How was your class? Have a good class?" and stuff like that. It's the thing we do.

What working on the apps has done has made way more relationship possible. People come over to my house, I make outcalls to people to show them what I'm looking for, and there's just way more connection and communication. And it's all helpful and all on the same side and very creative. Working on a project together where it's low pressure and high fun and possibility is really great. So even if these yoga apps fail miserably, which they won't because they're already moving along nicely, I'm having a great time just getting to hang out with great people.

So in case you're wondering, Louise's Hot Yoga flow will be available in the App Store soon. Yoga with Jamine is available right now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

East, Sleep, Poop, (Yoga)

I know there's some hierarchy about the needs people have but we forget all the time. When dealing with children, especially those too young to "use their words," we look at their behaviour and if it's off, we start asking questions to ourselves. Has this child had enough sleep? Have they had enough to eat? When did they last go to bathroom?

And then we grow up and no one asks that about us anymore and we carry on. (Funnily enough, the words used for the greeting "how are you" in some Asian languages is "have you eaten.") And we carry on until we get stopped. Life breaks down. Things stop working. We get cranky.

It's at that point (earlier would be better) that we could be asking ourselves, have I had a good sleep? Like, am I getting enough sleep in general? Many people do not get enough sleep. As we get older, we so much do not get enough sleep that we take medication to help us get enough sleep. We've had to miss a lot of sleep before we get tranquilizers and then the sleep we get isn't quite as "pure" as before. All medications have side-effects.

We do things that discourage good sleep. Here are just a few things we do that can make sleeping difficult: watching TV late (for some people I know it puts them to sleep); being on the computer up until bed time; eating late; eating certain foods late; drinking alcohol in the evening (it may make you sleepy initially but will wake you up later); going to bed without enough time to get the amount of sleep we need; and you know how the rest.

And then there's eating. Have you eaten? And by that, really I mean, have you nourished yourself? There's lots of foods we can eat that do not nourish our bodies. So have you eaten in a way that serves your body first? If your body's given the best ingredients to do its job, it will function better. We know this, but we don't always do it...

Pooping. Very important to poop... I work with kids in the hospital every week and a big issue for them when they're away from home and with new foods and program, etc., is finding a way to go to the bathroom in peace. If you don't have a good system for pooping or your poops aren't healthy, you'll not be in top form. That's just how it goes.

And then there's yoga and meditation. Most people can probably get by without doing yoga and/or meditation. For a while. Until they start adding it into their lives. Once you've added it into your life, it'll be noticeable when you don't do it. If you're used to flossing and brushing your teeth, you won't like the feeling of dirty teeth even for a day. Same thing with doing yoga and meditation. Once you're used to being comfortable in your body and good with yourself and not thrown so far by your thoughts, you won't want to miss it.

So then the question is - did you sleep? Have you eaten? Did you go to the bathroom? Have you done your practice? And if not, what are you going to do about it?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No Computer = No Blogging

I know, some of you are thinking this is not possible. No computer? Why, Jamine, we know you to be a person who has at least five devices at her disposal that could send your data to her blog, so why would you even type such a title?

It's true. I have lots of computers and other things that could connect to the internet but you know what? Sometimes they don't. I have a Bell Sympatico modem cranking away so I have wifi all the time, except it doesn't work so good if I have a laptop out on the couch instead of in my office on the desk. I've been using my neighbour's unsecured network for ages so I didn't really need to move my modem. Up until now.

Something happened and if I'm not at the computer plugged into the wall, I get no signal. Or spotty signal. Someone who knows more about these things said it's because there's a fridge between me and the modem and that's what's blocking it. I don't know. But what I do know is if I can't sit at the computer and just type away in this box, I don't do it. My Blackberry can't log in to my blog so I can't even do it with my thumbs. The iPod Touch screen is way too tricky and the spelling helper never supplies words I'd use, so those posts are really short. So my blog is for the moment, computer and internet dependent.

Why was my main computer occupied for most of the day such that I could not blog, you may be wondering? Well, we're working on some yoga apps! Capital Yoga Publishing is in the process of publishing! Yay! Yoga with Jamine has hit the streets (at the App store) and next up is Yoga with Louise or Hot Yoga with Louise, we haven't decided. And there's Yoga with Mark on the way too. So that's what's going on. You'll know when there's more.

Oh, and the Ottawa Fringe is back. I went to the media launch today. So exciting! It's like travelling to far away lands without having to go myself. It's a whole new thing to do, people to be with, sights to see, all starting June 17. Check it out. There'll be lots more about it here on this blog because that's what I'll be up to for the next few weeks!